Archive for July 2013
My kids like to make noise. They like instruments, music, and they really seem to like their own voices. They love noise.
Apart from when they don’t. When noises are too loud, or unexpected, or the wrong kind, they are too much, way too much for my kids. In our house we can’t do fireworks and fire alarms, blenders and barking dogs, hand dryers and helicopters.
Pudding has been ill lately, and that means her tolerance threshold is at an all time low. The more you tune in to noise, the more you realize how relentless it is. How I would love to mute the world for her!
And for me.
Noise doesn’t bother me in the same way. Not physically. I can stand it, even if I don’t like it. Which is handy, because…well, read that first sentence again.
But I do love quiet.
Such a rare commodity, it is even more valuable to me these days. Lately there has been no quiet for me. With a very hectic workload and a busy home life, there isn’t so much a rhythm as a drumming. Demands thudding on my brain all day long so that even when I get enough sleep I’m not refreshed.
Then the next day will be even louder. A dissonant racket that grows and grows. I can’t write, because I can’t turn my brain down to hear what I’m thinking. At times in the last month or so, I needed that mute button for myself just as much as Pudding.
And then, today, it came. Silence. I finished work early and then stopped thinking about it. I didn’t check my Blackberry. I was at home. Alone. It was silent. It took me some time to realize that. I was so used to the noise, I’d forgotten what silence sounded like.
Because we live in Johannesburg, before long I heard sirens and helicopters and I let the noise disturb me. Then it died down again once more, and I could feel the silence once again. This time I appreciated it. I held on to the silence, and let the mental noise go away.
It was a gift. One I rarely had when the kids were younger, and one that seems just as elusive now. But I think now I realize that I can turn some of the noise down myself, if I just allow myself to enjoy the peace instead of making myself tackle another problem, make another plan, or frustrate myself with busyness.
The best thing though about getting a moment of tranquility? It makes everyday noises sound so much sweeter.
I haven’t blogged much lately. Ordinarily I don’t have much time: I’m a working mother raising two extra-ordinary children overseas. But then the last few weeks have been far from ordinary. In case you missed my last Wordless Wednesday, we had a visit from President Obama.
Leading up to that weekend, our regular life was put on hold, and working late and weekends became the norm. We’d flown in the grandparents to take care of the kids, but even that is a change of routine. All the things that typically punctuate our everyday lives were temporarily suspended.
The kids handled most of the disruption well. Indeed, I’m always surprised when Pudding gets described as inflexible. She handled the disruptions to her routines far better than her brother did. I dare say far better than most 6 year-olds would.
When my event was over and I gratefully shook President Obama’s hand, I was the one who wanted things to get back to normal. I craved just spending time with Pudding and Cubby.
When I asked Pudding what she wanted to do, she told me she wanted to go away on holiday. Lately she and her brother have become interested in maps of the world: Botswana has become a favourite, for reasons they haven’t shared with me.
Cubby also wanted to do something different: to go to the movies. We hadn’t done that since living in the US, where sensory accommodations meant it wasn’t just comfortable for us, but a place where we belonged. Without sensory-friendly showings, I wasn’t sure we could get through a whole film.
We went to see Monsters University, and deliberately picked a 2D showing as early as possible on a Sunday morning, and as it turned out only one other family had the same idea. I loaded my bag with the ear-protectors, snacks, drinks, and a Nintendo DS. If you were watching me pack, you’d swear we were going a lot further than to the local mall.
Once inside, I’d asked the kids to behave like they were on a plane. It occurred to me that our children have flown many, many more times than they’ve been to the movies. Somehow, our routines are the extraordinary. We move every 2-3 years to a new home, school, country, even continent- and we take that in our stride. Yet somehow every day activities are challenging to us.
Pudding was not at all interested in the movie, but she mostly sat, and was mostly quiet. This particular movie was very loud, but she soon discarded her ear protectors, as did sound-sensitive Cubby.
We made it through the whole film. Cubby loved it, and Pudding even watched parts of it in between playing her Hello Kitty game. Spectrummy Daddy and I felt that we had earned a celebratory coffee at a nearby place that had just opened and we hadn’t tried before.
This is where Pudding baulked. All her reserves were used up, her tolerance at minimum. She wasn’t going anywhere near the café kiosk. Believing the discomfort to stem from the noise of the machines, I offered her back the ear protectors, but she threw them in disdain, and the meltdown became very public. Was this an autistic child being inflexible? Or was she communicating to us that she has had enough?!
Spectrummy Daddy led her away to soothe her, while Cubby and I placed our orders to go. Pudding returned and told me she didn’t want to go home- caught between enjoying the change of routine and not being able to handle it. She really is my girl…
Thrilled by the excitement of a Presidential visit, I’m much happier to have it over and done with. Unable to go to a new coffee shop, she is perfectly happy to go on vacation to an entirely new place.
Maybe our routines are about living the extra-ordinary life, and we have to find our own ways to get comfortable with them. Once again, I can’t help but notice that we are a lot more alike than we are different. One adventure over, we are ready for the next.