Feed the birds – tuppence be damned

My Mother-in-Law is Italian, but lives in England for her sins. She came to visit one Summer for a few weeks. Of course all grandmothers are biased, but her delight in ‘my’ children, was balm upon my worried soul. [translation = pre-diagnoses] I’m sure that Italians have their own set of cultural norms and expectations, but they differ greatly from the British version. My children could be swinging from the chandeliers and Nonna would be there cheering them on.

Few people had the patience to try and engage my son but Nonna was relentless. The bond between them shone. I could explain this phenomenon with reference to her animated face, arresting hand gestures, non-American accent, or her demonstrative nature, but such a clinical approach fails to capture the magic.

One day, we went to the beach at Santa Cruz. I had carefully assembled a large pic-nic in advance, to cater to everyone’s foibles. At that time my son had a reasonable vocabulary but rarely spoke. When he did speak his only topic was Thomas the Tank Engine. He was also hyperlexic, but was in the process of losing that skill.

Nonna has many skills. One of her more annoying ones, is her affinity with wild life. From insects [translation = bugs] to elephants and everything in-between, Nonna is their champion. They are drawn to her by some invisible thread. Dr. Doolittle is as nought beside this woman.

Hence, when everyone had abandoned the pic-nic fare, since it is impossible to nail children down in sand, Nonna began to throw the left overs into the sky for the seagulls benefit. Within seconds we were a scene from Hitchcock. Spouse sighed and clucked, as he tried to chase the birds away. I turned my attentions to the criminal modeling inappropriate behaviour to my children, “now listen! Nonna is very naughty to feed the birds.” [translation = “flying vermin”] Nonna pulled a face, as well she might, in league with her grandchildren in a common conspiracy. She pulled him close for a snuggle, but he wriggled free to protest……….

“No! Nonna is not naughty. Nonna is good and kind!”
We all turned to look at him. It was the longest voluntary sentence he had ever uttered.

This son – defender of the gene pool and super hero to all other ‘lesser’ “beings.”

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