Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lust in translation

I was watching television with my husband, Omar, the other night, when one of those odd local advertisements came on. These are usually low budget commercials in which someone is either dressed up in a costume or an ill fitting suit and shouts at you to come into their store. In this particular one, an oddly dressed woman(she was wearing a lot of scarves?) was talking about taking some of "daddy's hard earned"(by way of stealing his wallet) and going on a shopping spree in this dismal looking discount store. My husband turned to me, shook his head, and said"I used to live in Paris".

It is true, my husband is a man of the world. He is originally from Algeria, and has lived in Paris, London,the south of France, and Budapest.(just to name a few). He speaks three languages fluently, and at least a little of many more. How did he wind up living with me in the middle of nowhere New England?

I originate from N.Y. and though I have moved a lot, the most exotic place I have ever lived is Madison Wisconsin. I speak only English. (Not for lack of trying, but I am terrible at learning languages. I just can't seem to grasp them. )Although, I have made an effort to memorize a few words-just in case I am stranded in a foreign country without money. For instance, I can confidently ask for a job as a dishwasher in Paris. "plongeur? Euros? Moi?"

Often times, I will listen in on the phone when my husband speaks to his family in Algeria...Their English is better than mine...and I am embarrassed that I can't say more than a proper greeting to them in Arabic, a language I find fascinating, intense, and very mysterious. No matter what they happen to be talking about...it sounds exciting and very passionate...

(I use the word "Arabic" in the following to denote actual language)

Omar- "ARABIC!! arabic! arabic??"

his sister-"arabic? arabic!! arabic!!"

his brother-Arabic!, arabic!!! ARABIC!!!"


his sister-"Ahhh.."

his brother-"Ahhhh.."

Me-What?!! what happened?!! Is everything o.k.?!!!

Omar-"yeah, my family says hi"

Me-"That's it?...all that just to say hi?"


It frustrates me sometimes- my inability to grasp different languages. Even our children seem to be adept at picking them up. I guess it is something that I will just have to learn to accept about myself. It doesn't seem to bother anyone ,especially Omar. I asked him once (well probably many times) What it was that attracted him to me (besides my good looks, unparalleled intelligence and self effacing demeanor)I haven't traveled the world, I can't speak any other languages...what is "it"? He said "your funny,..you make me laugh". I make him laugh?...ahhh..It works for me.

A few weeks ago, Oprah aired a repeat of her "Warrior Mothers" show.( starring Jenny McCarthy) In this particular episode, Jenny claims that autism is the cause of divorce in 90% of marriages. Not surprisingly, like her many other claims (she cured her sons autism, vaccines are the cause of autism) there is absolutely no evidence to back this up. Once again, with the help of Oprah, she is distorting and devaluing the lives of the many people who live with and around autism. It is a language of lies. A language, that for once, I am happy not to be fluent in.

We may live in the middle of nowhere New England, and we may have to live with strange local television commercials...but I look at my incredibly sexy husband, and our four wonderful children and I think..."ARABIC, ARABIC, ARABIC!!!" Which simply means, I am blessed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

stim cycle

The school called. Oscars' stimming is becoming a problem, a distraction...he can't focus, he is disrupting the class. He is laughing at inappropriate times. Oh..is that all? Phew! I was afraid that they were going to tell me that he quit, did not want to be there, had given up. I see so much of myself in Oscar,I don't want him to follow in my footsteps. When I was six years old, I quit, gave up,and most certainly did not want to be there. That's right, (sigh) I tried to be a first grade drop out.

After a blissful year of kindergarten where I played, danced and explored-first grade came as rather a shock . I just did not understand the orderliness of it all. Sitting still, keeping a neat desk, having to pay attention...sitting still! Where was the music? Where were the finger paints? Why was this woman dressed like a penguin?

I was in the first grade at Blessed Sacrament School, and I was miserable. Sister Margaret Mary, my teacher was a sweet little nun, yet she ruled with an iron crucifix. There would be order, there would be neatness! Day dreaming was not allowed. We were there to learn in a quiet and orderly fashion. Heaven help the child who resisted. It was her way or the "hellway". Did I mention that I was miserable? I was the ultimate day dreamer, the fidgety girl whose desk was always a mess, the questioner of all things questionable. I did not like being the focus of attention,but my behavior caused me to be the focus of hers. It all came to a head very early in the year.

It was the end of a beautiful fall day, and we were packing up to go home. In my joyful exuberance, I started whistling. An apparent major transgression in the classroom. (actually, it was more of a high pitched shrill sound as I was missing quite a few teeth) Sister Margaret Mary,was horrified ."I DEMAND to know-who is Whistling?" Sensing harsh punishment, and being the youngest of six kids, I knew to keep my mouth shut. The accusations flew! I too even looked around shaking my head in apparent disgust. What better way to hide my "sin" then to join everyone on this witch...or should I say "whistle" hunt?" "He did it Sister!".."She did it Sister!" It would seem as though everyone was accused. Everyone... but me. (heehee) Nobody confessed to this heinous crime, this unrestrained whistling..so Sister Margaret Mary declared that if the guilty party did not CONFESS, they would"BURN in the FIRES of HELL for all ETERNITY because of their DECEPTION!" I was only six years old, and if I didn't confess I was going to hell? I had to save myself, so I did the only logical thing that I could think of. I Kept my mouth shut, went home and promptly declared myself an atheist. I also quit school. Not exactly the wisest of declarations to make in a house headed by DEVOUT Catholics-they simply could not accept my rebellion. Especially as I could not give an explanation-I was not taking the fall for whistling. And I was not it seemed, going to be able to drop out.

I was remembering this story while I waited for Oscar to come home. We had to discuss his situation-but at the same time, I had to understand his reasoning..I could not use my "neuro traditional" thinking on his "non neuro traditional" behavior.

"Oscar, the school called. They said that you are shaking and eeeing and laughing a whole lot. Whats going on?"

"I'm shaking."

"Yes, I know. But you seem to be doing it more than usual. Is there a reason?"

"Shaking feels good"

"I agree, it does feel good...but, you are doing it a lot. Is something bothering you?"

"I'm shaking and shaking..eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!"

"I need you to focus here buddy...WHY are you shaking so much at school?"

"I shake because of tricky work."

"The work is hard?"

"Yes! Can you be done now?"

"For now, but we have to figure out how to make the work not so tricky, o.k.?...O.K.?...Oscar?

"Yes!! Can I have a snack now?"

"Wait-one more question...You haven't by any chance been whistling have you?"


"Never mind...go get your snack"

That night, while putting the boys to bed, Oscar started saying "help. help". He had taken his arm out of his pajama sleeve, and stuck a tiny stuffed animals arm in its place. It was a little creepy looking and yet so very funny. So very Oscar. So truly wonderful. So absolutely stimulating.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wash, Rinse, Repeat, Repeat,Repeat........

Sick kids and snowstorms have kept me away from my weekly blog. So instead of my usual type of post, I will instead share some of my journal entries from last week.


Sam is home from school today-stomach flu. He spent the entire night throwing up. I think that for every ounce of food, there is a pound of vomit. Interesting how he can get it everywhere but the toilet. I wonder if "aim" can be worked on in occupational therapy? Must remember to buy laundry detergent.


Sam home again today. Was sick again last night. Why does it seem that children only throw up at two o'clock in the morning, and never at the more convenient two in the afternoon? Washed all his bedding for the second time today. School called, Oscar is got sick. (at least I didn't have to clean it up.) Had to go get him. Quiet afternoon. Sam is in his room playing with castle and Oscar is on the couch watching the same episode of "Caillou" repeatedly. That show annoys me. Perhaps I will get all the laundry done.


Sam back in school today. I thought all was back to normal until Oscar got sick all over the dining room. Dog helped clean it up(yuk). Oscar watching "Caillou". Need to do more laundry. Need to try to get Oscar to watch something else. He has spent the entire morning watching the still same episode of "Caillou" over and over again. I suggested that perhaps he would like to watch another show? He said "No, I like this" , and continued to watch. Rewinding and watching, rewinding and watching.. I don't like "Caillou". He whines. He whines and he has a big head. He whines, he has a big head, and he is bald- without explanation...his parents have hair, his sister has hair, his grandparents have hair...Why doesn't he have hair? His parents even look alike...is there something odd going on here? As far as I know, "Caillou" doesn't play the banjo.... Can someone please tell me why he doesn't have hair? Now the dog is sick . Need to get rug cleaner.

Later- Snow storm today. The other kids were released from school early. Now they are ALL watching" Caillou". Something strange is going on here...why this show? I keep hearing the same line repeated over and over again..."Caillou" saying in a very whiny voice "MOMMY Rosie won't pulay(his pronunciation) with me" I am at my breaking point...finally, I went to the t.v. and yelled "She won't play with you because you have a BIG BALD HEAD!!!" To which my shocked children replied.."mama, he can't help that he's bald...He's just different, there is nothing wrong with being different...YOU say that all the time." Hoisted by my own petard! I need to get out of the house. It is either me or the bald kid. Thankfully, it is almost bedtime.


Oscar still sick...Oscar still watching follicle challenged child. Omar is off from work today. I can get out! Although I am afraid to leave...what if I come back and Omar is watching "Caillou" with Oscar? Self preservation takes over...and I run out the door. I returned to find them both happily watching a show about duck hunting. When I asked my now sainted husband how he did it..he said "I just changed the channel"...he just changed the channel....HE JUST CHANGED THE CHANNEL??? I want to weep.


Oscar back in school today. Laundry done. Rug cleaned. School called, Lily is sick....I looked out the window, it is starting to snow. Just in time for the weekend. I should probably pick up some more laundry detergent...and ear plugs. Just in case.