The Trip Recap

The Boy and I just spent a long weekend visiting old friends and relatives up north. I had promised him three years ago when we moved away that we would visit. This year, I made it a goal to make good on my promise. When an airline opened up a new, cheap, nonstop flight, I jumped at the opportunity.

I encouraged The Boy to make a list of places he’d like to go and people he’d like to see. I coordinated with people on Facebook who wanted to see us, and planned our trip in morning-afternoon-evening chunks, allowing for travel time via rental car. Fantastic Babysitter put us up, even though she was out of town for a couple days. It worked out beautifully as The Boy was comfortable in her house, a place he had been many times, and we saved money on a hotel. The bonus was that the weather was gorgeous, and she lives in a quiet neighborhood, allowing us wonderful downtime at the end of each jam-packed day.

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❤ She hadn’t seen him since she was 3, but asked to hold his hand in the parking lot 

Most of our “places” to visit were really restaurants (um, yeah… we like food. A lot.), and we made a point to eat at places we just don’t have back home. Even better was the company. Every single visit with friends was a joyous, picked-up-right-where-we-left-off extravaganza. The Boy had even prepared three PowerPoints (unbeknownst to me) to share with his former ASD teacher at lunch on Saturday.

The Boy was simply amazing. At our favorite eclectic arcade on Friday, one of his favorite games had been removed, and I didn’t even realize until after the fact, when he explained to me a few times that it had been moved (I put two and two together because of the perseverating on the same point). But he didn’t get upset about it. The only thing that really did upset him was that he was reminded about the glory of the ice cream truck, something we just don’t have where we live, but a treasured memory from living up north. We glimpsed one a few times during the weekend, but didn’t end up realizing his wish to purchase ice cream from one, and that was a tragedy by Sunday.

I could see fault lines forming by the time we got to the gate on Monday to get back on the plane to go home. His laptop was not charged and would not charge. It got a little hairy until I enlisted the help of the gate agent, who allowed us to use her outlet behind the desk. The rest of the day, The Boy was a bit “tetchy” about everything. He didn’t want to come home, but was mollified by a stop at his favorite arcade in Myrtle Beach before heading back home.

It was a huge success, a wonderful time, and I was incredibly proud of The Boy. The people we visited were not the only ones impressed by how much he has grown in three years.

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Spring Break is Here. Woo Hoo.

Everyone loves vacation, right? Everyone loves a week off of school!

Nope.

The Boy in recent years has looked more forward to it, I’ll admit. But the reality is that the slightest changes in routine throw us all off, and Spring Break is a million tiny changes in our routine and a lot of big ones. Normally, I wake up at 6am to do yoga. Apparently the act of walking down the hall at that time of the morning, gives The Boy some sort of pre-wake up call that I wasn’t aware of. Because apparently, when he is on Spring Break, and does not need to leave the house as early, I am still required to wake up at 6am. Grrr.

And someone (I shall not name names) ate two packages of pop tarts (!), at some point this weekend (we usually get breakfast elsewhere), which leaves one to last us until Wednesday. That same someone complained to Grammy that he had not been given breakfast…

That same someone also required umpteen reminders yesterday to get out of bed and get ready to leave. He waited until the last minute, couldn’t find his headphones, and got upset… sigh… (later found under the bed at Grammy’s, just like everything else that gets lost).

He also thinks he can stay up all hours of the night watching movies in his room.

I’m going to wake him up in 14 minutes. That will be 15 minutes earlier than yesterday. We shall see if allowing him more time to procrastinate helps the situation. But I’m pretty sure the only thing that will help this situation is sending him back to school

Spring Break in an Autism Household looks NOTHING like this...

 

Summer Break Doesn’t Mean Vacation at Dad’s

Friday, The Boy came home telling everyone he was going to miss school Monday because he was going to visit his dad.  There were shared looks all around, between us adults in The Boy’s life, because we wondered where this was coming from, and how best to let him know that this was not happening.

I took the lead and explained that no, he was going to his last half-day of school on Monday, and then Grammy was taking him to lunch.  If he wanted to call his dad to discuss a summer trip up to his place, he could do so, but as of right now we have no plans.

This took a few repetitions from all of us.  Then he decided that Grammy would take him to Myrtle Beach on Tuesday… Wha?? Again, we explained that a trip like that takes some planning and no little amount of money.

“How much?” he asked.

“At least $200,” The Man replied.

“I’ll have to find a way to make some money…” The Boy said.

He wants to be on the road again...

He wants to be on the road again…

We’re still not sure if it was conversations with other kids at school who were either going on vacation, or visiting their own dads in other places, or something else entirely that triggered this fantasy-plan.  It may just have been the strong association he has that summer break equals a trip to dad’s, even though it didn’t happen at all last year.

He’s reluctant to call him, at any rate.  And I doubt any plan would come to fruition, anyway.  The ex has been more and more absentee the past few years, and I don’t see that trend changing as The Boy gets older, and possibly harder to relate to. I suspect the ex is dealing with his own unemployment and demons right now, anyway, if the absence of child support means anything.

Monday came, and a meltdown ensued at school, which necessitated a pickup by Grammy, and a very rocky afternoon when the Boy realized he was done for the year and couldn’t go back. Eventually, an ice cream sandwich and a trip to McDonald’s for lunch helped him turn the corner.  Was it the bus being late to pick him up that morning? Was it the fact that many of his friends were not there that day? Or was it the fact that his plans were not turning out like he’d hoped, and he finally understood that he was not going to his dad’s? I’ll never know.

Usually these fantasies indicate something he really wants to do, but this one is just not in my power. Hopefully, we’ll be able to talk him through and out of this idea into what our real summer plans include. I hope it’s enough for him.

CHIP: It needs to be on your radar

CHIP stands for Child Health Insurance Program and is a federal program administered by each state, and funded by both federal and state governments.  Sometimes it goes by a different name, but essentially it is for children in families who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but still are low income enough to struggle paying for health insurance for their child.  It came into existence before the ACA was passed, but it continues to exist because it is a widely popular program that provides a needed service to many, many families.

Through the ACA, the terms of CHIP eligibility were extended through 2019, but the funding was not.  Funding expires for the current incarnation of CHIP through this September.

Here’s why it matters.  If funding is not extended, many, many children will lose their healthcare.  The Boy included.

The other night, I happened to click on an article on Facebook, that happened to include the information above, and left me upset and worried.  Why hadn’t I heard anything about this?  Shouldn’t this be national news?  What the hell is going on?

I did a little more research, and found that it will most likely receive extended funding, but no one knows for how long.  The problem is that some want it replaced with plans offered by the health exchanges.  I can tell you that this would place healthcare on the other side of affordable for our family, because our state neither expanded medicaid, nor started their own exchange.  As a result, there is one company providing healthcare plans in the my state (through the federal exchange), and therefore they can set whatever rates they want – there is no competition, which was the whole point of the ACA.  The ACA is perverted here, and therefore, we are not being served the way we should be by this law.

There are many people who think families should have a choice between an ACA plan and CHIP, and there are others who think having CHIP and the ACA separate is just fine.  Needless to say, there will probably be a great deal of debate on September 30th of this year.

I wonder if we will hear anything about it?

I wonder if it will be used as a bargaining chip (no pun intended) for something else?

I wonder, and I worry.  CHIP gives me piece of mind about my son’s healthcare, and I would really prefer to have an educated public and a compassionate legislative body making decisions about its future.

Children's Health Insurance Program

An Open Letter to the Ex

Our son is thirteen now. I wonder if you are shocked by how much he has grown every time you see him. The last time it had been over a year. This time, eight months. I know he’s grown because I have to buy him new pants for every band concert. The size 18’s from last spring were way too short last week so we bought some 29/30’s. I wonder if headlines with autism catch your eye, or if you’ve ever read anything about it. I wonder if you remember anything from the year and a half between the diagnosis and when you left. I wonder how you spend time with him when he’s with you – do you try to connect or do you just coexist? Feeling a little schadenfreude as I hope you experience some of the pubescent rage we have witnessed this fall. But not too much because I wonder if you could handle it, and know I’d rather not find out. In a few years we will have been divorced longer than we were married and the boy will have lived longer without you than with you. That should scare the bejesus out of you, but it doesn’t seem to even register on your radar. Shocking to realize his speech teacher at his school last year who saw him once a week spent more time with him than you have in the last year, and knows him infinitely more than you do.

I wonder a lot, but it isn’t my place to know. That’s between you and him. The question I will never get an answer to is how. How do you live without him?

So I shake my head, sigh, give him to you for Christmas and cross my fingers. This never gets easier.

A Wonderful Visit

This post was drafted in August and I realized I hadn’t posted it yet.  🙂

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Our one and only Fantastic Babysitter (and her mom and baby) came to visit this past week.  She sacrificed a lot to come, and The Boy was so pleased to have her here, as was I.  We spent a long day at the beach, and worked around the baby’s schedule with relatively little problem, able to eat out a few times, and experience the area, thanks to some wonderful weather.

We walked out on the long fishing pier that extends out to the ocean, and Fantastic Babysitter, being afraid of heights, began to get a little nervous, expressing a wish for a hand to hold as she progressed over the beach and then over the waves.  The Boy slipped up behind her and picked up her hand, impressing everyone with his empathy and sensitivity.

Later, he sat on the couch next to me, and we held the baby.  He began to play with her feet, saying softly, “I’ve got your tootsies,” and then “Am I doing it right?” to me.

I watched him as he took every opportunity to sit next to Fantastic Babysitter, sometimes putting his head on her shoulder, recognizing the beautiful relationship they continue to have, even across the miles.

I was so happy to see them together, and was truly sad to see them go.  On their first night here, he began begging to go “back home,” and I realized that we may have to make that a reality before too long.  A visit next summer may be in order, because there are lots of people there he misses, and some I miss, as well.  We have been so happy here, but this visit brought some strong feelings to the surface, especially on his part.  And I don’t want to ignore those.

The Handoff

A co-worker asked how my weekend was, and I think I responded something like, “Meh.”  Because it was a nice weekend, and The Man and had a tiny vacation, but I had to give up The Boy, so there’s that.  The truth is I hate giving him up, but I have an undying hope that he will be able to salvage something of a relationship with his dad at some point, and so I know this is good.  Or has the potential of being good.  But having him gone is like not having an arm for a week.

And so, while the weekend was a nice little getaway, and I could do nothing but smile at The Boy’s insistent questions (“How much longer?  Are we there yet?  I wonder what kind of lights Dad’s new car will have…”) and statements (“I can’t wait to see the new puppy!”), it still just sucks and my emotions are a little raw, a little closer to the surface.  I will (and already do) miss being a mom, at least in the active sense, this week.

Here’s to hoping it goes by quickly, uneventfully, and as painlessly as possible.  Tomorrow’s another day.

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No Honeymoon for These Newlyweds and That’s Just Fine

The Man and I thought we might get a chance to run away for a bit when The Boy visited his dad in August, but guess what?  Yup.  The Boy will probably not be headed to his dad’s until Thanksgiving, if then.  We didn’t really expect this visitation to pan out, but it would have given us a little time together.

ShrimperIn any case, we are making the absolute most of our Saturday nights together, and it has turned into an extended honeymoon/staycation of sorts.  We have been lucky enough to have fantastic meals just about every Saturday since we started over a month ago.  And I have to tell you, for an area that has about 12,000 people, there are some damned good restaurants down here.  Plus, we live in an area that relies on tourism in the summer, so it’s pretty easy to take a “staycation” – beautiful warm summer evenings, quaint little towns through which to walk, replete with old cemeteries, gardens, and, well, the ocean.

So, while I could be really upset that we haven’t been able to go away somewhere together, I’m not in the least.  The Man and I have done enough traveling over the past four years just to be together.  Now that we are together, we have reveled in these semi-private Saturdays, and we’ve been able to drag it out all summer long.  I really couldn’t ask for more. ❤

PS Thank you, thank you, thank you to Grammy and Poppy for this priceless gift ❤