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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Stickers be damned

I would like to point out that this isn't a religious statement more a declaration of independence. Quite frankly, far too much independence, but that just goes with the territory. The world of mothers are busy motivating their kiddie winkies with tokens, stickers, prizes and hard cash, but not around here. I'll have you know that I have more stickers than is healthy for a woman of my advancing years. Their variety is exhaustive but it never quite hits the mark.

The motivation key has always been a bit cloudy for me. I couldn't imagine myself as a child being persuaded to do, or not do something for that matter, with the bribe of a 'sticker,' but it may be just because 'stickers' hadn't been invented in those dark old days. But I digress.

What is the issue here? Motivation! Don't we just love it, but what exactly is it and where do we find it? I can tell you one thing with confidence, it doesn't have anything to do with stickers as far as my autistic sons are concerned.
The magic of stickers has long been a mystery to me, but I'll try anything once, and then six months later, and six months later and so on.

Now we did have a couple of obstacles in our way as far as the sticker debacle was concerned. The first of these was that the average sticker is made of paper. [translation = the substance from hell for the tactilely defensive one] For senior son, the issue is more complicated, in that in order to peel off the sticker successfully from it's backing you need a good finger grip in the fine motor skills department, which until fairly recently, eluded him completely. There are additional issues for my two. It's can't just be any old sticker, it must be a carefully chosen unique choice to most closely match the current obsession. Failure to observe this basic criterion will result in certain failure. Heaven forgive the woman who buys 20 variety sheets of Thomas the Tank engine stickers only to be able to use the one “James” sticker per sheet. Just shoot her now and put her out of her financial weak willed misery. Someone needs to protect her from herself.

I mean, you think she would have learned over the years that this is never going to work, to say nothing of the heebie geebie meltdown that ensues when one of the precious stickers is torn.

I'm afraid that my sympathies are with the children in question;
“Yes mom? You want me to do what? Eat something I hate and in return you will give me a vile paper sticker that I need to peel off myself with my own inky dinky little fingers and then place on another piece of disgustingly textured paper, which incidentally is a very poor colour choice? Right! What exactly is the purpose of this exercise again? Remind me of whatever inherent logic you're attempting to achieve? You think this is helping? You are so out of your tree! Who is it supposed to be assisting and how? Go away lady, back to the drawing board, you are just so out of line, I can't begin to even explain it to you.”

I think he covered the salient issues.

Our only ever single, individualised, successful, nearly ‘sticker’ campaign!

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Silence in Court

I hold up both hands in a visible ‘STOP’ sign, which means 'pray silence as the middle sized chappie is about to make an announcement.’ Now that he is beginning to speak, becoming less ‘non-verbal’ he needs a break. [translation = chance to be heard] It's hard to keep the other two small people silent for an indefinite period of time, whilst the middle sized one literally, gathers his thoughts in preparation for speech.

I need to get a handle on this now, whilst he's still only six and a half in the hope that in the future when he becomes a morose teenager, I will still be able to extract information from him.

Junior sons jumps and jiggles in his chair on his hunkers, like a horse in a stall before the race. Junior daughter slumps back in her chair eyes on the ceiling, tedious, bored.

Senior son starts; “well… you know what?” Great start, very casual, very contemporary, not too strained, carry on. His eyes rest fleetingly on each of us, he isn't just addressing me, he is addressing a whole audience, nearly all of his family, he is being inclusive.

“Genie has two children,” he announces with hardly a stammer, the correct tense and a countenance that isn't distorted. He is initiating conversation, imparting a piece of information to me that is of a social nature, nothing to do with Pokemon, school or someone else's exciting misbehaviour. There is no perceptible gain to him in telling me this, it is 'merely' social exchange.

His enunciation is poor which means that you can't be sure if he said 'Gene' or 'Genie.' I decide to be difficult, even though I know exactly who he means. [translation = push the enveloppe]

“Is that Genie from therapy or Gene from over the road?” I pause, count to twenty, maintain eye contact and wait. The other two are bubbling with irritation but I manage a palm up hand in front of each of them.

“Well,' he begins tentatively and uses a 'filler phrase' whilst his brain does catch up “I think maybe………it is Genie.” [translation = many people use ‘fillers,’ Americans often say ‘you know,’ British people often say ‘actually.’]

More interestingly, I know the motivational source. [translation = to what he is referring, the incident that he wants to share] Yesterday, during therapy, he was motivated to check the current marital status of his therapists, whether they were still married, perhaps a divorce might be pending, whether they had managed to off load their current burden of offspring. [Translation = perfectly natural for a young man with social aspirations.

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