Middle School Reflections

We went to lunch at the beach on Saturday after cleaning up all the chunks of drywall left by the drywall hangers at the new house. We ate outside at a picnic table, and were talking about The Boy being almost done with middle school. The Man and I both agreed that not too many people would like to re-live middle school, and that he had much to look forward to in high school.

“Why don’t people want to go back to middle school?” The Boy asked.

“Well, I can tell you that kids were kind of mean to me when I was in middle school,” I said. “I don’t have very many good memories.”

“And I don’t have too many memories of it at all,” The Man said. “Nothing really great happened.”

The Boy took a moment, and then said, “I think it’s different now.”

“It is?” I asked carefully.

“The kids at my school are nice. There aren’t too many mean ones. I have good memories of middle school,” he said.

I touched The Man’s hand and gave him a look. He raised his eyebrows back at me.

That is something that every special needs parent wants to hear. That her child has good memories of middle school, and judges his classmates to be nice people.

Just a bit of dust in my eye…

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Post-Move Update

If you follow this blog, you know that we sold our house at the end of August and moved into a rental house where we will live while we build another small house that is in The Boy’s “district”.  In order for him to go to high school with all of the friends he’s made since moving south, we need to live in that area, so we have less than a year to make that a reality.

Moving from our former house was bittersweet.  The Man bought that house pretty cheaply because it needed tons of work, and then did all of the work and then some to make it a very nice house, bigger than anything he or I had ever lived in before, and the best part was that it was paid for – no mortgage payment. We were able to remodel it to our tastes, and the fact that it was paid for was what made it possible for The Boy and me to move here. It was our first house as a married couple, as a family, it was where The Man proposed to me… We had lots of really good memories there. It had a beautiful backyard up next to a golf course, so views of gorgeous sunsets, sunrises, and wildlife were common occurrences. The Boy could ride his bike or scooter to his hearts content, and we were glad that he was safe to do that without being bothered.

While our current rental house isn’t exactly as we’d want it, and there is that rent payment hanging over our heads (right at a time when I’m making so much less than I was before), I can’t help but revel in the positives here, as well. I wrote about the tree swing earlier this week, which The Boy adores, and therefore so do I. The lot itself is quite pretty, with well-placed, picturesque trees and lots for the cat to look at during the day.  We are placed directly between two churches, so there are no neighbors to speak of, and we are so much closer to civilization… I can’t tell you how much easier it is over here.  We don’t have to plan our day around a trip to Walmart – it’s now only two minutes away. We are physically not much closer to Grammy and Poppy, but the fact that you don’t have to cross two bridges and miles of two-lane road to get there make quite a difference in the time.  The house itself is the perfect size, just about the same size we intend to build the new house, so it is easy for us to plan and visualize what we’d like to do.

room with a view

The very best thing is that The Boy loves being closer to his grandparents, civilization, and most of all, his school.  The bus used to come pick him up at 6:30am. Now, we have foregone the bus in the morning (alleviating so much stress), and The Man takes him at 7:20am.  That’s quite a difference to a tired teenager.  One that makes him infinitely happier, and he is not afraid to show it. He has adapted beautifully and I’m proud of him and happy for him, too.

While we could have stayed where we were, I’m so glad we decided to take the risk and do this. Onward and upward!

My Aunt

About a week ago, my aunt was killed in a car accident on her way to our family reunion.

She was my dad’s only sister, and my only aunt not by marriage.  She was my godmother, and mother to 10 children, including three sets of twins, and a son with Down’s Syndrome.  She was a teacher, and when she retired, she continued to teach GED classes at the local prison.  She came from a long line of strong, active, intelligent, family-oriented women.  I’ve written before about her and these strong women here and here.

We were so looking forward to seeing her, and listening to her and my great-aunt share memories.  It was a hard weekend, but it was amazing to be able to share our grief with extended family members.  We won’t be able to make it to her memorial service, but she has been on our minds and in our hearts all week.

Even though she was 87, she was taken from us too soon.  She was an inspiration, even though she’d probably roll her eyes at that.  She was another one who, when asked, “How do you do it?” would have simply replied, “I just do.”

I love you, and I’ll miss you, my dear Aunt Mickey.

Not Easier, Just Different

Mom & The BoyThe other day, I pulled out all of the scrapbooks and went through them, remarking at how little The Boy was, and reminiscing. I think some people look through old photos and are wistful for easier times…

I don’t know about other parents with kiddos on the spectrum, but I don’t miss those times. They certainly weren’t easier.

Back then, I had to deal with diapers, until the age of five.  Now I have to deal with the toilet clogging on a regular basis (Thank you, Intestinal Surgery!)

Back then, I had to deal with The Boy wandering and getting lost in department stores.  Now I have to deal with getting him to get some fresh air and come out of his room.

Back then, he was obsessed with Wubbzy and Mat Man.  Now he is obsessed with Sonic the Hedgehog, and the dome lights of cars.

Of course, our history isn’t entirely one of struggle. Luckily, the blessings of that little Boy continue to make him my joy today.  He is still (even at thirteen!) affectionate, at least at home. He still has a wonderful sense of humor, and is a lot of fun to be around. He is still able and willing to participate in the world around him (as soon as he finishes his game).

Nope, I don’t miss those days — OK, maybe I miss the smell of a baby, the giggle of a toddler, and the ability to pick him up and carry him out if he started fussing. But I don’t miss not having a single clue about autism, or a single person to talk to about it. I don’t miss the what-ifs and constant worry that is only lessened with experience and time.

I’m not saying it’s easier now.  It’s just different.  And now, even if I don’t have all the answers, at least I have a clue. 😉

Butterpats and Old Newspapers

This weekend, I helped my mom sort through her antique butter-pat collection.  She started collecting them before I was born, and has kept them through the years, hoping they will accrue in value, but mostly admiring their beauty.

We pulled them out once when I was a girl, and from the evidence we saw today, it must have been when I was about ten, in 1984.  I vividly remember doing this, because I accidentally dropped one on our ceramic tile kitchen floor shortly after we had started, and it shattered.  My mom was disappointed and probably angry, while I was mortified that I had broken something she valued so much.  I was in tears, and ran to my room, and in the meantime, the butter-pats were re-wrapped and put away again.

Today, as we pulled out each butter pat, carefully unwrapped it and placed it on the table, she reminisced about when she had purchased them, and we both remarked on their patterns, age, and condition.  Some are Spode, some are Wedgewood, some are Haviland and Limoges.  I noted my favorites, and we looked at the markings, and her previous notes deciphering the codes in the imprints on the back.

butterpats

We also noted the newspaper they had been wrapped in.  One or two from 1984 (including the Detroit Tigers 1984 Season Schedule, the year they won the World Series), but most from 1974, in the summer before I was born.  There were announcements of concerts by Eric Clapton and the Grateful Dead, advertisements for recently released movies like “The Sting” and “Blazing Saddles,” and other interesting news of the day.

It was a wonderful afternoon for remembering, and an unexpected look into the past. Who knew the material in which she wrapped those butter-pats nearly 40 years ago would be almost as interesting as the butter-pats themselves?