So Crazy Right Now

February 9, 2013 at 8:23 am | Posted in Kids, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Do I have to get slapped in the face with crazy the second I wake up?

“Oh, Michelle, you’re not crazy. Don’t say that about yourself!”

It’s not me I’m talking about, people.

Let’s start with the first thing I see/hear if I make the mistake of not getting up before everyone else in the house does: Monty the licker. Don’t get too excited. Monty is a CAT. He’s a crazy, obsessive-compulsive, over-bearing, hyper-demanding CAT who will come into my bedroom first thing in the morning screaming like a banshee and start LICKING… me, the comforter, the sheets, the pillows… anything he can get his tongue on. I have no idea why he does this and I have never met a cat like him. He came from the shelter as a “stray” (although after years of having him we’re pretty sure someone dropped his nutty ass off) and now he lives with us. Lucky, lucky us.

That’s crazy #1 to start my day.iPhone Download 2012 057

Next comes a whole heap of hooey from number-one son, who leaps into my bed (risking a severe licking from said cat) ranting about the dream he just had. You know, the one about the talking buffalo from Bugaboo Creek (I can’t believe I was stupid enough to take him there. I thought it would be fun. I thought he would get a kick out of it. [I certainly didn’t go for the gourmet food, although I’m still fantasizing about the 10,000 lb. chocolate cake we had for dessert.] I must have forgotten for 5 1/2 seconds that kids with Asberger’s Syndrome are anxious and literal and the first questions he would ask about the giant talking buffalo head on the wall was, “Can he get out of there? Is he going to come over here? Can he see me? Is he talking to me? When is he going to talk again? Does he know my name? How did he get up there? Where’s his owner? When can we go home?” And that a trip to the bathroom would entail hands clapped over ears [even though the buffalo was not talking] and a 20-minutes-out-of-our-way walk to successfully circumnavigate said buffalo without a chance encounter.). And so, of course, the mania about the talking buffalo continued on the 30-minute car ride home and then right into the night, where Brady insisted he had spent his dream time wandering the house trying to save himself and our family from it. And all this because “Trick”, his giant stuffed horse (whom he regularly pretends is a stuffed cat even though he has 26 stuffed cats), was pretending to be a giant talking Buffalo all night long and continually bamboolzing Brady with his shenanigans.

And that, my friends, was crazy #2 to start my day.Brady Michael Buck Teeth

Then, number-two son, being fascinated and flummoxed by all things big brother, picks up on Brady’s train of thought (if you can call it that) and is high-tailing it through the house shrieking that there’s a buffalo in their room and we should head for the hills. Brady screams back that it is only TRICK (the giant stuffed horse/cat) PRETENDING to be a buffalo, and so a bellowing fight ensues between the boy in my bed and the boy in the hall. This goes on until Michael can be convinced to join us and take his licking like a man. Meanwhile, I’m still just trying to wipe the sleep out of my eyes and shake off the dream I had about frozen margaritas at a swim-up bar in Cozumel. As if.

That was crazy #3.Michael Kissing

And so eventually we all stumble downstairs, where my wound-just-a-little-too-tight husband is insisting that there’s a strange red light on in the back-up power generator and since there’s a BLIZZARD coming (Or maybe it’s just 4 inches of snow, I never know for sure with his overreactive nature. Also, have you ever noticed how men over-call the number of inches something is? Like snow or… other stuff? That’s a topic for another day.) I’d better cancel all my plans and hunker down to wait for the generator company to make an emergency service call. Now. Today. Before it’s too late.

Come on. Red wine keeps. Is it really an emergency if the power goes out?

Hello, crazy #4.Boys2Men

And finally, the chaos in my own mind, whirling and swirling about what needs to get done today, what can’t possibly get done today, and how much Advil it’s going to take to get me through the day. And, course, what color eye shadow I am going to wear. Priorities, people.

So now you see why I always try to get up before everyone else. A mother’s work is never done, but at least she can fend off the crazy a little better when fortified by a cup of tea and a few minutes of pre-dawn silence. Here’s to 5:30 a.m. May it arrive free of wet beds and bad dreams. Those are for 6:10 a.m.

xo

Model Behavior

January 26, 2013 at 7:58 am | Posted in Kids | 10 Comments
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“Children with Asperger’s Syndrome need very clear and concise social guidelines,” said Brady’s wonderful and well-meaning therapist. “Social norms and behaviors are like a foreign language to them. They need to be taught very specifically how to handle social situations. Brady will mirror your behaviors and reactions to the world at large. YOU are his best and more important role model.”

Oh great.

Maybe that’s why my kid can swear like a truck driver. (But honestly, why give truck drivers the bad rap? The expression should be “swear-like-a-Catholic-school-raised-middle-aged-marketing-professional-turned-housewife” because really, I am amazing at it.)
Monty

Or maybe that’s why he falls apart at the slightest frustration. Demands perfection from himself. Lies in bed and worries at night. Falls in love with every animal he meets and then frets about them for the rest of his life.

But I can’t say I’ve ever thrown myself on the floor when a stranger in a store smiled at me. Or shouted “Nipples!!” when someone asked me how I am today. Those are pure Brady.

This behavior modeling thing is a lot of pressure to put on a mother who already puts a lot of pressure on herself. I’m back to that perfection thing again: If I’m not a perfect mother, how can I raise incredible kids? Notice I didn’t say “perfect” kids. I don’t need my kids to be perfect, just me. Something about having no regrets. How will I live with myself if they don’t turn out all right?

And what is the ‘perfect’ behavior to model for your kids anyway? Is it ok to show them your weaker side? Like that you get completely pissed off, too, when you can’t get that last drop of (organic) ketchup out of the squeeze bottle? (You paid about $4 more for it, you damn well better get to enjoy it on your locally-grown bison burger. Or your Ballpark Frank. Whatever gets you through the meal.) Is it a bad thing for them to see that you lose your patience while driving and drop a few choice words?

(Recent conversation in the car:
Brady: “Cut it out, you jerk-off!”
Me: “Jerk-off?? Where did you hear that?”
Brady: “You say it, Mom, when you’re mad at some idiot in front of you who’s not going fast enough.”
Me: “Oh… uh… Well, don’t say it, it’s not nice.”
Better than some of the other words I’ve chosen in the past, I guess.)

What about when I’m tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, exhausted? How about when I’m Cute Bradyhormonal? Are you trying to tell me that my kid’s going to grow up to be a chocolate-gobbling, wine-swilling, weep-at-Hallmark-commercials wussy boy? Or what?

This parenting stuff is hard, and it’s totally compounded by having a child you needs a lot more from you than your average kid. And don’t most parents hand down a whole heap of crazy to their kids anyway? Haven’t we seen some of the best and brightest come from really screwed up homes? And vice versa – nuts from seemingly perfect backgrounds? I know we’re dealing with something different when it comes to Asperger’s because these beautiful children are so very literal and need such clear and complete guidance. But really, how badly can I mess it up? (Ok, probably pretty badly if I’m not careful. Maybe Mommy needs a little more herbal tea…)

So I ask you, how did your parents contribute to your complete and total insanity? And what are you doing to wreck your kids’ lives? Also, if it takes a village to raise a child, can I send Brady over to your house when he’s really driving me nuts? Then you can explain why it’s not ok to leap into the chair of an unsuspecting guest, rake your fingers through her long dark hair, and throw your blanket over her head in a crazed giggling fit. I’m sure you can handle it.

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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