Saturday, August 28, 2010

Top Ten

A busy yet pleasant back-to-school week in our household left me searching for ideas for today’s blog entry. Having made several lists to keep myself on track this week at home and at school, where I teach part-time, I realized that I had a topic, after all. The secret to my organizational skills lies in my affinity for list making. Like me, Alex is a great list maker. Sometimes he types his lists on the computer, and other times he jots his notes on random notepads or loose pieces of paper in his barely legible scrawl. Lately, he has taken to writing in old-fashioned composition books with their bound edges and marbled covers, and he likes that he never loses his lists by using these notebooks. With our shared love of lists, I knew I could draft Alex into helping me write about lists. As Alex’s language skills have improved, we have been able to get a better glimpse into how his mind works. The other day, I decided to ask him to give me a list of his top ten favorite things, only specifying that people could not be included.

Before he provided his choices, I jotted down the ten favorite things I felt certain he would choose. As his mom, afternoon home school teacher, and frequent companion, I thought that I could accurately predict what he would say. I was wrong. He only mentioned one of the ten items I selected. I guessed that he would choose the following items (in no particular order): 1) shrimp, 2) books, 3) computers, 4) weather, 5) clocks, 6) thermometers, 7) math, 8) You Tube, 9) jazz music, and 10) going places. Since these are the things that he seems to value as interests and possessions and often mentions as his favorites, I was sure most of these would appear on his list, too. Instead, after giving the question serious and careful thought, Alex came up with a list of his own. Midway through providing answers, he resorted to a calculation technique he uses, a more sophisticated version of counting on his fingers that includes flicking his index fingers, which is reminiscent of the Chisenbop technique, in which the fingers are used like an abacus. I’ve seen him use this finger movement to determine accurately the answers for difficult math problems when he doesn’t have a calculator handy. What he was calculating when figuring out his top ten list is beyond me. He simply smiled when I asked what he was counting. Nonetheless, he seemed to weigh his answers and came up with his own top ten list of favorite things, which he assured me were all of the same value and not ranked in any order. His list included the following items: 1) time, 2) calendars, 3) anagrams, 4) shapes, 5) baseball, 6) football, 7) basketball, 8) country music videos, 9) Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and 10) weather/stock market. Actually, after he told me weather and realized that was the last one on the list, he changed his mind and wanted to put the stock market instead. Since weather was the only one on both of our lists, I told him that he could have eleven choices; the list was my idea, after all.

Alex’s love of measurements, numbers, and letters explains his first three choices of time, calendars, and anagrams. I thought that his choice of shapes had to do with geometry, but he told me that shapes reminded him of speech therapy when he was little. He and I often watch country music videos together, and I should have remembered to include it on the list I made. His interest in sports has grown over the years, and watching sports is an activity he enjoys sharing with Ed. Once again, though, he displayed his enthusiasm for measuring, telling me what he liked best about sports: “Yard lines, quarters, and extra innings.” Similarly, his fascination with weather lies in measuring temperature, which is why I included thermometers on my list. While I thought that his interest in the stock market reflected his mathematical mind and watching money trends, he informed me he most liked following Microsoft. After all, Bill Gates is one of his heroes. Perhaps the most surprising choice was Who Wants to Be a Millionaire because he has other game shows that he follows more religiously. He explained to me that what he likes about Millionaire is that they give four choices. Considering how language does not come easily for Alex, the idea of multiple choice probably comes as a relief for him because he doesn’t have to supply the answers, just choose them. Given time, Alex probably could have listed one hundred things he likes since he enjoys so many things in life. He subscribes to the sentiment Robert Louis Stevenson opines in A Child’s Garden of Verses, “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” I suspect that Alex is even happier than most kings, even happier than most of us, because in the everyday, ordinary things, he sees wonder.

“Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise Him enough?” Psalm 106:2

No comments: