Atten-HUT!!!

August 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Posted in Kids | 2 Comments
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I used to speak ever so softly and sweetly to my children. I’d cajole and coo, whispering in their ears and smiling while I spoke. Gentle tones and calm demeanor were my forte.

Now I sound like I live in a fort.

What exactly happened? Boyhood kicked in, that’s what. They went from soft and sweet and so-so cuddly to big and boney and rambunctious. Now my quiet crooning is replaced by drill-sergeant-like barking. I’m always shouting out orders, guiding their little heads back into line with my hands when they stray (like every 5 seconds), and sounding out the days’ itinerary:

“Brady! Michael! Front and center! NOW HEAR THIS: It is TIME to get DRESSED! Here is what is going to happen: BRADY, you are going to come here NOW and put on your PANTS! NO, you may NOT jump on the trampoline naked! LISTEN UP, boys! MICHAEL, you are going to STOP sitting on the cat and take your jammies OFF! And no more namby-pamby whining! I used to have to get dressed while walking uphill in the SNOW! Barefoot!! In JUNE!!!”

None of this is spoken in mean or angry tones, just in a loud, instructional format. Ok, more like a muffled roar, but you get the picture. I am not screaming at my children, just trying to get their ever-shifting attention.

Out in public, mothers of only children shoot me sideways glances as I dole out directives to my brood of two. They’re probably thinking, “What’s wrong with her? Too much caffeine? A bit high-strung, are we? Take it easy on those two! A little kindness goes a long way. You catch more flies with honey. Blah blah blah blah.”

HA! They have no idea. Two kids might as well be ten! A couple of little boys may not look like much, but trust me, if these two get even one step ahead of me, it’s anarchy. They will completely overthrow the current Nanny State (Mommy State, in this case) and leave me quivering and whimpering as I try to explain just how the purple-maned horse from the carousel got into the fun park’s wishing well. I can’t imagine what they’ll do when they’re teenagers.

My husband tells horror stories of he and his brother (also 3 years apart) concocting such stunts as drizzling gasoline down the driveway (where exactly did they find an unattended can of gas?), taking the tires off their bikes and skidding down the driveway so the metal rims/gas combination created sparks and a nice little whip of flame. They also managed to drive their bikes off the garage roof without breaking any limbs. But they did break a set of antique beds that belonged to their grandmother. Thank God we have no pavement at our house in the woods. But we do have roofs. And beds.

Maybe their mother didn’t bark enough orders? What about corporal punishment? Or maybe it’s just a boy thing and it’s inevitable. Either way, you’re sure to hear me if we’re in the same supermarket/mall/parking lot/kids’ party/fun park/war. I’m the one shouting, “Hey! You two! Pete & Re-Pete! Cut that out! No, stop it! Sit down! Drop that! Get down from there! If you two don’t stop, you are in big trouble! Come over here! RIGHT HERE!! Now, forward MARCH!!”

I think you get the idea.

xo

All I Can Handle

August 7, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Kids | 18 Comments
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When I found out my son, Brady, has Asperger’s Syndrome, it knocked the wind right out of me. We had been working with a “Generalized Anxiety” diagnosis for some time, and I knew he had some sensory and social issues, but I was still unprepared to hear the words “These test results strongly point to Asperger’s.”

Finding out that life is going to be harder for your child is devastating. I know we are not talking about cancer or another life-threatening illness, but we are talking about a life-long condition that can be debilitating. My husband and I were (and still are) prepared to give our kids every advantage we could afford them in life, but a condition like Asperger’s Syndrome means a few giant steps backward to just getting the everyday stuff under control.

I know this might ruffle some feathers, but I just need to indulge myself and vent a little: It really annoys the hell out of me when I read posts and blogs from mothers who swear they are totally fine with their kids’ autism. They claim their child is a treasure and they wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure their children are wonderful and sweet and funny and endearing, but the disorder that is autism certainly is not. Do they mean to tell me that they jumped for joy when they found out their kid was going to struggle way more than the average child with normal, everyday events, such as saying ‘hi’ to a little boy on the playground or going to the supermarket?

That they thought, “Oh, delightful!” when it occurred to them that their child would likely be ostracized by other kids and would find it nearly impossible to read the expressions on their teachers’ faces?  Is it perfectly all right with them when the following scenario takes place?:

“Brady, we’re going to a birthday party tomorrow!”

You should see the panic on his face.

“NO, Mommy!! I don’t want to go! I’ll stay with Daddy! Or Miss Sheyla! (trusted babysitter) I don’t want to go to the party!”

“But Brady, it’s your friend, Jimmy, from school. He invited you!”

“I don’t want to GO, Mom! It won’t be fun. I’ll run away from the car when we get there!”

He runs for his blanket and scrunches it up over his face and neck.

“It won’t be scary, honey. You’ll have a good time with the kids and party games. There will be a bounce house!”

“But there will be other kids there! And they’ll sing stupid Happy Birthday TOO LOUD!!”

Fetal position on the couch.

“Oh, sweetie, can’t we just go, and if you’re not having fun then we’ll leave?”

“No, Mom, NO! I don’t want to go!”

Is this what we had in mind when we were carrying that luscious little bundle in our bellies? That we would be forcing them to go to amusement parks and dreading family dinners out and agonizing over the days’ schedule because a single bump in the road sends them reeling?

I love my son with all my heart, and I understand that he is who he is, flaws and all, but I really can’t “embrace” his autism. It’s not the road I had planned. It’s not the journey I wanted him or I to make. It’s certainly not going to be easy.

We’re lucky enough to live in a state that offers many services to children with these types of disabilities. And through research and referrals, we’ve found a number of wonderful private practitioners as well. Brady receives occupational therapy, social (play) therapy, physical therapy, behavioral therapy (sessions that I am involved in and learning from as well), homeopathic remedies, naturopathic remedies, and osteopathic treatments. If it seems like a ridiculous amount of intervention, it probably is, but we want to give him every opportunity to thrive.

Some days he does so well his behavior is nearly that of a “typical” child. Other days, it’s obvious that he is struggling, fraught with anxiety and over-stimulation, and it’s so hard on all of us. I often lie in bed at night and worry about him – whether or not he’ll make friends in first grade, how he’ll ever manage to ride the school bus, if he’ll be able to form a long-term relationship or get married someday. And I’d like to be like those other mothers who seem just fine with it all. Perhaps they didn’t have super-high hopes for their kids or aren’t crazy Type-A over-achievers like me. Or maybe they’re just calmer and more accepting than I am. Having a kid with autism teaches you a lot about autism, but it also teaches you so much about yourself and what you can handle.

I hope I can handle it.

xo

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