Learning to Write

As I had written in a previous post, I believed that once Nigel learned to write, that would “liberate him to no end.” Last night I came across a description I wrote seven years ago about Nigel learning to write:

Near the end of the year, Nigel began printing his name. Just a month before, he refused to hold any writing utensil, as he had been doing since age three when we first tried to get him to scribble; he seemed to have an aversion to holding pens, pencils, crayons, and markers. But now, at six, he has begun. Being a bit of a perfectionist, he gets very frustrated with himself because he has trouble making the letter G, both big and small. But he perseveres, and now, just three months later, he writes full sentences, short “letters,” even. (“Dear mom, Mom get string cheese, Love mom” – I’ve tried to tell him that he needs to say “Love, Nigel” on his letters so that the people know they’re from him, but I guess he thinks, Why wouldn’t you know who it was from? I just handed this to you, so you must know it’s from ME.)

He has also started drawing for the first time, which is fabulous. The first things he drew were little cars with smiley faces. I will always remember how happy I was when he started writing and drawing. The first night he did, he came to me and asked me to “write a letter to Tigger.” I told him I was washing dishes and I would do it as soon as I was finished. A few minutes later, I turned around and there he was at the kitchen table, hunched over a piece of paper, writing diligently, struggling with the Gs in Tigger. I looked over his shoulder just as he was finishing, and saw that he had written, “Dear Tigger, jumps note, Piglet and Pooh.” He put it in an envelope because he wanted to mail it to him.

Since then, Nigel has been writing and drawing every day. He went through a sign-making phase. He put up signs all over the house saying things like, “Warning: Do not let mom out of the house” on the back door, “No children allowed” inside the front door of Aaron’s [his father’s] house, “No smoking,” on Aaron’s closet door, “Reward: Do not let dogs out of the cage” on his and Aidan’s bedroom door, and several “Missing: Stuart Little” signs all over the living room when he couldn’t find his Stuart Little video. Currently, he has been drawing traffic lights and houses. He also recently drew an adult male lion and a lion cub, and when I asked him who it was, he said, “Simba and his dad.” I initially thought that Nigel’s writing and drawing would be a way to communicate his needs, but it has revealed more about his emotions and priorities than I ever would have imagined.