Last night M and I were hanging around engaged in our own version of parallel play: she was playing on my computer and I was lying around on the bed reading a book.
We do a lot of parallel play in our household: there are times when I'm on my computer, and F is on his, and M is watching the television with the headphones on. The completely cyborg family, plugged into our various virtual worlds.
But last night we stepped out of this in the most unexpected way, via the medium of the telephone.
I noticed M had started playing with my home office phone, so I took the other phone and called her.
Hello, is M home?
No, she replied, feigning a British accent, M is out.
Railly, Miss M's out? I said, also affecting a British accent. Where has she gone?
She's out—on a date—she said, emphatically.
A date? Railly? And with whom has she gone on a date?
She's gone on a date with Brian? Why that's splendid! And wherrrre have they gone?
They've gone to the park. They're sitting on a bench . . . kissing.
Oh my, they're kissing. Well, that sounds very very . . . grown-up.
Yes, they're kissing. And Susan came over and she is the most be-u-ti-ful girl and Brian went with her.
Oh my. That sounds awful. How did M feel about that?
M was sad—very sad. But then Max came and she went with Max.
Raillly? She went off with Max.
Oh yes . . . and they went to the carnival.
Oh splendid. And what did they do there?
They went, she said, in the tunnel of luvvvvv.
And on and on and on the narrative went. Soon M was back with Brian because Arnold came along and broke up Brian and Susan.
I was reminded of an R-rated movie called Bob & Ted & Carol & Alice that I never saw because I was too young when it came out. If M's narrative continued much further we'd soon be getting into the restricted rating.
Then, growing tired of storytelling, she shreiked: April fools april fools april fools. I tricked you. Happy pranks day happy pranks day.
Fiction. The girl is writing fiction. Steamy romance novels, if I have the genre correct. Unlike the memoir author so recently dragged through the mud, Miss M seems to have clear ideas about fiction and nonfiction.
And this is the child with social deficits.
So how did this flood gate of narrative open from the girl with the significant expressive language disorder.
My guess is that it was because we weren't looking at each other . . . we were talking to each other on the phone, sitting in the same room, but looking in opposite directions. There was no nonverbal communication to understand, just the narrative, her own narrative of Brian & Max & M & Susan, and it was play.
Keywords: autism • Asperger's Syndrome • ADHD • learning disabilities • James Frey