Reflection on 2015

That's me.  Just Doing it.I sat down to do a little reflection on the year, and tried  to jot down ten highlights, ten disappointments, and a few other details about the past year. It hasn’t been the best of years, so I was surprised when my list of highlights was just about done, and I was still on number four in my list of disappointments. As I reflected on this, as well as what I had written, I came up with a few things.

Perspective is an amazing thing, and unfortunately we’re often too busy with our daily lives to get any, but one thing I realized is that I need to reflect more on a regular basis. I’ve kind of fallen out of the habit of journaling, but have picked it back up again. I’ve long maintained diaries, starting when I was in elementary school, and this habit of writing to myself at the end of each day is one that I realize I have missed. Besides, writers need to write, right?

I also look back on the crises of the year and realize that time passes and the urgency of the crisis passes. In the thick of it, I am always in panic, unable to see how we can possibly get through it, but after a few months, it’s almost forgotten. I have to try to remind myself of that when the next crisis arises. This too shall pass.

Finally, even if my days are filled with tasks I would deem far from the biggest contributions to society, I can choose to still be relevant, I can choose to continue learning and creating. It’s ok to work a dead-end job, but it’s not ok to succumb to being dead-end. It takes work to create opportunities for myself to engage my intellect and creativity, but it is imperative. Otherwise, I’ll look up in twenty years and wonder where my life went.

Anyway. I hope you have an excellent and safe New Years Eve, and look to 2016 with wonder and anticipation at what might be coming next. Enjoy!

To Know Him is to Love Him

Halloween is right around the corner, and The Boy, true to form, decided last year that he would be Sully from Monsters Inc. this year.  Once he knows what he wants, he doesn’t waver, and even though The Man and I tried to convince him that he would be a really good Dracula, he was certain he wanted to be Sully.

So Sully it is.  But I can not and will not buy an expensive costume. We will be making it as we have done for the past few years.  And since I am making it, I can steer The Boy toward a more age appropriate costume, even if the subject isn’t very. Thanks to Pinterest, I have found a hoodie-based rendition that The Boy said sounded like a good idea. And now the hunt for cheap supplies begins…

Our kick-butt Sonic shoe from last year's costume

Our kick-butt Sonic shoe from last year’s costume

The Man and I may have tried to steer him to something more age appropriate, but in the end, it’s The Boy’s Halloween, and Halloween is for kids, not for us adults to feel better about ourselves and our children.  The choices they make show their passions and creativity, and if we start to make those decisions for them, the light in their eyes gets a little duller.

Yesterday, The Boy came home from school with a cat poster he had purchased from the book fair.  I knew it was coming home, and no, it isn’t the typical purchase from a 13 year-old eighth grade boy, but it made him happy.  So much so that he taped it to the wall in his room as soon as he put his stuff down.  I will never get in the way of him expressing his passion for the things he likes, because that’s a part of him (except for toilets… we have to limit the passion for toilets…). If I start denying that, I’m denying a part of him and it just isn’t right. To know him is to love him, and anyone who does will accept him Sully costume, cat poster and all. Anyone who doesn’t just doesn’t matter.

Take the Time

numbers-time-watch-whiteThe other day, I answered a phone line that I don’t typically answer because my co-worker got called away from her desk a few moments before.

The woman on the other end began to ask about the size of the boats we use and ended by explaining, “My son loves the water, you see, but he’s terrified of boats.  He’s on the autism spectrum.”

For a split second, I had a choice.  I could identify myself as someone who could sympathize on a very real level, or I could answer her question simply, and get off the phone quickly to answer another call.

“I totally understand,” I said.  “My son is on the spectrum, too.”

Come to find out, she had recently moved to the area with her family, and was looking to connect with other families, specifically with the aim of working to expand services for our kiddos in our area, because they really are dismal.  We chatted for a good ten or twelve minutes, and exchanged phone numbers.

Since then, we’ve friended each other on Facebook and connected again via text. I hope to meet her and her family soon, and introduce them to some of my friends and their families so she can start making some connections in the area.

I know that sometimes we get tired of carrying this mantel of “autism mom,” and sometimes we just don’t want to see another news article about a possible cause.  But I’m glad I made the choice to identify my true self.  Two years ago, I was where she is now, freshly moved to a new state and trying to find a new community of support and advocacy.  If we don’t take the time for each other, who else will?

Crisis Averted: How I Turned a Crisis into a Game

Blue sock

We decided to go to the grocery store at 12:30. “That’s 23 minutes, from now, OK?” I remind The Boy.  A few minutes later, I get up to make the grocery list, and I hear the beginnings of a meltdown.  I hear the frustration in his voice, and the elevated volume saying, “I can’t FIND it!”  It turned out to be a sock, a very particular grey and blue sock, for which he could not find the mate.  He had actually looked in the laundry basket of socks first, which is huge.  Usually, he will visually scan a room and if it doesn’t jump up and say, “HERE I am!!” it is lost.  Forever.  Somebody took it.  So we looked all over his room.  We looked in the clean clothes basket.  We looked in the basement.  I told him it would turn up sooner or later, and sat down because it was obvious we would not be going to the store today.  I was making a mental inventory of our groceries and trying to determine how not getting groceries today would affect our Monday… The Boy began to get very angry and started throwing things.  After he tossed a blanket across the room (thankfully only a blanket), I walked over to him on the couch, and said “STOP IT.”

From here it could have gone two ways: I could have started shouting, making things worse, or I could have gone the other route to try to get him to calm down.  Today (because I don’t always make the right choice), I made a split-second decision to get him to calm down.  I got him down on the couch, and lay down on top of him, using my body weight to give him some sensory input.  He was still yelling about not going to school tomorrow, me calling the police on him, him calling the police on me, and ended with, “Get off of me or I’m going to be bleeding!”  But he was calmer.  We sat up, and I pulled him into my lap.  We talked about better ways to communicate his frustration, and I laid out the options for him: We could clean up his room together, and if we didn’t find it, I would buy him a new pair, or we could hope it turned up, and choose a different pair.  He chose to clean up his room, and look in the basement again, which we did.

As we cleaned up his room, we threw every sock we found on his bed.  When we were finished tidying up, I said, “OK, Now we’re going to play a game.  We will each make as many sock matches as we can, and whoever has the most will get a candy bar when we go grocery shopping today.”  We sorted socks, I taught him how to fold pairs together, and we each snatched socks from the pile.  In the space of about 20 minutes, we had gone from potential meltdown to smiles and laughter as we played a game together.  And he lost, and it was OK.  He found a different pair of socks to wear (because we still didn’t find that darn sock that started all this), and it was OK.

If it had been 7am on a school day, when these types of things usually occur, I’m not sure I would have made the better choice.  But I did today, and we are both better off for it.

Fun Friday

The Boy and I have created a tradition called Fun Friday.  It was born out of some evening scheduling problems we had which basically boiled down to The Boy thinking I could drive him all over God’s Green Earth to … Continue reading