Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A slow learner, yes I am. So slow I wonder if I'm teachable at all. You've heard this all before, friends.

Today, at school, where I work, I am asked, fatefully, "How's it going for Rooster at camp?"
Makes you want to smack me, doesn't it, knowing how I stacked the deck against us all? Ah, so.
"You know," I said, "not since he was an infant have I ever been able to pick him up day after day and everything is just fine. The teachers always say, 'He had a good day.' He has friends and he's having fun. I'm enjoying the reprieve."

Cut to:
I walk into camp, and the shadow is ready for me, and I know that look even though it's the first time I've seen it from her. "Today he had a tough day. Lots of tantrums. LOTS of them, just finished throwing a fit when he saw you pull up. Fighting with Amy. And he kicked me. Twice."

As goes Rooster's day, so goes it for us all, I guess. I had a tough one myself.

And I'm facing a quandary.

I have lost my mind completely and somehow agreed to attend my twentieth high school reunion in September, because two of my dearest friends will be there, one with her new baby I haven't kissed and squeezed yet, AND the reunion falls near my mom's big milestone birthday, and what she really wants is to see me. What she wants even more is to see a grandchild. Well, she WANTS to see kids, but if she's lucky she will get to settle for one.

I can manage to fly with one child, and, at that, I'd rather fly with snakes on a plane. I cannot (worth repeating CANNOT) fly alone cross country with both my snakes, er, children. It is not even fathomable without J, barely fathomable with him.

But which one should I take?

Last time I went East about a year ago I took Peaches. And she? Was. Awful. She went 36 hours without sleeping more than a catnap, never slept through any of the three nights we spent, startling every time she lost skin contact with me. I felt as if she would be my undoing, and with everything else going on, I was nearly undone for sure. When the second leg of our eternal trip back to Cali was delayed for hours, I sunk into the airport carpet and left a tiny piece of my sanity among the stains... I think I made a promise to the universe then that I'd never fly with Peaches alone again until she had a driver's license to show at security checkpoints.

So it should be Rooster's turn to go. He hasn't been in two whole years.

But Peaches will WANT to go, and Rooster will not. And Peaches will flip her little lid if I go without her. And Rooster will not. And Peaches will enjoy the reunion. And Rooster will not. And she will be able to occupy herself for a few minutes safely now and then in her Grandma and Grandpa's house, and Rooster will not.

I asked my mother, "Which one?" And she said, "Oh no, don't ask me to choose between my grandchildren, don't ever ask me to do that." I know, of course, that it isn't like that. I know my mom makes faulty oversimplifications when she says that. I know, as I've said before, fair isn't giving each child the same thing, but giving each what he or she needs.

Honestly, I want to bring Rooster. I want him to do better than I think he will. I want him to charm everyone with those gorgeous long lashes and delicious smile. I want people to tell me, "You exaggerate, he's doing so much better than how you make it seem." I want photos of him with family and friends. I want him to distract me from the people in my home town who are missing, who I am missing. I want him to enlighten people and make them care about autism. I want to be too busy caring for him to think about the last time I was home. I want to give him his turn, and to get a wee break from talk of fairy princesses and purple.

It's not that I don't want to bring Peaches. I adore her, you know I do. I just cannot bring them both, and it's his turn.

But then reality sets in. Rooster can't simply take turns like he's a typical child. Rooster travels with a pharmacy, and his daddy is the pharmacist, not me. The rural South has grits, gravy, hash browns, and disdain for special needs diets. I'd need to bring my own gfcf refrigerator. And neither the Rooster nor his mother need the pressure of those wishes I just described: WANTING him to do better than I expect pretty much dooms us, as I proved at the top of this post. I know in all likelihood that the Rooster would spend much of the trip begging to go home, missing his daddy and his toys, and that I would likely encounter painfully sympathetic looks from well meaning classmates and painfully unsympathetic looks from NOT well meaning classmates, and that I don't need any more reasons for holding grudges that date back to my angsty teen years.

Even with all his curly-topped charm, my rooster IS a tough little boy. He is difficult and challenging and roostery. But the truth is, as much as I whine and moan, I have a very hard time imagining spending a weekend far away from him.

I mean, did I tell you that he has a crush on a girl, and that he started wearing a watch, and that today he sounded out the word "mom"? He's getting so much better at... UH, UM, he's getting much better at driving me NUTS is what he's getting better at, so there. And tomorrow he's going on a field trip and it's going to be a TOUGH DAY. You hear that deities? A TOUGH DAY.


Elsita :) said...

You're such a great writer! I have enjoyed reading your blog a lot. One day you should write a book :)
(And your rooster is the most wonderful rooster that I have ever met, seeing him is certainly a joy, I love his sense of humor and everything else about his personality :)
All my best!
Elsita :)

Anonymous said...


i know these decisions like the back of my hand .. i swear half my life feels like sophie's choice.


Niksmom said...

Go alone if you can. Seriously. Make this the one thing you do for yourself and the gift you give your mother...time alone with you. Enjoy the reunion without guilt. YOU need a break, too.

pixiemama said...

Niksmom is RIGHT! Find help for J and go by yourself. Go, have kid-less fun, sleep, come back ready and refreshed. I know it would be hard for you, but I know you can do it. And I know you should.


kristi said...

You do what is best for you. Trust me, I get it.

TC is happier at home. My Mom invited us camping recently and I had to really think about it. Now is not a good time for TC so we won't go. But maybe when the weather cools off.

We shall see.

MOM-NOS said...

I give you credit for even thinking about taking Rooster on a cross-country flight on your own. Right now, Bud is in a good place, all things considered - and even still, I can't think of anything that would make me climb on to an airplane with him by myself.

I have four siblings and I love them all dearly, and yet I have never stepped foot in any of their homes. Not one. Not once.

I'm with Niksmom and Pixiemama - if you can do it, make the trip on your own. It will probably be good for all of you.

redheadmomma said...

I think if there's not one clear winner - and there doens't look like there is - I'd agree with the other sage commenters: go alone. I know full well the guilt that goes along with that - it really threatened me the last time I went on a trip by myself (in '06). The only reason I'm bringing Maya to my 20th is that developmentally, she's at a really good age (just about 5) which is miles easier than when she was 3. She and I went on a long trip last year, and she loved all the attention and did well on the flight. If she was three? I'd keep her home with dad. I think the Rooster is saying loud & clear he doesn't want to go either. I know you'd miss your family madly, I do I do, but I bet you wouldn't regret going alone.


Christine said...

OK. Since you asked :-) Put everything aside: expectations, logistics, everything. Ask yourself what YOU want out of the trip and then make it happen. If you really want to do this for the rooster then do it. If you are just doing it because you think you ought to, then go alone.

Either way, I think you will come home again having learned alot about yourself. It's all good.

ghkcole said...

I don't often comment on my own post, but...
I really appreciate everyone wanting what is best for me. You have some good wisdom. I hear ya.
My mother and my children get to see each other about twice a year, maybe four days at a time if we're lucky. That isn't what I want, but it's our reality. I can't justify the time and money to travel 3,000 miles and not give them the opportunity to see each other. It's my mom's 65th birthday. Turns out Rooster needs lab work done that weekend, so Peaches just won a plane ticket. Wish me luck.