He goes back to school on Tuesday.
Stay tuned for a thrift store adventure report!
I don’t know how often I can come on here and say the same things.
Life is hard. And easy. And ugly. And beautiful.
Life is hard…
because my autistic son needs everything to be a certain way and, despite the good intentions of everyone in my life, very few really understand how insanely difficult it is to parent him.
He seems so incredibly normal – whatever the hell “normal” is. He is beautiful. He is smart. He is talkative and cheerful. He is happy and animated and very cooperative. Until he isn’t.
Over the two-week break, he hit me a few times. 😦 He pushed me too. On one of the days he had a meltdown like I can’t even describe. He screamed, he broke things. The usual.
He yells about everything. “No take the plate to the kitchen!” “No mama say!” “No mama singing!” “No music!” “No. No. No!”
And then there’s the OCD stuff…
He has a thing about the pantry door. He has to close it a certain way, at a certain time, repeatedly. He chants his little chants, he swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and swings it shut and pulls it open and SLAMS it closed. And all of the things that hang from the inside of the door go crashing to the tile below. LOUD. LOUD. LOUD.
And the bathroom door. He closes and opens it too. All the time. Just because.
He writes math problems for himself every night. He leaves the papers all over the table. He does this when I am in the pit of the day’s fatigue. Consequently, his math papers never get picked up. Our house is an overwhelming wreck. It depresses me. I am tired and life is hard.
Life is easy…
because I have three fabulous moms and a good friend who listen to all of it. Life is easy because husband knows how it is and he’s here everyday seeing it, feeling it, and being in it with me. And when he isn’t here to make it easier on me, he’s out there to make it easier on me. He works so that I can take care of our kid. And our house. And our laundry. Our never ending, steaming mountains of laundry.
Life is ugly…
because of stupid, evil, mean people who make me sick with worry for my son…and his future…and the potential dangers that await him.
Life is beautiful…
because the yelling, pushing, screaming, toy throwing little boy is also sweet and kind and funny and he makes up songs about silly things like my jiggly arms. 😀 I love him.
Life is beautiful because I get to see my good friend every few months and we always have a great day together somewhere. On Sunday, we went to the Long Beach Flea Market and I bought a water fountain. It’s perfect for our little yard, but it weighs a gazillion pounds.
Life is beautiful because the vendor wanted $75 and we talked him down to $50.
Life is beautiful because my friend carried the dirty top part of the fountain a great distance to my car for me.
Life is beautiful because there is ibuprofen to ease the pain and stupidity of carrying the lower section of the fountain by myself. Day four and I am still achy breaky.
Life is beautiful because we had a very pleasant lunch at Bono’s Long Beach with the best creme brulee I have ever tasted in my life. The portion was HUGE and my friend didn’t want any. 🙂 Thank you, silly friend.
I got these guys for me:
Their bodies are hinged so you can sway their little legs back and forth if you want to. I know you want to. 🙂
Life is life.
The Mellowest Cat Ever
I love him because he playfully grabbed my fingers and purred at me like we were old friends, just sitting on the floor of our living room.
But we were at Home Depot, he was in a shopping cart, and I was a stranger.
I might have stolen him…
if his owner hadn’t been so sweet and funny and obviously smitten with her little feline friend. She told me that Kitty is easier to shop with than her children were when they were young.
Llamas & Rabbits
My son and I love the Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney.
We have three and can’t wait to get the others.
Dewdney’s latest is on the right – Llama Llama Home With Mama.
Here is a sneak peek at one of her charming new illustrations – hope I don’t get in trouble for sharing!
You can’t read this title online as yet, but you can peruse the others with this link to wegivebooks.org.
This site offers a great way to donate books to children who need them, but you don’t have to donate just to look. Don’t worry if a donation message pops up. Just click the “x” to finish. Unless you want to donate! 🙂
While you’re there, check out Nobunny’s Perfect too! We have only read it online and it’s already another of our favorites. The bunnies have a few behavioral issues in common with my son. 😐
A Sly Squirrel
I don’t remember where I got this little fellow – maybe a gift from the lovely mom-in-law??
Every year, I forget that he’s in the closet, waiting patiently with the other decorations.
When I open the box and find him inside, I always feel like I’ve bumped into an old friend.
He is my favorite little bit of Fall. 🙂
P.S. Someday soon I’ll post more pictures of the things my son tapes to the walls in our house. He does it so often that we almost don’t notice anymore. Almost.
This thing was taped up across from the laundry doors for over a week. 😐 It was really in the way and we never understood exactly what it was, but we left it alone.
What can I say? The boy loves paper and tape and weird little stuff (just like his mama) and he does everything with such purpose. If he thinks it needs to be on our wall, then it’s pretty much gonna be on our wall.
Today he threw a suitcase into the air, hit himself repeatedly, screamed, whined, shook, knocked over chairs and basically destroyed our front room.
I screamed at the top of my lungs too and now my throat hurts. And of course, I feel like a failure as a mother because I lost my cool and couldn’t stop his behavior.
He made a weekend schedule yesterday. This morning, he couldn’t find it. That was the cause of the tantrum.
He doesn’t care about the ease of scribbling out a new schedule. He doesn’t care that he is able to tell you everything that he wants to do today. He wants the paper he made. He is devastated that it’s gone.
The aggravation for me is that he won’t look for it. He reduces to tears, then escalates to rage, be cause I can’t find it.
It makes absolutely no difference to him that I have never seen it. I don’t know what color it is or how big it is, and I certainly have no idea where he last put it. He is just beside himself with anger and grief because I can’t produce it the moment he asks.
I turned his room upside down, looked in the bathroom and sifted through the piles and piles of his papers downstairs. All of that and nothing. No schedule. No end to his meltdown.
It’s only 7:20 a.m. and I am already exhausted.
How is your week going?
P.S. This was our Tuesday:
The little boy is enamored of arms. For months now, he has been fascinated with freckles and veins and moles and anything that sets an arm apart from the one next to it. He likes to study these things.
Mostly, it’s kind of charming. He is gentle and sweet and genuinely interested in the differences between us and himself.
Sometimes though, it’s sort of annoying. My arms are not my best feature, you know? I don’t really want him to point them out in public, much less unexpectedly reach his hand up my sleeve and shake them. 😐
To combat this unwanted activity, I started pulling him close and threatening “if you jiggle me, then I tickle you!” It stopped him about three times.
Now he has, in fact, used the word “jiggle” to nickname my arm. And his dad’s arm too. (Though dad’s doesn’t actually jiggle.)
Okay, it’s a little funny.
A few weeks ago he came up to me, his eyes full of love for my fleshy underarm, and he said “Thomas hug the jig?”
Seriously? I don’t even get the rest of the word, now?
My husband and I both laughed, but I don’t know. It just sounds wrong or something, doesn’t it?
Well, whatever, that’s what he says now. My arm is “the jig.” More specifically, the squishy, unfit, underside of my upper arm is called “the jig.”
Oh, and “tickle puff.” Sometimes he just calls it “tickle puff.”
The thing is…
the boy has eyes for other arms too.
He just likes to hug people, you know? He sees their bare skin and he smiles. He is fascinated and wants to wrap himself around them and just hug.
Most of the teachers and aides who know him at school are fine with his latest obsession. None of them seem to mind this extra attention from my smiling boy.
The other parents? Well, I’m not so sure about them. I don’t think any of them would be troubled by an accidental nudge from a stray kid, but fawning adoration of a specific body part? I don’t think they would be too welcoming of that. They don’t know him. They don’t know that he’s harmless and sweet.
Every morning as we stand in the line for his classroom, my son eyeballs the arriving parents.
It’s hot in August and all those mamas have on tank tops and spaghetti straps and short sleeves.
My son is fascinated. He smiles, he laughs, he looks, he really wants to hug.
Today, one of the moms I’ve never met (and whom I’m a little put off by, actually 😐 ) showed up in a strapless sundress. Oy. She sat at the picnic tables with the kids who were eating breakfast.
Nothing happened, but only because I never took my eyes off of my son.
He skipped up to the tables, deftly weaved between the other kids and was standing next to strapless mama in about two seconds flat.
Her back was to him, so she never knew that she almost got an arm squeeze.
I called him back before he did it and tried to explain that he couldn’t hug just any jiggling arm.
I don’t know if my words made sense to him or not. I’m guessing not, since I’ve told him this same information every day for several weeks and nothing has changed.
We get to school, we stand in line, and the boy starts jonesin’ for some jig.
Watch this space…
Next month, he’ll have a new obsession.
Sweet potato. 🙂
As I typed this, he wouldn’t leave my arm alone. Just now he asked me “Thomas hug the jiggy?”
I got some letters back. 😀
P.S. Those pix above are from our weekly IHOP visit.
P. P.S. Husband is making little changes in the yard this week. I’ll post a few pix in the next day or two. For now, look what I brought in to put on the counter. I love, love, love the bright orange.
Sweets for me and my sweets
There’s tiramisu in the fridge again. (Insert contented happy dance here.)
It’s such a mess to make, but so worth the effort and the cocoa dusted counter tops.
Have I mentioned lately how much I hate grout?
It’s everywhere in my home and nowhere in my dreams.
And this evening, my grout is cocoa powder brown. 😐
But like I said, there’s tiramisu in the fridge again.
And it’s the good kind.
The almond kind.
It’s not the rum kind.
It’s this kind. 🙂
OCD and then some
The little boy is going through an increased phase of obsessive compulsive behaviors again.
He has some of these behaviors all the time, but every month or so they intensify for a while.
It makes us tired. And frustrated. And teary. And sometimes really, really mad.
He will insist we do things for him that we haven’t done since he was a baby, or ever.
Tonight, for instance, he called me to come into the bathroom as he was finishing his shower.
“Mama, pull the plug?”
I’ve really never pulled the plug for him after his bath time, but suddenly, he is desperate for me to do it.
When I refuse and explain that it’s his responsibility to pull the plug, he starts a tantrum.
I leave the room. 😐
He has also started asking us to push him or carry him everywhere again.
THAT makes me lose my mind.
I sit at the dining table with my cereal and he wants me up so that I can carry him three feet, from the kitchen to the couch.
I ask if his legs are broken.
Sometimes, he gets the point.
Sometimes, not so much.
And just now, he was standing in the kitchen with me.
He was waving a cloth napkin in his hand.
“Mama put the napkin down?”
He wanted me to take it from him so that I could put it on the counter.
You get the picture.
Penny for your thoughts. And your patience, please.
Before we weened ourselves away from the little boy’s private psychologist, we got one last piece of great advice.
She suggested we offer him a penny every time he waits patiently at a red light.
Until we started doing that, he would absolutely freak out in the car.
He doesn’t like to wait.
He doesn’t like things he can’t control.
Traffic + his being in the backseat with a limited view = intersection of all anxiety, mine and his.
I’ve written before about being pelted in the head with McDonald’s toys, having my seat kicked, having my ear drums pained by sudden blood-curdling screams, and having papers and magazines torn to pieces.
All because of red lights. Or pedestrians. Or bicycles. Or buses.
Being in the car pretty much sends my kid into the deepest recesses of his autism.
Or at least it did, until we started the pennies.
Now, things are usually okay.
And this week we took the pennies to Vons and threw them into a CoinMaster machine.
He bought another nightlight. 😀
In the wake of some marital strife – no, you don’t get details – I have concluded that the husband needs a fabulous weekend like I had in Pasadena.
I suggested it today and though we do have a lot on the calendar in the next several weeks, I think it will work with some creative planning.
So, husband, start thinking about all the guy stuff you wanna do.
I will help with reservations. 🙂
And that’s all she wrote.
The little boy has a crush on a girl in his summer school class.
He walked up behind her this morning and tried a sly one-armed hug. It sort of worked. She didn’t hug back, but she looked at him sweetly and didn’t seem to mind his very forward gesture. He didn’t notice her response.
A few days ago, my son’s aide told me that he is the class clown. He loves funny sounds and music and goofy toys and he likes to laugh, so I guess the other kids watch him sometimes.
He is always recognized by his schoolmates when we’re out and about. Even the kids who are older and have never been in a class with him will point him out to their moms and say “hi” as we walk by in the grocery store or at the mall.
My kid is kind of a rock star.
At the park, the other children are always fascinated when he doesn’t respond or even seem to understand that they are talking to him. He has the best sand toy collection, so they are very motivated to figure him out. They ask me a ton of questions.
My son takes in a lot of his surroundings, maybe even more than most kids, but he doesn’t quite know how to read facial expressions or body language. He typically just stares when another kid talks to him.
People amuse, entertain, and befuddle my son. He likes their oddness and their quirky mannerisms, but he doesn’t always know what to make of their efforts to communicate. Or my efforts to communicate, for that matter.
Today, we went to the store after his swim lesson. I bought him a big bag of Ruffles, his current favorite snack. As we drove home, I extended my open hand toward him in the backseat. Without a word from either of us, he placed a chip in my hand. I said “thank you” and reached back twice more before we turned onto our street. He gave me a new chip each time.
I really didn’t consider the miracle of that until I pulled into the garage. He could have put anything, or nothing, in my hand. He could have kicked my hand, like he has done before. Or he could have become agitated and yelled “no Mama’s hand go backwards!” He has done that before too. 😦
Instead, he did what any ordinary person would do. He read my body language. He understood my gesture and complied with my silent request. Ordinary? Extraordinary.
The chip experience reminds me of this post from Into The Woods, Living Deliberately.
It’s the little things, you know?
P.S. We’re spending a lot of time at the popper fountains this summer. What are you up to?
I got a $135 rebate on my new washing machine.
I got a $133 delinquent registration fine on my van.
I want to go back to Pasadena and stay for a long time. And while I’m away, I want a team of cleaning specialists, carpenters, painters, electricians, and pretty people from HGTV to attack my house.
It’s so depressing to return to an unorganized, inefficient, stressful mess. I am back to the ever-burning questions – have there really been faded sheets hanging over my windows for the last ten years and why do we have so many wires everywhere?
My fattest boy cat is snoring soooo loud from his perch across the room,
that I keep checking the sweet girl next to me to see if it’s her. It isn’t.
The little boy slobbered and slurped, then abandoned his Lula Mae spiral sucker on the desk last night.
I have already gotten stuck to it once.
I am sweating.
There is a five dollar Denny’s coupon on my printer.
The cat stopped snoring. Is he dead?
Last month, the little boy taped a pencil to the wall in our hallway. It stayed there for almost two weeks and a couple of times, when I threw my dirty laundry down from the landing above, my undies got stuck on the pencil and hung on the wall for over an hour.
While I was gone this weekend, husband blew up every balloon we had.
The child wrote words and drew faces on most of them.
And on this yellow one, he wrote the word “clear.” Backwards.
We don’t know why.
But for some reason, it’s beautiful to us. 🙂
Meeting a friend soon, so I gotta go.
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.
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. 🙂