Saturday, April 28, 2012

Its a mad, mad world.

Our family loves old movies and there are probably not very many we have never seen.  We love so many of the older actors: Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, James Garner, Doris Day, Cary Grant, Rock Hudson, Don Knotts, Fred McMurray, Jim Neighbors, the list goes on and on.  We also love musicals and have a lot of soundtracks too.  Our older kids grew up playing the game “guess what movie this line is from” with us and now we play it with the younger kids.  So, even without autism, Tate would probably have the love of movies and movie dialogue he has. 

Because we all have this in common, our family uses movie scenes and characters often to reference things.  When one of us hears the line “I can’t see” in almost any context, we repeat it in the voice of Jim Backus (Thurston Howell the Third).  It is from a scene in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” when he is flying a plane and becomes blinded so Mickey Rooney has to take over the controls.  This is something we do constantly with all kinds of movie quotes.  Shawn uses them often to get a laugh from me or the kids.  We love it.

One of Shawn’s favorite television shows is the “Andy Griffith Show.”  Barney Fife and Floyd, the barber, are two of our favorite characters but the character that has always been dearest to our heart is Ernest T. Bass.  Ernest T. is a wild man from the hills.  He was in very few episodes but we have seen those few episodes dozens and dozens of times.  I said all of that to tell you this:  The past few years, every time I watch Ernest T. Bass, I see Sydney (the Sydney that has not yet had her medicine in the morning.)  It is not the way he looks, of course; but the way he acts.  If you have never seen Ernest T. Bass, you can watch a few minutes of him on U-tube to get an idea.  He jumps around and talks nonsense.  He laughs wildly and irritates everyone around him.  He throws rocks through windows when he wants to get someone’s attention.  In one episode he talks about saving for a gold tooth.  He wants to knock out two teeth and get a gold one, right in the middle, so it will shine and be pretty.  Ernest T. does not think things through.  He has no impulse control.  I wonder if Ernest T.’s mother had her own moonshine still out back.  I also wonder if the writers were modeling the character after someone with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or ADHD.

This morning, Sydney got up before me.  She usually does on Saturdays.  It makes no sense because I wake her up Monday through Friday at 7:00.  On Saturdays, when she could sleep in, she is up much earlier.  Her room and mine are adjoined and she is supposed to call to me and ASK if she can get up.  She does not often remember.  As usual, she had everyone in turmoil this morning.  Tate is always up at the crack of dawn and he cannot defend himself against her so she was tormenting him.  She made sure the other kids were awake (although they would have rather slept in). She found a bowl of popcorn from last night and spilled it.  She got a glass of water and spilled that.  She let her bunny out of the cage and shared an apple with her.  YUK.  She kicked her new soccer ball in the living room and knocked over a picture frame and the telephone.  All this happened at lightning speed too, one thing right after the other.  An hour later, after her pills took effect, she was no longer doing impressions of Ernest T. and she was calm and sweet.  I am so thankful for those two pills and I can hardly remember what it was like before we got those two prescriptions.  Those years are a sort of blur.  I have a vague memory though and it was not easy.  Ernest T. could have used one of Sydney’s pills; but then what kind of television character would he have made?   

Note:  Please do not misunderstand.  Comparing Sydney's behaviors to that of a silly fictional character is not meant to be ugly.  I love my little girl and she is a very valuable member of our family. 


  1. Sydney is blessed to have you as her mother as well as all of the rest of your family to love her. You are blessed through all you have learned from her and about her characteristics. You are able to share with thousands and maybe even millions someday who will learn from your experiences. Keep writing!

  2. Your description of Sydney and Ernest T Bass rings so familiar here. J is much the same: the impulsive giggle, the lack of impulse control, the boundless energy. he too is on meds to help calm him down. I really wish I could bottle some of his energy. Thank you for sharing this.