Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cheese and Whine

Don't think I didn't whine BEFORE I had a special needs kids.

Much of the time, I wallowed in good things, turning my intensity toward the positive end of the continuum, embracing all things mushy in my relationship with my husband, diving headfirst into my career in education, immersing myself in creative outlets like writing groups. But I also spent a chunk of my first ten or 15 years in LA whining about feeling homesick. Not homesick for any actual home, but maybe for the East, or the South, or the smallness and community I found in the Southeast. My refrain: One more year, and I'm out of here. My real issue: I'm too small a fish in too big a pond, i.e. I don't feel the love here.

Now, I came straight to LA from idyllic college life at a smallish (and beautiful) school with a tight knit department in my major, and I wept so hard at my college graduation I am surprised they didn't videotape it and use it as fundraising fodder. I knew I was leaving the land of constant community and endless bonding opportunities for the cold hard reality of the real world. Having previously been all too aquainted with said real world, I had zero desire to return. Give me dorms, clubs, and advisors, give me friendship, challenges, and rewards, give me intellectual debate and stimulating discussions, but don't, whatever you do, drop me in the land of commuting, competition, traffic, isolationa, and urban sprawl.

I recognize the irony that I hate how much lonelier I can feel in LA than anywhere else I've lived when in fact I live in LA because the man I love is anchored here.

But let me stop there with the LA bashing, as the purpose of this blog is not to continue the whining (I've actually grown quite fond of Los Angeles in many, many ways, and will definitely blog sometime about its wonderful qualities), but to reflect on how and why my perspective has changed since my kids came along.

Even though I wouldn't mind moving back to my roots (girlfriends back East, I miss you at least as much as ever!), I don't feel as lonely here as I used to.

First of all, I find it impossible to have children and feel lonely. This began with conception. I could sit alone for impressive lengths of time while pregnant and talk to my belly and not once would it occur to me to feel bored or lonely. I can't say I have even had the time or energy to be bored one single time since giving birth to my oldest. Even when the rooster and Peaches are terrible company, they are still good company, too.

For another thing, when you have kids, you have community. Oh, sure, schools and playgroups are built in community, but what about just the fact that you can exchange meaningful smiles with another family as you walk down the street pushing your separate strollers or through the aisles of the grocery store? Before kids, let me tell you, I never once got the warm fuzzies in a Los Angeles supermarket.

And, of course, you knew this came next: the blogosphere was born after my arrival in SoCal.

It's not that I never feel homesick. I regularly fantasize about living across the street from my East Coast buddies, buying a reasonably priced and sized house with a yard big enough for my kids to go exploring, in a town small enough for my kids to go exploring. But I'm not whining about it anymore. I've got bigger things to whine about, and, finally, some community (both locally and virtually) that cares enough to tolerate and support me through it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Next month I will turn 37. As much as that number surprises and daunts me, it mostly reminds me how much I've been dwelling on being 36.

Almost like a mantra, I have thought countless times this past year, "I am 36 and my mom is 63. Opposites." Yet never have my mom and I shared more in common.

This year my mother and I, from 3,000 miles apart, shared similar caregiving struggles. I called her often to help me find my way through the rooster's autism diagnosis, questions about medication, frustrations with the medical world, concerns about his behavior, fears about his future. On her end, mom dealt with my grandmother's failing health, sometimes inadequate medical care, confusing behavior, emotional outbursts, poor prognosis. And we wished we could be there with each other; I wished I could help my grandma (who is also my hero, my heart, my cherished dear grandma), and my mother wished she could help the rooster (the first baby she ever watched be born). We shared the internal struggle of not being able to travel easily, of having parts of hearts beating in beloved family members in crisis across a country but not knowing how to go to them.

My mother and I talked to a lot of doctors this year. We stood in many pharmacy lines. We cried. We worried. We struggled. We lost a lot of sleep. We cursed. We aged. We aged way more than just a year's worth. We had a lot in common in that way during this inverse, backward-forward, mirrorlike year, 36 and 63.

But that doesn't tell the whole story of my preoccupation with age 36 and the mother connection.

My mom's 36th year happened to be a milestone one in my both our lives as well. That year, my mother finally decided to leave my father after about 16 miserable years of marriage, and to start a brand new life with my brother and I far away from the wreckage; we left just in time to narrowly escape the implosion of my father's fraudulent business and the arrival of the authorities. I didn't know about any of this before it happened. I simply went to school as usual one Friday, took a social studies test about explorers, and rode the bus home eager to show off my A. My mom would not have really cared that much about my A, as she let it be known since kindergarten that she had no interest in talking about school related matters, but surely my perfect score never came up after I arrived home to find our valuables loaded into two cars and my grandparents ready to escort us out of the city to our new lives with them.

The year my mom turned 36, I absolutely could not stand her. In my young mind, she ruined everything. And, she didn't seem to care one single bit. Selfish, cryptic, uncooperative, angry, unwilling to talk to me, loudly talking to everyone else, my mother seemed to me to represent the single great flaw in my life. I wanted to know what just happened to me, and why, and when she would fix it, and how I was supposed to survive never seeing my old school and old friends again. I wanted to know why she brought me only clothes, but not prized possessions, and what happened to all of our stuff. I wanted to know if this meant we were poor now, and if I'd ever see my father again. But my mother wasn't talking to me. If only my grandma had been my mother, I thought. It didn't seem fair, in all my Pollyannaish overachieving goodytwoshoesness to have a rebellious teenage-like mother, darkly tangled in a shameful mess with my no good father. I resented her for making a mess out of both of our lives. I resented her for telling everyone within my ear shot not to worry about me because kids are "resilient."

Since turning 36 myself, I have often wondered what it would be like for my mother at age 36 to sit down across the table from me and have a heart to heart. This kind of time-warp imaging is something I confess I am prone to, and something I think you should try if you never have. More often I have pondered talking to my grandma during her youth, because grandma, the person I've always identified with most, always seems to have so much to teach me, such wisdom to reveal, and I have always wished I could have had more time to spend with her. I know if I could borrow Michael J. Fox's car back in time to visit only one person, I'd go find grandma, probably circa 1956. But over the years I've come to realize that my mother has her own wisdom, and in this past year my appreciation for her strength has grown; I know for sure that my mom knew a lot more at age 36 than I gave her credit for at the time.

If my mom from 198oish sat down across from me in my living room right now, I'd want to ask her very different questions from the ones I had when I was in fifth grade. I would start with, Are you scared to raise these two kids without a husband? Are you happy? What makes you happy? Why don't you get along better with grandma? What is it you are searching for? Do you like the 10-year-old me? Why don't you talk to me more? I might even ask her if she liked me, the grownup, and if we two 36-year-olds could be friends. But then I'd want to know about her past: How did you survive taking care of a baby with such severe seizures that she almost died? How long did it take after I started having seizures before you learned to sleep again? Did you watch me breathe all the time? Was it hard to let the doctors prescribe such strong meds for me? Did it make you nervous when you gave them to me? Was I a nice kid when I was ten? Did you resent me for being so different from you? Were you hoping for a mini-Me? I've asked her these things already of course, squeezed a few answers out of her, but I'd like to get her age-36-perspective nonetheless. I'd like to see not just what she'd say, but how she'd say it; would we sound at all alike? Would we, both 36, enoy one another's company? We are friends now, but it took a long time to get there.

My mother and I have opposite ages right now, but we're more alike than we've ever been. The shift started happening gradually after I moved to the West Coast in my early twenties. My mom had just met and married a wonderful guy, the first nice guy I ever knew her to love, and she started shocking me on the phone with comments like, "Did you see Martha Stewart on tv today?" After I got over thinking aliens abducted my mother, I began to get used to her newfound passion for gardening and her forgiveness of pastel colors. I actually got her to send me some family recipes. I leaned on her through some difficult times, including a bad breakup of my own, telling her how un-resilient I could be sometimes (with scars dating back to that fateful year of my childhood), and her support across the miles solidified the reparation between us. I briefly considered staging a late rebellion of my own in my twenties now that mom had normalized so much, but, nah, I was too set in my boring ways. My mom and I talked more and more as the years passed, finding more and more common ground (not only as she changed, but as I grew less judgemental and stubborn), and now, here we are, 36 and 63. Opposite. But the same. Two moms doing the best we can; two daughters, doing the best we can.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lonely in a Crowd

Oh, wow.

I have spent three days stuck, snarled in my very first ever writer's block of a sort, all for naught. I feel completely ridiculous, and I invite you to laugh along at my very silly ways.

The last few weeks, I have had this ironic sense of loneliness. It isn't one thing or another, I think of it more as cumulative. (A best friend from here had gone out of town, my long distance friends were hard to reach, the teachers with whom I work have gone away on vacation, I really miss my grandma in a too-the-very-core-of-my-being kind of way...) I was trying to figure out how to write about it here without sounding like a big fat whiner going, "Be my friend! Cheer me up! Send COMMENTS! I'm NEEDY GIRL!"

And speaking of comments, I hadn't seen any. All quiet on the blogging front. I wondered what it was about the last 3 or 4 blogs that generated absolute silence?

I thought, well, that's it, I guess I pissed people off by talking about how I write mostly for myself and that I don't depend much on audience; maybe they misunderstood what I was trying to say, and that is a lonely thing.

But guess what? My settings got all messed up and I hadn't seen I had comments. Today I figured it out and read the most beautiful comments and felt the loneliness fade. Yes, I guess Needy Girl should be my new blog title, since I am so pathetic, and my laptop battery is dying so now I am typing in a mad race against the clock but I want to say first of all THANK YOU everybody for the comments - I owe you big time and will write you soon - and DUH, of course I am a needy mess, any literate person could tell that sixty blogs ago, and of course I need readers, and I feel much better now, and isn't amazing how much we learn about ourselves every single day, but especially when we blog....??? I think this post I'll probably delete if I have good sense when I reboot.................................................................

Sunday, June 22, 2008


My grandma is very, very sick and quite old.

On a cognitive level, I understand that, and I've always understood that the laws of time meant she would not help raise my babies the way she helped raise me. But my heart rejects all this.

It's selfish, but I still need her.

How will my kids do without her blueberry pie? I can't make it, damn it -- I have tried and it's just NOT RIGHT. How will my kids never hear her say, "I am so proud of you, I could bust." I will say it, but I lack the right lilt, and the words sting my throat when they come out without the South-meets-Brooklyn accent. I am so sad they will lingering for hours in her kitchen and dining room. I am so glad I captured on tape some of her tales of dating grandpa during the war, but what about the stories I need her to tell them about driving back through the desert to the gas station because they'd forgotten to pay for the lemonade only to find out it was free when they bought a tank of gas? I will try to do it justice as best I can, I guess - a poor substitute. I am no good at dress shopping, and Peaches would have LOVED to have grandma take her to the mall to pick out something beautiful. No one shops as good as my grandma. No one listens like she does. No one loves like she does. No one helps like my grandma.

No one else woud have embraced a rooster's roosteriness quite the same way.

Just as I write this, the rooster is across the room eating breakfast. He just looked over at my wet eyes. He stared a moment, came over, got close to my face and said, "I love you! I love you!" We are missing my grandma in so many, many, many ways, but in moments like that I have to think about the fact that we carry pieces of her inside of us. The rooster's words of love are among those pieces.

Grandma, we love you, love you. We've always been so proud of you we could bust.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


The first time a doctor (offhandedly) described my son as "special needs," I began weeping. She had been telling me about summer camp options nearby, and I'd been listening attentively, nodding, taking interest, knowing on some level of course we were talking about special needs camps, but once she said it, my ears collapsed. I could take in no other words. I wept.

I practiced saying the words later that day. Special needs. Of course, I already knew it! But knowing and saying it can be dissimilar. Special needs. Special needs. I needed to say it, repeat it, own it, get over it, demystify it, take the sting out, find my comfort spot. Special needs.

Today we went to a pool party I had learned about online for spectrum kids in our area. So, did that make it a special needs party? Okay, I guess so, whatever. All I know is, I wept just a little bit today, and it felt so good. For one thing, my boy had a blast in the water wearing his floaty suit and playing with his daddy. I thought they looked so beautiful in the water together that I snapped over a dozen photos just of them. For another thing, I never once felt I needed to preempt, apologize, explain, or worry. The rooster didn't stand out not one single little bit, and everyone just had a good time, despite the mercury rising WELL above 100 on our first day of summer. The funniest thing? PEACHES was the difficult one! She grew anxious around the dog, obsessed on a little Buddah she found inside the hosts' home, and became clingy when children approached her. It was great! I didn't preempt, apologize, explain, or worry about her either. I just WAS. We were just a family meeting new friends at a party.

Monday morning will be the rooster's first day of summer camp at our mainstream school, intended as a transition to the next grade of preschool, only he'll be transitioning back to the same grade again with a new crop of kids younger than he is. I feel the knot that lets me know I'm not as ready for it as I've been pretending. I feel the concern about the challenges he'll face, and the need I will feel to preempt, apologize, explain, and worry. This is what lets me know for sure that the rooster IS a special needs kid.

The truth I can't deny is that sometimes I forget. Sometimes I kid myself. Sometimes I let the denial win. Sometimes I replay the positives in my head like a hypnotic phrase, wallowing in the successes, lulled by progress... Today, when a mom asked what exactly were the rooster's challenges because she couldn't tell any of them, I felt the siren call of denial... Perhaps the rooster is growing out of all his challenges? But the reality is that he has plenty more challenges, not ones that necessarily show themselves when he's blissed out in a swimming pool on a Saturday in June! The reality is that, after preschool, I will almost definitely need to find a good special needs environment for my boy in public school, because he will have gone as far as our "typical" private school will allow.

My boy has special needs.

Well, okay, he is a special boy, and I vow to do all I can to figure out what those needs are, and find a way to meet them.

After all, don't we all have special needs?

I love my rooster.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Calling All Brainstormers

I have learned without a doubt that among those who read this are some of the best and most prolific brainstormers in America.

So, a challenge for any takers. Not if you are as overwhelmed as I am lately, though... I demand that crazybusy friends not add me to the stress list.

1. What is the best reading to hand to the rooster's teachers in the fall, so that they will "get" my little noncompliant high functioning autistic kid with sensory issues? I don't want to overwhelm them. I want them to go, "OH. Wow. Okay. I see. Thank you! That helped."
2. So two dear friends I've known for more than twenty years (wow how ancient do I feel when I talk in this way) are coming for a visit next month. We are somewhere between YaYa and Traveling Pants sisters. We are alike and different, live in totally different climates from one another, and have vastly differnt body types. I've decided we will be the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pajamas. One is four inches taller than I am and one is ten inches or so smaller around the hips than I am. Anyone know where I find some magic modest soft comfy cute capri drawstring pajamas online?


One of the rooster's AMAZING teachers from last school year heard we found ourselves with no one to watch him on Wednesday. She offered to watch him. He lit up when he saw her coming, and they greeted one another with their special coyote howls before heading off to the Farmer's Market for fruit and fun. They had hoped to ride the nearby trolley, but found it out of service. Undaunted, they got creative. "We called people on the cell phone and sang to them."

I love this teacher, colleague, friend. (She refused to let me pay her and hid from me afterward to avoid me foisting cash upon her. I'm trying to think of a sneak attack thank you of some sort.)

I also love the rooster's version of Frosty the Snowman, song of choice right now. It goes like this:

Frosty the snowman
Had a very jolly soul,
With a cob cornpipe
And a button nose
And two eyes made out of cold!

It cracks me up every time.

Awhhhooooh! Ahahawhooooohh!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Last Rites

Dear Scottish Rite Lady,
Here is what I do understand from our conversation. I understand that you do not accept autistic kids into your speech program. Actually, I really do understand that, even if I do not like it. I'm assuming you have policies, reasons, mission statements, whatever, and that I can grasp.

But here is what else I understand from our conversation. You are young, tactless, and you clearly do not have children.

Now, for what I do not understand about our conversation.

I mean, what were you thinking? "Yeah." ?

You called, left a message, asked me to call you back. So, I'm thinking, okay, maybe you're signing us up for speech for the rooster. I have been on your waiting list for over a year, before even we had a diagnosis, after all. I have not only completed all your paperwork and requirements, but I sent you an undeniably adorable photo of my rooster boy, with a not too shabby personal letter attached. But look, when I sent it, I still expected to get turned down. I just expected a form letter or something. When I got your message, I thought, okay, it worked: you liked my letter, you want to help my cute boy. Or you are going to turn me down at least very gently and supportively (and in fact today is a day I could use a little gentle support). Why else would you leave a message and ask me to call you? Apparently, it was very important to you to say this to me, live, person to person:

"I just wanted to give you a heads up, we don't take autistic kids."

That was what you wanted to tell me? Put the emphasis on whatever word of that sentence you want, it sounds just as lousy. THAT was what you wanted to tell me? That was what you WANTED to tell me?

All I could muster in response to your tone, your comment, was, "Oh." To which you responded, adeptly, pointedly, "Yeah." And then you said a formal rejection would come by mail, and goodbye.

Of course, the form letter hasn't come yet, but I'm sure it has ten times the warmth that you do. How could it not?

Let me be clear: it is not what you said, it's how you said it.

Let me be clear, too: You can expect me to call and say all this, as well as send you this letter.

If you think double doses of rejection, pulling no punches, offering no kindness, makes good policy, well then, so do I.

Rooster's Mama (Bear)

Summer Lovin

Proud of himself.
Two weeks into summer vacation, these are some of the words I have heard people use to describe the rooster.
Sometimes I hear this in conjunction with, "When we're just one-on-one," or, "As long as he gets to decide what we're doing..." But still. Those words feel to me like fancy spa oils, soothing my dry, tired abrasions.

The rooster IS developing and growing, but it's not so much that he's made a recent radical change into a more charming guy. As much as he likes school and misses it, he just loves this time off, loves getting one-on-one attention from his amazing caregivers, setting the agenda, and avoiding too many rules or expectations.

I know I have much to learn from this, and I plan to think hard on how to take what I can extrapolate from it to find ways to make the school year more successful.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Not that I'm Counting

The reason I like to blog has almost nothing to do with being read. I think one reason I left journalism almost immediately after studying it for about 5 years is that I don't often care that much about being read. It might seem like a contradiction, but the potential for a readership (especially a kindered one) enables me to write in a way that I enjoy, yet if hardly anyone ever reads me, I'm okay with that. I am all about the process. Writing is an exercise I crave, but having readership is usually just a bonus.

Lately I started noticing several of my favorite writers in the corners of the blogosphere where I lurk referring to the size of their readership. These writers who kept track of hits to their page also didn't seem to me to write FOR an audience, but to benefit from one in the same way I do. It got me thinking. A curious still-somewhat-newbie, I looked around to find out how you even go about keeping track of such things, and next thing I know I have an invisible hit counter on my blog.

A couple weeks into it, I still find myself trying to wrap my head around it.

For one thing, more people than I guessed read what I write. Not droves or anything, but at least enough for a heck of a party. It makes me sad how many of us share this common enterprise, raising a child on the spectrum as best we can amid the struggles related to education, finances, stigmas, expectations, safety... I have always been amazed by how many of those who with plates AT LEAST as full of mine have had space leftover for guiding, comforting and educating me by sending me comments and emails, but some people, it seems, must be coming to read and relate silently. As another blogger I respect put it, I hope some have found here something of what they came here needing. It also shocks me that people I know who don't have special needs children come here repeatedly to find out how we're doing; I'm not sure I'd keep coming back to hear me kvetch week after week if I were in their place. Clearly the frequent readers who knew me before I had kids have a lot of patience and generosity, and I owe a lot of people a round of drinks.

For another thing, it surprised me to realize I feel a little self-conscious to know the scope of people reading me. Should I be putting on my best face, if a crowd is coming? Hmmm... I surely didn't start blogging to make a good impression! But I hadn't thought beyond pure survival when I started medicinal blogging. Now I'm hooked, but starting to worry a little about keeping up appearances. What if I embarrass the rooster? Or my husband? Or Peaches? Or myself? After gulping hard looking at the numbers, I actually considered going back and deleting posts that might come across as too critical of anyone in my family. Bur I remind myself: I need to write this for me, because this is my process, this is how my personal autism therapy looks, and as I help the rooster, I need to take care of me, too, in this way.

I don't know why I can't believe how connected we can be, but I admit that I am hugely blown away by the concept. Sure, I'm on Facebook and MySpace, I met my husband online, I got my Master's Degree from a university without a brick and mortar campus, but nothing has made me feel more powerfully connected to a sense of community and belonging that this thing called blogging.

If you read me, thanks. I guess one thing I learned about myself from having a hits counter is that I care about being heard more than I realized.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Notable and Quotable Two

It's true I feel old beyond my years.
The rooster asked me today, "Mommy, do you remember the dinosaurs?"

Yesterday I asked the rooster for a hug and he turned me down flat. "Not today, mommy." Dejected, I bowed my head. Peaches, across the yard, shouted, "Peaches to the rescue!" She zoomed her arms over her head, flew into my lap and topped the hug off with a drippy kiss, having just inhaled a popsicle.

In the Sports Chalet today, the rooster asks what we're doing there. I tell him we're looking for toys for daddy. "Toys? Mommy, daddy doesn't need toys. Rooster needs toys, not daddy! Daddy doesn't like toys!"

Happy Father's Day, everybody!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


When push comes to shove, often the Rooster pushes and shoves. It's not something I think he has the development to control just yet, or that I can force through my own control. I am surprised to have an aggressive kid, and I'm surprised that I've learned to roll with the punches, so to speak. I understand people who say they have a zero tolerance policy for hitting, because I sort of thought I would, too. Hitting? Consequence. Consistency. Zero tolerance. Every time. Eradicate hitting. I'm a total pacifist, and I'm a teacher, and I'm from a family that hit too much when I was a kid. But that is all about me, and parenting my special needs rooster turns to be more about who the rooster is than who I am.

Once the rooster came along, so did the eventual realization that his nervous system does not work like mine, or yours, and consequences don't have a chance of chinking the ism.

Don't get me wrong; we don't allow hitting! We don't condone it or give the rooster a free pass. We don't make or take excuses. It's just that the tolerance level needs to be a tad higher up the scale than zero for a boy who doesn't always even comprehend why he's hitting, who he's hitting, or what consequences mean. Sometimes he gets lost in his fear, his panic, his frustration. Sometimes he's had it with therapies, medicines, doctors, sleeplessness, diets, ists and all.

After an excellent day in which he managed his first dentist appointment, a consultation with an herbalist, potty training, visiting the neighbor, and all the usual business of life, he got grumpy toward his sister this evening. Some pushing and mild misbehavior ensued in a struggle over toys and turn taking. I intervened, but on the gentler side, cutting him the kind of slack that seems appropriate to me in situations like that. I separated them, talked to him about his behavior, distracted him a little from what seemed like his impulse to follow his sister back out in the yard for round two.

While he took a chill on his bean bag chair, he started to talk. He said, "I have words stuck inside me. I don't know how to get them out."

Now, this is the rooster quoting a book, or "scripting" or echolalia if you want to talk on autism's terms.

But the rooster knows whereof he speaks. Sometimes he hits because he doesn't know how to find the words. Sometimes he finds the words from his memory bank full of books. So sometimes he acts out and I don't get all drill sargeant on him. I don't always know if I'm doing the right thing or not. But sometimes I do.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Balance Cometh Before the Fall

Balance. It does a body good.

Today, a crazy, once-in-a-leap-year rarity occured, and, wham, bam, ta da, we had a modicum of balance in our life today. Or maybe just I did.

All I know is that today it felt like everyone got a little something they needed. Kind of like an eclipse, things miraculously and mysteriously aligned. My husband's job responsibilities meant he needed to leave work early for something closer to home, and when it was over, it made sense for him to just come home early. I'm on summer hours, so I come home an hour early. Shazam, this means all four of us convened at our house and it was not even dark outside, nor was it the HURRY UP, wrap-up-this-day-and-start-working-on-the-next-day time.

Wow, all I can say is that when I get to have a little jog, and the kids get to have a little stroller ride and bike time, and my husband gets to soak in the bath, and I am blogging before my eyelids need toothpicks propping them up, and it isn't even a weekend... well, it's time to buy Lottery tickets, because I am in luck. I feel like a fresh new self.

Balanced. WOW. decnalaB.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Brain Candy

I have rediscovered fun.

I didn't know I'd lost fun until I had some and savored the rekindling of the long lost flavor.

I play word games on Facebook.

I know, when do I find the time? I admit, for three days I've been sneaking time while standing at our breakfast bar, cooking or packing lunches or paying bills with one hand and unscrambling words with the other.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. God bless the Internet.

Simple pleasure or dangerous addiction, I don't know and as of yet I don't care; I have to run play now and try to top my last score.

It's good to feel like I'm ten amidst what feels often like my ancient years.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Usually when I come to this space to write, I have some point or idea or through line on my mind. But right now I find myself wanting to just capture the weekend. It's a very different feeling; usually, I come to blog not to tell anyone anything, just to work out whatever happens to be chewing on me. It's how I process. But today feels more like the desire to scrapbook, only with words.

Today is my sixth wedding anniversary, so perhaps that's what has me in this frame of mind. Come to think of it, the weekend was full of more milestone-y events...

Friday marked the last day of work for all the teachers at school, and while I work year round with a handful of other folks, we all participated together in closure activities, including breaking into small groups to get to know one another on a more personal level. My small circle of eight included an age range of probably around thirty-five years, different races and countries of origin, and represented vastly different jobs within the school community. Nonetheless, we found by answering simple questions pulled randomly from a bag that we have a great deal more in common then we guessed. We ended up in tears, and I left remembering how fortunate I feel to have my children in this community with me.

We spent Saturday at a baby shower, celebrating the cousin-on-the-way for the rooster and Peaches. The rooster struggled to regulate his behavior in such a grownup environment, despite having a pack of kids around him. Other kids came to let me know about the various tangles and turmoil, and I felt frustrated with my boy for repeatedly breaking rules and getting aggressive, but then my smart husband pointed out that for the first time ever we managed to sit and eat some food and let both kids play for at least a couple of minutes here and there... there is progress, and I am glad he reminded me to appreciate it.

After a long day, we enjoyed having our fantastic sitter (waving hands in the air to dispel bad luck that she will move away or refuse to sit for us ever again) come so that we could go out for an anniversary dinner. at six We went to a place we've been many times, not fancy at all, and we loved it. Three minutes before nine, we pulled back in the driveway, too lame to even know how to stay out any later.

Today we had friends over for a little barbecue for the first time since we bought this house last July 28. Wow, it was wonderful to do that and to see them, but it's clear why it took us so long. We had a good time, but clearly my husband and I are not good at this. We were sloppy and unorganized hosts and we didn't do a very good job of serving, or really of anything. I think the food turned out well, or at least I assumed it did because my husband does a good job with the grilling usually, but I don't know for sure because I didn't eat much other than corn on the cob. I loved seeing my friends, but it's hard for me to see our rooster upsetting their well behaved kids, and I feel like I'm on secret service duty with him in a way; vigilant. There were five kids here, and five adults, but my how outnumbered I felt in some moments. As they left, I had this urge to apologize the whole time. And yet, I loved having them here. It was a joy, and I think it's why I'm blogging tonight. I have friendship afterglow! People I really care about came to my home. I would rather have hidden our many foibles, but alas, I guess if you are going to show your foibles, who better to show them to but the people you trust? It is a happy anniversary.

I am a slow learner, this is readily apparent to all. But during the evening I admitted that I thought by now things would have gotten a little easier. One of our guests, CM, said it so well. She said, "Really? I don't know why you thought that! I knew you before you had kids, and so I really don't know why you thought that! Let's have this conversation again in ten years and then see what you say!" It reminded of my friend C again, telling me that if it weren't autism, it'd be something else; overwhelmed is who I am. Also tonight CM said that it's important to remember not to live for someday when things get easier, but to be here right now and make things good and enjoy them, because these are supposed to be the good years. I have smart friends.

If there is a point to this blog, I guess that is it. I love my friends.

Friday, June 6, 2008


By virtue of this blog, you know I am a words girl. Born talking, I am all about the words. Do not ask me to divvy up the check because numbers ain't my thing. For me, the inability to communicate important emotions, events, or ideas feels rather like a physical amputation. Sometimes, you must keep your mouth shut. A promise, ettiquette, the law, privacy, whatever. And I am an excellent keeper of secrets, as long as they are someone else's. For me, I have a no secret policy. So when it's my kids, who are NOT me, but as close to me as not me gets, the secrecy policy gets muddy.

And as I work that muscle that keeps everything inside, and I wrestle with the uneasy quiet in the place where resolution ought to be, I think about kids who want to talk but cannot, for whatever reason. Or kids like my Rooster who can talk, but can't get out what he means, and so despite his best efforts, his emotions and ideas stay secret.

What must that feel like?

Not everyone is a wordwallower like me. Perhaps some people are born with the hardwiring to divvy up the check, and the inability to share does not feel like a constant throb of loss. I hope. I always welcome anyone at the table who just tells me what I owe. Sure I've had to exercise my left brain enough to get by over the years, and I needed more time than others to master the basics perhaps, but when I go through long stretches of number silence, I feel no loss at all. A terrible metaphor, maybe, but I hope the Rooster's challenges to communicate does not burden his spirits

It's just on my mind while there is so much I'm not saying.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Yesterday was the last day of school. I see milestones at every corner. First, I need to celebrate the joy of growth. And then, to lick a few wounds, too. In September, I drove to same school I've driven to for almost 13 years, but for the first time, I wasn't alone listening to NPR; I had the Rooster en route to preschool, and Peaches on her way to our brand new child care center, so we were loud in stereo with the broadcasting of early childhood. When we got to school, I took their photos, took a deep breath, took a leap of faith. When I picked them up at the end of the day, mentally, I checked it off. "We made it through day one," I thought. WHHHEEEEW. We had plenty of bumps on day one, but I vividly remember when the Rooster saw me across the yard after school. His eyes flashed like diamonds catching the sun, and he took off running in his steady, disconnected gait, full speed toward me, screaming joyfully, "MOMMMMMMYYYY!" As I scooped him up while he said, full of sincerity, "MOMMY! Thank you for the preschool mommy!" On the other hand, Peaches missed the place she'd always gone, her familiar teachers, her adored "Miss Mayra." She wanted me to know: I don't know these people, and I don't trust them yet. On the last day of school, I look at the photos of Rooster from September in wonderment; those clothes long ago made it into the share pile to pass along. He has grown so much. How does this verbose boy resemble the child who could not have a conversation? Well, he still says thank you for the preschool. By the skin of our teeth, he'll be able to return for another year, repeating the program for 3-year-olds, even though he is four. And Peaches? She too grew so much, her hair getting long, her smile getting more and more grown up. She came to love her new teachers, talk about them all of the time, and feel right at home at the school we three share, and yet on the last week of the regular school year, both her teachers left our community, and once again our wary girl will need to transition, to adjust, to develop trust. I am weary. Perhaps at year end, this is to be expected, but I am not in a conventional teaching position, and I work year-round. I don't have time for weariness. Perhaps the biggest milestone of the year, more than 100 days have passed since a doctor told us, "This is autism." I am getting better at saying that myself since then, even though half the time I'm still not sure what it means. More than 100 times, I have checked myself in to the Zen mental spa I call my blog to catch my breath, seek solace, find peace. Another school year has come and gone. I can feel it in deep in my bones.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mr. D Made Headlines

My college advisor passed away suddenly, unexpectedly. He was 57 years young.

I met Mr. D before I even got accepted to my college, and I remember him above all else from my freshman orientation. I don't call him Mr. D here to keep his name secret -- it's what I always called him. I spent four years in his classes, in his office, on journalism trips with him, and at twice-weekly production nights for the campus newspaper. He probably knew I would spend the entirety of my college career devoted to a journalism major only to discover an entirely different calling after graduation, but he always encouraged me to write and to take on leadership roles.

Mr. D touched the lives of many, many students, all of whom have been on the web tonight to reconnect in the effort to share our memories of our well respected mentor and friend. But his obituary says he left behind only one sibling and two nieces, and for some reason this makes me feel sad.

This is not a news article I'm writing here; surely, if it were, I would hear Mr. D's voice in my head and know to rework the lede. I'm sorely lacking in inverted pyramids here. I'm just blogging.

Blogging is something I do for me, perhaps one of the very few things I do just for me, and it's a unique writing style. But like all the kinds of writings that I do, my blogging bears the imprint of my college advisor, Mr. D.

I am saddened by his passing. I am grateful for his lessons.