5 Truths from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

 

1423x593_showpg_CURIOUSlogo.jpg Gary and I saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in New York two years ago. Now, this Tony awarding winning play is here in San Francisco. Go see it. You may see me in the audience. It’s worth seeing again. It’s that good.

During the first act, I shifted nervously in my seat. The play had scenes that were painfully familiar. The end of the first act was very disturbing for us. I’ll say no more so not to spoil it for you. At intermission, I looked at Gary. “Should we leave now?”We decided to stay. A lot can happen in the second act.

There were a lot of truths in the portrayal of Christopher, a teenage boy with autistic behaviors who tries to solve a murder mystery. Although my daughter, Ariela, did not have autism, we had a lot in common with the family in the play. Without giving too much away, here are just a few of the play’s insights.

  1. Teachers.One teacher can change a life. Christopher had one gifted teacher who encouraged his talents. Ariela had many teachers who misunderstood her, dismissed her or neglected her. In all of her years of school,  I can count on one hand the teachers who supported her, believed in her, and nourished her. They were the ones who wouldn’t stop until they could find a way for her to learn.
  2. Animals.Sometimes it’s easier to connect with a pet than with another person. Christopher had a pet mouse. Ariela connected with horses. Two therapeutic riding programs in our area wouldn’t take her. “She’s too medically fragile,” they said. But Joell Dunlap (another great teacher/trainer) at Square Peg Foundation accepted Ariela without condition. The horses came to know Ariela’s unique body. They gave her comfort, and she loved them for it.
  3. Fighting. Parents of children with disabilities have a lot to fight about. When there are no roadmaps, there are no right answers. Like Christopher’s parents, some of our biggest fights were about who did what and how much for our daughter. Those were hurtful battles. It took us years to begin to acknowledge that we both did the best we could do.
  4. Motivation.With great difficulty, Christopher navigated trains and subways. He desperately wanted to find his mother. Ariela had just started to use a new communication device, a complicated system that required patience and practice. She wanted to speak for herself, to be her own advocate. When her doctor told her she needed surgery, she used her communication device. “I’m afraid,” she said, looking up at the doctor. She wanted him to know that.
  5. Controls.We all have our own ways to control the overwhelming stimuli in our environment. Some meditate, some medicate, some move to the country. Ariela closed her eyes and put her head down. Christopher turned to mathematics. I believe the last time I studied the Pythagorean Theorem was in the ninth grade. In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, I saw its beauty through Christopher’s eyes. If I had seen this play in the ninth grade, I might have become a mathematician.

There’s a lot more packed into this two-hour production, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. Go see it for yourself, and don’t leave at intermission. It gets better. After you’ve seen it, tell me what you think.

Now on YouTube

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If you missed me in person, here I am reading at the ‪#‎ListenToYourMother‬ show in San Francisco. http://bit.ly/29HYgaS  Ariela didn’t want me to write about her, but here’s one story she really liked.

Beach Tires

crissy fieldI’m very excited to see my story, “Beach Tires”, in Hippocampus Magazine. Ariela was very proud to be a trail docent in Golden Gate National Park. The photo in Hippocampus shows her trail at Crissy Field. Ariela’s painting on my website banner is a view from her trail.
http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/…/beach-tires-by-harrie…/

More than a Cookie

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It’s Girl Scout cookie time. I bought a couple of boxes a few days ago. The Scouts were in a prime spot, outside Lunardi’s Supermarket. Location is everything. I remember standing in front of Safeway with Ariela and her troop. She used her communication device to call out to customers, “Girl scouts cookies. Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” Her digitized voice sounded like a girl’s version of Stephen Hawking. People stopped. Then another member of her troop would swoop in to close the sale. Continue reading

The Visitor

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I went to see Ariela’s gravesite yesterday. Skylawn is about a mile from the Pacific Ocean. From the edge of the cemetery, you can see a sliver of the water. That’s when it’s not foggy.

As soon as I got out of my car, a cold wind grabbed me. Wind and fog – Ariela’s kind of weather. I went back to my car for my sweatshirt and started to climb up the hill to Ariela’s site. I was so teary that I couldn’t find her marker. I saw Chinese names and then Spanish names. Where were the Jewish names? Continue reading