Friday, April 19, 2013

Found in translation

One of the things Jonathan's E.A. ("Mr. O") works on most with Jonathan is his verbal skills.  Currently Jonathan speaks mostly in phrases of two or three words, generally very concrete expressions that get his point across but don't contain much grammatical structure.  Mr. O works with him on stretching out his sentences so that he can express complete thoughts like "Can I have some orange juice please" or "Can you get the black football please" -- and  Jonathan is making considerable progress in this area.  While of course we encourage this stretching-out of sentences, we can't help but be impressed, and sometimes amused, by the ingenuity of some of his makeshift attempts.

- "Open door away." Translation: Close the door.

- "Button away."  Translation:  Don't leave the remote-control on the coffee table; put it back in the remote holder.

- "No Diana.  Diana over."  Translation:  I don't want the supply E.A. named Diana to come, even though she is very nice and I like her; I want Mr. O.  (This one also reminded me of another moment when Jonathan was about six, and he apparently had a stomach-flu bug but we didn't realize what was wrong when he said "Itchy belly" and "Kiss belly."  He had supper, which was soup; then a couple of hours later he was getting ready for bed and suddenly everything came up.  He was sitting on the bathroom floor, his PJ's all covered with gross stuff, and said calmly, "Soup over.")

- "White ball."  Translation:  I want Dad to pick me up after school and bring the white ball so we can play yellow-blue-red for a little while.

- "No wash it."  Translation:  You can give me a bath, but I don't want you to wash my hair.

- "Mommy nap."  Translation:  I don't want Mom to go to a meeting tonight and leave me to be put to bed by Dad; I want Mom to stay home so she can do it.

- "Nap ... Mommy! Translation:  OK, fine, Mom can go out to her meeting, but I expect to see her as soon as I wake up.

- "Sometimes a shock."  Translation:  Sometimes when I pull my fleece neck-warmer or my sweater off over my head and then touch something, I get a zap of static electricity.

- "Saw chicken nuggets Grandpa house."  Translation:  Remember when we went on a trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house in PEI, and we stopped at McDonald's and I had chicken nuggets and fries and chocolate milk?  Good times. 

As I thought about these expressions I was reminded of Romans 8:26 in the Bible:  "We are very weak, but the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We don’t know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself speaks to God for us. He begs God for us, speaking to Him with feelings too deep for words."  (Appropriately, this is taken from the ERV:  Easy-to-Read Version.)  

Just like Jonathan, we all need someone to listen to us and understand us when we have something to say, even if we don't know quite how to say it.  


  1. I get it, Jeannie. That first one can also be understood as "Make the open door go away", which of course one does by turning it into a closed door. You've made an outstanding connection to the way the Holy Spirit turns our prayers into intelligible spiritual communication. I've come to realize that even the most eloquent of my prayers are in great need of the Spirit's interpretive ministry, because without him that eloquence is actually unintelligible nonsense.


    1. That's a really good point, and I hadn't even considered the spiritual connection until I was in the middle of writing this post. It's actually pretty neat with Jonathan how one or two concrete words encapsulates a whole memory or concept: he lacks the words and the abstractions but the whole experience is still there in his mind. I was thinking too of people with Alzheimer's who, I've heard, sometimes lose language bit by bit and make strange substitutions like "the baby trees" (for broccoli) or "the shirt flatter" for the iron, that sort of thing. I'm glad God can see beyond the inadequacy of what we say or think, to the essence of the person inside.

  2. Beautiful, Jeannie! This touched my heart in a way that I'm not sure I can put into words. The truth that we can come to God humbly, like a child who cannot speak all the words yet trusts that the parent will know what he needs, is so simple yet so profound it makes me want to cry. Thank you for this. Maureen

    1. I'm so glad this spoke to you, Maureen; thanks for commenting, and see you soon at church. Hope your Ellel retreat was very meaningful.


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