Sunday, February 15, 2015

My Four Year-Old, Knives and Marshmallows

Catchy headline, eh? What were you thinking?  Knife juggling? Knife swallowing?  Napping with knives? Did something messy happen with a knife? Something about the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from The Ghostbusters movie?  I invite you to read on...

Orion chills with Mom/Heather on the grass.
I had a moment of clarity explaining how Orion learns as a totally DeafBlind child, while I was cutting an applepear... or was it pearapple? Either way, it was delicious! At dinnertime during my daughter's slumber party last night, Orion crawled into my lap from the chair next to me and leaned against me while I multi-tasked cutting the papplear. I was chatting with my mother-in-law.  (We were signing, my MIL is Deaf, too.)  She offered to help me cut the fruit. I might've as well been pulling a wood piece out of a wobbly Jenga structure. What a catch-22!

Yes, her help certainly would make it easier on me, however, Orion would think fruit just pops up as ready-to-eat slices on a plate in front of him.

Orion picks up information through touch via other parts of his body about what's going on in his environment. Even as he sits calmly on my lap, he's feeling my arms moving purposely as I sign.  When he decides to follow my arms to the appearple, he can feel the top of the knife as I push it down. I love it when Orion accepts my invitation for his hands to ride on top of my hands (a.k.a. "Hand-Under-Hand" as I work.  It's even better when he decides to do it himself.

Oh, yes, I DO worry about cutting him!!  I would avoid letting a sighted 4 year-old do the exact same thing, it is not safe.  A sighted 4 year-old would see me cutting the fruit and learn the function of the knife. In Orion's case, he's totally deafblind and learns mainly through his sense of touch.  By letting him touch the knife he almost understands the knife's function and that the fruit is whole at first before I peel, which is safer with a peeler, and then slice it.

I fully agree and understand when I hear at workshops that we need to let our kids fall.  This applies to all kids, let's call it universal learning!  Now, we definitely will intervene if it may cause serious injury, for example, top of the stairs, or the unprotected edge of a drop and we suspect our child or individual doesn't know what's ahead.

In fact, Orion started to get himself up into a sitting position independently the day after no one was there to catch him as he leaned back from practicing sitting upright for longer periods of time.
Hey, there's hay on your hands and knees, Orion.

And now for the messy.  Tonight, Orion was brought out to join us around our fire pit for roasted marshmallows.  He felt the empty prongs of the metal roasting stick, ate a marshmallow straight out of the bag and felt me put one on the stick and it disappeared from his touch.  I had one already slow-roasting (I don't like my marshmallows burnt!) so I brought it to Orion's hands where he felt the warm stick toward the roasted mallow.  He took a few bites and decided he didn't want the sticky marshmallow and pushed it away. He ended up with a sticky mess on his hands and around his mouth BUT he was checking out how sticky his hands were, then his knees, then his feet, then the grass...  He looked like the son of scarecrow reaching puberty with grass on his feet, knees hands and a little on his cheek.  It was messy, yep, but he was experiencing and learning more about different textures under the pleasant smell of a small campfire with his mom.

I figure with the danger and the mess, Orion will know that fruits can be peeled and cut.  He will know s'mores, the different states of matter marshmallows and the contentment in hanging outside with family by the fire pit.  Because Orion's memories will be through touch, smell, taste, experience and emotion, I hope he will also enjoy connecting the senses of his family whenever he smells a campfire.

As for the the origin of the peapprle, we will create direct learning opportunities for Orion to connect the fruit to the twig, and the twig was on the branch, and the branch was on the... by finding a tree with fruit in it and have him pick it off.  We will also need to plant a seed in the dirt, water it, feel it sprout out of the soil, then visit it often as it grows.

Orion will will one day 100% understand knives, after his first knife accident; he will 100% understand why something is dangerous and hurts. *shudder*  These are the learning experiences I will not create, I will do all I can to allow him to explore and learn enough and not get hurt.

I can see it in Orion's face, he is happier and his life is so much richer with each and every opportunity for him to reach out and experience whatever situation or setting he is in.  We want to show Orion, this is what Life has to offer and let him seize it, Orion-style.

Orion and the rest of us enjoyed the pearapplepearwhateverbecauseitwassogood!

Skyler and Anastasia discuss the game of tag.

Skyler ran around in the night with a light under his shirt like Iron Man, with holiday lights in the background.

Sticky boy next to the fire pit.


  1. Your writing is so informative. It's interesting to hear about the vital importance of the process of letting Orion experience those everyday activities. He's a lucky boy. Mom

    1. Thanks, Mom. <3 We just had to get a fire pit because S, A and O's grandparents have one, too. Plenty of practice so that when we visit again, Orion will be able to participate more.

  2. Thank you for sharing about my little buddy and his his experiences! His learning process is wonderful, and I love learning how he interacts with and experiences the world around him. I learn so much through what you share in your posts!

  3. Once again you have explained it all (and better than any textbook) through real-world experience. Thank you x 100!

    1. Thanks MgnMgn! Looking forward to seeing you next month.


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