"taleS froM the trencheS

National Guard wife blogging about her adventures with three sons and the unexpected joys of Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS)
....um, yes. They are tears of joy. Really.

Our Squad

Our Squad

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Parrot: A Lesson in Speech Therapy

Today it’s hard to believe, but there was a time I was afraid that Garrett would never talk.  I discussed my worries with my friend Robyn.  Her son was born seven years before Garrett and was diagnosed with SMS when he was thirteen years old.

“Have you ever seen those talking parrot toys?” she asked me.

“Yeah!  It scares the bejesus out of me every time I walk through Cracker Barrel.” 

Not only did the thing flap its wings and turn its head, but it repeated whatever sound was made within 50 yards of its electronic bird ear.  Scary stuff!

“Years ago, my son got one for Christmas and it really motivated him to talk.  He got such a kick out of hearing that parrot repeat him.”

Although Garrett was almost six years old at the time, I wasn’t sure I was pining that badly for him to talk.  I could only imagine how scary a parrot was in the middle of the night; especially when my husband was away on Army vacations.    I almost called the cops on a talking Scooby once until I realized a burglar would not be calling out, “Scrappy?  Is that yoooou?”.  

I didn't have long to contemplate this dilemma because Robyn returned to my house with a package for Garrett.  And there was a talking parrot inside.

“Well, what do you think Garrett?”  Robyn asked.

“What do you think Garrett?  What do you think Garrett?” the toy repeated.

Garrett was mesmerized by the wings flapping and he tried to catch them.

“No, look here,” Robyn showed him the front of the bird.

“No look here.  No look here.”  The parrot wasn’t that scary when you were expecting it to talk.

“Hello Garrett McGrevy!”  Robyn talked directly into the bird’s chest.  I would never look at a pop up turkey timer the same again. 

“Hello Garrett McGrevy.  Hello Garrett McGrevy.”  Garrett giggled and tried to grab the wings again.

“You talk, Garrett and Mr. Parrot will repeat you.”  Robyn handed Garrett the bird.

“Parrot will repeat you.  Parrot will repeat you.”

Garrett held it directly in front of him, just like Robyn.  There was no doubt in my mind that Garrett was capable of making the sounds.  He had short words mastered, but he was not stringing phrases together except in sign language. 

He leaned down and pulled the toy close to his mouth.  I held my breath while my mind raced.  What would be his first words?

“You look too young to be my mother” would be a really good one.  Maybe he had some insight to share, like “It’s totally Dad’s fault you backed into his pickup truck.”  Or even a grudge he wanted to get off his chest: “I know what happened to my talking Scooby!”

Garrett took a deep breath.   I leaned in towards him.

“Squawk! Squawk!” he shouted.

“Squawk.  Squawk.  Squawk. Squawk.”  

The wings flapped, the bird head moved left and right, and Garrett laughed hysterically.

It was the only word he would EVER say to that parrot.  


  1. I love this! I also find those parrots annoying, but our son was fascinated with them for awhile. We never had any luck getting him to talk into one though. He did enjoy it when others did!

  2. Thanks, Beth! Garrett always enjoyed my "nagging" getting repeated back, too.

  3. I think I'd be scared to get the parrot as well - still traumatized from all the little motion sensor toys that made noises when you walked by them in the middle of the night! That's too funny that he chose "Squak Squak!"

    1. I know, Kristi! And the holidays are coming which means the motion detecting decorations will be out in full force...yikes!!

  4. My 18yo non-verbal daughter loved that toy! We actually went through three of them! She cannot speak, but just how it encouraged vocalizations was awesome! (Visitng from Love That Max LinkUp)

    1. Thanks for visiting, Kerith. I guess she does love the parrot if you have gone through three of them! Sounds like she's braver than me ;)


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