Every Thursday at the ESL class I'm a part of, I often am not always completely aware of where Abe is at every moment. There aren't many doors he can get out of, and with the many Africans working there, he doesn't get far without someone scooping him up for a hug, conversation or story. In fact, I'm often shooed away by one of the staff, telling me that he's fine, they've got him. They let him feed documents through a paper shredder. They let him browse the ToysRUs website, asking him what he wants for his birthday. It's a nice feeling.
Today after class, I found Abe with two of his favorite friends, a lovely Congolese woman and an Ethiopian-Oromo friend. Between their desks is a large window with blinds. Abe knows that blinds are not something he's allowed to play with, but he seems to find them difficult to resist (along with curtains and any other kind of window dressing). While I'd been in the class, Abe was pulling the blinds up and down, just as he knows he's not supposed to do.
Our friend from Congo told me that she explained to him that he shouldn't play with the blinds and why. As she was talking to him, she told me that Abe said, "Could you not talk about that because it irritates me."
For a while now, if any of the parents on our block are giving their kids direction, Abe will interrupt to ask them, "Could you please stop saying that?" Up til now, everyone has thought it was funny and cute. But I think those days are ending. When I heard what he said today, okay I admit, I was stifling a giggle. But I put on my stern face and explained both then and later in the car on the way home that he is not allowed to talk to friends and grown-ups in that way.