Luck

I was chatting on Facebook with a cousin of my dad’s whom I don’t know altogether well, and he said he had been following my posts about autism, in particular a link to this post, describing how much of a struggle some parents of children on the spectrum face every day.  He said he hadn’t realized how bad it could be, and hoped we didn’t face those kinds of challenges.

I filled him in a bit on The Boy, and how well he’s done in his new program, and predictably (albeit sweetly), he said how lucky The Boy was to have such a strong advocate for a mom.

The truth is, I am the lucky one to have The Boy.

I look at him every day, amazed that this boy is mine, that he has half my genes, that he has grown so big and so clever and so funny.  That he has grown into this fascinating human being with moods and thoughts and interests ranging from cars to space to recording and sound editing.  That he is so capable, and so vulnerable, yet so strong himself to be on the spectrum and deal with all of his challenges with fairly little complaint.

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I just wish I could know him better.  I wish I could communicate with him more easily about his deep thoughts and feelings (as if he would, pre-teen that he now is).  I wish I understood him better, and I feel like I have failed him when I can’t understand something he is trying to make me understand.

I love this boy of mine, more than I ever thought a human being was capable of loving, and the bonus is that I like him, too.  I wrote recently about everyone falling in love with him, and most people who get to know him end up knowing he is a great kid.  The kind of kid it is easy to be strong for.  My job is simple, and I’m the lucky one.

The Boy is Back

The Boy, still sleeping, catching up from Spring Break at his dad's

The Boy, still sleeping, catching up from Spring Break at his dad’s

The Boy is back and seemingly had a good time.  And I am glad.  I’m glad there were no emergency phone calls asking me what to do because he is having a meltdown.  I’m glad it sounds like they actually spent time together, which hasn’t been the case in the past.  And it’s early days yet, but I’m glad that The Boy seems to be happy to be home, with no lingering ill-effects like cat scratches covering his hands, or a fear of the bathtub.

I am happy to have him back, and I am happy he had a good time.

That does not mean that I trust things with his dad have changed.  While setting up this trip, his dad talked about taking him to Disney in May, because he knows someone who works at Discovery Cove and could get “us” into all the parks for free – you see, he wanted The Man and I to share in this adventure, most likely because he wanted us to drive The Boy down to Orlando to meet him.  I asked him not to mention this idea to The Boy, and told him May wouldn’t work, as The Boy is still in school at that time.  When we met for drop-off, the ex explained that it would have to be postponed, and that the cost of Discovery Cove would be $150 each for he and The Boy, and if The Man and I wanted to go it would cost us $400 a piece, so maybe we wouldn’t want to do that.

So says the ex, who is almost $800 behind in child support.

So you see, I am happy this trip was able to happen.  I am happy The Boy seemed to have a good time.  But not for one second do I think things have really changed.  Not for one second do I believe the ex is done hurting The Boy, albeit unintentionally.  Plans will continue to be cancelled, phone calls left unmade, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…  Maybe it’s pessimistic, and distrustful, but it’s also evidence-based, and I am too protective a mom to think otherwise.

Once You Get to Know Him

IMG_1303Throughout his life, The Boy has attracted a great number of fans.  He has lots of people who love him deeply, including Fantastic Babysitter, his former ASD teacher(s), and lots of caregivers and therapists who have made up his support team.  Of course, The Man, The Boy’s grandparents and I adore him, too.  He makes us laugh, and surprises us everyday with his intelligence, sense of humor, and amazing abilities.  And when mentioned by name to teachers and administrators in schools of many hundreds, only his first name is necessary.  Everyone knows The Boy.

But usually, it doesn’t start out that way.

Usually, it takes a while for people to get to know The Boy, as I’m sure is the case with most kids and people on the spectrum.  The very challenges that define the disorder make it difficult for neuro-typical people to get to know him.  They tend to gloss over his human-ness and focus on what he can’t or won’t do for them.  And as they get increasingly frustrated with him, he picks up on it and begins to distrust that person, which increases the likelihood that he will not or won’t be able to do what they need or want him to do.

This is the downward slope upon which we were sliding with his band director.  But as sometimes happens, a realization was made that this kid (The Boy) is freaking awesome, and a second realization comes close behind – “If I was wrong about that, what else was I wrong about?”  As soon as a doubter sees the error of his or her ways, they not only like him, but they become a fan, and a crusader to get him whatever he needs to succeed.

Now that the band director has seen and heard what The Boy can do (including make the entire class – including the band director himself! – laugh with a joke), he has been extremely helpful and communicative.  He emailed after a recent playing test, saying how “proud” he was, probably because, as his program teacher said in her email that day, “his was the best tuba test of the day!”

I will take what I can get – no lie, this is a huge victory for The Boy.  And I absolutely love how loved my boy is.  But it sure would be nice for people to treat him well, and give him the benefit of the doubt before getting to know how awesome he is.  He shouldn’t have to prove it before people will accommodate him.

 

 

Instruction Manual

By Mestigoit

Whenever the ex re-enters The Boy’s life, I feel like he needs a new instruction manual. He doesn’t communicate all that regularly with him, and even then asks open-ended questions, which are difficult for those in the spectrum. I had to interrupt, get on the phone and remind him that yes or no questions work better and to keep trying when he spoke to The Boy this weekend, because I could hear the frustration in his voice, and could tell he was getting ready to quit trying to engage him in conversation.

When he goes to visit him in April, what will they talk about? He has no idea what The Boy’s interests are, or his friend’s names, or how he likes to spend his time.

Does he remember that he needs time for transitions? Does he remember that raising your voice is risky? Does he have any idea what he likes to eat?

No, he doesn’t. Because that’s what happens when you don’t see your kid for an entire year, and only attempt to talk to him every six weeks or so. That is what happens when you don’t have a relationship with someone on the spectrum.

I worry, but there’s not much I can do. There’s no instruction manual for any of us. Much of parenting is figuring it all out as you go along. Some of us have figured out that building a strong relationship with our kiddos makes things so much easier. Others of us haven’t figured that out yet.

Middle of the Night

Every once in awhile, I come across some book or movie, something that speaks to me in a profound way, and I just have to share it.

The Man and I love to watch old movies.  Turner Classic Movies is our fall back, and we check to see what’s on every night of the week.  The Man often falls asleep to it, and sometimes wakes up to it.  Last night, as so often happens, he fell asleep, and I realized I was awake and started watching “Middle of the Night” from 1959 with Fredric March and Kim Novak.

You’ve probably never heard of it, but the script was by the same person who wrote “Marty,” which you probably have heard of if you know anything about old movies.  I’ve seen “Marty” and liked it – gritty and realistic about what it’s like to be lonely with little chance of finding love.  “Middle of the Night” is even better, and it’s unfortunate that it isn’t as well known.

Why am I writing about this old movie no one’s ever heard of?  Because it still has relevance, and I empathized with its characters, as some of you might, as well.

Middle_of_the_Night_(1959)_trailer_1Fredric March plays a 50-something business man, which was considered teetering on old age back then, while Kim Novak plays his 24 year-old secretary with whom he falls in love.  I won’t give the whole plot away, but suffice it to say that even in 1959, their families didn’t take too kindly to the age disparity in their relationships.  And in their own way, their friends and family began to tear away at what they had with their well-intentioned interference.  Saying how much they cared for them, not wanting them to make a mistake they would regret, cautioning them against being impetuous, they needled and cajoled and turned something positive into something negative until the couple was bickering and on the verge of breaking up.

Luckily, my own friends and family were largely supportive of The Man and I.  But there were some who were (and are) not.  And it hurts to have people who love you not be happy for you, out of misplaced “concern” for you.  And ultimately, they either accept your relationship, or you have to move on, and if not sever your relationship with them, at least keep them at a distance.  Because that kind of negativity will tear anyone down, and no one needs that.

In any case, this is an old movie that still resonates today, and I highly recommend it.  It’s amazing how little people change.

Buddies

The Boy has always relished the attention that The Man has given to him without a thought, most likely because his own dad doesn’t give him the time of day, even in the one week of the year (or less) that he sees him.  The Man was the one to teach The Boy how to ride his bike, and The Man will be the one that shows him how to shave.  He is constantly creating teachable moments with The Boy, and doesn’t hesitate to take him to the hardware store or the convenience store for a little hang-out time.  This morning, he suggested The Boy start his truck while he started my car for me (ice and sleet having covered our windshields, and not having an ice scraper because the old one got busted in the last ice storm).  It pretty much made The Boy’s day.

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Tonight, The Man and The Boy had a wrestling match, which they do a couple of nights a week – we use it as a reward, and The Boy adores the sensory input and the bonding.  Later on, he came out of his room and sat with us (an unusual occurrence), and it was a wonderful family moment, giggling and laughing as I asked yes or no questions and they controlled eachother’s heads to nod yes or no in answer.  And he chose to stay to watch some skiing with us, cuddling up to his stepdad on the end of the couch.  And he even invited The Man to have a sleepover in the family room with him tonight since he has a snow day tomorrow…  The Man has fallen asleep, but The Boy is still there cuddled up to him, enjoying having a real dad for the first time in his life.

Newlywed Report: I Like This

After I got divorced, I swore I would never get married again, and mostly because I had such a horrendous financial mess on my hands, but also because I had been so miserable for so long.  I felt and still feel that people should not have to live miserable lives if they don’t have to.

Even as The Man and I progressed in our relationship to the point of thinking about marriage, I was still nervous.  Did I want to make that kind of commitment again?  Did I want to subject my son to a relationship that could possibly fail?

UsAnd then I came to the realization that all relationships have that potential.  They also have the potential to enrich our lives, help us grow as people, and give us the support to make us the best we can be.  I had never experienced that myself, but I knew the potential was there, and I also knew that I had never ever felt about anybody the way I felt (and still feel) about The Man.

We’re coming up on being married for five months, and in that time, we have joined households, developed routines, and purposely chosen to spend time together when other options were available.  We even work together on occasion.  And you know what?  We work well together.  Yes we have disagreements, and momentary lapses of bitchiness (on both parts), but we never get to the point of purposefully hurting the other person because that is the absolute last thing either of us would want to do.  And 99.9% of the time, we are enjoying each other’s company.

I just got off the phone with The Man.  It was just a random mid-day phone call to tell me what his plans were for the afternoon, and we talked for awhile about this, that and everything.  He said, “You know, I like being married.  I thought it would be bad, and I had bragged for so long about remaining single, and some of the married people I talked to seemed so envious.  But I really like it.  Plus, I have a good woman.  And she’s not bad to look at either,” he concluded.

I think I’ll keep him.  <3

Our Simple-y Wonderful Wedding

Our very simple wedding was this past Friday.  We ended up having about 20 people in attendance. Sunshine and Princess appointed themselves Flower Girl and Bridesmaid, and their parents served as our witnesses and photographers.  The Boy was the best ring bearer a bride could ask for, and the whole thing was over in about 10 minutes.  It couldn’t have gone better.

Earlier in the day, I got my hair done, and bought some flowers for myself, and my “attendants” (two bunches of Gerber daisies for $8 total).  We came home, and got ready.  PITA  loaned me a sixpence that she had put in her own shoe when she got married (this was my “something borrowed”), which I tucked in my bra, and we all headed to the gazebo.  Guests started wandering up, and at 5:30, we started the ceremony.

Afterwards, most of us walked a few blocks to a restaurant and had a great meal.  It really wasn’t stressful in the least, just a short, sweet ceremony filled with love and smiles, and a very nice evening with most of our closest friends and family.  Trust meThis is the way to do it.

A word about the pics: My new husband is not too keen about having his picture plastered all over the internet, and I’ve made a conscious effort not to do that to my son, either.  The result is that the pictures you get to see will not give you the whole picture, so to speak.  I’m sorry I can’t give you more, but my commitment to my boys is rock solid.

Our New Family Who Has the Rings? With This Ring... Flower Girls wedding1

A Wedding For Under $500

If you’ve ever been on Pinterest for any length of time, you’ll have noticed all the pins about how cheaply you can throw a wedding: for under $12,000, for under $7,000, for under $5,000…

Here’s where we stand:

  • Bride’s dress: $4 (I ordered it from ModCloth and had to pay shipping, but the dress was free.  They had screwed up slightly on a previous order, and sent me coupon code for $50 off, which I saved for the right time)
  • Bride’s shoes: $7 (never-used pair of sandals from the thrift store)
  • Bride’s headband: $16 in materials, handmade by me!
  • Bridal Jewelry: $0 (handmade by my mom!)
  • Groom’s clothing: $0 (shorts, a polo, and his Keens)
  • Wedding venue: $0 (public park on the waterfront with a small gazebo, so no fee is required to reserve)
  • Officiant: $180
  • Flowers: $10 – 50? (I’m thinking of either heading to the grocery store for a bouquet or ordering a bouquet online to arrive the day before the wedding, and in either case, just using a few blooms from it)
  • Handmade bowl: $0 (for The Boy to hold the rings, handmade by my friend, an art teacher, and featuring the imprint of my grandma’s crochet *sniff*)
  • License: $60
  • Rings: $100?  (I know we can get a nice set on Etsy for $80-100, but haven’t ordered them yet)
  • Reception: $0 (Not having one! – just heading to dinner with family and close friends)

No cake, no invitations (although The Man seems to have invited the whole town to the ceremony!), no chair covers, no favors, no place cards, no limo, no boutonnieres, no formal photographer, no bridal party, no DJ…

We don’t need it.  We’ll have each other, and The Boy, and the people closest to us on the planet.  What more could a bride want?

PS No pictures now, because I want to share pics from the wedding afterwards!

*sigh*

IEPs, and Moving Trucks, and Appointments, Oh My!

Tomorrow, The Boy’s IEP team meets.  I am extremely lucky to have teachers that get him, and fight for what he truly needs, and a school system that allows us to make the best decisions for him that are not based on the almighty dollar.  I know many districts are not like that (ahemsome rather intimately…), and I know this isn’t the typical IEP experience.  I’m a little nervous about this being the last IEP meeting where I do not have to fight tooth and nail for my son.

kid to do list, list, Be happy and go home

kid to do list, Carissa GoodNCrazy

I also have to make arrangements and get things done — no rest for the wicked on this day.  Securing a rental truck for our big move, speaking to our wedding officiant, doing paperwork for The Boy’s summer day camp… The list goes on and on.

And finally, thanks to our super-accomodating pediatric office (*sarcasm*), I have to pull The Boy out of school at the end of the day, causing him to have to miss Kids Club for his physical appointment.  We’ve prepped him (both at home and at school – I LOVE his teacher!), and he should be OK, but you just never know.  I’ve built in a few treats after the appointment (a trip to Target, and dinner at his favorite restaurant) so that he has “good stuff” to look forward to and get him through.

And so… When I am busy like this, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, but I’m actually doing OK.  I enjoy having a list of things to do, and especially relish the crossing-off of the things on the to-do list.  I feel like every “check!” is bringing us closer to family, summer, and the beginning of something beautiful.