I often feel as if I am in a Quentin Tarantino movie. Our household (long ago coined "the House of Dysfunction") is a bubbling cauldron of high voltage drama, peppered with scatological and sexual verbiage. My teenage son with Asperger's, like Tarantino's characters, engages in nonstop oration, talk that is intense and longwinded, much like the circumlocutions you hear in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.
What would it be like for me to parachute into neurotypical family life? Would I find it soothing or dull, now that I have become accustomed to life on steroids? I was recently chatting on the phone with my best friend, Becky. As usual, my attempts at a light-hearted evening catch up were constantly interrupted by my son's non-stop queries ("When will we start revising non-renewable energy sources?","Can I please have another glass of sparkling water?", "Who in our family would last longest in a prison camp?"). My son's interrogation was then eclipsed by the eruption of a full-blown fight between my kids. This is how it goes: son starts playing Ice Cube rap music, daughter (unable to concentrate on Latin homework) shrieks at son, son lunges at daughter, daughter tells son that he is a monster who belongs in jail, distraught mother implodes (throwing today's newspaper across the kitchen and inadvertently hitting cat). Son, oblivious to the mayhem around him, continues gyrating to aforementioned Ice Cube track.
In a nutshell, I live life in the fast lane.
So, I called Becky back this evening, trying to resume our conversation after peace had returned and after the cat extricated herself from the business section of the Times. Becky has kids too. "Why do I never hear them in the background when we chat on the telephone?" I asked.
"Oh, they're busy. They are having such fun, playing in a large cardboard box!" Becky responded. PLAYING IN A CARDBOARD BOX. I conjure up an image of her son and daughter, all glossy hair and big brown eyes, placidly frolicking and giggling in their damn box. Sweet. I then imagine my son and daughter in a cardboard box, the box tipping over as they wrestle each other with jagged nails and piercing shrieks, battling to the death. It's "The Hunger Games" meets "Family Guy".
I hate people whose kids play serenely in boxes. I will forgive Becky because she was already my friend when I discovered that her children were perfect. Like an insurance company that reimburses for pre-existing conditions, I will turn a blind eye to my "already-friends" with seemingly flawless children. But I do prefer to spend time among those who, like I, live on the edge.
I still remember a moms' coffee morning I attended when my daughter was just 5 years old. About a dozen of us mothers were gathered around an expensively distressed farmhouse table in a pretend-shabby-but-obviously-posh Hampstead house. I couldn't stop humming the "Fireman Sam" theme song.
"Isn't it irritating," I asked a circle of mothers, "how these television songs stick in your heads?"
My exclamation met with utter silence.
Apparently, only my children watched TV after school. One mother smiled at me with a mixture of pity and resignation. "My daughter's biggest thrill," she explained, "is when our weekly organic vegetable basket is delivered. It's so lovely to watch her play with the rutabagas and the beetroot."
We moved to Wimbledon soon after.
What is my point in this blog?
I am loud.
My kids are loud.
We often behave inappropriately.
My kids watched TV as children. Interestingly, they do not much anymore.
My children have never played with root vegetables, nor in cardboard boxes.
My cat is afraid of me.
"Ah, So... The plot thickens..."
Now who is sounding like the character in a Tarantino film?