Archive for August, 2010

Today makes 10

It’s been 10 days of fasting now. I have not missed any even though Mum overslept once and we missed sahur (meal before sunrise). That day was a tough one. The oh-so-hot weather didn’t help either. Mum felt so bad about it but I told her that I understand. She said if I can’t handle it it’s okay to break my fast. But it’s not okay with me to give up…. and I didn’t. So she cooked a grand meal as a reward and more than made it up to me. I ate till I could barely move. Now that’s not such a good idea cos prayers required much bending and kneeling. Needless to say I was groaning with each effort but nobody minded.

Last weekend I had a fun sahur with my family and a load of cousins. They took me to a 24-hour McDonald’s. So there I was eating a GBC at 3 o’clock in the morning in a restaurant FULL OF PEOPLE! You’d never guess it was in the middle of the night. Completely different from my healthy sahur meal of cereal, bread and a 2-0z shot of Vemma vitamin. Later that evening I wanted to break fast at Burger King but Mum said No Way Jose will she eat at two fast food restaurants on the same day. I don’t get it. What’s not to like about that?

Last evening I reminded Mum August 31st was coming soon.  She asked “What about it? Do you want to watch the National Day Parade?”

My parent's 25th Anniversary

Uh, nooo. I meant it’s a special day (Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary) so we should eat out at a nice restaurant. See, that’s the way I always start a conversation when I am planning something in my head. I point out a date, an event or very often I ask a question which I already know the answer to. For some reason some people find this quite annoying. They ask in exasperation “why do you ask a question when you already know the answer to it!!?”. I don’t know. I just do. That’s MY way. The way I see it, the sooner everyone accepts it, the better. So there.

“He who asks qu estions cannot avoid the answers” – Cameroon proverb


Wish you could ride a bicycle ? If you’re like Haziq, with a balancing problem that makes riding a gargantuan task then read on. Here’s a temporary solution for balance-challenged folks like yourselves. Use your imagination says Spongebob and this creative chap below.

Spongebob: With…imagination (makes a rainbow with his hands) ..I can be anything I want! A pirate! Arr! A football player! Hutt
Patrick: A starfish!
Squidward: Patrick, you’re already a starfish.
Patrick: See, Squidward? It works! You try!

I'm using my imagination. Pedal faster, faster

With a little help from my friends

I get by with a little help from my friends

Mum showed this picture to me, thinking I might get a little kick out of it. At first I just stared at it and then I realized Mum was playing tricks with me and I laughed. She decided to include this photo in today’s blog since it tickled my funny bone. Mum often asks me to look at stuff just to test my reaction. You see, I often display inappropriate reaction/behavior and she’s trying to fine tune me to the world so that I get to be more socially accepted. For example, I would laugh when someone vomits. Yeah I know…I’ve been told it’s NOT funny. My family used to cringe during movies cos I laughed at all the wrong (as in not funny) parts like the old man getting being beaten by a bully. Last week I laughed at someone who fell down hard while ice-skating. My sister was so upset with my insensitivity even though I apologized repeatedly.  The visual messages get scrambled in my brain, autism kicks in gear and produces the “wrong” response. That’s the simplest way I can explain it.

For the longest time I did not did not possess any sense of humor (which is totally different from the act of laughing).  Now I “get it” once in a while but most things just fly right over my head. Thank God for cartoons. It’s funny when Wile.E Coyote gets crushed by a boulder while chasing Roadrunner even though it must hurt crazy bad. I can laugh whenever I want cos almost every part is funny. No guessing game for me there. In the meanwhile I have to brace myself for more of Mum’s sensitivity training and remember not to laugh at a photo of a shark attack no matter how funny that seemed in Finding Nemo and Shark Tale. Bear with me. I’ll get by with a little help from my friends.

What do I do when my life goes astray
(Does it worry you to be alone)
How do I feel by the end of the day
(Are you sad because you’re on your own)
No, I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, gonna to try with a little help from my friends
– The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1967

My fast track to Fasting

I breezed through my first day of Ramadhan, the fasting month. Yesterday I led the family in reading the doa buka puasa. What a far cry from the days of training. Then I could not understand the no food, no drink policy from sunrise till sunset no matter how thoroughly Mum explained the concept. I gave her a hard time. Mum never gave up. When I got older I kinda understood what was expected but it was a more of a follow-by-example exercise. She cooked special foods for “those who fast” and those who did not had dinner a whole hour after they were done. That sucks. She  showered praises and affectionate hugs for “those who fast”.  It got to a point where I could not bear to be in the “did not fast” camp. Even then I kept forgetting and would absent-mindedly open the fridge and reach out for something. Mum had to practically follow me like a shadow to make sure I keep to my fast. She would swoop from behind and grab the food or drink inches from my mouth. Picture this … eagle snatching a chicken just outside the coop. That’s how it felt like.

When she left the house she put everyone on sentry duty to keep an eye on me. I don’t recall when I began to understand my religious obligation but I remember completing a whole month of fasting at the age of 11 years. It’s not a big deal cos most kids accomplish that at a much younger age but for me it was a milestone in broadcast to the whole family. When I was fasting while living in Florida it really amazed my teachers and classmates. They thought me “awesome”. Actually it was even easier over there with its cool weather and early sunset at 5pm meant shorter fasting hours.

Yesterday brother was not with us for the first time. I know I’m not the only one who misses him even though I’m the only one who said it out loud. Looking forward to breaking fast with Irsyad tomorrow even if its only for 2 days. Got to go set the table soon and Mum needs help with the dishes so bye for now and wishing everyone a Selamat Buka Puasa.

“Prayer carries us half way to God, fasting brings us to the door of His palace, and alms-giving procures us admission.” – The Quran

What’s in a name?

Thanks Aunty Anisah for that Islamic Names link that lets me see the meaning of my name. I was told my name meant pandai, clever. Yesterday Mum let me key in my name and it read –  Intelligent, Skillful. I decided I liked this meaning much, much better after Mum explained the word skillful. It was spelled Haaziq though – very much like how Mum calls me when she’s demanding my attention to something (don’t blame her… I drift easily). Well, it’s still my name and I like it.

People may not think of me as intelligent or skillful. Yeah maybe I don’t know a few big words and yeah I struggle 10 minutes just to put on my ice-skates every Tuesday but did you read my post (Dad keeps his promise, Aug 3rd ) on the trip to the zoo?. My sister also liked the meaning of her name – Rare, Unique. I don’t know what’s so rare about her. All I know is that she rarely folds her clothes until I’m in her face. Mum tried her name too but found it didn’t mean much – Nature, Habit. ???. I think secretly she was hoping to see something like Wonderful, Captivating. Not satisfied, she typed in her other name. Oddly, she does have two names, one officially documented and one which every relative and family member calls her. Anyway, what did that other name reveal? – Noble origin, Pure. Ooooh this one she likes! She used to joke with Dad that she probably came from a long bloodline of Minangkabau princesses and that explains why she doesn’t like to toil in the kitchen. Princess or not, I know in my Mother’s eyes I am as noble as a prince.

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.– Confucius

You think I’ve got problems? Meet Winnie,Tigger & gang

So you think I’ve got PROBLEMS?

Wait till you meet the rest of my friends from The Hundred Acre Wood.

I'm in good company

If it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it

Haziq is taking a break so today I am writing in the capacity of Haziq’s mother. I was asked to share my experience on bedtime discipline.

The most common sense thing is no sugar intake hours before bedtime. Haziq was put on a sugar-free, no preservatives, no artificial coloring/flavoring, diet since he was diagnosed at 2.5 years old so this was no problem. No problem meant he couldn’t get access to sugary stuff at home but we still had big problems keeping him away from sugar when out in public. Allow only short afternoon naps. Make preparation for bedtime a regular series of events e.g a bath, change into pyjamas, make a big show of looking at the clock and announcing the time (never mind if he didn’t know how to tell time). Before that, ensure room is cool and blinds drawn. For us, saying goodnight at the bottom of the stairs was a happy, kissing, waving event….. but no last-minute tickling games. The operative word here is CALMNESS.

He gets into the crib and is rewarded with his favorite night toy. A toy which is made available only during bedtime. Then comes the most important part. Put on classical, baroque music. The same CD every single night until he recognizes his ‘sleep music’. I may have lost some readers here. What’s baroque did you say? Baroque music expresses order yet it is always tuneful. In my CD the first song was Vivaldi’s  The Four Seasons which is actually four concertos, combined into a concert. This same CD served its purpose for all my 3 children so much so that till today I am unable to listen to this music without falling asleep.

I got the above tip from Haziq’s progressive doctor, Dr. Kadir. Please remember that this was the pre-Internet era. We were starving for information about this thing called autism. When Haziq was first diagnosed I was directed to The Lutheran Church’s library for reading material. They were generous enough to allow a Muslim woman become a member. It was from their 3 library books that I devoured all knowledge of autism. If I ever run for politics I have to ensure my membership to the church is never revealed. LOL.

Lastly, say goodnight, put the baby monitor on and leave the room. Yes I said leave the room (we played games with the baby monitor so he knows he can be heard). If he gets up at night just give water which quickly bores him and gets him back to sleep. Certainly there were nights when all this didn’t work but they were infrequent. Even normal kids give parents a hard time so this part of the training was very significant in terms of time, effort and creativity. However, once regulated he went to sleep like clockwork and I got my much-needed rest. Well worth it.

Sorry about such a long post but I hope to be of help. Lastly, an old orchestra joke, “If it ain’t baroque, don’t fix it.”

I’m sorry Dad

Today is a BAD day. This morning I fought with Dad. Actually I went into a complete rage. I tried to hit and kick my Dad. He was shocked. I have not lost control like this for a very long time. I let myself step off the edge and plunge into that black hole. I see the disappointment on Mum’s face. I hang my head low. I am ashamed.

All is calm now. My face is no longer red and my hands have stopped shaking. Dad and I have cooled down and made up. He tells me to get ready to go to the barber. That’s what the fight was about. He promised me a haircut.

*a note from Haziq’s Mum – Dad admits it was mostly his fault. Yesterday he promised to take Haziq to the barber at 10.00am and did not keep to it. Worse, he started to scold Haziq for disturbing him. One thing led to another and tempers flared. A word of advice; keep your promises to your children. You are the whole world to them. They cannot bear to be let down by people they look up to in life. Doesn’t matter how trivial the matter. Nothing promised is trivial to children …especially to special children.

Mum’s birthday

Happy Birthday Mum. I wish her joyously the moment I wake up. She really laughed when I told her what I wanted to buy as a present. What’s so funny about stilettos? Mum says that’s the last thing she needs! I thought all women would want those? I guess not. Next “how about a necklace?”. Mum says no, she can make one herself if she wanted. That’s true. Our dining table is full of her jewelry stuff like pliers, wire, beads, crystals. She says she needs a studio for her hobby but I don’t know where to buy a studio. I suggested ” an evening gown?” Mum says she’s got nowhere to go that requires an evening gown. Boy, this is harder than I thought. After 10 minutes of hard thinking and lots of suggestions, she at last agreed on a lipstick and hair clip. Phew I’m relieved.

Then I realized she did not say where we’d be going for her birthday dinner. We go to a nice restaurant every year so why is Mum quiet about it? Perhaps she needs suggestions? I rattle off a number of my favorite restaurants …TGIF, American Chili’s, Bubba Gump? Everything was met with a No. She wants to go to nenek’s (grandma) house and have a nice tea party with family. I try to suggest more ‘grown-up’ restaurants like Tony Roma’s and Marche. It’s still No and she’s getting a bit annoyed. O.K here it comes….the..LECTURE. Listen Haziq,  just because we do the same thing every year it doesn’t mean we can’t change it. Change is good. I nod my head. Not so much in agreement but in resignation.

So off to nenek’s house. Maybe my aunty Cik Gee will bring that chicken fajita in pita bread that I love so much. Or Uncle Martin’s salad with the special sauce -his own recipe. Kids don’t usually like vegetables but we 3 children love vegetables since young (used to make other mothers wonder). We’ll put up photos tomorrow. I’ll include one of my nenek who is a healthy 83 but looks younger than her age. Nenek has a special bond with me. She tells Mum that I am anak syurga, a child from Heaven and to remember that whenever Mum feels down. Thank God for grandmothers.

Dad keeps his promise.

Dad took me to the zoo. He kept his promise. I told him “I feel better”. He laughed  and apologized at the same time. The night before I looked for my zebra print tee-shirt and carefully hung it beside my bed. In the morning I watched the clock. At 9 a.m sharp I tell Dad to stop work or we’ll be late. Mum and cousin Kak Lin also came along. From the moment we parked we could hear the siamang (gibbon) making their unique, loud territorial sounds. I joined in. Mum went to buy tickets and realized that she if she had brought along my OKU (orang kurang upaya) card I could have entered for free. She doesn’t ever carry that card with her because she doesn’t like a reminder of what my ‘label’ is. Kak Lin took charge of the camera and diligently photographed any animal that I got excited about… which was pretty much all of them. I was like a kid in a candy store.

It’s odd that normal folks don’t know the most basic thing about animals. I mean our conversation would be something like this;

Kak Lin: ” look a llama”. Me: “NO, its a guanaco”. Kak Lin:”huh? what’s a guanaco?”  Me: Sigh . . .

Mum: “there’s a wallaby”. Me: “NO, its a pademelon”. Mum: “a whaat?” Me: “Pade…melon, a kind of wallaby”

Then they (except Dad) would go to the info board to check if I was right. Dad says why bother, I’m always right about animals. After awhile they stopped naming the animals and just asked me to identify them (while they took quick sneaks at the info board). Oh by the way, I can also mimic the animal sounds. How good am I? Good enough to make Kak Lin’s mouth gape open in amazement. Mum makes me watch the camels. She stresses ‘See how the camel chews its food?’ I replied ‘Yes but the real name is dromedary. It has only one hump”. Mum glares. I’m missing the point. Viewing the tiger, puma, lion and leopard was exciting alright but I spent the most amount of time watching the deers. Mum doesn’t understand what it is about them that appeals to me so much.

Check out the photo below of me ‘petting’ a giraffe. We had burgers for lunch at The Wild Restaurant and made a stop at the souvenir shop before we left. Kak Lin asked me to chose something. I chose a Zoo Negara mug with pictures of apes. Thanks! As we got into the car I realized that we had missed the Aquarium and told Dad “Please come again”. He said “We’ll see”. I don’t know what that means so I ask a bit too anxiously . . . .When? . . . . .When? (again). Mum makes a disgruntled sound. I stop. I know what THAT sound means. It means to stop pestering before I ruin a perfectly good day. I do this a lot apparently without realizing it.

However, as I get older I learn to check myself before I cross that threshold of no return – the point where I exhaust my mother’s patience and she issues me a final warning to STOP or I will not (do/go/have) whatever-it-is again for a long time. One thing I can tell you about Mum. She does what she says and she says what she does. It’s this no-nonsense firmness that has taught me discipline. In the early days I threw tantrums and rolled on the floor if I did not get my way. She would physically drag me away while people watched, shaking their heads amidst whispers of what a bad mother she is. Some say she’s too harsh. Mum calls it hard love. It’s the strongest kind of love there is.

*P.S Mum says she doesn’t want to be the mother that’s always searching for the child who’s constantly wandering off or having to coax a child to go to sleep every single night. I stick by Mum’s side (except that time I got lost at Animal Kingdom, Orlando) and I have slept on my own since I was three years old, at a regular time. How did she manage this? Ok this surely requires a new post.

Imagine petting a giraffe. A reticulated giraffe to be exact.

Having a good time at the Savannah