Only recently did Niki and I realise that we constantly improvise a sound track to Ronan’s life. There is the swoosh, swoosh, sound that accompanies swinging, the chi, chi for bouncing. There are the songs that accompany certain activities: once I caught a fish alive for walking, Tenemos Hambre for eating (courtesy of Ronan’s Spanish Nanny), and Kitharista for calming down (courtesy of Niki’s Greek relatives). There is also the constant description of our activities: “Ronan – I’m preparing your dinner. I’m putting the fish in the bowl, but it needs to cool down first.” Not least, there are the pretend conversations. He says gu. I say good. We repeat ad nausium.
The other part of the sound track comes from Ronan himself. He loves musical instruments: tambourine, spoons, drums. His most prized possession at the moment is his miniature piano. There are also the goalballs with bells inside and the rain makers. When toys do not make sounds then Ronan bangs them together or against the floor so that they do. He adds to this mayhem a host of vocal sounds, some just ah and eh, others are shouts to be heard next door. Our favourite are the giggles when he really enjoys something or the fake laugh when he finds your attention is elsewhere.
Our QTVI has drilled into us the importance of being consistent. However, we have to admit that we find it quite challenging to be so all the time. After a busy day at work with a tired baby in hand, it can be difficult to remember to sing the same song rather than the first one that pops into your head. We have now agreed upon appropriate songs for the major activities – calming, eating, walking, pooing, sleeping. This had led to very consistent behaviour on Ronan’s behalf. When he hears “Here we go round the mulberry bush” he immediately sticks out his hand for his tooth brush. We find this rather amazing given that we sing to him in four languages.
We are now trying to remember to describe everything that we do. I often focus on only one object, such as Ronan’s bowl at dinner time. I say: I have taken your bowl down from the shelf. It is the blue round one today with smooth edges. The bowl is next to your left hand. I try to focus on using the descriptive words encouraged by our QTVI (e.g. smooth, round) and on location words relative to the body (e.g. next to your left hand). If nothing else, these are perhaps the two most important orientation concepts.
As Ronan’s language develops, I’m sure the sound track will start to sound a bit more like normal conversation. For now, we continue to improvise and on occasion we even capture a bit on a recording for posterity’s sake.