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Friday, August 31, 2012

Making A Conscious Effort Not To Put My Daughter Second

I have always said that as hard as it is being an Autism Mom, it's got to be harder being an autism sibling. Anna bears this all with a lot of grace, and I do my best to carve out time for just the two of us wherever I can and recognize her accomplishments (which are numerous, believe me) wherever and whenever I can.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

When Your Kid Pretends To Be Smoking, I Think It Should Bother You A Little. Or A Lot.

As a single Mom, I don't get a lot of time for television. I will confess to a serious obsession with Lifetime's Dance Moms, which has become a bonding experience with me and my pre-teen daughter. We both have our favorites and root for them wildly (go Nia!).

My daughter has a favorite show on TLC that I just can't share her excitement for, though. She loves "Toddler & Tiaras". I'll catch a snippet every so often as I'm cleaning up or walking by with a load of laundry, but I can't laugh so much at the antics of these kids and their mothers (oh, especially their mothers) the way that she can. I think pageants can probably be fun, if they're done for fun. The problem with these moms is, most of them aren't there for fun. They want to win - through their daughters, of course - and they'll do whatever it takes, whether that's feeding them pixie sticks and Mountain Dew, dressing them like a streetwalker, or letting them pretend to smoke a cigarette on stage.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm Writing A Want Ad For What I Really Need

Monday, August 27, 2012

All My Hopes Are Riding On A Big Yellow Bus

They got aboard the school bus this morning.

With a new backpack for him, and a zippered binder for her because middle school kids wouldn't be caught dead with a backpack, or so I'm told.

Once, I laid her clothes out with care, picking just the right outfit for today. Now she does this, and it takes several hours and changes of clothes to get it just right. When she climbed aboard the bus to kindergarten all those years ago, I dressed her in an adorable matching pink top and skirt with darker pink hearts in a harlequin pattern. She would be utterly humiliated by the wearing of something like that now.

And once, I sat in a room with a table full of therapists who all told me that it might be possible for my son to mainstream into kindergarten with the rest of his friends from the neighborhood. I was elated, but terrified. He'd been insulated in his own special learning bubble at the Intermediate Unit. Public school with kids who don't think like he does or respond like he does seemed like a recipe for disaster somehow.

Friday, August 24, 2012

This Video Made Me Happy, Until It Made Me Sad

This is an awesome video about an amazing guy with autism and his equally terrific aide. Meet Anthony, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dear Teacher: Please Don't Fall In Love With My Kid (But Of Course, I Want You To Fall In Love With My Kid)

Tonight was "Back To School" night at the elementary school, where David will be very shortly starting third grade. His teacher is sort-of new, having served as a long-term substitute for years there covering various maternity leaves before being hired on permanently. She was everything I like in a teacher: warm, funny, enthusiastic. She was lovely.

And she's already crazy in love with my son.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dreaded "Someday" Conversation I Finally Had With My Daughter

It was our last day of vacation, and the kids and I were walking back from an excellent pancake breakfast at a diner down the road from the beach house we were staying at. David was walking a bit ahead, and doing one of his favorite things: looking in the windows of parked cars. It mortifies Anna, and I've tried to discourage it myself because it's only going to get him in trouble someday.

The problem is that he has a serious fascination with gearshifts. Floor mounted, steering wheel mounted, he doesn't care. He loves them all and talks about them endlessly. I joked to Anna, as we walked along, that if I could just get him a job testing gearshifts someday, he'd be set for life.

"What do you think he'll be doing, when he's older? Really?" She asked.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Balancing Act: When Do The Scales Tilt To Preferential Treatment?

Today was our last day of beach vacation, and everything was going great. I had packed everything up, cleaned up our rented house, and we were moments away from heading back to the water for a final day in the sun and the waves.

David was especially excited. Just yesterday, he finally - finally! - pushed past the breakers by the shore, out to the deeper and somewhat calmer water and swam and swam and swam, riding the swells and diving under the occasional larger waves when they came. He was so proud of himself, and I was, too. We were high-fiving and he was jumping and diving like a fish. It was wonderful. He loves to swim, but he's always been to afraid of the waves to do much more than splash by the shore. It was a real milestone moment.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sometimes, Single Motherhood Is Just A Giant Pain In The Arse

Most of the time, I'm handling the single mother thing OK. Honestly, it's been easier in some ways. The kids and I have found our own groove about things like free time and recreational activities, and the fact that they're with their Dad every other weekend gives me plenty of free time to do stuff that they would normally get in the way of - cleaning, writing, seeing a movie I want to see - stuff like that.

Yesterday, though, I was missing my husband. A LOT.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Evening With The Autism Mom's Brain

OK, so here we are at the boardwalk. Get out of the car, David.

David! No! Don't throw the door open so wide! Crap. Did he hit that other car? He hit it, I know he did.

Whew. It's OK.

David, remember I told you we open carefully? Care-ful-ly. Carefully, David, OK? OK. Now let's walk you guys!

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's Not Quite Toes In The Sand, But It'll Do

I have a vacation tradition that began the year my husband walked out the door. We didn't have much money that year, but we did have a relative who lived half an hour from the beach who offered us a king-sized bed to crash in for a long weekend.

It was an emotional weekend to be sure - the first "vacation" without Daddy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Son Will NOT Be "One Of Those Kids"

I was driving to work today, thinking about how fast this summer has flown by. Today is the kids' last day of summer camp, and we leave for vacation tomorrow. After a week with me and a week with their Dad, they're back to school. Where the heck did the summer go?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Life Can Get A Little Frustrating When They Can't Tell You Why

I got back from the BlogHer conference late Saturday night, loaded down with two huge bags of swag given out by the wonderful BlogHer sponsors. Each bag weighed more than my children, who, coincidentally got most of the stuff.

Anna got press on fingernails and all kinds of lotions and body wash products. David's bag was a bit different since (a) he's a boy and  (b) he's David. You'd be amazed how exciting personal fans and shower caps can be to a kid, especially one with autism. The fan was especially cool, since it had a flashlight on it. He didn't care that it said "Poise" on the side and was used to advertise incontinence pads. It was a space age gun that he flew into battle with as a superhero, a special tool that opened locked doors, a healing ray that would cure you if the bad guys got you. I watched him play and play and play with it for a good long while.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Birds Of A Feather Know What The Flock We're Talking About

I walked into the big meeting room for breakfast, just looking for an open seat to set my why-is-this-so-heavy bag down before I grabbed a bagel. I noticed the placards on the tables right away.

This was the BlogHer '12 Birds of a Feather breakfast. There were lots of pre-printed placard cards announcing tables for mid-life bloggers, mommy bloggers, atheist bloggers, military wife bloggers, and dozens of others. I looked around for my niche and didn't exactly see it. I'm a mid-life Mom blogger definitely, but neither table was really what I wanted to find.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'm A Blogger. It's What I Do.

I'm composing this as I'm on my way to BlogHer ' 12. Can I tell you what a great feeling this is?

For years I journaled and wrote and essayed and memoired. In the early days it was pen and paper and just for me and the occasional select few I allowed to read my meanderings. Then one day, I discovered this thing called an internet and from there I began an online journal. That branched into a blog, which lead to another blog, which led to a real, bona-fide paid blogging job, which led to me finally, FINALLY thinking of myself as a writer.

Sort of.