Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Vive le difference!

Do you remember the old Coneheads skit on Saturday Night Live? It involved a family of aliens from another planet who were trying to assimilate on Earth. Whenever they did something that was clearly not typical human behavior (like, drink battery acid) and were met with puzzlement from their human neighbors, they would explain it away by saying "We are from France," as though any American would instantly understand that the French are just different and no further explanation would be needed. And it never was.

Well, "France" has been shorthand in our house for "autism spectrum disorders and related syndromes, and other autistic-like behavior" for a long time - before, in fact, Bud had a diagnosis. For example, when he was just a toddler and we'd have an adult friend over to visit whom Bud liked, he would take them by the hand to the floor in front of the couch, where he would have lined up his Teletubbies dolls, face down (because they were sleeping, we think), and (without using any words) pull our guest down until he or she was prone on the floor next to Bud, both of their faces buried in the Tubbies. It was a rite of passage clearly reserved for his inner circle, and it left our friends amused but bewildered. It was at times like those that one of us would look at the other and say, "He's from France."

It is now a part of our everyday vocabulary and on several occassions I've found myself making similar references in this blog that I've had to edit out. I think it's just easier to set the context and free myself from needless editing. It's honestly gone far beyond "He's from France." Actual conversations in our home include statements like this:

"Bud met a fellow Frenchman at the park today."

"I think their daughter might be from France. Or maybe southern France. Or at least an island off the coast of France."

"Bud had a really French day at school."

"Wouldn't it be nice if the people moving in across the street had a child from France? Or, at least, one who was fluent in French? Or even interested in foreign exchange?"

So, you see how this gets pervasive (and then we wonder where Bud gets the perseverative stuff... actually my husband is quite sure he's got a lot of French blood himself.)

I do need to say that these comments are never made in a mocking sort of way. We embrace Bud's French heritage; we admire his panache; we revel in his joi de vivre; and we always have the utmost respect for his je ne sais quois.

14 comments:

gwuinifer said...

*grin* your posts are always worth waiting for.

did you stop the ritalin yet?

Amanda Sue said...

that is hilarious! what a funny way to explain his behavior.

so what do French fries and French toast taste like?

Anonymous said...

This is brilliant. I am absolutely going to implement this in my house!

PDDNOS Mom said...

I love that...in my family we say "he's/she's from Barcelona" - which is a reference to the silly bellman (I think that's what he was) from Fawlty Towers, an old British comedy that starred John Cleese. But I understand completely what you mean. I'm a mom of a 14 y/o with PDDNOS, a fairly normal 11 y/o daughter with ADHD, and a 3 y/o son with developmental delays and some Asperger-like traits (loves order and lines things up) but is otherwise very verbal and socially related. Hang in there!

Octoberbabies said...

I remember reading this when you wrote it and I actually thought of you and Bud when I used my French analogy! I haven't yet made friends with anyone with kids from France in my neck of the woods which is bizarre considering I'm in NYC and she goes to a school with about 300 other French kids!!!

Sezz said...

ROFL. Well we actually live on an Island off France. Although now you mention it Harry was better at speaking French than English at mainstream nursery!! Another great blog entry.

Susan Senator said...

Oui!!!!
Je comprends tout.
--Suzanne

kirsten said...

love it - think he might be confused when he actually meets someone from france one day? :)

kirsten said...

thinking about that some more - reminds me of the AUT sticker i saw at a fundraiser the other day. like the ones that say SWE for sweden, etc. black type in a white oval. they sold out before i could get one. autism does seem a nationality sometimes!

Natalia said...

i always say something to my husband like "ahi va un primo nuestro" (there goes a cousin of ours) or "primito" if that's a kid...

and sorry, but the vord werification is very poetic today:
"aaqzqaa"

Phoebe Gleeson said...

You really made me laugh!

My son is hyperlexic, undx, somewhere on the spectrum. We always say "Ah, see, that's how they do things on his planet."

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Perfect! Families need these codes!

sknittymama said...

Thank you for this post, which I am just coming upon! I absolutely love the humor and kindness of this, and how it de-medicalizes the way our children can be, and transforms it to a broader perspective that all people have differences, especially the French! Just kidding ; ) But, seriously, I love the idea of this becoming spectrum code and am going to start using this reference myself. I like it so much better than saying that he's quirky, probably because I love humor that isn't transparent and that you have to be in the know to get.

Anonymous said...

lol.. french descendent here and I have LMAO so funny!