Eleven and a Half

Twenhofel Middle SchoolEleven and a half is such a strange age.  He seems like a giant, adult-like person from a distance, and then I get closer (sometimes only when he’s sleeping), and he seems like such a little child, albeit in a body that is almost as tall as mine.

And his actions and emotions are equally dichotomous – sometimes very mature and sober, and others toddler-like and silly.  I’m sure I have a wistful, “Where did my baby go?” face, because he catches me looking at him and puts on his, “Mom, you’re looking at me weird” face.

The specter of Middle School is hitting me, because I am going to attempt to register him today.

Am I ready for this?  Is he?  It doesn’t matter because it’s happening whether we want it to or not.  He wants it to, and I…  I just want him to be happy and productive.  How many middle schoolers does that describe?  How many people want to re-live the good old days of middle school?  Very few.  I have a bit of experience with it after having taught there for almost half my life, and it is a struggle (at least in some fashion) for the great majority of the population.

I worry.  And I miss my baby.  And change is hard.  But he and I are strong people, and together with The Man, we’ll get through it.  Somehow.

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Doozy of a Meltdown

Yes, we had a doozy the other night.  That tends to be the pattern with The Boy – really great for long periods of time, but when we have meltdowns, they are of the knock-down-drag-out variety.

And yet again, I don’t know that what happened the other night could be classified as a meltdown, but it sure left all of us reeling, and thankful it was over in the aftermath.

It started when The Boy’s netbook froze, and in his terms was “broken”, and couldn’t be fixed.  He would not allow me to look at it (go figure), even though I knew it was probably a quick fix.  He moaned about his computer for quite awhile, continuing to get ramped up.  Then he apparently attempted to facetime Grammy, and was unsuccessful, so he threw his iPad…

Yup.  Threw it.

The Boy loves his iPadThe screen already had a hairline fracture from when he accidentally dropped a piece of fiestaware on it several months ago.  This latest assault was much more aggressive, and caused MUCH more damage.  To the point I had to hide it, because I didn’t want The Boy to get hurt from the glass shards…  Bleh.  When it happened, he began wailing and screaming, as if his best friend had died.

Needless to say this went on for yet another while (past bedtime), and for many hours, we went through the cycle of me desperately trying to calm him down, getting him calm and leaving the room, and then hearing wailing again after 15 minutes or so.  We were doing this until after midnight.

It was important not to get upset with him for breaking it.  The last thing he would want to do in the world is break his iPad, so he clearly didn’t understand what would happen if he threw it (or didn’t realize through his haze of anxiety and anger until it was too late).  The iPad being damaged and out of commission for the time being is consequence enough.  I don’t need to throw my disappointment and additional punishment on top of that.

He is a much happier camper now, as I have given him a clear timeline on how we are going to solve the problem, and have been repeating it to him consistently.  It will take a few days for Mom to do research about the details of getting it fixed, no one is throwing it away (he is very scared of this), and then we will make some decisions about how we are going to go about it.  He will be working to pay for at least half of the repair, and I have told him that, as well.  Never hurts to throw in a lesson about the value of a dollar. 😉

I’m glad he’s feeling better, because my heart hurt for him the other night.

Is it Real Yet?

People have been asking if it has hit me yet, all this permanent change (there’s an oxymoron for ya!), and I have to say yes and no.  This house is definitely “home” to us, and I don’t have the feeling that we are returning to our old house or state that you sometimes get after moving.  It will help to get out of limbo, and have my new license, new license plate, new name on all of my forms of ID, and the like.  But that will take a few more weeks to be sure (*sigh*).

Not having a job, and not having a routine is a little unsettling, still.  When The Boy starts school in a little over a month, it will feel much more “real”, I predict.  But I’m not usually working in the summer anyway, at least not in the wake-up-report-to-a-building-and-stay-for-a-long-time-doing-stuff kind of way.  So this doesn’t feel all that unnatural, either.

I can say that I’m not used to being referred to as “Mrs.” or “wife”, yet, but I love being married to The Man.  It’s a little surreal, because the terminology is the same, but the experience is so much better.

The Boy is adjusting well.  He has been perusing his old yearbooks a bit, keeping them close, so I know he’s missing what’s familiar.  But I also know he’s enjoying having some new neighborhood friends, some freedom to ramble a bit, and is very much looking forward to school starting.

So, it’s real, if a bit limbo-y, but enjoyable all the same. 😉

Paranoia and Autism

Privacy keyboard

Privacy keyboard (Photo credit: g4ll4is)

One of the issues we have been dealing with increasingly since The Boy hit puberty is his over-the-top need for privacy.  He could be watching Spongebob videos on his iPad, but he just doesn’t want me to see what he’s doing.  Every time I open the door to his room, he scrambles to hide what he is watching or working on.  If he is drawing something (usually a Sonic-related cartoon), I cannot see while he is working on it.  Not until it’s finished.

The other day, The Boy wanted to print from his new-ish netbook, and it didn’t have our printer added to its list yet.  I knew this was a simple fix, but The Boy was adamant that he knew what I was up to, and didn’t want me to access his computer.  I assured him repeatedly that I wouldn’t open his current program, I just wanted to go to the settings panel and add the printer.

He turned into a cornered animal, raising his voice, escaping from me (I wasn’t trying to hold him anywhere, but I was trying to talk to him in one spot), with a few threats and name-calling thrown in for good measure (I was a “liar”).  I dropped it for a bit, allowing him to regain his composure, all the while talking to him about the best ways to deal with his anger, and that name-calling was always mean.

And then the switch inside his head got flipped, and he handed me his computer and all was well.  Total time invested?  About 20 or 25 minutes.  I’m glad it ended well, and I can only hope that these episodes will decrease once I prove that I am not a liar, and can be trusted not to invade his privacy.  This ultimate need for secrecy is a tough one to get used to, though.  I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.

Kids with Special Needs: Easy Scapegoat

our new 'hoodOur new house is on a cul-de-sac, and we found out early on that there are a few kids around.  This has been great for The Boy.  Even though the others are in early elementary, he gets along well with everybody, and has been riding scooters and running around with his new friends a bit.  One day last week when The Man and I were working on the new siding for the house, our place was the hub of activity, with several neighbors stopped by to chat, and all of the kids making a track for their bikes and scooters around our house.

I’ve been pretty pleased with this new social aspect in The Boy’s life, as we didn’t know too many kids on our block in our previous house.  I was pleased until yesterday.

One of the neighbor boy’s grandpa came to our house, letting me know that the young boy had told him he had given his smartphone to The Boy.  I asked if it was a real smartphone, and he said it was, pulling out his own to show me what it looked like.  I invited him in while I spoke to The Boy in his room.  As is often the case with kids with autism, asking a direct question will not often get a direct answer.  I asked The Boy if this other boy had given him a smartphone.  His responses were, “I don’t know”, “I don’t think so”, and “I can’t remember”.  Pretty evasive (and would be suspicious in a law enforcement situation, I kept thinking in the back of my mind), but I knew he didn’t have it.  If he had, I would have gotten a much more emotional response like, “What are you asking me for?!”, “Why do you want to know?!”, “I know what you’re trying to do! You’re always trying to find out what I’m doing!”

I let the grandpa know that I didn’t think he had it, but that The Boy does have autism, and therefore can’t always communicate that well, so I would look for it and let him know if we found anything.

He wasn’t accusatory, but he wasn’t conciliatory either.  He seemed suspicious, but said the young boy could have dropped it somewhere, too.  I apologized, reiterated that I would search for the phone, and said goodbye.

I did search for the phone, but found nothing, as I suspected (except a huge, scary spider! Check it out on my fb page).  And the more I thought about it, the more disappointed I became because it was obvious that the little boy had lost it somewhere and used my son as a scapegoat.  Our kids with special needs are easy targets in these cases.  Other kids quickly become aware of their communicating difficulties, and get a sense of how adults perceive them as “different”.  So when something goes missing or gets broken, one may have more luck blaming the special needs kid.

By the time The Man came home, I was resolved to not ever let The Boy play with him again, and I was angry.  It was clear this little boy had lied.  And then The Man mowed the lawn and almost ran over a smartphone laying out by the street…  He called me on his phone to come out to the street, which I did, and the little boy, another little girl from the neighborhood, and our adult neighbor from across the street who often rides bikes with them were standing there, too.  The Man addressed the little boy, asking him if he had lost a phone, and pointed to it, laying there in the partially mowed grass.  The adult neighbor looked sideways at the young boy, and told him, “We better take this to your grandpa right now,” and off they went.  Good to have witnesses…

I’m glad that everything ended well, because you know how neighborhoods are.  That could have been the beginning of years of suspicion and bad blood, with my boy on the wrong end of it all because a 6 year old decided it was easier to blame him than to admit he lost it somewhere.

My anger has cooled.  The young boy is only six, and most little kids probably would have done something similar if given the chance, and I suppose that’s how they learn about honesty.  It doesn’t make anything easier, and I have to say I’ve already warned The Boy not to take anything this young boy “gives” him.  I will always be wary in the future, and this is a reminder that I have to be wary of people who aren’t our neighbors, too.

___

PS  Who the hell gives a 6 year old a smartphone??

Not for Wussies

Making a major life change is difficult.  Making several at the same time is not for wussies.

I updated you last week on how we’re doing – quite well, actually.  But not everything is sunshine and lollipops.  I’m still looking for work (not quite in panic mode yet), and I’m finding it insanely difficult to get a driver’s license in my new state.  Combine that with the normal emotions involved with major life changes, and I think getting a little blue is par for the course.

Of course, I am a worrier by nature, so I have this natural tendency to focus on the negative, and can sometimes become paralyzed by it.

I have found that the best way to combat this is to do something.  Whether it’s working on organizing a space in our new home, rewriting my resume, or just doing laundry, accomplishing something tends to keep the stress/tears/freak-out away.  It also helps to cut myself a little slack, and remember my Grandma’s great advice: “All you can do is your best.”

For now, I’m managing the worry and stress, and counting my many blessings and the many, many positives that have come with these major life changes.

Just keep swimming!

English: Regal Tang fish at Bristol Zoo, Brist...

Statistics

Sqwiki-statistics

Here’s my take on statistics: they are interesting, but really don’t have any relevance on real life.  I mean, in the scientific  research community, they are incredibly important, and results of studies with certain data lead to more studies, and that’s how we make discoveries and find cures.  I get that.  But the funny thing about statistics is that you can manipulate them to say whatever you want them to say.  And if I believed statistics from every little study that was reported, I’m not sure I’d leave the house.  I’m not sure I would have had children or gotten married.

Statistics are not your friend when you are the parent of a child with autism.  They can get depressing and make you quickly lose sight of the most important indicator of your child’s success — your child.  He’s not a machine or a robot or a lab rat.  There has never been another child like him.  So while studies can try to predict everything about your child, they still have no clue.  Your child is an unknown quantity, and you and he (or she) will have everything to do with his (or her) success in life, and not much else has any bearing.

Statistics are not your friend when you are getting married (and even a worse friend when you are getting remarried).  They strike fear into the hearts of even the most brave among us.  But again, the most important indicators of the happiness of your marriage are the two people in it.  Nothing else.

So while society may decide that “the odds are against” us, I have decided nothing of the kind.  No one knows these people like I do, and no “preponderance of evidence” is going to tell me something I didn’t know.  No statistics are going to tell me what is “significant”.  This is my life, and these are the people I love.

Happy Anniversary!

It’s been a year since my first blog post (hey, do me a favor and don’t read it, okay? It’s kind of embarrassing…) and I can’t believe it!  It’s kind of fun to go back and reflect (which I’ll probably do a bit this week).  And I’m kind of in the mood to give something away, soooo….

Leave a comment below and let me know the title of your favorite post, and you’ll be entered into a random drawing for one of my favorite books of all time, Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.  If you aren’t familiar with his work, he is a bestselling humorist author, and one of the only authors on the planet who has the ability to make me laugh out loud while reading.  I recently discovered (while moving) that I have two copies of this awesome book, and I’d like to share it with one lucky reader in celebration of my blogiversary!

Make sure to comment below and check back to see if you win (or subscribe to my facebook page over there on the right, because I’ll announce the winner there, too)!  Contest will close at midnight EST on Wednesday, July 17.

MTPOD

The Last Two

The last two what?  Liebster Answers!  Meredith over at Looking Up With Down Syndrome nominated me awhile ago, and I’m just getting around to finishing up her questions.  Then I will have to nominate some people myself and ask them a bunch of questions, so here goes:

10.  What is the meaning of life?

42…  Just kidding.  I think the meaning of life is finding joy in the simplest of things, being thankful for what you have, and helping others.

11.  Where did I put my car keys?

Over there.

___

OK!  I’m all done!  Now I get to nominate my own people and ask them 11 questions!

Questions for my nominees are:

1.  Mac or PC?

2.  Best book series you’ve ever read?

3.  Favorite section of the art museum to visit?

4.  Most annoying thing (that bothers you)?

5.  Night Owl or Early Riser?

6.  What would your friends say is your best quality?

7.  At what temperature do you turn on the AC?

8.  Beaches or Mountains?

9.  If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

10.  Worst chore?

11.  Current guilty pleasure?

And I nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Award.  If you have more than 200 followers, I apologize – sometimes that part is hard to figure out…

Four Minute Reflections

Square Peg in a Round Hole

OneGoodDad

According to Dude

Between Hope and a Hard Place

JustGoodEnoughMum

Invisible Autistic

Working without a Net: Life with an Autistic Child

Moving Beyond the Label

Just Me With…

Life on the “J” Train

Here are the rules again, just in case you need them:

1.Thank the Liebster-winning Blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.

2. Post 11 interesting facts about yourself.

3. Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.

4. Create 11 questions for your nominees.

5. Nominate 11 blogs of 200 followers or less which you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.

6.  Display the Liebster Award logo.

liebster-award-ribbon

Headache With a Chance of Migraine

It takes a lot to stop me in my tracks.  And thankfully, migraines don’t affect me on a daily basis.  But they do catch up to me every so often.  I have learned what can lead to a migraine, and I have learned how to cope.  Besides that, there’s not much I can do.  And when one happens, I am so thankful that The Boy is of an age to take care of himself for the most part.  It isn’t an ideal day when mom is dead to the world and incapable of functioning, but he can feed himself and occupy himself, even if his teeth don’t get brushed.

Deutsch: "Kopfschmerzen". Die wohl b...

I had a migraine yesterday, and it started as day four of a tension headache.  But I knew this one was different  because it became centered on my left side, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to ease the pain.  I slept most of the day.

I’ve said it before – being ill and having to provide for others is one of the worst parts about being a single parent.  Migraines are a lot worse than just “bad headaches”.

I know there are lots of others who don’t have it as easy as I do.  If you know someone who gets migraines, make sure to ask them in advance how you can help.  Can you take the kids for a bit, make sure they eat?  Do some laundry?  Come over and make sure the house stays quiet for awhile?  Every little bit helps, and we have to take care of each other!