Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Awareness of Colors Leads to a Conversation

Many children with autism seem stuck in their own world and don’t take much notice of their surroundings. It was like that with Kai for a long time. But lately, he seems to have a growing sense of awareness of the world around him, and is commenting on it more and more.

Kai has always had a fascination with colors. Not too long ago, he was obsessed with the 120 Crayola Crayon colors. This has now carried over into his observations.

When we are out driving, Kai constantly comments when he sees a car that has a bright or an unusual color.

“That car is lemon colored,” he will point out.

“There’s a kiwi Bug,” he will say as we pass a green VW Beetle.

I am using his newfound interest to interact with him more. I like to point out vehicles and ask Kai to describe the color.

“That’s mango, Dad,” he might say.

Sometimes we debate the colors.

“That truck is asparagus colored,” he would say. I’d respond, “I think it’s more like Pine Green.”

Parents of typical children may not understand the joy I get from discussing car colors with Kai. It is not just because it provides opportunities to make conversation with him about something other than Pokémon. It’s that having any conversation with him is a pleasure after thinking we may never have that opportunity when he was younger. Knowing that he is emerging out of the shell of his own world is a further bonus.

Yesterday, he noticed the color of something other than a car or truck.

We were sitting on our sofa in our basement. He was looking at me, then said, “Dad, you have some gray hair.”

He examined my head more closely.

“You have a lot of gray hair. Why do you have so much gray hair?”

I told him that I was not a young man and that people’s hair turns gray as they get older.

“You have some white hair.”

Oh, why couldn’t he have stuck to noticing colors on cars?

Then, he blurted out, “You have gray hair because I said I didn’t want to be your dad anymore.”

I don’t know where he got that idea from – it is possible that he heard my wife joking about how my hair turned gray after I married and became a dad.

I didn’t want him thinking he was causing me to age. So I told him again that everyone’s hair turns gray as they get older.

But then he started talking about how I had gotten angry when I was trying to help him with his Thinkwell math. I think he had connected that to my hair turning gray.

I told him that I should not have lost my temper. I apologized, and said I would try to be more patient when helping him.

We talked some more, with each of us acknowledging how we get angry sometimes, but how that doesn’t feel good. And how we will both try harder not to be like that.

From kiwi Bugs to gray hair to this. You never know what might come up when you listen to your child and try to engage with them.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Scorn for Dad, and Mom, Too

When my son gets mad, he says some mean things. But sometimes, if you can maintain your sense of humor, what he says is funny.

Over the summer, we are having Kai get some extra math work in by doing an online math program called Thinkwell. I was tipped off to this excellent resource by my blog friend, Shiroi Tora, who writes about his experiences raising his 2E son.

Kai generally enjoys doing the Thinkwell program, but occasionally he doesn’t know how to solve one of the problems. In those situations, I ask him questions that make him think about the problem differently. The idea is to help him to figure it out without my giving him the answer.

But once Kai starts to get frustrated, he doesn’t listen, starts to whine and complain, and wants to give up. And that frustrates me.

If I lose patience, I will raise my voice. Of course, that never seems to get him to pay attention any better. It just leads to increased frustration on both sides.

Yesterday we had one of those situations. As often happens when he is angry with me, Kai started yelling that he did not want to be my dad anymore. (Ha, I really need to teach him that he should say that he doesn’t want to be my son anymore).

But then he recalled that he wanted to play water balloons later. As Mom had already told him that she did not want to get wet on this day, he knew that I was his only option. So, in the midst of his rage, he started saying, “Well, you can still play water balloons with me.”

I told him that I might not want to play water balloons with him since he did not want me to be his dad anymore.

He then started to cry a bit and apologized for saying that. He said that I could be his dad.

He went on to say that when he was really mad he loved me only 50% but now he loved me 60% so I had attained the next level, and that meant that it was okay for him to play water balloons with me.

That brought a smile to my face. He noticed, and asked me why I was smiling.

I told him that I loved him 100%, even when I am angry with him. Then I said that I would be happy to play water balloons with him.

And we did play. And had great fun.

And after that, we further cooled off on this hot afternoon with some sorbet. His anger was long forgotten.

But, after we got home from our trip to get sorbet, it was time for our weekly Skype call with my wife’s parents in Japan.

On this occasion, as we were running late for dinner, I went outside to grill chicken while my wife initiated the Skype session. Kai had gone downstairs to go on the computer.

Usually, it is a challenge to get Kai to say much to his grandparents and he rarely sits through an entire Skype call. If he is busy doing something, it is often hard to pull him away to talk to them. So, on this occasion, my wife decided to start talking to them alone.

When I came inside with the chicken, my wife was done with the call. She said that she had taken the laptop downstairs toward the end of the call but Kai did not say anything to his grandparents.

I went downstairs to tell him that dinner was ready. He was furious.

He said that he was mad at his grandparents, but that did not make sense. After asking him more questions, I found out that he was mad at Mom because she had Skyped without him.

When I told my wife what was going on, she was surprised. Who wouldn’t be? Kai never seemed to care about the Skype calls that much before.

He then came upstairs and said that he was not going to eat dinner. He told my wife that he did not want to be her Mom anymore. Ha, now it was her turn to be the object of his scorn.

He angrily said that he wanted to Skype his grandparents. We tried to tell him that the call was over and they were offline. But, we realized that it would be easier just to get them back online than to get Kai to calm down.

So my wife called them up on the landline and asked them to come back online.

And we connected with them via Skype again.

So, after all that, did Kai have a lot to tell them? Umm, not so much.

But he did say a few things. And he was happy to see his grandparents.

And then he calmed down. And he did end up eating dinner.

And by the end of the evening, his love for us was back up to… well, I’m not sure. But I think it was more than 60%.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Swimmingly Good, and Some Adversity, Too

After two days of summer school, my son is off to good start adjusting to being in a new classroom and having a new teacher. He has been safe both days, and his teacher reported that he has been happy and doing a nice job. It probably helped that she let the students pick something out of her prize box on the first day and Kai found a couple of Pokémon cards.

Of course, life with Kai usually means that even when things are going well in one area, there are often complications in other areas.

Yesterday, Kai came home from school in a good mood. After greeting him, I went back to my home office feeling happy that he had had another good day.

But about a half hour later, when it was time for him to leave for his swim lesson, I heard some yelling. I came out to see what was going on.

My wife explained that Kai said he wanted a Nintendo DS. (Quick aside: I don’t know where this desire for a DS came from. I am pretty sure he has seen them before and he never was interested at all. Perhaps he is becoming more in tune with his surroundings and taking more of an interest in things that other children have.)

Anyway, my wife said she told him that perhaps he could get it for Hanukkah or Christmas. When he said he did not want to wait that long, she mentioned that he might be able to earn it if he achieved Level 4 at school.

He was not happy with that idea. When Kai wants something, he wants it RIGHT NOW. He does not like waiting even a week for something. To wait until the end of the year probably seemed like an eternity.

But one of my goals has been to try to teach him to be able to wait for things, and to work a longer period of time before getting rewarded. I believe that it is a crucial skill he needs to learn. But it is not easy to teach.

In this case, he whined and moaned and yelled that he can’t wait that long and that he wanted it now. He said that he would not go to his swim lesson.

As it was already late, I felt an urgency to get him going. We could have waited him out, tried to calm him down, and reason with him.

I used a different approach.

I put my arms around him, carried him to the garage, and put him into the car. He was screaming the whole time, saying that he didn’t want to be my dad anymore (meaning he did not want me to be his dad).

My wife said that she would not be able to get him into the gym so I got in the car with them, sitting in the back seat next to Kai. During the ride, he kept expressing mean thoughts. But his anger gradually subsided.

At the gym, I thought there was a chance that he might walk in on his own.

Alas, when he refused, I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him into the building. He has grown a lot so he is no longer a small child. If he really resisted, it would have been nearly impossible to get him inside. But he only put up mild resistance and I was able to get him over to his trainer James.

While I was getting Kai into the building, my wife had called James and explained the situation. When he saw us, he started to talk to Kai and gave me the signal to leave. James told me later that Kai calmed down a while after I left.

I went back toward the end of his lesson and saw that Kai is swimming better than ever.

I praised him for recovering and doing a great job with swimming. But I also told him that he had acted poorly and would not be able to play with his Pokémon cards for the rest of the day. He accepted his punishment calmly, as he realized that his actions were not appropriate.

We went on to enjoy the evening, playing yet another game of Monopoly after dinner.

And so it was a day filled with good and bad, adversity and recovery.

I don’t know what will happen the next time the topic of the Nintendo DS comes up, but that is for another time.

Instead, I will leave you with a video of Kai swimming yesterday. His form is not perfect, but he has come a long way.

Monday, June 18, 2012

End of Break, First Day of Summer School

It is the first day of summer school today. And, in some respects, it is Kai’s first day in third grade (though summer school is not the same academically).

Kai had the same teacher for both first and second grade. But today he transitions into his third grade classroom with a new teacher.

All changes are potentially difficult for my son. Moving from a classroom where he had grown very comfortable to a new class will likely bring some difficult moments.

In the past few weeks, Kai has shown a few signs of anxiety about the upcoming change. Although many of his classmates from second grade will be with him in his new class, his best friend, and perhaps only friend, will not. And that may be tougher on him than getting used to a new teacher.

We wondered whether his anxiety played any part in him having a somewhat rough last few weeks at the end of his second grade school year. Since making Level 3, he hasn’t come close to maintaining his good behavior, as he had several incidents in each of his last few weeks of school.

Still, this morning, after he woke up, when I asked him how he felt about going back to school, he said he was happy. And he did not seem anxious at all. So hopefully he will adjust and get off to a good start.

But one thing already happened that illustrated that it won’t be easy.

As frequently happens at the beginning of the term, the taxi company switched drivers. The new driver came to pick Kai up about 15 minutes earlier than the time the previous driver came. We did not have Kai ready to go. He still needed to take his medicines.

When I spotted the cab turning into our driveway, I let Kai know it was here and that he needed to hurry up. Most kids would speed up and try to get ready faster. Kai, however, got upset at the early arrival and refused to take his medicines.

The more I tried to get him to speed up, the more he refused to do anything. My wife finally got him to calm down and he eventually did take the medicine while the cab driver patiently waited for him.

So now he is off to school. But who knows what kind of day he is having.

* * * * *

We enjoyed the rest of his one-week break from school. After the busy first few days, we took it a bit easier the last few days, though still filled with much activity.

We had a nice Father’s Day yesterday. We started out with a Mexican breakfast.

Then we played several games of Monopoly on the Wii. The Wii version has a number of different boards, and Kai wanted to unlock and play all of them. He doesn’t really have the patience to sustain throughout a full game of Monopoly, but we tried to speed things up and go bankrupt rather than playing things out to the bitter end.

For dinner, Kai helped by shucking the corn on the cob. (We brushed olive oil on the corn, seasoned them with salt and garlic, wrapped each cob in foil, and put them on the grill over medium heat for 30 minutes.)

My wife made one of my favorites, fried chicken. She baked the chicken after the initial frying, which made it less greasy, healthier, very moist, and very tasty.

After dinner, Kai wanted to make cucumber-mint water from a recipe he found in a magazine for kids. It was a refreshing, healthy drink for a warm summer evening.

It was certainly a nice Father’s Day. But I like to think that getting to spend time with your family makes every day father’s day. And you can’t beat that.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Helping Mom Make Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Over the weekend, when we were at the farm where we picked our own strawberries, Kai spotted rhubarbs for sale. He had never seen them before and was curious. He asked what they were and how they tasted. We explained that they are frequently used in pies.

Kai wanted us to make a rhubarb pie, so we got some and my wife looked up recipes

She found a recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, and Kai was excited to help make it yesterday.

He helped chop the rhubarb under the nervous supervision of Mom.

He added the rhubarb and some of the strawberries we had picked to the cake tin.

He helped crack the eggs and add in water.

He assisted Mom with the mixer.

And poured the cake batter.

He was very happy when the cake was baked and Mom flipped it upside down.

It tasted yummy!

I don’t know how long it will last, but right now Kai really enjoys helping Mom in the kitchen. It made for a nice Mom-and-son activity.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend: Exhausting, Fun, Exhausting


That is how I feel after the first three days of Kai’s summer break.

We took advantage of his free time to travel to Michigan to visit his grandparents.

Along the way, we stopped in St. Joseph, Michigan and enjoyed a picnic lunch along the bluff that overlooks Lake Michigan. Well, ‘enjoyed’ is perhaps not the best word. The view was nice but things grew tense when we had to battle Kai to get him to eat his tuna sandwich. He finally ended up eating it, but the relaxed mood was long shattered.

After lunch, we took a short walk to investigate some nearby sites.

We found one place that had old funhouse mirrors that Kai enjoyed.

But it was when we got to the interactive water fountains that everyone’s spirit finally lightened. Kai loved splashing through all the different water jets, and we enjoyed watching him have so much fun.

When we got to his grandparents’ house, Kai quickly engaged in a discussion of Pokémon with Papa. After many peaceful months with no talk of Pokémon, Kai’s obsession was rekindled when my wife gave him some Pokémon games she found at a garage sale. Kai’s grandfather seemed to enjoy the interaction with his grandson, not having tired of the Pokémon talk like we had.

Later in the afternoon, we hit the beautiful beach with Bubbe.

Going to the beach remains one of Kai’s favorite activities, and a visit to the beach would not be complete for him without a good roll in the sand.

That night, we had a family game night. One of our games was Qwirkle, which requires matching tiles with different shapes and colors. Kai distracted me to no end by goofing around and not seeming to pay attention. But whenever his turn came up, he seemed to find a good move to make and he ended up winning the game.

The next day brought a trip to a waterpark. After our recent visit to the waterpark near our home, Kai really wanted to go to the one in Michigan. We thought he would love the slides.

But, as is seemingly always the case with Kai, we had to take two steps back before taking three steps forward.

He wanted to start on the lazy river. He again was scared of the fountains of water despite having just run through fountains the day before.

When we went to try our first slide, our troubles really started. We decided to try one where the three of us would ride a round raft down a long slide. Everyone has to carry a raft up to the top themselves, and we found out they are not light. When we were halfway up, Kai said he was scared and refused to go up any further.

I stayed to watch the raft while my wife tried to change his mind as Kai ran back down the path. After several minutes, I realized they were not coming back and abandoned the raft.

I found the two of them in a mutual state of anger. My wife wanted to leave and told Kai we would never go to a waterpark again. Kai wanted to go home as well. Although it is often my wife’s job to be the calm one, this time it was my turn.

I sent my wife off to get food while I took Kai to a pool portion of the park. He started to calm down. Then we went on the lazy river, where he calmed more.

Finally, I told him matter of factly that we were going to go down a (different) slide. He was scared, and at first refused. But I persisted and reassured him that he would be safe. I told him that Mom would be happy again if he went down the slide.

And so we went.

And he loved it.

He could not wait to go find Mom to tell her that he had gone down a slide. She took awhile to warm up to him, but after we all had lunch, we were all in good spirits again. We all went down the slide several times.

Late in the afternoon, Kai said that he wanted to try the raft slide that he had backed out of earlier. My wife and I lugged the heavy raft up the hill. We waited in line. I was wondering if Kai would change his mind.

But he did not.

And when we started going down the slide, he joyously yelled that this was the best slide of all.

* * * * *

The next morning we went to a pick-your-own strawberry farm. The following picture shows Kai doing some actual picking. Usually he just wants to eat, but this time he collected some in his container.

What the picture does not show, however, is the battle that ensued prior to our going. Kai had wanted pancakes for breakfast, but then ate very little of it. I was determined that he eat at least half of one pancake, and told him that we would not going strawberry picking until he did.

My patience wore thin as the temperature outside kept rising while we battled it out. No one wanted to pick strawberries once the day got too hot.

Finally, Kai ate his breakfast, and we did have a nice time picking berries.

On our way home from Bubbe and Papa’s house, we went to a rather unique place where volunteers run old steam engine trains for visitors to ride on. The trains are of three sizes, with the biggest being a full-size steam engine. But our favorite was this small train that took us on a nice ride through the woods.

Even this occasion was not without its stress. It was a very hot day, and my wife and I wanted to take a very short break to get a cold drink. Kai quickly angered and said very mean words because he wanted to keep riding trains without a break. The quickness to anger is something we are still dealing with, and it can be challenging as to how to handle it.

I wanted to teach him that his words and actions were inappropriate, but did not want to leave without finishing riding all the trains. In the end, I decided that Kai would not be allowed to watch videos in the car on the way home for a period of time. I’m not sure it was severe enough of a consequence, and it is something I continue to ponder.

On the way home, we got stuck in really bad traffic as we neared downtown Chicago. Our GPS suggested an alternate route that took us into Chinatown. When Kai saw the signs, he said he wanted to eat in a Chinese restaurant. My wife did not want to cook dinner once we got home, and I felt like taking a break from the horrible traffic, so we decided to make our first visit to Chinatown with Kai.

There are many choices of places to eat, but we picked a spot we had heard of. Kai ate a seafood dish with rice noodles while my wife and I shared Mongolian beef, barbecue pork, and sweet and sour chicken.

Kai wasn’t perfectly behaved, as he danced around a bit and hit his chopsticks together, But the restaurant was not crowded and he did fairly well otherwise.

So now we are home.

Last night, as he did the first night at his grandparents’ house, he awoke at 3AM and complained that his back was itchy. Although his skin is not red, it may have gotten a bit sunburned.

Between the interrupted sleep, all of the battles, and the many activities, I am exhausted.

And it is only three days into summer break.

Thank goodness summer school starts in one week.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Family Bike Ride

After our son’s recognition ceremony the other day, we celebrated by going for a family bike ride.

Last fall, after Kai finally learned to ride a bike, we rode together several times. But once we stopped over the winter, biking slipped our mind and we did not get back to it until Wednesday.

This time, we decided to try a new trail, along a forest preserve not too far from our house.

I took the lead, while Kai was supposed to ride behind me, with my wife in back of him. But Kai was tentative, as his anxiety about riding had returned. He still remembered how to ride, but he pedaled about as slowly as you can while still moving.

I hardly pedaled at all except for places when we went uphill. Still, Kai trailed far behind me.

When I stopped to wait, he yelled at me to keep pedaling. And if I kept waiting, his yells would reach a panic pitch, as if he were afraid he was going to crash into me despite the fact that I always seemed to be about 30 yards ahead of him.

Still, I was pleased that he didn’t ask to turn back or go home. All too often, our attempts at activities like this end early with Kai quitting, me getting frustrated, and all having a bad time.

On this occasion, the weather was perfect for biking, and as we biked along we enjoyed the scenic path.

The path had mile markers along the way, and perhaps that helped motivate him to keep going.

The loop we made was 4.4 miles. That is not far, but it was the farthest and longest we had biked together.

And when we finished, we celebrated with ice cream and a popsicle.

It could not have been a nicer day all around.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

School Recognition Ceremony

Yesterday was the annual recognition ceremony at our son’s school. We look forward to it, as the school does a great job of celebrating the achievements of all the students.

My wife and I arrived early to attend the silent auction fundraiser. While we were browsing the items up for auction, a student approached me.

“Are you Kai’s father?”

I told him that I was.

“I thought so. You look smart just like him.”

Ha! How funny that I can bask in the reflection of my son’s intelligence.

I asked the boy if he was in Kai’s math class, and he said that he was. He went on to tell me in more detail about how well Kai does in his class, and that perhaps he will become a math professor one day. This is now the second boy in Kai’s math class who approached us to tell us how smart they thought Kai is.

During the ceremony, we saw the boy who previously spoke to my wife about Kai. I was very happy when Anthony received recognition from his teacher for being supportive of Kai. I saw Anthony afterward, and thanked him for being such a wonderful big brother to Kai at school.

The ceremony kicked off with the students performing True Colors, the old Cyndi Lauper song. They performed it in sign language as well as singing it.

Kai’s class was the first to be honored. Kai happily bounded up to the front when his teacher called his name.

He received many awards, perhaps more than most other students. Afterwards, other parents commented to us on how many things Kai was recognized for. We had to explain that he was so honored because he has many areas of deficiencies to work on.

He was recognized for working at the school’s Snack Shop, which the school’s speech therapist created so kids with social and language difficulties can get real-life practice speaking with others.

He also received an award for helping to set up the school’s computer lab each morning. That job came about when the staff brainstormed ways to help Kai get off to a better start each morning. They figured that taking boxes of paper to the lab would settle his sensory needs before he had to sit still in the classroom.

But the recognition I was most pleased with is the Superflex award. Kai has long struggled with being flexible and accepting changes. He is making some progress in this most challenging area, and this award is an indication of that.

I was also happy that Kai sat nicely throughout the entire event. There were a lot of awards handed out, and he appeared to handle the waiting well.

It is hard to believe that another school year has come to an end. I’m sure all parents feel this way, but it seems like the school year goes by faster every year.

When we saw the fifth graders who will be moving on to middle school, they definitely looked more mature. It is kind of hard to believe that Kai is now about halfway through elementary school and it will be only three more years before he is one of the older kids who will be moving on.

Though he does look somewhat mature in his tie, don’t you think?

Congratulations, Kai! You are growing up fast.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Frequent Urination: Another Opinion

Our son has needed to urinate extraordinarily frequently lately. Our pediatrician turned up nothing on a urine culture, and suggested that the problem was all in our son’s head.

When the problem persisted, we decided to get a second opinion. We made an appointment to see a urologist.

We had our first visit a couple of weeks ago. I was happy when the doctor did not immediately dismiss this as a psychological problem.

Instead, she told us of several possible causes for frequent urination including diet (especially if a person is eating a lot of packaged foods that are high in sodium), medication (which may cause frequent urination as a side effect), and constipation (even minor constipation may cause pressure against the bladder which leads to discomfort and feeling the need to pee).

Of these possible alternatives, none really closely matched Kai’s case. Unlike many families, we do not eat much packaged foods. My wife prepares many meals from scratch, even making homemade vegetable juice rather than getting it store bought. And while Kai may have potato chips on occasion, it is not something he consumes on a frequent basis. So, it is unlikely that a high sodium diet is the cause of this.

Medication is a possibility. We have Kai on a number of medicines and supplements. He is currently on a small dose of risperidone, and its side effects could lead to this problem. But his latest blood test indicates that his glucose level is fine, indicating that it is not the cause. And since the problem started, we experimented with temporarily eliminating the newest drugs that Kai had been on to see if it made a difference with his urination. It did not, which suggests that these medications are the issue either.

Constipation also seemed unlikely, as Kai has a bowel movement every day. But the doctor said that a person could have minor constipation even if he or she has a bowel movement every day. It may be that it is just more difficult to go, rather than not going at all. Still, even with this relaxed standard, it seemed unlikely that Kai was suffering from constipation.

Despite this, the doctor did not make the conclusion that the problem was purely psychological. She directed us to keep a diary of Kai’s urination schedule for two days. We would record the time and amount he peed every time he went.

Also, on our return visit, she wanted him to come with a full bladder, and they would measure the amount of urine still in his bladder after he peed.

Yesterday was our return visit.

He peed after we arrived at the office – about 300 cc. Then they did an ultrasound on his bladder and was able to see that he still had quite a bit of urine left in there. They estimated that about a third of his urine did not get discharged when he peed.

The doctor reviewed the diary. She saw that he sometimes peed quite a bit soon after he had peed, and concluded he wasn’t releasing all of the urine from his bladder at home either.

She explained that sometimes people put pressure on the bladder, closing it instead of keeping it open. In those cases, she said that it can be taught to relax the muscles to keep the area open and allow the free flow of urine out of the bladder.

While there are drugs that can treat this as well, she recommended that we first try a special type of training that they offer in the office. For this training, several probes are connected to the patient’s bottom area, with the other end connected to a computer. The patient watches the monitor, and is taught the right way to flex and relax the appropriate muscles.

We have scheduled our first training session for Kai next week.

I am not sure that this will completely resolve the issue. But it seems to make intuitive sense that he would have anxiety about going if his bladder is not emptied out.

And so, it is good to have found a possible answer to this mystery. And I am especially pleased to have found a knowledgeable doctor who did not jump to a conclusion just because my son has autism.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Weekend: Quizzes and New Foods

We spent a relatively quiet time at home this weekend. No waterparks or other special events.

So, we found other ways to have fun.

We took out an academic quiz game that Kai’s grandmother had given him for his birthday. I played the Alex Trebek role while my wife and Kai took turns answering the questions. As my wife was not educated in this country, her knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and U.S. geography is at about the same level as Kai’s. Oftentimes, she learns from looking over his schoolwork. And on this quiz, Kai scored better than she did, so I think she has to do more homework. ☺

After that, when we went to the library, Kai wanted to get the Jeopardy game for the Wii. Most of those questions were far too advanced for him, but he did get a few correct.

We also had some fun moments in the kitchen.

Kai enjoys helping out with meal preparations at times. On Saturday morning, he helped make the blueberry pancakes we had for breakfast.

On Sunday, my wife made a Japanese meal for dinner. Other than rice, which is a staple with most dinners, we don’t have Japanese food all that often. In the past, Kai did not want to try different foods, so whenever we did have Japanese foods, my wife often made a separate dish for him.

Lately, however, Kai has grown more interested in trying all kinds of different foods.

On this evening, my wife prepared a fish she got from the local market that specializes in Japanese groceries.

This fish, called Shishamo (smelt), is a Japanese delicacy and is prepared whole on a grill. It is consumed from head to tail. Nothing is uneaten.

I don’t recall eating this fish as an adult. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to eat the head.

I was surprised when Kai said that he wanted to try it. He eagerly bit off the head.

And then he proceeded to eat the rest of the fish.

Well, after that, I knew that I had to try it, too.

I did. And it was delicious.

Usually, I am the one trying to get Kai to try something new. This time his fearlessness gave me strength me to try a new dish.

Hah, I like the role reversal.

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