Last night, Ben took off his socks and when I mentioned playfully that I could see his toes, he grinned at me and pointed to his pinky toe and said, "Aki pee."
Then we both launched in to the following little ditty in unison, counting down the rest of his toes: "Aki Pee, Penny Lou, Lootie Whistle, Mary Osso, BIG TOM BUMBO!"
Ben looked me straight in the eye and said, struggling at bit, "Who is called?...Someone teached me..."
He was asking, in his own way, "What was the name of the person who taught me that?"
"Therese." I reminded him.
My cousin, Jay, and his wife Therese visited us nearly a year and a half ago and Therese taught him this catchy, silly alternative to This Little Piggy. He remembers it, of course, and he remembers her.
"Therese." Ben replied, smiling sweetly. "Therese!" he said several times, like an old man savoring the memory of a first sweetheart.
I love hearing Ben's attempts to string words together on his own like this. "Who is called?...Someone teached me." It's something he never could have said several months ago, yet his syntax reveals how much Ben is like a person who is learning English with no native language to fall back on.
No wonder he resorts to echolalia. I would too.
His syntax sometimes reminds me of Alan Arkin in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming.
"Emergency. Everybody to get from street."
And coming from Ben it's always music to my ears.