An Age Old Fragrance

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A Staycation in our own Wildlife preserved

I telephone my mum as I have been neglectful of late.

“Oh I'm so glad you called dear. We were beginning to wonder if you were still alive!”
“Yes, sorry about that, but it's a bit hectic around here.”
“Hectic? But you're all on holiday still aren't you?”
“That's exactly why it's so hectic.”
“You really should relax more dear, you'll wear yourself out and then where will they all be?”
“Easier said than done.”
“How did the cardi turn out?”
“What cardi?”
“The one you were knitting when you were on holiday in England?”
“Oh, that one. I've not finished it yet.”
“Really? But you only had to sew the pieces together surely?”
“Just not had a moment and any way a sewing needle is considered a lethal weapon.”
“Nothing, it's just that small children and needles lying around the place……not good.”
“Oh I wish you wouldn't use those cryptic American terms.”
“Cryptic. Hardly.”
“Why can't you speak in complete sentences?”
“No chance. Anyway, where were we?”

The boys coo terms of endearment in the background:- 'adorable, gorgeous, so cute.'

“Did you buy a puppy afterall then?”
“Adopt? Adopt what?”
“A puppy. Out here we don't buy puppies we adopt them.”
“Oh. So did you?”
“Did we what?”
“Buy ………adopt a puppy?”
“But I can hear the children……”
“Oh, right. No, no puppy, it's a rolly polly.”
“Oh. A real one?”
“Well it's alive at the moment but I wouldn't vouch for it's chances in the longevity department.”
“Why is he shouting endless?”
“It's his name.”
“Whose name?”
“The rolly polly's.”
“Oh! He's named the rolly polly?”
“Pets for free mother!”
“Well boys will be boys.”
“Hmm.” My daughter approaches to shout at me, “Mom it's not fair his Endless escaped and now he wants to nick my Big Anthony.”
“I'll be with you in a moment dear, I'm on the phone to Granny” I snap. I return my attention to my mother.
“Who is Anthony?”
“An ant.”
“I should have known. Is he really big?”
“He's bigger than Little Anthony. Anyway, I'll have to dash before too much unsupervised wildlife enters the house. Love you!”
“Speak to you again soon dear.” I replace the receiver and hunt down my children and their new pets.
“Yes dear?”
“Are they?”
“Are who?”
“Er……are they “worms?”
“Are who worms?”
“Are worms be turn to “cocoons?”
“No dear. Butterflies and moths have cocoons.” I think about worms casts, not quite the same thing at all. I don't wish to muddy the waters still further.

Much, much later, at the end of another sun filled day, I tuck them all into bed in the moonlight.

I stand on the hard wood floor wondering what to “tackle” first as their Dad walks in after another long day of toil. I decide to do nothing and plop onto the sofa next to him and a rolled up unfinished cardi.

We chat, or rather I chat and he stares at the blank television screen. I pick up the knitting and a well embedded needle, as his mother, Nonna, steps into the family room, “oh that's nice. I'm glad to see you enjoying yourselves together. So……why is it then?”
“Why is what………I mean……pardon?”
“Your thing?”
“Which thing, the knitting?”
“No, the thing in the kitchen?”
“Which thing in the kitchen?”
“The thing next to the cooker, the little computer, your computer?”
“What about it?”
“You're not doing it today?”
“Um…..not doing what on the computer?”
“Your……what's it called….. your EEE mail.”
“Oh no reason, just been a bit busy I suppose.”
“Why you are have so many?”
“So many what?”
“EEE mails?”
“Could I just have a cup of coffee please?”
I leave the beloved and yearned for sofa. Oh to be a couch chip! I move towards the kitchen, but I put my lethal weapon down first. As I wait for the coffee to brew I notice the computer screen, full to busting with new e-mails. I step over to check. As I peer so does Nonna, “ooo who are all these people?”
“Um……international businesses that appear to have my date of birth on file.”
“Oh look! I didn't know it was your birthday! Appy birthday Maddy. How old you are now then?”

She hugs me in the kitchen.

If I can’t remember my own birthday how on earth will I ever remember 48?

Just kiddin!

I take back every rotten word I’ve ever said about Facebook.

[Although I still disappear off into middle earth every time I arrive!]

I remembered just in the nick of time, thanks to “Yolanda!”

Who needs a brain when you can pinch someone else’s.

Thank you “facebook.”

p.s. note to techy persons – I would dearly love to fix my “sidebar” but I lack the expertise. I was sorely tempted to steal “Kathleen’s” autism bloggers sidebar, but cut and paste was a little sticky. If anyone could provide step by step instructions……..piccies would be nice, what a gif that would be.

For instance this “list.”
but much, much bigger that his! Size doesn’t matter “Gavin” as long as I a remain a little “wiener.”

Addendum – if someone doesn’t help me with my sidebar I shall just have to have a tantrum, which I will not longer refer to as a “meltdown” but hence forward refer to as an “MB,” a “mixed blessing.” The advantage is that we have the chance to “understand,” the disadvantage is that sometimes we “don’t,” understand that is to say. So we’ll just have emmby’s round here. Until “someone” nips along to straighten me out.

Gotta luv the Oxford English dontcha!

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ESL – English as a Foriegn Language


Speech delays are curious things but speech pathologists are there to help. Progress can be speedy when an enthusiastic parent gets on board with the programme. Other parents, lesser mortals, can sometimes be the harbingers of doom.


He sits on the throne. I lean on the door jam, awaiting the director of services to direct. I pull at the handful of wadded toilet paper, waiting. This of course is the perfect time, to have a chat, whilst he is immobile and without distractions.

“So…..isn't that so much more comfortable now that Daddy's replaced those tatty old loo seats?”
“Tatty? Tatty? Tatty? What it is be dah 'tatty'?”
“Oh, well sort of old, discoloured, a bit manky.”
“Manky? Manky? Manky? Man? Key?”
“Oh dear, um well just not it very good nick.”
“Nick? Nick? Nick? What it is be dah 'nick'?”
“Condition, not in very good condition sort of moth eaten.”

He springs up from the toilet as if burnt, “I am not want dah moths ta eat my butt,” he screeches as he disappears from view around the corner.

His future career as an entomologist dashed.

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Giving Thanks [translation = Indeed we do]

Is it autism or dyslexia that causes that? ‘Thanksgiving’ indeed! They have it the wrong way around of course. After a decade here, no-one can give me a satisfactory explanation as to why it's 'Thanks Giving' rather than the other way around? It makes no sense? Over the years I have managed to acquire a few genuine American pals. [translation = citizens who permit supervised visitation rights] These are persons who tolerate my inane interrogations. [translation = 'but why is it called bleachers?'] They dismiss my rational queries and tell me to get a new hobby. [translation = go away]
I stab at another chestnut with my inadequate tools.
“What it is?” he asks, concerned at my violent technique. [translation = Horray that he noticed, horray that he honoured me with a few words]
“It's a chestnut.”
“It is a nut?”
“Er, sort of, yes, it's a nut.”
“Why it hot?”
“So I can get the skin off.”
“Nuts have shells, not skin, why it skin? What is skin? It not nut?” I take out the unused grapefruit knife with the serrated curved tip in the hopes of removing more chestnut flesh.
“It's a 'chest' nut, it's a different kind of a nut.”
“I have a chest. It has skin too. My chest no have a shell but I am not a nut.” You may not be, but I will be soon! I delve into the kitchen drawer and find the melon baler and start digging.
“Why we have the nuts of the chest today?”
“Because it's Thanks Giving.”
“We have the nuts of the chest at Thanksgiving?” Stab! Stab! Save me someone!
“Well, we actually have them at Christmas.” [translation = the holidays]
“It is Christmas!? It is not Thanks Giving afterall? I have missed it?” Help.
“No, it's Thanksgiving today and Christmas in a month, ish.”
“Why for we are having the Christmas nuts now at Thanksgiving?” I've lost the thread, and accidentally mix the flesh of the chestnuts with the shells and skin. I sigh and turn to look at him, searching for words, words that will make sense.

Spouse appears and looks over my shoulder. A glimmer of a frown. “What is it?” he asks. I pick bits of shell out from under my fingernails poised to answer, but Senior son intervenes on my behalf;
“It is nuts of the chest!” he says gleefully, nearly managing to clap his hands.
“I just thought we were going to have them whole, with brussel sprouts, that's all.”
“Whole?” I query.
“Where is hole?” pipes up senior son. “We are having holes too?”
“Marrons, those French things in a tin,” proffers spouse. My mother would have heart failure if she thought I would purchase such an item, let alone permit it to enter the household. I correct his pronunciation. Senior pipes up again, “they are not maroon, they are brown, why you say maroon?”
“I didn't, I said marron, it's French for Chestnut.”
“French nuts of the chest are maroon?” he gasps.

I pass the bag of rogue chestnuts to spouse. “Here, you two can do the rest and see how many holes you can find whilst you're at it.” [translation = miffed]

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I used to consider myself an honest person, don't we all? I'm not averse to telling the odd white lie here and there, but definitely avoid the big whoppers. [translation = mortal, not burgers]

With my first generation of children a couple of decades ago, I found that my primary position on 'truth' was compromised. I adopted a new position; 'sitting on the fence.' Then, a youthful and ignorant parent, I worked on the sound theory, that if I offered two opposing options, that my child would have to work it out their own way. Of course I stacked the odds in my favor on each and every occasion; 'some people think it's o.k. to eat animals and earn their living that way, other people prefer to think of animals as friends, now would you like Whiskers fried or roasted for Sunday lunch?' Now that's what I call value free parenting.

These days, when the audience is more literal and is beginning to acquire a sense of humor, I find that my fence is getting a bit rickety, but that happens with age. With this generation's black and white world, my fence is being shaken. I am in peril of a tumble.

“I am special?” he asks before the sun has risen. I blink behind my bifocals. I am not a morning person. When he first wakes up, he has more words available to him than later in the day, as he uses them all up. He seems to be operating on a quota system.
“Of course, every child is special. Indeed every person is special now I come to think of it.” I need my brain to wake up and connect with my mouth.
“No, no, no. Me. Me. Me. Am I the special one?” Oh dear! Who has being saying what to him? Don't mess it up! Encourage and positively reinforce every utterance. If only I could get him to start at the beginning, to fill me in on all the prior thoughts leading up to this question.
“Who told you that you were special dear?”
“No, no, no. Not 'deer,' 'boy!' Am I a special boy?” Oh dear! I fell right into that one. Wake up! Starting firing on all cylinders! Have my neurons abandoned me?
“Who told you that you were a special boy?” Why am I a night owl? [translation = barmy old bat]
“I don know. I mean, I mean, I mean, I cant remember who is saying dat.” I think. Hurry, hurry, before he loses interest. I need to metamorphose into an early bird. [translation = leopards and spots] I think hard. Why didn't I train to be a speech pathologist when I was 18? Can I swap [translation = trade] my paper qualifications in 'uselessness' for a practical skill set?

I have no back-ground information, no pointers or clues. I don't want to provoke a meltdown by trying to extract chapter and verse from him, when he just wants an answer. I think of an answer. Not an answer to him, but an answer for him to use.
“The next time someone says that to you, can you try and do your 'good answering' for me?”
“Er, maybe.” Perfect! Never agree to anything initially, without due consideration of any and all consequences. A sound response that will stand him in good stead, both now and in the future.
“Can you try and look at the person, their face, shoulder perhaps, and use your kind voice to say, “And you're special too!”

Well it's not a lie. [translation = ain't that the truth]

verb [I] FORMAL
to avoid telling the truth or saying exactly what you think.

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Generally speaking, and I love generalizations, autistic children are described as being 'more.' I never thought about this label until a friend of mine asked me what it meant?
“They don't' seem 'more' to me, they seem so much less?” she blurted, but that's because I know her well and I have Rhino hide. I didn't need to ask for specifics but there's no harm in checking that I have hold of the right end of the stick? “How do you mean?”
“Well, they're speech is crap, [translation = delayed, two and a half years for one of them and 18 months for the other one, which means that fortunately for me, they both speak as if they're about 4, even though chronologically they're 6 and seven and a half, so it's more like having twins.] She continues, “they don't do any sport, can't even catch a ball, klutz!” [Translation = all American children are judged harshly upon their ability to amuse themselves and others, with a ball, although I am uncertain as to why this should be so important.]
“They look funny, you know, how they walk and all.” [Translation = one of them appears clumsy. The other doesn't walk, he sort of sparks, as if he's stuck his fingers in a power outlet.]
“How come he can read and the other one can't?” [Translation = he's hyperlexic which means he can read anything, way above his chronological age. The other one could read when he was three, but he sort of lost that ability when the autism really kicked in.]
“Why don't they eat proper, like, you know, all kids love pizza?” [translation = pizza is poison, well that's the opinion of one of them, but it's not surprising because he's neophobic, which means he's afraid of food, which means he's doing a wonderful job of staying alive at all.]
“How come he's so picky clean and the other one's such a grub?” [translation = autism is rarely straightforward, one is obsessively compulsively clean and the other is oblivious. It's sort of hyper-vigilance for one, something, anything, everything, is going to attack him, but the other one could be buried in a pile of manure and not really notice.]
“Why is his face still all pudgy, like a baby's? It's just too weird to have a six year old with a baby face.” [translation = he has very little facial or jaw muscle tone because he doesn't chew anything because he doesn't eat anything. That's why it's so difficult to understand what he says because he sounds as if he's talking with a mouthful of marbles. I just wish they were grapes instead of marbles, myself.]
“You can't see his face anyway under all that hair!” [translation = this is a child with tactile defensiveness, like an invisible bubble covering his head to his shoulders and nothing must penetrate that bubble or he'll bite you, though not literally. Taking a pair of scissors to that mop would be cruel and unusual punishment, and I don't want to be had up by the authorities because I'm an immigrant and don't want to give them any more ammunition towards my extradition papers.]
“It's weird how they never look at you in the eye, that would drive me crazy!” [translation = me too, but eye contact is tough for autistic children, even orientating their bodies towards the speaker can take years of training. Most of the time, if they speak at all, they might as well be talking to the ether. I don't see it as an insurmountable problem, I can think of hundreds of careers that involve no eye contact. The tech industry will be beating a path to their doorway in a few years time.]

“He's always clutching something, he's like a baby with a transitional object, shouldn't he have grown out of that by now?” [translation = it's not always the same thing, in fact it changes every couple of weeks, but without it, he's paralyzed, he has to have it with him like a talisman. It's a small inconvenience to pay to have a child feel safe, although I'd wish he'd choose bigger things that aren't so easy to lose, or less of them so that his trouser pockets are permanently bulging, as it only adds to the John Wayne effect.]

“I mean, they're brothers! Why aren't they the same?” Ah, because that would be too easy and far too boring.

post script – this was not a ‘real’ conversation but a compendium of daily comments and queries from the curious.

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