Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cuteness On a Stick

It's nights like this that make all the other not-so-successful nights worthwhile.

Also, a surplus of bite sized Kit Kats and Twix bars don't hurt either.  Especially when there are so many of them in my kids' trick-or-treat bags that a glut few of them disappearing will go unnoticed.

But I digress.

Ahhh, Halloween.  You sucked last year, my friend.  You, with your carefully practiced trick-or-treat social skills pragmatic that quickly went to hell in a hand-basket.  You, with your bright, shiny treat bucket that remained pitifully all-but-empty when little C decided he was absolutely not interested in participating in this confusing, stress-inducing lunacy, thank-you-very-much.  We spent last year riding you out inside of the truck pulling a hayride for all of the other kids enjoying your festivities, with hands planted firmly over our ears.

Little C literally, me participating in spirit.

(I really, really wanted to, but figured it would probably look pretty weird, and somebody had to hold it together.)

This year, though--this year you pulled through for us, Halloween.

This year, little C was so excited about his costume (Cars 2, natch) that I was half convinced he was going to pass out the first time we put it on him.  We had to hide like it was a Weapon of Mass Destruction in the days before his first party, but it was worth it to see his face.

I am never taking this off.  EVER.

Then, by some miracle, Big C's behavior in school improved enough to ensure that he would, in fact, be trick-or-treating this year.

It was a close one, folks.

Halloween night arrived, and my baby SHINED.  The same kid that whimpered and hunched over in my lap last year couldn't ditch me fast enough this time.  He ran merrily after his brother, from house to house, chirping "Trick or Treat!" like a champ.  Sure, he was a little confused on the three-step process at first ( 1)"Trick or treat!" 2) Accept Candy 3) Say "Thank you," and proceed to the next house, in case you were wondering).  But we got it, people.

The neighbors--of course--thought he was the cutest thing ever, and didn't for a second think he was anything other than completely typical.

Which was great, except I totally wanted to act like a lunatic and tell everyone within hearing distance, after each visit, "He's autistic.  He just said TRICK OR TREAT, then took ONE PIECE of candy, and THEN SAID THANK YOU.  THIS IS MONUMENTAL."

It seemed a little anticlimactic to just wave and smile politely, then move on to the next house.

In the fray, with the rest of the hooligans

In short, tonight was a success, and I am ridiculously grateful for it.  Both children had a blast, I didn't lose either of them, and there's enough chocolate in my house at this moment that I should be able to siphon pieces off for weeks undetected.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Crashing Down

It's been one of those nights.  A night that is ending (finally) with me cozying up to an entire bag of cookie dough, comfortable in the realization that the majority of it won't make it through the night.

I'm not even ashamed of it, because cookie dough is cheaper than anti-anxiety medication.

Tonight went well (mostly), until it didn't.  When it didn't, it crashed and burned in spectacular fashion--its soundtrack consisting of poorly withheld sobs (me) and hysterical, screeching cries (him).

This is one of the parts that really, really sucks, my friends.

The good days get you up on this ridiculous, addictive high, whispering words of encouragement and highlighting every accomplishment of your child's in this bright, fuzzy glow.  The brighter that glow, the more it crowds out the dark aspects of this !@#$%-ing spectrum, so the easier it is for that mother!@#$% to creep up on you.

We've been coasting here, lately.  Since Full Time Preschool inception, we've been in maintenance mode with Little C, for the most part--with the exception of a few social skill issues we need to work on.  Big C's been more of the "problem" in our household, being FIVE, with all of the accompanying drama and fights for independence.  His glaring intelligence is becoming a large bit of a problem, but I'm too exhausted to go down that rabbit hole right now.

I'm sad and I'm pissed and I'm feeling helpless, and it's all *Disney-Pixar-Cars-2's fault.

Last night's Facebook status:

Bought what I thought was a Cars 2 storybook at the book fair tonight, only to find out it was in fact some complicated as crap PROJECT book.

But I read the instructions like they were a freaking FAIRY TALE at bedtime.

The end.

I got away with it last night--but not this night, my friends. Big C was in timeout (again), so I seized on the opportunity for Mommy/baby boy time and we cracked that thing open.  Cars 2 (not 1, mind you, Cars 2) is a bit of a perseveration right now, and (naively) I thought Yay!  Play time, this will be fun. 


Thirty seconds in, and we had a problem.

About two minutes away from nuclear explosion

See, that little fold-out track is meant to be driven on by those little cardboard cars over there to the side.  

The problem?  Four sets of "interchangeable" wheels, and eight cars.

Match, meet fuse.

It started with the complex hand movements.  Not flapping, per se, but his own little take on it.  He shifted anxiously from foot to foot.

"Mater needs wheels, Mom," and my heart broke.

I explained (with rising desperation) that we'd need to take the wheels off of Holly, or Lightening, or Finn, or Francesco, to give Mater wheels.

I might as well have not bothered.  Reasoning and rising anxiety are far from friends in this house.  I tried to demonstrate, removing a set of wheels from one of those treacherous little bastards, only to set off another stick of dynamite.


Hands planted firmly on his ears, he wails helplessly, frantically.  "No, no, NO!"

I remain firm, (outwardly) calm, doing everything I know is "right," but it doesn't help.  I try tactic after tactic, to no avail.

His ship is sinking now.

What should have been fun, special play time for him was wrecked all to pieces by that @sshole autism.  The final crash and burn comes when I throw in the towel and put up the play set for tonight, carrying him to bed for what I hope will be calm-down time.  Although I know he needs the quiet, dark room to wind down out of his spiral, closing the doors on his cries feels like abandonment.  My head knows that the more I try to console him, the more futile my attempts will become, and the harder this will be next time.  

My heart,'s gonna take some more convincing.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mud In Interesting Places

Two months ago, I signed up to do a little race called The Warrior Dash.  At the time, I thought it would be a fun diversion from my normal fitness routine.  Although I was in pretty good shape at the time, I decided to use this race as a motivator to push myself further than I had ever pushed before.  And boy, did I.

Eight weeks of hard training brought me to this day.  In those weeks, I found out more about myself than I ever have before.  And yes, I'm aware of how touchy feel-y that sounds, but it's true.  At the time I started training, I was stressed out, overwhelmed, and not feeling very good about myself.  Eight weeks later, I have pushed myself to the brink, and am feeling pretty bad@ss.

"Before."  By all means, look anywhere but at the camera, kids.

The race was long.  I was running 5K's three times a week by the end of my training, so I figured I had the running part down pat.  What I didn't count on, however, was how much longer a 5K is when it's littered with insanity.  In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I started finding parallels between this race and my crazy, spectrum-y life.

I took off on my merry little way with the rest of the pack at the starting horn, fighting my way around the herd to try to get in a comfortable position.  When I was able to open it up, I felt great.

Until the first mud pit.  The crafty bastards who had designed this course had provided a handy little map on their website detailing all of the obstacles.  What they neglected to mention was that there were mud pits everywhere along the way.  Unmarked mud pits.

Lesson 1: Surprises are everywhere.

Soon enough, I was waist deep in water, slogging along with everyone else.  I learned pretty quickly to watch the guy in front of me very carefully.  He stood about 6'2", but invariably managed to step in every huge sinkhole there was, suddenly shrinking to an abrupt 5'0."  Which happened to be my entire height, so I considered it the better part of wisdom to navigate very carefully around this guy's trajectory.

Lesson 2: Pay attention to those who have gone before you.  It could well mean the difference between a manageable path and a needlessly difficult one.

Several mud pits were followed by several more extremely steep hills, and the necessity of getting up those steep hills while covered in sludge.  Yeah.  This was still before the first "official" obstacle.

Much as I was hard-headed and wanted to do this on my own, one kind-hearted guy offered me a hand up midway through the second ridiculously steep hill.  Gratefully, I took it.

Lesson 3: Sometimes you'll need a hand up--and when you need it, take it.

The thing about going up all those hills?  It means you have go go down a long way, too.  Which leads me to lesson #4, learned when I slid none-too-gracefully for about ten feet downhill, before landing unceremoniously on my behind.  The guy next to me burst out laughing, then lent me a hand up.

Lesson 4: People along your way will be there for you when you make an ass out of yourself.  I mean, they'll laugh at you first, but they'll be there for you afterward.

After that was a series of obstacles that were completely handle-able.

Crawling under barbed wire: Check.  Being little comes in handy here, since others army crawled, while I just cruised with the wire inches above my head.  TAKE THAT TALL, LONG-LEGGED MODEL TYPES.

Swimming through more muddy water, topped by traversing a catamaran: check.  I think you were supposed to trudge through the mud, but I was little enough to just swim, so I did a merry little dog paddle, and it worked for me.

Tightrope walking: Check.  My sense of direction may be crap, but I can balance with the best of them.  I practically ran across that sucker.

Then came the wall climb.  When I saw that thing, I realized they really hadn't been kidding when they'd required me to sign that death waiver.  It was twenty feet tall, accessible only by rope, with nary a net or cushion-y patch of grass on the other side.  Just dirt.  Two girls in front of me got two feet up, then bailed and walked around it.

Which only fueled my stubbornness.  I was going up that rope, dammit.

This is where being little comes in decidedly un-handy.  Said rope was apparently knotted by a man who did not take into account pint-sized women who might be running the course, and the knots were easily farther apart then my arm-span.  Don't ask me how I got to the top of that wall, but I soon found myself looking down at a very vertical drop on the other side.  And still no net.  There was no backing out then.

Hauling myself over that wall, and down the other side was one of the scariest things I've ever done.  I'm not at all afraid of heights, but this is hard to remember when you're twenty feet in the air and trying to figure out how you're going to haul your body over a two inch ledge, when the only rope you have is strapped to the other side, and therefore inaccessible.  Add to this that the same idiot who knotted the rope for a 6'2" guy also built the slats for going down with a long-legged Amazon in mind.

So what did I do?  I teetered and prayed my way over the wall, then dropped the @#$%^ difference between me and the Amazon's leg length.  The whole way down, for every slat.

Scariest thing ever?  Yep.

But I freaking flew the next stretch out to the beach, I felt so great.

Lesson #5: Scary things are possible, when you commit to them.

Next came the Teetering Traverse, a deceptively innocent-sounding name for what turned out to be a teeny-tiny ramp raised about ten feet off of the ground, which I was expected to navigate without plunging to certain debilitating injury.  I started out on it, and the guy coming behind me promptly muttered, "This just became a lot less fun."

Indeed, sir.

At the end of the ramp's drunken path, instead of a nice easy dismount, there was yet another drop, just slightly less than vertical.  At this point, though, after the wall and the stupid traverse, I said screw it, and just ran down the whole damned thing.

Lesson 6: Sometimes it's better not to think too hard.  Just do it.

More tough obstacles followed, but at a certain point, I started feeling like I could really do this.  These kinds of competitions had always been for other people, "extreme" sports people.  Not me.

But this was me.  I had already done more than I ever thought I'd be able to do, and not for a second had I stopped pushing myself, or given myself any excuse to stop or hold back.

I had been getting in my own way for a while now, but not today.  Today my kids were going to see me not just crossing the finish line, but running across it.

And that I did.  After hopping over cars, jumping across a fire pit, climbing (and descending) a twenty-foot wall, covering 3.5 muddy ground miles, and swimming through a barbed-wire infested mud pit, I ran across that line.  I accepted my medal, and my stupid hat.  I placed 224 out of 1234 women in my age group, with a time of 51:33.

And then I went and celebrated me.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Well. That sneaked up on me.

Two weeks ago, I absentmindedly wrote a check for little C's fall pictures, then promptly forgot about it.  Somehow, writing a check for his fall pictures did not connect with the fact that he would actually be taking fall pictures.

I blame studying.  STUPID EDUCATION.

Anyway, it was kind of a blessing in disguise that I forgot all about it, because by some miracle, my husband happened to dress little C in a cute and matching outfit this morning (in lieu of our usual throw-on-whatever's-clean-and-easily-accessible method of dressing), so he was in pretty good shape for the photographers that his mom was oblivious about.

Really, it was all for the best, because the result was THIS:

His first official, honest-to-God, in-all-its-crazy-hair-glory Pre-K picture.  


I'm so proud.

Know why I'm proud?

Because the last time this kid was in front of a flash bulb, there was mass hysteria.  And by "mass," I mean him freaking out, and me freaking out MORE.  Hence, "mass."  One big mass of hysteria.

It was ugly enough that we never went back to a photography studio.

This picture sneaked up on me, because if I'd had time to remember that he was scheduled to take a picture that morning, I would also have remembered the frantic, tear-filled, ear-clutching disaster that was our last experience in a studio setting.

Which would not have been good for anyone.

I think I may have discovered the key to this parenting thing...

Stay too hectic tired stressed busy to freak out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Word

So.  I kinda started something on Facebook today.

I'm normally not the confrontational type, I promise.

No, really.

I find that the majority of people who want to argue with you on any given subject are usually the very people who are determined not to listen to a word you say, so it's kind of pointless, really.

But I made an exception tonight, on a subject I feel very strongly about, and about which I try to start a conversation when I can.

It started with this tweet by a fellow autism parent:

"Even though the insult came out of crossdresser  ,he, I mean she needs to apologize. 

After reading what I felt was a very heartfelt and thought-provoking article, I re-posted the link itself on Twitter, copying to Facebook:

"Eloquently put. Insensitivity knows no political bias.

Go ahead, click through and read it.  It's good.

I'll wait...


Back?  Okay, good.  Moving on.

Within seconds, someone commented on the link via Facebook.  I won't post the verbatim here, but suffice it to say that he thought the article and its argument was "retarded."

My first reaction was a sigh of irritation.  My second was to start typing a reply, then immediately erase it, feeling it would be pointless to argue about something this person had obviously already made up his mind about.

Maybe it's age, maybe it's perspective, but it's no longer enough for me to know what I believe is right and wrong, I find myself constantly re-evaluating the why of my beliefs as well.  When someone has a differing opinion than I do, I want to know more--whether to reaffirm my own stance, or to re-evaluate it.  The only problem with this is that I tend to expect the same of others, and others don't always go along with this in real life like they do in my head.  Mostly, people are content to just believe what they've always believed, and get defensive when they're challenged.

For my part, I try to challenge respectfully, when I do at all.  This was one of those times that I chose to challenge.

I explained that I was fully aware that in most instances of the use of the word in everyday conversation, people mean no harm in using it.  I'd used the word myself, prior to smacking face-first into its impact.  I tried to explain, though, that meaning no harm is not the same as doing no harm.  Your perspective changes, I said, when it's you and yours on the other end of "harmless."  I explained that I felt the "R" word was the worst of the worst, in my opinion.  A black person can defend himself against his particular brand of slur.  A gay person can, as well.

But you know who can't?

My kid.  And countless other kids who take the brunt of this word every day.  Their lives are hard enough, I tried to explain, without someone sneering that word just because it makes them feel cool, or for sheer shock factor.  These kids' parents--their long-suffering, beleaguered, weary parents--deserve better than to be forced to try to explain this word to their precious children.

Their children whose hearts are a million times larger than anyone who would utter that hurtful word in such a way.

The conversation deteriorated from there.  The commenter seemed bent on making the post about politics, but our kids are bigger than politics, aren't they?  Disability is not Democratic or Republican.  Much as I tried to convey this, I'm not sure it got through.

All I know is that nothing changes if we all stay silent.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Things I've Learned Since Therapy Let Out

So, in a 180 degree turn from my last post, and in what is quickly becoming my typical manic-depressive style, this post will be significantly more light-hearted. YOU'RE WELCOME.

So, with that I give you Things I've Learned Since Therapy Let Out:

1) My husband is the king of awesome husbands. Really, in the land of Deadbeat Dads Are For Sissies, my husband reigns supreme and makes all of the other dads look like those clueless teenagers in high school who had those stupid eggs-as-parenting-lessons forced on them.
Every morning he gets up and wrestles the two tiny hooligans into eating, dressing in (mostly) appropriate clothing, and taking multiple potty breaks, all surreptitiously disguised as ACTUAL potty breaks, when they are really just elaborate stall tactics. He does all this while I am still groggy from not enough sleep (THANKS A LOT, STUDY HABITS) and guiltily sipping coffee while pretending not to hear Big C's 84th question of the morning.
In short, I got really lucky with that one, and I'm still kinda waiting for him to notice that he married a basket case. Although I'm sure that's not really a shock to him at this point.

2) Little C is apparently just masquerading as an autistic 3-year old, when in fact he is a ROCK STAR. Several staff members of the business in which his therapy center is housed have expressed dismay at his leaving, and more came to say goodbye on his last day. These are people who all apparently knew my kid, unbeknownst to me, and miss him. This while not ACTUALLY working with him.
Then, today, I picked him up from his second official all-pre-K-all-the-time day, and the staff members there were GUSHING over him.

Apparently he's a bit of a flirt, that kid.

Add to THIS the fact that no less than TWO other children were excitedly waving and calling goodbye to him BY NAME as we left, and it's official.

My 3-year old has better social skills than I do.

Not that it takes much, but still.

3) Non-therapy-schedule traffic in the morning sucks. I have spent the majority of my commute for the last two days gaping out of the window in HORROR at all of the extra cars on the road.


4) Conversely, non-therapy-day afternoon traffic is amazing, resulting in my arriving home a full 35 MINUTES EARLY every day and giving me more precious time to spend with the tiny hooligans.

5) I will spend those 35 minutes panicking over what to DO with them, because I'm not really the June Clever type. WHAT IS THIS FREE TIME, AND WHAT DO I DO WITH IT?

5) Despite the fact that I have spent the last year and a half lamenting over my awful commute, and how I just don't have TIME to cook when I get home so late every day, I will not, in fact, use my newfound free time to, um, actually feed anyone. Unless you call making peanut butter and banana sandwiches "feeding." In that case I'm golden.

(What? Peanut butter is good for growing boys. Plus, there's fruit. BONUS POINTS.)

6) 35 more minutes in the day for brotherly love=35 more minutes in the day for FIGHTING. As much as I adore the interaction, cut it out already, kids. There will be plenty of time for this later, when there are girls involved.

Or not. Strike that last part. Girls=Cooties.

The End.