For the first time in his fifteen years, my son told us – by filling in a list on his whiteboard – what he might want for Christmas.
Most nights at bedtime we try to play some kind of word game to encourage his language and interaction with us. We play hangman, write song lyrics or movie scripts that he likes, or make up some fill-in-the-blank sentences that we all answer.
A few weeks ago, my husband wrote:
“For Christmas, Dad wants ____. Mom wants ______. B. wants _____.”
After we filled in our generic wishes of a “shirt” and a “book,” it was the kid’s turn. He read aloud the full board and then filled in his sentence with “shirt.” Since he was possibly just copying Dad, and we wanted to see if he could expand on his ideas, my husband started a new numbered list.
“For Christmas, B. wants: 1___ 2___ 3___ …”
We wrote “shirt” on the first line. Then I added one of his favorites – “slinky” – to make sure he knew we weren’t just listing types of clothes. He thought about it, and then added “book,” and then, after a pause, “music,” and a few seconds later, “show.”
We were thrilled he seemed to understand what we were doing – but I’ll admit that I was beginning to wonder if he was simply listing the items he usually receives for gifts. In my defense, remember that he’s never, never independently answered the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” Or most other questions for that matter.
We praised him for creating a great list, and my husband added a few more blanks to the board, telling him that he could add more later if he wanted.
As we started to put the white board away, assuming the exercise was over for the night, my boy surprised us with one last wish.
One that wasn’t scripted or modeled by us.
One that we couldn’t assume came from anything except his own true desire.
A rare expression of what was really on his mind.
He smiled and added, “trampoline!”
Best Christmas gift ever.
And, my kid seems to like his present too.
Have a Quirky Christmas, everyone!