‘Tis Ausm!

Today is Autism Awareness Day.  In fact, April is Autism Awareness Month.  So much awareness directed toward something I can never quite forget.  You see, my son has Autism.  It is as much a part of him as his beautiful green eyes, wavy hair, fantastic sense of humor, and bright smile.  It’s not something I’d change about him, nor is it something I think he’d want to have changed.

So many people are unhappy with the way they are.  They change their hair, makeup, body parts, clothing, anything, just to be happier with themselves, or to make others happy with them.  The Son, at 10, is one of the most self-confident, self-assured, and self-aware people I know.  This may change as he navigates his teenage years, but for now he’s comfortable with who he is.  He can articulate the intricacies of how autism affects his life, even if he doesn’t realize that autism causes them.  What a gift it is for him.  He’s comfortable being himself.  It’s others, including sometimes his father and I, who have the difficulty of accepting him the way he is.

Being diagnosed with Autism means that the Son get a lot of services from the school.  He’s had an IEP since preschool.  No one has ever contested his diagnosis.  Indeed, his doctor once remarked that the Son was one of the kids the cleaning crew could diagnose.  One of the services he’s given is social skills training – teaching him how to get along with others in society.  I’ve often remarked that it’s those in the world around him who need the social skills training.  We can teach him how to deal with them, but they need to be able to deal with him.

Take lunchtime, for example. The Son explained to me that he was trying to sit alone when some other kids wanted to sit with him.  He’s trying to decompress while they are trying to spend more time with him. He’s lucky – he’s quite funny and apparently well liked, but he has very little desire to have friends.  How can we figure out how to get him to spend more time with other people while at the same time get them to not spend too much time with him?  Such are the mysteries of Autism.

He has it easier at home – we understand him here.  Still, we fight to get him to be more social overall.  That sometimes means accepting that he’s had enough, and other times encouraging him to spend just a bit more time with us.  We get him to have dinner with us at the table, but acknowledge that he has no interest in lingering long past mealtime to chat with others.  At the same time, we try to be available when he is feeling social.  The ride home from school is prime time for him – he’ll talk nearly non-stop during the pick-up time for his younger sister but then head to his room as soon as he gets home.  He needs that time for himself.  Other times he’ll come to us for a snuggle and a chat before announcing “end of conversation” and walking away.  He’s not trying to be rude, he’s just done with interacting and needs time to process.

Those conversations, however brief, are fascinating.  The things that come out of his mouth are often heart-breaking or jaw-dropping.  He makes observations that most adults aren’t capable of.  Maybe all that lack of socializing gives his brain time to produce genious thoughts?  Of course, the conversations are also peppered with 10-year-old-boy-isms.  He does have some age-appropriate behaviors, even if he tends to express them in language that often sends us to the dictionary.

We just need to finesse certain behaviors so he blends in with society a bit better.  At the same time, we need to realize that just because we have certain social needs, doesn’t mean his are the same.  He just has just a different way of doing things.  Not wrong, just different.  He is an like an anagram – same little boy like so many others, but put together a bit differently. Just like Autism = ‘Tis Ausm.  And he is, indeed, quite awesome.

I am the Anti Luddite

I know, I know. The last time I posted, I declared that I’d blog more often.Yet here it is, three months later and I’m just now making a post.

You see, I was taking a break from technology. That’s right – I made the very, very brave sacrifice of turning off all my electronics. I just wanted to get back to the way things used to be – no iPhones, email, text messages. While I was at it, I also stopped answering the phone and picking up my mail. If people didn’t want to talk to me in person or send letters by pony express, then I didn’t want that communication to intrude upon my precious time with my family.


Who am I kidding? If I were any more plugged in, I’d turn into a Cyberman. Thank goodness The Doctor will be around to save me, though, because I still have TV. No cable or satellite, true, but still – I have ample opportunities to view just about any program I wish, when I want to. That’s just the way I like it.  Entertainment should be at my fingertips on an on-demand basis (so should chocolate, but I digress). Sure, there’s other forms of entertainment out there, but why discount one format? There are many people who gleefully pat themselves on the back for not ever watching television. They’re also the ones who are missing out on countless learning opportunities. There are so many valuable programs on tv.  Refusing to watch them because of the medium doesn’t make you a better person. It just limits your horizons.

Sure, you can argue that using electronics limits your horizons too. There is an opportunity cost to almost everything you do. The trick is to make your choice wisely. I could stop using Facebook and rely on traditional methods of contact, but why? Who is to say that in 10 years or so, Facebook won’t be considered a “traditional” method of communicating, much like the telephone is now? Using technology has only expanded my horizons. I am in touch with more people on a regular basis than I ever would be if I relied on using a telephone to talk to people. I hate talking on the telephone. Not to mention, telephones are the dreaded “technology” that people are complaining about – they just don’t think about it that way because it’s something they’re used to.

Douglas Adams made this point quite eloquently in his essay, “How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet.” It’s all new and many of us don’t feel comfortable with it, so we shun it. Several people have shunned it to the tune of a book deal. Why?? What is the interest in ‘getting back to the way things used to be’? What is this ‘used to be’? I’m not the same person as I was when I was 10 – why would I want my technology to be the same?

I’m teaching my children some of the recipes my grandmother made. That doesn’t mean we’re using the same methods. We have electric mixers, convection ovens, oven mitts that keep your hand from burning, ingredients that I can buy in reasonable quantities at almost any hour of the day. You don’t often hear people giving up that, do you? No, it’s just easier to meeble about how you gave up technology and …oh, was that the sound of those same people giving up their cars? Giving up their appliances? Washing their clothing by hand? No? If you’re going to “give up technology” then give it ALL up. Otherwise, stop complaining and embrace the changes in your life. You’ve changed and so has the world around you. It’s ok.

Above all else, embrace moderation. You really don’t need your computer every moment of the day. Or your radio. Or the laundry. Or do you? Then maybe you should be in rehab or at a retreat, not writing your book.

New Year, Happy

So this is 2011. Fairly warm for a winter’s day (gotta love the south), a bit wet, full of wine and good food and family. Not a bad start to the decade.

Then there’s the matter of resolutions. I can’t, I won’t. There’s no point, I’ll just break them. Instead, a list of hopes/plans/thoughts/ideas:

* Try to keep up with the 365 pic project

* Do more stuff. Not ALL the stuff, but more.

* Eat less, exercise more.

* Get out more, see more, be present more.

* Blog more. It’s free therapy.

* …and lots of other stuff. Who knows what this year will bring? It’s kinda hard to create goals based on the unknown. Having no resolutions to worry about breaking leaves me with a lot more time to get life done.

Life is 10% how you make it and 90% how you take it. How will *you* use your 90%?


Tell Me Who Are You?

I am:  A Woman.  A Daughter.  A Wife.  A Mother.  Me.

There’s no way I can describe myself in one post, or even in one blog.  That’s the way a person should be – multifaceted, interesting, intriguing, ever-changing. NOT rooted in one place, one space, one idea.

When I started blogging, I posted a few miscellaneous things.  Then I moved on to blogging about being the mom of three.  One blog was scattered, the other too focused.  I wasn’t comfortable in either space.  My blogging was like the rest of my life – eager to prove myself, but no real idea of what my voice was.

I think I’ve found it, though, in the form of a nickname my Bestest calls me – Inappropriate Girl.  It amuses me.  I try to hard to fit in in so many places, but at heart I’m never quite going to do be able to do it.  Nor am I going to not try.  I’m happiest being my snarky self, which may or may not endear me to people.  That’s fine.  Like the song in Rent goes, “Take me, baby, or leave me.”

Sometimes I wonder if I was just waiting to hit 40, as if that magic birthday would somehow grant me the ability to speak my mind and do as I pleased.  This blog is my present to myself.  It’s my place to let it all out, regardless of what people think.  If I’m wrong about something, I hope someone tells me.  It’s a great way to learn.  I don’t mind criticism – it helps me grow.  I love being more comfortable in my own skin.  I LIKE being 40.

I was just thinking…oh, wait…nevermind

There are days I wonder if I’ll ever have a complete thought process again in my lifetime.  Between my own ADD and having three kids with it, it’s not a likely thing

Yup, didn’t even make it through the second sentence.  It’s a wonder I ever get anything written down.  Fuck.

The Difference a Smile Makes

I left kiss-and-ride this morning feeling a bit more positive about the whole experience.  It wasn’t necessarily a better experience than yesterday’s – drier, to be sure, but still the same hot mess that kiss-and-ride will always be.  No, the thing that made the morning drop-off just a little better was saying hi to Mrs. L.  She’s worked with all of my kids, but especially with the Son and the Youngest.  She’s made their lives so much easier and we always know they’re safe when they are with her.

She always has a smile for us, but today she looked a little flustered too.  She confessed that she drew a blank for a moment and forgot my last name.  I laughed and told her that her brain was probobly just frozen from standing out in the cold and that we loved her always.  It was a funny exchange that made the morning seem a bit brighter.  Thank goodness for people who make us smile and laugh.  It makes such a difference in a day.


Cranky Pants – yep, that’s me. ‘Tis the season to be jolly and all that, but how the heck am I supposed to be merry when people keep pissing me off?

Someone declared today to be “pay-it-forward’ day. I suppose that in the spirit of things in general I could’ve let the lady cutting in line for kiss-and-ride go in front of me. But I just couldn’t do it. How hard is it to follow the rules and get in line like everyone else?

Here we are, in front of the school where our kids are learning, among other things, how to get in line and cooperate with each other. Yet some of their parents can’t seem to figure out how to behave. It isn’t just kiss-and-ride either.

A few years ago, we attended a strings concert for the Eldest. We got there on time, dropped off a plate of cookies for the reception afterwards, and took our seats. It was a fantastic performance – those kids worked really hard.  After the performance, the director asked that the audience to help gather chairs and put them away. No problem – it’s easy to pitch in and give a hand. Many hands make light work, etc., etc., right?

Apparently not. By the time we finished helping put away the chairs and made our way to the cafeteria for the reception, most of the dessert plates had been cleared. We and several other families were shocked to see that we were mostly out of luck. Only a few sad little cookies remained. That wouldn’t have been an issue except for one not-so-tiny problem. Many of the adults and children who had already gone through the line seemed to be either stocking up for the winter or were using the reception food for their own personal cookie plate supply. Several people were walking around with plates overflowing with cookies and other desserts – more than they could reasonably eat that night, much less at the reception. There’s no words to describe how utterly rude their behavior was. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What a terrible example to provide for their kids!

Unsurprisingly, there was no reception after the Spring strings concert. I guess the staff had learned their lesson. Some people can’t be trusted to act politely and share. In this case, several rotten apples spoiled it for the rest of the group. It’s hard to feel charitable in the face of greed – perhaps that’s more the reason I should try harder in the future.

Say, What’s in this Drink?

Aren’t holiday songs supposed to be cheerful? With lyrics like “If you caught pneumonia and died,” “Baby it’s Cold Outside” doesn’t quite fit the bill for me. It’s usually a favorite. Perhaps if my Bestest and our youngest didn’t have pneumonia it wouldn’t irk me so much this year. Amazing what perspective can do to holiday enjoyment.

Snuggle Time

What, you’ve never heard of a song with the lyrics “snuggle time”? Well, neither have I.

I did promise to try post every day. Sometimes, though, life gets in the way – early and often, in fact, when you have children.

Right now, I’m headed into my room to snuggle with my little sickie. So that’s my post – I love my kids more than my blog. As it should be.

They Said There’ll Be Peace On Earth

The Horror!  Five days left to go in the month and I miss a day.  So much for blogging every day during the National Blog Posting Month.  Maybe I’ll post twice today to make up for it.

I wish I could say I forgot because I was too busy scoring great deals on Black Friday.  Wait, no I don’t.  I hate crowds – why on earth would I want to deal with that many people all at once?  I’m not always convinced the deals are that great, really, and the whole experience seems to bring out the worst in some people.

I was reading an article on cnn.com this morning that described the troubles several people had during their Black Friday shopping trips.  There’s one woman who was arrested for cutting in line so she could score a deal.  Her excuse? 

” “I just wanted to get my daughter the toy that she wanted for Christmas, which probably won’t be there when I go today,” Lanessa L. Lattimore, 21, told CNN.”

What, like the rest of people in line were just there for their own amusement?  Pay your dues like the rest of us, Lanessa.  If you want the deal, work for it.  If you’re not willing to work for it, then stay home.   And for goodness’ sake, don’t threaten to kill the people behind you in line when they complain about you cutting in, then feign surprise when you get arrested.  Ignorant twit.

No, I’m glad I wasn’t dealing with Black Friday lines.  Instead, I was dealing with (thankfully short) lines first at the pediatrician’s office, then at the radiology lab.  The Youngest was sporting a 104.3 fever on Thanksgiving night.  In combination with bad pain in her side, it almost sent us to the ER.  A dose of Tylenol brought enough relief that we held out for sick clinic on Friday morning, where blood work results led the doctor to give her a shot of Rocephin in each thigh and then send her for chest x-ray.  She has to go in for repeat blood work this morning.  Her fever was down last night, though, so hopefully she’s on the mend.

All of the Turkey Day sickness made me think of one of my favorite Christmas songs, “I Believe in Father Christmas” by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.  The song ends with “Be it Heaven or Hell – the Christmas we get we deserve.”

It surely wasn’t heaven, nor was it hell, but I wonder what we did to get that type of Thanksgiving?  Hopefully Christmas is a bit calmer.  Still, it was nice to have an excuse to spend some mostly quiet time together.  Now, if we can just get rid of all the coughing….