Frances has officially finished Grade 5. Her report card was excellent, and her teacher described her as “witty and sassy and delightful.”
Frances’s teacher and I actually discussed my child’s humour which she described as dry beyond her years. It often does catch me (and her teacher) off guard.
Take, for instance, the other evening. Frances and I were watching one of our favourite documentaries about a specific tornado — which she takes very seriously — when, during the segment of interviews with people who experienced the destructive event, her brows furrowed and she asked:
“Why do they keep putting ‘Survivor’ under their names? It’s not as if they could have used dead people…”
I’m so glad I wasn’t eating at that moment because I would have choked!
Anyway, she truly meant no disrespect — it was merely that the editing of the video had struck her as illogical and, therefore, funny.
And, well, I am still laughing…😂
Frances is completely entranced by this show (Brain Games) on Netflix. She wants to watch it before school, after school, and at bedtime, and we have agreed that the show meets our definition of a documentary series.
Frances: What have we DONE to this planet?!
She has learned a great deal about the earth through her love of documentaries and reading.
Frances discovered Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting this morning on Netflix.
She found his mellow voice and unquestionably effectual techniques quite soothing, and asked, “Would this count as a documentary?”
While technically not a documentary, I agreed to her watching it at bedtime because it has such an hypnotic effect on her. Bob Ross is good for anxiety!
I had never considered this show as a possible means of helping her get to sleep. But, yes — Bob!
(For a reminder or to learn about this laidback painter and his show (1983-1994) go here.)
Frances’s preferred documentary topics are diverse. Each topic’s phase is quite intense, lasting anywhere from weeks to months, during which period she learns a great deal.
It also means that I learn a great deal, too, because, after all, I am with her as she watches her docs.
Before Frances had come along, I couldn’t have told you what a terrapin is, how cute meerkats are, or what are the specific fertility issues afflicting the giant panda. I had no idea how wonderfully diverse architecture in the US and Canada can be, from where the Crown Jewels originate, or how many people on the planet have primordial dwarfism type II.
Of course, having children in and of itself is a learning process, but there’s just so much more to learn when Frances is nearby.
One of our main concerns is the issue of sleep. Despite her strict bedtime routine, sleep is difficult. (As in all things, predictability and knowing what to expect is key for our girl.)
In fact, just about every ASD parent with whom I have spoken has said the same: bedtime is a big issue. (I write this after a particularly long night.)
Over the years, we have had great difficulty both in getting Frances to sleep and getting her to sleep through the night. It still takes many hours (up to five) though staying asleep has gradually become more manageable this year.
For many years, watching a documentary of her choosing has been a strict part of Frances’s bedtime routine. While watching documentaries may not be considered typical for either a child who has ASD or a child who does not, it is my understanding that the rigidity of routines can be.
With this, I post an example of what a rigid routine could look like. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, in our case, Frances wakes, crying, in the middle of the night if she falls asleep before the documentary is over.
I’ve really enjoyed capturing these and other moments — many of our moments — through every age. In the following panel, she has just fallen asleep before the film’s end, and she is six years old.
Her bedtime routine is very strictly followed, and must include watching one of her favourite documentaries. If she should fall asleep before the end of the documentary, she will wake in the middle of the night crying that she hadn’t watched it. (In this panel, she is five years old.)