Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Blessing of a Meltdown

Have you ever heard of "the blessing of the skinned knee?" I thought of that tonight.
My kiddo is in bed, screaming and crying and melting down about not wanting to go to bed. But it's not Rooster. He's in there comforting his little sister, whispering encouragement that she should calm. down. As I type this, as I pause to eavesdrop, I hear her sob, "Thank you, Rooster, for helping me today." And that, my friends, is what I'm talking about.
And now, it is all quiet, save for my joyful typing sounds.
Today was not awful.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pickin' and Choosin'

This weekend my son caught a ball ten times in a row. (Doesn't matter that I threw it gently from a close distance, it's a big deal.)
This weekend I got a facial. The first one in many years. I had a coupon, too -- double score.
This weekend I met up with a friend, someone I haven't seen in years, for tea. Just us -- our husbands stayed at home with kids.
The sun shined, but not too hot.
My husband called me beautiful. (I slip him magic pills that make him believe I am still 29.)
I went for a jog, and felt good enough to tackle the bleachers stairs afterward too.

If you had a hard weekend, don't hate me: That is what I choose to remember from this weekend. I leave the rest behind.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Party On

This will not be my first post about birthday parties.
I fervently hope it will be my last. In fact, on my next birthday, I plan to wish on the candle (I only allow one - I don't want to set off the smoke alarm) that my family celebrates hundreds more birthdays, very happy ones, but without the parties that make me so inclined to open up a bloggy vein and weep.

Next month, my delightful and complicated boy will turn eight, and I thought I had cleverly sold him on the idea of celebrating with his adoring family at an overpriced amusement park, eating Z Pizza and gorging on allergy-free cake. But his sister insisted on a party this year -- two weeks ago -- and even though we arranged a boys' day out for him so she could revel in girly paradise with her friends over mani/pedis, now nothing will do for him but a party of his own.

And I must admit to you the awful truth. I. Cannot. Do. It.
For the first time in 14 birthdays between them, I am foisting the festivity on their dad.

It's not just that I'm too tired, though I am weary to the bone. To the bone, I tell you. To the marrow.
It's not just that it feels only fair that daddy take a turn, since his usual contribution is pretty much lighting the candles and trying to pretend he can remember people's names.

It's that I can't bear the fact that my son's classmates won't want to come to his party.

There are worse problems. I can count with deep appreciation so very many blessings: that we have two amazing kids who are here to have birthdays, that we live in a beautiful and peaceful place, that we can afford to throw them a party, that we have people who love us.

But for me, loving my kids means wanting people to see the good in them, including wanting them to have friends.

I don't really know if Rooster has friends at his school.
I know he has enemies. I know he has people who tolerate him. I know he has frequent conflicts. But I don't know if he has friends. And this year, it makes me sad. It makes me especially sad as my husband pays the park rental fee and tries to make a celebratory plan. It makes me sad because I don't know if anyone will show up. After all, his birthday is the end of May, not long before school gets out, and he has not been invited to a single party all year. Not by a kid at school, and not by a kid outside of school.
And I somehow doubt it's because all those other kids' parents conned their kids into foregoing parties to hide from social ostracism at Disneyland. Wish I could.

Monday, April 9, 2012


A woman sits in front of her computer, trembling.
She can neither focus on what she wants to Google, nor can she stop vainly searching.
She tries every combination her rattled mind can make using the word autism, until it's too late to sleep and too early to rise, but never finds her way in any clear directions. So much for a degree in tech.
I want to reach her and tell her that the reason none of those digital pages have any answers is that the answers are just down the hall, where her son is in his bed. He is the answer, himself, to the question: Who is my child? Where is my child? He has been her question and her answer, and she should rest easy knowing that nothing anyone else ever says or does will change that he is her beautiful boy.
I cannot go back and help myself, when I was that woman trembling in the face of a word -- autism -- and the fear that the word was enough to destroy a family's hopes and dreams.
But I sit now in front of my computer, determined to find some path to other mothers, other fathers, who sit in front of their computers in despair; determined to tell them, I know, I know, I know. Hope, hope, hope. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Your child is your child. Autism is just a word. Be where you are, with your child.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


What is better than having the world's most talented educational therapist?
Having the world's most talented educational therapist who also is gifted at ABA.

Yesterday my son was working with the genius S, his ed therapist, on math, his nemesis. But it wasn't his complete lack of number sense troubling him. "We ran straight into his diagnosis today," S told me. He got very rigid about a set of directions, and he became extremely agitated because he thought he was going to be able to write a story, and then it turned out he was actually working with word problems. Perseveration, anxiety, impulsivity -- wham.

At the end of the session, S told me something like: Sure, we didn't get as much math covered as I would like, and as an ed therapist, that could bother me. But as a behaviorist, oh my gosh, this was big. He learned how to stomp through something, to stick with it, to calm himself down when he was in sensory overload. He got through the work! That is a big deal. I am so proud of him, and I want him to know that being able to do that is important.

When Roo finishes all his work and does it calmly, he gets a reward. He definitely lost his cool for part of the time, and he didn't finish everything. I was tempted to give him the reward anyway for trying so hard. But together we decided that he would get a reward -- just not the same reward he gets when he finishes all his work calmly. Instead, I took him to the library to get a card and check out 10 books. He tried to talk me into both rewards, but when I talked him through it, he sighed deeply and put his hand on my cheek.

"Okay, mommy. Next time, I want BOTH prizes. Now, let's go get some BOOOOOKS!"
I love that kid.