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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Feed the birds - tuppence be damned



My Mother-in-Law is Italian, but lives in England for her sins. She came to visit one Summer for a few weeks. Of course all grandmothers are biased, but her delight in 'my' children, was balm upon my worried soul. [translation = pre-diagnoses] I'm sure that Italians have their own set of cultural norms and expectations, but they differ greatly from the British version. My children could be swinging from the chandeliers and Nonna would be there cheering them on.

Few people had the patience to try and engage my son but Nonna was relentless. The bond between them shone. I could explain this phenomenon with reference to her animated face, arresting hand gestures, non-American accent, or her demonstrative nature, but such a clinical approach fails to capture the magic.

One day, we went to the beach at Santa Cruz. I had carefully assembled a large pic-nic in advance, to cater to everyone's foibles. At that time my son had a reasonable vocabulary but rarely spoke. When he did speak his only topic was Thomas the Tank Engine. He was also hyperlexic, but was in the process of losing that skill.

Nonna has many skills. One of her more annoying ones, is her affinity with wild life. From insects [translation = bugs] to elephants and everything in-between, Nonna is their champion. They are drawn to her by some invisible thread. Dr. Doolittle is as nought beside this woman.

Hence, when everyone had abandoned the pic-nic fare, since it is impossible to nail children down in sand, Nonna began to throw the left overs into the sky for the seagulls benefit. Within seconds we were a scene from Hitchcock. Spouse sighed and clucked, as he tried to chase the birds away. I turned my attentions to the criminal modeling inappropriate behaviour to my children, "now listen! Nonna is very naughty to feed the birds." [translation = "flying vermin"] Nonna pulled a face, as well she might, in league with her grandchildren in a common conspiracy. She pulled him close for a snuggle, but he wriggled free to protest..........

"No! Nonna is not naughty. Nonna is good and kind!"
We all turned to look at him. It was the longest voluntary sentence he had ever uttered.

This son - defender of the gene pool and super hero to all other 'lesser' "beings."

13 comments:

kristina said...

My own child reserves especially hugs, love, and deep-set affection for PoPo [= my mom]. I knew it was Santa Cruz from the light on the beach.

KEYNOTER said...

Italians are well known for their love of children. Your kids are lucky to have a grandmother as kind at that.

Heidi said...

lucky you, what a lovely grandma your kids have. I wish my mother in law lived on another continent.

Haddayr said...

wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Greg McKelvey said...

hi i love ur site so much good stuff and our kids are so worth it! may the lord bless you and your family!

peace out


greg

Ballastexistenz said...

Wish I still lived in Watsonville. (Well, sort of.)

Meg said...

Wanted to answer you on Making Peace with Autism. I highly recommend reading it!

Also, I used to live near Santa Cruz, and in fact, my little autist was born there. How lovely to see the beach again!

marmiteboy said...

Fantastic.

The Kept Woman said...

I love that story. It's amazing how certain personality types can mesh and understand each other.

chrisd said...

Gotta love those grandmas. My mom is Filipino, very dark skinned and her grandson, her first grandson, has red hair and almost no melatonin.

He adores her and she him. They have a special bond and I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

I love that picture of the two. You are talented in that dept. too.

Joeymom said...

My mom is here a lot- she usually watches one while I'm running the other to therapies. So now its three-on-one instead of two-on-one when plots are formed and cookies made...

bigwhitehat said...

That'll teach you!

Grandparents have a way of humbling us. I guess when folks have booted all of the offspring out of the nest they gain some perspective on what is truly worthwhile and what is truly foolish.

Susan said...

Wow--Isaac has a Nonna too. A good Nonna can work wonders. We always find that he makes big leaps when we visit the grandparents. Either it's magic or some kind of developmental desperation (new environment, new demands). Whatever it is, we'll take it!

 
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