the oinker sisters and the teletubbies – a christmas story


“Yes,” I said. “The trio of singing pigs from Sesame Street. They’re called the Oinker Sisters”

“Hmm, I don’t think I know them,” she said. “But I’ll figure it out. Can you send a picture?”

Of course she didn’t know them. Who on God’s green earth would know them? But they were one of only two things that my girl wanted for Christmas and damn it, she was (is) going to get them.

I am the mother of an autistic child. At different times, that means very different things. At holiday times, it means that I have a costume designer on speed dial.

You see, my girl has a history with this sort of thing. From the birthday that she asked for the Fire-Chicken-Boots …

… to the Christmas that she had to have (Victor Garber as) Jesus from Godspell

Clearly that picture was taken a long time ago. Poor guy now has dreads.

Or the next one when she asked for Mary Magdalene …

Apparently Jesus was lonely.

*

These are not gifts that one can buy on Amazon, my friends. There are no Black Friday specials on Godspell plush dolls and last I checked Walmart wasn’t running a Door Busting Sale on obscure Sesame Street characters that 99.9% of kids can’t name.

There is eBay. And thank God for Ebay. Without eBay I never would have found the Prairie Dawn doll that she had to have two years ago ..


or her sister Betty Lou, who joined the crew last year …

And heaven knows where I would have found the Teletubbies that she asked for from Grammy …

Who knew the trippy little dudes were still available in China? Hooray!

But even eBay can’t help me find these lovely ladies …

Yup, the Oinker Sisters

But no matter, Santa will not disappoint. Super K the costumer is on it.

I understand that to some it may sound absurdly overindulgent to commission a professional costume designer to make a stuffed animal for a child. I understand that many of those same people may also think it somewhat inappropriate to be buying Sesame Street characters and Teletubbies for a nearly nine year-old girl.

If you are among them, please feel free.

But I remember, you see. I remember the days when for the life of me I couldn’t tell whether or not my daughter had the foggiest idea that it *was* Christmas. I remember staying as far away from Santa as we could. I remember escaping the room after opening a present or two, hiding in the stairway, rocking my overwhelmed girl. I remember Katie asking if we’d be back soon.

And I remember going through the motions year after year after year, asking her what she might like as a gift. I remember trying so hard to find the right words, to put them in the right order to make them accessible to her, to unlock the mystery.

I remember getting tantalizingly close -

“Hey Brooke, what do you think you might want to get as a present for Christmas this year?”

“I would get a present in a box.”

“Yes! And when you open it what would you like it to be?”

“I’ll open the box.”

“Yes, baby, and what do you want to be inside the box?”

“The present.”

And so I tried. I tried to find things that I thought would make her happy. I watched her. I studied her. I tried. Sometimes it worked. Other times, often spectacularly, it didn’t.

And then one year she asked.

Fire chicken Boots for her birthday.

Jesus for Christmas.

Mary Magdalene.

Prairie Dawn.

Betty Lou.

She asked and she asked and she asked.

So say what you will about age-appropriate toys or teaching my kid a lesson about not being able to get everything she wants for Christmas. You are, of course entitled to your opinions.

But my girl asked for the Oinker Sisters and the Teletubbies.

And even if it takes eBay flying parcels from China and paying a really talented lady with a sewing machine a king’s ransom to work around the clock, Mama ain’t letting her down.

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45 thoughts on “the oinker sisters and the teletubbies – a christmas story

  1. We sure know who the Oinker sisters are!! I also have a big fan of Elmo’s World at home. In fact he’s getting the complete Elmo’s World collection dvd for Xmas and he’s 7yo.
    Merry Xmas to your beautiful girls and family Jess!!!

  2. What Sheila said. …and the Teletubbies have been waiting patiently in the kids’ room and will arrive with us on Christmas! I can’t wait!

    Love you,
    Mom

  3. You are an amazing mother! Your stories inspire me! I am a mother to two children with Autism! I look forward to reading your stories! They touch my heart!

    Your daughter is lucky to have you!

  4. My 14 yr old Aspie had “The Brave Little Toaster” movie on his list, he’s been looking for it for a looonnnggg time. I couldn’t even wait till Christmas to give it to him, I was so excited to find it! He’s watched it numerous times already. “I love this movie”, he says standing there looking at you like you are about to sentence him to death. He has NEVER visited Santa, or the Easter Bunny, hates ALL people in costumes and refused to even trick or treat. Meanwhile, my 3 yr old stands in front of Santa and screams “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!”,” Red present!, Blue present!” He doesn’t tell you what he wants in them either, (he just wants to open them)… but thats ok, because Mommy knows… He’s getting an iPad for Christmas… My 2 boys… :) complete and total opposite ends of the spectrum and no one could love them more. To hell with whats appropriate, these are our children and if they are happy, well then, whats the damn problem????

  5. I am with you 110% on this. Your conversation with Brooke sounds SO like conversations I have had (and occasionally still DO have, when we have crossed the outer limit of his understanding) with my Jacob.

    And I remember those E-bay days. Do you know the Teletubbies speaker tube – the thing that rises up from the ground and plays songs and makes announcements like “Time for Tubby bye-bye”? Yes, I had one sent from England once, when Jacob was four he was obsessed and it was the ONE thing he wanted.

    This year, unfortunately, he REALLY wants a game that is ONLY available on the x-box yet and we have a Wii. As he sees it advertized, he just doesn’t understand that we can’t buy it, poor boy. The reason why crosses over into that level of abstraction that he just can’t follow. Yet.

    I hope that Brooke loves her Oinker Sister to pieces, you’re a great Mama for getting them for her!

  6. I think it is wonderful, the lengths you go to to make presents happen for Brooke, and let’s not forget those Halloween costumes while we’re at it. As the parents of an insatiable Wiggles fan, we order Xmas presents from Australia in October.

  7. I say get her what she wants. We had at least ten people on a world wide search for the only car from CARS 2 that hasn’t been available that of course my son has to have for Christmas, found it and he is getting it because HE ASKED FOR IT. Merry Christmas.

  8. Varda– we are in the same boat with a video game. I have to admit that I am tempted to buy the xbox just to give him the game mostly because it is age appropriate. Although still pretty obscure.

    I took my daughter shopping for gifts for her ASD brother. She picked out a Baby Einstein DVD kit for him because she knows how much he likes BE. Big brother is 9. My daughter was so happy to pick it out for him and I wasn’t about to discourage her or steer her to something else. And it wouldn’t surprise me if that is his favorite present this year.

  9. There will be photos of the Oinker Sisters, right?

    Cause we all fell in love with at magical costume designer when she whipped up Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Just have to see what is coming next!!

    Happy Christmas to all!

  10. I Love this…and wow, do I understand completely. This Christmas will be a hard one…as I was not able to find the one webkinz my boy asked for…the one he has been asking for since september 24th, the day after His birthday. Yes, they got 2 new puppiers for Christmas ( early cause, well how do you hide 2 puppies for a week?) and yes, we got him a webkinz…but not the one he has his heart set on. I am bracing for meltdowns, and hoping that somehow all three of my amazing children will have a good Christmas, and remember that the puppies are thier Christmas present this year……

  11. I remember so well the years of one present opened, and then the retreat to the stairway. It makes my boy’s Christmas enthusiasm an accomplishment as well as just plain fun for all of us. His list this year includes a copy machine (because no, Mom, yours is fine, but “I really need my own”), a flame thrower (and I quote from the List “which I would only use outside”), a time machine (he’s been working on this technology for years), and a thermal lava lamp. But he still loves his Magic School Bus and, in times of extreme stress, Blues Clues. A little skidoo, anyone?

  12. I get it – really I do.
    My IA daughter has now just turned 6.
    Two years ago when I asked my her what she wanted for X-mas I got the answer: A purple parcel.
    These days she wants anything she sees in the toy commercials – but she does not play with any of the toys she get :-/
    This year she has started school and knows the numbers (sort of), so she can open her christmas calendar in the right order. The other years she just tore the damn thing open on the first day!

    Thank you for writing this delightful blog – It helps me feel less alone – and it is so good to have somebody elses experiences to learn from as well.

    I wish you and your family a merry and silent X-mas and a happy new year.

  13. I remember our son’s early Christmas mornings – it took all day for him to open his presents. Once he opened 1 gift – he was happy and wanted to play with it – he did not want to move on and open anything else. That was the year I realized my family did not really “get” him. They would come by with gifts and he just was not interested – they were baffled. He still only asks for 1 or 2 gifts and they are usually obscure. Ebay has been a great way for us to find what he is wishing for too. I am so with you Jess – age appropriate can kiss my toe! As my husband likes to say happy kids makes happy wife, happy wife = happy life. I hope your family enjoys every moment of the holidays.

    p.s. totally love the oinker sisters! hope Brooke enjoys them!

  14. Oh I love this! Can’t wait to see the pics. I so remember the days of ebay and calling friends who lived in foreign places to send presents. One year it was Trex the dog from Power Rangers that was hand carried from the UK! One time it was monster truck shoes sold in limited places.Love friends who will go to the end of the earth with you!

  15. I have bought Fisher Price baby/toddler toys for my girl at 6 years old, a musical instrument set appropriate for a 3 year old for her at 8 years old, bought all the Elmo DVDs when she loved him and hid them away when she decided she hated them, hunted for and found just about every Care Bear that was ever created, had “conversation” after “conversation” with her almost identical to yours with your girl, …. and cried like a baby when the present I thought was absolutely perfect was either totally ignored or rejected with screams of horror. You are indeed Super Mom – we’re ALL Super Moms. We do what we do because they’re our kid – the rest of the world can kiss my a** too.

  16. Age appropriate, my eye! And teaching a lesson about how she can’t have everything she wants for Christmas? ABSOLUTELY NOT! When your child asks for so little how do you say “No,”? I think you are 100% right to order those Teletubbies and to have the Oinker Sisters made for her. In fact, I commend your efforts. You KNOW that her asking is a HUGE feat and you’re rewarding her with what she asked for. All that will do is encourage more asking and communicating! So, really it benefits her and you and your family in a lot of ways! I think it’s FABULOUS. You are a fantastic mother! Keep up the good work! I hope you have a very merry, melt-down free, happy Christmas with your family filled with love and fun! <3

  17. WE KNOW the Oinker sisters VERY WELL over here! One of Cymbie’s favs too. I still await the day she can tell me what she wants for her birthday or christmas. We are still in the “guessing what she might like” phase. And I would do the same exact thing as you if she had the words and USE them to tell me what she wanted. I think this years we may have done pretty well though. She got a music set yesterday for her Bday (She lOVED the Triangle!) We got her an Ipad and OMG is she EVER responding to it…it is utterly amazing to watch her with it!!! It was an xmas present but well, you know mommy couldn’t wait another week to give it to her. She’s getting sing a ma jigs, which apparently she plays with in speech in school and loves…and I managed to find ALL FIVE yo gabbas in plush (in Shoprite of all places). We know she’ll love them too!!! I think we all agree we’d do just the same!!!!!!! Merry Christmas to you and yours Jess…and I’m waiting for our day….and our words…. xoxoxoxoxo

  18. I’m with you! My favorite one year was finding a “little wooden Pinnocho with strings”. I found one on eBay and got out bid at the last second. I think you could hear my scream for states away. Then I found an even better one and scored it! My proudest moment. And it was awesome! Good for you mama! And Daniel definitely knows who the pinker sisters are!!!!

  19. We are still in the stages of “does he know it’s Christmas/his birthday?” and this might be our year! And if I could hear any request from my 5 year old for anything (excpet balls, he has no problem asking for a ball every time we go shopping… :) ) that would be my gift for the whole year! And I know the Oinker Sisters!

  20. This, this, this!! My little guy has different challenges than your little one, but the communication issues were/are similar. When he finally started talking, he would only say, “robot” or “present robot,” when asked what he wanted. We would go up and down the toys aisles and I would pull down robot after robot and he would say, “no,” (all the while growing more and more frustrated and upset). It always ended with both of us in tears.

    Now that he is able to tell me specifically what he wants, I will turn myself inside out to find it (or make it). So no, I do not think you’re going too far in hiring a costume designer to make your daughter a toy. Like you, I will do ANYTHING to foster and encourage communication.

  21. I’m with you Jess. My son is 9 and has Aspergers. I have tried to find out what he wants for Christmas. You are right, how special it is when they finally ask. However, I haven’t had that moment happen yet. Every year we ask, we try to go to a store to see what he gravitates too, and nothing ever really “catches his eye”. So we make do as parents to give him the world anyway. We find now that he loves to build things so Kinex and Erector Sets here we come. Happy holidays to you all.

  22. I love it! I’m so glad you are able to find these cool gifts. And that she doesn’t change her mind between asking and receiving. :) My oldest son’s current wish is for a drinking fountain, installed in our kitchen… I would love to get one just to see how happy he would be, but it’s not in the budget. Plus it might be sort of a disaster. Fortunately his other request is for a whole bunch of sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles, I can do that!

  23. Gee, I have no idea what you’re talking about says the Mom who paid triple retail on EBay for an obscure Disney character doll from the SEQUEL to an equally obscure 2003 movie that only few have ever heard of! Thanks to Disney for apparently only making a few and to the doll collectors outbidding me who will likely be appalled that not only am I giving it to a 13 year old but that the first thing she will do is take it out of it’s pristine box and actually love it.

    Merry Christmas to all the super-hero Mom’s & Dad’s who make it happen!!

  24. I think it’s wonderful that you have someone who can help you get what you need for her. Who care’s about age-appropriate anyway!?! Unless she’s 1 and asking for a car, then big deal. I love toys! I even went into the toy store the other day at the mall, just to look. My kids were very patient with me. ;)

    I used to teach special education, and then regular education, and my favorite thing to do was buy things for “my” kids that they really wanted. Especially when my own children had grown out of the toy phase and into the electronics phase, which happened way too soon, if you ask me.

    I love your stories! You’re a great mom, and your family is beautiful! I hope you have a peaceful Christmas!!

  25. We all do what we have to do, right?

    Because nothing, I mean NOTHING, beats the look on our kids’ faces when they’ve been “got” (is that even proper grammar? I don’t care)

    They may not look you in the eye. They may not say thank you.

    But you’ll know when they disappear with their special toy for awhile, and not let it go.

    Well played, m’dear.

    And for the rest of you, you all really *do* need a costumer on speed dial. It’s an autism must.

  26. I love the Oinker Sisters too! Good choice, Brooke. Indulge the girl and let the naysayers stew because really, what does it matter? The answer, as you said…it doesn’t matter what others may say. All that does us the twinkle in her eye on Christmas when those beautiful porky ladies make their debut. Happy holidays, Jess. Enjoy your girls and your husband. Xoxo

  27. LOL – if you don’t know the “oinker sisters” you don’t know JACK. Just my 2 cents – they’re awesome….

    Coop told Santa he wanted “The ulitmate Christmas present” Santa replied “well, what is that?” Cooper said “You’ll figure it out” (so happy this year’s visit WAS GOOD – think all can relate)
    Needless to say, I’m on a quest – perhaps I’ll search eBay? LOLOLOLOL

    Peace, Joy and Happiness to your family from mine this holiday season Jess and all your followers!

  28. My son wanted to be Mr Softee for Halloween. If not for a connection made on etsy.com a few years back I would have been lost. He doesn’t ask for anything. So I was gonna get it for him. Communion is in may and I am looking for a Mr Softee truck for hire. A big party at a hall or restaurant, or even a lot of folks inside the house wouldn’t cut it. So he will receive the Lord with an ice cream cone chaser.

  29. this is the first year my son, aged four, has asked for something specific for christmas and he’s darn well getting exactly what he asked for! if you get a video of the oinker sisters please post

  30. Umm, I have two neurotypical children and if they ask Santa for it, I try my damnedest to make sure they get it. Which is my way of saying a pox on anyone who tries to make you feel guilty/bad/stupid or indulgent (is indulgent a bad thing now? I mean, as an every single day kind of deal, yeah, but for Christmas? from Santa?) about going the extra mile to make a little holiday magic for your girls.

    [btw, this year, my 6 yo asked for a remote control truck that doesn't require any batteries. so yeah, there are limits -- no matter how much I want him to get what he wants, I can't change the laws of physics, kid ...]

  31. So glad I’m not the only one running around trying to find the most obscure things my son asks for. He has been into super Mario going on almost 2 yrs now and that’s it. It is his restrictive interest and he continues to ask for teddies of characters most people wouldn’t even notice. So we too have done the whole eBay thing. Thank goodness for eBay. Here in Australia it is hard to find super Mario merchandise and the things he asks for impossible. The idea of getting someone to make it brilliant. Thank you wish I had thought of that because unfortunately even ebay can’t save us sometimes. You are a wonderful mum who like me would do anything to make your beautiful girl happy. Mario gives us wonderful connections and I will go the ends of the world and back to make my Christopher smile.

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