Valentine’s Day for the Literal Mind

BW spleen213

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Role Play

veg bw

Talking of family matters, one of my stories is included in the Not Your Mother’s Book on Family.



NYMB available on Amazon and other independent booksellers such as Powell’s which also has my other contribution in Not Your Mother’s Book on Being a Mom.

Being a Mom_

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Barbara’s Blog Carnival -Childhood Expressions

Which “childhood expression” to “pick” I wonder?

So I thought I’d change the focus from my typical topic to an atypical one.

The first comes from my elder daughter, back in the days when I was a single parent when everything was overwhelming. [hindsight really is a gift!]

Back then she was growing up much too fast just like many children of divorced parents. We read a great deal together, from the board books, baby books, picture books, onwards and upwards to independence. I had never liked ‘baby talk’ and so I used the same words and style of language that I do with everyone else. She had a great vocabulary as is so often the case when children are surrounded by adults: my parents, my siblings, my friends.

The details are hazy, so many years later but I remember that feeling of cozy harmony, the intimacy between parent and child when a family consists of only two units. If a parent is solely responsible for a single child a devotion develops such that communication is instinctive, words are hardly necessary – a separate world of understanding.

Madonna and child – perfection.

Maybe it was bedtime, perhaps we were at the beach, or playing hang-man? Yes! Hangman, all those years ago…

“That can’t be right dear?”
“It is.”
“I think you’ve left the ‘h’ out by mistake.”
“It doesn’t have an ‘h’.”
“Weren’t you trying to spell Bahamas?”
“Bahamas? No, it’s bajamas.”
“What’s bajamas?”
“Bajamas… you know… you wear them when you go to bed at night.”

Now if we’d lived in America then, no such confusion would have arisen, that’s why we stick to PJ’s now.

A few decades prior to this exchange, I had my own mishap with my mother, along quite similar lines. Being the dunce of the family I progressed from comic books, to Enid Blyton, to Agatha Christie and I’ve been stuck in ‘whodunnit’ mode ever since. On one particularly balmy summer’s day, [in England!] I was lying on the grass at my mother’s feet, devotional dog that I was, as I read the latest blood curling thriller some 45 years after it was first written. My mother sat in a deck chair, knitting, as only mother’s can, as she fought with a particularly complicated lacy pattern, which involved a great deal of counting and under breath cursing. Yards of fine yarn were testament to the unraveling of mistakes.

“Mum?” [I was then English]
“Can you tell me what this word means? I see it on nearly every page.”
“What is it?”
“Determinded? I’ve never heard of it.”
“Can’t you guess from the context?”
“Read me a sentence.”
“Hermione Herringbone was determinded to defeat her tormentors.”
“Are you sure it isn’t…Spell it for me.”
“Really? How odd. Here, pass it over, let me take a peek, hmm, lets see…’Daphne Dalrymple was …’ that’s not ‘determinded’ that’s ‘determined.'”

What can I say? It’s genetic.

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Proceed with caution

One of my many duties as Head Cook and Chief bottle washer of this joint is to tackle the accumulation of miscellaneous stains that have recently appeared around the premises. Although we are in the midst of a heavily armed, hand-washing campaign, nevertheless I find I have been remiss in my vigilance.

Whilst I can think of many other things that I should prefer to do, there comes a time when the graffiti can no longer be ignored. Armed with my trusty scrubber, soap and several gallons of elbow grease, I make a start.

The first one is an ominous brown smear but it passes the sniff test, so I know that is benign, Belgium Chocolate pudding I’ll be bound. As I scrub I hear the sweetly melodic strains of my youngest son’s latest ditty, “threedy boogie college,” to a familiar tune, with his usual robotic dance steps. I move swiftly on to the next one, marker that is neither magic nor washable. “Threedy boogie college,” wafts down the stairs, a chorus of cherubic artistic expression. Bless his little cotton socks.

As the walls become ever more patchy because this is an ongoing process, I notice that the paintwork is wearing thin. I pause to consider whether it might be more expedient to re-paint the entire interior of the house but decide against it on the grounds that a few more years will probably pass before any such transformation is possible. “Threedy boogie college.” How much better to wait a wee while so that I may bask in the delights of innocent childhood. I can almost look forward to my dotage, armed with a paint brush, ladder and a walking frame for support. It is whilst I daydream of the future that my daughter saunters across, “whatya doing Mom?”


“Ya missed a bit.”

“Did I? Where?”

“Jus there.”

I peer and sniff, “what do you suppose that is?”

“He says it’s art.”


“Yeah, didncha hear him singin it? It’s a 3-D booger collage.”


“Ask him yourself. You should ask him about his gallery.”


“Yeah, I said he should call it a gallery and charge admission.”


“Yeah, gallery’s opening tonight, right around bed time.”


“Yeah! Top bunk bed, pillow end.”


Who was the Great Master who cut off his own ear? I’ll bet his mum did it.

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Capture and release

The comment, 'these children will never respect you,' has haunted me a while. I think of all the things that I want for all of my children. Quite a few of them begin with the letter 'R.'

There are a great many parents who have their children at the center of their tiny universe. [translation = I'm in that category too] It probably is unhealthy, but I am not qualified to address that matter. [translation = many Brits know little about health] I am reassured to know that there are a few things that I do know, that there are a few constants on the roller coaster of autism. The things that I know, that are constants, are few and far between. I know that these few constants may change at any time without warning, but I still relish the reassurance of the constants.

I hear the ruckus next door. [translation = early warning that they are awake] I roll out of bed and stagger downstairs in an effort to achieve 'awake' before they make their appearance. I know that my daughter will sleep in, because it is the weekend, but the boys are relentless.

Light on, coffee on, feed the cats.

I wait in the kitchen trying to force my brain to turn 'on.' [translation = as well as the powers of speech] Before too long I hear them emerge from their bedroom. One stomps along the corridor, irregular steps, contact with the wall several times, bumbles down the stairs. Although I can't see him from the kitchen, I know that half his body is supported by the banister, cheek to the wood, hands as guidance as his body is folded over, his superfluous legs are several steps behind, little tippy toes deep in the carpet pile. I know that when he reaches the newel post at the end, he will spin around 360 degrees by accident, before he steadies himself and renews his path towards the kitchen.

I stand there, in the centre of the kitchen as he makes the final few steps from newel post, en route to the family room. I bar the way, a large form in a brown dressing gown. I open my arms so that I am even larger, a net to ensure his capture. I am now so large that he cannot possibly miss me. He bimbles into the kitchen eyes cast down following his path. He stops dead, one step prior to collision. His eyes rove slowly up from my slippers to my face, before his head clonks into my ribcage so that I can enfold him. We do no exchange words, but I give him a few of my own anyway.

I let him go and resume my position for the next one. I hear his tippy toes machine gun down the hall. I know that the rate of his movement forward, may not necessarily be reflected by the rate of his rapping. [translation = he can 'rap' on the spot too, without moving] I know that his hands are holding something, although I don't know what it will be today. I know that since he is only just awake, that his mouth will be open. [translation = poor lip closure]

His transition from bedroom to kitchen is spectacularly speedy. He arrives clutching a box piled high, a pyramid of Pokemon. How he has managed to balance them is beyond my imagination. [translation = future conjuror or plate spinner] He whirls around 180 degrees, so that he can reverse into me for a hug and not dislodge his hold on the box. I curl my body around his for a second or two as he vibrates, sucks in a mouthful of drool and smiles. My arms unleash him and he spins away.

Like all children, they have a great deal to learn. I hope that they learn to respect themselves and others, all 'others.'

So today, I am another year older, and oh so much “wiser” as you can see demonstrated over “here.”

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Many moons ago when I was just a wee young thing [ eternally optimistic] I was confident that this universal language would be the norm by the time I was an adult. Brits are notorious for the weak language facility, especially when compared to the rest of Europe. I skipped over the need to learn Esperanto myself, as I was having more than enough difficulty with French, German and Latin. I longed for the day when I would understand everyone, no matter how they spoke, a time of understanding and tolerance. No more conjugating verbs, declensions and fiddling about with the past imperative. No more pesky ‘amo, amas, amat.’

I have cause to review my weakness in communication skills, as I examine my son’s Speech and Language evaluation prior to his IEP.

The word that leaps of the page at me is ‘unusual.’ His speech delay is well documented but the words ‘atypical’ and ‘unusual’ keep on cropping up.

When I first came across ‘atypical,’ when all terminology was confusing, I was non-plussed. His kind of autism was ‘atypical,’ as was his speech delay. This description tripped me up initially. I had to keep reminding myself that there was ‘typical’ autism, whatever that might be, and ‘typical’ speech delays, goodness knows what they might be, and then there was my son, the ‘atypical’ one.

His speech pathologist gave him the usual barrage of tests prior to the IEP. From this she produced her report, her detailed report and recommendations based upon her findings. She is spot on in every respect. I scribble all over her report, as is my wont, as my son sidles up to snuggle into my side. I underline the numerous identifiable reasons as to why he sounds so much younger than his chronological age of nearly 8. [when he is able to speak loud enough for anyone to hear him] I also ponder her query regarding the pronunciation of the letter ‘R.’ Is this due to immaturity or the English disease? [ r’s do not feature as prominently in Britishspeak as they do in American English]

“What you are do?” he asks mid nuzzle.
“I’m reading this report from Mrs. B about your speech.”
“It is good it is bad?”
“Good! All good, very good.”
“I is good at dah speech.”
“Indeed you are.”

His feet pummel me, pleased and happy with his performance during testing. He beams with satisfaction, “maybe…..maybe….maybe I don neeed dah speech therapy no more!” I think maybe that depends upon who is listening? [future perfect]

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Not ‘autism,’ just funny

Last night I sat on the sofa. Being static was very boring, but I was supposed to be ‘resting’ prior to surgery on Monday. Senior son had decided to communicate with me voluntarily. Instead of really paying attention to him, as I should have been, I played with my new camera that Father Christmas brought for me. I tried to take his photograph because he was so happy and he was chatting to me just before bed. I noticed the ‘video’ sign on the camera, but as I didn’t have the camera manual handy I gave it a try anyway.

So this 8 second video is not ‘this is what autism looks like every day,’ doom, gloom, despondency, deep and meaningful footage. It is merely 8 seconds of the domestic chaos that we enjoy. It’s my first and probably last attempt, as it’s too technically challenging to upload / stick it in the right place.

It’s just a click away, up there on the right, just under the ‘shout’ icon, labeled pneumonia. Blink and you’ll miss it.

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