Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Tears


So my son got his second psychoeducational assessment today. In our home, on his medication, relaxed and feeling fine. I was amazed. I got the best news that any parent of a child with special needs can get - there is hope. Now that sounds kind of negative as well. Didn't we have hope before ? Well, yes and no and here is why.

Thomas' first psychoed did not go well. He was not medicated. He had to be taken for three weeks to a new environment that he never appeared totally comfortable in. We were trying to wean him off dolls and the psychologist was using them as a reward. This created more anxiety when Daddy came to pick him up. Thomas did not want to cooperate and the psychologist didn't seem to know how to work with him. At the time, we thought things were going well. Then the results came in. The psychologist's two conclusions ? That my son was borderline retarded (her wording not mine) and that he was afraid of his father. Both of these observations were not helpful and none of her suggestions were either. They did provide a foundation but we were going in the wrong direction because of her. The testing did little to alleviate my fears for Thomas' future and did more damage I think in hindsight than it helped. I saw the window closing on Thomas' future and that caused me great anxiety. No - Thomas' life is not all about me. No - I do not make his woes my whole life. No - I was not willing to accept this. No - I did not accept it at all. Just while writing this and after discussion with the psychologist this morning, I've come to realize that this has been the major part of my stress issues for the past two years. That damn report.

I let that report dictate my son's future. I let that report decide where things were going to go for my son. I let that report change the way I looked at my son in that I allowed it to make that window smaller. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was wrong and yet I let myself believe it. She had the education. She was the professional. I knew it was wrong and I let it beat me. But maybe not as much as I thought. Once the report had been delivered, I immediately put Thomas on the list for ErinOak to do an assessment. I knew the wait would be long and I knew that report was wrong. I would wait to prove it. And the wait was worth it.

Hallelujah my son is dyslexic !! Hallelujah he has memory issues !! Hallelujah WE CAN WORK WITH THAT BECAUSE HIS INTELLIGENCE IS NORMAL !!! Why is that a big deal you ask ? It is a fault of mine. I value intellgence. I link a good future with a certain amount of intelligence. The first report relegated my son to "Would you like fries with that ?" . Now that line of work is honorable, honest work but I resented that being his only choice. I resented that window being shut. I resented his choices being taken away. I let that damn report steer me to thinking that way.

Now another thought occurs to me. I am letting this new report shape my thinking as well. Not about my son as a whole. I love all parts of my son. Some parts more than others but overall he's a kid I enjoy. I like his imagination. I like his cuddles. I like his acting. I like his unique thought processes. I think the way my kids' mind works is kind of cool. I won't like him any less or any more based on this report. What has changed is the stress about worrying about his future. Thoughts of his future besieged me. The uncertainty was driving me nuts. I realize that all kids futures are uncertain. I get that. But something about his was just off the map. I just couldn't put my finger on what the issue was. This was it - the sentencing of that damn first report.

What this new report gives me is hope. It opens the doors back up. It gives me something to work with. I realize that no matter what I will do everything for my son. I will support him in whatever he decides to do. Report or no report, he is my son and I love him. I will do whatever it takes to make him happy and a new report doesn't change that. What it will do is give me more ammunition to fight the school with. They had started to write him off. They started to tell me that this was all he could accomplish. They started to believe that report and they started to falter in helping him. They stopped seeing his future as it could be but rather what they thought is should be. That just won't do.

Now I have the proof. I told them all along that I had problems with that first report. I told them all along something was missing. I told them all along that my son could do more. And now I can prove it. Now they will get back on track to the future that is waiting for him and not one they feel he deserves. He deserves whatever he can get out of life. He deserves to be whatever he wants to be. I've told him he can be a doctor, a nurse, a mechanic, a baker.. whatever he wants. And now the school will know it too.

I called my friend to tell her. I couldn't stop crying through the happy tears. My son has his future back and what a bright and shining one it is. My boy. My heart. Damn reports.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Go Softly Into The Dark Night


First off - I keep forgetting to change the damn font on my blog and it's driving me nuts. Note to self - change font.

Second - I am freaking tired. Not had a bad night tired. Not hung over tired, which might even be worth it. Not under the weather tired although that is coming too. But seriously bone crushingly tired. Now Jess will read this and say sing it to the choir sister. I don't even know her kind of tired. God Bless you woman - I don't know how you do it. You have my eternal admiration for how you survive on such little sleep. I NEED sleep. I get downright crusty, nasty, teary, unhappy when I don't get my sleep. I am not pleasant to be around when I have not slept. Why do I share this you ask ? Because I am punchy and I want to.

Third - I was just reading some of my earlier blogs. Darn I write well. I am quite pleased by some of them. I wanted to see how I had changed or if I had changed. I'm happy to say no. I still write irreverantly. My spelling is still good. I have some deep thoughts worth sharing. I have found this process so cathartic, so liberating, so confirming. I really enjoy it. I like reading the blogs I find. I love the Aspie blog because now I don't feel so alone. I love that people peek in to see what I have to say. Do I have a large community ? Heck no but I hope those that do look enjoy.

This got me to thinking about communication. One of the reasons I blog is to get it out. To vent my spleen. To clear the cobwebs. Email does that for me as well. If I am thinking of something at 2am it is not appropriate for me to call that person and writing it down to call about it later doesn't let me sleep. Sending a quick email gets it out, let's the other person know what's up and sends me to my beloved sleep.

It also got me thinking about how people abuse email. How they hide behind the anonymity of the keyboard. I will lay money down that most people use email to say things they would never say to someone's face. Have I done that ? Once or twice. Usually - no. If I'm going to say it to you via email, 10 to 1 says I'll say it to your face. Especially if you piss me off. Email actually allows me to think through what I am going to say rather than entering a heated argument. It allows me to edit my words and think about what I truly want to convey. Except if I'm pissed off. Then email allows me to vent my spleen with acid. Again, catch me in the same mood in person and I'll rip you a new one without blinking. I am not a bitch. I am not a mean person. But I do say what I mean and mean what I say. If you want to do battle with me then be prepared - the gloves can come off. I pride myself that I have worked very hard to correct this. There used to be no stop between the head and the mouth. The brain wasn't even involved in some cases. This was not good. This caused trouble. This needed to change. So I've worked on it for the past 10 years and it's gotten better.

Why is she spouting about this you ask ? Isn't this supposed to be about her son and his challenges ? Yes it is but occasionally other things need to be said. In a round about way, this involves my son. I have volunteered in various capacities for my son's school in order to say thank you for all the hard work that they do for him. I realize this isn't necessary but it is for me. I am grateful. Having been a teacher myself, I know the extra hours they put in for him. I know they worry about him and work harder for him. Volunteering is my way of saying thank you. Lately, email has caused problems with my volunteering. People have been mighty free with the email when they maybe shouldn't have. Me being me was mighty free right back. This takes us back to the old not thinking before we speak issue. However, they did deserve it so I sleep ok at night.

I got to thinking that the phone is a useful tool. I speak all day and so tend to be quite quiet when I get hom. I rely on email to still stay in touch with the world without having to speak. I think maybe tomorrow I will write a good old fashioned letter. Then I'll scan it in to my computer and send it as an attachment via email. Ha - gotcha.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Not Today


I had a little conversation today that made me laugh. I try to laugh often. I try to laugh hard. I try to laugh loud. Embarrasses the hell out of my kids but you know what ? Life is too short to be that anal. I will be anal about other things but making an ass out of myself is not one of them. I will skip down the street if I feel like it. I will howl at the moon for my Brownies. I will shake my money maker whenever the hell I feel like it. I have been through enough crap in my life that I have learned that lesson and learned it well.

One of the other lessons I have been trying to teach myself is positivity. Look for the silver lining. Look for the lesson. Don't let angst be in vain. All that clap trap that gets us through the day. This has been a long damn week and today I don't want to see the positive. Not today.

My week started on Saturday with a sick kid. My daughter is a lover of strep as was her mother. Strep sees us and kicks up it's heels. Strep giggles and says let's party. It started a party in my daughter's throat. Sunday I get a call - my office has had a massive fire and my side of the building has been destroyed. Not mildly charred. Not slighly smokey. Freaking crispy toasted. My computer, my radio, my brand new water jug, my cd's, my pictures, my map, my all - garbage. Landfill. Gonzola. My week progresses. Now we are at Monday and unbeknowst to me the strep party is in full swing. Off to the doctors on Tuesday and we get confirmation that said party animal is at work. Mommy was a bit slow on the pick up apparently. A problem from last week has decided to continue in to this week and if I never see another poinsettia in my life I will be THRILLED. I ended last week being wrongly accused of involving my school in fraud and the fall out continues. If people would just ask questions instead of acting like this is highschool and going all he said, she said the world would be a better place. I hated highschool and now I remember why. All the damn stupid people.

So now I have been at home for the whole week trying to do a job without files, redoing my email contacts, trying to access a phone that has melted and been chucked so I can't get my messages and dealing with not one, but you guessed it two sick children. For the love of all that is good in the world, will someone get me a latte?

I figure this has to be it. After a sucky November and a shaky start to December, this has to be it. But wait ! This is my life so of course this can't be it. While earnestly trying to pay my bills I discover I can no longer access my bank accounts. They have been frozen ! What the sam hell of pile of crap is that you ask ??? Well I asked that too so I called the bank. Well wouldn't you know it ? Someone has decided to give me an early Christmas present by stealing the info off my debit card and trying to wipe out my account. Now my wicked glee is that I have no money to speak of so they've wasted a lot of time for essentially nothing. Sucka ! However, they've also wasted alot of my time as I've had to go to the bank to reset my password and will have access to said bank account tomorrow.

Needless to say I am having a hard time finding the silver lining this week. I do have a couple of things to be grateful for:

1. My son - he will get a proper psycho ed, in my house, on Wednesday morning by a woman with a special needs child. He will be on his medication. She was patient on the phone while I tried to make sure she "gets" him, which she appears to. Rule number 1 - you must GET my son in order to HELP my son and if you don't GET my son then get the hell out of the way for someone who does before I push you down a steep slope. The last psychologist did not get him but I have not been able to get her near said slope. She's damn lucky.

2. My office burned down - I am going to get paid to work at home as much as I can with no penalty other than doing some overtime when I do get an office which seems only fair. I have also been paid to stay home with my sick children and have not had to pay a babysitter nor stress about taking time off work.

3. Laughter - I had the best laugh today when discussing said lack of silver lining. Jess and I were discussing the days when it is hard to find that lining. Today is one of those days. I mentioned that I would like to world to F#@! OFF. She mentioned that she would like the world to lick it between the pockets. I just about fell off my chair laughing. That is perfect. That is concise. It gives clear direction. It succinctly describes the sentiment of this day. Crude, crass but oh so true.

While I do have things to be grateful for and have said the appropriate thank you's to my higher power, I have to say this: to all the people who have screwed with me for the past month - Lick it between the pockets !

Another day I will practice positivity - not today.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Life I've Lived


When this life ends and I go to whereever I'm to go, I will know that I did it with love and I fought for what I believed in.

Sounds deep huh ? I was watching TV tonight which is my guilty pleasure. I don't drink. I don't smoke anything. I can't eat chocolate anymore. I don't take anything prescription. TV is my drug. Those 7 pulses per second put me in to a lovely coma that let's me escape from my brain. Occasionally I learn something. Tonight I learned two things and one didn't even involve TV.

I was watching Private Practice which I greatly enjoy. Towards the end a gentleman sits in hospital and while I didn't catch the beginning, the ending involved him espousing a life lesson. Fight the good fight. If you need something in this life, if you want something in this life, fight for it. If it is important enough to you, make it worth the fight. This is what I have done for my son. I have pulled on my steel toes every day and fought for him. This is what I have done for any battle that I feel is worthy. I have had lawyers disbarred. I have won lawsuits. I have beaten employers at the sexual harrassment game. Lately, I have had car repairs covered. If someone is doing something wrong to me or my family, I fight. They are worth it and I am worth it. I will go the end of my days and look back and know that I have fought the good fight.

Then I got a phone call. This is precipitated by an old acquaintance from highschool whom I haven't seen in 20 years ordering a cake from me. She had seen my cakes on Facebook and ordered one for her daughter. I was a bit stumped but was quite pleased by the request and so I've been baking and making icing and fondant. I will make the very first birthday cake for her very first child. This is quite an honor. The phone call tonight was from the acquaintance who wanted to touch base. As we chatted we got around to the cake. She said to me, "When I saw those pictures I knew the cakes had been baked with love." I was stunned. I greatly enjoy baking. I love that I use quality ingredients and that people are not going to be eating loads of chemicals and junk. I love that they smile and that I am chosen to be a part of their special day. I love how the eyes light up in the children whose day I've helped to make happy. I do bake with love but never realized that it showed.

So what did I learn you ask ? I've learned that fighting for what is right is worth fighting for. I've learned that had I not fought the good fight, I would have looked back on my life and regretted it every day. I can take pride that I am small part of the wonder that are my children. I will own that accomplishment. And I will know that I did it with love and that it showed. My beautiful children, my loving husband, my cared for mother, my clear conscience - all are because I choose to fight the good fight and I do it with love.

Monday, December 3, 2007



Time is an interesting thing. Some days it tends to pass incredibly slow and others it just whizzes by. Some years seem to take forever to end and others are over before you know it.

The same can be said for kids. I always believed I would have a hard time conceiving. After a couple of accidents where there is no way I should have escaped un-pregnant and the fact that my husband was bodybuilder, I believed it would take a while. Flash forward to one year wedding anniversary and bam - bun in the oven. Flash forward five months after Thomas was born and bam - another bun in the oven. Now I like to bake but this was getting ridiculous.

I remember alot of when Thomas was baby. I remember holding him and having a quiet tear as I thought of what my dad was missing. I remember saying to him, "Grandpa David would be so proud of you." I still choke up when I think of what a good grandad my dad would have been. He never scored high marks in the parenting department but neither did his dad. As a grandad, my Grandpa Barrass was one of my favorite people in the world.

I remember the first time Thomas rolled over - it was in his playpen outside and I remember cheering like a mad woman when he finally made it. I remember when the sky turned green and I quietly pulled his bassinet out of his bedroom in case the window crashed in. There are happy memories and there are some scary memories.

Vanessa's babyhood is a little more of a blur. I have some distinct memories like when I was breastfeeding her. One time she burped up something black - ick. I remember placing her ever so gently against my knees, cooing to her and have a nice chat as I called the doctor's office and spoke to the nurse. I remember her snuggling in to me. I remember her brother pushing her lovingly in the swing and she looking at him like no one else existed. Even at that age they adored one another.

Flash forward and we are in the midst of assessments, appointments, hospitalizations, asthma attacks, and steroid creams. Toddler hood for both my kids is a blur. I was constantly on the run to various doctors and naturopaths and osteopaths and chiropractors. Anything to help my son. My daughter doesn't know any other life than what Thomas needs and who I am speaking to next about him. She doesn't know that most kids don't have to spend their lives visiting their brother in the hospital or being bribed with juice and cookies to sit quietly while Mommy talks to the doctor - again. I sometimes wish I had had more time to enjoy them at that age. All the time was consumed keeping Thomas alive and hoping Vanessa would forgive me for the time I couldn't give her.

She doesn't know her brother any other way than how he is. There was a time when I knew him before we realized something was wrong. I knew him when he was shiny new and nothing was more pressing than watching him sleep. I knew him before the dreams I had for him had to change. I knew him when the world lay at his feet and his future was wide open. Then time passed.

Now we are in the present and time still slips by. I remember holding my babies for the first time. I remember watching Thomas walk and having to hear about it on the phone at work for Vanessa. I remember taking them apple picking for the first time. First days of schools, first bike rides, first time on a roller coaster... I remember so many firsts and I am grateful. I am grateful that I have had the time to experience those firsts. I am grateful God did not see fit to take my son away the first time he had peanuts. I am grateful for every day that I get to know my son and see the gift that he is. I am grateful for friends that point out to me those gifts and remind me that the time will come when he will find his own way in the world. I am grateful God granted me my daughter so that I can see myself as I was and know that she in time will find her way as I did. I make the time to be grateful every day even when I don't want to. That is time I will always need.

Time. It gives us so many things even when we think things are being taken away. It gives us a chance to reflect on the past. It gives us time to live our life and be grateful for the time we've had. It lets us contemplate our future and see what we can do with the opportunities ahead. I look forward to seeing my kids grow and knowing that I've had the time to be there.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Race cars and dolls


I am back from a long weekend camping with my Brownies. We hiked, we crafted, we sang, we played, we froze... a good time was had by all. The good thing about this also is that it gives me time with just my daughter. She has to attend most of Thomas' appointments and hears about his medication and the meetings, etc. Overall she is quite good about the attention he gets but I know she feels shunted occasionally. This time away also provides time for my husband and my son to bond and find out about each other. This is the story of what they discovered this weekend.

My son has always perseverated on babies. They are his thing. He desperately wants to be a dad and so he practices. He plays with dolls. He talks to people who have babies. He talks to people about babies. He asks me to have another baby. Now while I will do just about anything for my son, having my husband's vasectomy reversed is not on the list. Thomas has owned dolls. Thomas has had his dolls taken away. Thomas talks about dolls. Thomas has had his talking time limited to certain times as kids were getting a titch annoyed. Thomas has played with real babies, fake babies, imaginary babies and now it is paper babies. He is now into making paper babies. He will draw them. Cut them out. Hinge them together and introduce them as his new little brothers. He has designed diapers for them. Diaper bags. Bottles. The whole shebang. Needless to say, while we appreciate his artistic bent the medium is a little odd for an almost 10 year old boy. I don't want to make him ashamed. We try very hard to explain in a non-judgemental manner when and how he can express his baby-ism. I fear that we have not been as successful as we could have but we also can't stand by while he retreats further in to fantasy and in to being bullied or beat up.

Needless to say this is also hard for my husband to handle. I think it is a compliment to his parenting skills. He just rubs his forehead. My main concern is that someday Thomas will convince some little 16 year old that making a baby would be a good idea. I can just picture him walking in the door and saying - Hey Ma, look what I did. Yikes.

What we also know about Thomas is that he loves cars. He likes to collect them. He likes to race them. He likes HotWheels. He likes remote control. He likes to build them tracks. He likes to drive them. Michael chose to expose Thomas to go-karts this weekend. The kid is a natural. My husband beamed as he described how well Thomas did. He said he was so proud - he gave him hugs and kisses and just effused with praise. Now don't get me wrong, my husband does all of these things on a regular basis but this was new. His face shone as he described how surprised and pleased he was that Thomas not only enjoyed himself but really excelled. Thomas was equally proud of himself and loved every minute of it. I think we might have the beginning of a new hobby that might serve to steer him away from dolls - just a bit anyway.

So that is my son. Race cars and dolls. Two completely opposite ends of the boy spectrum. He is a daredevil and a wanna be dad. He is nurturing. He is brave. He is a conundrum. He is my boy and my heart. Hopefully the two ends of Thomas will come together and form one amazing person that can live a healthy and happy life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Upsie, Downsie, All aroundsie


I have a friend. We share alot of things in common. We are both strong willed. We both believe we are mostly right most of the time. We both have children with challenges. We both have the need to "complain". I take umbrage at this word. I like to call it constructive catharsis. Women overall need to vent. We need to share. We need to GET IT OUT. When you find someone to whom you can GET IT OUT and that person doesn't think you are completely damn mental - you hang on to that person for dear life. And you share moments of constructive catharsis together.

Sometimes I feel like I should join a club like AA - Hi My name is Elizabeth and my son has challenges. I wonder how that would feel. To have a group dedicated to constructive catharsis but maybe with drinking games or something to shake things up. I don't share easily. When my dad died, I went to Bereaved Families of Ontario. My therapist at the time said I had "anger issues" I needed to deal with. Well duh. I refused to share at this group. I refused to cry at this group. The one time I did cry, I left and went to the bathroom to do it. These people did not believe in constructive catharsis - they believed in wallowing in pity and despair. Forget it - not my bag. Myself and another participant kept looking at each other like what the hell are we doing here ?? Hence my fear of support groups. If I want to feel worse than when I started my day - I'll stay home.

I like discussions where constructive catharsis takes place and I get to hear how someone is handling their issue. I get to learn. I get to feel empathy and empowered. I get to share my woes and issues and how I have dealt with them. I like leaving a conversation knowing I am not alone and that other mother's will go the mat for their children even if it does include dribbling spit down their shirt. That I respect. That I get. That is the kind of person I like to share with.

The last couple of weeks have been like no other. It's been a long time since I've wanted to crawl in to my bed and never come out. The stress has been killer - the kick ? My son is doing better and better. At a time when my stress from outside sources is at an all time high, my son is making progress. I see hints of maturity. I see him trying to take charge of his stuff. I see him remembering things that I have forgotten. I see him taking his medication without being reminded. I see him keeping his room tidy - although I fear to look in his closet. I see him doing better in school even though he still doesn't like it. I see him growing and changing. He still drives me mental but even when my life is upsie, downsie, all aroundsie thanks to the gift of constructive catharsis, I can take a step back and appreciate my boy. Because I have been able to vent out all that crap that is going around in my head, I am able to read quietly with my kids. I am able to remember to count to 10 before asking Thomas to do something again. I am able to lower my voice and not immediately go for the shout when I'm asking for the third time. Because of constructive catharsis I know I am not alone. I know that others share my fears and aggravations. I am not so hard on myself because of constructive catharsis. I am not so hard on others as I see their life is all upsie, downsie, all aroundsie too.

So thank you my friend for sharing your constructive catharsis. Thank you for listening when I need to share mine. Know that I will never tire of listening to you. Know that I will always lend an ear, a shoulder, a hug if you need it. Know that I value you and all your stuff you need to let go of. Know that I can empathize and sympathize although I will never truly understand. Know that I care from the bottom of my heart. If you need to call me for some old fashioned bitching - that works too.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Steel Toed Boots


I have begun to search out other bloggers. I have run in to some odd ones in the past so I steared away for a while. I read one today and she posted the awful things people said about her generating a thank you. That kind of language just makes me ill. I cuss. I could make a trucker blush kind of cuss. But some words just shouldn't be said and others don't need to be used to make a point. Ick.

However, on my journey today I met Wacky Mom. She has been blogging for a bit. While I haven't been able to delve too far into her history, she reminds me of me. A fighter. Strong willed. Fierce. Someone who will go the mat for her kids and take whomever is in the way down with them. I am glad to know that there are other mothers out there like me. I am sad to know we even need to fight this hard. I commented to her that when I was born, God gave me permanent steel toed boots. Of course upon my entry into this world I never realized I would have to spend the rest of my life kicking and screaming. I guess He knew what I would need in this life and started me off with the right equipment to do the job.

I need them to kick the butts of all the doctors who told me my son's skin would never get better. I need them to kick the butts of all the doctors who told me to let it go and just drug him up. I need them to kick the butts of all the people who didn't do their job for my son. I need them to kick the butts of all the people who stood in my way and told me it couldn't be done. I need them to kick the butts of the parents who still send peanut products to my son's school and endanger his life. I need them to kick the butts of all the school board officials who fight me every year about what my son needs. I need them to kick the butts of anyone who tells me what I don't want to hear.

Some days I just want to take the damn boots off and rest. Some days I just want to kick back and not have to fight. Some days I just want to lay like broccoli. To have peace from worry and fear. To pass a day where my son is not taking up most of the room in my head. He can have my heart. He had it shortly after he was born. He will have it for the rest of his life. But my head is my private space. My thinking space. My dealing with it space. Sometimes it gets very crowded in there as my emailing at 2am this morning will attest.

I will fight for my son for the rest of his life. I will wake up every day and take up my steel toed boots to battle the world. He knows this. He has said to me when we discuss about strangers - I don't worry Mama. You would find me. You know what - I would. And they had better watch out because I will have my steel toes on. And I will take them down kicking and fighting.

My son causes large emotions in me. He frustrates me. He scares me. He fills my heart. He squeezes tears from my eyes. He makes me laugh. He makes me shout. He makes me proud. He makes me think. He makes me ponder my place in this world. I guess my place in this world is right where it should be. Right here. Right now. Putting down the steel toes for a good night's rest so I can be ready to pick them up again tomorrow and fight the good fight.

Thank you Wacky mom. I look forward to getting to know another mother who proudly wears her steel toes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All About Her


Sometimes in my musings about my son, I forget about my daughter. Not for long mind you but she does get shunted to the back of the chaos which is my mind. She is doing well in school. She makes friends easily. She has no behavioral issues other than attitude which she comes by honestly. So I don't fret about her much unless she is attached to my leg for something.

Last Friday was a very special day for my daughter. She had been chosen to be in the color guard party for the Remembrance Day ceremony at school. I knew about this. I had seen the notice briefly but my husband had signed it so I didn't pay attention. I didn't realize parents could go. Friday morning arrives, she is all spiffed out in her Brownie uniform and at 8:00am asks what time I will be arriving. Arriving for what I ask ? At this point a little alarm bell goes off and I sense what is coming - parents are allowed. Dang it. I let her know that I probably won't be able to make it on such short notice from work. She is greatly disappointed and I immediately decide I will be there - but I don't tell her.

I get to work and we are immediately in to a staff meeting which lasts until 945. I have no chance to ask my boss if I can take my lunch to go and see my daughter. I tell her as I am running out the door and thanks be to God she understands.

I arrive at the school and park myself in the very back of the gym where I know she will be coming in. At this point, she still has no clue that I am there. I turn. I see her. She does not see me. She looks around. She looks sad. So me being me pops out from behind the flag and shout/whispers - Hey Booboo ! The smile could have lit the planet for years. Immediately she becomes bright and shiny and proud. Gone is the sad face and gloomy expression. Mama has arrived. She now walks proudly with a shy smile on her face as she accompanies the United Nations Flag to the front of the gym. I took pictures of her going up the aisle, down the aisle, all over the aisle. I teared up for the next hour as we remembered our veterans and those we lost in war.

For the next two days, Vanessa reminded me of how I'd shown up. She smiled every time. I always worry about making happy memories for my children. I wonder if they will remember the day trips, the trips to the library, the movies, the stories, the presents, baking together or some of the other sundry things we do. I know she will remember this. Her mama arrived and was very proud of her.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Through Someone Else's Eyes


I wonder to myself how people see my life. I wonder if they judge me as a parent. As a human being. I simultaneously wonder and I don't care. Those who know me don't judge they just let me be me. Thank God.

But what I also wonder is if people judge their own lives through the eyes of others. I wonder if they take a look at the choices they make and are influenced by what they see others do. I see people making choices that I would never make and I do judge them. I wonder what the heck are they thinking ? Can't they see what they are doing is a bad choice ? Then I chastise myself as being judgemental but still the thought persists... how do they see themselves ? How do they judge their own actions?

I occasionally try to look at my life through someone else's eyes. I try to see what someone else might see if they looked at how I parent, how I live, the choices that I make. I compare what I have done for my son to what I could have done and what someone else has been able to do. I minimize what I have done for my son and think only of what I could have done or should have done. I don't see what I have done as other people's eyes might do. Occasionally I wish for someone else's eyes so that I could truly see me. So that I could truly appreciate the skills that I have, the things that I have accomplished, the strides I have helped my son take and the life that I have chosen to lead.

We spent time today with friends and learned things about people we know that were shocking. Things I never would have suspected given that they have children. Things I never would even consider doing as I have children. I wonder if they could see their life through someone else's eyes, would they make the same choices. If they had that chance to see what they are doing, would they change ?

Reality TV is a chance to look at life through someone else's eyes. Not Survivor or that stupid Paris Hilton crap but things like Jon and Kate make 8 or Little People Big World. I've recently begun to watch You are What you Eat and Looking Good Naked. All of these shows provide an insight in to how people live their lives. They have all kinds of eyes watching them. It gives me a chance to evaluate how I see myself and how my choices may affect the way my life might turn out. I find it very interesting to get this voyeuristic opportunity. I alternately get to feel better about myself and judge myself more harshly. Overall I find it comforting to know that we are all trying to do the best we can with what we've got. After all, when we look in the mirror it is our own eyes looking back to judge us. And that can be the most challenging type of reality of all.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Getting Some Perspective


I've been fiddling with my blog. Having a look around. Cruising past posts. You see I've opened myself up to the MyBlog phenomenon. I think I'm ok now with letting people have a look. After all they are strangers and won't know who I really am anyway. That started me thinking about perspective.

Trippy thing perspective. It's all relative to your current state of mind. Right now I am feeling good. I had a good day at work. I've got money in the bank - for today anyway. My son had a good day. I gave my daughter a nice suprise by being at her assembly. It was a good day. So today my perspective on the world is relatively bright and shiny. I can see clearly now, if you will. But looking back on my blog, I see where and when my perspective was skewed. Not nearly as shiny and bright as today.

I see the days when the world was dark. When I was the worst parent on the planet. When I felt like a bad daughter, a worse mother and passable wife. I was seeing the world and my life from the bottom of a very large, very dark, very awful hole that seemed to get deeper as the day wore on. I saw the future of my son having to include that God awful clown with a big shiny yellow M stamped on his butt. I saw my future without my mother and felt a touch of the pain that will exist when that future comes to fruition. I saw my future as a place that I didn't want to be in. That I wanted to run from. That I wanted to just go away.

Perspective can mess you around. It can give you a dysmorphic image of yourself. It can make you faulter as a parent. It can make you question your worth as an employee and indeed as a card carrying member of the human race. Trippy.

Perspective can pick you up. It can make you feel happy. It can help you see things in a way as to make you feel positive and light inside. It can make those pair of pants you just bought look damn good. Even trippier.

I like to think that overall I have a good sense of perspective. That I am able to balance the days of darkness and light. I like to think that I can see my son as he is rather than what I thought he should be. I like to think that I see my daughter as younger version of myself and am able to not cringe at the thought. I like to think that my life is pretty darn good right now and things are looking up. But it's all a matter of persepctive isn't it ?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Slippery Slope


I can feel it. I am standing at the edge of a very steep precipice with my son and we are deciding what to do. We could turn back and walk calmly towards safer ground or we could jump and slide right down that steep slope. I am hoping for the safe walk but that remains to be seen.

He is at the edge of developing an anxiety disorder. I have seen in the past two weeks at least two meltdowns including calling himself stupid, tears, anxiety and frustration. I believe that he is finally starting to recognize that the other kids don't have the same struggles as he does in school. He is now able to look around and see that other kids write better, read better and grasp the classroom thing much easier. I think.... but as Thomas can't vocalize abstract feelings very well I could also be blowing smoke. I realize in the grand scheme that two meltdowns in an Aspserger kid is very good. I have read of kids where this is a daily if not hourly occurence if there is rigidity and routine involved. Why this concerns me so is that we have not had that so far. Thomas has been quite flexible. He needs help with transition but can manage it. This is more.

I found out today that my son had a meltdown in class and called himself stupid repeatedly. He could not keep what was going on in the class straight. He could not accept that he was being taught how to study, not that he was having a test. He could not hold it together any longer and let it go. I've also discovered that his teacher, as per an earlier agreement, is not allowing him to take breaks. Teacher has now been told off politely via email. Teacher will be told off in person not so politely if my son does not get his breaks. Insert previous reference to Holy Hobs of Hell here. Teacher obviously does not know me well enough yet or he wouldn't try this I'll do what I think is best crap. DO WHAT I TELL YOU - I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS A LONG DAMN TIME. End quote.

My son. What to do ?? Well, Mama is going to have to go to battle again. Politely, constructively, being a strong advocate, being nice. Mama is going to have to go in and make sure that we don't get pushed over the precipice by people not getting my son. It is imperative that you get my son. It is imperative that you fear me in a healthy way. It is imperative that you listen to that little voice in your head which advises you not to piss this mother off. I will take you down to sit with the nice doctors who don't treat my mother properly in the Holy Hobs of Hell at Satan's feet to be his whipping toy if you don't at least try to get my son.

Many who know me have seen me in action for my boy. I have been told I get a little scary. I like that. I like knowing that I exude something that makes people want to get me out of their office so they will do what my boy needs. I have no issue being known as "that mother" if it gets my boy what he needs. I will strike up a personal relationship with the guardian of the gate to the Holy Hobs of Hell if that is what it takes to get my boy what he needs. I pray every night to the Good Lord above to help me get what my boy needs but people tend to be more afraid of the Hobs of Hell.

So back to that slippery slope. Some days I want to jump off and fly free. Some days I want to run right up to the edge and then hang on for the thrill of it. Some days I want to crawl back to safety and keep a very long distance between me and that edge. Always I will protect my son from the precipice. Always I will fight, bite, kick and scratch to get my boy what he needs. Right now, he needs to be away from that edge. He needs to feel safe and protected. He needs to have confidence that he can succeed.

Apparently I am going to have to grease the palm of the guardian to the Holy Hobs of Hell once again. I think I can stand the heat. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. By now I'd make a pretty good diamond.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

When the Parent Becomes the Child


Most days I want to write about my son and the adventure that is our life together. Occasionally I want to write about my husband and daughter who are along for the ride and add great moments to the adventure. Today I want to write about my mom.

Mom. I waited so long to hear my kids say that word and now sometimes it makes me cringe. That is usually because it is followed by a May I have ? or He's bugging me. Other than that I love it. Beats the heck out of hey you. As my kids age, I look back at my past and my relationship with my mother. It has had it's ups and downs as all relationships do. She has been my most avid supporter and my worst detractor. She has helped me financially, emotionally and many other ways. My kids adore her. I mean running up the stairs, big hug, Hi Nana ! adore her. And I love that. I love that my kids love my mom as much as I do. I love that she loves them right back. I love that I can prevent her from doing the same things to them that she did to me - a revenge of sorts. I love that I have learned from her what to do and what not to do. I love that from some of things I've chosen not to do, new traditions or ways of parenting have grown. I explain to my kids. I apologize to my kids. I tell my kids more often than they want to hear that I love them. I act silly with my kids. I take them to all kinds of places that sometimes I enjoy, sometimes they enjoy and sometimes we enjoy it all together. The flip side of that is that I yell at my kids, I snap at my kids and I sometimes am not as selfless as I'd like to be. I get that from my dad but that's another blog. My mom did not have the support that I do in a husband. She did the raising for better or for worse essentially on her own. I haven't had to pay a lot for therapy so I can safely say she did a pretty good job. She questions herself when she sees the state of my house but I think mess can be a good thing. Unless it moves on it's own and then it's time to tidy. So far we have no errant piles of unknown origin running around the house so I can live with that.

I am far more like my father than I like to admit but it has also served me well. While my mother is an extremely intelligent woman, she is low on guts and confidence. I like to think I am intelligent and have guts to spare. I am working on the confidence. I do not back down from a fight. I say what I mean and mean what I say. I take on a challenge and generally succeed. I like a good fight and generally win. I like for someone to say no so I can say why ? I like things done my way - it's better and easier anyway. I'll just do it over my way so you might as well. This type of personality has served me well on many levels and it has helped me with my mom. God love her she can drive me bendy. She did not stand up to her mother. She allowed Grandma to speak to us anyway she wanted. She allowed Grandma to discipline us. She allowed Grandma to be critical and unfair. I do not. If my mother steps out of line I show her to the front of said line. This is my house, these are my kids and this is my marriage - thank you for the advice anyway. She gets that which is also good. Over the past 15 years my husband has come to love her as much as I do which says alot. This brings us to time...

As I've grown up, my mother has aged. Goes with the territory I guess. It has creeped up. What has slowly happened is that our roles are starting to reverse. I think she sees it. I fight for her. I advocate for her. I protect her. I guard her. I support her. All the things she did for me. I don't think I gave her much cause to have to fight, etc. but she stepped up when she needed to. She sent the Daytona police a nasty letter when I got arrested and paid my fine. She lent me money to buy my house. She was there for the birth of my son. She is there when it counts.

Lately my mom's health has been troublesome. When I say lately, it's been for the past 15 years. My mom fought the great fight and beat alcohol. I will respect her for the rest of my life for that. She has had fallout from her alcohol abuse and cigarette habit. She affected her gross motor coordination with her drinking. She has essential hypertension which is exacerbated by her smoking. She has high cholesterol which is exacerbated by her crappy diet and lack of exercise. This has precipitated numerous late night visits to the ER, specialist appointments, hospitalizations and doctors appointments. For her last hospital stay, I got my knickers in a knot. Her first meal for a suspected heart attack was mac and cheese. What the hell ???? I went down to the dieticians office after having been in the hospital until 3am that morning and said to them - What the hell ??? I then spent the next 1/2 hour personally picking her menu for the next two days. This is what I do. I fight for my mom as I fight for my son. I take my fighting spirit and say to these doctors - you will take care of her. You will protect her. You will do your job or by God I will drag you down to the hobs of Hell and personally lay you at Satan's feet with a bow on your kicked ass. You will not force me to lose her before I am ready or hell will look good from where you will be standing.

Her health scares me. Losing her terrifies me. It can send me to tears when I think of my life without her. I speak to my mom just about every day. She babysits my kids two or three days a week. She is such a large part of my life that I alternate between parent and child relationship on a regular basis. I fight for her and fight against her. I support her and stand supported by her. She makes my life work. I can't even contemplate a moment in my children's lives that has not had Nana in it.

I see my role changing and I look at it two ways. My mom has had to struggle her whole life. Things have not been easy for her. My life's wish is to win the lottery and make her happy. She is at the top of the list for myself and my husband when we discuss our winnings. We are looking at buying a house that is renovation friendly for my mom to live with us. I alternate between feeling 12 when she is around to feeling 100 when I'm at the hospital again with her. Yet I relish the chance to develop this relationship. I am thankful that I get the chance to spend so much time with her. And I will be devastated and inconsolable when I can no longer call her every time I want to. I see my role now as a chance to give her happiness. I want to make her proud and I want her to feel safe. I want her to know she is loved deeply and I want her to know she loved me enough.

I hope that as she continues to age that I continue to benefit from our relationship in whatever form it takes. Mother to child, child to Mother. I'm just glad to call her Mom.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Can We Learn ?


I just linked to a blog called ryestar. Very interesting man this Ryan. I thought I had deep thoughts and a fairly diverse and extensive vocabulary until I read this gentleman's blog. I suffer from periodic bouts of self doubt and self deprecation in case no one has noticed.

What I found interesting about this man's blog is that he wrote. Not about boobs and farts and whatever else men think about. I don't mean to be shortsighted but most male conversation does revolve around balls - either theirs being scratched or one that is being kicked around a field, carried under the arm or wacked with a little stick. This man was quite deep and he actually showed emotion. He showed admiration and respect for his fiancee. He showed the ability to observe the power of nature that most seem to ignore or be oblivious to. He showed tenderness and wonder about a small child and the new eyes with which they see the world. In short, he blew my perspective about straight men right out of the water.

God love my husband - he can carry a decent conversation about anything from golf, to politics, to home repairs. I can lose him for hours at a party and he's had five completely different conversations with 10 different people. But emotional things, not so much. He is not distant or unemotional he is just able to feel it, experience it and let it go. He doesn't brood or let things fester. Not nearly long enough as far as I'm concerned so that way I don't feel bad when I bring something up over and over and over. He does cry. He does vent. He does get blue. Most importantly, he supports me when I do. But I think overall he'd rather discuss balls.

So thank you ryestar. You've opened my eyes to what men are capable of. You've shown me that men can blog in a reasonable manner with thought and feeling. It's always nice to start the day by learning something.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Go Get Your Boy


Late last year, we had a bad day. A VERY BAD damn day. It was one of those days that you wish the world would open wide, swallow you up and put you in the pit of hell that you belong in for being such a bad parent. I lost it with my son. Lost it so far I almost forgot where I put it. I did not beat my son physically but I did with words. I yelled. I screamed. I did things that made it not a proud day in my parenting history. I took him to school and that is how I started his day. With angry words, recriminations, admonitions - angry, hurting words. I felt horrible. He felt horrible.

I came home and sobbed. I called Jess and sobbed more. I confessed what I had done and was beside myself. I wanted my son so badly. I wanted to hold him and console him and beg forgiveness. I wanted to take away that bad morning. In her quiet way she said, Go get your boy. So I did. I went out the door, drove to his school, knocked on the portable door and said to his teacher - I need my son. I told him to leave his things and come with me. He was confused but excited.

We didn't get ten feet from the portable and I broke down crying. I apologized over and over. My son, my sunshine, my heart - he came over to me, hugged me and said it's okay Momma. After I dried my tears, we went down to the lake and skipped stones and played and talked. We talked about what each of us needs to do so we don't have another bad day like that. I asked him what he would change about our family. He said the yelling and Vanessa's attitude. I confess I giggled at that one. I agreed about the yelling. I asked him how did he think we could change the yelling. I explained why I yelled and why his behavior made me angry. He seemed to understand and we agreed that he would try harder to listen and I would try harder to keep a lid on it.

After we played some more and talked some more, I took Thomas back to school. I never offered an explanation and the teacher never asked. I am hopeful that in the years to come, my son remembers the trip to the lake far more than the bad way I parented that morning. I hope he sees that adults need to apologize, need to work on themselves, need to try to respect their kids and need to try to make things right when we've made a mistake. I hope out of all the things I would have liked to have done for my son that this one step I did take makes an impact. That he remembers the good and the bad.

Go get your boy - damn good piece of advice. Thanks Jess.

He Remembers


So I've started to re-read the OASIS Guide to Aspergers. I figure it's been a while and I'm in a much better place to receive the information that they have to give. I did try to read it when we first got the diagnosis but was in no way ready to accept what anyone had to say. I was still too angry, too disappointed, too ashamed, too hurt. I had too much to deal with so I got by on other smaller books. This one is a bit of a tome but it will be worthwhile. I don't have to fight so much now and can step back and learn more about the what and not worry about the why.

As I'm sitting there, I'm reading the chapter on the stages we go through once we receive the diagnosis and am relieved to discover that I am not "monster" parent and what I have been feeling is normal. The chapter goes on to discuss how a parent of an AS child does in fact routinely question their parenting skills, their value as a parent, the decisions that they've made and if they are doing right by any other children. It also addresses the guilt we might feel about not being able to afford services for our child that they might benefit from.

Now overall I think I have been a good advocate for my child. I spent the first 7 years of his life running around trying to fix his skin, trying to sort out his behaviors, trying to fight the school for what he needed all while working full time for at least 4 of those years. On my good days, I know I haven't done too badly. On my bad days - I am the worst parent in the world who has not done nearly enough, has let too much time slip by without intensive therapy (that really he doesn't need as he's quite mild), has not spent enough time drilling him for homework, etc. Those bad days are mighty long let me tell you.

So as I am sitting there realizing that maybe I am not doing such a bad job after all, I get the urge to hug my son. A good friend once said, if you need to - go get your boy. So I went and got my boy. He was putting away his laundry, or supposed to be anyway, and I asked him to give me a hug. As we swayed for a moment, he says to me, "Do you remember when you used to hold me and do that little song ?" We continued to sway and I hummed the song from so long ago. It was just a little tune that my dad used to "da de da" to as we took a spin around the living room. I started doing that with my kids as babies to soothe them. We would waltz around the living room quite often and continued until they were too big to pick up. And Thomas remembers. He remembers we used to dance together. He remembers the tune and the time we spent waltzing around.

I don't have too many good memories of my dad. He wasn't a bad parent, he just wasn't around much. But I do remember the waltz and thanks to my dad, my son does too. So maybe the title of this blog should include, he is remembered. My son happens to look a lot like my dad and as my dad was quite handsome, this is good. My son aspires to be a great father some day and hopefully by giving him memories of our dance, he will have what he needs to achieve that goal.

He remembers. I must not be doing a bad job after all. And in his own way, maybe my dad wasn't so bad after all either. I remember too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Daddy


It's not often that fathers get discussed in blogs unless they are getting cussed out or we've just had enough. It's not often that dad's get the recognition that they deserve for being heroes in their own right. Mother's are usually the ones to take the accolades and sympathies. Men just don't usually garner that kind of attention. I would like to say that my son's father, my husband, my hunky man - deserves some praise.

My hunky man is just that - he is a big fella. He used to be bigger. Heck, I used to be smaller. He walked in to a room and people would stop and look. He was big. Sometimes that's all they would see. Depending on which end of the bouncer you were on, there wasn't really much of a chance to see much else. As we matured, he lost some of that bulk - that big guy wow factor. Which was great for me as clothes were so much easier to buy for. But he never lost that big guy feeling. People still know when they look at him, that he is not one to be messed with. Except me of course - I mess with him all the time. But then again I give perks.

This big man, this hunky fella - he is the father of my children and I doubt I could have chosen better if I tried. When our children were born, this big man would take these wee babies and cuddle them, coo to them, soothe them. He rocked them and changed them and marvelled over anything they did. He was wrapped. Babies just go to him and instantly calm down and feel safe. It must be where our son gets one of his many gifts which is how children are drawn to Thomas. No fear, no worry just play with me and I know you won't hurt me.

As our children grew, my hunky fella got a bit smaller. Still big enough for people to go - hey you need to move that ? Ask Mikey. Hey you need that knocked down ? Ask Mikey. But as a father he got better and better. He grew leaps and bounds in the dad department. He played and he read stories and he taught them to swim and he taught them how to ride a bike. He showed them stars and bugs and all kinds of things. I often thanked him then for being the father of my children. Most days I still do. He gave me the best piece of advice of anyone when people would offer suggestions and I thought I was doing it all wrong. "You are the mother of this child and you know your baby better than anyone." God love him for that. I know I do.

When Thomas was a baby and toddler, he got sicker and sicker. Races to the hospital for asthma attacks and colds. Running to specialists for appointments and evaluations for allergies and weeping skin. Being at home, I did alot of them alone but my hunky fella was right there when he could be. They said, You can't fix his skin Mrs. Plouffe - just accept it. Hell no. Now my hunky fella didn't always agree with my choices but he backed me up. Not always graciously but he tried. They said Thomas' skin might get better by the time he was 7 or 8. I had him cleared up by 3 1/2. Don't tell me no ! Well didn't my hunky fella tell all who would listen about his wife who wouldn't take no for an answer.

As he grew, it became apparent that Thomas wasn't functioning quite "normally". He started getting help thanks to Mary Heathcote his nursery school teacher. The centre said after some skills assessments, let the school handle it. He'll get evaluated eventually. It will sort itself out. Hell no. My child needs help and you will give it to him if I have to take it by force. I got his psycoeducational evaluation over two years before the school would have done it. My hunky fella took Thomas for most of the appointments. When we started seeing Dr. Weaver at ErinOak, my hunky fella was right there. When we got the diagnosis of Aspergers, my hunky fellas sat there holding my hand as I cried. Dr. Weaver said - it's ok. He will grow up. He will have relationships. He will be able to hold a job. My response ? If my son grows up to be half the man his father is, then I will be happy.

Most people would think, what's the big deal ? This is what dad's should do. My husband, my hunky fella, the father of my children did all of this while working two and sometimes three jobs so I could stay home. He did this while working on our house, repairing foundations, fixing problems inside and single handedly re-roofing our house. He did this while helping friends move, helping friends with their houses, helping my mom and his mom. He would put in a full work week plus overtime and come home and take the kids to the park so I could have a break. He would take care of his own laundry (which he prefers thank God), help around the house, mow the lawn and trim the hedges. He would take them swimming because I don't like public pools. He took them skating because I have a hard time with crowds and I don't skate well. That is why he is a big deal.

I got inspired to write this by my friend Jessica's title of her blog - Sometimes Heroes Come in Small Packages. Sometimes they come in big, quiet, fun loving, hunky, helpful and fabulous packages too. My hunky fella - am I lucky or what ?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Keeping up with the Jones'


So my friend says to me she says - well you must see my new blog. I says to myself I says - ok I must. Well it's so darn pretty I immediately think - I must keep up. So off I trot to keep up and of course I can't pick the damn available templates, I have to go in search of "the" template. It's now been over an hour and after wiping out my previous blog but not quite, I found my new template and set it up. And quite frankly I like it - it's kind of weird like me and my boy. Colorful, quirky, fun, different - there are worse things to be called.

It's funny how I'm funny about change. I like it and loathe it. I want to keep up and I don't. What I fail to realise is that I have a choice and my son doesn't. It strikes me sometimes as I write the challenges he will face and he doesn't even know it. I don't think it enters his conciousness - thank God. If he knew what he faced he'd start drinking. God knows I've often thought of that particular coping method. But I think my son has the right idea. He deals in the here and now with a little foray into the past every now and again. He doesn't worry about the next day, never mind next year. He just is. He just goes along his merry way and doesn't worry about the small stuff.

One then has to examine the small stuff. What is small stuff really ? Does it matter that he wanted to wear his long johns under his pants in 26 degree heat today? Yes and no as he was going on a field trip to the RBG. Can you say hot and itchy ? Does it matter that he relates all things according to how old he was at the time ? Not really. That's just how he puts things in place for him. Does it matter that his ears are for decoration only ? Yes and no depending on which side of the desk you are sitting on. God Bless you Mr. Highley - you had no idea did you ? Does it matter that he talks about babies ? Hell, at least it isn't fire he perseverates on. Does it matter that my heart breaks when I think of what lies in store for him ? Yes and no - it's my problem not his. It only matters when I let it out in front of him - the worry and the fear. It can manifest itself as frustration and bad temper. Then I make the small stuff into big stuff which is kind of dumb of me.

My son has the right idea. Why sweat the small stuff ? Why indeed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

To His Success


So as per my last blog, my son was at camp and I was sitting here quivering with the need to go and get him. I controlled my quiver and remained home with my daughter. Focusing on her for a day was nice and I think she enjoyed it as well. Suprisingly, I really missed my son. When you have a special needs child and don't get a break, a couple of days apart are a dream. My husband and I have had one weekend together, child free in 9 years. Not a ton of time to focus on being Michael and Elizabeth and not just Mom and Dad. Thank God for Cubs and camping trips.

The Cubs and camping trips have given my son many things. He comes home proud of his new skills. He gets the chance to work on group skills and social skills. He is able to demonstrate his growing maturity. He is able to find some independence in a safe environment that doesn't freak me out. He is able to make friends who get to see him as more like them than they may have thought. Because I work full time, I am not able to give Thomas everything I think he needs. Sounds odd, but I can't run him around to groups which he would probably benefit by and I feel bad about that. I'm sure I'm short changing him somewhere. Cubs gives him some of what I can't and I hope to keep him in it for life.

As the story continues, I am still sitting at home all a quiver with anxiety. Slowly that fades and after no phone calls, I know he is ok. Turns out he was better than ok. Despite one small impulse accident, we are advised that he was one of the best behaved kids all weekend. He helped out, he went fishing, he paid attention. All without Ritalin I might add, which I had sent for him. Both Michael and I lavished him with praise and told him how proud we were. You could see he was too ! Something that is hard for Thomas is to be proud of himself. He doesn't seem to think about it all that much and might not really understand what it means, but when it happens it shows. I don't think it's a need for him like typical children. If it happens, great. If not, life goes on. What a great philosophy. The downside is, it doesn't really give him any ambition. We'll work on that.

So after all my quivering and worry my son scores another notch on the belt of life. He shows that he is maturing. He showed that he is changing and growing. When it happens right in front of you, sometimes it's hard to see. These times away from him give us that chance to see him in a new light. They give him the chance to grow and learn which is what he really needs. It benefits not only him but our family which is fabulous.

So let's raise a glass and give a cheer. To Thomas and all his successes. May you grow strong and proud and know that we love you just the way you are.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Necessity is the mother of Invention


As I am walking the dog this morning pondering our financial state, it was one of the few times I was able to see the benefits of being "financially challenged". We are not poor by any stretch but things have been tight for a few years. My husband is an apprentice and I've never been in a position to make loads of coin. I'm not high powered executive material.

I started thinking about what we've had to do in order to make ends meet. Over the years, I've dragged my kids in to fields to gather field stone for the garden. I've called my husband very excited about piles of patio stones on the side of the road. Heck, my daughter's chest of drawers came off the side of the road. I buy things on sale. I comb Value Village. I cruise Goodwill. These things never would have happened a few years ago.

I was raised upper middle class. Everything for my father was about how it looked, how much it cost and what name was attached to this. It gave me a superiority complex which was not a nice thing. I thought I was better than everyone else because my family could afford these "things". What we never had was time together. We never had movie night. We never went to the park. We never went on hikes or walks by the lake. Things that have been borne by our financial situation. We've had to improvise in order to spend quality time together. Some of the things we have experienced might never have happened if we were more financially affluent. We might be running around to all kinds of activities. We might be trying to keep up with the Jones rather than each other.

By being honest with our kids about our financial situation, they are learning some valuable lessons. They are learning that important things in life are not measured by how much they cost. They are learning not to judge people by what they wear or drive. Believe me, my husband has driven some doozies. They are learning to think outside the box in order to achieve things that they want. They've watched us scavenge. They've helped us scavenge. They've watched their father repair the foundation to the house, redo the entire house roof himself, dig out a driveway extension, build garden beds and renovate the basement all by himself. That is the short list. They've watched their mother shop frugally, bake endlessly, recyle tirelessly and donate constantly.

I'm hoping that they are learning the lessons far faster than I did. Learning to be independant. Learning not to judge. Learning not to value things over people. Learning to cherish time with each other. Learning that we are here to help one another.

My Uncle Alan, ironically my dad's older brother, has done a lot for me in this life lesson thing. The life I live now is far more like him than my dad. I sent him and my aunt a thank you letter a couple of years ago. I wanted them to know what kind of impact they've had on my life and in turn my children. My aunt called me and sounded quite choked up so I know they were suprised and appreciative. That wasn't the goal but it was nice none the less.

So maybe the point of all of this is that money is not everything. Would I like to do more for my kids ? Yes. When Thomas was little I spent thousands trying to fix his skin. Since then, I've spent thousands again trying to help with his Aspergers and other issues. I'd love to be able to afford tutoring and other things like that. Can I afford a new car ? No. Can I buy expensive clothes ? No. Do I care ? No. My kids have lived a life far richer than what money can buy. They've learned that they are valued. That they are important. That they are worth spending time with. The value on that - priceless.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lessons Learned


For the longest time I gathered life experience not knowing why. Sounds odd but here's what I mean.

We go through life and we experience things. Some people continue to live the life they are leading and some choose to embrace the experience and change. Some people don't think anything of the experience and some analyze it and put it to use. Some people don't realize that they are experiencing anything and others put meaning to everything that happens. I happen to fall in to the latter category.

I tend to keep experiences very close. I tend to analyze them, look for the meaning and see what I can do with it. Mostly I use them to become a better human being. I've managed to learn to control my mouth - some would disagree. I've managed to become a better wife - I hope he would agree. I've managed to become a better mom - the therapy bills will tell the truth on that one. I've managed to become a better daughter - a long time coming I can tell you.

My friend Stefanie once commented that there are several qualities about me she really likes. This is good as we've been friends over 25 years. I'd hate to think she'd waste all that time on someone whose qualities she abhorred ! Anyway - what suprised me was that the qualities she liked were my penchant for introspection and my ability to change my mind. These things have been developed over time in response to ticking people off. Not that I would change myself for others but I don't want to walk around having people plot my demise either.

I've chosen to do this for a lot of reasons and have found it quite successful. One other conclusion that I've come to is I am meant to experience all these things so that I can share it with others. I came to that conclusion a long time ago and for several reasons as well. One - things kept happening to me. Big, life altering things. And two - people kept talking to me. Friends, strangers, acquaintances. They all kept coming and still come to talk to me about their problems. Sometimes to vent and sometimes to help solve said problem. My mom even made me business cards to hand out which said, "If you need a wedding planned, lawyer disbarred or something taken care of - call Elizabeth" complete with my picture and number. Odd, but true.

So while I search for the meaning in my life, I remember that helping others is part of it. I think I go through these things to learn from them, build on them and share what I've learned. I assumed for a long time that everyone did this. I assumed that if little old me did this, then all people must want to learn and grow and change. I've since been disabused of this assumption and have learned that 90% of the population have a hard time figuring out how to tie their shoes.

So here I am with my A child, my life experiences and my thoughts and feelings. I decided that somebody needed to hear what I had to say. They keep coming and asking me anyway.

Can I protect him ?


My son has gone camping with Cubs. Not your girly in a lodge camping, but on the ground in a tent with wild things around camping. He has done this before and had great success. Right now, with every fibre of my being I want to run up there, snatch him up and bring him home. I worry that he is cold, I worry that I didn't send enough clothes, I worry, I worry, I worry.

I realize that parents of children without challenges worry but as a parent of one of each, I can honestly say it is different. I'll tell you a story - once upon a time, I had a dad. One day when I was 20, he died and I no longer had a dad in the physical sense. Shortly before this time, I had "lost" my dad to divorce. There were hard feelings, bad circumstances, etc. But he remained on this earth and was there to be reached out to when I was ready. Apparently it wasn't going to be for long, so several life lessons were learned during this time. I had experienced losing him in two ways which were distinctly different. I had a friend whose parents had divorced tell me that losing your dad to divorce and death was the same thing. As her dad was still walking the earth, I vehemently disagreed having experienced both and greatly preferring the loss to divorce. So when I say that I see things from both sides, I honestly mean it. I tend to look at things from as many angles as possible so I can have a real picture of the situation. Then I store that information for future references as hopefully most people do.

I look at both my kids as distinct individuals. While I have compared my son to other boys, I don't tend to compare him to my daughter. They are as unique to one another as siblings as they would be as strangers. I do worry about my daughter but I don't tend to get as shirty about her. Right now she is sleeping safely upstairs and I have no doubt in about half an hour she'll come tripping down the stairs with a Hello Momma. I still worry that my son will wake up. I still worry that he will be able to see a new day. I still wonder if his allergies will get him in the night or if his asthma will kill him quietly while we sleep. Up until a month or two ago, I still checked on both of them while they were sleeping. I still went in and put my hand on their backs to make sure they were breathing. I've even gone so far as to put my hand in front of Thomas' mouth to make sure the air was making it's way out.

Now I've sent him out in to the woods, in a tent, in a bag to keep him warm with men who will teach him how to survive in said woods for two nights and two and a half days. I've piled him up with sweaters, socks, hat and mitts, long johns, medications and warm blankets. I've sent snacks and a fishing pole and rubber boots. And all I want to do right now is get in the car, drive the 40 minutes just to put my hand on his back and make sure he is breathing. That he has awoken to see this new day. That I still have my son, my heart, my all.

Having said all of that, I know he is fine. We have camped as a family in this kind of weather and he was just fine. He is gathering skills, he is having accomplishments, he is making friends and building up his confidence. He routinely gets very positive feed back on camp outs. He loves it. He loves the fishing and the fire making and the hiking. He comes home dirty and smelly and proud. I will go in to hock to give him that feeling. I will keep him in Scouting as long as he will stay to give him that feeling. His Aspergers makes it hard for him to get that feeling. He routinely feels bad about himself for whatever reason. I am usually not to blame but have on occasion contributed to these bad feelings via frustration and irritation. Mild Aspergers kids are notoriously hard on themselves and he is no exception. Experiences away from us helps to give him the memories he needs to get over the bad feelings. It gives us field of reference to say - Look what you did buddy ! You did that so yes, you can do this ! He remembers, he smiles and he tries whatever it is we need to do.

So I will control my fibers. I will stay out of my car. I will sit at home and continue to send him positive loving thoughts as I've been doing for the past hour or so. This is one occasion where being psychic comes in handy. I can tune in to my son and know that he is fine. I can visualize my son and know that he is fine. I can send my love and hugs to him and know that he feels it. And I will wait to see him Sunday and see how much he has grown. And he's not going to be the only one who is proud.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What Could I Do ?


So I've come to the conclusion that I am not a good parent. It has come on slowly but gradually and I've come to accept it. I don't mean I beat my kids. I don't mean I neglect them but I see now what I could be doing and am disappointed to discover that I have not. I do not have it in me to play games, to listen endlessly to odd stories, etc. Lucky me: that is one of the characteristics my father has passed on to me. I love spending time with my kids but I need to be interested to enjoy it. I hate sitting around. I hate building lego's. I love taking my kids to the movies. I love taking them to museums. I love taking them to the theatre. I love taking them to the library. I love watching movies with them. But it's all on my terms which is sad. I do alot with my kids but if I don't want to do it, I don't which is also sad. I am not one of those self-sacrificing moms who will give up all of her time and energy to endlessly amuse her kids. I just can't. And this is biting me in the ass huge.

My kids have very good imaginations. They play well together. They are relatively computer savvy. They are learning to read, etc. but I'm not sure how much of that is to do with me. I look back now and realize the amount of time that I have wasted not drilling them about school work. How much time I have wasted not practicing math facts and reading out loud and everything else a good parent should do. I did read to them at night but listening to them read is like needles in my eyes. Homework is like torture because I don't understand why they can't get it and I don't know how to help them do that. This is my big failing as a parent - no patience. Yeesh.

My son cannot play board games. He gets frustrated, bored, jumpy, etc. It drives me nuts. But again, part of that is my fault. I have relied too much on TV for a distraction. I tell myself it's a treat for them. I carefully screen what they watch and expose them to Discovery channel, Learning Channel, etc. but still it's not for them, it's for me. It's for the lazy parent in me that needs a break after working all day, that needs a break from cleaning, etc. It's an easy out which again is biting me in the ass. As a result, he has developed no patience. He has not developed good skills at sticking with something which doesn't interest him. Part might be who he is given his mother's disposition but I wonder if I could have done more to build up those skills. I like to blame his Aspergers to exonerate myself but that is a cop out as well.

I need to start looking for other ways to have a break. I don't want to look back in 10 years and realize that while I recognized the problem, I didn't do anything about it. I have made changes but certainly none which have stuck as well as I would have liked. I have cut back TV for my kids but on rainy days we are stuck. It struck me this weekend. We are tight on money and couldn't really go anywhere. I could not bring myself to amuse my kids. I had to cook and clean and whatever else mom's do to get ready for Thanksgiving. I thought, heck, I'm doing all this and you want me to amuse you too ? Sheesh. What an idiot I am.

My kids still want to spend time with me. They still want to share their dreams and show me their accomplishments. They still want to go out with me and be seen in public. So in light of that, maybe I haven't done too bad a job. I've obviously somehow established a fairly decent relationship with them. They come to me with questions and ask me to help them. But do I help them emough ? I bark and I bite and I growl. I shush and I shoo. Help is on my schedule and kids don't work that way.

What could I do ? Well I could start by opening my mind and keeping it open. I could start by remembering that there will be a when they won't want me to help them but I will want to help. I could start by remembering that I will be running after them to spend time with them soon and they won't want to anymore. I could start by remembering that one day they won't have any more questions for me but I will have answers that I want to share. I could start by accepting the fact that my son does things differently and to stop placing unrealistic expectations upon him.

What could I do ? I could accept the fact that he won't be what I expected him to be and to stop blaming him for that. I could accept the fact that I need to find a way to relate to my son and my daughter before they won't care if I do or don't. I could accept the fact that I need to keep trying to be a better parent and not be so hard on myself when I mess up.

What could I do ? Love myself as much as I love my kids. Remember that saying I love you doesn't mean as much as showing that love every day. Find ways to have fun with my kids that don't involve a screen. Have realistic expectations on all of us and follow through on ways to improve my parenting.

What could I do ? See the chance to change and take it. I don't want to let life go by and keep missing it. I have two valuable, loving kids who think I am great. Maybe I should start deserving that opinion it a little more.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Just one more thing...


So we go to the developmental pediatrician for a check up. Just to see whas' up and check meds and all that good stuff. After a brief discussion, we get on to some concerns. Concerns lead to a small test. The small test leads to just one more thing. That one more thing is now called a fine motor visual integration disorder. But to the doctor it really isn't one more thing because it was probably always there but is just surfacing now so really it isn't anything new per se but ... it's just one more damn thing.

She reveals the concrete evidence to me in the middle of the lobby. I start laughing hysterically and she looks at me like I'm about to go postal, which unbeknowst to her I probably am. To her it's nothing, it's minor, it's no big deal. To me, it's one more thing. I look at her and I say, "I really was hoping not to hear the phrase - Would you like fries with that ? in relation to my son's career choices." She laughs. Haha - very damn funny. I point out to her that while it may have been there it is one more damn thing. This boy is anaphylactic, allergic, atoptic dermatitis, asthmatic, aspergers, add and now his brain doesn't want to talk to his hands. Well hell. Who does his brain want to talk to ? It doesn't want to tell him how to behave. It doesn't want to not kill him if he eats peanuts or nuts. It doesn't want to tell him how to make friends. It doesn't want to help him read properly. It doesn't want to help him breathe properly. So what may I ask is his brain supposed to actually do ? It appears to be going on strike on a regular basis and quite frankly I wasn't aware of a union. We also discover that he has been holding his pencil wrong for five years and at this late stage may not be correctable. Well hot damn - let's add just one more thing to the other thing that we've added today. Why not ? There seems to be a special on disorders and dysfunction today and apparently we are in the two 'fer line. Hot diggity.

So the day continues.

At one point I am on the phone crying hysterically and wondering what the heck is going on ? Much stronger language was used but who knows who might read this. God forbid I offend. The hysterical laughter soon follows and I commence high pitched what the f#!%'s in order to relieve my mounting hysteria. Thank God for my friend with an A child. She gets it which is what I really need to hear at that time.

So the day continues.

I get home and the husband does not get it at all. He does not see the port hole to my son's future shrinking. He does not see the added stress and added anxiety. He does not see the need for any of this. He does not see the need for me to have a moment. He believes he has it in perspective. I believe he is delusional but that is another story. My husband comes at this from a unique perspective because he himself is learning disabled. While not Wile E. Coyote, I am fairly bright and find reading and writing as easy as breathing. He does not, never has, never will found either of those skills easy.

It has taken me a long time to separate the ability to read and write from intelligence. My husband helped me with that. It has taken me a long time not to judge a person based on what they read or how they write. What I need right now is someone to throw me a freaking bone and tell me that my son's future is not mandated to include McDonald's as his only career choice. What I need is someone to show me that he can learn but needs to learn differently. What I need is all those people who told me he was bright all those years ago to go soak their head because they set me up for this fall. The "professionals" who over and over again said he was bright - he had problems, but he was bright. Well if his future career includes being a light bulb then we are on the right track.

Like it or not, this is just one more thing for Thomas and I to deal with. I guess I had hoped all his other issues would exempt him from any more things. A get out of hell free card if you will. This may turn in to a gift. There will be a positive from this I'm sure. But for right now, it's just one more damn thing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Power of Friendship


It seems to me that I have been undervaluing blogging. My computer died a sad and horribly slow death. It would heave to life and then quit. Sort of like my new favorite show Pushing Daisies. It just didn't matter how many times we pushed the darn on button, the computer stubbornly refused to cooperate.

I went through blog withdrawal. Granted unknowingly but I did.

I've just read Jess' blog and I have to say I was revived. I missed that glimpse in to her funny mind. I missed that private feeling of camaraderie. I am not one to share certain feelings and I missed the release of the blog. When I start to discuss certain things, my husbands eyes glaze over and he looks at me a bit funny. Sort of like when I do Tarot or give a reading to someone. He believes it but doesn't want to believe it. If I try to read my blog to him, I start to cry. Not helpful in the least but at least he isn't one of those guys who wigs out over it. While my husband is my best friend he doesn't have a vagina and that puts him in a different class of best friend. He doesn't get certain things, which I don't expect him to but sometimes need someone too.

This is where the power of my female friends come in. I can discuss shaving. I can discuss ghosts. I can discuss the emotional toll of my son on my life. I can discuss me and not feel like I should grow a penis and get over it. Sometimes I need to hash, beat that dead horse, rehash and then shoot the horse - whatever it takes to get it out so I don't feel it crawling under my skin. Toby Keith has written a great song called I Wanna Talk About Me. LOVE IT. Quite frankly, I wouldn't kick Toby Keith out of the bed for eating crackers which makes it even better but the song says it all. Some days I want to talk about me and not feel like I shouldn't. I'll give my husband his dues - he does listen and has learned I don't want him to fix it. But some days vagina to penis just doesn't work. Maybe it's the two friends that dangle along for the ride but talking to someone with the right genitalia can make all the difference in the world.

So I thank my female friends. Thank you for talking about breast hair. Thank you for talking about period poops. Thank you for talking about clothes. Thank you for talking about kids. Thank you for being the history keepers. Thank you for being the story tellers. Thank you for believing in ghosts and psychics. Thank you for listening. Thank you for that release that can only come from talking to someone without a penis who doesn't expect you to understand what a drive shaft is and why it's important. Thank you for the laughter. Thank you for helping me get over crises. Thank you for helping me to see that maybe there is a purpose in my life after all and remembering that I am important. Thank you for being my friend and giving me the power to be yours.

Life is good. My name is Elizabeth and I have a vagina - Thank God !

Laugh until I cried


As the parent of an A child you have many moments where the floor does not conveniently swallow you up and you are left to deal with whatever has just popped out of your ever lovin' childs mouth. Most times the other party laughs it off - some times they don't. I just read Jess' blog about sexy Spencer and have to share my story. Thanks for the laugh Jess - I needed that.

So we're in the doctors office - again. Thomas is about 3 and has learnt the power of frustration. We are helping him deal with that as best we can. Apparently there are those in our house who are not dealing as well as they should as I am about to discover. My son is happily playing with those dirty, nasty, make you cringe doctor's office toys. He is getting frustrated and I mention that calming down might be a good choice. In a stellar moment of childhood my son stands up, puts his hands on his hips and says none too quietly - Oh for F#!ks sake ! Hmmmm, say I. I guess someone has been cussing in the house and I guess Thomas' hearing is not as bad as we thought. We didn't know at this point that he actually has hyperacuity. So I say to myself, Self - whose fault is this really ? And myself says - yours you potty mouth. So I call my son over and congratulate him on the proper use of the term, remind him that we need to speak to Daddy when we get home and calmly advise him not to use that phrase again.

Damn that Daddy ! Can't he learn to control his f#!$ing mouth ?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

But serioulsy...


Suprising thing about blooging. You can start out bummed and then vent to no one and feel much better.

I still think life is about whatever gets you through the day. And I still think that it sucks that you collect all these experiences, friends and memories and then you are worm food. But I also think that God has a purpose for me and if it means sticking around to find out then so be it.

I do have to say that with all God's wisdom - why the heck would he invent fruit flies ? My damn house is full of them and the lizard doesn't seem to be interested. Just like a man - cute but useless. Always up to the woman to kill the bugs. Sheesh.

To all my friends - I love you. I'm glad you are part of my memory making experience on this earth. If I have to spend time here, at least I get to meet nice people on the way !

Not so sure


Finally I am back. My computer died a slow and agonizing death and we have moved on. Damnit.

We've had lots of hoopla in the last week or so. I herniated a disk and have been in various levels of discomfort for the past two weeks. My mom ended up in hospital for three days with we still don't know what. Thank God on my knees she is ok. Tears, yelling, the usual. I love that woman far too much. I got an excellent job review which has made my not so sure in to another Thank God my guardian angel steered me to this job. Last but not least my husband has changed jobs again for what we hope is the last time. My A friend's husband gave Michael a chance which we will always appreciate. Michael has said that this man has spoiled him for any other boss but that career path was not to be. He was not so sure as we can all be when we take a different path. He is still not so sure but feels good about the change. His only reserve was hurting this gentleman which I don't think has happened. Thank God for friends who understand.

I'm not so sure about many things lately. My son is starting to shake what I thought I knew about him. He is surprising me alot lately which I find exciting and nerve wracking at the same time. He is grasping things I didn't think he could. He is trying to act cool which never seemed to matter before. He is getting taller and taller and taller which I never thought would happen. I'm not so sure that I'm ready for him to change so much yet I can't wait for it to happen. We shall see.

I'm not so sure about life lately. I have questioned for some years the purpose of life. We come in to this world of mayhem and strife, fight to live and then die. Sounds like a rip off to me. We spend our time making memories, having experiences, getting through the day and for what ? When the time comes those memories go with us and none are the wiser. Our kids may chuckle now and again. Our spouses may reminisce about the time when such and such happened but really, what does it all matter ? I get very frustrated by the idea that I am fighting this fight for my son and in the end he will die. In the end I will die. And what will it have mattered ? We've had to fight this fight to get through a life that will end. I've often heard that believing in God will make this life worth living. I do believe in God. I believe in a higher power. But for some reason this question of the reason for life plagues me. I'm not so sure that it's always worth the fight. I get fed up with fighting.

I'm not so sure about many things. Today, I'm not so sure I want to write anymore. I've had so many good ideas over the past week and not been able to get them out. As therapeutic as it is - I'm not so sure it matters.

How's that for a happy thought ?