Monday, April 25, 2005

A long overdue post for Prudence - or why Caleb is so neat

I will preface this by saying while I don't think it makes that much of a difference for a child's potential empathy, as we have been preparing to start his formal education we have had rudimentary intelligence testing done. The estimate places him at what is called "exceptional" in lu of an actual digit i.q.

Since even before he was born, Caleb has been the recipient of conversations, tirades and all manner verbal expulsions. His mama and I have talked to him incessantly his whole short life. We have also read to him from the point that his eyes were first able to focus on the pages in books. To say he has become an able communicator is a major understatement. He didn't start talking until he was about 13 months old but when he did he started right off the bat with rudimentary sentences that always managed to convey what he meant. I theorize that he didn't want to attempt speech until he had a firm grasp on how it all fit together. This theory is supported my the fact that on occasions when he was left in a room alone one would often here him experimenting with the formation of words, but never when anyone was in the room with him.

We have also always made it quite clear how much he is loved. He enjoys nothing quite so much as going through the litany of those who love him and who he loves. Part and parcel in that is the fact that he is the most important person in our lives and we never let an opportunity go by to let him know that. We also make it clear that what he says and does are of the highest order of importance to us. He matters and he knows that.

A case in point is the house we are getting ready to move out of. (we are moving 3,000 miles away to Portland OR) When we moved in we had a hose connected to the water main. We had to flush the toilet by filling a bucket and pouring it into the toilet. I made a deal with my landlord/close friends that we would work on this house and a few others to cover our rent. From the get go Caleb was encouraged to help and we made it clear that any help he gave was helping to keep a roof over his head. In effect he knew that what he did directly contributed to our living and what he did was important to all of us. I have never hesitated to punish him when it is warranted, in fact I am rather strict with him. But I also take every opportunity to praise him when he uses particularly good behavior or decides he wants to help and does a good job. (occasionally his desire to help is trumped by his desire not to listen - I do not put up with such behavior) To me it is of the utmost importance that Caleb understand that what he does is important to his mama and I.

Over the last ten months we have also started a new system of story telling. For every story I tell him he must tell me one. Over the last couple of months I have begun requiring his stories have a rudimentary plot and some sort of climactic ending. I in turn, tell him stories about a variety of neat people who have done good things for others. If he has been behaving well or has done something exceptionally cool I tell him his favorite stories, which are about a big boy named Caleb. They take place anywhere between age 7 to 15 and in those stories Caleb goes mountain climbing, camping, plays songs with papa or his friends, goes to school or does really nice things for other people. I have been telling him these sorts of stories since he was born (a few before) but then I thought one day that I would like to know what sorts of stories he might tell. His stories are very thematic they almost always involve semi-animate construction machines and either a dragon or a giant spider. Usually the dragon or spider break a building or road or some cars and then it turns out that it's all ok and everyone is happy.

I would like to say that his mama and I are responsible for how sweet Caleb is but a lot of times it is in spite of us. We don't fight in front of him often but on occasion we do, more important is the fact that we don't like each other. When we move out west we will be separating which is a good thing and I hope he will be even happier when mama and papa aren't miserable from their proximity.

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