Thursday, August 22, 2013

then one day you are there

Deep into the last leg of my daily drive time I found myself lost in thought, puzzling over the weightier problems in our lives and in the lives of those closest to our family.  Stumped, as usual, for answers to most of these problems I started imaging various scenarios where I had a single magical wish and how I would use it.  Several delightful scenarios later I started drifting back to reality and I was somewhat startled to realize that in none of these scenarios had I wished my son out of autism --  something that in the past I have spent plenty of time wishing for.  On this day, though, when I weighed that idea my gut reaction was, and still is, rejection. The idea of changing who my Little Guy is seems positively revolting.  I love this kid the way he is.  I love the way his brain works and I wouldn't change what is so deeply a part of who he is.  We will continue to work towards growth is specific areas but the only changes I would wish are for improvements in the world around him.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Good news that makes you want a drink

At drop off last month one of Little Guy's teachers casually mentioned that she thought Little Guy was "more than ready" to be successful in mainstream school.  His other teacher quickly agreed.  "Really?" I asked.  "Really!" they said, before proceeding to advise me that he probably would need to skip at least one grade.

My world was rocked.  I can best describe this as "Good news that makes you want a drink".

Part One of this urge to drink: entering public school.
We had planned on him having another year at his therapeutic school.  I knew he was doing well, I knew he had come so far.  I also was well aware of the challenges he continues to face.  The idea of taking him from his safe little school where he is understood, protected and loved and putting him at the mercies of public education and its special education offerings is terrifying.  In summary: "Yay! He's come so far! So now we send him into the jungle and hope he survives?"

Part Two of this urge to drink: grade skipping? what?
Ok, so I knew that Little Guy's class was a combined class of kindergarten and 1st grade.  I also knew that his whole class had finished the kindergarten curriculum earlier in the year.  I knew that even earlier in the year they had upgraded Little Guy's language arts curriculum a few times before finally settling on a 2nd grade curriculum that actually challenged him.  I knew he was bright, a great reader and could memorize a vast amount of facts about whatever topic currently holding his interest.

I did not know that he was excelling in areas of academia outside language arts.  I did not know that now that he can write easily he whizzes through his schoolwork.  Apparently for any given lesson he is typically given twice as much work as any other classmate and he still finishes first. I did not expect to hear that my 6 year old kindergartener should be placed in at least the 2nd grade next year.

As all this started to slowly permeate my brain I went through the motions to get him started in public school next year.  IEPs were scheduled, etc.  I worried.  Hubby worried.  I pulled teachers aside and asked again, "Really?  You really think he's ready?".

I began to allow myself to hope that it was true.  As I quietly cursed my way through rush hour traffic in the morning I started to imagine a life where I didn't spend 2.5-3.5 hours driving every day just for his school drop off and pick up.  I imagined time not spent arguing with insurance companies.  I imagined his younger brother being able to attend the awesome preschool down the road from us and both of them making friends that actually live in the same town as us.

As I waited outside Big Boy's class with the other parents waiting for our preschoolers to be dismissed I watched the big brothers, fresh out of their 1/2 day kindergarten classes and dragged along to wait.  These weren't just any boys, either.  These were Little Guy's former classmates, from his somewhat disastrous time in regular preschool.  I watched them interacting with each other, running around and playing, a pack of wild little boys giggling and chasing.  I watched these boys and I wondered if Little Guy was ready to join the pack, if he could run and play with them now.  I worried but I began to hope none the less.

To Be Continued...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I spent most of the day struggling with a disappointment.  It was one of those disappointments that is connected to a long chain of past disappointments.  A minor thing all by itself but connected to that chain my sadness had became a weighty thing.  Hubby did nice sweet things to cheer me up that made me smile but the feeling would not stay in my heart.  Not yet.  I was in a funk I could not get out of.

I was still wiping away stray tears when I went to pick up Little Guy from school.  Then through his open classroom door I spotted Little Guy walking to me, a grin on his handsome little face. *POOF!* My heart lifted.  Just the sight of him and his joy dispelled my gloom and made me okay again.  He's a magical creature, my son.  Both my sons.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Luxury is...

Yesterday Big Boy had a rough night, featuring both fever and vomit.  By today he felt a lot better but we were both exhausted and for most of the day Big Boy wanted nothing more than to cuddle on my lap, and only my lap.  Today I am thankful, so very thankful, that I was able to provide him time to do just that. Thanks, Universe.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

the other half of my heart

I've dedicated the lion's share of my writing here to discussing my Little Guy, and there is good reason for that.  The challenges presented by having a special needs child sometimes compel me to drink write.  I'd like to think I don't just blog to whine, but the truth is that when the good times are rolling I'm far less likely to take the time to write.

Today it is neither my special needs son nor whining that is burning on my mind -- it is my youngest son, heretofore referred to as "Baby Boy".  He is 3 now and insistent that he is neither a baby nor a little boy, but in fact a big boy.  I'm going to let him win this one - "Big Boy" he is now.

Earlier this week I picked Big Boy up from preschool.  His teacher dismissed him and he emerged from his classroom like a miniature man in jeans and a little backpack.  It hit me, and hit me hard, how quickly his childhood is passing, like sand slipping through my fingers.  I feel like we somehow haven't been doing enough.  That is one of the beauties of preschool though -- preschool is in many ways a celebration of being little and enjoying all the things that at that age inspire wonder.  I am so thankful that Big Boy gets to be a part of that celebration, and that he has this time away from home when he is Big Boy first and not a little brother.  He gets to be a shining star, all on his own and it suits him well.

Friday, August 3, 2012

a mirror moment

I am truly thankful to be able to send Little Guy to a school where he can be supported by specially trained professionals. Yes, we definitely traded up when we replaced public school with Little Guy's school. This trade is not without its costs, though, and I'm not just talking about the finance-straining tuition. I am particularly aware of those other trade offs as we head into the start of a new school year. As children everywhere prepare for their first day of school, as we head towards Little Guy's first day of kindergarten.

Do I even need to say that it is not the first day of kinder I had planned for him? Let's be honest here – this first day of school business is a bitter pill for me to swallow. Not nearly as bitter as sending him virtually unsupported into public special education, don't get me wrong. Yet, all around me I see other parents prepare to start their children off in regular school and I know that that prototypical first day of school is not meant to be for my family.  Not this year anyways.

About a week ago I sat across from my teenage niece. She is a beautiful young lady with many lovely qualities, but as I sat across from her it was all I could do not to slap her say less than kind things to her. Why? Well, it had to do with some of the less attractive qualities that so often go hand in hand with teenagers. Words like “spoiled” and “ungrateful” come to mind. You see, my darling niece was alternating between being royally pissed off and being despondent because she couldn't have x. My sister was off somewhere quietly weeping, overwhelmed with guilt and feeling like a terrible parent because she simply could not provide my niece with the x she so badly wanted.

So there I was, trying to talk my niece out of her pity party. I thought, “What an ungrateful, spoiled brat you are. Your mother is doing everything, everything, she can just to give you what you have. Do you not see how hard she works? Do you not realize that she would joyfully give you what you wanted if she could? How dare you cry about how terrible your life is! You have a family that loves you, a safe home to live in and food on the table. You don't live like a Rockefellar, nor even like many of your friends, but you have so much to be thankful for and yet to you it is nothing. Spoiled. Little. Brat.” I said none of that, of course.  I spoke carefully chosen words selected to persuade and not inflame.

Time passed.  I cooled off and tried to remember that I liked my niece. I reminded myself that once, what feels like eons ago, I had been a teenage girl. A spoiled, ungrateful teenage girl who had taken her own turn making her mom cry. I could distantly remember that girls feelings of entitlement and bitter rage that life hadn't handed her more.

It felt startling familiar.  I realized that I have not yet entirely stopped being that spoiled, entitled girl. It might not be over something as inconsequential as a dress or a cell phone, but I have been quietly and privately enjoying an ungrateful little pout – a pout that my son is autistic. I have a wonderful husband and two adorable sons that I could not love more. Our family has a roof over our heads and food on the table, but I have been pouting because others have something different.   I will not say something more, because even in my worst pout I do not imagine my son as less. But something different, yes, and dare I say it --something easier. Poor me.

So what was that I said to my teenage niece? Something about how plenty of others have it so much worse. It is certainly true for my family. My son is high-functioning and everyday at his school I see families with much greater struggles. Beyond that, I am blessed to have children at all. I know couples that were not able to conceive, that would have gladly taken any kind of child God gave them. No, I would not trade my Little Guy for anything or anyone. So really, what is a regular first day of school? Big deal. I have the most two amazing boys in the world. It makes perfect sense that ordinary doesn't suit them.

Thank you to my dear niece for reminding me how unbecoming self pity really is.  I guess we all need help snapping out of it sometimes.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

under a valley oak

Fate can be an odd, odd thing.  When I was in high school there was this guy.  He wasn't in my circle of friends but I knew who he was, just as I knew who many of my classmates were.  Years later and many miles away I met the insanely wonderful man who would become my husband.  I soon learned that Hubby had two brothers, bound not by birth but by the strongest ties of friendship, and that despite the miles I had put between myself and my hometown one of these brothers was that guy I went to high school with.

Over the years since I have come to know this brother I gained, to treasure him, and to truly regard him as family.  Over the years I have prayed for his happiness, and I have prayed for him to find his mate.  So I am not ashamed to say that yesterday as I watched him stand under a valley oak and exchange his wedding vows my heart just about burst with happiness.  My dream for my brother has came true.  It is so unspeakably good to see him so happy.

And, no, I didn't give a damn about how hot it was.