Thursday, September 06, 2007


For years my family had been trying to persuade me into ordering cable TV. My argument had been, "You people already watch too damn much TV!" Besides, all anyone needed to watch was PBS, in my opinion. So for years I went on foolishly thinking I'd dodged a bullet. Ours would not be a house where children watched all those shows where kids were sassy to their parents, lived in 5 star hotels, or under the sea with their quarrelous friends. We would be a home filled with the angelic presence of all things PBS, never the wiser to the "real world." Check, check.

While I left the room thinking their minds were being shaped by "good TV," Rojo was devising devilish plans to sabotage me. Turns out all the thousands and thousands of dollars spent on Occupational Therapy had not been in vain! While he still couldn't use a pair of scissors or a pencil, he had more agility and swiftness with a remote control than the rest of the family combined. He'd hear my feet approaching and he'd quickly switch the channel from "The Maury Povich Show" back to PBS and stare at me with an innocent, "What's the problem?" look. The problem was my then first grader, became obsessed with a game he liked to call, "You are Not the Father!" Oh yea, it was great for entertaining the grandparents and neighbors, let me tell you! Nothing like a question of paternity to shake up a party!

So I caved. I agreed that watching ESPN was better than watching the crap he was sneaking, and his obsession took on new wings and flew. He became an expert on football, and both men's and women's basketball. He knew every team's colors and mascots, the players' numbers, the final scores of any given day, you know, really useful information that will all be on a future SAT test, I'm sure. He memorized how long the quarters were for high school, college and professional. He could tell you what the score was for each game, at the end of each quarter. His memory capacity knew no bounds, and his eagerness to share this minutiae equalled it.

The one thing that came of all this that we didn't expect, is the profound, and positive, effect on his reading and spelling skills. Long about the time the ESPN addiction took hold, so did his interest in showing the captions. The boy taught himself to read. The boy many thought would never be literate, is. ESPN, I love you. Whoever invented the whole caption idea for the hearing impaired? You're a genius. I love you, too.

As is always the case, when Rojo's obsessions are in full swing, they effect every member of the family. Now, because I am "always on the computer" according to my family, I've inherited the job of "doing the captions" for Rojo. For hours a day I am his stenographer. He plays sports, I record, verbatim, what he says. There is no cheating, he checks. There are pop quizzes every 2-3 minutes. Don't think I haven't fantasized about "fake" typing or at least composing e-mails during this time. No dice, my jailor is a wrathful one.

So, because not enough has been made of how minds like his work, I've decided to share with you all the latest snippet. You're going to want to get up now, put on your glasses, get fully caffeinated and settle yourself. This is not for the weary...

"And for the starting quarterback for Washington State, the quarterback for Toronto, Hamilton University, Tigers in Canadian football. Fresno State plays for the Bulldogs, Kentucky University. Kick off back to you. At 10 tonight we go to a store that sells Barney. We’ll get a Barney tonight at 10:00 we’ll go to 2 stores to find Barney, we’ll only get one, but we’ll just look at one place, we’ll just have to do it at the second place. And drops the ball back. We played 15 minutes today, with 8 minutes left. 15 min. quarter with 8 left on the clock. Washington State with the quarterback, it’s Washington State Cougars and University of Washington Huskies, playing right now.

7:23 to go, we’re going to have another 58 minutes. First ½ with more to go. We’re going to a store tonight at 10:00, it will be a miracle. We will find him. Trust me. We will find him. Steve, back to you. They played for Boise State and Ohio State University. OSU the Bulldogs and Louisiana State and Baltimore and Kentucky and Connecticut play for the Corn Huskers at Boston Tech. Mississippi State plays for the Bulldogs. SMU Mustangs. For the state of Rutgers, Louisiana Tech plays, Tennessee plays for Texas, North Carolina plays for the Golden Mustangs. Duke, Delaware, Portland, Toronto, San Jose, Fresno State, Bulldogs, Boise State played last Tuesday, vs. Blue Bulldogs. Georgia State, Texas Tech, Mustangs, SMU, Red Raiders. SMU played for Kentucky, played for Connecticut. Then Kentucky would play for LSU, they would play Portland State, and you know, the Bulldogs would play Portland State, because PSU plays for the Bulldogs, and Gonzaga is the Bulldogs. There are a lot of Bulldogs playing in High School. Indiana plays for Utah State, and Kentucky plays for Kansas.

Flag down, that will be a penalty on Washington State – penalty call. Taylor Monday will sit on the bench. There was a penalty, Taylor Monday will go to the penalty box, then he got fouled, then he went to the bench and sat out for the rest of the game. For the rest of the game he wouldn’t be in the rest of the game. 3:15 to go in the 1st half. In the 2nd they will play 7 minutes.

Friday at 6:30, we go at 6:30, and the game starts at 7:00. You kinda go to Cleveland High School then go to the high school field, and you’ll see the high school teams playing for 12 minute quarters. The college doesn’t have a field, when you go over to Washington State College, then you’ll see a team they are playing.

2:05 to go to the half. 55 seconds left in the 1st. 30 seconds left, 29, 28… but he goes with the ball, doesn’t have it in his hands, but he does have it, and a touch down! Touch down Washington State.

That would be flag down. Ready go!

2:55 to go in the 2nd half, with a 3 minute quarter in the 2nd. 2:22 to go, and 2:18 to go.

2:05 to go, and you know, here comes the ball back to Washington State. He doesn’t get the ball, but Washington University gets the ball. That will be another flag down. Now watch that throw. You can see bouncing it off his hands. Now he’s right here and he crawls to get the ball, and he caught it! And there he goes again, and still doesn’t catch the ball. There you go, he doesn’t get it! And he tries again, and still a fumble. Now he runs it, goes past it, and 1:02 to go in the 2nd.

But he goes at the ball, 50 seconds left. 45 seconds left. Let’s count how many fumbles. 1,2,3,4… There goes the 9th fumble.

Mmmmmrrrr crrrrrr. Mmmmmmrrrr crrrrr… He goes, he shoots, he scores! Bzzzzzz Crrrrrrrr mmmmmmm

5 to 2 and he’s going to make the extra point. Final score 8 to 2!"


Terry Whitaker said...

Thank you so much for doing this. I was really missing him and now I got my fix. When can I come back out?

SusieJ said...

I completely follow your logic on this TV stuff. I like your plan.

Suzy said...

Rojo is my hero...


Jerri said...

No wonder you're fully caffeinated at all times.

Bossy Boots said...

Ah...the male mind in the kingdom of his creation! Rojo is brilliant and I'm thinking he is in the stage of initiation of a boy his age. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

kario said...

Can I make a teensy suggestion? Have y'all heard of voice recognition software? Get Rojo some and you can stop being his transcriptionist. Plus, he'd probably get a real kick out of how the softward program tries to correct and/or interpret his patterns of speech.

You rock, my dear. Mother of the year award here....

Anonymous said...

You are a saint or at the very least get my vote for mother of the year. I would be drinking a lot more than coffee at that point. Even watching sports and hearing the announcing gets on my nerves so badly, I want to scream. This would have to be a daddy job. I can see where it is helping his reading, spelling and numbers, especially if he is checking your work. That is a plus. Oh, the joys of motherhood and all of that......

Michelle O'Neil said...

The Maury Povich moment here was my first laugh all day.

Thank you!

And bless you. I am tired just reading Rojo's transcript.

Kim said...

OMG, I am in love! Thank you for doing this! It's especially a great picture for those us who haven't gotten to spend real time with Rojo yet.

It's hard to pick a favorite part, but I think this is mine: "For the rest of the game he wouldn’t be in the rest of the game."

Now, as far as you're concerned: you and your energy are a serious inspiration for all!

Kathryn Johansen said...

Carrie, this is priceless. It's so great that you were able to transcribe verbatim. Lotta work but so worth it!

You have given me an idea. I think I will turn the captions on, on the tv. My son has taken a sudden interest in sports, too, so who knows?

Rojo is a trip!

holly said...

I think he should have the number of The O sports department to call and discuss these things.

And he should start using it on Oct. 7

Deb said...

Amazing that a boy so outside any box ever created could learn so much from a box that has been known to kill brain cells.

Amazing that you keep going and going and going.

Blessings to you both!