Since she was three years old, Frances has had an intense interest in all things medical 🏥. It shows up everywhere, especially at 11 years old.
The other day during March break, Frances announced, as she typically does (literally) in passing, what was on her mind:
“Mum, if someone were saying, ‘I can’t feel my face when I’m with you’ to me, I would say, ‘Stroke! You’re having a STROKE!’” 😂
Yes, one of the benefits of having a child who focusses so intensely on her subjects of interest is that you are fortunate enough to suddenly find yourself in the most entertaining (as well as enlightening) of conversations.
Recently, I was discussing with someone an event that had occurred while I was hospitalised last autumn and described the cautiousness that my care team had demonstrated regarding some cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary symptoms. Frances couldn’t help herself, she interrupted because she just had to know:
Did they give you TPA?
Did you hear, “Code Blue” over the loudspeaker?
Did anyone say, “Everyone to the resuscitation bay!”
She speaks now of becoming a surgeon which, I’ve told her, would probably allow her to continue her equestrian ambitions.
The weather here has been ridiculously cold. We’ve all bundled up under extra blankets for windchills in the -20s and -30s.
We’re approaching the end of January, and, unfortunately, Frances has been pretty sick for much of the month which has prevented her from enjoying the snow whenever it appeared.
In fact, my highly active, super-humanly energetic child has been lethargic and disinclined to do much besides watching her documentaries and playing iPad games.
She keeps asking, “Mummy, why do I feel so sick?”
Because it’s winter. Because it’s cold-and-flu season. Because the flu shot isn’t 100% effective, but it’s best to get one to lessen the impact of the flu. Because you’re young and you haven’t been exposed to many viruses. Because kids at school are sick…
And so unfolded our Thursday conversations throughout the day (once I returned from Pink Cup Sister’s appointments).
The good news on this particular Thursday is that I finally took the ornaments off the Christmas tree. I had been preparing Frances for this event for some time, but she was still a little shocked and perturbed as I carefully packed up our glass ornaments.
There is usually a meltdown when Christmas decorations slowly disappear throughout January, but Frances has done well.
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.
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’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.