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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Theory of Mind Challenge Game

Now you know "me," I wouldn’t be one to start a "trend" or anything so outrageous, but as I climb a new developmental curve, I think it’s only fair to "share."

This is “On the Psychologist’s Couch” time, or maybe the "psychologist's chair."

"Step into the shoes" of someone of significance in your life.
Try and imagine how they see your relationship with them, child or adult, their perspective.

Be as honest as you can.

I’ve chosen my "Mother in Law" because I sort of try to ‘do’ the children all the time.

No rush.

No pressure.

Lots of time!

If you’re up to the challenge, give me a tinkle on completion…........
er……...…?…......link or e-mail.

This will only work if you can imagine a very strong "Italian" accent. How we love the "Italians."

Whilst I have never asked her directly. [perish the thought!] But if you asked her what she thinks of me, she might say something like this:-

“I think she is basically a good woman and he could have done a lot worse if truth be told. I like her, you know, but I just think she spends far too much time cleaning everything. I’ve never seen anyone do so much cleaning, especially when everything is already clean. Why does she do that?

I know she’s trying to teach them good table manners but I just don’t see the point of a butter knife, it just makes more washing up. What's a few crumbs between family? Why does she do that I wonder?

I try to keep out of her way as she is always rushing around doing heaven knows what. I get my own snacks so as not to be a bother.

When she’s not cleaning she’s cooking. Cooking, cooking, cooking, I can’t think why, there’s only 6 or 7 of us? I always say ‘never trust a skinny cook!’ Then, if I take a little slice of bread, because you know I am a diabetic so I have to be careful, and she then runs after me with a plate in one hand, a dust pan and brush in the other hand, a cloth and a spray cleaner in the other hand because of course you know she thinks she has six hands or something.

I would say one thing though. She is very good at laundry. I make sure I take all my white clothes to America when I visit.

You know what they say, ‘a son’s a son til he gets a wife, but a daughter’s a daughter the rest of your life.’ I never had a daughter of my own so I don’t know if that’s true. I like her bog. She sends me it every day. It keeps me in touch when I am in England. Generally I don’t get on with women very much, but I think if you can tease someone, then maybe you can’t ask for much more than that.

It is a very noisy happy household, so I don't bother with my hearing aides. I can tell when she's yelling because her freckles seem luminous on that puce complexion.

I just wish she would slow down, you know, because at my age I know that life can be so very, very……..well, you know….........short.”

We love you Nonna, and thanks for doing the ironing, one chore I never do, coz you know I’m allergic to that!

We are not one

We split up. Divide and…….....hobble through. I take the child who has no words to the supermarket, for a mega shop before our guests arrive. To be fair, out guests are also very good friends. We could feed them Goldfish Crackers and water with no ill effects.

On arrival, after a unimaginably smooth transition, I read an item from the list aloud and he hurtles off with his telescope pinned to his eye ball, a game.

In less than 20 minutes we have a groaning trolly, overflowing at the check out. The bagger, a familiar face, is unusually cheerful. We exchange pleasantries. I notice him read the pull-up details and glance at my son, askew. He pops the paper prescription sack into a grocery bag, but not before checking for shop lifter additions and maybe the name?

For the first time ever, I notice that the bagger has a physical disability. I cannot decide if this is because I am abnormally distracted, abnormally undistracted on this particular occasion or completely unobservant. I mention my observation to him. I smile at him encouragingly, because we are all members of the same club, because I am an idiot. He winces because I am crass, inappropriate and extremely rude. With my ignorance caught on display, I cannot work out whether to apologise or simply shut up? I conclude that I am the one who is really not safe to be let out in public.

My son observes the checker with his telescope, in silence. I decide to move on although I’m not sure if it’s to hide my own embarrassment or his? “Are you going over to the Farmer’s Market tonight or is that considered treason?” I ask the bagger. He purses his lips in response. I feel waves of self pitying shame wash over me.

My son parks himself between my legs on the floor, horizontal, still in silent observation mode. Fortunately I wear trousers. As I struggle with payment I search for a life line. My son observes his own reflection in the mirror, which is strategically placed at floor level at an angle, thigh high, although I fail to comprehend the underlying strategy?
“Can I help you out with your bags today?” he asks in a tone that means the opposite.
“No thank you, my son will help.” We both look at my son who beams a toothy grin, which serves to say the day, for me at least.

Eye on the prize but close to the edge

I try to persuade my son to talk, but he has gone on strike. I leave the boys a mo whilst I think carefully why this should have suddenly happened, out of the blue. Although there are no words, the noise is filled with Pokemon noises. Nonna steps into the room, “they’re being very good, aren’t they?”
“It’s great to see them playing together.”
“Such dear little mice.”

I look at them pretending to be Charmeleon and Pikachu at battle stations, although not at war. The resulting din is an aural challenge, but only for me.

“Are you going to go and collect all those umbrellas in the garden?”
I can hardly make out her words nor make myself understood without going hoarse.
“Um…….yes…..maybe later.”
When the phone rings for the umpteenth time in one hour I let it go to the answering machine, so as not to break with tradition.
“You’re not going to do it now?”
“Um…..no…..I’m going to wait until they’re properly dry.”
“Did you know that one of those umbrellas is broken?”
“Is it? Oh dear.”
“What about this?” she flaps a piece of stale bread in front of me.
“Oh I’ll pop it in the bin.”
“What about the birds?”
“The birds?”
“Yes. Why don’t you put it out in the garden for the birds?”
“Um….well we do have several bird feeders but they’re all off the ground because of the cats.”
“Put it over then.”
“Over what?”
“Over the fence into the empty lot.” I look into the garden, maybe 25 yards to the fence and then back again. I watch her slice into the new fresh loaf on the counter with a paring knife. I check the children and the Pokemon and the siege. About 20 seconds if I really leg it. “O.k. back in a mo.”

In a mo I am back.

She brushes crumbs from the counter onto the bread board, sort of and then waves the board at me, “what about these then?” as crumbs scatter. She nods towards the fence thrusting the board towards me as a prompt. I check the family room for indications of escalation. “O.k. back in a mo.”

In a mo I am back.

I check the family room where other Pokemons have been roped in with string and scissors, which is possibly good.
“What about this then?”
“This peach stone.”
“Compost bin?”
“No……are you going to plant it?”
“Plant it? I suppose I could.”
“Are you going to do it now?”
“Now……er maybe later.”
“What shall I do with the stone then?”
“Er……just leave it on the counter, it’ll be fine.”
“Did you know that you left a spade outside?”
“Yes I haven’t quite finished planting yet.”
“Shall I put it away for you?”
“That’s kind but I was hoping I might get a chance to get out there later.”
“Am I wearing my hearing aids?”
“No I don’t think so.”
“What is the matter with you?”
“You’re not listening to me.”
“I am.”
“No you are not paying attention I think………what is the matter?”
“I’m just a bit worried.”
“Worried? Why are you worried?”
“He’s stopped talking.”
“Stopped talking?”
“Bah! Don’t worry, he’ll talk soon enough. Enjoy the peace and quiet while you can.”

I ignore the phone and door bell simultaneously, it’s really very easy.

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