Here’s the official mind-breaking debrief from Roman’s third letterboarding camp last week in Austin with Soma.* Cliff notes: we just got schooled. Again.
Roman wasn’t the slightest bit rusty on his spelling challenges, phonetically hurdling over such likely unknowns as FOSSIL, MESOPOTAMIA, HYPOTHERMIA, and ARCHAEOLOGY. And you know what? After his other Soma visits, I’m jaded. These didn’t phase me.
What did? Witnessing the chaotic multitaskery of his neurons in real time. While SPELLING one word (which I’ll transcribe in uppercase), he’d often be SAYING another (noted in lowercase), like SU-(handsome)-RGERY, MOUN-(tacos)-TAIN, or B-(clothing)-AS-(socks)-IC-(peanuts)-S. (<— I need a nap. And peanuts.)
He also performs this verbal whiplash this while writing phrases: given a prompt to comment on children, he spelled out CHILDREN SCARE ME. When Soma asked why, he said “they scare for life!” before spell-speaking THEY ARE (tacos!) IN (zippin and zappin!) SO MUCH (flippin and flappin!) RUSH.**
Roman’s birthday happened during camp, and Soma asked what he’d like to do by his next birthday: I WANT TO (what's that noise?) MAKE (symbol) STORIES FOR SAD PEOPLE. Soma commented on how lovely that would be, when Roman tapped out BUT I DON'T WANT TO SPELL. (<— Me too buddy, let’s just skip to the part where I’m awesome.)***
Asked to make a happy story, here’s what he wrote: MY STORY IS ABOUT (symbol) EXPLOSION. Soma says "okay- that's a good beginning!" He continues WHEN (you have exploded) SOUND EXPL-(twine!)-ODES LETTERS JUMBLE DUSNO.
At first, I thought: Roman has finally gone off the rails. I knew it was too good to be true! Then Soma pointed out that DUSNO is actually the word SOUND - with the letters scrambled. That is so meta! Continue onward, Maestro.
And he does: WHEN (the word) EXPLODE EXPLODES IT IS OLDPLEXE. (<— The needle just fell OFF the record.) Soma asks “So this is going to make sad people happy?” Roman taps out END. *drops mic*
Again, Roman’s intelligence and personality slipped out. His privacy revealed in a question about the content of his dreams: IT JUST IS NOT TO BE TOLD; his altruism as captain of the imaginary ship MISTY, hunting sharks TO SAVE OTHER LIVES;**** his honesty about how his social anxiety makes it hard to come into Soma’s clinic because ZONE IS DIFFERENT, yet I CAN'T EXPLAIN why; his perceptiveness that SOME THINGS (explode!) ARE NICER FROM FAR; his understanding that “we all fall down” in Ring Around the Rosies means DIES; his reasoning with “how do we get from the 21st century to the 12th?” SUBTRACT; his sensitivity that I FIND IT HARD TO WRITE BACKWARD BUT TIME IS FORWARD; his thoughtfulness that an IDEA IS NOT BEAUTIFUL IF WE DON'T FOLLOW THROUGH; his meditation I CANNOT STOP THINKING WHETHER WE MUST BE SIMPLE. <— Word.
He values HONESTY … NICELY in other people (Soma elucidated with “If you don't mind, i would like to say something you don't like...”), as well as GOOD VOICE, NOT DEMANDING, and FUNNY.
And speaking of, he cracked us up so many times. Talking about different businesses, Soma brought up the idea of having a lemonade stand. “What would you name your lemonade?,” she asks. ROMANADE. (!!!) If he were Robinson Crusoe and could have a man Friday, I WILL NAME HIM RAMON. (<— Exploding and rearranging the letters in his own name…) Where does he see himself in five years? IN THE MIRRORS. If he had a farm, what would he grow? CORN. What else? MORE OF CORN.
The last day with Soma proved to be the most difficult though, because Roman had somehow lost Jerry overnight, his forever Playmobil plastic best friend. Jerry is almost always in Roman’s hand, so he was gutted. Here is the poem he wrote:
GLOW OF SUN (Jerry's not under the covers)
AND MY (I’m missing Jerry) DARK HORSE
AND I CAN'T LAUGH
I CAN'T CRY
AND STILL WISH I DID
I TOLD MYSELF
I MUSTN'T BE SAD
His sadness rippled through my heart.***** Later, he wrote IT'S NOT FAIR TO SADDEN MY HEART … I MUST (taco!) BE WEIRD. (<— Not in my book, little buddy!)
And Jeff and I were giving each other the side eye during his last poem,****** on the theme of the word high:
SNOWFLAKES BRING DOWN STARS
GROUND HAS SCARS
BUT I DON'T TRY TO INCLUDE MYSELF IN IT
^^ He exploded space, y'all.
Prompted for a final statement, Roman looked forward to Mother’s Day: WISHING MOTHERS … FLOWERS. *blush*
** What the whaaaaaaaat?
*** Hat tip to fellow blogger Natasha Dumas for posting this perfect cartoon:
**** I’d rather he NOT choose this as a career…
***** I *may* have already ordered him a new Jerry. He was from the Future Planet E-Rangers Collectobot Construction Set, o' course. Thanks, Amazon!
****** Watch out Slim Pickens!