Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Laundry Basket




Woman, give my clothes hanger back.

Don't laugh at me.

Wait. I was playing with that.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

When I just can't take another step...

I'm angry. I'm angry because I'm tired. I'm tired, not because I can't sleep, but because I can't stop. Get up, change diapers, feed kids, dress kids, clean the kitchen, start the laundry, feed the animals, break up fights, keep them safe, clean the house, feed the kids, change diapers, make sure they sleep, do the laundry, clean the house, change diapers, break up fights, keep them safe, feed the kids, feed the animals, start showers, do chores, read books, make sure they sleep, clean the house... a never ending loop of "I need, I need."

By the 5th or 6th fight, I can't even address behaviors as I lead them to their separate rooms because I know if I open my mouth I will regret it. It takes everything I have to keep my hands gentle.

By the 3rd time cleaning the house, it's so hard to be quiet. It's so hard not to be resentful. so hard to not lose my temper and say things I can't take back.

Tonight, I stand here looking at the kitchen. I look at this mess and hear my husband say, "I'm going to sit down for a minute." I look in front of me and I know what's waiting throughout the rest of the house and I look ahead to the fights with the elementary and doctors and the endless nights of homework... The rage and the despair build. I want to cry. I want to scream. I want to lash out at the people around me and make them feel what I feel.

I grip the counter, hang my head, I close my eyes, take a breath... and I hear a whisper:

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.

 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

I keep my head bowed as I continue to breathe.

I see the moments, the little moments, the every day moments that what I do makes a difference.

I hear my children laughing and playing in the backyard and I remember the feeling of joy when I stop to watch them. I see my boys piled in the living room playing Black Ops II, laughing and joking. I see them come in from school with smiles and head straight to the kitchen table, never questioning what comes next, never doubting what is expected of them.

Walter coming up to wrap his arms around me and ask me what I'm doing- and really wanting to know. Always making sure to tell me he loves me before we get off the phone no matter who is around in addition to assuring me that yes, he will stay sober and yes, he will Keep All Hands, Feet, and Other Objects To himself and yes, he understands that his penis is an "Other Object."

I remember the girl's excited squeal the first time she remembered on her own that nap time comes after lunch time as she toddled off at top speed to jump in her bed and burrow under the covers with a smile. How she knocks on the window beside her bed to get my attention when she wakes up because she knows I will never be far and I will always be waiting for her. I see the way she crawls into her bed at night and looks at me in my chair with this contented look that tells me she knows I will be right there until she falls asleep. The way she softly calls my name in the morning trusting completely that I will hear her and I will come.

I see my Goofy One in his excitement to share every piece of his day with me. The way I just have to see this video or that video because he's sure I'm going to love it. The way he seeks me out just to give me a kiss. I see him happy to lay with me and read a book. Or taking over when Candy Crush makes me mad, then being sorry for me when he couldn't win either. :)

I see the absolute relief on Alex's face when I came back from taking TS potty at the park. The way he absently reaches his hand out never doubting that my hand will be right there to meet his. I hear him stand at his door in the morning quietly calling, "Good morning, good morning, good morning?" knowing I'm just a holler away. The way he stands up and looks over the bus seat to see me before giving a happy giggle and trying to jump into my arms. and the way he knows that no matter what, he is always welcome to climb in my lap, and yes, I most assuredly do have a hug for him.

That is why. That is how.

I can do this.

I open my eyes and get to work with a smile knowing my efforts are appreciated.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How I got a few hours of peace...

I told you I was going to enjoy this week, and I am. Just not for the reasons I expected.

We've been working on a daily routine with the girl... by "we", I mean "I" while my husband stands back and keeps a running commentary on my efforts. His complete lack of faith in my super-routine-maker skills is awesomely heartening. I can do anything with him by my side... as I flip him the bird and show him what's what ;)

Mondays he doesn't work so he's home with me and the kids. This week, (since Thing2 is an adult and can take care of his damned self) we have Walter (13), Alex (11), Goofy (7), Little D (5), TS (3), and the grandbaby (the girl, 2). So, Monday morning, I took Thing2 to work around 6-6:30. When I got home, the girl was sitting up in her bed calling for Papaw so I sat her at the kitchen table with some cereal. The others came trickling in one by one. They were fed, dressed, the house was cleaned...ish, things were going as they usually do. Lunch came and went and it's nap time. Alex was laying in his room, watching TV, I had the other 4 in the other room laying down. One was crying, one was glaring, one was listing all the many ways and reasons that I'm a jerk, and the other had his eyes closed trying to get this thing over with. My husband comes in to sit with (read: distract) the grandbaby and tells me that I am just mean. I looked at him, considering my words carefully. Sitting there, thinking of all the many things I want to say to this man... I nod. "Ok. Good luck." and I walked out to leave him to get them to sleep. Priceless, I tell you! absolutely priceless.

Tuesday night, as each kid finished eating, I threw them in the shower, soaped them up, rinsed them, dried them off, and handed them their PJs to go dress themselves or find help. Alex was the last at the table as I showered the grandbaby when Alex ran out of food. I asked my husband to either sit with her or sit with him to keep one occupied while I dealt with the other. It wasn't long after that we had a showdown in the office. I told that man I was not killing myself to keep up without getting help. I told him it was ridiculous that he couldn't load the dishes I already rinsed, move the clothes I already washed to the dryer, and/or sit with either Alex or the baby since I can't be in both places at once. I told him when he came home from work Wednesday and the house wasn't clean, I didn't want to hear a word about it.

He was mad. He was mad because I was mad because he's eating! Can't he eat!? Didn't I eat!? Yes. Yes, I did. I ate a bowl of chili, standing at the kitchen counter, guarding the hot stove, stirring the spaghetti noodles... and it's too much to ask him to eat at the kitchen table!? *curse words* I asked Thing2 to switch the laundry, Walter to load the dishwasher, my brother to watch the kids, and I went to lay down for 30 minutes before bed time.

Next thing I know, my husband is taking over bed time. and I let him. I went out to the front porch to sit with my brother and enjoy the show. We laughed so hard each time the girl inched her way out of her bed to sit in the floor and grab a toy, then stand up and pounce on her bed while my husband concentrated on his phone. After several texts from my brother detailing the girl's actions, my husband looked up at the front window and glared at us for finding it so damned funny. He shut the TV off and tried to get her settled. After about an hour of watching, I took pity on him and went in. I cleaned up the toys, moved her bed away from the wall, and settled in for the wait. 15 minutes later, she was sound asleep. "Mean", HA!

Wednesday morning, my brother surprised me with a day off work and plans to go to story time with us. I don't even remember what happened, it was a normal morning, when my brother looked at me wide eyed and at a loss, "Is it always like this?" Yes. Yes, it is. After herding cats at the library, dealing with 2 temper tantrums, and checking out 30 books, we left there with my brother more determined than ever to get the kids away from me for a few hours to give me a break. (and he totally took back the acting like our mother comment from when I exploded at my husband.)

He thought it might be a good idea to let them nap before taking them out so we lay them down. and the girl showed me she's so familiar with nap time rules that she can so take over my job. My brother reached over to scratch TS's back. No touching at nap time. The girl gave my brother a dark look and put her finger to her lips. When I got the text  that the girl's mommy was on her way to get her, I stood up and gestured at the girl to follow me. She gave me a dark look and put her finger to her lips. I had to laugh, "Girl, don't shush me! Let's go." Once I pried her from her bed and she saw why, she was so excited to see her mommy :) After nap time, my brother loaded up Walter, Goofy, Little D, and TS to take them fishing.

And then there was one. Me 'n' Alex. For an entire afternoon.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Abused" kids in public

Several years ago, my sister told me about a trip to Wal-Mart with her son. She said he threw a fit in the toy aisle so she picked him up and carried him out, him screaming the whole way. When she attempted to put him in the car, he flung his arms and legs out wide while he screamed, "NO! HELP! THAT'S NOT MY MOMMY! SOMEBODY HELP!!!!" I laughed. a lot. I thought it was hilarious.

Until we took the Goofy One to Best Buy. and I told him I was taking him to the car for his behavior. and he threw himself away from me screaming, "NO! YOU'RE NOT HITTING ME ANYMORE!!!" and then screamed all the way out to the car.

To my sister: I'm sorry I laughed. I'm only giggling slightly now. at yours. mine's not funny.

To the rest of you: If you see this child out in public screaming that he is abused, as tempting as it is, I promise you he's not.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Change is coming

I'm sitting on my front porch with my mp3 player and coffee, enjoying the last moments of quiet before the Little D and TS show up for the week. I'm looking forward to seeing them. I'm looking forward to the absolute chaos that comes with having all of the kids together. No, I haven't lost my mind, lol, I just see the end coming and I want to appreciate what little time we have left.

In 3 weeks and just a few days, our world is changing drastically. All of my kids will be in school full day, the Little D is starting kindergarten at his mom's house which changes my brother's visitation to every other weekend instead of every other week. I lose the company of a lot of little people and it opens up my hours in a way that I am not comfortable with.

I've spent quite a lot of time considering just what I should do with this time. Getting a job is still out of the question. I'm unreliable. Very much so. I need something flexible to do that will fill my time. I came up with an awesome solution- I would talk to Alex's principal and beg him to give me something. anything. I thought it was the perfect plan. and then God laughed. I so love that He has a impish sense of humor.

The grandbaby needs a place to spend her days. ...and there is my reason to continue Story Time on Wednesdays. I was wondering how I would work that with no kids. As for the other 4 days/week, there are so many things I want to show her. There's a covered bridge in Hillsboro. A certain pet shop in DeSoto  not far from a great park with a creek running through it. With the hours we will have while the boys are in school, the possibilities are endless! I'm excited.

I'm looking forward to it but I'm glad it's 3 weeks away because I'm not quite ready to let go of the way things are now. I have school totally under control. I'm ready. I've set things up for the boys to be ready. All that we have left are to get school supplies and hair cuts, and to cherish the last weeks we have left.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The worst mom I ever knew...

I haven't blogged in a few days, not because I have nothing to say but because I have too much to say about things I shouldn't whether it be conversations that should stay between a man and his wife or secrets that need to be kept to protect the reputations of family members.

and here on my front porch at 2am considering things, I wonder why that is. Why there are certain things that no one ought talk about. It's not as if anything has never happened before. Why are we so afraid to admit to less than perfection?

Let me tell you about the worst mom I ever had the misfortune to know.

None of my children were planned. Every single one of them were a blessing brought about by stupidity. Kind of like winning the lottery because of your gambling addiction.

I had my oldest child when I was 19. Old enough to know... well, everything. At least old enough to be able to think about more than myself and what I wanted, to see what I didn't know or to find a way to find a way. I was a very selfish girl. Selfish and lazy without a clue about life. I didn't know how to cook or keep a house or do any things mothers should be doing, especially not how to take care of a kid. But did I care? No. I figured it didn't matter. I figured ... I don't even know. I didn't try very hard those first few months. I met his needs and played with him and such because it's what I wanted. I did not want to get up at night or in the mornings. so I didn't. I let other people do that. Like my teenage sister. I knew she wouldn't let him cry.

By the time Alex came along, I had been on my own for a while. I was doing better. not perfect. still clueless. but trying. I had a better idea on how to take care of kids, still didn't know about household stuff but I was mostly taking care of my own kids. Until a boyfriend introduced me to the fabulousness that is a regular overindulgence in drugs and alcohol. overindulgence leading to dependence before I even knew what hit me. I thought I was ok. I thought I was handling what needed to be handled and everything was fine. until I woke up one day alone, sober, with a handful of disconnect notices, an empty pantry and refrigerator, and Alex wore a towel for a diaper. I was jobless, car-less, friendless, and had been cut off from my family. When did this happen? How did this happen? We were screwed.

That's when I knew I can't do this. I looked at my boys and realized they deserve better. There's quite a bit of drama involved but the short story is I took Walter to my mom, and used her phone to call Alex's grandma and tell them I messed up. I can't do this. I need help. They agreed to take my children while I got on my feet.

I sank deeper into depression, turning even more to the drugs and the alcohol and the random sex to fill this hole inside me, or to at least take me to a place I didn't have to face it. I worked hard to get my boys back. I took all the hours I could, I worked my days off. but as much as I paid on child support, as much as I saved for a car and for a house, as hard as I worked, I wasn't really trying, wasn't really understanding. I didn't get that the problem wasn't only a roof over our heads and food in their bellies. When I wasn't working, you wouldn't find me sober. or alone. or anywhere near my boys.

That was the longest and fuzziest year of my life.

I finally got my boys back... well, stole them back because both sets of grandparents objected. Lord knows why, right? I got a place to live. a car. a job. What else could they need that I can't provide? I was fine.

I stopped the drugs because my boys deserve better. ...but there's nothing wrong with alcohol, right? It's not like it's illegal. and what could a 4 year old and a 2 year old know or care who was in my bed? Eventually, through sex, I would find love. I mean, come on, where else do you find it? The boys were fine. I met their needs, I spent some time with them, what more could they want? Who cares what happens after bedtime? Foolish, foolish me.

The combination of alcohol and random sex is where I got my Goofy one. I tell you all the time but I don't think you really get it- The Goofy Child changed my life. I sobered up- completely- and I found nothing inside me. I was dead inside. I spent many days in my bed, staring at the wall, feeling this emptiness, thinking of the choices I made. I sat silently on the couch and watched my children. and I knew I fucked up. I knew I had to fix it. For them. For me. As I was, I was no good for anyone. not me, not them. I was looking for love, looking for something... and this whole time it was staring me right in the face and I ignored it. I quit. I quit everything.

These moms, the ones who are where I was, I'm most likely not going to reach them through blogging. Most, if any, are not reading blogs or hanging out on parenting forums. they are looking for answers in all the wrong places. But I can tell you my story. and I can tell you that there is no shame in asking for help. in getting to that point where you wake up and see what you've done and then try to fix it.

I've wondered many things. I've wondered if we would have had a name for what was going on with Alex earlier if he hadn't been bounced around from home to home. I wonder if someone would have noticed something before the shock was laid at my feet when he was 3 years old if I had paid more attention or left him with someone who would instead of selfishly yanking him back because I wanted him. I have wondered how things would have been different if I had listened to the grandparents and waited until I really had my shit together instead of giving in to the shame and my selfish desires because I thought I was ready enough.

When someone comes to you and says to you, "I can't do this," remember that there is nothing new under the sun. Everything that has happened before will happen again. Try not to be too judgmental. Try not to feel too resentful. Try not to shame them or to feel shame, yourself. and don't count them out.

I have been sober and random sex free for 8 years now. I'm not the perfect parent or the perfect wife or the perfect anything but I'm trying to be who I want to be... One day at a time.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Epic lunch and movie experience

Now, you know we've been trying new things with Alex this summer because he's calmed down quiet a bit, he's more interested in "goodbye", we're tired of being locked in the house and back yard 24/7, and we've finally collected all the tools and knowledge we need to help him cope with "goodbye". We went swimming in a frickin pool, for goodness sake! He's rocking story time every week, we've been to 3 successful family gatherings, and he loved the busy park and didn't hurt anyone. Except if you count that he accidentally stepped into a grown man's path about 3 steps ahead of the man on. the. playground. Well, yesterday, we wanted to go see a movie.

First, we took them to lunch at McDonald's. We picked a booth in the back beside the restrooms that was well out of the way. Alex slid into the booth and I sat beside him giving him a clearly defined area that was his. Alex has issues with proprioception so being boxed in gives him a sense of comfort. Also, with what the Teacher in Room 10 said is motor planning issues, having his way blocked on all sides helps him know when to sit in his seat and when to get up and walk. I gave him and the grandbaby each a sippy cup to keep them occupied while we stayed in our seats and waited for my husband to get the food. I held my hand out, waiting for Alex to finish his drink and hand me the cup so I could set it on the table because without a definite place to put his cup, he will throw it. He ignored my hand and set the cup on the table. Maybe all of the work with the heavy glass finally applies to all glasses as long as there is a surface in front of him, I'm not sure but I'm hoping.

As always with Alex, progress in one area comes with regression in another. Alex needs his food to be in bite sized pieces or he takes a bite and throws the rest, not because he's done but because it can't be in his hand. Tiny Grace Notes mentioned that he may not relate to his hands, like they aren't recognized as part of him, which makes sense to me with his proprioceptive troubles, so I tear his cheeseburger into bite sized pieces and put them in front of him and let him feed himself but we've been eating out a lot lately. Bologna and cheese packed lunches or trips to restaurants with people who might be offended by messy eating so I started feeding him again so that 1. he would eat a sandwich and 2. people aren't forced to witness Alex's awesome skills. Here, in a child friendly place, tucked in the back where no one could see, I tore up his cheeseburger so he could feed himself but every time he saw me lift my burger, his eyes locked on, he leaned in and opened his mouth. His teacher will not be pleased. My bad.

Before we left, we had to make a trip to the bathroom. I got him changed and we walked out so I could wash my hands. In the mirror, I saw disaster coming as Alex rocked his way backward step by step. "Don't do that, buddy. Stop. Don't step back." He rocked in place for a second, our eyes locked in the mirror, and the lady beside him activates the hand dryer. I froze, waiting for him to scream, cover his head and run in circles trying to find his way out of the bathroom... Nothing. The time we spent on the hair dryer must have desensitized him to the noise. I breathe a sigh of relief as I wipe my hands on my shorts instead of pushing our luck and walk him back out to the table.

We chose a less popular movie theatre, and bought tickets to Epic. I was worried about the movie because Alex doesn't do new movies. he has his favorites and that's what he watches. If he's not interested in the movie, there will be upset vocal stims begging me to change the channel or take him somewhere else that will be just loud enough to irritate the people around him. He's already vocal stimming and has been since we stepped out of the car in a place that was unfamiliar. I'm hoping that he's not so much upset as nervous and his Apple Jacks, which provide similar sensory input with the feel and sound in the crunch of the cereal as the feel and sounds of the squeaks and grunts, will provide the comfort he's seeking. I'm hoping he can just hold on until we can get to our seats.

On our walk across the parking lot, down the side walk, into the lobby, and on to the room, he did not drop to the floor. He did not try to pull away or bolt. There were no inappropriate behaviors, just the vocal stimming... until we stepped into the room and the door closed behind us enveloping us in darkness. Instant quiet. We took our seats in the very back, right beside the door in case all hell broke loose. I took out his Apple Jacks and offered him a few... nothing. He didn't even notice my hand in front of him because he was wrapped up in what was happening on the screen. We sat there, watching the movie until war broke out and Alex jumped up out of his seat, hopping, clapping, and emitting excited vocals. Of the 9 people in the room with us, not one seemed to notice. I quieted him down easily and he went back to watching the movie quietly, alternating between slapping his sock feet on the floor, quietly bouncing in his seat, standing and rocking, and sitting silently with his thumb in his mouth as the movie demanded until the credits started rolling.

I don't know if it's maturity that comes with age, supports, or that I am finally understanding and meeting his needs but we have come such a long way. It gives me hope for tomorrow, I finally feel like I can do this. We can do this. together.

...or he knows his brother is going to drive me to drink and decided to take pity on his mother. ;)

Either way, looking back over the years, the many, many hours of work we both put in, it was hard but so worth it. From the people I have teaching me, the people who have been there and told me I wasn't alone to the children I call mine, I have been blessed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Trouble With Playgrounds

We took Alex to Suson Park. He was so good. so good. It was a mostly silent trip, neither one of us in the mood for chatter. We just wanted quiet. a peaceful walk. We walked here and there and everywhere, Alex leading the way to new places he wanted to see. We enjoyed the quiet. We checked out benches and trees and looked at fish and geese. He did scare me with his gentle insistence on wandering into the creek but he eventually took no for an answer and we walked on. It was a nice walk. except for the fact that with every step we took, all eyes were on us. All. Eyes. I know this because with the mood we were in, this easy wandering, I was able to glance around as we walked. There was nothing to look at, nothing that identified us as different; he wasn't wearing a harness, we didn't have the stroller, he wasn't stimming in any way, we were both dressed appropriately, and I even brushed my hair today. No, they weren't looking at the spectacle we were making of ourselves, they were looking at Alex being his magnificent self. I know I shouldn't be offended, curiosity and all that, but damnit, I'm so tired of my sweet baby being the freak show that draws the stares of everyone around him no matter what he's doing- or not doing- yes, he's amazing but not amazing in the way of the Bearded Lady. I want to scream at them to go stare at the 3 year old throwing a fit and just leave us alone to enjoy our outing. I don't want looks of "understanding" giving me permission to take my son to the park, or looks of "approval" because he passed some behavior quiz you were silently giving him. I appreciate the sentiment and I understand your motivation but he's an 11 year old boy, same as any other, just as interesting and uninteresting as any other.

Then, what I was most afraid of, the reason I stuck 5 of my blogging cards in my pocket before leaving the house, we got The Look. The autism-is-not-an-excuse look, the he-doesn't-belong-here and you-should-know-better look. Not because Alex was bad or wild or licked anyone but because he walked in front of someone. Didn't touch him, didn't even look at him, just stepped into the path the guy was planning on walking and he had to hesitate a step to give Alex his personal space. I wanted to call him out on it, I wanted to scream that this was a playground, a playground for children to run and play on and Alex, being a child, wasn't even running, he was walking over to examine the wall. Fortunately, it was a silent exchange behind Alex's back and he had no clue the guy was a frickin ableist douchebag. But I did. and I knew there was no point in engaging. so we walked on.

Once Alex walked the whole wall, he moved on to the equipment. Alex doesn't swing or climb or slide, he walks and he examines things with his fingers. He walks the wide steps and finds cool places to sit and watch what's around him. Following him (and yes, still several eyes on us) I started taking pictures of the equipment Alex loved for his principal when the frustration hit me.

I check out our local paper when it comes in the mail. I glance through and read the stories that catch my attention. A while back, one caught my attention and ignited my fury. It was the news that my boys' district is spending $6 million on a bullshit auditorium. Every time I read the updates, it infuriates me because this school district is spending $6 million on something that, while it might be nice, isn't actually needed while Alex's school- who serves several school districts, including my boys'- can't get a couple thousand dollars to build a decent playground with more varied and appropriate equipment. The playground they have now is either too advanced or too immature for Alex, the very few things he's interested in don't even work anymore because the equipment is old and worn out. I don't know the politics behind it, I have no clue about financing, I don't know what they are doing to work on it, all I know is what I see as a parent and, granted, I haven't been to Alex's school this summer to see if they have done anything because every time I see it, I get mad all over again at the injustice of it all. All I know is that this feels unfair. It feels as wrong as the apparent social acceptability of staring at the freaks as long as it's a "nice" stare, or passing judgment on what is developmentally appropriate, or even age appropriate, just because someone is different. Different, Not Less. Does he not deserve the same consideration as his typically developing peers? Does his school not deserve even a portion of funding their neighboring schools get, the schools they serve, because ... what? Because of the type of children attending this school? because they "don't know better"? Because our special needs kids are somehow less deserving than the GenEd kids? Our children are children, too. They have wants, needs, and dreams just the same as typical children. If a new playground was just a desire, they would be just as entitled to desire a new playground as the General Education schools are to desire a new auditorium.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Accepting Help

At some point in our lives a lot of us became convinced that it was not ok to accept a compliment when it's offered. There is a need to down play or shrug off when something nice is said for reasons I don't understand. A wise woman once told me, "just smile and say thank you. It's all the response that's needed."

The same goes for accepting help, our refusal of help has become a reflex.

My baby sister was here the other day. I had been complaining that I can't keep up with these little monsters, that I can't get the house cleaned. She stepped into my kitchen and said, "what do you want me to do?" I was shocked at the offer and my immediate response was, "Oh, no, baby!" (because I have always called her baby. The woman is almost 22 years old and I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I've used her name.) "You don't have to. I got this." She sent me a look that clearly said, "shut up." and got to work. She could see that I so don't got this. It's insane, out of control. I'm drowning in chaos, held down by depression.

Why, even though I obviously needed the help, was my automatic response a refusal? I didn't do anything to deserve her help. It wasn't her house to clean and it's a lot of work that will just be destroyed. The mess she helps clean up today is the same mess I cleaned up yesterday and the same mess I will clean up tomorrow. Why should she waste her time and effort on something I should be able to handle myself? This is my responsibility, not hers.

Because she cares.

Because she offered.

When she offered to help, she knew what she was doing. She knew that the hour we spent working would be torn apart in about the same amount of time. She knew it wasn't a permanent fix, she wasn't going for permanent, she was going for right now. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow will worry about itself, today is what we need to get through. For this hour, she wanted to help me carry my burden.

Whether it's help cleaning, to listen to you talk, to spend time with you, to watch your kids while you shower, to make a single meal for your family, or to run to the grocery store for you so you don't have to take your legion of evil with you (please, tell me you have one? I can't be the only person raising bad kids?)... they will not offer more than they want to give. When someone offers to help, they know exactly what they are committing to. They will not offer more than they can afford. You need the help, you know you do, so this is what I am going to ask you...

Next time someone offers to help, don't worry that you are putting too much on them. They offered to help because they can. because they care. Just smile and say thank you.

Then tomorrow when you can breathe, when the world isn't pressing down on your shoulders, when the dust has settled and you can see clearly to see someone who needs help... offer what you can and when they put on that brave face and tell you they got this, tell them to just smile and say thank you.

***disclaimer: This post is about accepting help someone else chooses to offer, not about asking for help- which you should totally do. People can't be expected to know you need help if you don't say so. If you don't ask, you can't be bitter and that's just the way it is. When asking for help, you cannot get mad when what you are asking for is more than the other person is comfortable giving. That's rude. What you can do is understand and ask for less, "I understand that this is big and it makes you uncomfortable. I would appreciate it if you could do this small piece to help with the big problem." Then, whether the answer is yes or no, smile and say thank you.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Praying for school to start

Alright, now, listen. I've been neglecting you all and I'm sorry. Let me explain...

Monday was Walter's birthday, remember?

13 years ago today...

Lord, he was a sweet baby. Whatever. Those days are gone and now we're in the teens.

and we had a ...day.

Tuesday, I sent the Goofy One to his room to calm down, to keep his hands to himself, to use nice words... you name it. The boy spent so freakin much time in there... well, to get back at me, or to have fun, Lord knows what goes through that child's head, he pushed the baby out a window (no worries, it's like 18 inches from the floor and I'm sure he helped more than pushed) onto the front porch and then screamed and screamed that she got out there all by herself and someone needed to save her. They painted my entire kitchen- and each other- in cupcake icing, and to clean up? flooded my bathroom by putting huge stuffed animals in the bath tub and then throwing them at each other. There were tons of little things and nonstop fighting and 20,000 questions on why I carry my MP3 player in my bra- well, you should wear pockets, and why do I say libRARy, when the teachers say libARy- and I made a stupid comment that I hope never gets repeated to teachers. ...and hitting, oh, Lord, the hitting. When I tried to quit and suggested summoning a demon to take care of their own damned kids, my husband says, well, you need to watch them. I say, uh, I thought you wanted laundry done? and remember Monday when you were losing your flipping mind and swore you didn't know how I did it? Remember how well watching them works? end of discussion.
I think this is the point you either laugh or cry.
So, Wednesday we went to story time. Leaving the house was a big thing. It was raining and I don't like to drive in the rain but I knew, just knew, I had to get these kids out of the house. Story time starts at 10am, we got the car on the road at 9:50 and I was actually praying we would miss it. I started up the road and ended up blocked by lots and lots of flashing lights. Did I take the excuse to go home? No. I used the side streets to go around and made it just in time. The actual story time wasn't bad at all. It was when we went to check out books that craziness happened. I ended up with Alex parked farther away than usual so the Goofy Child could sit close. "Why would you even do that? I knew I should have stayed home. I hate when you act like that." I know exactly where these words and this attitude is coming from and it annoys the hell out of me but I ignore it. "Well, if you weren't doing flips onto the bean bag chairs, you wouldn't have to sit beside me while I find books." *beat of silence* "how did you even know?" *do not laugh. do not laugh.* "I'm your mother. I know."  We get the books and walk up to the check out. I'm bent over putting books into the backpack, looking at Goofy and the Little D, telling them that they cannot pull the papers off of the front of the counter, Walter letting me know that a lady doesn't talk the way I did in public (who doesn't let out a "what the hell?" every once in a while? at least I didn't say what I wanted to. I should get points for that), when Alex reached up to get my attention and pulled my new, very girly thong out for the entire library to admire. I straightened up, looked over my shoulder, my wide eyes met Walter's wide eyes, and we worked in silence... he grabbed Alex's wrist, I opened his fingers and Walter moved Alex back a bit while I rearranged my clothing to make sure all unmentionables were sufficiently covered. They all had me so frazzled, I left my library card on the counter. By the time I realized it, there was no way I was going back to get it. I called, they put it up for me. I'll get it next week.

The good news? There's only about 4 weeks left until school starts. Everything will be back to normal, hopefully the Goofy One will be medicated, and I will have HOURS to spend with you :) I will read blogs and respond to comments and be active on my page and actually see what my friends are up to. 4 weeks. ...why does that feel like an eternity?

Monday, July 8, 2013

I just wanted a nap...

We took Alex, Goofy, Little D, and the Grandbaby to the Social Security office and Wal-Mart. Yeah.

Let's back up a bit. You know (because I told you) that I don't like sharing my bed. Well, last night something snapped and I went all oh, hell no! on the girl. I told my husband that I was taking his love seat with a look that dared him to object, then I talked my brother into helping a lady out. (Yeah, "lady." Trust me, I earned it this week.) anyway, this...

Grandma for the win!!!
The living room looks empty and
the bedroom looks crowded
but I don't even care...
 I sleep alone.

Even having my own bed, by the time I got done with laundry and waited impatiently through effing Mickey Mouse Club House and their irritating chatter for a chance to watch a documentary (doesn't even matter which one, I just love the voices) it was 1am before I fell asleep, 6:30am when Thing2 woke me up to take him to work. When I got home, Alex was standing at his door waiting for me. A clean diaper, breakfast and 30 minutes of Disney Jr later, he's sound asleep just in time to trade off with the Goofy one who drags the Little D with him.

Ok, fine. I'm up. for good. If I'm going to feel crappy today, I may as well feel pretty too. I left them with Black Ops II and went to get a shower and makeup to go with my pretty clothes and fabulous shoes. (yes, it matters. we're getting there.) When I feel put together on the outside, I feel less of a mess on the inside ... which tends to make me feel feisty. So, when my husband tells me what's on his to-do list today, I'm like, YEAH! Let's do this. ROAR! and all that cocky crap. You know what happens when you get cocky, right? uh-huh.

but not yet. First a bet is made. wagers placed. My husband was positive that these kids would be so bad. soooo bad. I knew better. I considered where we were going, I thought about what I know of these kids, I took in the mood they were in right then, I smiled and did what any red-blooded woman with these kinds of stakes would do. I cheated. I swore they would be good because I am good. That I anticipated what needed to be anticipated and packed well. My bet... their good behavior for a cappuccino. So, yeah, the cheating... their behavior had more to do with the environment- calm, quiet, ordered, contained- than suckers and Fruit Loops but come on, cappuccino. of the extreme caffeine variety. Tell me you wouldn't do the same.

Good thing the bet was just for the Social Security office because all hell broke loose at Wal-Mart. Whoever thinks the crazy bad kids congregate in the toy aisle have never seen my legion of evil crash through the clothing department. Including Alex. I mostly avoided having to pick up clothes and was about to do a victory dance on the outskirts of the clothing department when I ended up on my knees in front of Alex, one of his hands tangled in the back of my hair, the other trying to rip my shirt off while I put hand fulls of colorful, lacy thongs back on their little plastic hangers, praying to God that no one saw the mess. At least it was an easier clean up than the neon pink nail polish Alex "picked" for me and neither one of us wore the evidence on our parade of shame throughout the rest of store like a giant frickin Scarlet A.

By the time we get home, THANK GOD, it's nap time. I finished a load of laundry and looked at my head count... sleeping, sleeping, addicted to video games X2... I'm taking a nap! Let my husband deal with the Hell Hounds for a while, he got to sleep late so I don't even care. I crawl up beside the baby and close my eyes. I'm so close, so close, until Thing2 walks in the room to see what I'm doing. and then Walter comes to investigate. Come on, this isn't a freakin zoo! I'm not on exhibit! I'm taking a nap! Then Walter starts whistling in the kitchen. and the doorbell rings. and Walter comes to tell me it's a delivery for me. I give the baby a diaper and shoo her to her Papaw and lay back down. until my husband carries a screaming baby to my bed to change her. and the Goofy one comes bouncing around. After a few words of my appreciation, I am left alone to sleep. and dream about the results of a botched late term abortion, people in crisis and the overwhelmed first responders who can't keep up with the demand... until my husband wakes me up to see exactly how long I would like to sleep.

Ah, sleep is overrated.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

I had a plan for school...

The plan was to stick to the plan to get ready for school. 8 weeks of carefully plotted tasks that would keep me from completely flipping out when school starts. (because you know I will, no matter how much I promise I've got this under control) This week is week 6. Week 6, I was supposed to get backpacks, organize Walter's room, and write an introduction letter to Alex's teacher.

Walmart.com is the devil. No. Not walmart.com... Google. and more the Anti-Christ than the devil. Google is trying to take over the world. Google said the reason I can't check out at walmart.com is because I need Google Chrome. I hate Google Chrome. Every time someone downloads Google Chrome onto my computer, I get porn ads. It sucks. (no pun intended)

I can't do anything with Walter's room because Walter has no furniture. I was supposed to figure that out. I haven't. I did scrape up a few things from around the house- a book case, a night table, 2 wall shelves, some pictures, and a couple of lamps. He has his mattress and his dresser. He's happy with what he has but I was hoping to get him a real bed (frame) and maybe a desk. ...We took some deck chairs out of the neighbor's trash (yes, we did.) and I have an end table he can use for a desk... I forgot about that one. But he still needs a bed. and I'm waiting on my husband to have time to cut this rod (for hanging clothes) to hang over his dresser, it's 68" and I need it to be 58". ...*sigh* stuck. So, that's going to have to wait.

The other thing I was going to do is work on the introduction letter to Alex's teacher. I think we're supposed to have the same one we had last year, which is cool, so what do I need to say? all she needs is an update on his mad skilz. what he learned over the summer. so far, he went down the ramp into the swimming pool, started letting me read books to him, sits quietly during story time with snacks and a seatbelt and doesn't eat his stickers. There's not much to tell her yet, and I don't know that any of it will help HER help HIM. seems I've been big on planning and little on parenting this summer. and then there's always the chance that he might have a new teacher. but we're not even going to think about that right now.

So, I thought maybe I ought to wait on Alex and work on Goofy instead. and Good Lord, where would I even start!?!? The child is a mess! and what if his insurance isn't fixed by then? sending an unmedicated Goofy to first grade? No amount of supposedly helpful information will save that woman. Last time I sent him to school unmedicated was the first time he tried kindergarten... that lasted 2 weeks. I'm supposed to love the child unconditionally and I want to wring his unmedicated neck! and even on medication he's a PITA. There's so much that goes into first grade... so many places he will be struggling. I don't even know where to start- which is why I put the letters high on the list, so I would have time to think it through but .... I can't even get started! Every time I even think about starting, I get a ball of panic in my chest.

It's not that I'm worried about the people who are taking care of my Goofy one the way I am with Alex, I'm worried about the hell he's going to put them through and the hell we're going to go through trying to get him the education that he's entitled to by law. 504, IEP, General Ed... I don't even care as long as he gets what he needs. But how to go about that? I'm lost.

Hoping for some inspiration, I look back over last year's letter. Not a good idea. I look back at that and think about the hopes I had that all we had to do was simple (God, I was so na├»ve.), that we would get help and everything would be ok and then I think of the whole year- everything we tried, everything that failed (and that's just the start of January. more came after and then even more in March)- and look ahead to a year that's bound to be harder than last year with the increased work load, higher expectations, and longer hours and... I'm battle weary.

Is there anything I can say to her that's going to make any difference? Would it be better to save my breath and let her find out for herself? Find out for myself? Pfft, as if I don't already know every single note I will get home and the phone calls that will come pouring in begging me to get that child to a priest. Maybe if I don't warn her ahead of time, I won't get the "oh, he's fine!" or the "he looks so normal!" That would be a welcome change. *sigh*

Tomorrow. I'll start tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The examples we set: Teaching Bigotry and Segregation

There are a great many things I hear people say that I pray to God my children never hear, or if they do that they have enough rebellion in them to think for themselves instead of believing everything that is said to them.

My mother didn't push her beliefs on me, I didn't even know what her beliefs were until I violated them and even then her reaction was more, "I can't believe you did that!" than condemnation. Turns out, she's pretty conservative. I was a shocking child who always kept her on her toes, I'm sure if she was the praying sort she would have spent most of her days praying for my redemption over my complete disregard of bigotry. I think as the years went on and I wasn't struck by lightning, I kind of rubbed off on her a little. Or, at least, she came to expect the unexpected and kept her opinions to herself, laughing off my absurdity as just being an integral part of who I am. My father was more liberal. He was the free spirit, the hippie child who couldn't be told what to believe and loved all people equally. In the words of his sister, "he didn’t have an enemy that I know. he didn't care if you were black, white, or purple, if you were a good person you were ok with him... that's not to say he never fought, if he was pushed into a corner & there was no other choice...then look out." I guess I'm more my father's daughter than I thought. I have to thank both of them for that, my father for being my example and my mother for stepping back and allowing me to decide for myself.

It wasn't until Walter was in Kindergarten that I started to find out how lucky I was in having that choice. My mother had a new husband and Walter spent a lot of time there while I worked. Sitting at the kitchen table one morning before school, Walter nonchalantly made a violently racist remark. I couldn't believe it! Of course, right away I wanted to know where he heard such a disgusting thing, and, of course, it was from my step-dad. After explaining to Walter that the neo-Nazi ridiculousness he's being fed is against all people who are not white, and he, himself, is not white and explaining that people are people, perfect as they were made, I went to have a talk with my step-dad about his "educating" my 5 year old. I thought that was the end of it, but it's not. well, it was with my step-dad but there are hordes of people willing to step in and make sure Walter knows that not everyone is equal. Two examples were set in front of him, he will have to decide which one to follow.

The other day, we went out to eat and Walter learned a hard lesson. The waiter introduced himself and went off to do what waiters do. The person we were eating with starts flicking their fingers while quietly saying, "gay-dar. gay-dar." a whispered argument started over bigoted attitudes, separation of church and state, WWJD, free will, who's going to Hell, and who exactly has the right to judge people for their sins. The other person would make a joke and Walter would laugh. As the evening went on and the waiter continued to be friendly, no matter how many times my Goofy One called his name, being patient no matter the request, he showed my special kids total respect and treated every single one of them as nothing less than normal, nothing other than equal. As Walter watched him, knowing what was said behind his back... the jokes weren't so funny. He looked down at his plate, ashamed. "Now I feel bad. He seems really nice." "He is, isn't he?" What more can I say? He saw bigotry, he saw acceptance. Two examples were set in front of him, he will have to decide which one to follow.

There are pages on Facebook that I refuse to follow. There are beliefs that I don't want touching my kids. There is a world of strawmen and feefees (I'm not even sure what that means, I assume it's empty headed and overly emotional) and the absolute conviction that parents are incompetent, if not flat out evil and determined to destroy our children. They seem to crave and actively encourage segregation, they promote a polarized us-versus-them mentality and a some even go as far as dictating how members should think, act, and feel being quick to call them out for a differing opinion. It's a world where it's common knowledge that we parents hate our children and have absolutely nothing of value to add to the discussion. We need to shut up and listen. Not speak unless spoken to... and even then only by direct invitation. and don't you dare ask questions, you should have googled it. We "normal" people could never understand them. We can't know our children as well as they do. We are wrong in everything we think we know, and even the kids who can speak for themselves are wrong when they tell us something that conflicts with their beliefs, "your child may think she likes it, but she might not really. kids on the spectrum tend to have trouble telling how they really feel." For the most part, I read and move on, never leaving any evidence that I was ever there. I listen but that's not a world I want to spend much time in, much less live in. That's not a world I want my son imprisoned in. As much as Alex is not less for being autistic, his family is not less for not being autistic. Equality is not about being better than the people you oppose. The time for "separate but equal" ended decades ago. This is not something I will introduce my children to. This is not something I choose to encourage.

When you bring these fights to me, you are wasting your time. I live in a world where everyone is equal. I live in a world where everyone is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve whether they are black, white, gay, straight, autistic, or neurotypical. I live in a world where you are not wrong just so I can be right. That is the example that was set for me and this is the example I am setting for my children...

Believe what you want to believe. Just because someone says that you are wrong, doesn't mean they are right. Don't let others intimidate you into thinking you are less than who you want to be. Stand up for what you believe but don't expect everyone to agree with you. You will face opposition but there is no need to push back, just stand firm. Know your own truth. Be someone you can be proud of.  Be the change you want to see in the world. There is nothing wrong with sitting on the outskirts of humanity, not belonging to this group or that group, sometimes the cost of fitting in is more than what it's worth.

I want you to know these things, to believe them with everything you are but if there is just one thing you learn from me, let it be this... "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [and] ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” If that is the example I set for you, I will consider my job well done.

Two examples are set in front of you, you will have to decide which one to follow.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

"10 year old boys who don't walk, use wheelchairs NOT strollers!!"

Get him a custom rigid frame wheelchair from like tilite or something A STROLLER IS THE MOST degrading thing you can have him in, I understand he doesnt want to walk, fine, get him a wheelchair, 10 year old boys who dont walk, use wheelchairs NOT strollers !! a custom rigid frame chair cost just as much as a damn stroller

 I am against pushing '' age appropriate'' for the most part, but a person mobility should be appropriate a stroller degrades him and the rest of the autistic / DD community because of the image it forms


I'm moderately autistic and I'm DD delayed too, and I play toys and stuff too, but I'll be damned if I ride in a stroller and even his peers ( us) cannot socialize with him if he is sitting in a stroller ) he needs peer friends others who are dd / autistic, because we can communicate with each other, we have a language and our own ways and we can connect interact and communicate in many ways ;-)

just get him a wheelchair please

Thank you for being concerned. Thank you for taking an interest in Alex and fighting for his right to dignity. ...but it's not necessary in this case.

One of the things with Medicaid is you don't get much of a choice. You get what you get and you be thankful for it. Also, Medicaid denied anything- wheelchair or stroller- for Alex because what he needs is nothing a commercial stroller (baby stroller) can't do so this one was given to us for free by a dear friend who's son had outgrown it. (seriously, Lady, I can't thank you enough.)

His stroller IS a wheelchair according to the site it's sold on- http://www.convaid.com/metro-special-needs-stroller-metro-transport-stroller-c-1_19_20-l-en.html but from what I understand, the difference between something being called a wheel chair and something being called a stroller is the rigidity/style of the seat and the size of the wheels. If that is the case, a stroller is exactly what he needs.

The Tilite you recommend looks very nice, however, being on the spectrum yourself, I'm sure you understand sensory needs. Alex needs to feel secure, held, safe. He has proprioceptive issues that make even sitting in a kitchen chair uncomfortable. He needs bilateral supports. He needs the high back. he needs fabric that will mold to his body, touching as much as possible to tell him the chair is there. He needs a place to rest his feet to ground him. With motor planning issues, he needs a seatbelt to let him know when to stay seated. and then you have the need to touch spinning objects which would have his fingers exploring the wheels as we roll... you can imagine how that would play out. I don't like holding his hands to keep him from grabbing, that is degrading.

Alex's needs outrank anyone else's opinion.

I don't want to say that Alex is spoiled because he's not bratty in the least little bit but Alex gets what Alex wants. He walks when he wants to walk, he sits when he wants to sit, we roam where he wants to roam and most of the time I am following his lead. We tried the wheel chairs at Wal-Mart and he hated it. He cried every time. He resisted going in, he tried to get out. In his stroller, he is calm. content. He enjoys being free to sit back comfortably and appreciate what is going on around him. If he objected to using the stroller, we would find something he found more suitable... but he doesn't.

Alex isn't interested in interacting with most people, autistic or not. He says hi and you might get a hug but then he wants you to get the hell away from him so he can keep doing what he wants to do. If being in a wheel chair or a stroller makes someone think less of him or not want to interact with him... that's their problem and they aren't worth his time or effort, anyway. Not that he cares. Alex is awesome whether he's sitting or standing and he knows it.

I appreciate your concern and am thankful for the advice but in this, as in most everything, I am following Alex's lead.

Alex's desires outrank anyone else's opinion.

This is his life. He is in control. If I get some flak for that... so be it. If Alex being Alex degrades your entire community... Well, I can't say I'm sorry for that because, as I said, Alex is fucking awesome as he is. I will not change him for you or anyone else.