Watching Him Sleep

Do you remember when you brought your babies home? And you were so in love, you would lay for hours next to them, their bassinet tucked as closely to your side of the bed as possible, and suddenly realize you weren’t sleeping even though you really should be. But you just couldn’t quit watching. Their little breaths so calming and soothing to your soul. And, it somehow felt like if you didn’t watch them during this magical time and you fell asleep, you’d wake up and none of it would be real. 

My boys are eleven and nine now. It’s pretty rare than anyone is sleeping with us unless they are sick. Or anxious. Or scared. And those times, while still precious to my mamas heart, end with the shoving back and forth across the bed and wondering how one so small can take up so much room and put off so much heat. A grownup always ends up on the couch and the child splayed across an entire king size bed. These moments are sweet and are fodder for parental bonding the next morning. “I know! How could his feet be in my kidneys while his legs were across your neck?”

But, now is the time of summer. The boys and I start to have sleep overs at PopPop and Nana’s house and the three of us climb into the queen size bed that still seems unfamiliar to them. It’s the time of summer, when I realize when they strip down to their boxers and athletic shorts how long they’ve gotten this year, how lean. Their tans from hours of playing outside and swimming are coming back. Their hair will soon be a half shade lighter from hours of swimming. They are already a half a year older.

They don’t need me for much these days. They can fix a rudimentary meal of cold cereal and chocolate milk, or a grilled cheese from the toaster. They play with each other, rely on each other more and more. Less on me for their every need. This is what we work toward as mamas. It’s silmultaneously exhilarating and excruciating. 

I don’t take photographs like I should. My husband tends to always have the camera, and I take selfies with the boys. I’m almost always tempted to delete them, but I don’t. Somedays, I sit down to work at the computer and am blindsided by the scrolling photo album of our life. Hubs and I being young, carefree and childless. Then, Baby One. Two years later Baby Two. Now? They are nine and a half and eleven and a half. They will be in fourth and sixth grades. It’s hitting me hard. That. Sixth Grade. My first born isn’t a baby anymore. His days of coming to my room are going to be fewer and fewer. 

So when they argued over who got to sleep next to me last night, I pretended to fuss at them and let Big win. My first born. He’s better to sleep next to, anyway. But I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t that his hand was pressed so firmly on mine, as if holding on. It wasn’t that his knee was creating a bruise, although it surely was. It was his breathing. His hair. His nose. His perfect face with its smattering of freckles across his nose. I don’t know if it was a streetlight or moonlight creating a soft glow over him. I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t close my eyes for fear that when I woke up, he would be grown. 


Ten on Tuesday, or How I’m Avoiding Writing

It’s been ages since I’ve sat down and written anything. I don’t mean anything of substance; I mean any. Thing. I’m not quite sure what my problem is. Is it that I don’t have anything to say? Is it that I have writers block? Is it that I’m lazy. Nah, that can’t be it. Here are ten ways I’m avoiding writing this summer.

1.) Building Fences.

They say good fences make good neighbors. Right now, these puppies are terrible neighbors. So, with the help of my father-in-law, hubs and I are constructing a new yard for these ardoreable creatures of destruction.

2.) Cleaning Cabinets One. At. A. Time.

Someone once lied to me and said something about organization making you feel better. I don’t know about that, but by the end of summer, when I open a cabinet, I won’t have to pray that an avalanche doesn’t occur.

3.) Deep Cleaning A Bathroom Where Little Boys Pee.

I must be really avoiding the computer right now. Because, let me tell you, boys are gross. I’m not exactly sure, but that might be a bit of urine on the ceiling.

4.) Cleaning Out The Husbands’ Closet.

Some may call me a clothes horse when they look in my closet with my 65 cardigans, tops I never wear and shoes and purses older than some of my coworkers. They may be correct. Yesterday, the top shelf fell in hubs’ closet. So, I’m cleaning it out. Holy moly, this dude has shirts from 1999. How do I know this? I bought him these shirts in 1999. He hadnt worn “dress shoes” since approximately that time as well, so why does he have four pair?!? See ya later Y2k.

5.) “Reading” My New Justin Cronin Novel. 

Mostly, I’m putting off really starting this novel because I’m not sure I’m ready for this trilogy to end. I read a chapter in between other distracting chores. It does look good sitting on my coffee table, though.

6.) Making Lists Of “Fun” Projects To Keep My Kids Off Electronics.

Otherwise known as wasting a crapton of time on Pinterest pinning things I will never-ever do in places I will never-ever go. This also includes pinning meals I will never EVER make. 

7.) Sorting Play Room Toys in to Piles.

Take to preschool. Donate. Take to camp. Shove into buckets and pretend it’s organized.

8.) Actively Avoiding All Internet Articles, Especially the Comments Section.

For the love of all things holy. When did it become a sport to shame parents, particularly mothers? People are mean, y’all. And then to celebrate when a “celebrity” has a fall from his or her pedestal? Even even said fall seems like a mental breakdown of epic proportions. I just can’t.

9.) Start A Non-Profit When I Know NOTHING About Buisness to Begin With.

This one is a biggie. It’s making avoiding writing about anything all that much easier because when I sit down to write, I can think of about 4,326 things to google and make lists to ask my partner about.

Drum roll, please…

10.) Enroll in On-Line College Courses.

Because having children, starting a non-profit and you know avoiding writing aren’t enough, I’ve decided to go back to school! I’m taking a statistics class starting next week; surely that will give me plenty of material to write on.

How are you avoiding doing what you need to do?


How do you teach your children…

Do you ask your children if they are living their life in a way that reflects who they want to be? Do you wait to ask when an incident involving them arises, or do you make it a routine? Do you ask when they bring up things that happen to other kids? Adolescence is hard on all kids. I remember. You couldn’t pay me to go back to sixth grade. No way. No how. But how do you talk to your children?

Do you talk to them about the importance of treating those more venerable with respect and care? Or do you rely on the fact that you are raising them right. That they “know better” ? Because, I guarantee you, even if they are raised right and know better, there will be a time. One moment, maybe on the playground or the locker room or the cafeteria. One moment, where they will have a choice.  Do I? Or don’t I?

Even “good kids” choose I do. They choose in that moment to target a kid because he or she won’t get it. That’s when it stops being “kids being kids.” And friends being silly stupid. This is bullying. Even good kids can be bullies. Is yours?

Anytime something comes up where my kids talk about things that happen on the playground or things they’ve heard. We take a moment to talk about who they want to be. Do they want to be the type of person who stands up and speaks out even if though it’s not going to make them popular? I hope that I’m raising my boys right. I hope that they are “good kids.”

But, what if they too choose in that moment to decide to do the wrong thing? What then? How will I handle it? My husband and I actually have a plan, believe it or not. This is something we talk about. Maybe we talk about it in anticipation, not of my kid being on the giving end, but the receiving. Maybe our plan is kind of like a little prayer. Maybe its a little whisper to the universe saying, please let other mamas and daddies know. Please let them know that my kid is not less than. Please let them know this so that if when my child is bullied they talk to their children about who they want to be. Please let them teach their children well. IMG_0056


Who You Want Him To Be

You want him to be autistic but just enough that he can sit still and listen like the rest of his peers. But, his listening will never look like everyone else’s. It will likely always include doodling, looking away and humming to himself. I know it looks like he’s not listening, but if you ask him to tell you what you’ve said, he can.

You want him to be autistic but just enough that he can still remember all the required tasks for the day, and you want him to be autistic but just enough that he can keep track of eleventy million pieces of paper. His recall will always be different than his typical peers. He will likely always need constant reminders of what to do when. I envision him at his desk when he’s come in from field work (he’s totally going to be a paleozoologist) with post it notes scattered everywhere reminding him where to be and when, and papers stacked to and fro looking like a fire hazard. I see a well trained assistant reminding him he’s late for a lecture…again and here are the papers you need.

You want him to be autistic but just enough that his stimms aren’t disruptive. On his own, he’s kind of figuring out which stimms are socially appropriate, and he holds in the ones that are not. We’ve not asked him to do this, that shows he’s aware more now than ever how he looks to others. But sometimes, a boy needs to spin, to line things up to make order out of a world that is so disorderly.

You want him to be autistic but just enough that he is still flexible in his ideas and thinking and interactions. You forget that the singular line of thinking for people like him is often what makes them successful later in life. How many great ideas and discoveries only happened because someone wouldn’t, no couldn’t, give in on their idea? 

You want him to be autistic but just enough that he doesn’t have meltdowns when his typical peers can handle the situation just fine. It’s hard to see him out of control, crying and hiding unable to process what you’re telling him. 

Ultimately, you want him to be autistic but just enough that he doesn’t make you question your ability as a parent, a teacher, a brother, a person of authority. But this isn’t reality. He is autistic, his brain is different, and that’s okay. 




Embarrassment is Growth?

Yesterday was a rough day. Big failed to turn in a homework assignment and had to sit at the “homework” table during lunch. The way this table works is the kids that file through the cafeteria at lunch see their names on the table and know they have to sit there and finish whatever missing assignments they have instead of sitting with friends and having recess. I don’t want to discuss the pros and cons of homework and the table at all; I don’t want to discuss taking away a kids’ recess or punishing for things that may or may not be out of his control. I don’t want to discuss his IEP and what should be added to prevent future incidences. Maybe I do, but not today.

Big doesn’t go into the cafeteria daily; he heads out to the patio to eat with a group of friends. Yes, you read that right. Friends! He didn’t see his name on the homework table list, so someone had to come out and get him. You can imagine how well that went. I don’t have to; I have spies everywhere. He had a major meltdown. Major. He has been on a really good streak this semester and has shown huge growth in his ability to deal and cope in a more age appropriate manner. Notice, here, I say more age appropriate. He’s still a kid on the spectrum, after all. He was a.) in the cafeteria 2.) missing his recess 3.) didn’t understand what assignment was missing f.) thought he was going to miss a weeks worth of recess, and finally he was “totally humiliated, mom.”

Let that sink in. My autistic child felt humiliation. Initially, I was frustrated, frazzled and fangry. Who in the world wants their kid to feel humiliated? No one, right? But, just now, I was on the phone with my mother-in-law debriefing her on the week since she last saw the boys (Sunday); I was telling her about Big’s day yesterday and I had what Oprah likes to call an a-ha! moment!  This is huge! This is growth! This is what we work so hard for. Stick with me; I see your confused looks. No, I don’t want my kid to feel embarrassed and humiliated. But he did. He felt it. Do you see what this means? The years of talking about how we make other people feel, the years of reminding him to think about the people around him in the moment and their experience in the world, and countless conversations about how we look to others…that talking, the work it’s working. As little as a year ago, he would have had a meltdown about missing recess and all the other reasons he listed, but he wouldn’t have felt embarrassed in the least. He wouldn’t have cared what other people thought of him. Yesterday, he cared. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want my fabulous boy walking through this life thinking solely about what people think of him. I want him to take that with a grain of salt, which I totally think he’ll get to the middle ground one day.

Yesterday, he felt.  Truly, felt.  Today, I see growth.