Send me a postcard!

We are off on our hols, but we we’ll be back soon.

In the meantime, here are a few posts that you have may be missed before I joined the Hub.

Leave me a little note so I’m not all lonesome when we get back.
[translation = chance would be a fine thing!]

1. “The Joys of Autism – Progress for all”

2. “High What?”

3. “No Way Jose!”

4. “I am not a princess”

5. “Ear Wigging”

6. “Static”

7. “Trying not to be critical”

8. “Plan A”

9. “Hemorrhaging”

10. “Mother Knows Best”

11. “Umpire”

12. “Fixations – what to do?”

13. “Undiagnosed – are you quite sure?”

14. “Tentative Steps”

15. “Progress”

16. “Wife Beating and recouperation”

17. “Do we have to?”

18. “Come in Number 2 your time is up”

19. “Secretarial Skills”

20. “A Rose”

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Play Ball?

It is a curious development. Pal comes over for a playdate with my oldest son. This pal loves to play outside. [translation = typically developing peer]

When we bought this house, it came with it's own stick, a big one. At the top of the stick is a net for playing netball. I thought it was a bit of an eyesore myself, so I grew Morning Glory all over it as a disguise. This act did not endear me with the neighbours for some unaccountable reason. I was advised by those same neighbours, that the stick was meant for playing the popular game of baseball and that I should restrict my gardening activities to other areas of the yard. I was at a bit of a loss to know where the yard was, but I didn't let that worry me unduly. But I digress.

Pal is very keen to play this sport with my son. We spend a considerable amount of time hunting down a ball. Pal informs me that our balls do not meet the required American standard. I am slightly deflated by his criticism but promise to seek out a bicycle pump to remedy this fault, prior to his next visit.

Pal attempts to dribble the ball. Instead it makes farting noises across the driveway. My boys find the flatulence of the ball to be an added bonus. [translation = hilarity] Pal is not impressed with either the ball or the guffawing laughter. [translation = foreigners fail to take sport seriously] I don't really care one way or another. [translation = my boys are outside, a thoroughly loathed status at the best of times] My youngest son will not play at all. [translation = he must be the best and or win ]

Pal becomes teacher. [translation = coach, but not the vehicle kind] He shouts orders in an upbeat manner. [translation = sounds pretty professional to me, but what would I know, since I am unable to locate a sports channel on the telly] Junior takes part tentatively.

As an experience netball player myself, I can tell that he has great form. [translation = English game] Pal offers his opinion, “no, not like that! You play like a girl!”
I am confused by the comment. Netball is a girl's game afterall, ergo, he is playing jolly well.
“Try it like this. Watch me. See! You hold it to your chest like this. No, no, put your hands the other way around. No don't stick yur but out, bend yur knees.”
He does rather look as if he is about to lay an egg. Junior adopts the pose and lobs the ball up into the air. [translation = shoots] The object of the exercise is to get the ball to fall through the ring. The object crashes back down. Junior is incensed that his first attempt [ever] is a failure.
“I bad! I loser! I die,” he bellows.
As he bellows, he bends forward, pulls down his trousers, [translation = shorts] and sticks out his derriere. Pal pauses. [translation = frozen and transfixed at the age of 8] Senior roars with laughter. This behaviour continues for the following ten minutes.

I wonder how many of our neighbours are watching this development, as we cavort around on our driveway with a flat ball, three little boys and a net on a stick. I don't imagine that they would consider this to be progress. Junior exposes his Spiderman underwear approximately 53 times. [translation = which corresponds precisely to the number of attempts he makes to throw the ball through the net]

Later that night I discuss that matter with his father.
“We need a strategy!”
“We do.”
“Which bit should we tackle first?”
“There's more than one strategy here?”
“Yes, the 'anti – trouser' strategy and the 'anit-negative talk' strategy.”
“Ah. Which one is worse?”
“I really don't know.”
“Well the 'anti-negative talk' is already an ongoing campaign, so perhaps we could concentrate on the trousers. An anti-flasher strategy.”
“Well, he didn't really flash [translation = moon] he just displayed his undies.”
“It certainly gets the message across loud and clear.” [translation = universal comprehension]
“No meltdown though.”
“A new form of protest that isn't a meltdown is………good, ……right?”
“Definitely, and he used words AT THE SAME TIME.”
“Wow. We are moving into pastures new.”
“He could probably get away with it in a pasture.” [translation = field]
“Pity we're so urban.”

“You don't suppose he's developing into, into…..a sporty type!”
“Blimey I hope not! What on earth would we do with one of those?”
“Can there be anything worse than giving birth to one of those athletic types?”
“The tragedy of it all. How do parents cope with such a disaster?”
“I can hardly bear to imagine. Too, too sad.”
“There again, you did play rugby.”
“Not by choice. Anyway, you played tennis, netball, badminton, and all those 'throw the thing' sports.” [translation = javelin, discus, shot put]
“It was compulsory.”
“So tell me? Is it more socially acceptable to drop your trousers in England or in the States?”
“I'm afraid I have no terms of reference.”

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Shaving, wafer, after wafer

Many children, and some autistic ones, suffer a great deal of anxiety. Anxiety is often caused by predictable and understandable concerns. With youngsters, many of their anxieties come from a lack of understanding. Simple explanations can help to reduce their concerns and provide guidance as to how to interpret different things. One of my sons is overly concerned with tools that are sharp or made of metal. Knives, scissors and many other ordinary household items cause him grave concern. With my boys a great many of their concerns are unpredictable. They lurk ready to pounce when I least expect it.

Prior to our holiday, I have two pressing tasks to perform – pluck my eyebrows and trim the Passionflower. I start on the latter, secateurs in hand. Two boys play inside behind the glass doors with their father and sister. [translation = still allergic to outside] They don't watch me, but they check up on me every few minutes. [translation = any attention given to a parent's doings, that does not have any direct benefit to the child, is to be applauded. I have spent far too many years being completely invisible] Inbetween whiles, I yell instructions at them, every now and then. Frequently, I have my back to them and shout over my shoulder. “Don't put it in the sink!” “Try and share with him.” “I'll get you a snack in a minute.” I know that they are miffed by this, that I appear to have x-ray vision. [translation = as all mother's have] Two wheelbarrowfuls later, the vine is trim. [translation = two weeks of California growth is akin to an attack by Triffids] I nip back inside and check that all is well.

All is well.

Broadly speaking, I attend to matters of personal hygiene either very early in the morning or very late at night when I am child free. Today however, I am out of time. I must attend to my eye brows and attempt to make my eyes visible by trimming the thatch above. I have approximately three minutes to complete this feat.

I nip upstairs stealthily. I put my nose to the mirror and try not to breathe. [translation = short sighted] With the tweezers in hand I attempt to remove as much hair in the general area of my brow as is possible. [translation = speed plucking is an unacknowledged skill.] Not for the first time, I consider whether a razor might be more effective. [translation = quicker] I achieve near baldness on the right side when I am rugby tackled by a screaming Banshee. “No, no, no, don't do dat! Dat is bad! I love your wonky bad old eyes. I love dat they are old and mold.” I remove the tweezers from my right ear. [translation = stabbed] I look to my ankles where my youngest son is entwined, face down, eyes shielded by my moth eaten socks. I can't bend down to him because I am hobbled by his vice like grip. His older brother leans against the door jam to survey the scene. I try to explain the concepts of 'beauty treatments,' to two clear skinned, perfectly formed male youths. It is an uphill battle.

“But why?” seems to be the primary refrain to any further and better particulars that I provide to them, by way of an explanation. There secondary concern, oddly enough, is pain thresholds, not theirs but mine. [translation = “theory of mind be damned”]

We give cursory attention to the OCD issues of personal injury, death, visits to the ER and other sundry related matters. I pop my glances back on and peer in the mirror. I calculate when another three minutes might be available to me, to tackle the other eye brow? After further discussion and reassurance, we make our way back downstairs. The boys walk in front of me, exhausted by yet another test of mental gymnastics. He puts a brotherly arm around the little one. “You know it's o.k little buddy……she is always having dah other one you know.”
“What?” he snaps back. It always sounds like an accusation. [translation = lack or regulation and modulation]
“Dah udder eye in dah back of her head.”

For a truly fascinating perspective on OCD in adults, nip along to my pal, “Lotta” on “Mom o Matic.” Brave and insightful.

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Bump the hand that feeds you

[translation = when 'speaking' is not your first language]

Why do they do that? It is so annoying! You lean down to refill their bowls with food or water and they nudge you, spill everything everywhere, those darned cats. Why can't they just hold back? It's not as if they're helping at all. It's the same thing several times a day. Why can't they keep their furry little heads to themselves? What is the point? I need to duct tape their tails to the floor at a discrete distance until the task is completed.

I wish I understood this behaviour. I wish they could tell me why they do it? Why can't I chat to a cat? There again, there is not a lot of chat around here. Speech delays mean that whilst there are now words, sentences, 'chat' isn't high on their priority list. That's not to say that they won't wax lyrical on their given topic of interest, but a monologue is not the goal. [translation = engineer that reciprocal exchange] There again, the girls had a double dose of the chat gene. How much 'chat' can one household contain?

I ask my younger daughter to explain this behaviour to me. [translation = animal planet addict] She rolls her eyes in response. [translation = what is wrong with my mother?] She's growing up so fast. Soon she will be a teen, or should that be a tween and no longer wish to have any associations with me. I must try hard to keep the lines of communication open.

I track down the next one. [translation = superhero defender of the feline population] Now that he can talk, I must seek out every opportunity to ensure that verbal communication is reinforced. I need to find a preferred topic of interest but not something that his main topic. [translation = Pokemon monologue]
“But why do they do it?” I ask in exasperation. He looks at me, straight in the face, “because dey are cats,” he responds, un-phased, unruffled and slightly bemused. Verbal! How I love it.

I find both these explanations unsatisfactory and seek out the little one, he who used to be animal phobic but is now a fan.

I explain my query and then ask “but why do they do it? It's so annoying!” I plead. He puts down his toy to give the matter his full attention. I see him calculate – 'can I be bothered to talk to this woman?' I need to avoid brushing on a distracter, not to be confused with a trigger. [translation = using a word that is of interest to him, such that your conversation becomes 'off topic' and then rapidly disappears down a rabbit hole to get lost in the warren] I push, “come, come with me and see the mess they make.” He holds my hand in an obliging manner and follows me to the utility room. I point at the cats. He lets his heels drop to the floor, which means he is going to stay. [translation = tippy toe walker] With hands on hips he examines the evidence and the cats in mid breakfast.
“Dey are eat.”
“Dey are eat dah falling down ones.”
“Are they?”
“Yes. Look! Dey are eat the falling down ones first. Dey are eat the mess first. Dah mess is gone.” He looks up at me. “I am right and you are wrong. Dey are not dah messy cats, dey are dah clean cats. Dat is not annoying.”

Post script – [translation = post blog reading] At least my ‘toileting’ issue are mainly limited to the cat litter variety, unlike “Nik’s mum,” who I am sure would welcome some sage advice. Any sages around?

P.P.S. As I was tidying up before departure I accidentally deleted my folder with my bookmarks for all the autism, disabled and special needs blogs that I visit other than those on the Hub. [translation = oops] So leave me your URL so that I can make a new one please. [translation = or explain how I can retrieve the bookmark]
Cheers dears

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Party favours and other irritations

Back in ancient times, party favours had yet to be invented. In those days, a child would attend another child's birthday party, without a parent in tow as chaperon. The child was at the mercy of the birthday child's parents. On conclusion of the party, if you were exceptionally lucky, you would be given a piece of mangled birthday cake wrapped up in a paper napkin to take home.

At some time between then and now, party favours were invented. These favours are purchased by the parent and given to;
A] every child in your child's class
B] every child that attends the party
The parent can make life difficult for themselves by ensuring that the favours match the sex of the recipient. [translation = or ensure that the favours are unisex] N.B. don't forget to also buy the very expensive little bags, also sexless, that come in packs of 6 or 8 or some other inconvenient number. Good, [translation = creative] parents also decorate the bags. N.B remember to purchase sufficient yardage of ribbon for approximately 40 bags.

The contents of the bags should ideally be the same in order to keep the peace. [translation = same may be boring for the recipient but it is better than different which provokes meltdowns] Technically, your child, the birthday child, should not receive a party favour bag because etiquette dictates that this is a gift for the invitee. [translation = ignore this rule as etiquette isn't all it's cracked up to be]

So far so good. Now you are poor, but still have all the big things to do.

It is tempting to skip the whole party favour bag nightmare completely, but that temptation should be resisted. This activity, of assembling the bags should be completed at the dead of night. [translation = whilst you are alone with no small people present to tax your efficiency and sequencing]

So what have we established so far? That Party favour bags, together with their contents should be banished from the earth. [translation – forthwith] What possible justification could one have for such rashness? Oodles of justification since you ask. The modern child is already over toyed! Remember to breathe! Or is that just me? so there we have it ladies and gentlemen, consensus. On a scale of one to ten, how annoying are party bags? Exactly! I was going to say 17 and a half too.

Now we have established the status quo, it is time for a rethink.
Must we?

Firstly, etiquette, as etiquette is paramount around here. [translation = anyone in need of an additional spit bowl?] American's by their very nature, are overly generous. Guests always bring large and extravagant gifts, so the very least one can do is acknowledge their kindness in attending. [translation = danger money] What else?

The distribution of the bags is the ideal opportunity to put all those painfully acquired social skills into practice, the give, the take, the words, now that he is 8. [translation = climb on your friend, without using any words, give him a bear hug to crush his little rib cage and kiss the nearest part of his anatomy that you happen to come in contact with] Great!

But there are also more subtle skills, depending upon your children's current disposition. Maybe paper is aversive. [translation = tactile defensiveness] Maybe the fine motor skills are challenged? If you are making your own party favour bags, you can simply cut circles of non-scratchy cloth, wrap the contents inside and close with a loose elastic band. [translation = unless you are on the 'quatrefoils or bust' stage of development]

If you choose the contents carefully, you can produce a mini emergency therapy kit for the child, which has the added benefit of thanking the parent too. [gum, sunglasses, koosh, parachute guy, puzzles, kaleidoscope, whistle, gazoo…..all such ordinary little familiar things that can lead to therapeutic learning and play, extra special joy …….or a hideous meltdown]

Lastly, it took Temple Grandin's book, “Thinking in Pictures,” to help me understand the role of novelty in the human psyche. I still don't really understand the joy of the novel, but I know that it exists. If 'novelty' can induce 'play' then it certainly gets my vote.

Post script – anyone have advice for those experiencing marital “disharmony?”

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Early Days 10 – Happy and Healthy

In the early 1980's I was a young divorced mother of one. Mum's would chat and drink coffee, whilst small children played. We would speculate about our children's future. That one would follow in the family tradition and be a lawyer, that one a doctor, this one and that one, and on they would go. When it came to my turn, I would always said the same thing, “as long as she's happy, healthy and normal, I really couldn't give a fig.” They would giggle and tease, 'surely I must have some higher ambition for my child?'

As far as I was concerned, with all the 'new' dangers that young people were experiencing at that time, it seemed a very lofty ambition.

These days, with all the 'new' dangers that young people are experiencing today, such an ambition seems to be the pinnacle of achievement, although I've altered the motto to 'healthy and happy.' The healthy, I can manage as best I may, subject to the vagueries of the plague and other epidemics. The ‘happy,’ is a bit tougher.

It seems strange to me, that as a prime example of cynicism, pessimism and general doom, that the happiness of my children should be so important. [translation = grumpy, old, misery guts]

Americans are entitled to 'the pursuit of happiness,' which is all well and good, but the constitution is silent as to how you nail it down, assuming that during your pursuit, you manage to find it in the first place.

I can help my children acquire skills that foster a sense of achievement, self esteem and self worth. [translation = asking the rhetorical 'why can't you just be happy?' doesn't really cut it, autistic or otherwise] I am aware of the high incidence of suicide in the autistic community, and I can guess at some of the sources of their despair. I can visualize my boys as adults. They can dress themselves, catch a bus, make a sandwich, hold a conversation with words, and hopefully a lot more than that, but are they happy?

What makes them happy now, may not make them happy when they're older. [translation = growth and maturity] I am doubtful that a parent can change a child's innate personality, even if I wanted to. The raw materials are there to guide and mould, but all the therapy, teaching and acquisition of skills in the world, is not going to 'create' a happy person.

If you've come here for answers, then I'm afraid that you've come to the wrong place, [again] as I only have questions. Is it a legitimate goal in the first place? If it is, how do you choose the right path to reach the goal? Do you want this too, or are other things more important? Give me your best guess.

I would add, that earlier today whilst I was reading “blogs” with a small person by my side, we came across a picture on this “blog”. It caused great consternation as we are about to board a boeing 747. Fortunately, once I explained that a “jet plane” is not the same as a 747, the logic saved the day.

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Filthy Rich

I am not ear wigging, I am cooking. My daughter and her pal [translation = American friend] come in from the garage having chosen their snacks. [translation = in America it is commonplace to keep catering packs of excessive amounts of food in the garage] They nibble and play together in the family room. Spouse is out with the boys and the shoe campaign.
“Yur sooo lucky to have brothers and sisters to play with!” says the only child.
“You have soooo many toys!”
“Yeah, but they're not really all mine. We have to share em.”
“Yur sooo lucky to have brothers and sisters to share with.”
“So you must be real rich, huh!” she says incredulously.
“Er, yes, um no, actually I don't know?”

The conversation ends prematurely as the clank of the garage door gives us an early warning of the boys' return. The noise of the engine is drowned out by the screaming from the car, even though the inner door is still closed. Pal turns to my daughter, “gee is he louder at home than at school?” Her eyes are wide, her head pivots towards the sound, an owl. She goes to the door to watch, my daughter follows. They see spouse trying to extract junior from the car, howling.
“Gee why is he cryin like that? Wuz he real, real bad or summat?”
“New shoes,” she says unhelpfully.

I hear the new shoes hit the ceiling in the garage. Junior now has a secondary problem. His feet are naked. Naked feet cannot touch the cement floor. Fortunately a few years ago I had some off-cuts of underlay [translation = carpet] left over. They create a safe passage from the car door to the kitchen door. [translation = a run way for the flight path] He bounces out of the car and his tippy toes propel him at high velocity to the interior of the house. The girls stand back, part the way, and watch the dust of his wake.

When her mother comes to collect the play date victim, most of the windows are open due to the heat. [translation = too mean to turn the air conditioning on yet] As they leave I cannot help but hear wafts of their conversation.
“D'you have a good time honey?”
“Sure but they're so darned rich! D'you know they have carpet in their garage!”
“Really! In the garage?”

Pity it doesn't work as sound proofing too.

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Although I speak English, went to English speaking schools and fulfilled their curriculum requirements, I don't recall ever being taught English grammar formally. [translation = this is probably why I have such trouble with foreign languages] As luck would have it, I am expanding my knowledge of English grammar at my current advanced age of 46. I can manage noun, verb and adjective on a good day, but anything more than that is a bit hit and miss. I have read “Eats Shoots and Leaves,” in recent years, but that was more for the purpose of entertainment rather than education. ‘Between You and I’ gives me a “ghost” of a chance, but on the whole I have other more pressing matters to tie up my brain with.

Strangely American schools teach English Grammar. [translation = as does “TEACCH”] This is proving more than a challenge to someone with such a tiny brain as myself. [translation = can't teach an old dog new tricks] I struggle with third grade homework. [translation = and second and first grades too] More often than not, I am completely flummoxed by the old Kindergarten worksheets too. The sheet of paper has twelve little pictures for you to identify, but because it is in American English rather than English English, I am a hindrance rather than a help.

We sit at the dining room table fighting with homework. [translation = times three, although my maths skills are similarly challenged] They are simple line drawings, not that I think that coloured pictures would necessarily help. Even after all this time, whereby each of my children progresses through the school system, I still have a 33% failure rate in identifying these little pictures. I know that he can complete the whole thing in under a minute, but instead he prefers to paw the paper and drag out the whole exercise for the best part of an hour.

“It is a compound word?”
“Is what a compound word?”
“Chocolate pudding.”
“Er, no that's two words, not a compound word. Seashell, sea and shell stuck together would be a compound word, or rather, is a compound word.”
“Anyway, stop messing around, lets get this work sheet done.”
“I can have a not compound word now?”
“How do you mean?”
“Can I have my chocolate pudding now which is not a compound word?”
“You can have your chocolate pudding after you've finished your worksheet.” He sighs and drapes himself over the table.

“Look at the sheet lovey. Ooops you're drooling. Come along. Look at the picture.”
He looks and wipes and sighs. I nudge. “It's a bed dear. B E D, bed. Can you write it on the little line underneath?”
“It not bed.”
“It is. Look! Look at the picture dear.”
“No bed.”
“Just three letters. You can do it.”
My daughter leans over, “he's right.”
“What do you mean he's right?”
“He's correct then. He's right and you're wrong.”
“How else are you supposed to spell bed may I ask?”
“C O T.”
Well really!
“O.k. lets move onto the next one then.”
We trudge through the worksheet. [translation = amid much parental pain]
“What is this a picture of dear?” Now I really know the answer, but he has to find it for himself.
“Come on luvvy, it begins with a 'c'”
“I know dat.”
“Good, so why don't you just write it down here, on this little line.”
“Only three little letters?”
“Not three, four.”
“It's three dear, you're already written it once.”
“NOT THREE, FOUR!” he bellows.
“Cot dear, just three letters.”
“NOT COT!” His sister leans over, “he's right.”
“What do you mean he's right?”
“He's correct then. He's right and you're wrong.”
“How else are you supposed to spell cot may I ask?”
“C R I B.”
Well really!

He finishes up writing out the four letter word. [translation = I swallow all of my own four letter words]
“Now I can be having my chocolate pudding that is not a compound word?”
“Yes dear, of course. Well done for finishing.”
“You are sure?”
“Er…yes, of course I'm sure. I mean, what am I sure of?”
“You are sure that chocolate pudding is not dah compound word?”
“Yes, I'm sure. It's two separate words and they're not stuck together.”
He sighs with an air of melancholia. The English language, American or English is curse to one and all.
“O.k……… how about…….chocpud, it is a compound word?”
“It is now.”

I am beginning to appreciate that this isn’t just a pond issue. [translation = US v. UK] but also a Canadian v US division. [translation = aren’t they more or less the same?] If you like to cook, enjoy a challenge and are not following a gluten free diet, then you might enjoy this “recipe.” I might enjoy it too when I can work out which continent I am cooking on?

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A Blight on my life

Of course there are several, but we'll start with an important one, namely shoes. All shoes should be comfortable, that should be part of the definition of a shoe. If a shoe fails to be comfortable it instantaneously transforms itself into another category entirely, namely a means of torture. Additionally, the ideal shoe should be red, in fact I think it should be compulsory that all shoes are red. I would sacrifice, that is to say 'trade,' red for comfortable. [translation = beware of women in comfortable shoes]

I expect it would surprise you to learn that my first ever pair of shoes were red? [translation = the newly hatched duckling fixates on the first visible object] I of course, am in a position of power, since I have the purse, which contains the means to acquire the shoes. [translation = greenbacks] I wield my consumer power, for my children and their footwear too, or I would do, if anyone would honour me with the chance to put shoe leather close to the soles of their feet. [translation = or it's synthetic equivalents]

Feet have many different qualities, few of which are truly appreciated. Until this current crop of children, I was unaware that feet have rights. [translation = we are in America afterall] Around these parts, feet have the right to be unfettered and free to pursue happiness. As with all things American, the feet have to learn that with rights, come responsibilities. The feet have the responsibility to be protected from themselves and the many textures of the world that are out to get them. [translation = do them damage]

As with most things in life, it's a trade off. The trouble with the trade off, is that no-one can decide how much to trade. [translation = the barter system]

Essentially the whole matter is a dichotomy without resolve – my feet must be free, my feet need armour. How does one resolve such internal conflict?
That's right! Very noisily.

Now that my children have advanced up the fine motor skills learning curve, to be able to deal with the vexatious issue of Velcro [translation = tactile defensiveness and noise abatement society, due to ripping sounds] they are able to put their own shoes on by themselves. Hallelujah! [translation = with prompting] Thank goodness for the end of the sock season.

It is a rare sight to witness a person in the midst of this quandary. [translation = is it?] The shoes are on. The shoes fly across the room. They are retrieved and screamed at, given a few slaps to teach them a lesson, then they're on again, and then they're in orbit. It would, of course, be very unkind to laugh at such a person. [translation = I recommend duct tape] If two people are in the middle of the same quandary, at the same time, it is probably better to leave the room and compose yourself.

On your return, it would be a good idea to remind your children of the many things that you have said many times before. Commiserate with your children. [translation = validate their dilemma] Concur with the willful conspiracy of shoes. Use all the tried, trusted and familiar phrases that you have been using for as many years as you have been using them.

Ideally, modeling the correct behaviour can be very effective. You probably realize that you are in a groove and might wish to add a dash of something new. [translation= take care, this doesn't work if you do it too often] Modeling or copying, as best you can, their behaviour, can sometimes be more effective still. [translation = take care, you don't want to come across as mocking or taunting them, timing is crucial]

Obtain your own shoes from the garage and join in the shoe fest. Berate your shoes before your children. For some reason, biting your shoes has a particularly positive effect. Worry your shoes and shout at them a lot. Cast them aside, being sure not to knock out any small people with your bad aim. [translation = and boat sized shoes]

If you're lucky, someone, maybe two people will each bring you a shoe and help you. When you hear little voices parrot back your own words, take care to swallow hard.

If you’re looking for some helpful advice on some of the many different therapies available for someone you know, here are a few from my good “pal,” because we are all trolling through a similar learning curve.

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Get out of that one!

One of the many difficulties that one of my son's has problems with is the issue of choice. For some reason a choice between A and B is a stop sign for him. Although I have researched this hurdle in detail, I have yet to come up with a satisfactory explanation for the matter. [translation = or satisfactory solution] This is one of our many on going campaigns, helping him to choose. His inability to choose is crippling and the source of a significant percentage of his current meltdown quotient.

He appears and pirourettes before me, coming to a slightly unstable halt. He arranges himself at a jaunty angle. [translation = plus cheesy grin]
“Don't you look smart! Doesn't he look smart mum!” [translation = well attired not clever, nor sarcastic] I look at my son. I bask in the glory of being granted unfettered access. [translation = 5 years ago I was not permitted to look at him. If my eyes dwelled upon him, he would crumple into a heap, scream and curl into the tightest ball. Do you know how difficult it is to try and not look at someone? Surely you've tried, occasionally, not to meet someone in the eye? How difficult was that? Did you find that your eyes kept flitting back, just to check? How difficult would that be if that person was your child? What would you do if your gaze was a form of torture? What kind of monster must you be to invoke such a response? What are you doing wrong? How can you make it better? Why is this so completely incomprehensible? How can you try to understand? Are you blind to the theory of mind? Can you not get inside their head and understand? Who are you? What are you doing to this child?]

“Indeed he does. You are the smartest Birthday boy I've ever seen.” I'm not sure if I'm gloating or excessively happy? His sister smooths the fabric of her frock. [translation = sun dress with matching shorts] My son observes the scene, his father, his brother, his sister and me.
“You too?” he stutters.
“What about me dear?”
“You are gonna, gonna, gonna…..I mean, you're gonna ch ch ch……put on dah frock.”
“Yes, I'm going to change in a minute, put on my best T-shirt.”
He makes a little gasp, takes a step or two in several different directions from a static point, stands to attention, cocks his head on one side, gives his head a little shake before saying “you are gonna, gonna, gonna, put on a T, a T, a T…….a party frock for my party?”
“Oh no, just jeans and my best T-shirt.”
He clamps his lips tightly together, a cartoon of disappointment and disapproval. He is a rigid pole, vertical at a 15% angle. How does he do that without falling over?
I hover, “I don't have any party frocks anyway.”
He's on me like a whippet, “yes you do. I have seen dem. I see dem in your closet. Lots. Lots of frocks.”
“Yes, but I haven't worn those for years…….we lead a different…..well….. the thing is…”
“You go put on dah frock for my birthday party!”
It's more of a command rather than a request.
“Well, I…….you see……I'm not sure……maybe……”
“Party frock!” he nips.
“But I, ..well, but er..”
“No ifs, no buts, no coconuts!” he quotes with aplomb. Where did that come from?
“I don’t know if I can er…”
He steps towards me, takes my hand and looks up to my face, “it's o.k. I can come and help you do dah choosing.”

So if you see a crusty old woman at the equivalent of Macdonald's, wearing a tiara, don't be too quick to judge. [translation = “Rats to the theory” of mind.]
Please excuse crooked feet. They are perfectly co-ordinated with the other end. [translation = crooked teeth]

Post Script [translation = added later after a little early morning reading] We who have young [or teeny tiny] children look to people who have older children so that we can steal their crystal ball for our own benefit. If you’re experiencing a little hurtle and wonder if your kiddie winkie has that empathy then take heart and peek into the life of an “expert.”

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