Monday, November 30, 2015

I just want them to know that they didn't break me.

If you are a woman of a certain age, the title of the post should sound familiar to you. Pretty in Pink anyone?

 Yes, come on. You know the scene.  Andy decides to go to prom anyway even though Blane backed out.  She didn't want that rich boy group thinking they got one over on her.  Andy was smart. She knew as a high school senior that lot had peaked.  She was just getting started.  Hell, her spunk even inspired her male BFF Ducky to show up so she wouldn't have to walk in alone.  I'm sure being hopelessly in puppy love crush with her helped. Even still, he dusted off his ugly white shoes and got his butt there to walk with her hand in hand.   Where she promptly dumped him to go make out with Blane in the parking lot.  (Okay, maybe she wasn't too smart.  I still maintain she should have picked Ducky.  You know Blane would just forget about her once he went to college but I digress.)

This is my mantra when it comes to dealing with folks that don't get autism.  If you are new to all things autism and #TeamQuirky, I swear you will get to this point too.  Seriously, it's an easy attitude to have because you simply will not give a rat's ass anymore what anyone thinks.

Sure, you will still have moments.  Just last night I found myself taking a big old deep breath and turning myself "On" even though I felt quite "Off" as I walked into a diner with my son for our usual Sunday night early bird dinner.  I knew there would be looks and now and then I have even heard comments about the whirling dervish that comes with me to dine.  However, I'm not going to stop taking him places.  I am going to maybe adapt and go about things a bit differently than say the average mom to a typical 11 year old.  (Like early bird dinners because a less busy restaurant helps.) Sticking to it is paying off.  We are loyal customers.  The staff has grown to love the Kiddo.  They all know his name and his usual.  I like to think by doing this we are like a mobile autism awareness and education service.   They get to know more about autism because they've gotten to know more about the Kiddo.

If I act like we are not worthy of being some place, my Kiddo is going to pick up on that anxiety.  He can sniff that stuff out.  This does not mean I go in unprepared and I'm not on alert. I'm not going to feel like I can't be somewhere with my Kiddo.  Nope. Not gonna happen.

My Kiddo is a human.  He's got as much right to be anywhere I damn well please want to take him too.  Even when it would be so much easier to just stay home, I won't. We won't.  No one is always perfect all the time out in public.  NO ONE.  We've all had less than stellar moments.  It's okay.

If your kid is younger than mine, I get it. Believe me. I do. More than you know.   I can't say it gets better.  I can say you will not only just used to it, it simply won't be a blip on your radar anymore. There is just so much stuff to deal with on a day to day, why waste the time to care what they think? Especially if they are strangers.  Yes, I do understand that sometimes some of this bullshit comes from folks we know. Making it extra sucktastic.  Even still, screw 'em.   Don't let their funk bring you down.  It's not worth it.  

I find showing indifference to their attitude rather than screaming rage or weeping tears is a highly effective means to combat the judgement.  I believe Coco Chanel said it best with  I don't care what you think about me. I don't think about you at all."  BOOM! Mic drop. 

So dry those tears newbie parents.  Don't let anyone think that they can break you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The story behind the picture.

You know how Facebook does this thing now called "On This Day" and it's a bunch of highlights of stuff you have posted in the past on that date?  I get a big kick out of it.  (Well, maybe not the day it remembered that my dog had died.  Gee, thanks Facebook for that special memory!) I love seeing pictures from years ago of the Kiddo when he was little and had big squishy cheeks that I just want to reach into my phone and take a bite of them.

Today's shot is one of him when he was 6.  He was in CARS pajamas and laying under the Christmas tree.  More specifically, laying under the tree skirt. Yep, he used to love to snuggle up under the cheepo fake snow cottony fabric like it was a blanket and just stare up at the tree.  Side note, kind of odd we try to pretend the tree is surrounded by some swatch of snow.  Normally snow in the house would be a bad sign but then again, how often do pine trees sprout up in living rooms?

Anywho, it was one of the many nights that he was doing this and I just had to take some pictures to upload to Facebook because it was so freaking adorable I almost couldn't stand it.  I'm all "Look at him!" to my husband, wanting to share sweet moment with him.  Daddy Fry as I recall, wasn't amused.  In fact, he was kind of annoyed.  He was concerned that the Kiddo was going to mess up the tree.

Now practically speaking, he was probably right. (Hey Babe!  Look at that.  You have me admitting you were right in print. You best print this blog post up and frame it!) The Kiddo could of knocked off some ornaments or possibly the tree itself.  He could have been hurt or the dog too.

But all I saw was my Kiddo being his #TeamQuirky self.  I love how his brain works and this was one of those very cool moments where you see an example of how he plays.  Is it typical? Nope.  Is it interesting? Hell yeah! Not to mention, kind of genius.  Who doesn't love staring at a big lit up Christmas tree? I still do.  The fact that he was like "Oh, I'm a tad chilly. I'll just use this cloth here to cuddle up." was pretty brilliant.

At that moment, that wasn't the battle I was going to fight.  So I ignored my husband as I am apt to do and took a billion pictures. On my 97 shot, I kind of got the Kiddo to sort of look at the camera.  Success!

But it's interesting to me now when I see the cute shot that there was more to the story than what appears.  I know that's probably the case for a lot of you who read this too. Even if your kids are not autistic or special needs.  There's always more to that picture.

So just try to remember that the next time you find yourself in a funk about not getting the perfect shot and seeing someone else's and lamenting "Why can't that be us?".  You don't know what went into that.  You don't know if the parents are annoyed at each other or if a meltdown happened 20 minutes later or whatever.

Dammit, tonight I am going to lay under the tree and see if the Kiddo does it with me.  ;-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

If I could just get into that brain of his for an hour...

I walked into my bathroom this morning after the Kiddo had used it. On a good day, it's a tad disheveled.  Today?  We have achieved brand new levels of Frat House realness.  Yeah, my Kiddo is fully independent enough to know when and where to go to the bathroom.  Getting it into the toilet though? Not so much so.

And I'm not talking the usual sprinkle or puddle. Not to be gross here but you're most likely an autism parent reading this.  So this kind of TMI, you should be able to handle.  If not, kick rocks.  Anyway, this was like the Kiddo decided to recreate the port a potties at the '92 Lallapalooza that scared me for life.  I had a complete flashback and I swear I could hear Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers banging on his bass in the background.

It. Was. Bad.

It was also ALL OVER.  The floor. The toilet.  The bath mat and of course, my socks.  It seemed that Kiddo hadn't even bothered to aim at all.  Like an out of control garden hose at full blast.  (Please, spare me all the suggestions of stickers for the bowl or throwing Cheerios in the bowl for him to aim at.  Been there. Done that.  Still got peed on.)

And I am beyond pissed! (Pardon the pun.) This wasn't an accident.  This was pure "Oh I know I can't pee in my pants.  So I'll just go into this peeing room and pee.  Over everything.  Then I will leave the peeing room and go about my business."

Make him clean it up you say?  Yep, I've tried that. You see, the Kiddo in this situation is the giver of zero fucks.  Cause I've done that plenty of times over with him.  I realized pretty quickly that if he had to go in and pee again, he wouldn't give a monkey's butt if the room was covered in his piss or anyone Else's for the matter.  It was also five minutes before he had to get on the bus.  I knew making him clean it at that moment wouldn't be done quickly or even neatly.  Most likely, I would just be creating a situation where I would have to clean him as well.  I opted for teaching that lesson AGAIN another day.

As I'm cleaning the crime scene later I find myself grumbling "Why does he do these things?  How does he not even care?  I just want to know. I just want to be in his brain for an hour and see things how he sees them!"

I know my Kiddo can, for lack of better words, care about people, things, himself etc.  It's just different how he does it or when and that's so freaking hard to accept at times.  Considering yesterday I spent an hour with his teacher going over the progress he has made lately, I find myself still back at square one with all the things I still have to teach him.

Oh well.  Time to go take a Silkwood shower and scrub myself clean.  At least I know the bathroom is spotless.

For now. ;-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Once more, with feeling.

"Oh my gosh! He's such a chatterbox."  says the waitress.

I just smile and agree.  At this moment I am tired.  I just want to eat my meal as quick as I can because I know the window of acceptable in public behavior is closing.  He's on his last five fries.  He's getting stimmy and loud. We need to wrap this up.

I get it.  She or anybody sees a happy and cheerful Kiddo talking up a storm.  Who couldn't love that?  But that ten second sound bite doesn't paint the whole picture.   If they stick around longer, they usually start to see what I mean.  The flow of conversation is far from traditional and I once again find myself being an Kiddonese to English interpreter to any of them that try to engage with him.

"Oh my gosh!  He's so cheerful and he's got so much energy. How do you even keep up?" says the guy at the trampoline park.

I smile, agree and plop myself on a bench because unlike my Kiddo I am exhausted.  He's been running around like that since 5AM that morning.

"Yep. He's a real hit the ground running kind of kid." I reply.

Again, I will have this conversation where someone will marvel at the crazy and hyperactive amount of energy my son displays.  They will sound both impressed and slightly alarmed by it.  I'm no longer offended.   My kiddo can make the Tasmanian Devil look like Jeff Spicoli after a bong hit.  Folks just don't know what to say when they see him running at full speed.  Hell, I don't know what to say to it either.

Autism living is like someone hit the "repeat" button on the same song.  I find myself having the same conversations with and about my kiddo.  Sometimes I find myself lacking in delivery of these lines and I'm sure it can come across as rude or aloof.  I'm not.  I'm just tired.  I've just had these same chats with you, with him, with others, a million times over.

And you would think by now I would come up with a bevvy of lines to pick from when I find myself in one of these moments. A good actor should be able to improv, right?  More often than not I do because humor is usually how I get through it.  Even still, I have my days where I just show up and phone it in. "Yeah, he's a hyperactive bundle of energy that never stops talking. Yadda, yadda, yadda.  So do you have any coffee and can I sit down?"

No?  That performance didn't work for you did it? Once more, with feeling.  OK, from the top.

"Why yes.  He is just a chatty bunch of sunshine with a peppy go go go!"  How was that?  Better? ;-)

You don't know what else to say and neither do I. That's okay. It is what it is. Let's run it again from the top, shall we?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Meltdown Hangover

After an epic two and half hour meltdown last night of screaming, hitting, throwing things by the Kiddo I find myself wondering what about this is a gift when it comes to autism. 

Please tell me.  It's the morning after and I am still emotionally and physically hungover from it.   I always used to describe morning sickness while pregnant as the hangover you had no fun earning.  This too, feels like one.  Likewise, no fun was had earning it either.  

There's that fine line with the kiddo when a tantrum (a defined want) crosses over to meltdown mode and we crossed it last night.  Many times over.  Of course, it was at it's peak just when my husband was walking in the door after a long day of work.  Props to him for not turning around and walking right back out.  Babe, I will not blame you if that's what you do next time.  Just go get a hotel room for the night.  That's what I would do.  

And no amount of going over "What went wrong?" will wipe this feeling away.  It just has to run it's course and yeah, that blows.  This was one of those moments of the Kiddo indulging in one of his hobbies, making himself miserable.  You see once he goes down that road, he likes to relive and hash out EVERY WRONG THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO HIM.  It's peaches, I say.  Just a barrel of fun.  It's during this listing of the Greatest Hits of Meltdowns Past that he is both calmed by the listing of them but also recharging for the next screaming session.  

I find myself looking at the clock a lot during these.  Sometimes when he gets started I tell myself "OK, this will be over in an hour.  It will be.  You can handle this."  I have to schedule my feelings to an appropriate time to process them cause I sure can't do it when a garbage can is being kicked over or he's grabbing and yanking my arms.  How is it that I blinked and he went from being a baby to a moody tween but during the meltdown, time just stands freaking still? 

I went to bed last night feeling like I had just down twenty rounds with a boxer.  This morning I woke up just feeling heavy.  There's just no other words to describe it.  He's off school today and I have a whole lot of hours ahead of us to fill. He's as cheerful as can be and it's so hard for me to fully enjoy it.  I just want to scream at him "Why? We work so hard for you? What more can we do? Why is everything we do for you still wrong? It must be because this stuff still happens!" 

But I don't because obviously.

Here I am wondering where is the gift in all this?  I know he has them. I've seen them. I've shared them with you.  I'm listing them in my head but still I am struggling.  When anxiety and the inability to fully communicate with others leaves you crippled with meltdowns, where's the gift in that?  

Oh well, better start the day with him.  I know of no other way to start seeing the gifts of him than just moving forward.  I think we'll hit the diner so he can get some fries and Mama can get some coffee.  That's always helped the fun hangovers.  Maybe it will for the meltdown ones too.