Isn’t she pretty? This is Randa. She’s my first daughter, second-born. And she is extremely bright. She was diagnosed with Autism when she was 3 years old and all the professionals, doctors, experts, special-ed teachers discouraged me from teaching her Arabic and insisted I only teach her English so as not to confuse her. Idiots. Fortunately, I not only make it a habit to question authority, I usually defy it. You know, provided I’m not going to do any jail time as a result. We spoke to her in both English and Arabic just as we did her brothers and sister. I mean, how was she supposed to communicate with her father, for crying out loud?! He didn’t speak much English at the time she was born, although NOW he’s pretty proficient. At any rate, we figured she’s got developmental delays in speech anyway. What difference will it make? We didn’t know if she’d ever become verbal. Well, guess what! Randa is now 14 years old and she speaks, reads and writes in both Arabic and English. She is by no means at a 14-year-old proficiency level in either language. But she definitely knows how to get her point across. To be honest, she watches a lot of t.v. and uses the internet frequently. About three years ago, some guy across the street from us built this monstrosity of an apartment building that totally blocked out access to the satellite dish signal. So we went for a whole summer with no t.v. While the fighting levels went down, I noticed Randa spent a lot of time in my room laughing her head off. After a couple of days, I figured out why but chose not to share her secret. Everytime she would laugh loudly and attract the attention of her siblings to the point they’d open the door and go in, Randa would slap off the monitor and say, “Get out!”
Well, the child had seen me google a couple of times on-line and, being the genius that she is,
she started doing searches for YouTube uploads of Tom and Jerry cartoons. She knew that if the other kids knew what she was up to, they’d have me enforce the “everybody gets a 15-minute turn” rule and her cartoon time would be cut by four-fifths.
Randa’s speech is primarily picked up by repetetion in films, cartoons, remarks that her family members make, songs and books. She even surprises us by the appropriate insertion of some bizarre one-liners. Remarkably they’re also delivered with just the right amount of inherited “smart ass” from my side of the family. Here are some of her “sitcom moments:”
1. In Dallas, while visiting my sister’s home, Randa walked into the kitchen while my brother-in-law, David was busy at the stove. He said hello to her and she responded with, “Hey, Baby! Are you a fallen angel?”
2. While my mom was visiting us in Egypt last year, Randa caught her in the kitchen and with all seriousness said, “Hey, Toots. What’s for dinner?”
3. Ismail was teasing Randa mercilessly one day and Mohamed and I fussed at him several times. Finally I asked him point blank, “WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?” Randa answered for him, “Ismail’s JACK ASS!” Mohamed sprayed coffee out his nose.
4. This past summer, I was taking the kids from our home by the beach into downtown Alexandria to visit their cousins and Randa was extremely tired and started to cry. We were on the bus and people kept staring at us and asking what’s wrong. Finally, after 15 minutes I turned to her and asked, frustrated, “Do you think you can stop crying sometime today?” And she sniffled and then patted my hand like I’m a moron and said, “Maybe later, Dear.”
5. About four nights ago, I was falling asleep when I heard Randa yell, “Oh, man!” So I asked her what was wrong and she said, “Stupid computer.” So I asked if she would like me to fix it for her and she deepened her voice a bit and replied, “Why, yes, my juicy dream girl!” Oh, the incontinence due to laughter! (No, really.)
Randa has taught me so much over the years….patience, love, tolerance, the ability to ignore rude people and lots of laughter and lightheartedness! She brightens my life daily.

One thought on “Bright Spots in My Day Today 2

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