Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poker with John Wayne

I apologize for the late post. My weekly goal is to get something up every Friday. Unfortunately, with the holidays, I didn’t get to do that. Instead, with a chance to be lazy and eat seafood, my wife and I took the kids to Myrtle Beach, where we spent a nice Easter weekend with my Dad and his wife.

One of the challenges my wife and I face when dealing with my son Andrew’s disability is metaphors. When Andrew speaks, he talks literally. For example, if I tell Andrew that it’s too cold to go swimming, he understands what I mean. If I say something like “the water’s cold as ice,” then all I’ve done is confuse him. Water is water. Ice is ice. He knows from science class that water can also be either ice (or steam), yet he struggles with a comparison of this nature. “Hard as a rock” and “clear as mud” are other examples that would give him trouble. Despite this, my wife and I do our best to take every opportunity to educate him in the use of metaphors and realize that we may have to explain something a hundred times or more before he gets it (and this statement is not a metaphor).

This past weekend, we had a chance to introduce a new term: poker face. With the early morning temperatures chilly, we slept in late, had a late breakfast, and watched TV until we all went shopping or went out to the beach. (Ok. While the women shopped, the men watched college basketball. I admit it.) One of the things we watched was the John Wayne film “Rio Bravo.” During one scene, Wayne, the sheriff, accosts a cheater at a poker table and takes his winnings, giving it back to the other players. “What happened,” Andrew wanted to know. Grandpa decided that I had missed part of Andrew’s education. It was time to teach him to play poker.

Using grapes for chips, Grandpa and grandson discussed high card and low card, one pair and two pairs, three of a kind, and full houses. The concept of a straights and flushes would have to wait for another day. Raises and calls were even further away. The idea of bluffing was alien. “You have to keep a straight face, Andrew. You can’t let Grandpa know what you have.” However, Andrew, like his Dad, has no poker face. His face is easy to read.

Within an hour, the grapes were gone. I’m not sure if someone won or if the players just ate the chips. I knew Andrew was no closer to understanding the concept of “poker face,” but realized that he had the best face among all three generations. Spending time with Grandpa, Andrew didn’t care what was in his hand. He always had the same expression: a smile.


Tami Brothers said...

I love this, Walt!!!

Great story.


Devon Gray said...

Great post! I can imagine that everyday language could prove to be quite a challenge for Andrew. There are so many quirky sayings that we use without a second thought. You are right, children are literal, and for Andrew, a metaphor would be difficult to wrap his head around.

Hey- I went to high school in Myrtle Beach. Man, that was a blast! I hope you enjoyed your trip.

Walt M said...

Tami, glad you enjoyed it.