Amid bike riding (22 miles on Sunday for a 50 miles weekend), walking, pacing, stomping in certain areas of the house where the floor has lines (hardwood floor or linoleum squares), and of course, eating (including a frozen fry and apple snack at 11pm because a teenage boy's clock is, truly, in his belly), Charlie has been typing on his iPad.
Lest I give you the wrong impression and you think he is typing phrases and sentences to express wants, states of mind and conversation, he is typing two-word phrases beginning with 'teletubbies' and about 25 (give or take) nouns, verbs, adjectives or prepositions (most in English) that I have discovered are good search terms for a good range of Teletubbies videos. He is also only typing into the little search box on the YouTube app.
It's not proto-communication by any means. It's to watch snippets of Teletubbie videos that the three of us have been watching for 13 years, give or take. I know them by heart as I am sure Charlie does and as he scans the rows of videos I think of Iris Murdoch at the end of her life with Alzheimer's watching Teletubbies and The Fire and the Sun.
Is it useful? Better than nothing?
Oughtn't I to be shaping it into something else, trying to have Charlie type on the Notes or Pages app or showing him the words on a piece of paper?
It's a something of a yes answer to all. I've often thought that if we could find some format that provided Charlie with a motivation to write or read, it might be the key. Perhaps we have found it, or something on the way to it; it is not likely that Charlie will encounter the word 'Teletubbies' too much out in the world.
From all the repetition, he can type 'Teletubbies' on his own as well as 'favorite' and 'Kinderreime,' these being words I had found useful for finding videos he liked, when he was typing on a laptop before he had the iPad. 'Kinderreime' is German for 'nursery rhyme': There is a Teletubbies nursery rhymes video that Charlie loved when he was little and, one day, I had thought to search in foreign languages for videos, on the theory that such would be more likely to elude the copyright police.
He is also close to typing 'tree' on his own. I can see him smiling sometimes when typing in 'favorite' and 'Kinderreime,' pleased that he is typing on his own.
Where will it lead?
I have been refraining from imposing too much didactic mom-order on Charlie's typing. I've done that before with some things and killed them, undoing Charlie's interest and most likely confusing him with my teacherly ways. Last night I had him type Barney with another word but the results were not of purple dinosaurs but someone's dog.
So 'type B ocean' remains for Teletubbie videos. We've been having a few sessions a day of this, often before bed and the trick is that I be willing to sit with Charlie as he types and types and types. It hasn't yet occurred to him, he could just do it on his own and so I feel like Annie Sullivan may have, or an anamensis.
I am enjoying it. Few have been the times that Charlie has ever shown interest in the written, the typed word.