We have a lot of unusual verbal exchanges that go on in our home. Usually these exchanges involve Henry as we try to figure out what the heck he is talking about. Sometimes it is downright frustrating, but most times it can be very humorous. We encourage some (okay, a lot) of his funny Henry-speak more than we probably should but we are just so thrilled when he wants to talk and carry on any form of conversation that we feed right into it. He is our little dude of few words, stringing only one to three words together at a time if you are lucky. He shortens the sentences he chooses to speak down to the bare minimum required to get his point across…unless he decides he wants to share…and then look out! His speech is fairly clear and he does have a decent vocabulary but he also still does a lot of garbled jargoning in between and he has developed some words and/or phrases of his very own that we have yet to decipher. To add to this, Henry can be an extremely fast talker. I can be a very fast talker myself but even when I try to say some familiar phrases as fast as Henry, I get nowhere close to his speed!
Last night’s exchange is just one small example of a conversation with Henry. I was coming down the hallway last night making my final rounds on the kiddos expecting the littlest ones to already be fast asleep. I was saying goodnight to the oldest, Molly, as she herself had just tucked in, when I thought I heard something come from Henry and Lucy’s room. I peaked in and saw Lucy was down for the count. Henry, however, was sitting up in bed, his big brown eyes blinking at me in the semi-dark.
“Hey, little dude. What are you still doing up?” I move over toward him and he scoots over and makes a place for me with his “friend pillow”.
“I can’t sleep, Mom.”
“I’m afraid of nightmares you know, Mom.”
“I know you are buddy but you haven’t had a nightmare in a long time. And you know they are not real. They are just like pretend.”
“I know but I want a Spiderman costume that shoot webs.”
“Yeah. It shoots webs.” He demonstrates holding his one arm out straight and using the other to press some kind of web trigger on the outstretched arm.
“Well, you need to get to sleep, mister. Can you turn over now and try to sleep?”
“Well, yeah, but I need a Spiderman costume. It shoots webs and it is red with webs all over. Can we get one?”
“Maybe when it gets closer to Halloween we can look for one but not right now. Now is bedtime.” I am not sure where this conversation is going at this point. Right now we are talking very quietly, matter-of -factly. Nice. Sometimes these conversations can take quite a turn toward tears and meltdowns…I am treading carefully.
“But I NEED one!” More in a tone of exasperation than anxiety. I am only slightly relieved by this.
“How come you need one right now? Can you tell me?”
“Well, a Spiderman costume shoots webs.” He demonstrates how that works again. Also,in case you haven’t noticed, Spiderman is the superhero of the moment. Or at least for this evening.
“Yes, you showed me. It sounds pretty cool. What would you use the web shooter for? To keep away bad dreams?”
“Yeah. But no. It’s for canacholearn. I can use it in my lab and then I take it and shoot it. And then the bad guys get the scientist and they use if for science.” More demonstrating web shooting. “And then Spiderman and his webs shoot ALLLLL over!”
“Henry, what does “canacholearn” mean. I don’t know that word.” It’s pronounced KA-nacho-LEARN. Well, at least the best that I can tell. He says it so darn fast!
A sigh comes from Henry with what I thought were his eyes rolling at me. (In the semi-darkness it was hard to tell but I am pretty sure that’s what I saw). I have asked him on many occasions what this word/phrase means. “Science mom! Canacholearn is like science! I tell you this before!” Sometimes he says it is for science~either way, I still don’t have a clue! Clearly there is the “uh. Duh?” tone in his voice.
“Hey, Henry, can you say that word again very slowly? I really would love to understand what you’re saying.” This “canacholearn” phrase has been driving me nuts for months and so I feel compelled to nudge the issue! What the heck is it?!?
“If I had a Spiderman costume that shoots webs I canacholearn and go to my lab and [garbled jargon that I don’t even know what letters to use to spell it out that goes on for about 15 seconds] and shoot it.”
Gee, I didn’t even have to ask him to use it in a sentence.
He doesn’t slow his speech at all but actually says this even faster. I blink back at him and I see that he is holding back a smile. A slight twitch in the corner of his mouth reveals his dimple and gives him away. That stinker! He knows what I want and he is not giving up any of his secrets tonight.
“Okay, Henry.” I smile back at him to let him know he has won this conversation exchange. “It’s time to try to sleep. Think you can sleep now?”
“I don’t know. Yeah. But no. Okay.”
I kiss his forehead and he hugs me and kisses me back. We just look at each other for awhile and then I see those deep golden brown eyes slowly close. I lay there for a bit longer with him, watching him, so peaceful. I wonder what is going on in that amazing brain of his. I try to imagine pictures, thoughts, words all flashing at a speed I cannot comprehend. I am in awe of my little dude. I hope someday I will be smart enough to understand him but mostly I just hope that he will know that I am at least trying to understand. He says he wants to be a scientist when he grows up. Maybe he is preparing for Canacholearnology. What ever it is I know he will be brilliant!