I completely forgot to record that Ardeetha watched an entire film. That’s, like, all the way through, guys!
Ardeetha, for anybody coming in late, is not her real name, but, if you’ve ever seen Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bay in the 1999 version of The Mummy, a character who took delight in travelling strapped to the wing of a Sopwith Camel*, you’ll understand why we nicknamed her after him; in her earlier years, Ardeetha was a real white-knuckle-ride girl, although she seems to have finally grown out of that, I’m sad to say. She seemed to be following in my own lunatic footsteps until she become A Lot Taller than anybody else in her class and lost her head for heights. Come to think though, I had the same problem and outgrew, or at least overcompensated for, it so there’s hope yet.
Anyway. Our ‘deetha is seven, blonde, tall for her age, and located well within the bounds of the Autistic spectrum. A movie’s-worth of attention is unprecedented.
So, background aside and on with the story. It was Friday, 25th of March, 2016 – actually my brother’s birthday, but it might just be celebrated as Ardeetha Attention Day around here from now on. Ardeetha decided that she’d start the first day of the Easter holidays by choosing to wear her Princess Anna dress** from the movie Frozen and Mrs. B. suggested that it might be a good to watch the DVD which has been sitting in readiness for the day when concentration and comprehension combined and Ardeetha could really appreciate what was going on; the average child, by the way, is capable of this level of concentration at four or five at least, so Ardeetha’s sticking to her own rate of about two years behind the curve, educationally, even if she’s four years ahead, height-wise.
Ardeetha agreed that she’d give the thing a try and I sat with her, expecting to get no further than end of the opening credits or, maybe, to the end of the first decent song, but we sat. We watched. We Formed A Heap (that’s where she lolls comfortably over you – comfortably for her that is). With prompting, she booed the real bad guy, although she might not have quite understood why, and then, uniquely, and I mean that as a ‘one of a kind’ moment, we got to the end of the film! Amazing. Alarming. Outstanding. Charming.
Previously, the best Ardeetha has ever done with a film is about forty minutes, and we were borderline stunned by that.
Ardeetha did watch Frozen a couplathree times over the next day or two, but may have got past it now; she hasn’t watched it in the last couple of days at Grandma & Grandpa’s, but she’s becoming highly situationally aware – that is, ‘I don’t do this sort of thing here because I do it over there‘. For example, yesterday, she was footstampingly, growlingly adamant that going to the zoo was NOT going to happen because she only goes to the zoo with Daddy (that’s me). We’ll have to see when she comes home from her visit, later today.
She’s Ardeetha. A trouble, yes, but a trouble who is learning that hugs and kisses bring major rewards – mostly because there’s been so few of them from her in the past. The trick is to savour everything positive, because clutching at straws is better than giving up and drowning in the sea of echolalia, repetitive singing, long quotes from short TV programmes, wandering attention and tired grumpiness.
Yes, this is a small story. A girl watches a film. So what? But it’s our girl, for whom it’s a big, big step. A step that may, one day soon, open up the possibility of such a small thing as going to the cinema – something which Mrs. B. and I haven’t done in years, by the by – we’re out of the habit – but something which I’d always expected to do with my child, just like my father did with me. His choice in films might just have been based on his own tastes, as I got older, after all he was a film buff: it was cruel to make him sit through too many Disney offerings. However, we shared some pretty good films I’d never have seen, otherwise – but that’s another story.
While I think about films, I want to mention the oddness that is accents in Frozen. It’s set (unusually specifically for Disney) in 1840s Norway, but the only person with a nominally Norwegian accent is some guy off in the hills, he’s named Oaken, Mrs. B. tells me, who runs a trading post (and sauna). Why did they bother? Then again, what accent would you have given a Norwegian shopkeeper? Accents are odd things; it took me until I read the subtitles to realise that Princess Anna was Princess Anna and not Princess Honour. Or at least ŏ-nuh. Ah, what am I fussing about? It’s Disney. With Disney, suspend not only belief but reality and racial inclusiveness (well, they are miners of European fairy tales, after all) and just enjoy the cute songs.
I’m glad they never got their hands on Lord Of The Rings, hey?
*It’s a biplane, by the way, and not an airborne ungulate.
**Ardeetha makes a fair Princess Anna. Princess Elsa is far too white-blonde and angular and, let’s face it, icy, to match Ardeetha’s looks or personality, whereas Anna is only slightly more strawberry*** in her strawberry-blondeness than Ardeetha and is a freckled nutcase; Ardeetha is a cheerful combination of fruit’n’nut in her own right, so the character is, if not made for her, then a good fit off the peg.
***People mostly agree on Anna’s hair being strawberry, but whether it’s strawberry blonde, strawberry brown or just plain strawberry is becoming, ah hah, a rotten tomato.