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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Validation – thank you Nonna

I begin to think that I may be an American afterall. [translation = able to use and understand the psychobabble language without effort] It came to me earlier today.

At the moment we are lucky to have Nonna, the children’s Italian grandmother staying with us for a few weeks. One of the advantages of having another adult at home all day, every day, is that teeny tiny things are confirmed, such as my own sanity.

For instance, I have been known to complain that they boys are my shadows. If I leave the room, or am otherwise out of visual contact, a hue and cry ensues. I appreciate, that when I explain this, that most people, not unreasonably, believe that I am exaggerating.

A simple task such as taking the recycling from the kitchen to the outside bin, a distance of some 25 paces, involves careful planning. Over the years, I have tried any number of different approaches to this tiny task. I can run outside and back again, having deposited the recycling in the bin of course, in approximately 44 seconds. Yes, I have timed it, and that’s my all time record to date. However, this option has a number of disadvantages. The main disadvantage is that when I return, breathless with empty bin in hand, there are two small boys flapping around on the floor like landed salmon. [translation = but much louder] Apart from the distress and trauma caused to my boys’ by my fleeting absence, in addition, I will then spend upwards of 30 minutes trying to calm them down again. [translation = thus reducing my efficiency quotient for the day]

Now, I know what you’re thinking! ‘My, my Madeline, you are missing the perfect opportunity to therapize those little chaps!’ As always dear pal, you are completely correct. Sometimes, we do take the therapy option, afterall, any chance to lure them outside would always get my vote. [translation = both are ‘allergic’ to outside] There again, if someone hates to go outside, it might be better to make the ‘outside’ experience, a little more positive and enjoyable, and sadly, recycling doesn’t fall into that category, outside or otherwise.

Sometimes when I’m feeling brave, we will attempt this feat; negotiation of the step, carry ‘horrible’ thing in your hand at the same time, [translation = tactile defensiveness at the very least] pass through the door jam without making contact,[translation = motor planning] or at least avoiding painful contact, [translation = insufficient sensory input for one, as well as the challenge to depth perception ] step into the sunshine, where are the sunglasses[!], walk the seven steps to the big bin, avoid looking at the plants and or bees, wait, [always a tricky one] whilst the bin lid is opened for you, attempt to hurl horrible thing in your hand into the open bin, cover your ears to protect you from the noise of the horrible thing falling into the bin, then sequence your way back into the house to wash your hands. [translation = times two] And of course those are only the edited highlights.

Personally, I cheat and go for the easy option, due to my cowardly nature. [translation = do everything at night whilst they are asleep]

So now, with Nonna here, I believe that I might just have a chance of nipping out to dump the recycling, whilst the children are present and awake, without the usual fall out.

I make my 50 yard dash, with bin, U-turn and return in 33 seconds flat, [translation = a new world record!] to the kitchen, where Nonna stands on the middle of the floorboards with two small boys flailing at her feet. Her hands flap at me to help make herself understood over the din, “but you were only gone for a moment! It’s like dey think you are dead or something!” Her eyes widen in disbelief as the word ‘dead’ penetrates her grandson’s ears. [translation = increase in volume of at least twenty decibels] Nonna’s hands fly to her head to rip out the hearing aides, whilst I grovel on the ground with my grief stricken guys.

And that my good pal, is the story of how I lost my efficiency but regained my sanity. [translation = a sprinter not a marathon runner]

A dollop of normal

Nonna has come to visit for a month. She is the only octogenarian that I know, who still has her inner child fully in tact. My own inner child evaporated some years past. We are often able to tease each other. [translation = if I turn up my own volume for the hard of hearing]

One of the many reasons that I love my mother in law, Nonna, is because she is the only person on the planet to have described me as ‘glamourous.’ [translation = she wasn’t wearing her glasses at the time, so I probably just came across as a shambolic rainbow, but it doesn’t matter, she said those words] Apart from that delightful crumb of flatterer, and far more importantly, she adores her grandchildren. Since she is Italian, she is the kind of person who cheers when they swing from the chandeliers, metaphorically speaking. [translation = the boys have motor planning, and gross motor difficulties, so such feats are [as yet] beyond their abilities]

I cook in the kitchen, in anticipation of later dumping my creation in the garbage disposal unit or compost heap. [translation = the neophobic and picky eaters abound] The scent of mieux poix wafts through the house. Nonnna appears on cue. [translation = olfactory system is still fully functioning]

“Ooo, that smells nice!” she offers as she peeks under the lid. The vegetables gain their glaze and sizzle with temptation. She raises a hand, as do I. Her finger is poised to scoop out a taste, mine is poised to rap her knuckles with the wooden spoon. We both freeze in position with our eyes locked, middle aged mother to elderly child.

She chuckles and steps back unsteadily. [translation = hip replacement]
“I was just going to taste that you know?” she says unnecessarily.
“I know,” I say unnecessarily.
“Maybe……maybe one of them will try and taste something soon too?” she smiles.
We both know that is extremely unlikely within the next couple of decades.
“I would enjoy seeing that,” she adds wistfully.

I would enjoy seeing her see that too.

Thanks for the thought "Jerry."

Nonna returned to England on Sunday. We missed her even before lift-off.
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