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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Forgiveness and acceptance

We interupt our scheduled programming for a brief interlude of sentiment. Apologies in advance for squishiness, but in the spirit of "foreigners," all of us need translators sometimes, and a "open hand."

When we visited Italy just after the boys had been diagnosed as autistic, I remember being intensely annoyed by people saying that I was ‘bellisima,’ which roughly translates to ‘beautiful.’

You should know, that physically I resemble an elderly stick insect, bi-focaled, with more than a touch of the grays. I assumed that they were being both polite, kindly and patronizing, but I was at a loss to know which I found more annoying or why? My dear Italian mother in law, detected my irritation and gave me a different version. It has taken me a long time to translate her meaning………..

We meet a woman in the park. [translation – the most loathsome place on the planet] My boys amble around in a wayward spirit. The woman, probably an office worker, is minding her own business with a sandwich during the ridiculous lunch time hour of 11.30 in the morning!

My oldest son, he who is blind to all "people," finds, for some unaccountable reason, that she has entered his radar. She has been singled out. He skips over her, and cavorts before her, one leg entwined around the other, his whole body twisted into a twine, a huge, but shy grin, is spread across his face as he extracts words. “You are my friend?” says the nearly 8 year old. She smiles sweetly at him in response.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your indulgence. She wears a wedding ring, [translation = perhaps she is married with children?]

“I can touch you?” he asks demurely. Her face opens slightly, as I hover behind him. “Sure.”
His hands flutter to her face, fingers brush her features, the actions of the blind, as his eyes are downcast to her shoes. “Your nose is so…..beautiful,” he whispers in a breathy tone. As noses go, this is an above average nose, in size. I wince. She blanches. He squeals with delight, and I recall the Saturday night movie of Pinnochio, which is no solace.

“Can you use your words to describe her inside?” I prompt, after endless debates about people’s exterior visage and interior territory. He snaps his face towards me, annoyed, “I know dat!” I take a step back and another step forward.

“I can touch you?” She nods acquiescence. He rests his skull against her sternum, his hands flutter around her upper arms, as he dances a static jig. His whole body vibrates. We are in a capsule. Inviolate.

“She is soft. You are so warm. You are dah beautiful,” he finishes. He stands erect. Flicks off the charge.

She blinks. So do I. He scampers off to leave the two of us looking at each other.

“You are so lucky!” she wheezes, as she gathers her half eaten sandwich and scurries away.

“So are you, dear lady,” I whisper to her disappearing shadow. Belissima. So you are.

Regardless of the language, spoken or non-verbal, kindness does not need any translation.


Anonymous said...

Wow, such a lovely sites with an interesting article on it. You children looks cute and sweet enough as you have justify. Well, give and take policy should have on our personal ethics all the time.

Tera said...

That is just beautiful. Our children sure have a way of tugging at those heart strings.

Joeymom said...

I wish we had more of those kinds of people at the park. Most of the people at our park are moms of younger kids, but mine stand out so that we are usually excluded from the knots of mom-chatter.

Anonymous said...

It's indeed wonderful and beautiful when people respond as people to those they encounter.

You are beautiful, your babies are too. Moments when kindness is shared are, as well.

mjsuperfan said...

I love that story. I feel like my boys often bring out a wonderful side of the people we meet. I think it is something about their having no guile. What you see is what you get.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely boy you have. I feel quite moved by that story!

BOSSY said...

So true! Although knowing Bossy, even kindness would require a hurried translation, given by her husband, who no doubt studied the language of whichever country approximately one hundred hours less than Bossy.

bigwhitehat said...


Sandi said...

what a beautiful post. This is my first visit and I am enjoying it very much. :)

Happy Mother's day!

kristina said...

We ran into another professor (rather shortish and bit round in the middle) at the college where I teach. Charlie smiled right up at him and said "hi!" unprompted, then put both hands on the professor's stomach and kind of patted him.

Everyone smiled, at least one person shrugged. (Charlie kept smiling too, before he sped off down the street.)

Unknown said...

Love this story.

Funny how people adapt and adjust to people who have differences or disabilities.

Used to know a very tall and handsome young man who looked rather like a film star. But he was mentally disabled and had some rather unusual fixations.

He loved best of all, babies and airplanes. Used to ride two buses and transfer... three plus hours per day travel time, to go visit our local airport and just watch planes come and go.

He also loved babies. Especially their feet. When he saw a baby, he would swoop over and GENTLY tug off a sock and kiss the feet. (Not in a sexual or weird way. Just in a grandma way -- "Oh, what a yummy baby! What cute little toes!) He was a big man, he had the mind of a sweet and quirky child, he really cracked up over tiny baby feet.

This TOTALLY freaked out some moms. Other moms were way calmer. Some moms seemed to instinctively know he meant NO harm and honestly admired their baby. They would be generous and kind. Other moms panicked and shrieked. Most moms were bewildered and kind of off-put. Big range of reactions!

I saw him do this over and over again (well, I worked in a library where this guy hung out and many moms and babies did too). A lot of effort went into discussing ways to help him understand some moms hated people touching their babies, even if friendly.

But this guy had almost no memory. He meant no harm but had really limited memory -- could not retain chastisements or suggestions on better ways to approach kissing baby feet.

I hope this rambly anecdote does not offend. Mr. R. was a nice but different person and really wide range of responses to his particular attentions.

Drama Mama said...

Lovely. What a lovely child. Lovely park-lady. Need more of those.

purple_kangaroo said...

This article brought tears to my eyes.

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