Early days 6

I beetle about late at night and then check the computer for some ‘down’ time. I come across a “posting”
that transports me back in time, back to the good old days when I had them all securely strapped into the double push chair. [translation = buggy]

Yes, the day that I could no long pry their huge bodies into that contraption was the last day that I ever visited the post office with them. The whole exercise was just much to dangerous. [translation = to my own sanity]

There’s something about queuing [translation = lining?] that drives them all too distraction. I would go armed with no end of entertainments, snacks and other bribes to attempt ‘containment’ during the oh so long minutes within the confines of that den of torture.

Why bother? I hear you cry. Well we foreigners are discriminated against. We are not permitted to merely hurl a parcel into the bin. Oh no, perish the thought! Instead we are forced to complete pointless paperwork, declaring on pain of death [translation = deportation] that we’re not sending anything nasty through the mail.

It was while pondering those heady days of confinement, that I find there is a big ruckus back home about “disabled parking permits.” A couple of years ago I would have sold my soul for a such a permit. I went as far as printing off an application even though I could hear the expert advise me ‘if we give one to you, then we’ll have to give one to everyone who is autistic.’ I completed the first box, name and address and then abandoned the project.

How I longed for one of those tickets! To extract both my boys from the car into the ‘space’ of the parking lot, [translation = car park,] trying to get both of them, and my other daughter, safely onto the side walk, [translation = path] was a Herculean task that I dreaded. One would run off if I failed to have him physically within my grasp, the other would collapse in a heap around my ankles, hobbled. It is a miracle we are still alive to tell the tale.

How much difference would a permit make? Now, or back then? Lets go to ‘back then.’ On a good day, there are only a few car trips. Bear in mind that in America, nowhere is ‘walking distance,’ assuming that anyone around here ‘walked’ in the tradition meaning of that verb. Alternatively, take a bad day. A bad day, by definition, has many transitions, car transitions, which are the worst kind; to and from school, to first, out of the car, back in again and then second therapy, and then home. If I could have parked the car in the disabled spot, which is usually the closest to the entrance of where you want to go, this would have minimized the physical distance that I would have had to carry them, say 10 to 25 feet. Anywhere else, where often you have to cross a traffic steam as well, increases the distance and the time. It’s a mathematical question, so I’ll skip it. Instead I’ll count the grey hairs, worry lines and shoe leather.

I should take this opportunity to apologise to all the casual passer-byers, who over the years, have had to witness the sight of a crazed mother octopus careening around a public place with weak sheep dog skills.

As a matter of public safety policy, I should have to wear a bag around my neck, with a little neon sign saying ‘please help yourself to a pair of complimentary ear plugs.’ I doubt if anyone is brave enough to get that close!

Please give us the parking permits!

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My definitions and categories become looser with every advancing year, a very sloppy habit. It's probably just a survival mechanism on my part. Gone are the days where you encouraged your off spring to delicately dab at the corner of the mouth with a serviette. [translation = napkin] These days I'm satisfied if we can spend communal minutes in one room that happens to have the dining room table and food in it simultaneously.

I sit next to my son at the breakfast table, enfeebled by the 25 minute fruit fight. I'm not sure who has won. Technically, since the fruit is inside him, I should be able to claim victory. He sits cross legged and half naked on his furry red cushion. The chair is at a thirty five degree age to the table, about an eight inch span for his body to stretch. It’s the left hand side of his body. This would be an appropriate stance in an old fashioned bar, with a pint at your side whilst you chatted to a friend opposite you. Or would be if you ignored the lower half of his body and the issue of underage drinking. A wide variety of comments come to mind, running along the lines of 'sit up straight,' elbow[s] off he table,' 'legs down,' and so on, but they stay in my head.

His spoon flaps from his floppy hand showering cereal over a 4 foot radius with every welcome mouthful. It is stunning just how difficult they make this simple operation. He is a suspension bridge from chair to table, but that's only to be expected if you have poor muscle tone, as so many autistic children do. [translation = poor core strength] His head is on one side, which helps keep the cereal inside, since his mouth is open as he attempts mastication. I wonder which is more important, to eat your cereal politely or be able to breathe at the same time? I cannot recall ever having eaten anything in a similar pose, even though I try really hard to remember what it was like to be little.

I think it's o.k. for the experienced diner to not orientate themselves towards their food, especially if you're doing something else at the same time, such as have a cordial conversation with your companion. But of course there is no talking and I wouldn't be the one to put additional pressures upon him at this junction. This is fine because eating and talking should be mutually exclusive tasks. But then he is not chatting, why would he? He is not an experienced or expert diner, he is but a mere amateur. He should have a big L tattooed on his forehead, 'caution learner eater, please keep a wide berth.'

How can you eat if you're not sufficiently interested to even look at your bowl, where the food is located? There again, how do you expect to eat anything if you have to think about holding a spoon and have no concentration? If you can't connect the spoon to the contents to the mouth, a triangle sequence, then starvation is likely. Clearly a species that doesn't eat efficiently is on the downward path. I think Darwin would have a lot to say about my son.

He is the picture of disinterest, he is merely refueling on something that isn't offensive. He is just sufficiently and minimally connected to the whole proceeding of breakfast, to eventually complete the operation. He is perfectly positioned for escape when the exercise is over or whenever his calorie count is sufficient, whichever happens first. When the 334th energy unit is registered, he'll drop the spoon and catapault off that chair to start anything that isn't in the category of eating. I watch the floppy spoon flap a bit, debating whether he's on the 300th calorie spoonful or the 335th?

The spoon clatters like a race bell, the chair tumbles over like starter blocks and he's off without a backward glance, victorious. I check my watch. Six minutes and thirty seconds to consume 335 calories, dry ones without milk. There again, it is also six minutes and thirty seconds of sitting. [translation = depending upon your definition of sitting, of course.}

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