Those are just a few of the questions that Ian has asked in the couple of days. These may be strange questions for a nine year old. I suppose they are perfectly normal, if you are a foreign language student. In a way, English is a foreign language to Ian.
For those who have followed my blog for a long time, you know that speech did not come easily to my son. At three, when most kids are babbling away until their parents weep with exhaustion, my kid couldn't say his own name properly. He called himself "E." The second syllable was too much for him. He didn't call me, "mom" or Steve "dad." He pretty much didn't talk at all. He just screamed with frustration. All day. Everyday. For a year.
His language abilities improved over the years. Sometimes, the improvements happened in baby steps. Sometimes, there were great leaps of progress. But there was always a lot work behind all the improvements. Language, which comes effortlessly to most people, did not come easily to Ian.
The first milestone was learning basic words that enabled him to express his needs – juice, bathroom, more, help, sad. Then he put them together in very simple sentences and added more vocabulary. Asking questions was a huge milestone. He probably didn't ask a good question until he was five or six. Why and how were especially tricky. He didn't master asking and answering why and how questions until last year.
Without the ability to ask questions until fairly recently, Ian didn't learn key stuff. Last week, there was a character in a book who adopted a dog from a pound. "What's a pound?", asked Ian. "It's where you get cats and dogs and take them home", I said. "It's a pet store?", he asked. So, then I had to explain the difference between a pound and a pet store. I imagine that most four years pick that up from TV shows or books, but Ian missed all that. He spent most of his early years in a fog. He's like a wolf boy, who was lost in the woods for most of his life.
As I was pulling together the paperwork for the new school district, I came across a speech evaluation of Ian from last January. The evaluator said that Ian spoke in five word sentences. Nine months later and you can't count the number of words in his sentences. Now, the next step is to plug holes in his learning.
Pound. Pet store. Familiar. Warehouse. Illness.