BONGO MARIE:Learning Food Labels and then Stubbornly Simplifying Them
by Sally Blanchard
I labeled most of the items, situations, people, and foods that were common in Bongo Marie’s life. This is certainly the major reason so much of what she said applied to the situation. I always labeled anything I gave her to eat. Over the years she learned to correctly identify at least a dozen foods by name. I would show her the food and ask her ‘What is it?” to which she would identify the food properly especially if she like it, she replied ‘apple,’ ‘cracker,’ ‘carrot,’ or even ‘nuts to you’ for an almond. But Bongo got bored quickly with the same routine and started to say ‘What is it” to me when I showed her a piece of food. Then she got stubborn and when she saw a piece of corn she would call it an “apple” when she absolutely knew it was corn or some other purposeful misidentification. I was convinced that Bongo Marie had a sense of humor because she laughed when she acted like a smart ass.
At some point, she decided anything soft was an apple and anything hard was a cracker and stopped saying all the other food descriptions. After twenty years she learned the word ‘glop’ and said it over and over while her breakfast was being fixed by one of my employees but she never said it for me when I was fixing breakfast for the birds. Her favorite food was Swiss cheese (low salt) and it was the one food that she continued to identify properly but she usually said it in a drawn out way and put it as a question, “cheeeeeeeese?!?”
Luckily she only did this with food and once she learned someone's name, she always remembered it or associated what they said when they came in and greeted her with something. She sometimes identified my friends that way.