They Grow Up So Fast

Five Alive!

Well! Her Beanliness turned five in style yesterday, opening a few small gifts in the morning that reflect her varied interests (princesses, lego, and Spider-Man). But we saved the big gift for after school. Her current love is a show about talking trains called Chuggington. Until a year or two ago, you could buy a set of the three main Chuggington trains with track. They had an interactive component that made them “talk” to one another when you play with them, or react to some of the props in their environment– honking their horns when you roll them through a tunnel, for instance.

Spot the difference!

These playsets aren’t made anymore, but T. was able to find a few on eBay. As soon as she came in from school she knew what they were. This is probably because we still tend to talk about her as if she is two or so– discussing plans, remarking on what she’s done, etc.– and on one occasion while she was in the room, we had talked about how high T should bid on the one playset. I think he had also made a remark when one of the boxes arrived in the post, and she obviously noticed, because when she saw it, she said: “It’s the Chuggington box!”

And oh my word, this gift was a huge hit.


She played with it, she talked to it, she narrated it– when the little red engine, Wilson, chirped “Wheels to the rails!” Bean added “Said the red Wilson!” T and I were pressganged into playing with her, and she happily tootled her trains around until a good fifteen minutes after bedtime.

Later that night, as I was going upstairs to bed myself, I heard Bean call out in her sleep: “Chuggington! Train!” I congratulated T when he came to bed: if she’s sleep-talking about her present, it hit the sweet spot.

Possibly slightly too sweet: this morning just after six, she woke T up so she could go downstairs to play with the trains right away. When I hauled my carcass out of bed forty-five minutes later, I could hear her squealing, “Traintastic!” through the floor.

She hadn’t even had her party yet. That happened this evening at a soft-play place. Nearly all of the children we invited turned up, along with a parent or two. Because I don’t do the school run, I had to introduce myself to many people for the first time. More than one parent said “Ah, that’s where Eve’s accent comes from!”

Bean is more of a natural hostess than I am, though. Having been to so many parties, she knew what to do. She greeted her guests and said “It’s nice to see you!” She even asked one boy if he wanted anything to drink. She waited until the end of the birthday song to blow out her candles. At the end of the night, she helped me hand around goody bags to the children and said “Thank you for coming,” to everyone, including many of the parents. What nice people we know!

It's all a blur, man

It’s all a blur, man

After everyone had gone home, we packed up her presents– two huge bags full!– and went out into the night. It was clear and chill, but with a smell of fresh-turned earth on the air. Off to the west a faint glow of twilight hung soft over the horizon. “Oh!” said Bean. “Mommy, Daddy, look!”

She pointed up at the sky, where a crescent moon hung bright among the stars and planets. “The moon is huge! What a beautiful moon.”

It is a beautiful moon. And a beautiful Bean. Happy birthday, Kidlet.


Hiding Her Light Under a Bushel

“Oh, I’m Bean. I have autism. My fine motor skills are soooooo undeveloped. I don’t like holding a pencil or a pen or anything like that. Sure I write my name’s letters sometimes but I’ll feebly clutch the pen like a dead bird when I do it and I’ll give up halfway through the second E because it’s just all a bit much.

But you know, sometimes, maybe, while you and Dad are watching a baseball game, I’ll just grab a crayon and whip out an entire rabbit person, with irises and pupils and everything, like this:

This is Lau-Lau from Waybuloo. AS IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW.

This is Lau-Lau from Waybuloo. AS IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW.

“Because I’m Bean, and autism or not, I do WHAT I want WHEN I want and HOW I want. Get it through your pointy heads, chromosome donors.”

You guys, she drew a picture! I am so excited.

Color Commentary

Bean watched some NFL action with her Daddy last night and gave us running updates on the progress of the game. Which she is qualified to do, as someone who has handled the ol’ pigskin herself, viz.:

half pint half back

She used to play, you know. (2010 photo)

The game was the Baltimore Ravens vs. aunt Anya’s Indianapolis Colts, and during the scoreless first quarter, Bean noted that:

“The people is running and has a ball! Clapping! Yes, go people! You get up, people, and take the ball!”

In the second quarter, when Baltimore put the first points on the board with a field goal, Eve had the following observation:

“He kicked it! He kicked a ball and it is flying in the sticks! Oh wow!”

But her allegiances began to show when the Colts answered the field goal with one of their own. Reaction was swift and vehement:

“No, you stop it! You stop a kicking, go out! Get out of here!”

We are denied further commentary as the Bean had to go to bed during halftime. Sorry, Anya. The kid clearly prefers the Ravens. Just another reason to hate Joe Flacco, I guess.


Despite her communication issues, the Bean manages to make herself heard when it really, really counts. Meaning when she wants you to do something. I noticed this over the summer, when Bean was at the beach with Aunt Joan. They were digging in the sand with a plastic shovel, and there was a collection of plastic animals that Eve would take out of a bucket and line up carefully.

Aunt Joanie decided to make one of the animals swim.

“No,” said Bean, in a tone of voice adults reserve for the very simple. “You put it back, Joanie.” And she grabbed my sister’s arm and forced her to place the animal back where it belonged.

Bucket dictatorship.

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Everyone’s A Critic

Apparently Ms. Bean was not pleased with the sketch I made of her this evening:

“It is a sad face,” she said. “Sad Evey.”

That is some harsh scribbling. I can understand being upset about my hacky drawing of Ariel; I’m pretty sure I drew better Little Mermaids when I was ten. But I thought the little study was coming along reasonably well.

She was totally pleased with herself when she took away all the pencils and wouldn’t let me have any, though. I begged her and she said, “No, you can’t. I have the box. No pessils for Mummy.”

No pencils for you!

However, I have to say, if we’re going to pick on one another’s attempts at representative art, her photographic eye is clearly not developed AT ALL. I’ve just discovered that there are literally 432 photographs on my phone, taken today, that all look more or less like this:

Call that a self-portrait? Humph.

Unless, of course, she’s just documenting the dreadful job I did cutting her bangs. In which case: well-played, the Bean. Well-played.

Like Mama

Sunday dinner was safely in the oven, but I needed milk to make dessert. I found my sunglasses and my keys and headed to the door on my way to the corner shop, bag over my shoulder.

“Wait!” Bean yelled. “I put on the shoes!”

She pulled on her boots. I found her sunglasses and put those on, too. Daddy gave us a shopping bag to take with us. And here’s how that looked:


We’re trying to grow the bangs out, by the bye.

We walked up and down the street– about half a mile round-trip, and Eve told me about the birds and the airplanes and the “blue roses” she spotted in people’s front gardens (at the moment, all flowers are “roses”). She read out letters on  car license plates and house numbers. She stopped to point out bugs, wave to dogs. She even skipped a little, informing me, “I a skeepeeng.” It took ten minutes longer than it would have taken me on my own, but I didn’t mind.

In the shop, she helped me find the milk and the few other bits we needed, and we picked out a little children’s magazine for her. Over here all the kids’ television shows put out monthly magazines with little toys attached to them. Usually she plumps for Waybuloo, but she’s been on an Octonauts kick lately, and grabbed one with them on it instead.

I paid for our bits and pieces, and the surly-faced guy at the register packed everything in a plastic bag for me– everything except Bean’s magazine, which he passed to her so she could put it in HER bag.

“Thank you very much!” she said. “See you soon!” The guy cracked a smile.

My Sunday had been pretty nice up to that point, but that made it perfect.