Friday, June 12, 2015
The Wild Women of Borneo*
She loves to sit in her room for hours and mess around with various beads and vibrating pillows and baby toys. She can rock back and forth and hit her head over and over on the padded walls. She's not mad, though, or uncomfortable. When she was younger, we called that perseverative behavior, and it was to be avoided. Autistic children have a lot of perseverative behaviors, and whole modification systems have been set up to eradicate these or mitigate their supposed detrimental effects. I guess some of Sophie's behaviors suggest autism, but she's never been formally diagnosed with the disorder. I imagine the nervous system paths of both autistics and epileptics can criss-cross, a formidable yet fascinating jungle. There was a time when that behavior got on my nerves and made me feel a little crazy. I felt overwhelmingly responsible for changing it, fixing it or, at the very least, providing alternative stimulation. I guess there's something depressing about watching Sophie manipulate and mouth the same toys and types of things for more than twenty years, but how much of that is a cultural projection or construct? I'll venture out on the proverbial limb to say, Why the hell does it matter? She's totally content twirling her beads, pressing the vibrating travel pillow to her cheeks and folding herself over into a yoga pretzel position and closing her eyes. You're like the Wild Woman of Borneo! I said this morning from my outstretched perch on her bed where I lay reading. I've been reading incessantly for about 47 years, and there are numerous people who've said, I just don't have the time to read, with the faintest of implications that there are better things to do with time. It's one of the few, if only, things that makes me entirely content. I might be a perseverative reader. I might, too, be a wild woman of Borneo, just without the super curly hair.
*I looked up the origin of the wild woman of Borneo and could find nothing but a book that used the term, written in the 1970s. P.T. Barnum had wild men of Borneo in his turn-of-the-century circus freak show which I imagine was probably out and out racist, but when I use it I imagine something promiscuous, wild and forbidden.
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She does look like a wild, content young and beautiful woman. I think we all do behaviors that make us happy and soothe us repetitively. I nap and I'm ok with it.ReplyDelete
What the hell DOES it matter? What would the alternative activity be?ReplyDelete
When people tell me they don't have time to read I always wonder what they do when they're brushing their teeth. Seriously.
I love that picture of Sophie.
What a beautiful photo.ReplyDelete
I think it's good that Sophie does what interests her.
I had to laugh when I read Ms. Moon's comment. I always read when I brush my teeth too. Katie's perseveration is words/signs. The same ones over and over and over and over again. God help me I'm thankful she can't talk.ReplyDelete
This is how I remember The Wilds Man from Borneo, a Little Rascals episode clip. Someone has added dome hip hop sampling though!ReplyDelete
I remember when you outfitted her bedroom with the padded walls to protect her. Quite the decorating project for a teenage girl's room. I can't image not having time for reading. Are they watching 2 hours of t.v. a day? That's 2 hours of reading time lost!ReplyDelete
"Wild Women of Borneo" is a phrase I've known since childhood. Have no idea where it came from, either, but to me a wild woman of Borneo is someone of courage who finds a way to happiness no matter where they are: like you, like me, like so many of your readers, and most definitely, like Sophie. I don't mean a saccharine brand of happiness. I like to think of myself as a wild woman of Borneo with strength, pluck, ferocity, passion, and an uncontrollable wildness. Are their wolves on Borneo?ReplyDelete
A song is what I remember (though not from where) about the wild women of Borneo. Anything benign that lifts us away from earthly constraints, that soothes or pleases us...naps, staring out the window, pondering. A beautiful wildness, Rima the Bird Girl. xoReplyDelete
I remember some of the tics Lola had when she was younger and how hard I tried to alternately ignore them and make them stop. But then she told me that it made her FEEL BETTER to do them and since they weren't hurting her, I gradually gave myself permission to let her do them. It was so hard, but I think you're absolutely right, that it's a social, cultural notion as opposed to anything else. God knows if we were all allowed to do more of what soothes us, what makes us content, we might all be better off.ReplyDelete