The woes of a Sunday school teacher: Teaching ancient Jewish practice

The worse part of being a Sunday school teacher, for children, in our church, is that nothing has prepared me for teaching. You sit down with a complicated manual, written by men, who work on inspiration no doubt, but sometimes the distance between their inspired thoughts and the children in my class room, is as far as the distance to the moon. From this manual, I am supposed to make some sense, for the children whom I teach. Without having any teaching skills what so ever. But not just make sense for them. Not bore them to tears. And not lose control in the classroom. And that last thing is very easy with two children having ADHD in the room. One of them is not diagnosed, but the symptoms are there and the problem with this child is not just having no attention span at all, but he hardly ever comes. So when he comes, he is clueless to what has been discussed in the weeks past, and shows his frustrations with just calling out comments aloud or he “screams”.

What makes me lose control in the classroom? When there is no table present at the beginning. When I try to do the initial “gathering activity” , which is supposed to set the stage, not create chaos! Like this past  Sunday, when I was supposed to set the stage for walking in someone’s footsteps, the way Ruth did. I was supposed to put out steps made out of paper, on the floor, before class, which made the kids go crazy outside the door. And then they were supposed to walk on the steps to their regular seats, which of course could not be done in a quiet manner, but had to be done with accompanying screams. Now I know I should have skipped the activity! It’s very easy to be smart afterwards, teaching this class! All the things one should have avoided, all the things one should not have said:

Like last week, when the lesson was about Samson. I decided to explain what a Nazarite was and is today. And I lost it of course, already at the fact that a Nazarite was not allowed to be in company of the dead. “But what if there is a dead mouse on the road?”, “How could he then eat meat?”,  “What if someone is dying, would he run away so he wouldn’t be there when the person died?”, … Thousand questions about something that was not the topic of the lesson. But it got worse. Samson going out and killing a lion and then walking by it, at a later date. It was a dead lion! And “gross”, him taking honey from the mouth of it! A discussion ensued on how disgusting it must have been to eat something from a dead body and did he tell his parents where the honey came from? And when Samson killed 30 men, in order to get their clothes, to give to his wedding attendants, after the men of that party, tricked his wife, in to finding out the answer of a riddle he had given them. You imagejust can’t mention killing in my class! If you do, it is on your own risk. They want to know the weapon and all the boys have to demonstrate the way the killing went about. And I just want to rip my hair and ask myself, how do I get them to sit down again? But it did not end there, did it? They were soon out of their chairs again, when Samson picked up a donkey’s jawbone and killed a thousand men with that! I don’t quite think I am cut out for this!!!!

When I finally got to the part that they were all waiting for, the cutting off of the hair, I carefully had to avoid the fact that Samson and Delilah might not have been married and what  he was doing in her room, falling asleep on her lap. And how to explain that it was not the hair in itself that made him strong, but the hair was a sign of a promise he had made to God, and with it gone, he had broken the promise. I finally had to explain it with, that the hair was like a wedding ring, a visual sign of a commitment one has made. But yes, I do agree with the children, he did not cut the hair off himself. So there must have been some more naughtiness going on and I had to explain to them that Samson must have expected that she was going to cut it off, since every time she had asked about his strength and how to capture him, he had said that she could tie him in this and that manner and she had then tied him that way, and had called out that the Philistines were coming, in order for her to see if the ties held him.  Of course I could not tell them that Samson’s lust for Delilah was bigger, in a weak moment, than his commitment to God. And that is why it is SO enormously difficult to teach these lessons, since a lot does not make sense to the children, since they only get the appropriate truth told to them and it happens, to often be, only part of the truth. To fully understand the impact of the story and why it was deemed important to record it in the Bible for generations to come, to learn from others’ mistakes, one really has to get the entire truth. But you can’t teach that to 10-year-old children nor to ones having ADHD. Needless to say, the violent end to poor Samson, who we deemed a hothead, finally, came as a shock to the only girl in the class. It was no easy task to try to explain why Samson had to die. That his mission on earth was over. Why you die when an entire house falls down on you. And all this after there has been a knock on the door, signalling that everyone is waiting for our class. Again!

This Sunday, I did not think there could be anything controversial in the lesson. Nice Ruth who did everything for her mother-in-law and married a nice man. Right! I should have known better. As I said, I lost the reverence, when they were walking on the foot steps. Trying to get someone who is giggling, to say opening prayer, was just an ordeal in itself. But then we moved on to looking at the biblical map of Israel, locating Bethlehem and Moab, and Naomi travelled safely with her family there without any interruptions. And all was well, till we got back to Bethlehem and Naomi told Ruth to go and sleep under Boaz blanket. Right! These children are innocent so they were more concerned with Boaz’s footsmell. Iimage was more concerned about how to explain, that it was not a good thing for a young, unmarried woman to be out during the night, sleeping by a group of men and tongues always wagging. As an adult woman, I of course know of the dangers, which Naomi warned Ruth of. Boaz suggested Ruth staying in his fields only, and with his female servants (for protection of course). Naive Ruth did not understand, so Naomi had to inform her that the men could attack her. That is why Boaz said that he had forbidden the men to touch her. I had to carefully steer clear of what can happen to a girl among a lot of men, a girl who is not protected by society. Being a historian, specifically interested in social history, a family historian, watching the news about Muslim women being raped as a weapon of war and who knows for what reason, girls being raped in India, I do have knowledge which these children do not have. And yet, how to navigate through all the violence and still keep their innocence?

Talking about Ruth sleeping by Boaz feet, was not the toughest part though. You really have to have reached a certain level of maturity, to understand, which these children do not have. For them, it was all about smelly feet and I had to read all of it, over and over again, to myself, when preparing the lesson, to get a clear picture. And then draw my own conclusions, as to why Boaz got so excited over what she had done and what she said. Saying that she was his servant and he, her redeemer, in essence meant that she said told him that she believed in Jewish tradition and fully accepted it, even though she was a foreigner and a Moabite who was brought up worshipping several Gods. What she really said to Boaz was, “I know you are supposed to marry me, so do your duty, you are supposed to give my dead husband a child, so his family name does not die out”. When she got home, Naomi knew that Boaz was going to do the right thing. But Boaz, Naomi and Ruth belonged to a world long gone. We are in Sweden, 2014, and to explain these ancient traditions, is not a simple thing. Explaining that, just like the ultra orthodox Jewish women today, are only brought up for one thing, and one thing only, so were all women back then. They were supposed to get married as soon as possible and have children. An unmarried woman was an anomaly which one did not really know how to deal with and there were clear economic problems with this marital status as well. When a man died, the woman was still part of the family and had he not had children, there was a big problem! Easily solved if the man had brothers. They had to take his place. One of them had to marry the widow and give his brother a child. How insane does that sound to a ten-year-old in 2014? And when the Bible then speaks of it cryptically, saying that Naomi wanted to sell her husband’s land to the closest redeemer… Well, I had to explain that yes, Christ is called our redeemer, but the closest male relative to a widow, was also called a redeemer, not to be confused in other words. Boaz even had to point out to his male relative, that it wasn’t just Naomi selling the land, but very much so Ruth, who had the claim on the redeemer, of having to marry her and give her husband Mahlon a child. Most of us know how the story ends, the redeemer without a name, withdrew his offer of doing his duty, and Boaz took his place. A discussion followed why the man did not want Ruth. I suggested that he might be married already. They thought he found Ruth ugly. Maybe he was Xenophobic? Whatever, all is well that ends well.

Apart from the fact that the last chapter talks of Ruth’s son Obed and whose ancestor he was. These children love when I write down people’s genealogy and tell what all names mean. I don’t know how I ever was able to finish the lesson on Esau and Jacob, because the children thought the way babies were named, was hilarious. Especially poor Esau! His name meaning “Hairy”. It took at least five minutes to stop all the comments about that name! Well, going through Boaz genealogy, was a sensitive matter indeed. I understand why we skipped his origins, months ago! I jumped back and read it, in preparation for this lesson, since I knew that there would be questions and let’s say, this was something I was not going to go in to! How Judah’s son died, how his second son refused to make his brother’s widow Tamar pregnant, how Judah sent Tamar home to her father, to wait until his son Sela was old enough to marry her (son number three). For those of you who are familiar with the story, it is not one of those uplifting Biblical stories, is it? Judah’s wife dying, him not honouring tradition and marrying off his son to his daughter-in-law and her taking drastic measures. Drastic indeed, dressing like a prostitute with a heavy veil, parking herself by the city wall, father-in-law promising payment for her services, her asking for a pawn of his signet ring, her disappearing after a night of passion, so he has to keep his goat, people coming telling him that his daughter-in-law must be killed because she has got pregnant out-of-wedlock and him discovering that the prostitute he was with, months earlier, was Tamar, his daughter-in-law who had not received Sela for husband as promised. This is NOT a story to tell children! So, I just wrote up Judah fathered … down to Boaz to… David to… guess who? I had the attention of all the class, before I wrote the final name, when I asked “who had to go to Bethlehem?”, “who was born in Bethlehem?”. They finally exclaimed, “It was a family reunion!”. I thought it finished on a happy note! What do you think?

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Through the looking glass

Background:

About two years ago, I felt that my eyesight perhaps was not the best anymore. It was difficult to read small text and my eyes tended to get very tired in the evenings, not really wanting to do anything but sleep. But, at the same time, eye changes, is yet another of all those wonderful symptoms of Hypothyroid. All my physical problems happen to be linked to that little item in our body called the thyroid. So, I went in to the eye-glass place, where I have been shopping for the last decade: Specsavers. One of my first questions of course being, “I have Hypothyroid and I am not yet on the right dosage of medicine, will this effect my eyes, sight and prescription?”. Three young giggling Arabs were now working in the shop, which had changed location in town, and I must say that it seemed like the place had gone down hill. Where were the professionals I hitherto encountered in this place? The optician, a Jew working part-time at the University in Hamburg, where was he? HE was good! These yokels could not answer my questions, so I went in to the competition next door, Smarteyes, and asked them. They told me “Wait! Hold off a couple of months till your eyes might have normalized”.

So I waited and was unhappy with my eyes. Not being able to scrapbook, since it requires cutting and doing things in small detail. I talked to the doctor, I talked to the pharmacy and finally they thought, go ahead and get new glasses. So I set up an appointment at Specsavers. After all, I have liked the frames they are selling, and I thought “perhaps I just went in on a bad day, they would not employ utter idiots would they without education?”. Arriving a little bit early in town that day, I went in to look a little bit in the book shop first and then I headed for the eyeglass place.

To add another detail to the story. When you no longer have a gallbladder, you carefully have to plan your meals, according to what you are going to do the next day. At best, you will have flatulence the next day, and depending on where you are going to be, that might not be the funniest experience, for those around you nor for yourself. At worse, you will feel a pressing need for a loo, that can NOT be ignored, and once you get there, you have seconds before you encounter an explosion. Things that trigger these reactions are sugar, fat or grease, fried food, foods containing egg, apple, pear. I try to stay away from all of them, all together, but now and then you might get one of these in to your system and have to deal with it accordingly.

When I arrived at the eyeglass place, ten minutes early, my gall system went in to action, or rather, I needed a loo pronto! And the personnel told me that I was not allowed to use their staff loo and they had none for customers. Fine, I said, and walked out of there. I located a loo last-minute and when finished, I made a phone call home. I informed my husband that he must phone Specsavers and tell them, that since I was not allowed to use their loo, I would take my business elsewhere. The least thing you can do, to be service-minded,  when a customer is about to spend a lot of money in your shop, is to let the person use your loo when it is desperate. On the same tiny stretch of street, three eyeglass places are located. Specsavers in the middle, Smarteyes on one side and a more expensive place on the other side. I walked in to Smarteyes and set up an appointment for the following week. Turned out, they had a much better package deal as well, so I felt rather pleased.

I should not have! I walked in there, had my eyes checked out, and did not get too much help, trying to find frames which fit my particular face. Some people look good in all glasses, doesn’t matter what they put on. They just take a fun colour and model which attracts them, and they are done. I have worn glasses since I was three years old and I have never been able to choose a pair on my own. I need an expert to help me, and this I did not really get, being left to my own devices really. Finally having settled on a pair of red glasses for every day long distance and a pair of lilac coloured ones for reading, I walked out of the shop, pretty content. Till I came back to fetch them and it turned out they had made both in to reading glasses! Even though it had taken probably 20-30 minutes to sort out which was supposed to be which. Pay attention man! Boys and girls in their 20s are totally unsuited for this work place, I guess. Especially since part of the time is used to flirting or just clowning around. There is no excuse for what happened. And not only did it take forever before I had my glasses in hand, or should I say on my head, I had to keep on running back to have them adjusted and get new things for where the glasses rest on the bridge of your nose. Finally, everything was adjusted and correct, but I was still not happy with my new glasses. Both glasses were imageof the same kind, same model, and both of them were pulling my hair. A couple of hair straws would get caught in the hinges, every single day, and me trying to not go bald at my temples, trying to get the hair out. I have lived with this nightmare now for a year and a half and I have hated the glasses for as long. This is something they should warn you about, when you choose frames with wide side parts.

Part I:

In May, it stood clear that I no longer could live with these glasses. I no longer can read the fine print on medicine bottles, take out splinters with ease, from my son’s fingers, cut on the line when I scrapbook, or read books with small size font, in lamplight during the evenings. I needed new reading glasses and question was whether I should got to Smarteyes or Specsavers. Specsavers in town, with their young crew of unprofessional sellers or Smarteyes who leaves you to your own devices and whose frames seem to be less well made or sturdy. The latter no longer have the package deal,  which I went for, 1 1/2 years ago. So, what to do? My friends all go to the old reputable dealers, but those days are long gone for me. Who wants to spend 5000-6000:- / 430-517 Pounds/ € 544-653 / $ 731-877 or more, on a pair of eyeglasses, when you need two of them and when they might just last you a maximum of two years? I can’t afford such luxury! Those were the days when I could!

I decided to give Specsavers another go, BUT not in town. I chose the branch down in Burlöv, a community which has grown in to be a part of Malmö. “Cookie” was dancing in Malmö the 4 June, and we had already seen the show the night before, in town, so we let her go there with the dance group and we headed for Specsavers and my 17:40 appointment. What happened? Well, I was greeted by the optician, and she checked my eyes and told me I needed two new glasses. We walked out in the shop and she took down two glasses for me to try on. But one pair, purple, were too big I thought (resembling owl glasses), so she started to take down some others but then said she had to run and do something. I started to put them on, when I saw her leave the shop! T. who stood beside me was as surprised as I was and said “Her shift was probably over!”. But to not tell me this? To just leave me standing there? My husband went and fetched this Arab man instead but he just stood there, stared at me and yawned! The shop closes at 20:00 and was ready to sleep at 18:00.

I did not get rude. But inside I was in an uproar. I was upset at how the one woman had just walked out on us. I was upset since I felt uglier than ugly in all the glasses I put on. I felt upset at not getting any help from the yawning Arab in front of me. And frankly, I just felt like starting to cry, because of the entire situation. Glasses are so expensive and I have to wear them all the time, so it is important that I feel at least not like the ugliest person on the planet in them! My husband finally had to point out to him, that I needed some help here, that we had a girl to fetch at 19:15, in Malmö. So the man took me over to these frames made by Tiger, a very expensive Swedish brand, and Yves Saint Laurent. Do I need to say that I shuddered? He took out a pair in green camouflage and put them on me. Fine, they did not look bad. But 3000:- / 258 Pounds/ € 326/ $ 439 and what about the second pair I needed? Besides, I wear 1940s dresses and fashion, and let’s face it, camouflage doesn’t really go with those ultra feminine dresses and blouses! He got upset with me and said “Do you have anything against camouflage?”. No, was my answer, but the price! So, he went off to be tookey, sweeping the floor, while I went back to the cheaper range. And grabbed the two first ones, that the woman had taken off the racks for me to try on. And I went to pay. I had had enough. The glasses were ordered by another girl and we walked out, me upset and displeased. Some of the glasses I had liked, were too small or too big size wise and in my mind, I now wonder, how can they make just one size in each sort of model? So, if you are my size of face, you are forced to take a pair of black glasses with shock pink on the inside and a pair of owl glasses in purple. But the brown, the blue, the pink are all reserved for people with bigger or smaller faces. Does that make any sense?

Part II:

Time to fetch my glasses. We drove down on a Saturday, and brought “Gubby” with us, since he needed to get out of the house.  And we walked in to the shop, where the Arab once again was supposed to help us. The first question he asks, is for my husband: “Are you watching the World Championship in football?”. My husband, happy to discuss football, starts in on this discussion, and the Arab with the name I could not pronounce, nor remember, so I could record it here, puts my glasses on my head, the entire time focused on my husband and football. I say “wow, they make me dizzy” but I could not be heard over the football conversation. He seems to think they are fine the way they sit behind my ears, because he starts charging me for them, and adds “Oh, we must discuss the football you see because I have only women at home!”. Right! I try to put on the distance glasses and try to say, once again, they make me dizzy, but he just tells me, without looking, “you’ll get used to them!”. NOW I AM MAD! I take the plastic bag with the glasses in one hand, I take my son in the other, and walk out of the shop and head for the loo, since “Gubby” had tried to tell his father he needed to go. Soon I get a phone call where T. asks me where I am.

I got home with the glasses, tried to put them on, and the dizziness overwhelmed me. As I said, I have worn glasses since I was three, so I am not unused to the phenomena of new glasses being different from the old. Yes, you can always notice a slight difference and a little bit of a, wow, but usually it is actually a positive wow, because things are more clear, colours more sharp, the glasses feel clean and you feel like you have walked around with slightly dirty glasses for a while, with a little bit of fog on them. But these, they felt like they would make me lose balance, like I was having a stroke and getting a migraine in the express mail. I had to jerk them off and  put them back in their cases and placed them on a side table we have in the kitchen. There they have been situated for a month now! Twice I have tried to put on the reading glasses, but it feels like I am looking down a tunnel. Focus in the middle and blur on the sides. I have never ever encountered this feeling before and it is nasty! When T. realized that I had paid almost 2000 :- / 172 Pounds/ € 218 / $ 292 for two pair of glasses and never using them, he set up a new appointment at Specsavers. I just flat refused to go. No way I am setting my foot at that place in Burlöv again. I thought they were bad in town but that, that was below critique. So, he had to set up an appointment in town instead, because the glasses had to be checked. The Arab did not even consider that there might have been a mistake done. That something was wrong. But I was wondering if they had put on someone else’s prescription or what?

Part III:

Yesterday, it was time to head in to town, with my by-now-hated-new-eyeglasses. First of all, I had to stand there and explain why I had bought eyeglasses last time from the competition next door, when they could find me as a customer in their data base. Then I had to explain what had happened down in Burlöv. The optician came out, heard, looked and said, “we have to re-do everything”. So, I had to sit down and go through the entire eye examination again. My poor eyes were so strained and tired afterwards and then came the verdict. Her readings were completely different from the optician’s down in Burlöv. The eyeglasses have to be re-done. She could understand why I could not use them. So, I walked out of the shop, with T., D. and “Cookie” and zero glasses in my bag, wondering “WHY?” or should I say “HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?”. How can they get two readings? How can I trust this new reading? What is going on?

As we walked towards this yarn place, where I wanted to get a button, for a crocheted bag, I received for Birthday from a friend, so that I can close it, we discussed what had happened. T. just said “Well, the lady in Burlöv was tired and going off her shift”, but is that really an excuse? If that happened at the hospital, during surgery, would you say “Oh, they happened to cut off this bit of my liver because they were tired and soon going off their shift”? No, while you are at work, you have to be there, be awake, do your utmost. You can’t become drowsy towards the end and do a sloppy job and be excused because it was at the end of your shift! The optician was paid till 18:00 that day. There was no excuse to do a foul job the last 20 minutes! If she can’t cope and if the Arab man can’t stand in the shop at that hour without yawning in the customers’ faces, then they need to talk to their boss about cutting down their working hours! Why should I have to pay for them having sat up too late watching football from Brazil? Don’t know what her excuse was on a Wednesday afternoon? This was just bad, from beginning to end. And can I really, really trust this second reading? Can I really trust that I will have glasses that will work for my eyes now? I don’t feel overly optimistic and I dread the moment when I have to go back and fetch them, in ten days.

You could say, you don’t get more than you pay for. Had I gone to one of the shops which have been around since I was a child, I might have received better service? Or? But why should I have to pay in the vicinity of 10 000:-/ 860 Pounds/ € 1088 / $ 1462  for two eyeglasses, when I do not have that sort of income. That is a holiday for our entire family! When Specsavers arrived on the scene in this country, I finally felt that I could go and buy a much-needed new pair of glasses, after waiting for two years, not knowing how to find the money. My two friends had just bought themselves new glasses, one having paid 4 000:-/ 345 Pounds/ € 435 / $ 586   and the other 5 000:- / 430 Pounds/ € 544/ $ 731 , and I was totally depressed over having to have bad eyesight when others don’t even have to suffer a minute, but can rectify the problem.  I came home happy from Specsavers with a pair which had cost me 795:-/ 68 Pounds/ € 87 / $ 116  and I was pleased not to be a burden on my family.

Specsavers which first started in Britain, had come about when a husband and wife opticians had come to the conclusion that eyeglasses cost way too much. That there is no reason for them to cost as much as they usually did back then. A philosophy I totally agreed with. But, if people are going to trust these low price eyeglass places, they can’t have bad service, ill educated opticians and sellers who are not service minded. You still expect value for your money, because the eyeglasses still do not come cheap. (The frame says one price but then you have to have non-glare put on the glass and anti-scratch, which add up.) As far as I know, we don’t have one school better than the next, as far as opticians go or in any field of professionals. We don’t have ivy league schools in this country and second-rate colleges. They all are on the same level. So the mistake made during my eye-examination is inexcusable! And if people get as bad service as I did, when it is time to choose frames, fetch them, have them adjusted, then people will not dare to go there. Word will spread around. To be able to see is all too important! We are not talking about a three-month fashion accessory here!!!

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Recovering from Sjöbo Fair

Friday 18 July 2014

Since I was a little child, I have been an annual visitor at the fair in either Kivik or Sjöbo. Since we got very disappointed years ago, over how Kivik had gone to the pits, becoming just a place where they sell Asian articles of garbage, we have imageinstead headed to Sjöbo. But since Sjöbo is smaller with more narrow rows, we have had to change our yearly visits drastically. No small children get to go. Which means, I go one day, with one or two daughters, or like most years, I go alone. And then the second day of the fair, my husband goes with D. and two daughters. They prefer to go with Daddy, since Daddy will buy them all sorts of silly things, if they beg hard enough. And of course Daddy will buy them donuts, Berliners,…

I am persona non grata, since I hold my fist tight around the purse strings and will not buy things which have no value or which I see will last too short of a time, to be worth the purchase price. True, Sjöbo has more ordinary things and not just the Asian fluff. Some sellers have actually got over a lot of Converse shoes costing just a 100:-/8.55 Pounds/€10.79/$14.59.  But if many stalls sell the same thing, saying it is the genuine thing, the original, I am afraid that it is copies they are selling and I have had really bad experiences with copies. Perhaps I am becoming more and more of a snob, but you really do not get more than you pay for.

Going out to Sjöbo this year, was a lonely affair for  me, since E. has not spoken to me for almost four weeks now. Reason? I told her that you can’t stand with one foot in the world and one in our religion. That you can’t say that only the things you like, are true and the uncomfortable parts, not being so, because they are not fun to keep. There is no grey zone in our religion, either you believe or you do not. We don’t get to pick and choose which laws we want to follow, just like it is in the world. You can’t choose which laws in your country, that you want to follow, and then break the rest, not expecting any consequences. She did not like what she heard. Or that I had the gall to discuss it with her. So she ignores me now, doesn’t say a word to me, and sits in her room upstairs watching TV on her school’s computer or chats with friends on Facebook, all day. She only comes down for dinner and helps out with absolutely nothing. She is mean and screams at all her siblings, including “Gubby”, who has never done a thing to hurt her or her things. While the others accept that she is the way she is, he doesn’t understand this diva behaviour of hers, so he gets really SAD. I’ve had to tell him to stay away from her.

But, I headed to Sjöbo and actually thought it was nice to not have her come along. Last year she conned me in to buying her pumps, earrings, 2 T-shirts, a bra (which the lady ended up giving us for free because E. said she did not like them because they would show her teets) and at least 6 pair of knickers. This year, I did not have to make any such purchases. I left it all for T. to handle today instead. He has three nagging kids with him! Ha! All the same, I have a difficult time relaxing and being selfish. Wherever I go, I end up looking for things for the children. I tried to ignore things that would have been fun for D., E., and “Cookie”, deciding in my mind that “they will see it tomorrow and can make a decision then”. Instead I concentrated on the three who would not get to go at all. For those of you, who contemplated going there this year, and did not: My first shock came as I arrived. The fair had shrunk. It used to cover up all grass available, but now a big part of the grass had been taken over as parking for maybe the owners of all the rides and carousels? Or the ones standing in the stalls, could park there? Whichever, I felt somewhat cheated, since I had just paid 40:-/ 3.42 Pounds/ € 4.32/$ 5.84 in parking, up by the windmill. My ordinary parking place, on the lawn outside a school, was not available this year, so maybe they did not expect as many visitors this year? (But I was disappointed, in this as well, since it forced me to stay a long time, in order to be able to get out. My car being so huge and not having any room to manoeuvre in a created parking lot, on a sloping grass knoll. )Please don’t say that fairs are dying out? It is a highlight of July, even if a lot of the merchandise is “crap”. Third disappointment was the fact that all the sellers were late. I always see to that I am there at 11:00 to make sure I get good parking, close, and some things sell quickly. But half of the stalls were not even up by then and it took hours for them to unpack. They seemed tired from Kivik and it was not fun to kill time at the supermarket and in small shops on the walking street.

What is “crap”? Well, all the Philippine stalls with mobile phone shells and wallets. I doubt the covers last more than a week, and they are not really value for the money. I did buy something like it, from an Amazon seller actually, saying that it was real leather and everything. By the end of the month, the entire plastic frame that the iPhone goes in to, had crumbled in to small pieces in my handbag. And the real leather was indeed real plastic. When I wrote this in my  review, Amazon removed the review! I was not allowed to be honest! So I am very weary now when I purchase a mobile phone wallet. Another thing to walk past are all the stalls with clothing, owned by an array of foreign sellers. All the clothes are weird and most of them one size fits all. Well, we are not all of the same size so… And why would I buy a shirt for 200:-/ 17.10 Pounds/ € 21.58/$29.18 at a fair, when I can get something much more stylish and pretty, at a local shop in the mall? If it breaks, I can go back with it, which I can not with a fair item. Because these fair stalls, do not have shops, they are just, I don’t know, travellers?

Then we come down to the level of “semi-crap”. The places that sell things which we can find out in the shops, but which are cheaper at the fair and claimed to still be the original thing. A pair of Converse for 100:-, a pair of Crocs or what in Sweden is called “Foppa” clogs after the ice hockey player Peter Forsberg. (Don’t know what he has to do with them, unless he introduced them to Sweden?) These “Foppa clogs” in plastic, could be had from anywhere between 60-100:-/ 5.13 – 8.55 Pounds/ € 6.47 – 10.79/ $8.75 – 14.59 , yesterday, and since “Kitty’s” are broken, I bought him a pair for 60:-. What is the use of getting the original, when they all last equally long? Kids grow out of them and don’t usually wear them out. His could have been continued to be worn, but the strap broke, which one doesn’t really need. Other semi-crap things are the wonder bras, “as seen on TV” and they all claim to sell the original, yet, I noticed none of them are of the same brand. Last year, E. and I went home with one each, but none of us were impressed. They rolled up under the breasts! Everyone who has worn stockings or a shaper girdle, to get that perfect figure, knows that they go a little bit over the waist and when you sit down and then stand up, they have both rolled down to below your waist. Like the commercial, with the woman who tries to adjust her sanitary napkin between her legs, in public, wiggling around,  you stand up and try to discretely adjust or unroll your stockings and the girdle so they both sit where they should sit. Don’t get a nice figure with a roll around your waist do you? Well, with this “wonder bra which you can sleep in, which you can’t feel when you are wearing it, that lifts your breasts without discomfort of a wire”, we were forced to stand and unroll it from under our breasts as well, which can’t be done discretely! In E.’s case, she needed it for support of her big bosom and I who have an almost non-existent bosom, wanted what little I have, to be lifted up without a wire. Hm! No, what one should really go for, are shops selling off surplus things or trying to show that they exist on the market, by having fair bargains.

Before I get to this part, I must mention, some things, that some of us fall for, because we have small children, who we know will appreciate things, not common on the Swedish market. I am not going to call them crap, because theseimage are items that actually stand the test of time, but at the same time, some people might turn their noses at the things. The first thing, are T-shirts from Asia, made out of some sort of polyester. I love them for three reasons: 1) I don’t have to iron them. You just wash them in 40 degrees, hang them up and they are dry in no time. 2) They come in bright colours that make children look happy and healthy and children are drawn to these like flies. 3) They come with illustrations that children love! Every year I have carried these home for the three youngest, with Spiderman, Bob Squarepants and Lightning McQueen. And this year, I even found one with “Gubby’s” beloved “Toystory”. Disney’s “Cars” might be old by now, but children still love the films and they want them on shirts! The chain stores fail to see this in many cases, or they put a print on a regular cotton T-shirt and then it comes off in a couple of washes. These fair T-shirts are indestructible, I pass them on from son to son. The print is built-in to the T-shirt and covers all of it, not just a little piece in the front!

imageThe second funny child item, is the one that is greets you in every Peruvian stall. Actually the very first real fair stall that greets you, is one of them. They have these knitted beanies/caps/woolies. In years past, it has mainly been animal ones but then when the Smurf film came out, suddenly all Peruvian stalls, had smurf beanies. The year “Cookie” and I went there together, we laughed at these grown men who were intoxicated and walked around with a beer can in one hand and a smurf beanie on their heads. Thoughts next morning? No, idea but I can see them asking their mates “why did you not stop me?”. This year’s beanie, brought a smile to my face again, since it was the minions from “Despicable me”. We LOVE the minions and have decided they make the entire two films! I wanted to get one for “Gubby”, who is the only one who keeps track of his clothes. No point in wasting money on the other two, who just lose all mittens and beanies. But by the time, I was ready to purchase a beanie, my feet were so sore, I could no longer enjoy the fair. I headed for the car in pain, and realized on my way home, that I had forgot to buy, what I had intended to buy. So, a list was sent with T. this morning, with among other things to buy, a minion beanie. (The one “Gubby” chose, from the selection his daddy sent via e-mail, so he could choose from the picture, was the one on the lower right. He is such a smart little boy though, when daddy came home with it, and he put it on to see what it looked like, on him , he said to me “it’s for when it is snow outside, not now!”. He is absolutely right, which was one of the reasons why I did not buy it early on yesterday. It was sooooo hot, and I felt dizzy part of the day since there was no way for me to keep hydrated. The last thing I wanted to do, was to put on a beanie for size! Today, “Cookie” had to do the honour, since they have the same size of head, sort of.)

But I promised to talk about the quality stalls, which are shops coming to Sjöbo, for two days, from all over the country, to sell you things which you can never get otherwise. Not even knowing they exist in some cases. Like the different paper stalls, who stand and sell thick rolls of Birthday- and Christmas paper, as well as ribbons for them and cards. Let’s say, in these rolls, with much more fun motifs than the ones you find at the supermarket, you get at least four times as much paper, than in the supermarket ones, and at a fraction of the price. They are heavy to carry around, so I finally walked back to the car when my elbows started aching, but this is definitely the place to get paper at, every summer, for the seasons to come.

Other purchases I made, was a British blanket, of the smoothest, softest,image warmest fabric I have ever felt. I am not going to say that I look forward to the winter, but when winter comes against my will, I am prepared for it! I have the best blanket to snuggle under with my Reynaud’s Syndrome cold feet, hands and body. Having the Union Jack on one side, was a definite bonus for an Anglophile like myself! :) The stall had many other nice and quirky items for sale, but I had decided to spend as little as possible this day, so I had to resist the temptation. My husband has bought the most ugly kitchen wall clock, from a shop known for ugly items at a cheap price. I detest it! Here in this stall, I saw some funny kitchen clocks looking like old-fashioned coca cola bottle caps, with Roman numerals, in a painted worn-look. Colours were green, barn red or teal. I stood for the longest time, trying to decide whether to get one of them. They were made out of metal and heavy. I was already fighting the rolls of gift wrapping paper. So I decided to leave it to my husband, for today. And of course, he did not buy one for me. So I will have to live with the disgusting looking black plastic clock on the wall. I doubt he even looked at the clocks, even though I had put it on his to-do list. But D. and E. have a propensity of talking his ears off and let’s face it, he does not know how to multi-task!

Another purchase, was actually a mobile phone wallet, but from a reputable place. It’s a bunch of young men who have started the company, they sell over the net, and the frame where your iPhone goes, is in a rubbery material which is not going to crumble. I stood there forever looking at them, before I made the purchase, because the news channel came and wanted to film, the only young man standing there around noon. He had so many colours to choose from, that it was difficult to decide. I finally settled on a mint green wallet with black frame and closure. He was sweet and threw in a mint green “pen”. If I find the web address, I’ll put it in, before I publish. His mobile wallets did not cost much more than the garbage Philippine ones, but of course lacked images and messages, that teenagers might prefer.

The toughest part for me, going to this fair, are all the stalls selling baby items and adorable baby clothing. To not be in that market anymore, hurts. It really hurts! Some clothes looked big enough for “Gubby” but then I saw the labels saying, they were only for a 3-4-year-old and it broke my heart. For people who choose that they have had enough children, it is probably just alright to see all these stalls. But for someone who did not feel done with that part of my life, who has tried and tried to rectify fate, well, it made me immensely depressed. I did walk in to one of the stalls though, with clothes called “Snoozy”, which was set up as a tent, because it looked like perhaps some things were bigger. And lo and behold, I found this adorable soft T-shirt hoodie jacket, with little owls all over it.image In “Gubby’s” size. One woman was circling around me the entire time, giving me dirty looks and for the life of me, I could not understand why. I stood with the jacket in my hand, and tried to see if there was not a single cute T-shirt in his size. The only thing I could see, was a long-sleeved one with moose all over it. I am sure he would have loved it, but the price tag on the jacket said 249:- ( 21.28 Pounds / € 26.87 / $ 36.34) and I felt it had to be one or the other. A T-shirt that he can wear one, maximum two days and then throw in the dirty clothes. Or a jacket, which he can wear for weeks without dirtying it down, unless they bring him out in the pre-school garden. That is when I discovered why the older woman was looking angrily at me. The other jackets, did not have owls on them, like I had thought. It was monkeys! I was holding the ONLY owl jacket! When I snubbed her and walked to pay for it, instead of hanging it back so she could buy it for a grandchild, I wouldn’t believe my ears when they told me it cost only 100:- (see your own currency above). I still decided to not get the moose T-shirt. Don’t know why, because now I regret it and he would have loved it. On the positive side, the shop is supposed to exist in Malmö. No webshop, but a physical one. Maybe in the future, I can head there and see if there are more things his size than what was available at the fair?

One second-hand bookshop from Österlen somewhere, had a large book stall, but it seemed like what they sold most of, were chilled drinks. I stood there for a long time, looking at all the world war two books, they had brought. I know I should not have, but there was one book which was hard to resist. It might be a highlyimage speculative book, a book full of non-sense, since I have never heard of it before, and usually I have heard of world war two books, one way or another. But, I will give it a go, because it does sound like it has an interesting angle on Hitler and his bizarre personality. (“Hitler’s Secret: The double life of a dictator”) The seller was very happy that finally a customer actually bought one of his books and not just the drinks that he had stocked up on. He declared that he had lots and lots of books out in… But I missed the name. A new law has come about, which force all fair sellers to give a receipt for purchases. It has never been like that before. But, if I can find my receipt from that shop, in one of the plastic bags I brought home, then I should find out the name of the shop and the location. It could be a fun place to go look at, if one is in the vicinity of it. Can’t resist books!

The very first item I bought, was actually none of the above, but was found in a stall which keeps on coming back every year. Most of their items are sewing things, but now and then, they keep a wicker basket with yarn by the till. And I imagecould not resist these big yarn balls, priced at half their value, since I guess they had already tried to sell them out at Kivik’s fair, at the beginning of the week. I bought the only two blue ones left and the pink. One ball is supposed to be enough for a head band and a scarf. None of us wear headbands so why not just make the scarf wider? My first thought was to make scarves for the girls, for Christmas. But at a sleep over, at a class mate’s house, E. sat and knitted a sleeve, out of yarn her class mate handed her, just for the fun of it. So she CAN knit. Last year, she had me buy a purple yarn, at this exact stall, and had ME knit the cap. This year, she can actually knit the scarf herself!!!! So, I will make a scarf for “Cookie” and one for myself. The yarn seems funny to knit with and I am sure the different colouring, will make a fun effect.

My final purchase that I want to bring up in this post, is one which was not made in a fair stall at all. As you can imagine, the shops in the town of Sjöbo, take advantage of the two-day influx of possible customers! They put things on sale or have special fair prices on some things, and of course, people will go in to the shops as well, if they are situated on one of the streets, leading from the parking areas, created just for the fair. One shop that has been on one of these streets in the past, has been the jewelry shop which also sells watches. They usually bring sale watches out on the pavement, to have their own little stall there, and also some cheap earrings or rings, they want to get rid of, from their stock. We have always walked by that shop since the parking facility used by us in the past, has always forced us to walk on this street. But, this year, two parking places close by that street, had not been opened for visitors, so noone walked by the little watch and jewelry shop. When I had dropped off, my gift wrapping paper rolls, I walked by the street, saw how empty it looked, and decided to just go down to the shop to have a peek. Usually two ladies work in the shop and they are funny. Two years ago, E. and I was in there and bought a ring for E. on sale, from the Danish Spinning company. The ladies were really sad over not having sold the rings and over how conservative and narrow-minded people are in Sjöbo. Unfortunately a popular town for neo-nazis and xenophobic people. Those parties were out full force at the fair, handing out their propaganda. Targeting young men of course, of D.’s age. But of course they did not hassle D. and co. today, since they want a foreigner free-Sweden, and there my entire family was, speaking English! Anyway, the ladies at the shop, told us how people in Sjöbo doesn’t want modern, “different”-looking, jewelry, so Spinning’s innovative style did not sell at all.

This year, the ladies were not there but there was a funny older lady standing outside the shop calling out to the few people walking by, “Don’t you want to go home with a new watch today?”. I stood and chatted a little with her, over how sad it was, with the parking changing so much, and not all shops getting an advantage from the fair, this year. While talking to her, I glanced at the stand of watches and one stood out, among the rest. Because it was tiny, square, different looking from all the rest. In other words, the sort of watch I am always drawn to. I took a stroll in the shop next, because it was so hot and I wanted a little air conditioning, before I headed back to the fair. Leaving, not having looked at anything in particular, because it was too hot in the shop as well, air conditioning not functioning I suppose or being off. I halted by the watches again. Took out the watch and held it on my arm. “Oh, that is a really expensive imageSTORM watch!” the lady said to me, “It has cost 935:- /80 Pounds/ € 101.03 / $136.59″. Thanks, I KNOW how much STORM watches cost, but I thought that it was just lower quality watches being sold out there. Who in their right mind brings out a STORM watch on the side-walk? I had to get my reading glasses out now, to see if she was really right about the brand of the watch. Yes, sure enough. They were selling an 80 pound STORM watch for 189:-/16.16 Pounds/ €16.07/ $ 27.57 ! Let’s say, I did not have to think any further. I was too hot for comfort, but headed in to the shop, to pay for the watch. My wrist was too swollen to try it out for size, so I had to bring it home, and let my body go back to its regular shape and size, before I could see that it was too big for me, and T. had to take it to be shortened today. But what a bargain to make! Thanks to the Sjöbo habitants being “backwards”! This sort of fair purchase, is why I go year after year. When you find that little extra, when you do that wonderful bargain, on an item which you could only have drooled at, at another time and place, then it all feels worth it! Going through row after row, of awful stalls with Asian plastic and T-shirts with ghastly messages, and then finding a little gem… That is what going to a fair is all about. That and the special fair candy and “gräddbullar”!

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Snail Day: Meet “Flagge” and “Skralle”

7 June 2014:

In the personal progress program (a church thing for young women really, between 12-18, but a friend of mine persuaded me to do the program as well, since she is, and she is 50+), E. and I was supposed to come up with a ten-hour project, in the category ‘choice and accountability’. It feels like I have spent almost two entire days out in the flower bed beside our house, next to the entrance door. It was in a state of disgrace, so the project came as a good excuse for making it look more decent. The problem always being, that if I go out and do garden work, hell breaks loose inside. But yesterday being National Day, and today being a Saturday, it meant one more grown up to keep the troops in order. But, “Gubby” who is used to always being with me, didn’t want to be so far away from me. If I am outside, he is outside… At first he was bored but then to his delight, he noticed that me pulling weeds and disturbing the peace of the flower bed, meant unearthing tons of snails. I don’t think I have ever seen so many snails in one place, in my entire life.

I can’t say, that I appreciate snails. As a matter of fact, I find them quite disgusting. But “Gubby” finds them VERY funny, interesting and exciting. He couldn’t get enough of them. As a matter of fact, now when I reminisce, my grandmother’s garden, south of here, also had a lot of snails. Or rather, the remains of them. Me and my friend used to collect the empty, abandoned “houses” because we thought they were pretty and liked the intricate pattern on the shell. My mum was not as thrilled though. So perhaps all children go through snail phases?

Yesterday, all his attention was to one snail. Someone asked him, “What is his name?” and he immediately had an answer. He did not even have to think. “Flagge”.  I think I spent four hours in total out there yesterday, and he spent as many hours with that snail. He was carrying it around all over, so I hope the poor thing did not suffer from vertigo??! I guess “Gubby” wanted to broaden “Flagge’s” horizons? Not just get to see the boring flower bed? He kept him on the bicycle route just outside our house. I had to take a photo of him playing with the snail and I could not keep from laughing  when I got there with the camera and “Gubby” told the snail “Say cheese!”.

I must say that this is a new experience for me. In the past, when I was buying stocks for my scrapbooking, all boy sticker sheets always had stickers that said “snips and snails” and had pictures of frogs etc. on them. I bought them, since there is not that much for boys, in the way of scrapbooking, but I did not really use them, because they did not fit for my first four boys. They have never been that interested in insects, animals and so forth. Except for in picture books and when we have gone to the zoo. But “Gubby”, he is an all together different person. Perhaps he will become a vet one day? He loves animals and I have the sneaky feeling that I will finally be able to use all those stickers.

Today, I was weeding closer to the door, where there were even more snails, and “Gubby” rescued two out of the flower bed. He thought it was the same one, he played with yesterday, but unfortunately, I saw a mean little boy drive over poor “Flagge” yesterday, just to be spiteful I suppose, because he saw how fun “Gubby” had with it. I have never seen the boy before, but he stood on his bicycle, watching “Gubby” for probably over half an hour. Weird.

imageAnyway, today “Gubby” stayed at the front stairs with his two snails. He immediately named them “Flagge” and “Skralle”. Wherever he got the names from, I have no idea. “Cookie” thought it was hilarious, but I actually thought them very good snail names. He sat and played with the poor snails all the hours I was out there working. Since he is Autistic, my mind once again, went to the testing of him. The special ed teacher who tested him, said he can’t do imaginary play. Well, why did she not bother come and see him in action, at home? It is one thing to play with a psychologist, who keeps to a manuscript and where you are not allowed to play with anything but the toys they put in front of you. I have described it all in another post, but there was no way to imagine a thing really. At home, he is relaxed, and he is himself. He does imaginary play, even though he, as an Autistic child, is not supposed to be able to do this. He gives the snails their own voices and it is a lot of fun, listening to him.

One thing I have learned weeding the flower beds, is that I think I have to read up on snails and all sorts of other gross things. My son has hundreds of questions and even though my general knowledge of things have never fallen short before, I feel it does now. I really don’t know anything about snails. The slime they left behind them, when they slithered across our stairs, is disgusting and he wanted to know what it was. He was totally fascinated and studied the process in detail. And  the only thing I could come up with was, “I think they are pooping”.

Later addition: You are never too old to learn things! Next time “Gubby” points out the slime and asks what it is, I will NOT answer poop, but tell him that it helps the snail crawl. I guess they have little feet, believe it or not, and the feet produces the slime, to help crawl on and protect the soft tissue from getting hurt. But it also works as glue, so they can crawl vertically and not fall down. Wow! Just proves that noone knows everything, even if they think they do!!! ((Not that I ever thought I did! )

 

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Autism – Not the end of the world

Have your child just been diagnosed with Autism and for the life of  you, you have no understanding how they got to this conclusion? Does it feel like your life has just come to an end? Do you sit and look at your child, who you up till yesterday, thought was just as normal as everyone else, and can’t keep back the tears, because now it seems he/she is not the same person anymore? Do you sit and wonder, “Quid Nunc”, what now?

At the end of the 1980s, an acquaintance had a baby girl. She was a strange little baby, because if you were asked to hold her, you were also instructed that you must not let her see your face, you had to carry her so she looked outwards, at people. Carrying her, with her back against your chest, you were warned, “do not let her see her mother, and realize it is not her mother carrying her!” Things got more bizarre. On Sundays I visited the family, and she would be in a walker, but she did not move in it, and her head would tip backwards at times, but she had no strength, to lift it up. You had to help her. Likewise when it tipped forward. I left the country, but a few years later, I came back for a visit and went to visit the family. She had been diagnosed with Autism and she would not stay in the house when people came to visit, but run out and sit in the family car, listening to the radio. Or she would sit in her room and scream. Strange people upset her world. She had no language. She was the girl-in-the-bubble.

This is all the experience with Autism that I have personally had, up till now, you could say. When I studied at an US University, my teacher in psychology devoted one lesson, to Autism. I will never forget it. His final words were, after letting us see a film with children sitting banging their heads with their hands or against the wall, that “Autistic children belong in institutions! You can’t have a child like that at home. No parent have the strength and energy, to take care of such a child, 24 hours a day. Professionals are needed because they come in and do a shift, and then go home! They are trained to look after such a child for a few hours, and in an institution you can keep furniture and routines in the same place and way. You can’t do that at home, ever.”

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was petrified throughout, that I would receive a child with Down’s Syndrome or Autism. I could not imagine a worse fate! And I have felt the same way, with every child. In retrospect, and with all the knowledge I now have, I know that I more or less have raised one child, already with Autism or within the Autism spectra. But he never was tested nor diagnosed, I was just told that something was wrong with him. Then one son was diagnosed with ADHD, and I realized that even if you hold a newborn baby in your arms, who looks just normal, things can appear later on, and by then, the baby or child has won your heart and you have already learned to cope.

In March, I sat in front of a psychologist and a special ed teacher and was told that my little sweet pea, who we have never considered abnormal in any way, except that his speech has been very late (But then his two brothers have also been late. He has been the latest, but his 7-year-old brother was later and his brother with ADHD was late. ), is in fact Autistic according to their tests. I could not believe what I heard and that there was basically no hope for him, but that he will just need all sorts of help. I went home depressed and felt entirely gloomy about it all. His siblings just shook their heads and said, it was all a mistake and that the people at BUP are insane or something. Because they really have not seen what we see here at home.

Perhaps he has Autism according to all the new criteria? How do I know? And fine, if it helps to have a diagnosis in order to receive extra help in school, he can have the diagnosis. Because I know my child. He is the sweetest little angel. He is always happy. He gives me the only happiness I have in life. And nothing heals better than his hugs and kisses! The last two weeks I have come to the realization that the diagnosis, is just what we make it! First of all, they have declared that he can not speak, that he is just like a parrot, and only repeats what he has heard said, before. That he has no deeper understanding of language. If anyone heard him talk, they would ask for the personnel at BUP and the speech therapist to have their heads examined. He does talk, he does keep conversations, and he does come up with the most clever statements that noone has conveyed to him, so they are the result of his own thinking. They said that since he does not understand language and what it is for, colours mean nothing to him. I bring up colours, because yesterday I sat and observed him in church. I have been keeping him busy in church with a quiet book, tiny smurfs, sticker books, but a week ago, he wanted to colour. He did not want to colour in his brothers’ “Spiderman” colouring books, and finally he settled on a boring “Curious George” one while “Boo” sat and coloured in “Cookie’s” ‘Hello Kitty’ one. That one has simpler drawings in it and strong black lines, so when “Boo” abandoned it, “Gubby” asked me if he was allowed to colour in it as well. I nodded my head, since she doesn’t use it. But I realized that it would be more fun, to have something more boyish, to colour. “Hello Kitty” after all is just white, so not much to colour there.

Last time, I was with “Cookie” at the dentist, we bought these amazing coloured pencils for him, since I have noticed that he doesn’t have the right pressure when colouring with coloured pencils. When you don’t press, you don’t get colour, and it is not very fulfilling to colour in a picture and not see a colourful result! This one brand, is very expensive, but you do not have to press at all, and you get a lush creamy colourful look at once. Never felt or seen anything like it. It is made by “Stabilo”. The effect resemble oil crayons. You can buy a box, for an arm and a leg, or just do what I did, get three for a rebated price. I bought six primary colours and knew this would suffice for his needs. The other day, I went in at the local toy shop and bought him a colouring book with strong outlines, called “Lorries and other vehicles that move”. Yesterday, Sunday, was inauguration day. He sat so quietly and fully concentrated on the floor, in front of me, and coloured in the first picture of his choice and I made the following reflection: He might not know that imagethe colour red is called red, and the colour blue is called blue BUT look at his picture! First of all, his two-year older brother can not stay inside the lines like this. Secondly, his brother does not fill out the space. Thirdly, his brother will make everything in just one colour. But “Gubby”, as you can tell, fills the things in and look at it: He KNOWS that the tree trunk is brown, the leaves are green, the sun is yellow, the water is blue. Alright, he can’t go in to a shop and try on a red shirt and ask “do you have this in blue instead?” but he is five years old and what do they know at BUP about his learning abilities? And can he not function anyway? Can he not just point at something and say, do you have that colour instead? (Above, you can see the pencils. They are thick, so you have to use a special sharpener for them, and it does not show how thick they are here but let’s say, they are really easy for a child to hold! He holds them like one should hold a pencil, not the weird grip that he uses, when the pencils are skinny and gives him no strength to put pressure on the paper.) He was frustrated when he did not have the right colour for the bird, so he turned to me and asked me “can I use this for the bird?”, showing the skin colour pencil I bought so he could colour humans. I nodded. I guess I will have to save up for grey, maybe purple and orange?

Another thing which has happened this past week, is that he has found his oldest brother’s animal book. I bought it 24 years ago and someone left it outside years ago. So it got wet. I was on my way to throwing it away last year, when the children opposed such an action. So we kept it, even though it is all warped and some pages had stuck together, and when I opened them, they got rip marks. He crawled up beside me one day, opened the first page and pointed at the first imageanimal and said: Cat, second: Dog, third: horse. While he did this, he made the sounds. Then on the fourth picture he said: “Hen and you get eggs from it!” I could not believe my ears, and pointed at the next picture of the cow. What is that? “A cow”. What can you get from her? “Milk!”. One part of the IQ-test that he failed was when the psychologist asked “What do you get from a cow? What do you get from a hen?”. “Gubby” was not even paying attention to the questions. Had the psychologist showed him PICTURES he would have been able to say what animal is what and what you get from them!!!! So what is the point with IQ-tests? Is there something wrong with seeing life in pictures instead of in abstract terms? What F. and L. will never know, is that my son full well knows that a cow gives us milk and a hen gives us eggs. And sitting with this book now, every day, he is learning that a chicken can not fly even though it is a bird and that most animals are pretty boring. We actually have some funny conversations which I wish I could have recorded! His favourite pages are the two following imageones. If you look at the bottom left, you notice a moose. This animal fascinates “Gubby”. He likes it a lot and would like to be one, he says. He asks me all sorts of questions. “Mamma was does he do? What does he sound like?”. This last question is a favourite of his, since I haven’t got a clue but I have told him, I think it sort of sounds like a cow so we do a deep cow sound. (He actually want to know what all animals sound like and some we just sort of wiggle our noses for, since they are silent.) Yes, what does a moose do? “He is King of the Forest and he just walks around and checks out his domains and eat leaves from bushes. He is not very exciting I’m afraid!” Another favourite on this spread is the reindeer. “Can he fly, mamma?”. Hmmmm! I have decided to not break his heart, so my answer has so far been “Santa Claus has a couple of these living with him, and THEY can fly, but all the others can just walk and run.” What do they do? “They are boring and just eat!”

imageWhy is the above spread such a favourite? He laughs with delight and with rascalness in his eyes when we get to this part, because I tell him to quickly close the book. “Mamma doesn’t like animals like that! Snakes make my skin crawl and gives me goose bumps, frogs are gross, I can’t stand the mouse’s disgusting tail and lizards are creepy!”. He laughs and wants to know what they do? What they eat? Well, “the snake is sunning himself and will eat the mouse”. And “Gubby” told me himself that the mouse eats cheese and the frog eats flies, so he has that under control! When he has studied the book by himself for a while, and I am doing something, he comes up behind me, and pushes this page on my body, giggles and says “I am putting the snake on you, mamma!” and every time it is the same thing: I scream since I can’t stand to look at the picture, having snake-phobia, and I definitely do not want the picture to touch me, because it makes me think of the real, horrible things!!!! But he thinks it is soooooo funny! Silly mamma!  (Can’t even believe I put the picture on my blog and in my post, I feel like I am going to hyperventilate!)

Every evening, my husband takes the children to the council pool. He, D. and “Cookie”, swims 200 meters every day, so one of them might win a towel. Every week they do a lottery, with everyone in it, who have swam 200 meters. The more days you swim, the more chances to win the towel! “Gubby” so much wants to be with his dad who is hardly ever home, so he sticks to him. Our five-year old can not swim. But he is not afraid of water. And since noone is in the middle pool, he doesn’t want to be there. He goes in with the rest in the deep pool where he can’t touch the bottom on either end. Friday and Saturday, T. came home and said, “Gubby” has dog paddled all of 200 meters today, so we have signed him up for a towel. All ways to move are good ways, right?”. I can’t say that I am excited about him being in the deep pool. But he loves water just like the other fish in the family. And I must say that I am all amazement. 200 meters is far. 8 times back and forth in the 25 meter pool. Dog paddling!

What do I want to say with this post? For all of you out there, with children diagnosed with Autism, who thinks the child’s life just ended with the diagnosis: Look at my son! Never underestimate what your Autistic child can do! More and more I am coming to think that: Isn’t Autism just another way of doing things? Choosing one’s own path? “Gubby” sure is! He knows the colours in his own way. He knows what species an animal is when he sees one and he knows what they do or produce. And he can dog paddle all of 200 meters which makes him entitled to both a towel and a badge. (Last year’s badge, no picture of 2014’s yet on the internet.)imageNot bad for a child who has been declared having a low IQ by the special ed teacher at BUP (psychologist did not confirm this)!!! And you know what,  his development is by no means standing still. New things happen every day.

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A miracle called a Giraffe

Many, many years ago, I decided to follow my heart and my convictions, and join a church and religion that my family did not approve of, nor were interested in joining themselves. My sister declared one day out of the blue, don’t know why (maybe she thought I would try to convert her?), that she is an atheist and believe that we come from monkeys. I did not take the bait and ask who created them then? I just thought it strange that two sisters can believe such different things. Now, my son, who recently graduated from gymnasium, have had to sit in a classroom, with atheists for three years and listen to all their anti-religion propaganda and accusations. But why am I bringing all this up?

I slept in this morning, but when I finally dragged myself out of bed, I decided that the best way to start the day, was to get the Sunday school lesson out-of-the-way. We keep my gigantic church bag which contains everything from crayons, folders for all the pupils in the class, lesson book and so on, in the corner, out-of-the-way, in the sitting room. I walked over and started digging for note-book, Sunday school book, a picture of Samson tearing down the building to kill the Philistines in it, my pen and finally grabbing my scripture bag. But while I was doing this, a children’s documentary came on TV. And I started listening in. It was all about giraffes. When they mentioned how far, the little giraffe baby has to fall when being born, I turned around because this I wanted to see. It looked imageawful, the poor thing dropping several meters and then trying to stand up, just falling straight over with the long neck. I sat there and said “oh, poor thing”. “Gubby” who had been doing his little gallop on the deck outside, came in to see what I was “oh-ing and ah-ing” about. So, we both sat down on the sofa, he on my lap, and we commented on everything.

They sure are absolutely amazing. At first, the baby spends all the time in seclusion with its mother, but then the narrator said that it joins “the day care” imagewhere all the mothers help watching out for dangers, protecting the babies in a group. He called it the baby’s “skyscraper family”. Funny description. They also showed the absent father, who abandons all his ladies, after the “romantic” act, in search of new females. It showed how they only sleep, for ten minutes at a time, because nothing else is safe. Some giraffes sleep, laying down, while others guard. All very interesting but here comes the most interesting part of all:

All long-necked animals have 7 vertebrates. Even the giraffes. They are just longer, more stretched out. When they need to drink, they have to bend somehow and it is not enough to bend the long neck, they still do not reach the water, so they have to almost go down in a split. Bending down like they do, ought to give them a severe head ache, the voice said, since all the blood rush to your head when you do that, BUT in the case of the giraffe, there are breaks all along, for this not to happen. The blood does not rush at all, because of these built-in breaks. They do not stay down drinking for long though, they do not feel imagesafe enough for that, so they soon have to stand up again, to check what is going on around them. This takes enormous effort, according to narrator. According to nature, the giraffe would pass out, raising its head and neck, BUT once again, it does not happen because its extra big heart, will pump extra hard and give the body a boost, so it can do it without harm. The heart weighing all of 11,5 kilos! Imagine! That is a lot. And the only reason for it being so big, is in order for the giraffe to be able to stand up again after drinking. If that is not amazing, what is? That is when I started to think about these atheists who say that the Earth and everything on it, was NOT created by a God.

Who else could have thought out such a genius thing except a God? If nature had been allowed to rule, the giraffe would have got a head ache out of this world, every time it needed to drink and it would have fainted after every sip of water, when it needed to look for dangers. But that is not at all what happens, is it? Everything is thought of in close detail, everything works perfectly to save that species, just like with every other species on this planet. How can one say that this just happened by co-incidence? Things like this, do not! There is a great plan behind it.

If this had not impressed me and “Gubby”, the next thing certainly did. It talked imageabout the Acacia tree, that is their main food. The tree has thorns, to protect it from animals eating on it. But I guess it is supposed to be food for giraffes, because their fur, work like a shield, and their lips have extra thick texture to the, so the thorns don’t hurt. And their long tongues easily avoid the thorns, going around them. But the tree has more protection. The leaves, contain gall acid, that would give you and me, terrible indigestion and stomach cramps. And not only that, the trees communicate. If a giraffe starts eating leaves on one tree, the leaves go more acid on that tree. To protect itself, it steps up the acid production. It also sends out a gas to warn the other trees, so they can step up the production of acid as well, protecting themselves from eaters. Has anyone noticed how giraffes drool? They even have built-in protection against the Acacia tree’s second defense mechanism. Their saliva contains exactly what they need to break down that gall acid, in the leaves, in order to safely eat them and walk off happily and content, without indigestion and pain.

As a little side note, they also know that eating the leaves, will not give their imagebodies all the nutrition, they need. They also need minerals, so if they find a bone, on the ground, they will pick it up and suck on it, to get the minerals. And if there are no bones to suck on, they will lick the ground! No nutritionist tells them what they need, to stay healthy, they just know and do it. Perfect!

“Gubby” sat and watched everything closely, and got upset when it looked like imagethe thorns were hurting the giraffes or when the birds who landed on them and ate ticks, also looked like they were hurting them. He did not really understand what the narrator said, and just looked at the film, so I had to act interpreter for what was happening the entire time. But even he, who is so young, realized that this is all very fantastic. The ways the animal world exist and goes on year after year. He thought it was terrible when the giraffe kicked a lion, till I explained, that the lion wanted to eat her baby, and by kicking the lion, she made the lion go away.

So, if you ever start doubting that there is a God and that he created the world and everything on it, start studying one of his creations, like the giraffe, and you will soon understand that this was no accident, this was no coincident, this was made by a master architect with intimate knowledge of how everything in the world functions and is connected, organs, bodies, nature…

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Doddington Hall and the Antiques Road Trip

At around 18:00 every evening, my husband comes home from work and takes off for the council pool with the children. Come rain, come shine. No weather bothers them, as long as they get to be in water. I do NOT go swim at that hour! The sun no longer is out to heat up the pool water, nor does it shine so hard that I am perspiring. I stay home, unless it is a Saturday and we go in the middle of the day. Which is something D. does not like, since he does not want anyone else in the exercise lane of the pool, and T. prefers going late when hardly anyone is in the pool for the same reason plus there is fewer children for our children to get in to fights with. Because all children at the pool fight over big “toys” in the pool, to sit on, jump from etc. And some children, just like at the playground, seem to go there just to find someone to pick a fight with. That is why, I do not go alone with the children earlier in the day, when it would have been nice to cool off. Because T. speaks English with the children, the retards of this village, avoid him. They are NOT going to try to talk English to him. Nor will they ball him out for having awful children, in Swedish, since they assume he will not understand anyway. But me. That is another matter. I speak Swedish with the children, so they come and bite my head off with a worse than better than thou attitude. So much one would want them napalmed on the spot!!! The things, especially mothers in their 40s, have screamed at me! They go to the pool in fancy hairdos and make up and show how good parents they are since they scream at me. They of course have to prove themselves to be such since they always work night and day. At the pool the chance to prove themselves suddenly opens up, when their sweet angels get in to brawls. What has happened to people in Sweden? What makes people think that social rules no longer apply? Or is it this age group, who feels that they by age are now beyond social rules and can do as they please? Age gives privileges? They even stand up and defend their big fat teenagers against that wild 10-year-old boy or the wild 7-year-old. Telling their awful mother who should have known better than bringing such children to the pool, one thing and another. The more they rail in to me, the better they feel about themselves!!!

No, I stay home, so that those cows can give my family dirty looks, but nothing more. And I have discovered a fun TV program to watch while they are gone. The Antique Road Trip, where two antique experts or even auctioneers, travel around Britain in vintage cars, buying antiques. They start each week with a new couple and they each have 200 pounds to spend. They stop in little villages and towns, on a stretch of country, in one of the shires. It seems like they are allowed to make as many or as few purchases as they like. And boy do they haggle over the prices. I could never do something like that. Today this woman wanted 225 pounds for a sugar shaker in silver filigree with a blue glass inside of it. (Sorry, difficult to describe things.) Charlie something, haggled and walked out with having paid 70 pounds for it! At the end of the program, they arrive at an auction house and they sell all their items there. Sometimes at a loss, sometimes they earn lots. And that is where the competition comes in, to see who has won that episode, and at the end of the week, you have a final winner.

I like the program because you get to see some of the most amazing items. And I always sit wondering why people go to auctions, when they could have gone to the antique markets or shops, and bought the items, much cheaper. Like the man who walked away having paid 80 pounds for a 1918 Trench Watch with a spring that did not work, when the expert Paul had bought it for 11 pounds! His fellow competitor, Tom, made some bad purchases though. He always fell for jewelry which he paid an arm and a leg for, and then women or men, walked off with them for 10-20 pounds. THEN it was better buying the jewelry at auction than in the shops!!!

imageToday, the antiques bought were not the most interesting items on the show though, but the Elizabethan country house Doddington Hall. Beautiful house which has always been in private ownership, the show said. The current owner, showed the older Charlie competitor around, and she showed the most amazing catalogue an ancestor had made. He loved buying tea cups, it seemed, and every time he bought a new one for his collection, he painted it in this sort of diary, always on the left sides, and wrote the details of the purchase on the right side of the spread. Just beautiful artwork! Funnier to have than the actual cups, in my view! Unfortunately, I can’t find any pictures at all, from what she showed Charlie. Sad that they have not put it up on the internet.

She then took him to a funny room the family had always called the forgotten room. Things they did not know what to do with, things they did not need anymore but did not want to throw away. He loved the room and so did I! She took out the funniest looking vacuum cleaner which must have been the first on the market. It looked like one of those things you pump up an air mattress with! Charlie laughed and so did I, because it would have been a nightmare even to vacuum one room with one of those things. What a pity I can’t find a photo of that either! And she showed a pair of Victorian or Edwardian roller skates. Think, that they even dared to get on one of those things! Scarier than being on ice skates, and you tied them on your feet. No picture I found on the internet matched what she showed and she assured him, that she had never tried them, since she was sure they would kill her.

I have no idea if they let you see all those funny and quirky items, they showed on the TV-program, if you go for a visit, but if they do, it sure would be a funny place to visit. I actually went in on their home page and it seems to be a quite large enterprise. A big garden, which looked just lovely on the photos, and a nice shop selling all sort of foods, clothes and interior design things. I know what I would have looked for: A copy of that catalogue with the hand painted teacups on every other page!  One of these days, maybe when the boys are older and wiser, I would like to go on a road trip to Britain and drive around and see all the fantastic gardens and country houses, I have dreamt of visiting and have on a mental wish list. Like Vita Sackville-West’s white garden in Kent in full bloom, and …

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