April 30, 2006
First of all, congratulations are in order for Julie, who got a big promotion at The Monolith yesterday. Every time we move, she transfers with the company, which is one of the cool things about working for a big corporate monster like The Monolith, but she always ends up having to take a different position, depending on what's available. Well, as of today, she's back on the management team, in her old position as the store's Community Relations Manager. How weird is is that she and I are both doing the same thing in our respective places of employment? We are Ministers of Propaganda. Say what you will about this household, but it is definitely NOT a no-spin zone.
The other thing that happened yesterday involves Schuyler. I bought her a Cabbage Patch Doll, partly because she's been a very good little girl for quite some time without much in the way of reward and partly to distract her from the Mermaid Barbie that she had become fixated on in the store, despite its near-identical appearance to the Mermaid Barbie she already owned. Her sudden interest in a fat-headed, buck-toothed ugly doll seemed like a healthy improvement over her fixation on perfect, big-boobied Barbie.
She brought her Cabbage Patch Doll home, and I told her that she'd have to name it. This was a reach, and perhaps an unnecessary one since in addition to having the designer's name printed on their asses (no, really, I didn't believe it until Julie told me and had the doll moon me), Cabbage Patch Dolls come with names and birth certificates. Where's the fun in that? That would be like giving birth a baby and not being allowed to name it. (Not to mention someone's name tattooed on its ass.)
I had no idea what she would do, but I told her to get her device and tell me her doll's name. After she considered it for a few moments, she started deliberately typing on her Big Box of Words.
And that's how we learned that her new friend's name is Kelly.
Now here's the thing about that. Schuyler doesn't, to my knowledge, know anyone named Kelly, although she obviously heard the name somewhere. She certainly doesn't have any friends named Kelly. But she knew that was her doll's name, and more importantly, she knew how to spell it. She got it wrong at first, and then she figured out what she got wrong and fixed it.
What this means is that Schuyler understands the functions of letters well enough to work out how to spell a word that she wants to say. It also means that she grasps the basic rules of spelling, and therefore reading. AND, it means that she understands the relatively abstract concept of arbitrarily selecting a name for an inanimate object that represents a living being.
Which might not impress you if you've got your own little neurotypical wonderchild at home. But reading and spelling and abstractions are not easy for a nonverbal child. Stop for a moment and ask yourself how you would teach a mute child to read. Imagine that you could never get any kind of feedback, no repetitions of the things, no reading out loud to confirm that the things you are trying to teach are taking hold. You just read and provide tools like the BBoW and hope and pray for a sign that it's taking root inside a unique and broken brain whose workings have already baffled the world's leading expert on her monster.
So yeah. We're extremely proud of her. I am more convinced than ever that she's going to confound and exceed the world's expectations. I'm counting on her to write the rebuttal to my book one day.