Conversational Carousel

The other day I took the child to a nearby amusement park. We enjoyed our mommy-daughter outing with one of her friends and her mom. One of the rides we most enjoyed was the 100 year old carousel. It was truly beautiful. The horses had hair tails instead of painted ones, and there were even brass rings to grab!

Then a couple of days ago we watched Mary Poppins for the first time. To refresh your memory, Mary, Burt (the chimney sweep), Michael and Jane jump into a chalk picture and visit a country fair. At the fair they ride on a carousel. As Burt says, “A lovely carousel, if you don’t want to go anywhere.” Mary works “a bit o’ magic” and they all take their horses off the carousel and go riding through the countryside joining a fox hunt and a horse race along the way.

I was thinking about these carousel experiences and realized the analogy to conversation with the child lately. We are so pleased that she is verbal, that she has moved out of echolalia, that her vocabulary and grammar are now fairly typical…but it is a bit like being stuck on a carousel, as beautiful as it is. She is still quite scripted and fixates on certain topics of conversation. Her favorites at the moment: parking (and how/why one’s car gets towed), our local light rail system (and how Daddy has to catch his train at 10:10a, then back home at 12:15a), birds (and their bones are hollow to help them fly), and guinea pigs (how they love clover). Repeating the same subset of topics is mind-numbing enough, but when I’ve listened to them all day, and then Daddy comes home (on an earlier day) and she repeats them to him, then tells me again what she just told him…well, it’s lovely if you don’t want to go anywhere!

When you wait a while for your child’s conversation to occur at all, it’s still beautiful and fun to discuss these things with her, but I’d love to get out and explore the countryside a bit…chase a few foxes, race for the finished line. For now I guess I’ll keep reaching for the brass ring.

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