The Last Day

School gets out for the summer in fifteen minutes, but my son is already home.

He has been here an hour and is sleeping in a ball on the couch.

He looks small, uncomfortable, sweet…defeated.

The aide said he hasn’t been himself today, but I think the opposite may actually be true.

He is the same as ever, but school is different.

There are last minute parties, girls in white dresses and boys in first ties.

There are proud parents everywhere and an entire class toting pillows for a special movie hour.

There was an all-school picnic, another assembly, a shorter recess and a field trip to the park.

Morning announcements were canceled for graduation and there was less structure to the schedule.

There is a buzz in the air this week.

Everyone is excited.

Everyone, except my kid.

He is the same as ever, completely himself, completely overwhelmed by multiple changes to his routine.

The school nurse called me in early to take him home.

I had just finished assembling twelve little tokens of appreciation for the office staff – a bag of M&Ms, a picture of the boy and a teeny note of thanks tied with a pretty ribbon.

It was all I had time and money to do this year, but I was pleased with myself for getting it done.

Then the phone call.

I took the M&Ms with me, but I couldn’t stay to see them to their intended recipients.

I made twelve.  I handed out six.  😐  Sigh.

The boy is stirring on the couch now.

Time to assess the damage done to his demeanor by all these extraordinary things.

It might be a very long afternoon.

Thank goodness there are so many extra M&Ms.

Happy Thursday!

♥♥

Woofers in the Wind

I have to go to the dentist today.  I don’t wanna.

Last time, he sang along with the radio, right in my ear, while he was working.  I actually didn’t mind that.  At least he has a decent voice.

I just don’t want to sit there for an hour, unable to speak, unable to move, while someone pokes my gums with sharp stuff.

It’s about control, really.  I hate handing it over to someone I don’t know well, even someone as professional and courteous as my dentist.

I cherish my freedom and I just don’t like having other people tell me what to do.

I dreamed about freedom a few nights ago.  I was jogging.

With a bad foot and crappy knees, I don’t jog when I’m awake, so this was a good dream for me.

I felt strong and athletic, but I was still my full-figured, curvy self.

It was great.  I could run!

Did I mention I was topless in this dream?

Yeah, I was jogging with great joy and no shirt.

Blissful, confident, total abandon.

Unfortunately, there was another person in the dream.

This person didn’t harm me physically in any way, but he made it perfectly clear with cat calls and criticism that I should cover up.

I felt defeated and held a piece of cloth across my chest.

The dream sort of faded out at that point, but the meaning was clear to me when I woke up.

I felt free, someone judged me, and then I didn’t feel free.

Isn’t that odd?

I think I dreamed it all in anticipation of the dentist today.

I have so much courage, until someone tells me to sit still.  Then I’m a big, angry, socially anxious mess.  😡

I hate being told to sit still or to be quiet or to wait.  And I’m a grown-up.

I realize as I’m typing this, that these are the things I constantly tell my son.

Sit still.  Be quiet.  Wait.

Stand here.  Wear this.

It’s never ending, this list of things I expect of him, this list of controls.

And these things are so much harder to do when you’re a kid.  Poor little boy.

I feel like I’m a fairly calm mom about most stuff.  My house is a playground, not a showcase.  He gets to do a lot more than other kids I know.  I have rules, but not as many as my friends do.

Kids need order and routine and an understanding of the authority in their lives.  I know all that, but I still feel bad for him.

I wish I never had to tell him to sit still, be quiet or wait.

Wouldn’t it be great if no one ever had to tell him that?

Wouldn’t it be great if he never felt the pressure of societal constraints?

Of course, there is irony in my dream and consequential feelings about freedom and my son’s happiness.

I am, after all, the girl who prefers no public nakery.

Go figure.

Shall I eat my cake or have it?

And which thing shall I teach my son?

Such a conundrum.

Jogging topless did seem kind of fun…

P.S.  After shedding tears of dread in the dentist’s office parking lot, I sat nervously in the lobby for two minutes and was horrified by the opening sequence of the movie on the waiting room dvd player.  When the dental tech opened the door and called my name, I was relieved to go inside.  Funny how dreading a new thing can make the old thing seem like no big deal.

Happy Thursday!

♥♥

Catch Up, Catch All, Ketchup

I bought a new t-shirt the other day.  I wore if for five hours this morning and now I don’t want it anymore.

Until my beautiful sister-in-law came over, I don’t think I realized just how much I hate this shirt.

It’s essentially identical to all the shirts I wore when I was pregnant nine years ago.

But I’m NOT pregnant and probably never will be again, so now this kind of shirt just makes me feel old.  And wide.  And matronly.

What the hell was I thinking with a scoop neck and horizontal stripes?  Right.  Sooo wrong.

Goodbye, blue-striped-shirt-that-I-just-bought!  It wasn’t nice knowing you.

My sister-in-law has beautiful taste in clothes.  She always looks great.  And so feminine.  I envy her that.

I wish I could dress from stores like Anthropologie, but they don’t carry my size.  Or my shape.  Grrrrrr.

I can’t buy light, airy, ethereal fabrics because I don’t have a light, airy, ethereal life.

Even if I did, it wouldn’t matter, because I’m lumpy.

Pretty stuff doesn’t go with lumpy.

In fact, it might even make it worse.

Sigh.

Changing shirts now.

Ack!

Enough about that!

Moving on…

I got my fun little drawer in the mail from Studio 162.

Thank you, Erin!

I can’t wait to find a spot for it.

It might have to go on a wall near my chicken house.  (Scroll to the end of that post to see a poorly lit photo.)

And speaking of chicken…

did you know that getting ready for nuggets is all about the sauce?

The little boy actually ate some of those grape pieces this time.

The carrots?  😐  Not so much.

I’ve been putting four or five teeny slices on his plate every night for a week now.  I’m not sure he’s even looked at them, much less touched or eaten them.

Soon enough.  🙂

Kind of a slow day…

for my brain anyway.

Need.  Caffeine.  Chocolate.

Happy Wednesday!!

P.S.  Green lollipop boy:

♥♥

Dear Thomas,

You got a bloody nose yesterday morning.  Coupled with fatigue from a day or two of erratic eating and sleeping, it pushed you over the edge.

You couldn’t stop moving and flailing your arms and crying.  You had a king-sized tantrum.

The blood dropped big red polka dots all over our beige tile.  The sight of it disturbed you even more.

At the height of your misery, you screamed “no school” at the top of your lungs.  You were shaking when you tried to scream it again.  It came out softer and more defeated the second time.

So I let you stay home.

My decision put visible peace on your face.

As I used some windex and a mop to clean up the floor, you took a pen to your dry erase calendar and circled the rest of the week.  You said “today, no school.  Tomorrow, yes school.”  You understood the trade off.  I let you stay home and you go without complaint the next four days.

We go through odd cycles with you.  There are weeks, sometimes even a month, during which all is well and somewhat uneventful.

Then there are the bloody nose days.  Or the “no sunny!” days.  Or the “no-all-gone-the-too-much-cheese-goldfish” days.

We can’t plan for those.  They are what they are.  They happen when they happen.

Your daddy and I have to roll with the emotional punches.  We wait out your tantrums, try to feed you something, try to calm you down, and then move on.  And we have to do it without defeat and without concern for what anyone else thinks of us, or you, or how we handle things in our family.  That’s not always easy, but we do it.

We start over everyday.

This morning you were upset that I wouldn’t give you 60 minutes on the timer to play on the computer, but you got up too late for that.  And you dawdled.  Ultimately, you conceded to eliminating most of our time at the grocery store on the way to school.  You are a crafty time manager.

Miraculously, we made it just as the final bell rang.  I didn’t even get a satisfactory goodbye from you before I had to walk away.  I hate that – leaving before I’m certain you consciously see me and know that I’m going.  It makes me worry.

I know that you recover from your upsets quickly.  I’ve witnessed the return of your cheery demeanor quite often.  It usually just take a few bites of peanut butter and jelly to bring it back.

By the time I get back in my car each morning, I feel like I’ve run an emotional marathon.  I usually have to sit there a minute and collect my scattered thoughts before I can start the car and drive to my next destination.

Whatever the mood between us when I drop you with your teacher, I can’t wait to see you at the end of each day.

I am sorry that we’ve had a difficult few mornings.

I will try harder to be the right mommy for you, because you are absolutely the right little boy for me.

You are the sweetest, smartest, cutest, kindest, most beautiful baby boy that ever lived.

I love you.

-Mommy

P.S. We took that top picture of you at Legoland a few weeks ago.  The bottom picture was taken at the Zoo in March.  You love to hug the characters.  🙂

♥♥

Autism Regression

The little boy is playing happily on the computer next to me.  Things are calm now.

Two hours ago, we were screaming at each other.  At the top of our lungs.  Really screaming.  Not just yelling.

I don’t feel like a good mom today.  And lately, my son has been an extra challenging child.

His math and reading skills have improved significantly.  He enjoys homework.  He is talking more, making better eye contact, and cooperating with rigid routines.

Even socially, we have seen major development from him.  He craves interaction and camaraderie from his peers.  He knows their names and he spontaneously greets them every morning when they arrive at school.

Progress.

But, behaviorally, things kind of suck right now.

The boy has become obsessive compulsive in ways we never knew possible.  And he wants us to do everything for him.  He demands that we do everything for him.

Our refusals, whether sugary sweet and thoroughly pleasant or a little snippier from exasperation and fatigue, they all land on him the same way.  He loses his mind.  He starts yelling.  His most frequently uttered sentence (and by uttered, I mean yelled) is “No saying no!!”  He shakes back and forth and he screws up his face in frustration and anger.

He’s also slapping and pushing and pulling and hitting again.  And today he grabbed my wrist, twisted my skin and drew blood with his sharp little fingernails.  That’s when I screamed too – first in pain and surprise and then again in anger.  And, I admit, twice more, just to get it out of me.  This has been a very stressful month.

Last night I went to my mom’s for a family dinner.  My older brother turns 51 this month, so mom made food and we all gathered to sing and eat cake.  I love my brother, but I probably shouldn’t have gone.  I was at the end of my emotional rope yesterday and it was a long drive, a big dinner, a frustrating conversation about a treadmill (don’t ask), and then a long drive home.

After exiting the freeway, I was so keyed up from the weekend and that final drive, that I had to stop at the local Trader Joe’s and walk two speedy laps around the parking lot to blow off steam before I went home.  I knew I couldn’t deal with my child without exercising first.  The troops selling Girl Scout Cookies in front of Henry’s Market looked at me with suspicious eyes when I whipped past them the second time.  Oh well.  Had to do it.

And then today.  I was okay today until I brought the boy home.  And then the screaming.  My throat hurts from my part.  I imagine his throat hurts too.  He was LOUD.

What kills me about this afternoon is the amazing good mood he was in when I picked him up from school.  He was laughing and skipping and so excited about everything he saw.  I should have known it would spiral out of control the minute we walked into the house.

But really, how AM I to know that?  I know my son so well and I still don’t know that.  I don’t know what will set him off.  Certainly, I have a long list of potentials in my head, things I avoid when possible, but I can’t predict it all and I grow weary trying to anticipate it.

This month, for example, after he uses the toilet, he wants one of us to take the lid and seat from his hand and lower it for him.  Even if he is upstairs and we are downstairs, he will scream at us to do this.  We don’t, but it makes him crazy.

And he wants us to carry him from the couch to the kitchen or from the kitchen to the stairs or the couch to the toilet or the toilet to the chair.  We say “no” and employ one of a dozen psychological tactics to get him to accept our answer, but he just gets madder.

He has to walk back and forth three or more times in the same spot before he can go forward and do something.  Today, he wanted a cup.  The cup was right in front of him in the pantry, two feet away, but he wanted me to get it.  I was across the room and I told him “no.”  Then I stood and watched in sadness and some disbelief as he tried to go forward to get it himself, but instead went in every direction but toward it.  He went sideways and backwards and he spun in circles, but he couldn’t get that cup.  It made us both crazy.  Yesterday he chose a cup from the same location with no problem at all.  I don’t know what was different about today.

And the snack in his hand? Pocky.  He couldn’t eat it anymore.  Once he came to the understanding that he couldn’t get the cup, he was no longer capable of holding the snack.  He crushed it, almost involuntarily, and he seemed miserably sad about it.  I told him to throw it away.  He did, but it was physically challenging for him.  And then, of course, he wanted me to take the trash can lid from his hand and lower it.  I didn’t.  More upset.

I am fatigued by writing about this.

I have to wrap this up.

If you made it this far, you are a good friend.

Maybe you could babysit for us some time.

Happy Monday.

♥♥

Chicken and the Egg

I hate this week.

My brain is wrapped around things that are way too personal to share.

In fact, I have seriously considered calling it quits with the blog and maybe even taking down what I’ve already posted.

I feel like going dark again, you know?

I’m not sure I remember why I started doing this.

It’s raining.

I have to go get my son and then drive in it for 40 minutes to his therapy appointment.

I don’t want to.

My son will scream when we stop for red lights.

If we hit slower commute traffic on the way home, he will lose his mind.

My mind is already gone this week.  Husband’s too, I think.  Seems like we aren’t communicating well enough or something.

All I want to do is sit in the house with a book and a fire.  I want to eat soup and drink tea and let my mind empty…or race.  But at home, you know?  Not in the car.  Not out there, where I want sunglasses even when it’s dark.

I’m cold.  My hair is up off my neck and it will stay there for the next two months because I impulsively asked my husband to cut off half of it this weekend.  I have to wait for it to grow out a bit so that I can get it properly styled.  Until then, my neck is cold and I feel kind of stupid and sad because I should have just gone to a salon.  Even a bad one.

Husband did fine.  He cut it straight across just like I asked.  It’s just that I shouldn’t have asked.  I never feel like I deserve a good haircut, you know?  I’m a fool.

I’m down today.  There’s no hiding it, I guess.  The hair is just a drop in the bucket.

My kid has escalated his obsessive compulsive behaviors.  It’s wearing me out.  It’s also making my brain explode as I ponder the whole chicken/egg sort of questions about why it’s happening.  Am I losing my mind because he is OC or is he OC because I’m losing my mind?  Which came first?  I think the reason no one can ever answer that question about chickens and eggs is because you go crazy before you hear it.  You can’t answer because you’re already crazy when the question is posed.

That’s how it is in our house.  We’re all going nuts because of my son’s obsessive compulsive behaviors.  But my son might be obsessive compulsive because we’re all nuts.

Not even sure how finish this post.

I gotta go now.

Happy Friday.

♥♥

Good Job and Some Music

My husband stopped at Home Depot on his way home last night.  He picked up a carton of fireplace logs and a deep pink potted miniature rose.

When he walked into the house, the little boy looked at him and said “A log!  A rose!  Good job!”  Considering where the day began, that made us chuckle.  Smart little boy.

He went to school this morning.  His initial protest was predictable and annoying, but he seemed to snap out of it when I told him I would take him to school in his pajamas if he didn’t put on his clothes.  I guess he figured I was serious.

Clearly, he has developed some sort of social anxiety about being in his jammies outside the house.  That part actually makes me a little sad.  He’s only eight.  Kids should feel comfortable being in their jammies, whatever the scenario.  But he doesn’t, and it’s no surprise.  It’s worth repeating, he’s not like other kids.

Tomorrow starts a four-day weekend.  My swollen eye and I can’t wait.  I need to stay in the house as much as possible.  We have a few things planned, but I can’t really handle the brightness of the sunny skies until my eye gets better.  It’s hard to drive, hard to walk, hard to do anything but just sit still.  My eye is more sensitive to light than usual and today’s chilly air is downright painful.

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to catch up with some friends for a long lunch in a dark restaurant.  Sitting there, with my back to the windows, was the best break my eye has had since the stupid balloon popped on Monday afternoon.  Thank you, friends!

The little boy is home from school and planted at the table with a book of mazes.

He is obsessed with mazes lately.  I spent $25 on three books full of them yesterday and he has already finished the little one.  I don’t quite know what I will do when he finishes the last of them.

He also makes me draw mazes for him.  It exhausts me.  You try it.  It’s not as simple as it sounds.  The maze has to be tricky, but not defeating.  My son is very crafty and sharp-eyed, but he’s still autistic and he frequently displays escalating and sometimes explosive frustration when he can’t figure out a solution to something.  Mazes are a challenge for us both.

There are plenty of mazes on the internet, but my printer doesn’t work right now and I’m not too keen on dropping all my toner on that anyway.  Mazes are sort of ink-laden.

What to do?  More books, I guess.

I remember liking mazes and other brain teasers myself when I was his age.  I wonder how my parents kept my supplies well stocked.  I don’t remember ever doing without them.  Hmmm.

The husband and I are constantly working on crossword puzzles at the dining table.  I guess that’s our grown-up equivalent of what the boy likes.  Maybe there is hope for his interest in reading.  Language is a maze too, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, not sure how much writing I’ll get done over the long weekend, so I’ll catch you back here in a few days.

Happy Thursday!

P.S.  Evil husband tried to plant bad 80’s pop music in my head as we were drifting off to sleep last night.  I countered with Hank Williams and some Donny and Marie.  He sang some Rush and Scorpions and I responded with a Partridge Family tune.  We both got stumped trying to remember the Billy Joel song from Bosom Buddies and then were equally tortured as it seemed the theme to The Greatest American Hero would never escape our addled brains.  Luckily, I remembered this Elvin Bishop song, one of my all time teenage favorites.  I happily drifted off with it spinning in my mind.  (Enjoy that video – there wasn’t anything official, so I figured I’d choose something a little off the wall for you.  😀 )

♥♥