Find your happy place

There are many occasions in life when is next to impossible to do the right thing. If you are forced to act in a manner in which you would prefer not to, then it’s a good idea to find a method of keeping your cool.

Some people are naturally calm, unflappable, no matter what life throws at them. They are people that I greatly admire but other lesser mortals, such as myself, are more easily ruffled.

Around here, a frequent occasion pops up in the form of car travel. The car has long been an aversive experience for the boys, but they have developed their own coping mechanism, namely circular little ditties and noises that help calm them. These phrases are not calming to either the driver, nor other passengers. For long journeys we have different strategies but for short trips it’s merely a case of grin and bare it. It is essential to concentrate upon the art of driving, remain unflustered and resolute.

We drive to the restaurant, a party of seven, with the boys independently perseverating in their own unique ways.
“Shut up already!” bleats my daughter, sandwiched between the pair of them.
“Don’t worry dear, we’re nearly there, just tune it out.”
“But I can’t,” she wails.
“Just take yourself to your happy place and lock the door.”
“But I don’t have a happy place.”
“Everyone has a happy place you just have to find yours, remember?”
“I can’t think about anything with all this din, it’s torture.”
“I think your current happy place would be a barrel full of darling Webkinz, up to your neck in them, all soft and fluffy……muffling the sound. You just need to imagine pulling the lid down over your head, turn the key in the lock……or are you too old for Webkinz now?”
“I can’t I just can’t.”
“Yes dear?” Ooo a chink in the chain, a brief pause.
“Dya wanna know where is being my happy place?” This, though he didn’t appear to be listening, seemed to be tuned out.
“Ooo yes please!”
“In dah jungle wiv all my Spore friends.”
“Ah. Of course.”
“Yes dear, where’s your happy place then?”
“Er… happy place is…….nest.”
“Ooo of course. How you love eggs still.”
“No……not eggs…… games.”
“Sounds a bit uncomfortable and pokey to me!”
“Heaven mom, pure heaven!”

This could be yours:-

Don’t forget to add your name to the “list” and help spread the word for the giveaway.

p.s. should you happen to have a free mo about your person, you may wish to nip on over to “Kristina” at “” where you might want to consider signing the petition to encourage President Obama to fully fund IDEA as that would help make a lot of people very happy.

p.p.s. it is, of course, a very polite letter.

Cheers dears

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Vicarious Story telling

One of the many advantages of two generations of children is that family stories are re-hashed and regurgitated. There are obstacles to be overcome with such story telling. If one generation of children grew up in England and the newer generation grow up in the States then there are a great many discrepancies between the two factions. Their experiences differ greatly.

This becomes all too apparent one night at the dinner table when rowdiness rules the roost. She turns to me and rolls her eyes over the din. She slumps back in her chair to observe her younger siblings raucous, unbridled and ever so ever so loud shenanigans. “Hey!” she bellows with large accompanying arm movements.
“I want to tell you something.”
“When I was little……about your age,” she adds as she glares at each one of them in turn, “I used to be loud too.” None of them says a word, either because they find it hard to imagine that their big sister was ever their age or because they are all different ages or because they cannot imagine her being loud or all three.
“One day mum went to meet her friend at a pub for lunch and I went too.”
“Pub! Pub? Wot is it being ‘a pub’?”
“A pub is where you go to drink.”
They look at her in confusion so I nudge and whisper “that probably wasn’t terribly helpful.”
“Right. A pub is where you go to eat, and drink alcohol, a bit like a restaurant or a diner.” Three pairs of eyes widen at the trigger word ‘alcohol.’
“You are drink alcohol when you was being a kid?”
“No I drank orange juice but that’s not the point. The point….” Her tale is cut short as the conversation is now stuck firmly in the mire of ‘just say no.’ They would only be slightly more shocked to hear that she drank rat poison. The din grows louder as they perseverate over the evils of drink but she reins them in to pursue her tale.
They pause and return their attention to their big sister. “Anyway, as I was saying……we were in the pub……eating…….and I was being very naughty.”
“Naughty?” they chorus.
“Yes… mum’s friend told me a secret.”
“A secret?”
“Yes…….mum’s friend told me that she used to have noisy naughty children too, just like me…….” She pauses to brilliant effect.
“So what do you think happened to her children, those noisy naughty children?” I am suddenly more than a little worried where this is going as I am the one who will have to deal with the fall out, probably for some considerable period of time, but she’s on a roll and there’s no stopping her now.
“Well……mum’s friend told me that her children were so naughty and noisy that she left them in the pub, went home and she never saw them again.”
“She losted her children?”
“Yes she did.”
“Yur kidding right?”
“Dat is way bad.”
“England” is evil!”
They scatter to the four winds before she has the chance to finish.
“Great! Did you have to tell them that?”
“They didn’t give me a chance to finish.”
“You know we’re going to “England” in less than two months?”
“Well I was looking forward to the odd pub lunch here and there, maybe.”
“Do you think that’s going to be a problem? Just from what I said?”
“Believe you me, that little nugget of information is boring a hole into their brains to lodge there quite firmly until hell freezes over.”
“Better get some take out menus “then.”

Don’t forget to add your name to the “list.”

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Perspective taking, anxiety and stress

I listen to a fascinating interview with “Robyn Stewart” on “Woman’s Hour” about the stresses and strains of living as an autistic adult in the UK. How the provision of services is dire. How small incidents of no apparent import can have a paralyzing effect on an autistic individual throughout adulthood.

The newly weds retire for the night. I prompt my children to say goodnight at 7:30 in the evening.
“Geez you are night night time already?”
My youngest daughter blushes as she hugs her big sister.
“Dat’s it.”
“What’s it.”
“Dat is dah baddest fing I have ever bin hearded.”
“Heard dear, heard.” I see the signs. Fast speech, tense body, wringing hands, angry tone as he begins to fizz.
“I’m never gonna be a married.”
“How come?”
“I don like dat rule.”
“Which rule?”
“Dah sleeping for marrieds at 7:30.”
“Ah……well that’s because…….he Brazilian, nothing to do with being married. Dad and I are married and we’re wide awake.” Once he has latched onto an idea it can be difficult to resolve, distract or deflect.
“Er… are American marrieds or English marrieds?”
“What time is English marrieds are sleeping?”
“What time is American marrieds are sleeping?”
“Oh American’s go to bed very early indeed. Most of them go at nine o’clock because they get up so early, just like you do come to think of it.” His hands clench the material on his trouser legs as he hones in.
“What time is Chinese marrieds are sleeping?”
“Well they’re 15 hours ahead of us in Beijing so it’s the middle of the afternoon for them.”
“What time is Australian marrieds are sleeping?” His increasing agitation continues to spiral.
“Well Australia is very big too, so it depends which bit of Australia you’re in.”
“Aghhhh! Where I am to be a married who is not ever be sleeping.”
“The land of the midnight sun dear. It would be perfect for you…..apart from the snow and ice of course.”
“Aghh dis is impossible.” It’s easy to identify the spark once he’s on fire. It is far more difficult to dampen down after ignition.
“Well you’re not likely to be getting married any time soon, so you don’t need to worry about it right now.”
“What about my childs?”
“What about your children? You don’t have any children yet either.”
“My childs will be like me?”
“Er……perhaps. You never can tell.”
“How are you not know any of deez fings?”
“Well………there are just so many mysteries…….we can’t know everything and we can’t predict the future.” Platitudes are rarely effective. I watch him begin to pogo on the spot with clenched fists and bared teeth because I lack logic, amongst other things.
“Tell you what though!”
“Wot!” he bellows on his last centimeter of string.
“When you marry you’ll be an adult and adults can follow any rules they like.” He exhales as he flops onto the floorboards in a heap, spent. Maybe, just maybe that’s enough. I wait as his eye lids flutter.
“Yes dear?”
“How long until I am an adult?”
“About ten years, give or take.”
“Ten years! Dat is unbelievable!”
We begin the next spiral.

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SOOC Smiley Saturday

Slurping Life

Learning the error of your ways
From a few weeks back in the summer

On the third week they break a third vase, although I miss the magic moment to identify exactly which one committed the crime. I am excessively annoyed. The vase was cheap and cheerful, of no intrinsic value, but the mess, glass, foul water and dead flowers exacerbates my already frazzled nerves. As in all things, I adhere to the principal of three:- one vase in use, one in the closet and one in transit, just like knickers. Now I am vaseless which is a mild improvement on knickerless. How can this dastardly state of affairs have come to pass? I hear the dulcet tones of our Irish ABA guru waft through the ether, 'what incident immediately preceded the event in question?'

What indeed?

The tantalizing question that haunts so many of us. There must be a logical answer, although even an illogical one would do for the time being.

Three weeks ago? Three weeks ago? What could it possibly be? Probably about that time, was the time that my youngest decided that his body needed exercise, regular exercise, frequently. He would hurtle out of the house chanting in time with his self imposed exercise regime, to fly around the garden on his bike, three circuits before flinging his bike aside and hurling his body back indoors. I began to recognize the signs, faster speech, many nonsense words, cycles of ever speedier ditties before they burst like an ant hill to catapault him into the garden. Self regulation is all very well but why does it have to involve such destruction? Neither of them has ever volunteered to enter the garden until this summer.

I stare at the double glass doors, willing my brain to function. Once a week I collect the organic vegetable box along with a bunch of flowers. Once a week I take the old dead flowers and stick them outside until time permits me to visit the compost heap. Once a week I snip the elastic and drop the new fresh flowers in a different vase, not exactly tastefully arranged. It frees up a moment to clear a shelf in the fridge and shove ten pounds of organic vegetables in to chill. The same routine for about five years. What has gone so horribly wrong? Their dad appears by my side to note the latest dollop of carnage, “geez, I'd I thought you'd have stopped it by now.”
“Me? Stopped it? And how exactly do you think I should magic that one?”
“Stop dumping those vases in the doorway to trip over.”

Get the code:-
Cut and paste
from this little
boxy thing below

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Potato heads and loose chips

I wash up at the kitchen sink.

Next to me, Nonna leans on the counter for a closer look at the gimmicky, techy photograph frame, the one with the chip and the constant rolling pictures.

“Where is dat one den?” she asks with a quivering pointy finger for emphasis. I lean to the left but I've already missed it.

“Um what was it of?”
“You know.”

I guess. As the current image rolls away and try to calculate which would have been the one before it? If there are 78 photographs on the chip and we're about half way through, so they're about three or four years old, so that would have been our trip to England so that would have been….
“Ooo what about dat one den?” she asks with a quivering pointy finger for emphasis.

I lean to the left but I've already missed it. “Um what was it of?”
“You know.”

I pout and reach for the sack of potatoes to peel so that I re-use the water, even though it's still a bit tepid.

“What about dat one den?” I lean to the left and we bump shoulders accidentally and face each other. “Wot?”
“Dat one?”
“In your………..hand.”
“The potato.”
“The potato. What about the potato.”
“Is it American?”
“Er……yes……we're in America…..I think it's safe to say that this is indeed an American potato.”
Beam me up Scotty!
“I mean… it one of those……..what is it……begins with an 'i'?”

I think. I think hard. What is a vegetable that looks like a potato but begins with an 'i'? When Nonna's son walks in looking ever so slightly dazed, I lean backwards, so that I can interrupt his path, stare at him and give him 'the look.' He startles in response, “what?”
I whisper, “if you don't answer the next fifty questions I swear I won't be responsible for my actions!” I wave the peeler in front of him for emphasis.
“Oh right. MORNING MUM!” he bellows putting an arm around her shoulders just to startle her.
“Be gentle!” I snap as she wobbles to regain her balance.
“Ooo what about dat one den?”
“I'm not askin you, I'm asking Maddy. Maddy, what about dis one den?”
I glare at her son who sputters, “well I don't know do I?”
“Maddy, is dat a mouse picture?”
Her pronunciation of 'picture' is exquisite.

I relent.

I will explain the mouse picture to both of them for umpteenth time.
“Well…'s a VOLE……do you remember?”
“A what?”
“Oh yes. I remember you said dat. Was it really in the house?”
“How did it get dere den?”
“Which one?”
“Oh yes. Jasper and Meadow. I remember. They were beautiful cats too.”

Sharp as a tack!

“! Idaho!”

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Thoughty Thirteen

Thirteen Things about free advice

Here are a few words of wisdom that you may or may not wish to share with a child of your choice that I have received over the decades.

1. You my child, shall have a miserable and unfortunate life.

2. You really should try and smile more.

3. What’s the rush? Is there a fire?

4. Stop being such a misery guts and go out and do something nice for someone else.

5. If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.

6. Never trust a mumbler.

7. People will never remember you, but they will always remember your manners.

8. What is the delay? Do I need to put a bomb under you?

9. Just do you best, that’s good enough.

10. But you can’t go out without a clean hanky!

11. Blow your nose! Oh, it’s a freckle.

12. If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a thousand times, you’ll never get rid of them with a Brillo pad.

13. You’re a long time dead.

A long, long time ago, I would sit in the OBGYN’s office, waiting. On the wall was a framed “poem” which read:-

A Child Lives What He Learns

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise, he learns appreciation.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

~Original Author Unknown

I thought it was a bit mushy at the time, but now I’m not so sure, maybe I like Anon afterall.

As for number one, in case you wonder if it’s true or who might have said such a thing or is this pay back time, I should explain? Someone did say this to me when I was very little, little enough to have to look up ‘unfortunate’ in the dictionary. Why do I mention it now? Because we all say and do things in the heat of the moment that we later regret. They’re impossible to take back. We worry about the damage we’ve caused and perseverate about it, often years after the event. What we don’t know, is that sometimes our words can spark quite a different reaction that we anticipated. For me at least, those words ensured that the opposite would be true, but I’m just obstinate all round, cussed rather than cursed. Perhaps you have a little funny gem of your own to share?

Ooo somebody “loves me!” “Yah/Boo”

For more useful advice you could nip along and visit “Miss Nelson” at “Meaningful Outcomes” especially this post here called “Raising a Sensory Smart Child.” She certainly makes more sense than I do and she’s a far better speller too.

Cheers dears

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It's easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Definition:- Perseveration is the uncontrollable repetition of a particular response, such as a word, phrase, or gesture, despite the absence or cessation of a stimulus, usually caused by brain injury or other organic disorder.

This is another variation on “Perseveration” and how it can pan out in “adults,” maybe you might recognise a little bit of yourself, perhaps? A longish piece, but very worthwhile for a little personal insight.

To those who have grown weary of seeing the same title “England is evil,' every day, I have a suggestion? Take the first letter that matches the name of your own country, such as M for Mexico and couple it with another word such as Malevolent. There after, chant in threes 'Mexico is malevolent.' It would help if your accent differed significantly, and identifiably from your country of choice. Ideally this should be repeated during every idle moment as well as any number of minutes when you are concentrating on something, or frustrated, or distracted. The phase can also be used both publicly and privately. Continue in this fashion for the next 22 days. Ensure that you are in Mexico when you say it. Ensure that you find a good translator so that everyone is sure to understand you. Ensure that the pitch, timbre and volume of the words is loud enough, even if their hearing aid is turned off. For variety, it can also be sung to any number of different tunes on random shuffle. You do not have to be on holiday or in unfamiliar territory to complete this experiment, but it helps. Once you have completed each and every one of these steps, then you shall be better placed to point a finger.

I would be willing to lay a wager, that even if you changed Malevolent to Marvelous, nevertheless it would still numb your brain cells.

Would that all the world's woes were so tiny.

Non-verbal no longer, I am the luckiest mummy around.

Any takers?

Go on, indulge me, especially if you’re on one of those dratted ‘readers!’

Or maybe you might have an opinion about my future career prospects if we return to England? I’m thinking………exclusive importer and distributer of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers, or is that too self serving?

It’s nice to go away, but it’s lovely to be “home.”

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Curiosity slayed the feline


I set about making a few vats of carrot juice, glug a gallon or two with a Centrum chaser. I shall remain healthy if it kills me. This provides enough energy to bake a dozen muffins with the left over pulp.

Small people perseverate on the usual matters with one new addition, “not a stork, it's an egg head!”

Ordinarily I would enquire into the source but I am far too grumpy.

It's probably something to do with storks and babies, and I am in no mood to commence a sex education lecture to a seven year old.

I swallow another couple of Advil as I can’t afford to be wiped out by Vicodin. In an ideal world I would opt for a pout but I can only just manage a glower, which I hope is enigmatic.

Spouse has abandoned us once again, back to England. I had anticipated a 'love, honour and obey in sickness' phase of marriage. Especially the 'obey' part. I had hoped to bask in his attention and affection after my latest visit to the dental surgeon. Unfortunately he has chosen the 'honour thy father and mother' option, as the threat of death and taxes, clearly trumps “dental implants.”

But I can still moan about it and exercise one of my more finely honed talents. I stagger around with an ice-pack clamped to my jaw and a similarly frosty exterior.

I consider adopting a martyred air, but it’s pointless unless you have an audience. My audience is tuned out, oblivious to my delicate disposition. We continue to charge about in the 90 degree heat and I am on underwear duty, which means that everyone must be wearing some. All other garments are optional, not that I am a minimalist, more of a defeatist.

An absent father means that this is an ideal time to make unreasonable demands and throw the rule book out. Everyone is determined to check whether or not the same rules apply that have applied since their birth.

“But why do I have to flush the loo?”
“No teef cleaning rule! Why I am bed now at clock eight?”
“Not a stork, it's an egg head!”

The troops are revolting and I have a hard time maintaining law and order with a clip board, pencil and grunting noises.

By bed time I am uncertain who is the most fatigued as we flop onto the sofa for story time.

“Shall we read to ourselves Mom?”
“@*&F^#>+ %*!”
“Do you mean yes? Jus nod yur head.”

I grab the clip board and write 'yes please.'

“Don be listen ta her! Not a stork, it's an egg head!”

I reach for the clip board again as I just have to know.
'do you know where that phrase comes from?'

She reads with care and then glances back at me.

“Have yah looked in the mirror today?”

If you laugh I swear I’ll stab you with a “spork.”

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Puppy Love – howl at the moon

One of our most serious and all pervasive issues has been the matter of pretend play.

My son would often pretend to be a dinosaur and he was a very good mimic. As soon as I commented or guessed, “are you being a Triceratops?” he would collapse in a huge meltdown. I assumed it was because my guess was wrong and therefore very annoying.

I later learned that it wasn't the 'guess' that was wrong, it was the trigger word 'pretend.' Much later still, I learned that the word 'pretend' was offensive. It was offensive because he wasn't 'pretending.' As far as he was concerned, he 'was' whatever he was mimicking. He 'became' whatever he mimicked. A budding method actor.


It's the new wallpaper to my day. It doesn't really matter what the subject is, or what we might be talking about, everything is peppered with Chihuahua. I blame the friend, or more specifically, the mother of the friend that bought the dog. She has no idea what her new pet has done to my family, and let me tell you, it is not a pretty sight. Fortunately there are no sound effects, just dog talk.

“He is dah Christmas present?”
“Who is a Christmas present?”
“Dah Chihuahua?” It colours every conversation. He'll manage to squeeze it in to the most unlikely chat. “Would you like barbeque sauce or ketchup?”
“What do Chihuahua's like? I like what he likes.” It's a blatant lie and a figment of his imagination at the same time, quite a feat. I was never particularly keen on the breed in the first place, but they are rapidly descending into a puny pet peeve.

I try deflection. The subject is moot. “We can't get a dog until after Christmas. It's not fair to find a puppy and then leave him in kennels when we go to England.”
“Dey have Chihuahua's in England?”
“Yes but you can't bring a dog from England to the States….” I avoid the Rabies, customs and waiting period, period.
“Because…..English Chihuahua's don't understand American, it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.” Oh how I love the Constitution!

I distract.

“Can you read that sign dear?”
“What does it say dear?”
“Danger keep out.”
“That's why it's red, to tell you about the danger.”
“Dey have a big dangerous dog? Chihuahuas are not being dah dangerous.”

His sister joins in the debate. She has her own agenda. Perhaps she can muzzle him?
“We can't get a Chihuahua as they bark all the time.”
“Dey only have dah little bark.”
“They have sharp claws and they'll scratch yah when they jump on yah.”
“Dey do dah little jumps and I am big.”
“He'll lick yur face and bite ya.”
“No he will be dah good dog.”
“A lab would be better or a retriever. Now that's a real dawg.”
“I don wan a real dawg I wan a Chihuahua.”
“Anyways. They don't have Chihuahua's in America. You have to go to Mexico to buy Chihuahua's.”
“Mom I need to go to Mexico!”
“We're not goin to Mexico, we're going to England dummy. Mum tell him we're not going to Mexico. Tell him we're not gonna get a Chihuahua. Tell him we're gonna get a big dog.”
“We go Mexico before dinner?”

I fly away. I remember our one holiday to Mexico. It was based on the sound theory that we should visit Mexico, whilst we were here in the States. Once we returned to the UK, it would be a much longer and far more expensive holiday. It made perfect sense. It made perfect sense before we went. Mexico had been Americanized. It was just like America but with different accents and a milder climate. As it turned out, it was not just like America. They had no Goldfish, which was far more distressing that no seat belts in the cars.

Everything is a prompt, so I stop, prompting that is, in the remote hope that we can avoid this all pervasive subject.

He self initiates conversations, in a sly and circumnavigatious manner.
“You like em?”
“Like what dear?”
“Hot dogs?”
“Er, not really.”
“Hot dogs are like wieners.”
“Er, yes, little ones, so they are.”
“You can get wiener dogs.”
“Dachshunds dear.”
“Dachshunds are little dogs just like Chihuahuas.”

I wonder if we have time to stop by the travel agent before dinner? How much does it cost these days? One adult, one way to Mexico? I should pre-order the vegetarian option, a tofudog?

I am hounded on every front. There is no way out. I should start practicing commands like 'down boy!' Little traps await me around every corner, ready to pounce. Logical persuasive leaps abound.

He fingers the old one, the red collar with the bell and little name tag.
“We are recycle?”
“We are recycle dis?” He shoves the collar in my face.
“Well it's a cat collar really.”
“Chihuahua's are been having dah tiny necks just like dah cats.”
“It be save.”
“It be cheep, cheap, cheaper if we dun buy a new collar.”

His powers of persuasion are unleashed. He crouches on the floor on all fours.
“You like me?”
“Of course I like you dear, I love you.”
“I am cute?”
“Very cute.”
“I am a lovely little guy?”
“Of course!” That’s so odd. I’m not permitted to call him little any more.
“You see my bootiful eyes?” He blinks to wet the deep brown pools.
“How could I not?”
“You see? I am be……I am pretend…….I am an adorable Chihuahua.” Pretend! Hallelujah! He said it! He said it out loud! I was here, I heard him and there is no meltdown. A new all time first.

But it’s not the last we hear about puppies. There is always another line, paragraph and chapter. Puppy talk dogs our days.

I need a campaign or an escape route or an 'off' switch. I think I'll start by buying a dog house, a little kennel that I can hide in, with optional drawbridge.

The next day following his playdate, he accosts me in the kitchen.
“You are dah dumbass?” Well really!
“I beg your pardon!”
“Oopsie. I sorry. You are dah stoopid?” Good grief! I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a improvement. I wait. I prompt, and dangle a treat, against my better judgment.
“Yes dear?” I do not snarl. I am obedient and stay put.
“Why you say it a Chihuahua?” he yips.
“Um….your friend's puppy, that little dog…..well it is a Chihuahua,” I avoid barking.
“No!” he woofs. I listen to His Master’s voice and beg for more information.
“Yes?” I am at heel without the restraint of a choke collar.
“No. You got it wrong.”
“Yes. On my playdate……”
“..his mum bin…….”
“She be…” I wait. Prompts and encouragement can only take you so far. Sometimes you just have to wait for them to retrieve, regroup and restate.
“His mum din bin say dat …..he's a Pomeranian,” he says with perfect diction without slobbering.

You know, some parents can be a real handicap. I adopt a hangdog expression and I slink away, with my tail between my legs.

New post up over on “alien.”

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Peace of mind can be very noisy


I am reassured when I read that “other families” are noisy too. I know that there are lots of quiet families too, but it's the noisy ones that give me peace of mind.

We endure a forty minute journey in the car, ironically, to the Humane Society. My daughter sits calmly in the centre back seat, a brother on each side. It is her misfortune in life to be the central divider. Her arms are folded across her chest as she looks out of the window and comments to me on the various points of interest that she sees. “Look mom, do you see that balloon thing?” she bellows but in a mild tone. She has no option but to yell because the amount of noise emanating from her brothers is strong competition.

“Why do boys like bunnies? Why do boys like bunnies? Why do boys like bunnies?” he chants in his robot voice. As usual, I have no idea where he has found this gem. I keep an eye on the GPS map on the dash board as the woman's voice that provides verbal directions is too quiet to hear. A least I know that my son is coping her voice, even though I still can't identify the source of the new phrase.

“Internet! Internet! Internet!” he blasts before reverting to the original phrase. I need to install an ‘off’ switch in this child. His older brother talks in a Pokemon voice and plays out a Pokemon scene, the same scene, the same discourse, the same exchange for the entire journey. Without his medication he has reverted to monosyllabic and echolalic and ever so happy. I'm not sure which one of us is more delighted, him or me? He is no longer irritated by his little brother's motor mouth. Once again he finds him a source of camaraderie and amusement. Even his distinctive laugh has returned, the one that sounds like the Flamingos in Alice in Wonderland. The Flamingos turned croquet mallets with that infectious giggle. I lack his generous spirit.

“Dogs eat trees, dogs eat glass, dogs eat metal.” He pants afterwards, in dog mode. His brother hoots with laughter and repeats the phrase sotto voce before returning to the Pokemon spiel. “Look Mom, there's a car with a dent in it. Do you think it was in an accident?”
“Could be,” I answer as non specifically as I can muster.
“Dogs eat pens, dogs eat pans, dogs eat poops.” Cackles of laughter reverberate around the car. I wonder how long we will have to endure the dog stage of development?
“Ooo look, there's another one that was in an accident, the side is all bashed in.”
“Dogs eat pebbles, dogs eat rocks, dogs eat boulders.”
“They call that a side swipe I think.”
“Dogs eat mountains, dogs eat twigs, dogs eat sticks, woof, woof, woof.” Every so often, his older brother repeats his little brother's words. Sometimes it's echolalic, sometimes he's just giggly. They enjoy a very exclusive brand of humour.
“What do they call it when the back is all smooshed?”
“Dogs eat grass, dogs eat green, dogs eat fields.” Perhaps I should just install volume control?
“Rear ended.”
“Dogs eat men, dogs eat wimmins, dogs eat…..dogs don't eat kids.”
“What about the front smash?”
“Dogs eat bottles, dogs eat glasses, dogs eat spectacles.”
“Er bonnet bashed?”
“Dogs eat shoes, dogs eat newspapers, dogs eat machines.”
“That must be the English, what's the American?”
“Dogs eat Italians, dogs eat Frenchians, dogs eat Germ mans.”
“Um fender bender or humped hood.”
“Dogs eat cars, dogs eat bicycles, dogs eat rockets, woof, woof, woof.”
“Are you sure, that doesn't sound quite right?”
“Dogs eat galaxies, dogs eat clouds, dogs eat worms.” Nothing sounds quite right at the moment, least of all my own brain.

My eyes flick between the rear view mirror and the GPS screen. I need to concentrate so that I don't miss the exit. I'm not particularly bothered about taking longer to arrive, but I am particularly bothered about spending any additional seconds confined in this moving torture chamber. I long to drive a black taxi cab, the kind from London, where you can pull up a soundproof screen between the driver and the passengers.

I glance back at my daughter. She seems calm. I think she is calm. I decide to check. “Are you alright dear?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well with the noise and all?”
“Oh yeah sure.”
“It doesn't bother you?”
“Er no. Does it bother you?”
“Well,” I veer to the right a little.
“Are you asking my advice?”
“Er yes, I think I must be?” I admit to my 9 year old daughter.
“Well you just need to shut your eyes and blot it all out, think about other things, peaceful things.” She pauses, “I spose that's kinda tricky if yur drivin.” I love how she flips between English and American.

I swing into the car park and the last free spot. I take a deep breath, a full lungful, enough to sustain through the next step of our sequence. My mind races through all the pitfalls that the next hour holds for us. Will we succeed or will we have to beat a hasty retreat? My youngest son bellows, “d'you know dah one fing dat a dog can't eat?”

We all look at him. It appears to be a genuine question and he has everyone's attention. “A dog cannot be eating his own tongue coz den he will not be able to woof.”

My car is stationery. The rubber wheels are parked on the concrete. My car jiggles as the occupants giggle.

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