The Duck Pie Dance


The nightly Duck Pie Dance starts at about 7:30 p.m., right after everyone has finished eating dinner.

“George, put on your pyjamas,” I say to my firstborn son, who at eleven, currently has the whole puberty-and-autism combination going on.

He stops whatever he is doing to look at me, and then he gets up and locates his pyjamas. He returns to the living room, and then standing directly in front of me, he puts them on. Without first removing his daytime clothes. He stands there looking bulky and rumpled, with an expectant look on his face as he waits for me to follow the script.

“George,” I say obligingly, “Take off your clothes, then put on your pyjamas.”

He takes off the pyjamas but keeps his clothes on. With a look of devilment in his eyes, he holds the pyjamas and slowly edges toward the door that separates the living room from my husband’s office. At a snail’s pace, he shuffles into the office, pulling the door as he goes. Right before the door is about to close, he flings it open, tosses the pyjamas onto the living room floor and dashes into the office, slamming the door behind him. Through the closed door, I hear him giggling hysterically.

“George,” I yell, pretending to sound stern. “Put your pyjamas on!”

He comes back into the living room and flops down in front his computer, pretending to ignore me. I get up and stand in front of him, wordlessly pointing at the pyjamas that are still lying on the floor where he threw them. He picks them up and puts them on, this time taking off his clothes first.

I sit back down, knowing that this is not over. George wanders around for a few minutes, playing on his computer, making words with his alphabetic magnets, playing a few notes on the keyboard. I turn my attention back to whatever I was doing.

Five minutes later, I hear his voice right beside me.

“What happened, George?” he says in an astonished tone, as if he’s reprimanding himself. I look up, and he’s standing there wearing nothing but his undies. I sigh and roll my eyes.

“What happened, George?” I ask, mimicking him. He giggles and runs away. No matter. He’ll be back thirty seconds from now. Or two minutes, or ten minutes – whenever he’s ready. You can’t rush these things.

When he does return, he has his pyjamas on upside down. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a way to put pyjamas on upside down, and my son has discovered it. He has put one leg of the pyjama pants over his head and the other down one arm. His legs are in the sleeves of the pyjama top, which he is holding at the waist.

“Duck pie!” he yells gleefully, with a gleam in his eye.

“Duck pie! Duck pie! Duck pie!” he chants as he prances around the house. He laughs as if it’s the funniest thing in the world, and we all laugh right along with him, not only because it is indeed the funniest thing in the world, but because he has the most delightfully infectious laugh.

Eventually, the Duck Pie Dance comes to an end and George puts on his pyjamas properly. He goes to bed and sings to himself for a while before drifting off to sleep, and I smile to myself, already looking forward to tomorrow’s performance.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. Photo credit to the author.


Mommy Is A Boy

George - laughing boy!

This week, I had to share March break parenting duties with Gerard. It did not mean much to us where James is concerned, because James still got taken to the daycare and picked up again at the usual times each day. George, who usually gets bussed to school from the therapy centre each lunchtime, had to be picked up and brought home instead, and one of us had to be around for him.

And that is how, on Tuesday and Wednesday, I found myself working from home.

It was a treat. As soon as I had dropped James off, I got to start my work early instead of sitting in public transit for over an hour. I got to spend two entire mornings at home by myself, with no distractions. I got to complete tasks that tend to get pushed to the bottom of the pile when I’m in the office, because I have to keep running to meetings. I got to go running. In SUNLIGHT!

And by the time George’s grandmother had kindly picked him up, provided him with lunch, and delivered him to me, most of my work for the day was done, and I got to spend the better part of the afternoon alone with my firstborn.

As I always tell my kids, I love them “bigger than everything”. I love it when they collaborate with each other to wrestle me to the ground and play with me. Reading bedtime stories with them at night, with one child on either side of me, brings me great joy. When I wake up in the early hours of the morning to find myself sandwiched between my sleeping boys, I think of how lucky I am to have these kids. When I am together with both of my boys, I am happy.

But you know, getting to spend one-on-one time with either of them is a treasure as well. And so I savoured those two afternoons with George, when it was just him and me. Even when I was finishing up my work for the day, he was at his computer and we were each doing our thing, in companionable silence.

On Wednesday afternoon, right after I had finished my work and packed up my work laptop, George clambered into my lap – no mean feat for a long, lanky seven-year-old – and cheerfully said, “Mommy is a boy.”

I gasped in mock horror, “Noooooooo,” I said. “Mommy is a girl!”

George let loose with his giggles.

It is worth mentioning at this point that George has the most infectious laugh I have ever heard. It is impossible to hear this kid giggle and not giggle right along with him. He is the living epitome of the phrase, “Laugh and the world laughs with you.”

So there were the two of us, giggling as if there was no tomorrow because my son had called me a boy.

When the laughing subsided, I said to George, “Mommy is a…”

“BOY!” he shouted, collapsing once more into helpless giggles.

At that, I started bouncing him up and down on my lap as I chanted, “Mommy is a girl! Mommy is a girl! Mommy is a girl!”

Very quickly, George caught on to the chanting idea, and in unison with me, he was chanting, “Mommy is a boy! Mommy is a boy! Mommy is a boy!”

This continued until George became so overcome with mirth that he slithered off my lap and actually rolled on the floor laughing.

It was a truly phenomenal moment of connection, significant in many, many ways.

George had initiated the contact.

George had demonstrated his quirky sense of humour.

George had engaged in extended communication with me for the express purpose of making a joke and having fun – in other words, for social purposes.

George had continued the interaction, and determined its direction and outcome.

And George – my beautiful, bright, FUNNY child – had made laugh so much that my face hurt.