Well, in sticking with my usual Ramadan traditions, breakfast was LATE on the first night this year, too. I had big plans, people. BIG plans. We had the dates soaking in milk for about 13 hours. We had freshly made mango juice. We had hummous and baba ghanouj and I even remembered to have my husband bring bread home with him…because I always forget it. We had the coffee pot set up and ready to brew. I had found a recipe for making spiral-cut parmesan baked potatoes and had them ready to go. I had pulled the ribeyes out of the freezer before noon to thaw and since it was 40 billion degrees outside, I decided we’d grill them in the oven instead of any of that charcoal grill nonsense. And I made Brussels sprouts. I should have gone with the charcoal grill.
The stupid meat would not freaking cook. They’re steaks. I’ve made them at least 4000 times in my life time. WHY? What gives? The physics in my oven just decided to go on strike? AUGH! I don’t know what was going on there….but it was terrible. We had all the sides and juices and salads. But no meat until 9:00 when they finally finished cooking. And they were terrible. I was so sad that, of all the traditions, being late with dinner on the first night of Ramadan was the one that I managed to keep. *sigh* Oh, well.
Today I took the meat out of the freezer at 10 a.m. I’m going to start cooking at 3 p.m. And all I’ll have left 40 minutes or so before the sundown is to make a pot of rice and to turn the coffeepot on. Now if I could just remember this lesson on the first night of Ramadan 1439, I’ll be in good shape.
Walking through a supermarket, the severely Autistic person wears gun-range headphones to help block excess noise to protect her highly sensitive hearing from the overwhelming barrage of clanking, banging, muzak, baby cries, squeaky buggy wheels and blips and bloops from cash registers. A woman getting over a cold coughs into her elbow, and the Autistic person’s face grows dark. Her mother notices the scowl and the wincing on her non-verbal daughter’s face. She puts the Cheerios back on the shelf and grabs her daughter’s hands and softly speaks into her face, “Poor lady. She’s sick. Sick people cannot help coughing, honey. It’s okay.”
The mom gently guides her daughter from the cereal aisle and the cussing begins followed by screaming and crying. “Ears hurt! STUPID WOMAN!” People begin to stare. Some people whisper and make angry faces. The screaming continues while the mom gives deep pressure hugs and wipes away tears, speaking gently about good choices and soft voices.
An angry woman walks by with her nearly full buggy with the squeaky wheel and stops to SHUSH! the girl. The mother spins around on her heel and tells the woman she is out of line. “You should shut her up! It’s incredibly rude to the other shoppers for her to be throwing a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket! What is she? Retarded?”
“First, she’s got Autism and she is in distress, NOT that we owe you an explanation. A tantrum is a fit thrown in order to get what one wants. This is an Autistic Meltdown which is brought on by environmental situations. What makes them continue is rude judgmental people like you! Secondly, this is Kroger. If you want quiet, go to the fucking library!” The mother turns her back on the sputtering woman, who has now become just another bit of background noise. The girl continues to cry and loudly repeat the same line from her favorite movie, as though stuck on a loop.
The store manager walks up and smiles. He knows the woman and the daughter, as they are regular shoppers here. He asks if everything is all right. The woman nods that it is. The girl notices the manager’s very large mustache and points at his face. “It’s big whiskers!” she says, wiping away her tears. The man laughs and agrees that they are. The girl smiles and says, “Bye. Come on, Mommy. It’s Cheerios.” The mom grabs the hand of her 20-year old girl and mouths a quick thank you over her shoulder to the manager. She returns to the cereal aisle and adds the Cheerios to the buggy while the girl happily pushes beside her.
Randa and Samiya and I went shopping today. We started at Aldi because they had milk on sale. (Oh, yeah.) And she was happy and energetic and laughing and helping push the buggy. Until we reached the third aisle. An elderly lady walked up to Randa and tapped her fingernail on the pink part of her noise-canceling earphones and said, “I like your headphones. Pink is a nice color.”
It was an innocent enough gesture. But what she didn’t realize was that Randa wears these to block noise from her head. When she hears loud noises it hurts her head terribly. It makes her ears throb and she will scream or run or hit or all of the above. Randa immediately responded with the usual Tourette Syndrome-like verbage: “Cut it out, you shit! Stop banging the earphones!” She raised a hand in a threatening manner.
I immediately grabbed both of Randa’s hands and told her, “Randa. It was an accident.” And then told the woman, “I’m sorry. My daughter is Autistic and has sensory overload issues. These headphones are actually noise-blockers and when you tap on the hollow part it hurts her very badly.” The woman apologized and hurried away from us. Samiya and I exchanged worried glances as Randa continued cussing…loudly.
We pushed our buggy to the cashier and Samiya took my keys and said to her big sister, “Hey, Randa. Would you like to come wait in the van with me? Please hold my hand so I don’t get lost in the parking lot.” Randa agreed and took her hand and led her sister to the parked van. I paid for our groceries and then rushed out to the van. I met the woman in the parking lot. I apologized for Randa cussing at her and explained that tapping on the hollow plastic is extremely painful. The woman asked me to apologize to Randa for her and said that she should have known better as she is a dentist and actually works with special needs kids. She had thought that she was listening to music. She smiled and thanked me for explaining and we left. So that was sort of our Austistic Fail for the day. But after that, we had a big, fat Autistic Win.
Samiya decided she wanted “supermarket sushi.” So we swung by another local supermarket that offers fresh sushi. I ran in and got a California roll and 2 eggrolls. I gave one to Randa and handed Sam the other along with her sushi. Randa snarfed down her eggroll and then said, “Ooh, sushi.” Sam offered her a piece…and. Randa. ate. it!
This is a HUGE thing for her. She’s been expanding her palate over the last two years….but SUSHI? HOLY CRAP. That’s 3 or 4 different tastes all rolled together which just….no. Never. I asked her if it was good and she said, “Yes. It’s good.” Sam offered her a second piece but Randa laughed and said, “No, thank you.”