Friday, January 30, 2009

25 more

Yeah, I did the Facebook Meme. It was either too easy or too hard, because my obnoxious brain cannot stop thinking up more than 25. Rather than ick out all of Facebook, I thought I'd come to a gentler audience to release the trapped list from my bulging mind. Forgive me if this one reads like a confessional.

Tweny-five More
1. Eating makes me hungry.
2. I think too often about death.
3. When a book is too sad or too scary, I skim.
4. I have more kinds of guilt as a mom than Baskin-Robbins has flavors. VASTLY more. Exponentially more.
5. I dream about work about 4 nights a week.
6. I am too sarcastic toward my husband.
7. I am morally opposed to the death penalty but every time I hear the whole story behind a murder, I find myself thinking, "Except this time. This guy deserves it." Then, my situational ethics bother me.
8. I've had too many close friends where the friendship just ended, and I let it.
9. When I nursed my babies, I got totally lopsided. Sorry, TMI.
10. I had the worst crush on Bo Duke when I was ten.
11. I have overdue library books.
12. When I was single, one Christmas I went out for drinks with two old friends when we were all back home again -- a guy I'd lusted after years before, and a lesbian. When they ended up hooking up, it hurt my feelings!
13. Jack Nicholson once yelled at me.
14. I've had a lot of last names. This causes me no end of issues.
15. When my husband isn't home, I can't sleep. The house makes too many weird noises. He's not home now. See? Here I am. (Did you hear that?)
16. My gray hairs bother me. It bothers me that they bother me.
17. My favorite game is called Apples to Apples. I urge you to buy it. Play it. Invite me over.
18. I always enjoy reading classified ads. I always have. House listings, too.
19. Sometimes I read blogs on Google Reader while I drive. I am trying very hard to quit, because it's a terrible thing to do. In LA, at least, I'm rarely driving above 5mph.
20. I am OCD about leaving my house. Usually, I leave before my husband, and command him, "Check everything!"
21. Sometimes I feel a tiny twinge of envy at bloggers who get cute little awards from other bloggers. This is very unlike me and every time it happens I wonder what I'm thinking.
22. I love planning lessons. I don't always love teaching them. Sometimes, sure. But I always love planning.
23. My favorite tv shows are reality tv home shows, like Clean Sweep and Sell This House. I can't believe how geeky that makes me sound.
24. I love dogs very much, but I don't want another living being in my home that needs my help with pooping or medical issues.
25. I'm lonely. Sometimes. Someways.

One Ingredient Shy

I think of that joke, "One brick shy of a full load." It's me. No, I'm not crazy, or stupid, but in a number of areas, I'd be an expert, if I didn't lack a crucial brick. It's like missing the eggs in the omelet. Here is what I mean.
I could be a home-schooler, only I have more patience with other people's kids than my own.
I would love to be a standup comic, only I have stage fright.
I sometimes dream of being a professional writer, but the truth is I never can manage to care if anyone but me likes what I have to say.
I'd make an amazing doctor - if I didn't suck at science. Other than that, I could teach most of our specialists a thing or two.
I'd love to be a philanthropist, but I don't have the money.
I used to want to see the world, but most forms of transportation make me crazy.
I dream of getting another degree, but I can't manage to read the Times.
I'd like to be a leader, but my energy ran out.
I'd make a good activist, I'm just missing my cause.
I get jealous sometimes of large families, but I seem inadequate at raising just two kids.
In some ways I have the makings of an excellent person of faith - except for the pesky problem of occasionally believing that there are deities who hate me.
I wish I could be a blood doner, but I faint.
I have the makings of a innovator, except I'm allergic to commerce.

Do you have any incomplete recipes you want to share?

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Today I watched my son play ball with another child for the first time ever, on the yard where I've watched countless other children play ball together for almost fourteen years, and where I've watched his classmates play together for almost two years while he ran around in wide circles avoiding reciprocal play.
Today my son's shadow was late to work again, and the teachers said it's a problem.
Today I peeked in my daughter's window and watched her play, and I couldn't help realize how rarely I stop at her window, and how nice it is to watch her have fun in school with her friends.
Today I jinxed my son by calling my husband and describing the good morning.
Today my work day filled to the brim with dramas and problems, and I left many still stewing for tomorrow.
Today I took a moment to chat with other moms in the hall, trying to enjoy being just another mom for a minute before putting all my hats back on again.
Today I picked my son up early because he was fighting in aftercare.
Today I gave my kids a bath, wondering when they got their last one --- eww.
Today I worked on insurance paperwork for the third time and still haven't finished.
Today I found out we underpaid our taxes significantly through no fault of our own, and will need to pay a hefty sum.
Today I sent angry email to some lenders who screwed up.
Today I gave gifts, sent cards, checked on people, made calls, apologized, explained, thanked, appreciated.
Today another person stopped me in the hall to suggest an autism resource.
Today I cobbled together meals from scraps and leftovers and found food.
Today my husband went out of his way to support me and help with my work.
Today I did not exercise and am full of excuses.
Today I nearly ran out of battery on my iPhone.
Today I heard some worrisome news about a friend.
Today my two year old daughter explained how I could handle my son's naughty behavior more effectively.
Today I read articles about Strattera.
Today I arranged to get a sitter for a few hours this weekend.
Today I took away my son's popsicle because of how he acted.
Today I drove too fast, until my daughter admonished me from the back seat to be careful.
Today I listened to the same book on tape I've heard 76 times and realized I don't know what happens; I zone out each and every time.
Today I washed my hands to avoid the circulating flu until they dried out and I wondered if they might begin shedding.
Today I gave and got many kisses from two short people.
Today I enjoyed reading about my friends on Facebook.
Today my son told me he scratched a classmate on the face and made her bleed, and I've been worrying ever since how to deal with tomorrow. Today my son told me he scratched a classmate on the face and made her bleed, and I've been worrying ever since how to deal with tomorrow.
Today I got a pimple. Ick.
Today I didn't get a shower. Ew.
Today I woke up tired.
Today I go to bed weary.
Today is a lot like yesterday, but hopefully not too much like tomorrow.
Until then...
How was your today?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

When I Say Osteo You Say Path

I started this post a few days ago, and I, professional technology user, managed to lose half of it into the ether. Alas. I've cobbled it back together as best I could, because though it lacks some flow, can you believe this roller coaster? I can't:

So, on the one hand, we have the rooster. He has special needs, and he keeps us hopping. Sometimes he has good days. When he does, though: bang! Instantaneously, Peaches seems to know it, and she takes over where he left off.

Peaches, on the other hand, has what I guess you call typical needs. Hmmm. I looked up typical and either we all are or no one is, but let's just say that our Peaches has become a budding control freak. She often tells us what to say. Random things. Yesterday? "Say, 'Blue square, 5 triangles.' Say that." She also tells us what to do much of the time, and plays the favorite parent game. "No, MOMMY DO IT," she screams at my poor husband. So, yesterday, a decent day for the rooster, Peaches decided to take it up a notch. When my husband insisted on changing her diaper because I already had a few chores on my hands, she flew into such a rage that she actually took off the clean diaper, went to the garbage can, dug out the soiled (and I don't say that word lightly) diaper, and tried her two-year-old best to put it back on her bottom. Call her what you will, she ain't easy.

I guess the up side to all of this can't-catch-a-break-one-way-or-another business might be that their bad days alternate. Sure, now that I just said that, tomorrow will be the double whammy.

To follow up on the osteopath business, we had brunch today with my sister-in-law, a pediatric oncologist, and I asked her what she thinks about osteopathy. "I worked with some osteopaths," she told me. "They had the same training as the rest of us, but then went on and did some specialized training. Most just practice the same regular medicine as everyone else. Some do this thing called manipulations, but I don't know what to think about that," she said. I told her our story, how our osteopath vibrated the Rooster one day, and he seemed to improve at school the next. "Hey," she said, sitting to my right, "whatever works!" To my left sat the rooster. He cheerfully sat through a LONG brunch at a fancy gay-bar-meets-West-Hollywood-brunch-spot, not misbehaving once until the bill took too long to get paid, at which point he began screaming: IT'S TIME TO GO TO THE PARK, NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW. And, yeah, actually, it was.

No, I'm not chalking the Rooster's better days up to anything, yet. I'm not a scientist, but I do understand the concept of numerous variables, and we have a long way to go.

I do have to report how well the park trip went, though. Whatever the factor, I don't care... as pixiemama pointed out, "A good day is a good day."

So the Rooster's daddy takes him and his sister to the park so I can pay the long delayed bill without scaring away too many other patrons. I arrive ten minutes later to find my husband talking to another dad I know from school, the dad of a boy the teachers have said, "is not the best match for the rooster." Seems these two boys provoke each other, bring out the worst. I hold my breath and run toward them. Quickly, I can hear the rooster shouting. I am leaning in... what is going on? Seems the rooster has met a stranger, a third boy, and now Rooster is trying to WHAT? He's trying to introduce him to his classmate! I nearly fall down. The rooster shouts joyfully, "Tommy*! Tommy! Do you know Tim*? He's the boy in the blue shirt. Let's play!" I thought if I described this scenario, this appropriate reciprocal language, this good behavior, this social engagement, to his teachers, they would never trust another word out of my mouth ever again. But it did happen.

The osteopath called today, saying they have an opening tomorrow. Hmmm. It's short notice and both J and I have a lot on our work plates, and have done a number of appointments in the last week. What should we do? As we mulled it over, we revisited again the question: do we believe that, er, um, manipulation, can help our boy? J said, "I believe that sometimes ideas work ahead of our understanding of the why or the how." I said I don't know that any of this stuff we do works or fails, I don't know how things would be the same or different if gave up OT, speech, behaviorists, meds, shadow teachers... but if something doesn't hurt him, and we can provide it, I want to try. So did we grab up the opening at the D.O.'s? No, but we did schedule for a more convenient time next week. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, after one year of lobbying, seven thousand phone calls, and 16 hours of parenting classes, we finally qualified for an ABA specialist in our home. Yes, Mama Mara, we are calling him our own Whisperer. He already came once and gave us PLANS. I, for one, love nothing better than a PLAN! J thinks it's a four letter word sometimes, but since this one does involve potty training, he can probably appreciate this is some good sh**t. (Sorry, I couldn't resist. Next time I'll try to keep it clean.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Survey Says

Okay, I've said it before: I'm not a scientist.

But lately mentions of birth trauma and its potential link to kids with special needs has me thinking. Possibly, maybe, slightly guilting, too. Okay, guilting isn't a word. But I feel guilt actively, so it ought to be a verb. For me at least. I claim prerogative.

If you have kids, can you tell me some things? This is a purely unscientific survey, but I've never been more interested in, and anticipating of, any comments I might get:

1. If you have a child (or children) on the spectrum, did you have a traumatic delivery? (long labor, need for forceps or vacuum, etc)

2. If you have a child (or children) on the spectrum, did the baby show signs of trauma immediately after birth? (problems of head size or shape, unusual or weak crying, rigid body, floppy body, etc)

3. If you have a NT child (or children), same questions?

4. Do you think birth trauma causes autism?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shot Who?

At the risk of sounding like I just fell off the turnip truck, we didn't have no doctors the likes of these here where I grew up!

Okay, so really I was born with pretty strong grammar skills (despite my passion for ain't and split infinitives, I DID teach language arts), but I would like to convey my natural twang here, let you know I'm from the rural South, and explain how deeply foreign some treatments we've explored for our son can feel to me at first blush. Maybe to you more worldly folks this is all a matter of course, and you'll think I am quite some country mouse, to which I say, Yes I Am, thank you very much.

Sometimes, I can almost FEEL my Peeps 3,000 miles away rolling their eyes as I call to order some herbs from a specialist whose title I honestly have a mental block on learning on the grounds it is too multisyllabic and, well, goofy sounding.

I am NOT without an open mind. I am also not some easy mark who buys every gadget sold on infomercials. I am just a mom in Los Angeles trying to avail my son of every possible resource to help him with his health. And his health ain't great.

Anyway, yesterday we tried the osteopath. Sure, I could analyze the word and figure out the meaning of osteopath, but I promise you can't find one within a hundred miles of where I grew up, and I had no idea what to expect. We found this doctor because I tell anyone who will listen that I will take any and all referrals they might consider offering that might have a decent chance of helping the rooster overcome his snot affliction. Sorry to get graphic, but the child needed his nostrils plunged immediately after birth, and possibly every ninety minutes since then, for almost five goopy years. When our outstanding, grounded, and articulate OT told us how very much she respects her osteopath, and knowing that my OT's daughter has made significant developmental gains under this doctor's care, I thought I needed to get an appointment.

Yesterday, I picked my boy up from school after nap time, during which he had not napped, and found him to be in, as my mom likes to say, rare form. The teacher let me know while handing him off to me that he scratched the face of a classmate, unfortunately the daughter of Beverly Hills dermatologists, and they had to do an accident report since he drew blood. He cried and kicked most of the drive across town, then spent forty minutes trying to dismember the waiting room. I liked the waiting room - it seemed medical and professional enough, and despite having to wait forever, we were the only patients there. When does THAT happen?

When we left the waiting room at last, we left my realm of experience with medicine. The doctor took us to a room much like the one my tax accountant has, which is to say, a very Los Angeles feeling space, not far from the ocean, with many fragile things my son should not touch. And some toys that didn't really interest him, since instead he saw so many fragile things he should not touch and desperately needed to break them.

The doctor proceeded to talk to me for quite a while, stopping to warn the rooster that, "Hey, that's expensive, don't break it," and asking me all seven thousand questions I'd just answered on his book length form in the waiting room. I enumerated our many concerns: hypotonia, fine and gross motor issues, allergies, poor digestion, poor focus, aggression, pragmatic language deficits, scripting, mitigated echolalia, mood swings, drool, memory, motor planning, impulse control.... and I told him our whole Rooster story. At last, the doctor removed his glasses, looked up through his inordinately bushy eyebrows, and asked if I clearly understood my child exhibited all the hallmarks of BIRTH TRAUMA. Well, sure, I could tell we were going that way, as he'd probed into how long, how well, how adequately I'd nursed my child, what drugs I'd allowed the hospital to foist on us during delivery, and any number of other guilt inducing inquiries. I nodded. Okay, birth trauma. I said, "And he has an autism diagnosis." He nodded. It was just a nod, but I had a nagging feeling he thought somehow I did an awful job giving birth, so now of course my son has autism. Finally it was time to actually examine the patient if we could wrangle him onto the ....

... table? More like a little bed. The rooster climbed up and let the doctor... um... feel him; where I am from, people thump melons and such in much the same kind of knowing manner. The doctor spent a lot of time wrapping his hand around the rooster's calf, in particular, cocking an eyebrow, muttering, and running his fingers up the back of rooster's neck. The rooster, rather than getting upset, cracked up completely. He wasn't mocking alternative medicine; he just felt ticklish.

The diagnosis? The rooster has, um, crooked legs. And, uh, his chin is kind of small, which could someday wreck his posture, which is, er, systemically bad. And his vertebrae are sort of compressed. His neck is too tight, which we've always known related to his torticollis and strabismus. He has poor binocular vision. And he is very, very, ticklish. All but that last part I think comprise his BIRTH TRAUMA. (read: dagger to my guilty heart. Hey, what about MY birth trauma?!)

But, I had to interject and ask, does this, uh, affect, like, his general health? Oh, the doctor said, as directly as if the Donald was firing me, YES, without a doubt, it most certainly does.

The remedy? The doctor proceeded to take a, um, thing that vibrated but that I am loathe to call a vibrator, and ran it up and down the boy's body. After quite a long time, I suddenly looked at the clock, and upon realizing we'd now been there over two hours, announced that we'd have to leave soon to pick my daughter up from school. With great sincere dismay, the doctor proclaimed: "Well, I have to FINISH, or else he won't be EVEN." He, um, vibrated the rooster a bit more, gave me a referral to an 82-year-old nutritionist he said could prescribe things to us by phone, and then told us to come back. With several more intense, er, sessions, he expected mild to moderate improvement. I had to know. Improvement in what? In his BEHAVIOR, he said. That'll be $175. We got the discount. And, no, silly, this is not an insurance kind of place. See you soon! Or not, I thought; we'll have to think more about this whole business and do more fact-checking, call our friends in medicine... you know, the FAMILIAR kind of medicine, the kind where they give you some MEDICINE instead of a vibrator...

Cut to today, when I go to pick the rooster up from school. He is in after care, and when I walk in, and I am not thinking at all about the osteopath. I am realizing that the daughter of the dermatologists wants to talk to me. She makes a bee-line for me, and I hold my breath, praying her mother won't arrive at this very same moment to hear whatever woeful tale she has to recount today about my guy. She looks up at me and says, very adult-like for a four-year-old wearing Valentine pants, "Rooster had a better day today! He was nicer." Yes, the rooster corroborates, it's true. I take his hand and Peaches' hand, and the three of us walk to our car, peacefully. A FIRST!They behave so well I give them lollipops for the ride home. We listen to books on tape, and the don't fight, even though they are sitting next to each other for a change, since J took the car with the third row today. We get home, the kids eat their dinner, watch Sesame Street, and let me play a few rounds of Scramble on the laptop. Huh? J arrives. The rooster lights up with engagement. He initiates all kinds of conversation with his daddy. "Daddy, do you remember when..." and "Daddy, do you know dinosaurs are STINKED? They are not alive. Not anymore. They are STINKED." I don't know when I last saw J laugh so much or have a better time talking with the rooster. Suddenly, the osteopath comes to mind. And I realize I need to write a blog post. This one. I need to reconcile my Southern roots and my Angeleno lifestyle, and I needed to explore my beliefs and my hopes, my uncertainty and my questions.

All this rambling (forgive me, I have a horrible virus, my throat is on fire, and I'm on MEDS) is to tell you this. I ain't got no clue what to make of this osteopath business. Maybe by coincidence the rooster just happened to have a better day today. Maybe not. Maybe if I lived on Mars then suddenly landed in my internist's office, I'd go, "This crazy chick thinks if I urinate in a cup she can tell if I'm sick! She pumped my arm with air in a sleeve and called it medicine! BAH, Poppycock!" There are many ways to look at it, and I surely will research more. But here is what I know: the rooster and I, and as many increments of $175 as it takes, will drive across town again to lie down in the bed and vibrate, and maybe when we do it enough, the rooster will no longer need to break all the doctor's expensive equipment anymore, and we will graduate from alternative medicine with our melons intact. Thump.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

All You Need is Love

When J and I got married, we did it simply, not too traditionally, and did everything about it in keeping with our own style. 

We walked down the aisle (and back again) to the Beatles. Arm and arm, we walked ourselves down the aisle to "Here, There and Everywhere" until we reached the front of the mural room in an historic courthouse, and J's dad married us, with the help of some of our friends and family. Then, with "All You Need is Love" ringing out triumphantly, we made our way as husband and wife back down that aisle beaming joyously en route to our picnic celebration in the park with about 50 people who love us. 

June 8 is the day we met (2000), the day we married (2002), and my favorite date, a date we use as a mantra when we need it. All You Need is Love. 

Tonight J asked me if we are doing all we can to help our boy. 

Is that an answerable question? 

For every option, scales must be weighed. The list of what we do for our boy is lengthy, but the list of what we might consider stretches far and wide: 
chelation, cranio-sacral therapy, specialized schools, medications, B shots, specific carbohydrate diet, moving somewhere with more support systems, quitting our jobs (obviously only one of us could do that), more speech therapy, more alternative medicine, social stories, social skills groups, more allergy testing....

I thought all we needed was love? The love is right here, huge, gigantic, enormous, but is it adequate? 

Of course, J didn't expect me to have an answer for his question, he just wanted me to know that he needed to wrestle with it a while. I get it. It's the unanswerable question with special needs kids -- what exactly is it that they need? If only we knew, we'd give it. If only we could tease apart the countless clues and inputs and possibilities to understand when things work and when the don't and when to add a little, subtract a little, start over...

I wanted to marry J because I wanted to have a family with him. He made my dreams come true. We have two beautiful children. Do we give either of them what they need? Are we doing the best we can? These questions chew on me, and I close my eyes and hold on tight to June 8, June 8, June 8...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hit Me Over the Head with It

I read Jordan's post at Wonderwheel and admired how she found the good side of a clearly difficult day. She expressed her gratitude for the meaningful things in life, and asked why we are all grateful. Funny she should ask.
Just today I told my husband, much to his astonishment, that I feel really grateful that a few weeks ago, a box fell off a high shelf and hit me in the head. You see, today the Rooster got sent home from school early for biting his teacher. He did a poor job apologizing, a worse job listening to my attempts to help him learn from the experience, and followed it all up by fighting with his sister more than usual and writing on the wall with (Harold's?) purple crayon. So I am grateful that the toy box crashed down on me as I sat on the playroom floor a few weeks ago, because otherwise I never would have seen my boy run to the bathroom, grab the stool, drag it over to the fridge, climb up and get me the booboo bunny ice pack from our freezer, and I'd be sitting here thinking my boy doesn't yet have a single inkling how to empathize.
He does have the good in there. I know it is, because I saw him leap to my aid when I nearly brained myself. I have this experience to tuck into my locket and open up when I need something to get me through.
And I need something to get me through after my son bit a grandmother, my friend, for the second time in a week and got sent home from school.
Like Jordan, I am grateful for my family, our strengths, our home, healthy food to eat, work. But next to Jordan, I am a needy, whiny girl, and I am going to put an SOS out right here right now. Forgive me for it, please. But I am feeling desperate tonight, and I know that you are a networked, savvy, communicative, connected bunch, you readers out there, and I want to know if you can give me a little hookup:
Is there anyone out there whose child at age 4 1/2 behaved much like the rooster (aggressive, noncompliant, hyper, willful), and then things improved? If so, please, oh please, please, please, can you get me in touch with them? Sure, I would love to know how things improved, and when, and why, and all of that, but just to know that they DID improve would be a much lovelier way to hold on to hope than to have to drop boxes of wooden erector sets on my head.


Monday, January 12, 2009

What Happened in Vegas...

I realized that I never shared how much we enjoyed our Vegas getaway. Yeah, you're not getting that kind of detail, so now focus. What I want to tell you is how unVegasy we were, and how we loved it.

Most people's top five things to do in Vegas:
1. Stay someplace cool on the strip.
2. Eat at buffets until they need larger clothes.
3. See a show.
4. Gamble.
5. Drink and party all night.

Um, nope, we didn't do any of those. Our top five things we did in Vegas:
1. Stayed 10 miles from the strip, at Red Rocks, with a glorious view each morning.
2. Ate breakfast in bed.
3. Went to an aquarium.
4. Got a couple's massage.
5. Watched movies at night and fell asleep by ten, then watched football in the day time and took a nap at the half.

The way we see it, Vegas totally rocks.

Old Joke

I can already tell that the funny will not translate, but I find the story irresistibly tellable. Try to listen to your sense of humor when you read this one:

My kids, for whatever odd reason, like to pull old yearbooks off the shelf and ask me to identify the faces. Sometimes they know the people -- teachers or kids from the school where I work and they attend. Sometimes the kids in the pictures long since graduated. This is my 14th year there, after all.

As I was showing Peaches, our two-year-old, the album from 2001, I found myself realizing she'd asked me something, but I had zoned out remembering people, marvelling at how some people had changed, feeling sentimental about the passage of time, thinking about how in 2001 my husband and I had not even yet married... I scrutinized my younger face, of course, and missed it in all it's smoothness, and remembered how then I wasted time missing some yet even younger self, while my then-boyfriend warned me, "Enjoy your vigors!" Meanwhile, earth to mommy! Peaches demanded to know, "And who's THAT one? That one? That one right there?"

After a while, and several deep sighs, I told her we needed to brush her teeth. She paused en route to the bathroom in front of a photo I have framed of my mom at about age four. I love the black and white photo because my mom looks so happy and so very fresh and young, because my grandma cherished that photo, and because I know the whole back story of my mom's fancy cowgirl ensemble. Peaches (remember, she's two) pointed to the picture and said, "That's Grandma." I concurred -- that IS grandma. "She doesn't look the same." I concurred again -- barey recognizable. I told her, "People change." She stared me down a moment, very eye-to-eye, and sighed knowingly, sagely. As she turned on her heel to go brush teeth with her Winnie the Pooh toothbrush, she lamented forlornly, "That is SAD."

See, it doesn't read funny. But I can barely stop. She just cracks me up. Thank goodness. If not, how ever would I get over myself?

We're trying to enjoy all the vigors over here. I suggest you do the same. (More giggles.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's A Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

Another year, and the story grows older.

I'm thinking about giving up parties as a New Year's resolution. I actually love parties. I just can't handle taking my kids to them.

When the rooster was 23 months old, we took him to a birthday party at a park. Already we told anyone who would listen that our boy seemed more challenging to contain than every other child we knew, more willful, less engaged, somewhat dangerous, and we were well-aquainted with the scoffing, dismissing, mocking, and eye rolling. We meaning me. Of course.

Anyway, so we go to this party, disheveled and disoriented from not sleeping for two years and from managing constant, willful energy, and with a brand new baby as well. We lasted about three or four minutes maybe of niceties, and the rooster was off and running. Literally -- he ran in enormous circuits through fields and around the park. Poor J had the job of corralling him, or chasing him, or just making apologies to the picknickers and park visitors that the rooster overran, because I had a 5 week old baby with me. We used her as our out and left as early as possible, overwhelmed, scared, freaked out. By we I mean me. Of course.

I remember getting in the car, and asking J, "Did it sort of blow you away to see all the other kids sitting on the blanket quietly, happily eating snacks, seeming so... nice?" J looked at me with some of that scoffing and dismissing I referred to earlier. "NO, honey, come on. Our boy is almost two. Haven't you heard of the terrible twos? When all of those kids are two they'll probably do the exact same thing."

I didn't know the right way to say this to him: "Uh, J. Those kids? They are all two."

Our friends are Korean. J just looked at me. "No they aren't," he said. "They were just itty bitty little kids." But it was dawning on him, I could see it. I hated breaking it to him.

"J, just because they don't look like our pale, blonde, 95th percile-sized child, doesn't mean they aren't two. I know for a fact that all of those children are his age exactly."

We rode in silence for a while.

We have remembered and recounted that day many times.

Today we went to a little girl's first birthday party at yet another park. This is actually our favorite park, so we figured that would work out nicely - it is one of those built for all abilities, a highly accessible park where we've enjoyed several recent successful outings. It was a lovely party and I tried extremely hard to just be in the moment, enjoy, and not compare. How well do you think I did?

This little ray of sunshine turning one year old beamed at her party. She had a blast. She didn't need to be held, she walked with confidence, she smiled at the camera, she clapped for herself when she got her cupcake and people sang. Wow, nothing like either of my children's first birthdays, though both were held at similar parks with similar guests and similar food. That was almost enough to bum me out. But much worse: the rooster ran in giant circles through this park today, trying to lose us, ignoring our words, screaming, and he eventually hit another boy in the face because the boy responded to the rooster's nose-to-nose demands to play together by saying, "No, I don't want to play with you, you are a stranger." And no, I am not comforted that the Rooster initiated play with the boy. Not comforted. He hit the boy in the face.

Peaches, for all her NT ways, didn't behave much better, trying to pry the cupcakes from the box from the moment we arrived, and throwing a screaming, spitting fit when I took the rooster to the restroom for a diaper change and -- God forbid -- left her with daddy, and about two dozen friends for five minutes.

We hightailed it out of there. My husband, who sees all things as brightly as I see them dark, who cannot be brought down, barely had the car in reverse before he said, "I just want you to know. I am grumped out. I'm sorry, but I am. Sometimes it just all hits me, you know?" He said part of his grumpiness came from thinking about his coming work day, but as we talked, what kept coming up was the struggle we have dealing with the challenges facing our family. I completely understood.

When we came home, Peaches asked to see photos of her from her own birthday parties. I pulled out the albums. We worked our way backward through time, starting with her second birthday, then going all the way back to my baby shower when I was carrying the rooster. Who was that young, bright, shiny girl?!!!! Wow, I like her hair, and I wish I had it now, but I don't think I knew it at the time! Her skin looked nice...

The only way I'm going to make it to any more birthdays is to find a way to connect with my sense of gratitude and joy. So, in an effort to do just that, here is what I'm grateful for:

- The rooster's language continues to blossom in astonishing ways. Hard to believe that in the spring we wondered if he'd ever ask or answer questions.
- Peaches gives the sweetest kisses in the whole world.
- My friend S just had a very scary operation. She rebounded like a super star! She'll be on bed rest for a month, but I saw her and she looks amazing.
- I have the sweetest husband in the entire world. We cooked breakfast together today. Eggs and gfcf waffles. He made sure I had time to jog, even though it meant he didn't get time for a haircut. He compliments me wildly. I love him.
- My mom sent me my grandma's flatware. While it is not something we ever would have picked out, I love eating with it. I grew up eating with it. It feels like having her here. I think she got it in the forties. It's a collector's item. I love having it. I put it in place of our stuff today and it felt right.
- Today I downloaded a free app on my iPhone so I now can listen to my local NPR station on my phone. I jogged today and never even got bored! NPR! I love it! Oh how I've been missing it as we've listened to all the rooster's books on tape!
- Did I mention I started jogging again? A woman 25 years older than I am passed me, but hey, calorie burning is calorie burning, and I need to burn me some calories. It's time to lose that 10 extra pounds I've been dragging around for almost three years, and it's good to be jogging again.
- My friends are very cool. Thank you, cool friends.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Getting the Funk Out

Mired and mucked and stuck in my funk, I've grown a bit quiet, wanting to comment on posts and write my own, but not there yet.

Today is an exercise in exertion, rather than my usual therapy-through-writing, but I need to quilt together the scraps I've stuffed into my pockets and recesses or else I will not be able to think.

1. Those of you who have been writing about GFCF? Questioning and trying and wondering and looking for input? I've loved your posts, admired your efforts, and understood your doubts. I just say to you: it FEELS like it helps our boy, and so that makes it good for our family. Sure, it's hard. Hey, special needs, right? But if it helps your kid, or helps you feel like you help your kid, than I say hang in there. And if it doesn't, then save your energies for more productive paths. But, if you're on the border, and you're looking for encouragement, here is some for you:
Google. Find the best stores in your area. Read GFCF blogs. Buy the Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook. If you have a Trader Joe's, get the awesome mixes. Make a bazillion waffles or pancakes with gfcf (Enjoy Life) chocolate chips and freeze what you can't eat. Order stuff online. Have a GFCF party and invite friends. See how many cool things you can put on rice cakes. Email me. We'll swap tips.
2. I'm fantasizing about relocating to Albuquerque. Now, it is HIGHLY unlikely that we will do this. But I'm curious; anyone know anything about life --- special needs life --- in New Mexico?
3. If I owe you a thank you note, PLEASE FORGIVE ME. I've never had a harder time facing that task. THANK YOU.
4. The rooster discovered puzzles finally. I watched him today, and marvelled. Now, it's hard for me to gauge how he was doing since I all but burned all those stupid milestone books years ago. But at his first evaluation, more than two years ago, when he charmed the team into believing I was the one with special needs, the one task he refused to do was a puzzle. (I was glad at least that they caught a glimpse of the noncompliance I had described so that they didn't think I was just the moron Dennis Leary thinks I am.) I blogged about this before, but it warrants retelling: the teacher on the team asked if he had any special interests, and maybe she'd have the right puzzle to tempt my boy. I said animals, so she brought him a horse puzzle. "Rooster," she asked, "do you know where the horse's head goes?" And he knew alright. He said, "The horses head goes BACK IN THE BOX." He was 2 then, he's more than 4 1/2 now, and he's avoided puzzles like they might bite ever since. Today, though, Peaches had out a Scooby Doo puzzle for ages 3-7 that she got for Christmas, and when she turned her back, the Rooster took over. He put together 8 pieces, six in the right place, and remained utterly engaged until it was time to head out the door. It delighted me. He's also started drawing, which is another task he responds to with surprising and unusual distaste.
4. We started a B vitamin cream after the lead reports caused concern. We rub lotion on his back each night -- it's been about 4 weeks now. When we went to OT, the therapist who we hadn't seen in a while due to holidays asked, "What's different?" She found him more compliant, and his fine motor skills improved. He cut paper, held things with a decent grasp, did well on some large motor things too, and got along with another child in the room who isn't usually there. Could be a coincidence. Could be B?

Wow, this actually turned in to a real post. Of course, I've been writing it on and off this whole day long instead of my usual quick, healthy feeling purge, but sometimes it's hard to work out when you haven't in a while, and you need to do a little at a time.

Happy New Year wishes to everyone. And I want you to know how glad I am for you all. To the other bloggers -- I've been thinking of YOU and your kids a lot lately -- sending get well wishes to you-know-who-you-are (ykwya), house sale wishes to ykwya, voodoo power to Mama Bear ykwya, and I've been desperately curious about the romance of ykwya...

Whew. I think I just shook off some funk.