I watch and think about Brother a lot.
He has too much going on in his mind and body for one small 4-year old.
He makes me crazy.
He makes the whole family crazy.
But when we stop to really look and listen, we realize that he's hurt, and his actions aren't designed to make us crazy, they're simply what he does because he's hurt.
I've been trying to pay close attention to him so that I can tell (and so that I can receive inspiration about) what's going on in his mind and body.
We are six months into our journey together. It took very little time to suspect that something was not right in his brain, but I have watched and waited to see if he just needed room to be healthy and safe and heal.
However, I am slowly coming to the conclusion that he will need a special sort of education. He can learn. But he's not going to pick things up the way other kids do. He will learn what he is taught carefully, in a focused way, and what he is taught over and over and over again.
His very favorite book right now is Are You My Mother?
One line from the beginning of the book is by the mother bird, who says, "Oh! Oh! My baby will want something to eat. I will go and look for something for my baby to eat."
A couple of pages later her baby bird pops out of his egg and cannot find his mother.
After reading this book well over 30 times to Brother, I asked, "Where is the baby birds' mother?"
He said, "I don't know."
I turned the book back and re-read the part about her going to find something for her baby to eat.
I asked, "Where is the baby bird's mother?"
He said, "She is doing nothing."
I read the line again and said, "The book just told us that she is going to get food for her baby. She left to find something for her baby to eat. Where is the baby bird's mother?"
He pulled his thumb out of his mouth to answer, "She is looking for something."
I said, "Yes, she is looking for something. She is looking for food for her baby bird."
He repeated, "She is looking for food for her baby bird."
We returned to reading until we got to the page where the baby bird walks past his mother because he does not know who she is. I pointed to the picture of the mother bird pulling a worm out of the ground and asked, "What is she doing?"
He answered, "She is picking up a stick."
I replied, "She is pulling a worm out of the ground. Birds eat worms. She is getting a worm for her baby to eat."
He repeated, "She is getting a worm for her baby to eat."
We read on.
At the end there is a picture of the mother bird returning to the nest with a worm in her mouth. I pointed to her and asked, "What does the mother bird have?"
He answered, "She has a worm."
"Why?" I asked.
He answered, "For her baby to eat."
"Yes! That worm is for her baby to eat. Mothers feed their babies!" I replied.
I felt him smile and wiggle happily in my lap. He put his thumb back in his mouth to listen to the end of the story.
Brother can learn. He likes learning. He is very happy when he can answer a question correctly or share some new knowledge he had acquired. I am in no rush to get him to meet some preschool standards, but I am becoming more and more sure after many experiences like the one I just recorded that Brother will need more one-on-one attention and more targeted learning experiences than what I am used to.
For now, though, he gets at least another 6 months to play and be and heal. Whatever learning he does will take place through play and on my lap with stories in hand . . . just like described above.