Monday, May 14, 2012

Foot races and acceptance

My heart sank.

Danny was insisting that I let him play outside, but that was about the last thing I felt like doing at the moment.  We were visiting my mom, and her next door neighbors were having a party.  There was a gaggle of kids in the front yard playing with sidewalk chalk and laughing.

I just didn't want to face this group of kids who were strangers to us.  I didn't want to watch them as they sized up Danny, deciding that he was way too weird to play with.  I couldn't stomach watching them laugh at him or roll their eyes at him.  More than anything, I wanted to convince Danny and Charlotte to go back in the house.  I just wasn't up for refereeing the kids and running interference for Danny.

Danny was chomping at the bit  to get outside and play, and he couldn't figure out why I was stopping him.  Of course, I couldn't tell him that my fear was he'd be rejected by these kids.  Danny loves other kids, but often has difficulty interacting with them.  He doesn't understand many of the playground's inherent social rules, and because of that kids sometimes think he's weird.  He's been called all kinds of names, even the dreaded R-word.

I'm over at Hopeful Parents today.  Click here to read more....

Friday, May 4, 2012


Wow, how I love Fridays!  And the picture for this week's Ryan Gosling Special Needs meme is perfect.  I have been working pretty hard to prepare for summer: I set up a schedule and a system that I think will help Danny.  He does so much better with some structure, and he needs some limits to how much computer time he'll get.  He may not be happy with all the aspects of my summer plan, but in the long run, I think he'll thrive.  And I'm hoping that means this summer will go much better than next.  

One thing for sure: we are buying a family pass to our local pool.  It's the one place I can take the kids where they never fight.  I love that pool even more than I love Ryan.

Check out all the other bloggers who are participating in Special Needs Ryan Gosling at Adventures in Extreme Parenthood!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Slammed Doors

When Charlotte gets really angry with me, she has been known to slam her bedroom door in defiance.  Each time this happens, I cringe, but it's not for the reason you may think.  I'm not so worried about the door frame, and the noise isn't really what gets to me.  It's actually the elicited memories that give me pause.

You see, as a kid, I was a big door slammer.  Whenever I was angry, I would stomp into my room and slam the door behind me.

This wasn't merely teenage angst, though.  It was so much more than hormones.  In fact, door slamming  was my one and only show of power during a time when I felt totally and completely powerless and invisible at home.

This habit of mine enraged my father.  And that was partly the point. I was normally compliant and obedient,  but I persisted in slamming my door when seriously angry because I felt like it was the only thing I could do.

As much as I love my dad, he never listened to me.  More than that, he often mocked my feelings, calling me a "baby" on a regular basis.  He even encouraged my siblings to join in.  When I get angry, I often get emotional, and as soon as that would happen, my father would jeer at me and refuse to listen to what I was saying.

In my father's defense, I now realize he likely has un-diagnosed Asperger's Syndrome, which could explain why my emotional displays were so incredibly infuriating and uncomfortable for him.

Still, that doesn't undo the damage that he inflicted by refusing to ever validate, or even listen to and respect, my feelings. It is no wonder that I believed that my emotional displays were evidence of my inherent weakness.  After all, no one ever told me it was okay to cry when sad.  No one ever took the time to listen to why I was angry.  No one gave me permission to feel.  Instead, I was repeatedly labeled "too sensitive" or "a baby" or "a cry baby."

So, I did the only thing that would elicit a different response.  I slammed my door.  It was my one act of power.  The one way to be heard.

Sure, it pissed my father off mightily, but that felt good.  I never felt like a baby when I made my dad mad; I felt powerful.

Though I am now 40, my dad still makes fun of me and my adolescent door slamming.  He predicts that my kids will follow in my footsteps, and he assumes it will enrage me, as it did him.

I haven't told him about Charlotte's new habit; his smug answer would just be too much for me to handle.  Plus he wouldn't believe me if I told him that the door slamming doesn't really bother me all that much. Instead of getting angry, it makes me look at my interaction with Charlotte.  Is she just angry because I disciplined her or does she feel like no one is listening to her?

When I hear that echoing slam, I remember that I want my kids to know I hear them, that I value their feelings and opinions.  We may not agree, and I won't always be able to make them happy, but I can listen.  I can validate.

And I will never call them a "baby," because I don't want my kids to think that emotions are a sign of weakness.

"I have this theory that if we're told we're bad,
then that's the only idea we'll ever have"


For more posts on the topic of "words" please visit the Spin Cycle at Second Blooming!

Second Blooming

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

That kind of mom

A Facebook friend recently posted the following: "I can't wait for summer vacation.  I'm just one of those moms who really enjoys spending time with her kids and having them home.  I just love it."

For some reason, this post has stuck with me, niggling at my subconscious, making me wonder what type of mom am I, exactly?  I can't help comparing my attitude to hers, even though her kids are much older than mine, and none of them have SPD or autism. (And she really IS a mom who adores her kids and enjoys spending time with them.  She wasn't intending her post to cause anyone to criticize themselves, truly!)

I'm the kind of mom who has allowed her toddler to wear his swimming trunks everywhere for the last 2 weeks.  And it's not because I'm all into self-expression or whatever.  My ears just cannot handle the screaming.

I'm also the kind of mom, who not 2 seconds ago, allowed her toddler to eat chocolate chips so he would just give me a bloody minute to finish blogging.

And I'm the kind of mom who is alternately thrilled and terrified at the prospect of 3 whole months with all three of my kids at home.

There are exactly two weeks until summer vacation, and I have been looking forward to May 15th with equal parts relief and trepidation.  The main reason I am counting down the days isn't as much about family fun as it is about fewer struggles. The idea of 90-some odd days of no homework fights is exhilarating.  Add to that the prospect of no IEP meetings, no parent-teacher conferences, and no high intensity, early morning searches for shoes when we are already late for school, and I could weep with relief.

And then, there's the part of me who is nervous about all the coming family togetherness. I'm the kind of mom who actually relishes peace and quiet once in a while, and though I have my toddler at home with me during the school year, we do actually have peaceful moments once in a while.  They are rare, but still happen with much more frequency than when all three of my feral monkeys are home.  For some reason, adding my two oldest kids to the mix amplifies the noise level by 1000%.

Also, I'm the kind of mom who cringes at the thought of having to provide three square meals for each of my kids every. single. day.  No school lunch to give me a break.  My kids and their supreme pickiness makes meal time tantamount to warfare for me.  The prospect makes me stabby.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I am excited to spend more time with my kids; we have all kinds of adventures planned--trips to the local beach, play dates with friends, and long bike rides, along with lots of surreptitious learning that I am sneaking in.  (Don't tell Danny that the reason I am so willing to go along with his lemonade stand scheme is so I can get him to practice counting money without screaming at me.)

I have been planning our summer schedule for months. Last summer didn't go well at all, and I am trying to provide enough structure for Danny so that we have fewer struggles and enough flexibility so the kids have a break.

We have a big board with our picture schedule posted in Danny's room. I have a system all planned out.  One that is fool-proof.

Despite all that, I know that our system will likely break down in less than a week of summer break.  Because, let's face it, nothing is full-proof when you add autism to the mix.

As much as I envision sunny days filled with laughter, learning and cooperation, I'm realistic enough to admit that my summer break never even remotely resembles those glorious, craft-filled spreads in Family Fun magazine.  There are always glitches.  Always.

I think it's safe to say that my FB friend is in a totally different mothering league than I.

And I'm okay with that, because despite all the glitches, the occasional bickering, and the sensory issues, we do manage to have all kinds of fun.  Often of the messy variety:

So, maybe I'm not too bad of a mom, after all.