The time has come to elaborate on the ‘stories’ part of ‘Stories with Ben’.
Ben loves stories. He’s always liked books. When Ben was almost one year old, we were on our way back from a holiday and due to huge snowstorms and a perilous motorway we made an unplanned stop at my sister Maddy’s house in Nottingham. At midnight Ben woke and was really struggling to breathe. My sister and her boyfriend got up to show us the way to the nearest hospital, where we carefully walked over the ice to reach A&E. As soon we mentioned breathing problems in a child with cerebral palsy who was not yet 1, we got whisked through to a bed where they gave Ben some drugs and a nebuliser. We were surrounded by doctors and nurses, Ben was very distressed and his breathing was really laboured.
While James briefed an Intensive Care doctor on Ben’s history, in case he needed to be sedated and ventilated, a nurse suggested I sit with Ben for a bit and do something he enjoyed to see if his breathing calmed down. So we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Ben smiled at the list of food like he always did, and by the time the caterpillar had become a butterfly Ben’s breathing was much improved.
The nurses said they had never seen a more dramatic response to a book.
After school this afternoon I put Ben into his Brookfield chair (new, less supportive than his normal chair so he has to work a bit harder, a bargain at £750) and offered him a choice of four books to read, all of which he knows well: Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants, Watch Me Throw The Ball, Shifty McGifty and Slippery Ben and The Twits. He knows all of these books well – particularly the first three which are fun picture books.
Ben chooses by looking at the book he wants. He chose The Twits by Roald Dahl.
The Twits is a more recent addition to our library. As I mentioned previously, Ben’s a big fan of an old video on YouTube of Rik Mayall reading George’s Marvellous Medicine. His uncle Harry then bought him a box-set of every Roald Dahl childrens book and we’ve been working our way through them.
I think some people wonder how much Ben understands, how much he can learn. The kid chose the book with barely any pictures, no colours and a lot of words. He bloody loves stories. Even when his brother is trying to run over his hand with a truck.
An hour later I found Max sitting in the chair, drinking milk and watching TV. How many other kids get to relax unsupervised in furniture that valuable?
(Apologies for blurry phone photos – hard to take high quality pictures when you’re busy reading)