But the Dutch People Keep Yelling at Me

12 04 2011

Most of my regular readers know I strongly suspect Big G has Asperger’s Syndrome. We have no formal diagnosis, because such things cost money. Lots and lots of money. Still, my gut tells me that my fantastic little boy falls somewhere on the very high-functioning end of the autism spectrum.

As you poke around the internet searching for information about Asperger’s and related issues, you often come across an analogy written by Emily Perl Kingsley called “Welcome to Holland.” As I don’t have permission to reproduce the entire essay here, I’ll sum it up: you’ve planned a trip to Italy. You get on the plane, but when the plane lands, the stewardess says “Welcome to Holland.” At that point you can whine and mope and focus on the fact that you were supposed to be in Italy, or you can embrace the beauty of Holland and enjoy your stay.

Now, I’m not saying this isn’t an appropriate metaphor for raising a special-needs child. I’m sure this story has provided comfort and understanding to many people. Still, there are some issues here that invite discussion (bearing in mind that I’m still at the very beginning of my trip to Holland, as it were).

Holland may have windmills, tulips, and Rembrandts, but the Dutch people keep yelling at you. Imagine strolling through the Rijksmuseum, absorbing the breathtaking genius of one of Europe’s greatest painters. You pause at The Night Watch:

Suddenly, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Somebody jumps out and starts yelling at you for no apparent reason. The moment is lost. Yes, Holland is lovely, but at the same time, profoundly unsettling.

Though you’ve managed to be lucky enough to land during the two month time period the world-famous gardens are open, your trip to Keukenhof

is spoiled by a rare downpour.

And that boat tour around Kinderdijk?

Yeah. Your boat sprung a leak and you spent the day in damp jeans and water-logged sneakers.

You get what I’m saying here, yes? It’s not that Holland isn’t a wonderful country or that your visit isn’t full of wonders galore—it’s just that everything is just a little bit, well…off. Even if you have a day filled with perfect weather, beauty, and peace, you’re still wondering if some sneaky Dutch person is hiding around the corner, waiting to yell at you.

This morning we got out of bed and, following our normal morning routine (as routine is very important ’round these parts), I changed Little G’s diaper and asked Big G to use the bathroom and change out of his pull-up and into underwear. Big G dawdled, so by the time he was done I’d already thrown away Little G’s diaper, which meant…dun dun duh…Big G had to throw his own pull-up in the garbage. I know. I’m so unreasonable.

In my imagination, this happens in Italy without a quarrel. Perhaps if an Italian is unhappy about this, he pouts or throws a small fit.

But this is not Italy. This is Holland, and my request (“Please put your pull-up in the garbage.”) is met with a meltdown of epic proportions. There is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. There is screaming. There is flinging of the aforementioned pull-up.

This goes on for twenty minutes, at which point the pull-up nails Little G in the head and, in a fit of desperate motherly inventiveness, I tell Big G he can put his pull-up in the garbage or have a time-out for bopping Little G in the head with it. Big G is not pleased, and he flails more vigorously—pegging me in the process. Now, I tell him, his time-out will be twice as long…or he can simply throw away the pull-up. He storms into the kitchen and throws away the offending object, stomps back into the living room, and then curls into a ball on the couch, pouting like a champ.

In Holland, this is not a bad morning. This is average, and I can deal with it.

There are moments of breathtaking beauty in Holland—I never want you to think otherwise. Big G is a funny, brilliant boy and I thank God every day that he’s my boy—but around every corner looms the specter of Italy; the knowledge that in an alternate reality, perhaps I wouldn’t have the random wooden clog chucked at my head.

Oh, Holland. Every day you break my heart. Where’s the travel agent who can sell me a ticket out of here?




7 responses

25 07 2011

thank you, had a rough day and a lot of rough days with my small dutchman lately. needed that humorous outlook.

29 04 2011
Diana the dutch Girl – Diandi | Spread Information

[…] But the Dutch People Keep Yelling at Me (likeswimming.wordpress.com) […]

13 04 2011

Love him. Accept him in all his current beauty…not trying to make him Holland OR Italy. Love always wins. (see Son-Rise Program….and no, I’m not a rep, nor do I have a child with any degree of autism…my child is deaf)

13 04 2011

You’re completely right. Holland is beautiful, but it’s also very stressful. I know how hard autism is. I have a cousin who is autistic, and as a nanny, I have worked with a couple of kids with asperger’s. It’s an intense ride, definitely not a relaxing vacation.

12 04 2011

Maybe it will be like a mission, and at the end of your stay you won’t want to come home??? I am sorry for the rough stretches. But I am glad that you can be open about it, and even find some humor.

12 04 2011

Great metaphor. You’re good at those.

12 04 2011

I just built on what was already there…but thank you. 🙂

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