Autism

Occupational Hazards of Parenting: The Earworm

I’m not talking about a literal worm in the ear. I am talking about the German ohrwurm: a song that gets stuck in your head. (Bonus unrelated German word: backpfeifengesicht, “a face that cries out for a fist in it”.)

Anyone is susceptible to the earworm. As a parent (or child minder or school teacher) you are susceptible to particularly awful ones. I can only imagine the searing groove songs like Hakuna Matata and Baby Beluga wore in the brains of parents unfortunate enough to have kids in the target audience at the time. I myself have lain awake many a night with the theme song to Peppa Pig going round and round in my brain. It literally goes like this:

Pe-ppa Pig!

[bink, bink-bink BINK-bink, bink-bink bink-bink-BINK-bink]

Pe-ppa Pig.

[bink, bink-bink BINK-bink, bink-bink bink-bink-BINK-bink]

Pe-ppa PIG!

[bink, bink-bink BINK-bink, bink-bink bink-bink-bink-BINK!]

Lately, however, the makers of music for children– specifically those making music for children’s movies– seem to be giving us a slightly better class of earworm. The Despicable Me movies especially:

(The whole song is here, and it’s pretty fab.)

You can also go the Devo route with the LEGO Movie. This song is used in the story as an illustration of mindless corporate pap, but it’s actually pretty catchy:

Plus the lyrics are kind of hilarious:

I feel more awesome than an awesome possum
Dip my body in chocolate frostin’
Three years later wash off the frostin’
Smellin’ like a blossom, everything is awesome

However, nobody does earworms like Disney. If you gather together any number of women who have raised (or who have been) girls in the last 25 years, and begin singing “The seaweed is always greener on somebody else’s plate–” 

You are very likely to get a sing-along going very quickly. I have found myself belting out Disney hits in the shower, chanting them on runs, crooning them as lullabies. And, most recently, horrifying my husband while cleaning the kitchen:

Name your children’s music-related earworms in the comments below, please.

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.

chuggachuggachugga

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.

Eye of the Tigrrrrrr

Well, it’s 2014. And my posting on this blog in 2013 led a lot to be desired. I have conducted an investigation into the reasons for my lack of posting, and can present the following statistical breakdown of factors contributing to my underperformance:

  • 42% – Health issues
  • 18% – There was something on TV/ Pure laziness
  • 23% – Work deadlines
  • 17% – Moral qualms

Let me explain the last one.

I'm a Tigerrrrrrrr

I’m a Tigerrrrrrrr

Ever since the Bean’s diagnosis of autism, I have begun to worry that keeping this blog constitutes an invasion of her privacy. Well, not worry, but to stop rationalizing to myself that somehow it isn’t an invasion of her privacy. As she gets older and begins to have strong opinions about things (e.g.: “I don’t eat carrots. I am not a rabbit.”), it occurred to me that she might someday object to my writing about her on the Internet. This blog has never had more than about 200 unique readers, so it’s not as if she’s being broadcast to the entire world, but as it is out there online it is conceivable that someone, someday, might read something and embarrass her somehow with the information. Or, in an age of technologically-savvy stalkers, do worse than embarrass her.

There’s also an awareness of hypocrisy on my part. I’ve often scoffed at the kind of parents who treat their children like designer purses or pedigree dogs, to be shown off everywhere. Is what I’ve been doing with Bean much different than that, really? Many Americans are brought up in an environment that turns them into frustrated celebrities and compels them to use their offspring as bait for attention. So I worry that I, as a frustrated writer, am using my offspring as bait for attention to my writing.

Maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe re-activating the blog would please my family, or maybe it could help me connect with other parents who have autistic children and so expand our support network.

You tell me.

The A-Word

The Bean completed her observation group on October 25th. We had a meeting with the pediatrician, the child psychologist, the speech therapist, the nursery nurse (who played with Eve during the observation period) and a young lady from Bean’s nursery school. We perched on child-sized chairs and drank instant coffee while they explained their observational findings and the results of various assessments they’d undertaken.

“You do go and singing a song, and I dance the ballet, Mommy.”

What we have with Bean is a very friendly, happy, energetic child who is good with puzzles and numbers. She has excellent eyesight– fighter pilot eyesight, practically– and a terrific memory. But she speaks and socializes like a child of two, not one who’s nearly four.

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