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Puzzles, conundrums and other cross words

Posted Oct 22 2008 9:38pm


















I re-check the label left on the recycling wheelie bin – “garbage not street.”

This cryptic message is beyond my ability to de-cypher.

I add it to the ever lengthening list.

I negotiate my way back inside the house, herding three children in front of me, to avoid stragglers, and escape artists . I am the slowest ship in the convoy, by default. I clutch the little orange missive for translation later. I bear a strong resemblance to the landing personnel at an airport. “But what?” he bleats as his skips, scurries and whirs.
“What what dear?”
“What he is be meaning?”
“What does who mean dear?”
“Dah orange?”
“Oh, I have absolutely no idea what he….er…it means.” This is one of the many penalties of hyperlexia, the ability to read above one’s chronological age.
“He is ‘street’ he is garbage?”
“Your guess is as good as mine dear.” Probably far better. I try and think about what to cook for supper? Rice and………? Yes, the empty but very clean fridge. Since it is only 8 in the morning, I foresee a very long day ahead of me.


The children have had a variety of therapies for over four years now. I have had a reprieve from these duties, ferrying, for 8 months following my jaw surgery. Now, I am unexpectedly expected to resume my duties. Darn it! Spouse has to work. This means that I must make myself presentable by wearing clothes that cunningly disguise my similarity to a stick insect.

Whilst I have managed a shower, my hair is still wet. Soggy stick insect. I dither. Should I try drying my hair with that machine thingy and risk winding junior up to fever pitch, as he is over sensitive to sound, or should I just stick my head out of the window and hope that the California sun is extra crispy today? Should I attempt make-up? Craggy soggy stick insect. I’m not at all confident that I can remember how to do it? Senile craggy soggy stick insect.

I ice the cup cakes as a displacement activity. I made them before I was awake in the wee small hours. Beware of insects bearing gifts after a long absence. “We’re not cave men, we have technology!” he chants in a never ending stream of echolalia and perseveration. Curse that Spongebob. I should have made supper in the wee small hours instead of cup cakes. Rice and……..cup cakes?

I decide to compromise and bring in the hair drier from the garage, where it generally lives, so I can use it to dry my work on the potters wheel if it becomes unstable.

I dust off the dust and nab the little one, to avoid triggering a meltdown in Mr. Clean. I explain, at length, the purpose, use and overall safety of the device. He looks at me dubiously.
“But he is noise!”
“I know, but you’re getting good at noise now you’re six and a half!”
“I am good but……I not good at noise.”
“You’re getting better!”
“Every day, in every way, you’re getting better and better!” he chants with the perfect reproduction of the echolalic. It is very disconcerting to be quoted so accurately by your children, especially when they are American and you, the mother being quoted, speak with an English accent.

I put it down next to the sink in the kitchen so that I can concentrate on him, repeat and rephrase the message. I rinse my hands from the frosting and shake them.

Barely have I had the chance to speak a word, when he spirals up into a frenzy. He hurtles around the kitchen like a spinning top, wrenching his hair from his head with tight sticky fists. I attempt to shadow him but this merely exacerbates the situation. I take a step back towards the sink. This triggers a further acceleration, but also elicits words, “no, no, no, don’t do it, we will all be killed.” He grabs both my hands in his and pauses, breathless and panting. I am taken aback by his willingness to hold wet hands, due to his severe tactile defensiveness. We stand in the kitchen in this holding position for some minutes. A holding pattern, where he resembles a rag doll with asthma. I wait. “Look!” he puffs. I look towards the counter where the hair drier lies. “Look!” he bellows, “what he is saying!” I notice the label.

A stick insect protected by a knight in ever so slightly tarnished armour. Solution? Give the guy a cup cake and skip the rice.

Thank you for spending a few micro minutes of our world.

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