Monday, November 23, 2015

Janey's Mysterious Mind

If I had one wish, I would put aside the regular wishes like a billion dollars or unlimited more wishes (well, maybe not that one!) and wish to be able to be inside Janey's mind for just one day.  If I could see how her mind really worked, what the set-up is in there, what she understands and what she doesn't, I think I could be a better parent to her.

I have a few examples from recent days of my glimpses into Janey's thinking and abilities.  They are interesting, but like blurred photos or an book with some pages missing, they give me only a hint of what is whirling up there in her mind.

One of the things I'd most like to see is how she arranges memories.  I have a feeling they are like YouTube clips, little stored segments that come up when the right keyword is entered in.  The other day, I put a Kermit the Frog top on Janey.  I said "Look at this shirt!  There's a picture of Kermit the...." waiting to see if she would finish the phrase.  She didn't at first, and I let it go, but a minute later, she said "Kermit the Frog!" Then she started reciting, word for word, a skit from Sesame Street, something on a video I'm quite sure she hasn't seen in years, as we lost it, where the Count gets a job as an elevator operator and Kermit gets on the elevator.  She knew all the lines, as she usually does.  I picture her brain getting the Kermit keyword and bringing up the clip, stored in complete form.  It's an interesting form of memory, but it doesn't allow for easy answering of questions.  She knows who Kermit is, but unless I'd known why she was talking about the Count, I wouldn't have gotten what she was saying.

Other times, Janey uses the clips to try to communicate.  This evening, she took a shower and I was drying her as she got out.  As it wasn't a washing hair shower (she just likes to take showers a lot, and sometimes I let her just take one to enjoy the warm water), her hair wasn't really wet, and I wasn't drying it.  That wasn't the usual routine, and Janey had the look of wanting to tell me something.  Suddenly, she said "Yeah, Sister!" and then started singing "I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair!"  She likes that song, and she's seen the clip from South Pacific, where the star dries her hair with a towel.  She was telling me that I needed to dry her hair.  I pictured her doing something like a Google Image search, finding someone doing what she wanted doing, and then using her memory to try to give me that image.  It's complex and interesting, but it's not practical in a lot of situations.

Although long periods can go by without Janey showing her hand, I do think somewhere in her mind, in some conditions, she can read.  This morning, Tony put on The Pink Panther on YouTube for her when she asked for it.  We've often noticed that when we aren't looking, suddenly the computer is on something totally different than what we put it on.  We assume usually she is clicking on the little suggested videos that come up next to the video she is watching, but sometimes, that seems unlikely.  Today, I was watching her when she didn't realize I was, and I saw something surprising.  She closed YouTube, then reopened the browser and went to the bookmarks (she could have done this right from YouTube, but she is very tidy on the internet and often just goes around the house closing computer windows)  The list of bookmarks was quite long, and she scrolled down it and found what I believe she was looking for, Weird Al's "White and Nerdy"  She clicked on it and happily watched it, then was able to click on some other Weird Al stuff that came up on the sides.  I don't know how she could tell that particular bookmark was what it was without reading it.  When she saw I was watching her, she gave me a look that was a little sheepish.  I said "You can read, can't you?"  Of course, no answer.

I was thinking this all through today, and feeling a little frustrated.  Why can't Janey put her amazing memory and her hidden abilities to use?  Then it occurred to me---she does.  She doesn't do so in the way we might want, but she does.  She enjoyed remembering the Kermit video, she managed to tell me what she wanted me to do with her hair, she got to watch the Weird Al video she wanted.  When I push for more, the times I have, she either simply acts like she doesn't know what I am talking about or she gets actively upset.  So---do I accept she's doing what she wants to do?  Or do I call her bluff and try to make her use her abilities to be more like the rest of us?  I don't know the answer to that.

1 comment:

pianorox said...

Fascinating. I say go with your gut feeling. I believe there is so much more going on in Janey's head than you can imagine. Happy Thanksgiving.