I was very patient and tried to show Mike things. No matter how methodical I was, no matter how correctly I followed the rules of teaching, he would not learn. There he was, in front of me. I would try to look into his eyes, but he was never still and would always shake his head this way and that and try to get away.
I tried continued repetition, like what Dad used to do: Show him how; walk him through it; hold his hand after forming his spastic fingers around the spoon; get some soup with it; bring it to his mouth. “Now you do it,” I would tell him. I put down the spoon and tell him again, hovering about in a hyper-aware state, looking for a tell-tale sign that he was going to grab the bowl and slurp it down. That was inevitable. I think that I used to do that, but I can’t remember exactly. I may have been watching Dad do it.
I do remember being asked to keep an eye on him and wanting to do my best with my charge. He would not get away from me. I stayed very close to him, like a prison guard. Sometimes I tried to stop him from biting himself. I used all my strength, not knowing how much would be enough, hoping that if I used too much, a little extra might carry over to stop him the next time. Sometimes when I played with him, I decided that this would be the time he would learn. How proud Mom and Dad would be of me. Recognition for doing a wonderful job would be reward enough. But Mike never learned on my watch, or anybody’s watch.