This is the trouble with autistic kids. [translation = youthful goats?] They latch onto some irrelevancy and beat you over the head with it for the next 24 hours. [translation = indefinite period of time.]
“I don't know, perhaps you could ask your Dad yourself?” I prompt, trying not to vaporise his father with my glare. [Do I have to translate for him too?] He doesn't get the chance to ask, as his Dad separates them out to nestle himself onto the sofa.
“Thanksgiving soon,” he announces to an audience glued to the telly, “I wonder if they'll eat any of it this year? How about it? Shall we practice our 'good eating' again? We could make an early start, say this Sunday? Tomorrow?”
The thought of ruining a perfectly good Sunday with food therapy, is not an attractive one, “well they did eat roast potatoes last year, not for Thanksgiving mind, but they did by Christmas,” [translation = the holidays] I add weakly.
“They'll have forgotten that by now,” he comments gloomily, “it'll be 'new' food again, as far as they're concerned.”
“What? What it is? What is da 'roast'?”
“Big chips.” [translation = fries]
“Big fries! I think I am liking dem a humungeous lot.” [translation = a great deal] The speech delay makes him difficult to understand at the best of times.
“No you don't, you hate them,” he sister remarks unhelpfully.
“Don't put him off already,” Spouse snips, but she's ready with a rebound, “well if you didn't talk foreign all the time, then we wouldn't have all this 'what it is?' business, all the time,” she complains in an imperious tone. We exchange glances, foreigners and aliens in our own home.
“Perhaps it's about time that we had a concerted campaign to switch them around again. All this 'what it is,' it is immensely irritating when they both do it and so often,” I sigh.
“What? What it is? What?” They're both off in chorus.
“Can't you shut them up they're driving me crazy,” she squeaks, jumping off the sofa, escaping their stereo system with her hands over her ears.
“Don't you think we'd be over doing it a bit?” he asks feebly.
“That would be two new campaigns at the same time! I don't know that I'm up to it.”
“What it is? What it is? What da 'campaign' is meaning?” His sister stamps her foot and shouts “campaign is meaning ‘fixing,’ fixing you lot. Oh man! I'm doing it now too!”
“I think roast potatoes are a little optimistic. There's not enough opportunities to reinforce them. [translation = anything that is dubbed ‘new’ has to be offered many, many times before it has the chance of taking hold] I think we should convert to the American way and have mashed potatoes instead. [translation = creamed] That would be so much easier as I could chuck them in the freezer, but roasties are foul if you freeze them.”
“Oh we can't!”
“What have you got against mashed potatoes?”
“Nothing I love them, but I love roasties more.”
“Well you'll just have to make this tiny sacrifice for the benefit of your loved ones then won't you.” I try to moderate my tone. [translation = unsucessfully]
“But we can't!”
“Yes we can. You're a diabetic and there's the cholesterol thing. [translation = most Brits are challenged in the department of ‘medical terminiology] This is a much better choice for any number of different reasons.” He backs down in the face of deprivation, but rallies with, “such as?”
“Well, it's a question of priorities. Which is more important, that they learn to eat roast potatoes that don't exist in this country, which I have to cook twice a year, or that they learn to ask 'what is it?' rather than 'what it is?' which is driving us all completely bonkers every 2 minutes?”
“What it is? What it is da 'bonkers?'” We ignore him, grabbing the only opportunity that we have had to converse for nearly a week.
“Ah! so it's just that you don't like cooking them then?”
“What it is? What it is 'bonkers?'” We persevere.
“No, I'm just saying, that it's not a very useful skill to acquire?”
“WHAT IT IS? WHAT IT IS DA 'BONKERS?'” he yells at fifty decibels. Everyone ignores him as his sister takes her turn, “the campaign we really need is for you two to stop talking foreign and then they won't have any questions any more.”
Spouse ruffles his stubble, “or we could just stop talking full stop. [translation = period] Lets just stick with the roast potato campaign. Can't the speech therapist fix the 'what it is' bit?”
“They can have a go but it won't work unless we do it at home and at school too.” [translation = generalization; what they learn to do in one setting doesn't necessarily transfer to different locations.]
“That's it then, just the roast potato campaign. At least that will have a fixed duration! We'd only have to do it until Boxing Day [translation = the 26th December] whereas the other might take a life time.”
“WHAT IT IS? WHAT IT IS DA 'BONKERS?'”