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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.

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Dear People of the Internet Who Discuss Politics

Dear People of the Internet who discuss politics,

First, let me say I congratulate you on caring about something other than The Bachelor or football. (I know those things are super imperative too!) Really, isn’t it great we live in a world where we can openly discuss our political ideals with one another? And disagree yet still call one another friend! It’s amazing. (This last sentence might have a tinge of sarcasm, but I haven’t decided yet.)

Let’s get to my main point of writing to you today. Please for the love of all things Holy, quit adding the suffix “tard” to any and everything you disagree with. This is neither original nor clever. For the first time today, I saw someone describe Bernie Sandars as “autistic.” This wasn’t meant as a compliment. Oh no. It was a slur.

While I have you. Let’s quit discussing our presidential hopefuls based on looks. Based on a group of lifelong politicians and yahoos (both sides), there is plenty of material here without going the tired, boring route of bashing someone based on looks.

I don’t care what your political leanings are. Well, I mean I care. I just don’t care-care, you know? I have friends and family who are so conservative, they make the most conservative conservatives look like Bernie Sandars. On the flip, I have friends and family who are so ultra liberal, they make Bernie Sandars look like Ronald Ragan. I’m all for informing yourselves. Truly. But let’s stop repeating the same tired drivel. 

When you’ve thought up something clever and witty for yourself and can speak (or type) like a civilized human being, you may join the rest of us at the grown-up table. 

Thanks Bunches,

Kristi

  

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Home.

I’m sure y’all have seen these tshirts. I am in love with them. But that’s not really the point of this blog post, I promise. Also, I don’t wear an xs in anything…more like excess.  
I’ll get to my point. I’m a child of divorce. When I was sixteen, my parents decided to end their marriage; this was not a decision that was made lightly. Looking back with my almost forty year old eyes, that are surely destined for bifocals this year, I can understand why. The one lasting reprocussion is my sense of home.  Both of my parents are remarried to lovely spouses. My dad and step-mom have a beautiful home that I love to visit, but it is not mine. My mom has been married for eleven years and I’ve never been to her house. Because, Huston. I have a hometown (ish) but there is nothing left there for me. My in-laws have a home that comes pretty close to feeling like home for me; surely, it is what my husband still yearns for when he feels homesick. I have a home I share with my husband and sons; it is home, most of the time. It will hopefully, when my children are grown, be home for them.

Home for me, especially around the holidays, is a one story brick ranch style house near the lake. Once upon a time there was a tree house in the backyard that my cousin and I “helped” my grandfather build. The day it was finished, my grandfather, Stocky, fried shrimp and we got to eat at the just-right height counter style table. I remember how scared I was climbing the ladder that seemed impossibly high.

Home, for me, has a fireplace thats hearth runs the length of the living room; I cracked my head on the bricks because I got too excited playing hi-ho cherry-o, my grandfather lifting me, carrying me to the queen size bed two adults and two children old enough to sleep alone would share.

Home, for me, has a galley kitchen where my grandfather would let us help bake cakes and my grandmother would fuss that raw cake batter would make us sick; he still snuck us spoonfuls.

Home, for me, is where I spent weeks of summer vacation. My grandmother working, taking me to day camp, always making the best sandwiches. It is also where I lived my freshman year of college and where I spent some time during dark days, being restored by the only two I believed in for a time.

Home, for me, is where I lost the James Avery puffy heart dangle ring my eleven year old boyfriend now husband gave me. It is where years later, I found the same ring. Home is where I spent every holiday as a child, where my cousin and I would play behind the Christmas tree and knock it down at least once a year.

Home, for me, is a big dining table where we eat supper, a bar where we snack and drink coffee, a house that no matter how many times it is painted and remodeled, still smells like home.

Home, for me, is knowing that my Teda is there, waiting patient and kind, and I can’t get there soon enough.img_1937

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My Kids Will Never

Before I had children, I used to play this game where I silently (or not) judged other people’s parenting skills. I would say to myself, my kids will never. Little did I know…here’s a list of five ways I was a big fat liar pants.

1.) My kids will never whine at the store.   This one is fresh in my memory because we went as a family to Costco yesterday. On a Saturday. Two weeks before Christmas. Approximately 1/2 way through getting our goods, it became to much to ask of my eleven and nine year old sons to walk and act like humans. The whining. Oh the whining. If Costco wasn’t an hour from our house and I didn’t really need those giant bags of Ruta Maya organic coffee and the huge canister of Starbucks hot chocolate, I would have totally parked the cart and left the store when the oldest loudly proclaimed he felt himself “coming down with something horrible like strep or the flu.” Side note, all symptoms resolved once in the car.

2.) My kids will NEVER have video games. I really and truly believed this one. I made it my whole life with out an Atari or Nintendo. I didn’t want video games. One year big was due for surgery right at Christmas and guess what Santa brought. A PlayStation. Now I spend  3/4 of my parenting time in negotiations about electronic devices. 

3.) My kids will never run around all day in their underwear. I laugh and laugh and laugh at this one. I had visions of my future children with their combed and styled hair, dressed all trendy. Fact is, first thing they do when they come in is strip. Even when it’s cold. I’m lucky to get a brush through their hair on school days and with the WeeOne, all that does is make his hair angry. As far as being “trendy” yeah. If I let them pick out their clothes, they would have that hobo-hippie-what’s happening here vibe. 

4.) My children will never go without a bath. Speaking of hobos: there are times, especially in the summer when the pool is functional, that I honestly can’t remember when they last washed themselves. When they were little bath time was part of our routine, they would play in the tub for endless amounts of time. Now, when someone gets funky, I know I’ve forgotten to send them in for too many days.

5.) My kids will never have French fries for dinner or cookies for breakfast. Ever. Uhm, twelve years ago Kristi, yea they will. And on those days you’ll think to yourself, “At least they ate something. You’re totally winning this.”

  

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I have a secret for you…

Shhh. Don’t tell a soul. I know I look like I’ve got it all together over here: my perfectly plucked eyebrows, my luxurious every-hair-in-it’s-place mane, my nutritious meal rotation. (Stop laughing.) But, I’m fairly certain that 99 percent of the time I’m doing this all wrong.

Big has a meltdown at school: do I 

  • A.) scold him
  • B.) send an email to the teacher explaining the problem in depth with solutions and a reference to his IEP
  • C.) talk to his school psych
  • D.) all of the above

D. The answer is definitely d. I’m not sure what to do so I do all the things. Probably, I should let him work it out on his own, but that wasn’t on the multiple choice test.

The Wee One is defiant at mealtime: do I: 

  • A.) ignore the behavior (because that’s what the therapist taught us)
  • B.) engage the child because he’s just like me and I can’t seem to resist
  • C.) exhibit the patience of Job and sweetly work through the problem
  • D.) let his father deal

B. Totally b. He’s me. But with a penis. And a ginormous head. I’m sorry, husband. This must be what it’s like to deal with me once I’ve committed to something even when I’m wrong.

Every time I take my children to the grocery store do I 

  • A.) regret the decision immediately
  • B.) proceed to find everything on my list plus healthy, fun Pinterest worthy snacks
  • C.) look like a mad woman saying things like “quit licking the conveyor belt. Why would you lick that?!”
  • D.) Both A. And C.

The answer is D for duh. I know this yet I do this to myself all the time.

I sometimes have a vision, a sitcom version of who I want to be as a mom. Maybe like Angela from Who’s the Boss or Elyse from Family Ties. You know, the mom who kind of had it together, never yelling, making the right choice 85 percent of the time and when she didn’t, it could be resolved in 25 minutes. Reality has me more as a Roseanne but with a better looking husband. 

Everyday, I make about 432 wrong choices. Some big. Some small. The interwebs would have me believe that I’m supposed to be perfect, but I’m not. I have a secret for you. Neither are you. Neither were your parents or their parents or the parents way back at the beginning of time. We’re all just going around making the best out of our wrong choices and still winding up doing pretty darn good enough.

My kids are pretty happy, but let’s face it the interwebs lie about this too. They make it look like everyone is always on a family photo shoot: laughing and looking perfect, but sometimes it’s stay in your underwear and eat cereal for supper and be happy that no one got kicked out of school this week. And if we keep our kids happy all the time, what does this do? They certainly don’t learn how to cope.

Every night, I think, tomorrow I’ll make only 300 wrong choices instead of 432. Instead, I herby give you permission to be imperfect, to not listen to the lies of Pinterest, family photo shoots and the sitcom in your head. To be good enough.