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“Back Talk”

October 29, 2012

Sarena James

The first time I told my son to do something and he said, “No,” I turned my back on him for one second and for one reason: I didn’t want him to see the slight smile on my face.

I’ve been waiting for the word “no” in the right context for a while now.

“No” would be a certain indication that he understood what I was saying, even if he didn’t agree. “No” would mean that somewhere in his mind he, on his own, had thought of a different or another idea.

“No” would be the start of a much delayed conversation between me and my son that would allow him to express himself verbally without kicking or screaming or flailing his body around in circles; behavior that never gets him what he wants.

It was his bedtime. Grant rarely, if at all, disagrees with this time of night because his days are quite long with school and therapy sessions. This night however, his resistance was entirely new and unexpected.

Me: Grant. It is time for bed. The yellow school bus comes early.

Grant: No. No bedtime for Grant.

Me: Yes. Go lay down. Mommy will tuck you in.

Grant: Not yet. Five minutes for Grant?

Me: What do you want to do with five minutes?

Grant: Five minutes with train. I want to play with train. Five minutes, please.

Me: Five minutes only, then you go to bed.

Grant: First five minutes. Then clean up train. Then bed.

Five minutes, enough time for him to play. Five minutes, enough time for me to think about the amazing thing that just happened.  Grant used his language, his most powerful and effective tool, to discuss bedtime. That alone is a significant milestone that has been inches in the making. He thought his way through the entire one-minute conversation. He thought it out so thoroughly he even remembered that cleaning up would be his responsibility, not mine.  He spoke up for himself. He was capable of thinking. He was capable of keeping his emotions in control. There was no heightened voice tone or anxious rocking of his body. He was capable of understanding. He was capable of negotiating.  He was capable of keeping eye-contact. He was capable… five minutes up.

Me: Grant time for bed.

Grant: Five more minutes, please?

Me: No. It is time for bed. Mommy will tuck you in.

Grant: No more five minutes. Good night.

There was definitely something good and remarkable about the night. I had never seen him this successful at navigating his words; they flowed freely like water from a stream that goes around and over the rocks in its way.  He wasn’t frustrated. He wasn’t emotionally on edge. He was talking, talking back the right way, talking back in the way that could be heard.  There was a beautiful blooming bud of progress and hope, the result of something great happening inside of him.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. portia prioleau permalink
    October 30, 2012 7:52 pm

    I am absolutely in love with Grant….next he’ll up the time to 10mins

  2. October 29, 2012 8:28 pm

    Awesome! I am so proud of Grant and glad that you captured this moment in a panoramic literary portrait. This article just informed me that the art of negotiating is a worthwhile skill to instill in my children. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Patricia Palmer permalink
    October 29, 2012 8:04 pm

    Go Grant…Puzzle coming together and so appropriately…Saying the right thing at the right time! Mom I feel you, when I’m working with a student and that happens my respond is exactly the same! A smile of Joy and then a response!!!

  4. October 29, 2012 12:53 pm

    That’s Great !!! For Grant that means he is making strides…. I have to small girls 4 & 3 in a couple of months. I give them room because I want them to thinks and find themselves on their own. Some back talk is good due to they may have a better plan and looking at it in a ( smaller ) light . Lol

  5. Penni Hayward permalink
    October 29, 2012 12:49 pm

    I love this story. To hear your child talk to what seemed to be a quiet tone, not yelling or jumping is such a blessing to hear. I am so proud of him.

    I will continue to pray for your family as I do for my nephews and all families.

  6. Diana C permalink
    October 29, 2012 10:41 am

    love getting updates about Grant… miss you guys

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