Chapter 12: Desserts Spelled Backwards Is Stressed. And Vice Versa.
The last thing Red needed in the middle of her "crisis" (her husband being unexpectedly fired) was to get sick, but that's exactly what happened. (Is there ever a good time to get sick?) And although she had walking pneumonia, her instinct as a mom was to put the needs of others, especially her children, ahead of her own. Luckily, Black, being pragmatic and unemotional, knew the advice she was about to give her sister would initially seem counterintuitive, so included what she hoped would be a memorable analogy …
||You must be joking. Dr. Fields means well but doesn't understand that doing nothing is a luxury right now — not an option.|
||Well, "Wonder Woman," I think it is you that does not understand. It is not an option. It is a necessity. Let Nick handle things for a few days. Trust me, everyone will survive.|
||But there are so many things I need to do. Life doesn't stop just because I'm sick.|
||True. But the bottom line is that unless you take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of your family.|
||I understand the logic, but it's difficult for me to just stop and crawl into bed, as much as that's what I want to do. I feel like I'm letting the family down. I'm not trying to sound like "Wonder Woman," I'm just being honest.|
||Let me give you an analogy. If you were on an airplane with the girls and you lost altitude and the oxygen masks came down, would you put the mask on yourself first or the girls?|
||I'm not sure I feel up to one of your stupid quizzes.|
||Humor me. Answer the question.|
||OK. They say that adults should put their mask on first and then help their children, though I must admit I have never understood that since my instinct as a mom is to help my child first. Did I pass or fail?|
||Airline one, Red zero. The airline knows it is in the best interest of the child for the adult to be safe and secure. If the adult is not stable and calm, then helping a scared, helpless child is going to be extremely difficult.|
||Great. The next time I'm on an airplane and the oxygen masks fall down, I'll remember this conversation. But what exactly is the point you're trying to make? Maybe it's the fever, but I don't understand.|
||If you do not take care of yourself and you get sicker, then you will be of no use to anyone. For now, that means following doctor's orders and taking a few days to rest. But even after you get over this, you need to start taking some time for yourself to make sure that you stay healthy – both physically and mentally – so that you can be there for everyone that needs you. Get off the computer and climb into bed. Now! EOM|
FYI, EOM = Black uses EOM to indicate "end of message" ... in this case, to tell Red they've come to the end and there's nothing more to be said.
So, how many points for the word "scrabble"?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: One of the world's most famous, popular, and beloved board games is Scrabble, but for anyone that knows Red & Black, they might be surprised by a few things …
Or, maybe it's just one thing. You see, Red, the straight-A student who loves to read and has been known on more than one occasion to use, as the expression goes, a 50-cent word when a 5-cent word will do, has never, repeat never, played Scrabble. It's not that she's not familiar with the game, as she has both an adult and a children's version in her game closet. But she has never played Scrabble.
Black was shocked by this admission and wondered how this could be true. Could Red have witnessed Black's competitive playing (she's had boyfriends refuse to play Scrabble with her after experiencing how competitive she gets) and decided to avoid the conflict? So, Black took a more "educational" route,
You are almost 60 years old – how can you not have ever played Scrabble? Well, I think it is time. On the surface, Scrabble may seem like a game of luck, but it is actually about skills. Obviously, it requires vocabulary and spelling skills, but it also requires math and strategic thinking. Along the way, you develop an understanding of spatial relations and probability. As a mom, I bet you have been fine-tuning many of these skills for years.
Well, Red may not be as competitive as Black, but she was certainly intrigued, so began by finding the official Scrabble website (and was surprised that Black hadn't mentioned Hasbro now owned it) and initially was overwhelmed as it offered more than she'd ever need – or want – to know. But once she found the rules, Red calmed down as the premise is simple – score points by placing tiles, each with a single letter and point value, to form words using a crossword puzzle layout.
But now, Red regretted that she hadn't pulled out those versions collecting dust in the closet when her daughters were growing up, as she learned that Scrabble could be played in teams (although she's not sure she'd want to play against Black). It would have been such a great opportunity for them to teach and learn from each other. And have fun! So, she decided,
Over the years, there have been many games of Monopoly played, argued over, and champions declared. Scrabble would have been a great addition, but I can't change the past. However, I think a good way to celebrate National Scrabble Day is to teach an old dog new tricks … and that would be me. I'm finally going to learn to play Scrabble!
P.S. – How many points for the word "scrabble"? It was a trick question! It depends on where on the board it is, how it's connected, and whether you used any blanks.
|Did you know that April's Autism Awareness Month? I wasn't aware (pun intended) of it until I read our local homeowner's monthly newsletter and it caught my eye.|
|Actually, last month the founding organization, the Autism Society, changed "Awareness" to "Acceptance" to foster inclusivity, as knowing about something is very different from accepting it. But I am guessing that is not the point of this call.|
|Although it isn't autism, it reminded me of years ago when we found out that Natasha has learning disabilities.|
|I think you mean DIFF-abilities.|
|Of course, that's another thing I remember. I was focused on the negative aspects of her diagnosis until you asked me, point-blank, "Why are they called disabilities?" And proceeded to explain that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.|
|Exactly! Imagine the world if everyone excelled at math, but flunked English. Or, a world of lawyers, but no musicians. Some people are better at social skills, while others excel at handling technical data. Why not just say that people who have different skillsets and abilities have DIFF-abilities versus making them feel like they have shortcomings?|
|I know that you completely changed my way of thinking, not only about Natasha but about the concept of "disabilities" full stop. It opened my eyes – and my brain – about how just because someone has challenges or limited abilities in some areas, that doesn't mean they don't have different gifts and strengths in other areas.|
|Exactly. Although autism is a "spectrum condition" meaning it affects people differently and to varying degrees, it is a complex developmental disorder that can affect a person's social skills, and ability to communicate and interact with others. However, autistic people usually possess some extremely valuable traits that are rare in non-autistic people.|
|Which is why it frustrates me that so many people feel like those with disabilities, excuse me DIFF-abilities, are "lesser" people. When Natasha was diagnosed, she was in her teens and already had a very strong personality (no doubt inherited from you) and, luckily, seemed to have an innate understanding that she was just different, not better, not worse, than others. I guess one of the biggest challenges is to get others to see things with the same mindset.|
|We are a story-telling society, and there are countless stories of people with DIFF-abilities, including those with autism, that are eye-opening and more powerful than anything we could ever say.|
|Funny you say that, as I was curious to learn more about autism and found some inspiring quotes (including a wonderful Tom Hanks clip) that not only gave me great insight but made me smile. One of my favorites was how Paul Collins, an author and parent of an autistic child, said, "Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg." That's such a great way to describe not only those with autism but any disability.|
|Well, technically, it will fit, but it requires that the diameter of the circle be larger than the diagonal of the square. Basic geometry. But, I understand Paul Collin's point.|
|Talk about DIFF-abilities! Couldn't you just agree with me?|
|The thought never crossed my mind.|