26 June 2011

Phone Conversation

Since Cathal has been about 4 months old, I have often spoken to him on the phone. It’s a nice way to keep in contact between the times I can see him, and can hold him, hug him, kiss him, and play with him.

In the very beginnings, Cathal heard my voice but had no idea where it was coming from and generally ignored it. Then came several stages when:
- he licked the phone - must have tasted nice!
- played with it - pressing the difference buttons is such fun
- eventually listened attentively, without a sound
- listened and answered with little baby gurgling sounds
- gave the phone a broad smile - though I could not see him, but his intentions where in the right place.

Until Cathal started giggling after every sentence I said, every question I asked. Obviously, this was highly entertaining.

And this giggling communication went on for quite some time. About a year and a half in fact.

Until last Friday lunch time.

I needed to make a quick call to the Mammy. And during our conversation I could hear Cathal in the background so I suggested that she gives him the phone once we had finished our own conversation. It went like something like this:

- Hello Cathal!
- . . . NANA!
- How are you Cathal?
- Nana!
- Are you well?
- Yeshhh!
- Are you good?
- Yeshhh!
- Did you have your lunch?
- Yeshhh!
- What did you have?
- . . . .
- Was it a nice lunch?
- Yeshhh!
- Did you go to school this morning?
- NO!
- Did you go swimming?
- Yeshhh!
- Was it nice?
- Yeshhh!
- Cathal, I must go now. Will you give me a kiss?
- *sound of kissing coming down the line*
- And here is a kiss for you Cathal.
*sound of kissing on my side, echoed by Cathal*
- Bye Bye Cathal

And the Mammy came back on the phone.

Nearly three years on, and I had just had my first two-way phone conversation with Cathal.


Signed: A Nana who got very emotional after this phone call.

16 June 2011

Where is...?

“Where is?” is a great game, with so many levels of complexity.

As for any child, Cathal started playing it when he was very small. In the first version, we would ask him: “Where – is – yourrrr... NOSE?” and then point at it. And then we would repeat the question about an increasing number of body parts. After a while he did all the pointing himself.

As Cathal got a little older, we moved on to the next level and started asking about objects around us, and people. And then he took the game into his own hands, adding a sprinkle of imagination to spice it up. His favourite version works like this:

- Take a small object (one of his socks freshly pulled from his foot is a favourite) and put it behind your back, look around with a bewildered expression and shout “Oh! Oh! Where!”
- The adult / older child present pretends to look around, querying if the sock is here or there, underneath this or inside that.
- Then pull the object from behind your back, shout as loud as you can “THERE!” and burst laughing.

NB: for added fun, before taking the object from behind your back, do a “roly-poly” motion with your hands pretending this is a magic trick. Adults find this irresistible.

Such fun!

No matter how old we are, we all love games. They entertain us, they make us feel good, they absorb our attention. And we often forget that they are the best medium of education and learning ever devised. “Where is?” is not only fun, it helps with visualising the concept of what is missing.

Last week I was looking after Cathal in his own home for a few hours. During the afternoon Cathal asked me “Mammy! Where?” I explained she was gone to a wedding. He repeated “Eddin” and seemed satisfied with this.

After a while he asked “Daddy! Where?” So I explained he was gone with Mammy to a wedding. Again he repeated the word “Eddin” and continued his activities.

During the course of the afternoon he talked a few times about Mammy and then Daddy, always happy with the explanations.

But when we were having dinner (pasta, his favourite!) disaster struck. He suddenly became very quiet. I asked him if he was alright. He looked around, then at me, and with a panic look on his face said: “Oishhhin! Where?” I told him that Oisín was with Mammy and Daddy at the wedding.

“Noooo! Oishhhin!” followed by uncontrollable heavy sobbing. Forget about pasta dinners, this was serious. Cathal had just realised that his little brother was not there. And that he was missing him.

And I suddenly understood that, though Cathal is well used to doing things without his brother (he goes to Montessori every morning), though he is well used to being on his own with me (he is no stranger to sleepovers in my house), this was the first time that, since the birth of his little brother three and a half months ago, he was in his own home without his parents AND Oisín. I witnessed the strength of love he has for his brother, the importance his sibling has taken in his life.

I hope that in the future, when Cathal asks the question “Oisín! Where?” he is always able to then shout with delight “There!”And that when in his own time Oisín asks the same question, he too can count on his big brother to be there for him.