Caden is incredibly observant. I like to think of his special skill at “stealthy observance.” He is mostly non-verbal; therefore, people, including me from time to time, think he does not understand. However, understanding and communicating are two separate skill sets. If I am working on something or doing a household chore, Caden pays little attention to me. He may walk by where I am working and just smile. Secretly, he is processing my procedures, tasks, and desired outcome. Caden taught me about how well he “understands” with a hammer. You read correctly.
A couple of years ago, I decided to hang some pictures. Caden paid little attention to my efforts; instead, he ran around the house playing with stuffed animals. After completing my task, my attention was pulled in a different direction. I started working on laundry on the other side of the house. As I sorted clothes, I could hear a soft thumping. I decided to stop with my latest chore and find the source of the sound. The thumping became stronger and louder as I approached. I found Caden holding a hammer in one hand and a nail in position on the wall. He was armed and, most assuredly, dangerous.
He has shown his stealthy observance in other ways too. For example, I have found stuffed animals and pull-ups in the washing machine that were not in the dirty laundry. I appreciate his effort to save us money on pull-ups and to play with clean animals. Capri Sun pouches are found in the dishwasher; that’s why I always check one more time before I turn it on. He knows the use of all power tools and make-up application equipment. I find him dusting from time to time. Resembling me shopping, he pushes his cart through our living room picking items up to verify the price; then, replaces the item on the shelf. While walking through K-Mart’s toy section, he picked up a sword and proceeded to demonstrate his sword fighting skills. Wow, I guess he does pay attention to movies.
While entertaining and exciting, I recognize observation is also dangerous. Caden is obviously a visual learner, which means careful screening of television shows. It also means careful screening of our behavior. I think the latter is the most important lesson. We all see the parental warnings on television — those gentle reminders about violence, language, sex, crude humor, etc. However, we don’t come with a rating system to warn others of our upcoming behaviors. Therefore, parents are left to screen people like television shows and to modify their behaviors to teach by example. In Caden’s case, those lessons are not just moral, they are daily living skills like doing laundry, cleaning the house, getting dressed, and, yes, decorating. After all, “Monkey See; Monkey Do.”