Monday, March 14, 2016

Here Be Monsters

One of the things we are working on daily, is Liam's ability to communicate the idea of "why."  Although he clearly understands the concept of cause and effect, he's usually unable to articulate anything beyond the most direct physical observation (ie: Question: "why is the table wet?" Answer: "because I spilled the mug.")

Today we were driving home from Urban Homeschoolers and I took an earlier off-ramp than usual, to make a stop at Trader Joe's.  I was surprised when Liam piped up from the back seat, "that's the wrong way!" 

I explained that we had to go to the store before we went home.  As we traveled down Alameda Ave., I glanced back to see that he was laying sideways in the seat (as far as the belt would allow).  This isn't the first time he's done that on this particular stretch of road.

"Why do you hide when we are in Toluca Lake?"

"I'm scared."

"What are you scared of?"

No answer.

Later this evening, I heard a yelp from Liam's bedroom where he had been playing on his computer.  It was the kind of high-pitched squeal reserved for moments of pain or peak frustration, so we ran to his room. 

Once again, we tried asking what had happened. 

"I didn't like it."

"What didn't you like?"

"I cry when I don't like it."

"I see that you are upset.  What made you sad?"

Eventually, we teased out that something in the video he had been watching had disturbed him.  I guessed it was the baby crying - he is really bothered by babies crying. 

"Today has had a lot of scary things, hasn't it?"  I offered.  I was hoping that a little time might have allowed Liam to be able to talk about hiding out in the car.

"First there was a fly in science class, then you hid in the car in Toluca Lake and now this."

At the words, "Toluca Lake,"  Liam's eyes grew wide and he ran to me to give me a hug and keep me from going any further.  "Don't talk about it!" 

"OK.  I just wondered why you are scared of Toluca Lake."

"Toluca Lake is a monster."

"A monster?"  I ran through a mental roadmap of the area, trying to imagine what "monster" he had seen and then it made sense.  "Does the statue in front of Bob's Big Boy creep you out?"

From his reaction, I could see I'd hit a nerve.  I remembered that he always ducked down just before we reached the historic Big Boy's with the giant statue of a hamburger wielding Bob.

I don't blame him.  It is a creepy statue. 
It was a tiny, but important step - being able to tell me a detail about what scared him.  But at last, I've solved the mystery of the Toluca Lake Monster!

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