Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ice Cream, Yogurt and Mashed Potatoes

(image from Burnt Lumpia)
While eating her vanilla yogurt, Queen Teen stared at her bowl for a long time, then she said, "If yogurt is white, and ice cream is white, and mashed potatoes is white, how do you know which one it is?"

I laughed. I couldn't help it. It was such a surreal question, so I assumed she was joking. But she looked at me so studiously I suddenly realized she was serious. Ooops.

"Um... well... you can smell them," I said.

She sniffed her yogurt. "Smells like yogurt."

"Exactly. If we had any ice cream you could smell that and see how it's different."

Nodding, she kept looking at me as if waiting for me to go on.

"And if we had any mashed potatoes, you could smell those and see how they're different from yogurt and ice cream."

"But what if you can't smell them?"

"Um... you can taste them. Also, mashed potatoes are usually hot and ice cream is usually cold. And yogurt is cold too, but not as cold as ice cream."

She took another bite of yogurt and then looked at me again, waiting.

"And you store them differently. Ice cream is in the freezer, yogurt is in the fridge and mashed potatoes are cooked on the stove." There. I had explained it from every angle. Now she would understand.

She nodded again and took another bite, her eyes looking dreamy as she gazed off into the distance, pondering my explanation.

How did she not know this? I mean, really... isn't the difference between ice cream, yogurt and mashed potatoes obvious?

Not when you're visually impaired.

This was another reminder of how much of the details in life Queen Teen misses. Everything she knows, she's had to be shown, through explanation, contact, and hands-on experience. There is very little incidental learning when you can't see clearly, and it gets even harder when your hearing is poor as well. You can't sit in your chair and watch Mommy cook dinner, you need to be beside Mommy going through the steps of a meal preparation with her.

Sometimes I think I've got this mommy-gig nailed, then other times I realize how much I've assumed she understands and didn't take the time to show her. What else has she missed?


leah said...

It is amazing how much incidental learning is affected by the loss of a single sense- I can't imagine how much a child might miss with two senses affected. The good news is that she was able to verbalize her question so that you could explain it.

Questions like that do remind you how much incidental learning really matters...

Mother of Chaos said...

The things we don't realize...about died laughing about the katsup, though. :)

Emily said...

We run into situations like that a lot, but Noah tends to just assume that he knows the answers. It was encouraging to me to see your daughter questioning things that didn't make sense. I hope we have that to look forward to in the future.

Katy said...

It's a challenge, isn't it? When Charlie was very tiny, we had him smelling stuff a LOT while we talked to him because we were so worried about his vision. Even now, I don't know how much he sees and how much he discerns from his other senses.

Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo said...

and THEN you look at it as you just treat her like any other kid and sometimes forget that she has different abilities.

That, my girl, is a wonderful thing.

Katie said...


Thank you for coming to my blog. Thank you for this post!

WOW...THIS is what I have been looking for!!! Someone to tell me what it is like and not condem me for asking, thinking, etc.

I feel liberated right now. You have opened another world in my brain. I thought I was asking and thinking the right things before, but you are ahead of me by several years. This is HUGE!


Elizabeth said...

This is a wonderful story -- so insightful and inspired. I'm amazed at her ability to articulate what is almost un-articulate. Thank you for sharing the story and your amazing girl with us!

Terena said...

Thank you everyone! What a wonderful outpouring of support. You really made my day.

Kelley, you're right, and that's something I forgot. I do tend to just treat her like any kid. I mean, why does every moment need to be an intervention?

And Katie, you are very welcome. Please contact me any time. If I can be of help, I will gladly do what I can. There is so much support out here in the blogoshpere, as you can see.

Terri said...

I have been overwhelmed by the same sorts of things. It seems like we need to teach every single thing and every single word sometimes... GAHHHH...