Tag Archives: duck duck goose

Sleepovers and The Importance of Inclusion

Emma has asked to have a sleepover for months now.  She doesn’t want to have ‘a’ sleepover, as in a single sleepover, she wants to have sleepovers, the way her brother Nic does, almost every weekend.  She wants to have time away from us, where she is with another family and their children.  She wants to have the experience most parents and children take as a matter of course.  I’ve had parents say to me, “Oh sleepovers and play dates are highly over rated, she’s not missing much.”  But the truth is she IS missing a lot and the fact that she so desperately wants to have a sleepover is something I would assume ALL children desire.  I doubt any child doesn’t hope for this, whatever their neurology.  My guess is those who don’t ask for a sleepover are doing so not because they don’t want one, but because they do not have the ability to ask or communicate their wish.

The question has been how to orchestrate sleepovers for Emma when she’s never been invited to have a play date, forget a sleepover.   We have tried to have kids over to our house, but they all end up playing with Nic and while we’ve been able to get everyone to play a few games of duck, duck, goose, it still ends up being mostly a play date for Nic.  Last spring, Emma’s therapist, Joe invited Em over to his house for a sleepover with his wife’s god-daughter, and Emma had a great time.  But Emma wants more than a one time event and increasingly Richard and I have discussed how to get Emma over to people’s houses who have children Emma considers her friends on a more regular basis.

So while I was away at the AutCom Conference this weekend, Richard decided to do what he does best – take matters into his own hands.  He picked up the phone and called our friends asking them if Emma could have a sleepover at their house.  This is not something I feel comfortable doing.  It feels like an enormous imposition, I wouldn’t want to put people in an uncomfortable situation.  I wouldn’t want them to feel uncomfortable saying no, I wouldn’t want to feel the sadness I would feel if they did choose to say no.  Just as I cannot use restrooms in restaurants or stores unless I’ve actually bought something, I cannot call friends and ask if my child can come to their home for a sleepover…  but Richard can and did.  And they said they would be thrilled, in fact they said they were really honored that Em had asked to come to their house.

These are good friends, friends with twins, Nic’s age.  The twins, J & G have known Emma her entire life.  We adore all of them and have spent many a Sunday hanging out together.  When Emma heard that they’d invited her, she jumped up and down, threw her arms up in the air and twirled around while saying, “You get to have a sleepover at J & G’s house!   So excited to see J & G!”  Then she ran into her bedroom and came back out with her backpack filled with her nightie and a blanket.  Sunday night Richard and I received a text with these photographs.  (We have been given permission to post these photos.)

Emma used her skills of persuasion to get everyone to play a rousing game of Duck, duck, goose.


J & G & Em

The sleepover was a wild success!

When Emma came home the next day she ran over to me, threw her arms around my neck and said, “Do you want to know Emma’s sleepover was so much fun?”

“Yes!  I do want to know that!” I said.

“Emma had fun at Emma’s sleepover!”  She said and then ran into the other room to find her dad.  A few minutes later she came back and said, “Go to Gabby’s house?  Have a sleepover with Gabby?”  (Gabby is one of Emma’s cousins.)

I will have to take a page from Richard’s book, gulp down my nervousness and do something I would normally never do.  I will have to call my cousins and ask.  Maybe they’ll say no.  Maybe they’ll say yes.  Either way I have to ask because my daughter needs to do this.  She needs to have these experiences, they are important and my shyness and concerns have to take a back seat to the more important issue here, which is to do what I can to have Emma included.  The Autcom Conference gave me a glimpse into how important inclusion is, not just to those who are routinely excluded, but to all people; we all benefit from inclusion.

A Conversation in the Car

Because Em has just brought in the timer and set it for ten minutes, this will be quick!  Kind of like speed posting.  (Post on Markram interview will have to wait yet another day!)

I posted the following conversation on Emma’s Hope Book page on Facebook last night.

Driving home from the swimming pool. Nic and Em in the back seat. 

Nic: Em stop it.

Em: Cha, cha, cha

Nic: Mom! Make her stop. She’s doing that just because she knows how much it annoys me!

Em: Cha, Cha, Cha

Me: Turning around to monitor the situation  Okay, Em. What are you doing?

Nic: She’s trying to bug me!

Em: Grinning  Cha, cha, chocolate milk!

Me: Oh my god, that’s hilarious. Richard! Putting my hand on Richard’s shoulder.  Did you hear that?

Richard: What? What happened?  Looks in rearview mirror.

Em: Laughing  Cha, cha, cha, chocolate milk

Nic: She just changed it so you guys wouldn’t make her stop!

Em: Leaning toward Nic, gets right in his face  Cha, cha, cha, chocolate milk!

Nic & Em begin laughing hysterically.

Not only was the above conversation noteworthy because this type of interaction between Nic and Emma is not typical, but it was also worth mentioning because of Em’s increased interest in word play.  I see this in her desire to play Duck, Duck, Goose where she comes up with different word associations.  Sometimes, as in the case of “China boat, china boat, ocean!”  I’m not clear what the word association is, but I no longer doubt that there is one.

Emma eating her cake

Cloud cover over the Rockies

Walter and friends

Paul

Posting Under Pressure

I’m working on a post of my interview with Henry and Kamila Markram when I was in Jerusalem attending the ICare4Autism Conference.  Henry and Kamila Markram are the neuroscientist team who created The Intense World Theory For Autism.  I am trying to finish that for tomorrow’s post.  However, Em is up right now and insisting I made cake with her and that takes precedence over this post getting written.   Besides she has a timer which she’s just set for fifteen minutes.  She started with three minutes, but I’ve negotiated for the fifteen, so I’ve got just enough time to post these photos…

Say hello to Walter.  Yup, he’s one of three bucks who lives next to the barn.  And yes, my cousins named him…  Walter, after my grandfather.  Yeah, I know.  It is a specific sense of humor.  And yes it appears it is genetic.

The teepee that has been on the property since the 70’s or maybe even the 60’s, I can’t remember.  I just know it’s been here almost as long as I have been on this earth.

The dogs – Folgen & Gaia – who love nothing more than to have their frisbee thrown to them.  Emma likes it when I throw their frisbee too.  They just don’t like giving it back to me so that I can throw it again.  Which leads to lots of yelling, “Drop it!  Drop the frisbee!”  And then they do this…

And when they’ve had enough running after the frisbee they take it far away and guard it.  Like this.

We have been playing some massive games of Duck, duck, goose and even Granma has started to run when picked.  My brother and sister-in-law are here so  the game has become a nightly event with lots of laughter and shouting, “Hurry, hurry, SIT, SIT!”

Emma waits to be chosen…

Nic has mastered the art of driving the 4-Wheeler and now takes Em around the ranch.

Em takes the Alien swimming

Whew!  That’s it, I’ve got 42 seconds to hit the “Publish” button!

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“Umbrella, Umbrella, Raincoat!”

Yesterday Emma, wearing one of her eight bathing suits, (Emma goes through bathing suits the way runners go through running shoes) requested that we play a game of “Duck, Duck, Goose.”
“Mommy!  I want to play duck, duck, goose, please!”  Without waiting for an answer she ran to find her brother.  “Nicky, I want to play duck, duck, goose with Nicky please!”  Again she shot out of the room to find her dad.  I could hear her muttering under her breath, “Haveta, gotta find Daddy.  Gotta ask Daddy!”  There was a moment of silence as I imagined she located her father and stood in front of him.  I heard her  say, “Daddy!  I want to play duck, duck, goose please!”

For most parents this sort of request from their child is commonplace, however, with Emma it is far from the norm.   In the past year she has increasingly asked us to engage with her, usually in the form of a chase game, hide and go seek or other activity involving lots of running and ending with tickling and loud utterances of “You better run!  I’m going to get you!”  followed by maniacal laughter – Woooohahahahahaha – done in a creepy, deep sounding voice.  These sorts of activities necessitate a lot of lung power and is how I justify not having a gym membership in an area of the city that is purported to have more gyms than any other.  I know it’s a stretch, but allow me to cling to my lame reasoning.

Within minutes Emma had managed to pry her brother away from his favorite TV show, Chopped, me from my emails, Richard from his book and gathered us together on the floor where we sat in a circle as Emma stood over us and began.  “Umbrella.  Umbrella.  Umbrella,” she said as she pushed down on each of our heads.  She even pretended there were more of us than there actually were and mimed patting at least three more heads of imaginary people seated in our circle with us.  “Raincoat!” she shouted after a third orbit around us and pushing on my head.

The whole, shouting out “Goose!” while patting the chosen person on the head then running as they manage to upright themselves from a cross-legged position and chase her, is the one part of the game Emma hasn’t quite gotten down.  However, it must be said, she is at an advantage as both Richard and I are in our golden years aka members of  AARP and careening rapidly into senior citizen status and so bounding from sitting position to standing takes us a tad bit longer than it once did.  Still, Emma is easily caught, but other than this small adjustment to the game, she gets it and loves it.

I’d like to point out her creative amendment to the game in using variations on the duck, duck, goose theme.  I loved “Umbrella, umbrella, raincoat,” which is a variation on her other favorite, “Carousel, carousel, horsey!”

What an awesome kid!

To read my latest piece, Emma’s New Shoes, in the Huffington Post, click ‘here

And if you haven’t already done so, do vote for Emma’s Hope Book by clicking this ‘link‘ and clicking on the “like” button opposite Emma’s Hope Book.