Chi started in with words very early. At 8 months he had words for Dad, Mom, Kitty, Ears, Bear, Eat. He picked up new words almost every day, it seemed. Then between 11 and 12 months he started losing language. He stopped using the words he had been accumulating. He still picked up new words and would use them for a few days, a week, two at most. Then he would stop using them. So after about 6 months, he was completely done with English. He spoke only in his own language that only he understood. He wasn’t real concerned with whether anyone understood him, and for such an intense little kid, he was completely unflappable when it came to communication.
He excelled at non-verbal communication and was able to get his intent across. There was no one way he did this and it wasn’t using ASL. He never mimicked. I could never get him to repeat after me so teaching him sign-language was a non-starter.
I took to calling his very own language Chi-nese. (Chi is pronounced like the Greek letter Χ)(It’s my own little inside joke. A play on words. It’s something my husband and I did. We’d take words spelled with C-H-I that are normally pronounced with the /ch/ sound and use the /k/ sound of Chi’s name. So Chicago became CHI-cago. And Lake Michigan became Lake Mi-CHI-gan. You get the picture. We chuckled a little bit every time we came across a new word (Hey, you gotta take the humor where you can find it, folks.))
Around the age of 2 and a half, he started slipping English words into his Chi-nese. I guess it’s because he didn’t use all the letter sounds in his own language, but he was impossible to understand. So when he was five, we took him to a speech pathologist and he met with her once week for more than a year. He’s very well spoken now.
So now, to me, Chi-nese is the little things Chi says that are so him. He sees things differently than most and his observations are pretty cool. A few for your enjoyment.
- “Mom, the lightening is too loud. I can’t sleep.”
- (tasting something new) “…It kind of, maybe, doesn’t taste very good to me.”
- “Oh, look! The moon is reflecting the sun!” (meaning the moon is shining, obviously)
- “Mom is being sarcastic, Pieces. That’s when she says something but she means something else. She isn’t really glad you spilled your water all over the table.” (He is forever pointing out when someone is “just joking” or “being sarcastic” and then explaining the joke or the sarcasm, even if it is only to himself.)
- At the DQ drive thru, after I hand him a waffle cone. “A man in 1904 at a fair, ran out of dishes to serve ice cream and folded up a waffle to serve ice cream in. That’s how the waffle cones were invented.” I stare at him a moment. Then I remember that he squirrels away all the tidbits of trivia he comes across. Also? I googled it when I got home. He was right. It was the World’s Fair in St. Louis.
- Chi is an eleven year old boy. He still wants to hug his mom whenever possible, and if there’s hugging then there’s sniffing because he loves the way I smell. I hope the desire to hug me never ends.
- Actual conversation while Chi opened his birthday presents a day early:
Hubs: Is that a new Super Mario Bros game?
Chi: Yeah. It’s New Super Mario Bros 2. The first one came out in 2006. It’s kind of like Luigi’s Mansion. A new one is supposed to come out this year or maybe next year. The first one came out in 2001. (He could tell you the release year of every game he plays. True story.)
- Chi is always truthful. He doesn’t do vagaries. Here is a real conversation from Saturday’s birthday festivities.
At Red Robin eating lunch, someone across the restaurant has the wait staff chant (read: yell) their birthday song at them.
Me to Chi: You want me to get them to yell at you some?
Chi: **shrugs** I’m kind of used to it because they did it to Brady on his birthday.
Me: So that’s a yes?
Chi: **shrugs** Yeah, I’m kinda used to it now. Yeah. (I, personally, didn’t think he’d tolerate it at all, but he seemed game.)
later Hubs to the waitress kind of to the side: It’s someone’s **gestures in Chi’s general direction** birthday today.
Waitress looking at Chi: Oh? Is it your birthday?
Chi: Well, no. My birthday is Monday, October 22. We are just having it today, though.
Waitress nods and just goes with the flow: Sure, have the fun on the weekend. How old are you?
Chi: I’m 10 now, but I’ll be eleven on Monday.
And so he is. Chi came into our lives at 3:11a eleven years ago today. We celebrated on Saturday, opened presents on Sunday and have cancelled school for today. We will eat what he wants for lunch and dinner and we will probably launch one of the rockets he got for his birthday. I will hug on his and sniff him and he will do the same to me. Happy birthday, Chi-guy. I’m so happy you’re mine.