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Changing My Ways (of Thinking)

I think I’ve told you. We take a mindfulness and yoga class for kids on the spectrum and their families on Thursday nights. It’s this really cool thing we are doing with one of my favorite people in this world. Part of this process is me seeing what is and isn’t working in our daily lives.

A few weeks ago, I had a few moments with my friend where we were able to talk and sort and work things out; what’s that old saying?  “Two heads are better than one.” I had a realization, an “A-ha!” moment if you will. I often say things like “Big can’t” or “Big won’t” or “Big can’t be expected to…” (fill in the blank with some area that’s a challenge for Big.”  Well, I say “No. More.” No more limiting Big because of things that are hard or make him uncomfortable or make parenting him more work. No. More.

One of my most common “Big Can’t” phrases was “Big can’t go without his iPod.” As if some sort of cruel twist of fate, we had to ground the WeeOne from all electronics for two weeks.  It didn’t really seem fair to let Big spend those precious mind numbing moments in front of youtube and tell WeeOne “no soup for you!” So, we limited iPod to 15 minutes when Big got home from school to decompress. You would be amazed at what happened.  My kids remembered they are kids.  The remembered how to play with toys, create with clay, paint, tell stories, be engaged. Oh, the engagement. At times, it would certainly be easier to say, go do your iPod and give me some peace and quiet.  But, I’m resisting the urge.

Another area I tend to give Big the easy way out is school.  “Big can’t be expected to…write on topics he doesn’t prefer, take notes, eat in the cafeteria and on and on and on.”  But the truth is, every time I limit him by saying he can’t or he can’t be expected to do something, I deny him the chance to grow and change.  He CAN write on topics he doesn’t like; he might not WANT to, he might not LIKE it, it might not be PLEASANT for anyone involved, but he certainly CAN. In the school world, I’m changing my ways (of thinking) from he can’t to “it’s a challenge for him to” because, it IS a challenge for him to do these things.

Years ago, we were in therapy for food aversions. Big didn’t eat. For days and days and days at a time. I remember thinking, there is absolutely no way he will ever eat what we eat at dinner. Through persistence, and years of trying and trying again, this summer we’ve reached a major milestone. Big (and now the WeeOne) will sit down, and eat what I put in front of him without a meltdown, tears (mine) or it taking hours to eat. It feels like a miracle. But it’s not. It was a slow, painstaking process of changing my mindset and his from can’t to can and more importantly WILL.

The other day, I got a figurative punch in the stomach. One of Big’s go to people isn’t going to be available next year at school. I was so upset, crying, knot in my stomach and gave myself a migraine from the worry. My first thought was “Big can’t transition to this new school without this person.  There’s no way. He’s already apprehensive and full of anxiety and fear, there’s no way he can do this.” It’s such an easy thing to fall back into those patterns of excuses. We want to shield our children from the hurt and pain of the world as much as possible, but that’s not real life. Real life is messy and hard and so, so worth it. As I was talking to my dad, like I always do when I’m worried, he said “One thing is for sure:  Big is a survivor.” It’s true, the things I’ve always excused away, may be challenges for big, but he will power through them.  And by powering through, with stumbles and falls, he will grow and learn and become a better human being for them.

Ultimately, I never want to teach my sons that it’s okay to not do something simply because it is hard.  The hard stuff is how we gain insight, experience, empathy, love. Big is going to have a life full of hard things, things that feel like there’s no way he can accomplish them.  I want to give him the gift of knowing that he can and WILL.

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That Thing I Hold On To

I’ve been holding on to this little thing for a while now. I pull it out of my pocket for when I need a happy thought, a glimmer of hope, a silver lining. Today is one of the days I need it.

You may know I walk my kids in to school on the days I don’t have work. In this time of drop off and pick up lines, little face to face time with teachers is available. On these days, I find the people I want to say thank you to, or the ones I need to go over concerns with. One morning, I stopped as I almost always do to chat with my friend who happens to be Big’s school psychologist. As we were talking, another teacher came in.

You see, theres a group of kids who are taught life skills instead of being in a “typical” classroom. Big loves this class. He will often go in there when it’s a testing day. At first I thought it was that he didn’t see the differences between himself and those kids. That made my heart happy.  But the truth is, he DOES see the differences. But here’s the part I’m keeping in my pocket:  he doesn’t pity them. He gets it. My kid on the autism spectrum gets it. He isn’t their friend because he feels sorry for them. He genuinely likes what they all bring to the table. And do you know what happens as a result, they all genuinely like him. They think he’s a rockstar of knowledge. The life skills teacher said, “Kristi, when he comes in with a some tidbit of knowledge and is so excited to teach them something, they sit on the edge of their seats and hang on every word of wisdom he has for them.”

Every kid deserves a real friend, to not be pitied, to be made to feel like a rockstar. Every kid.

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Five Reasons This Is The BEST Friday In A LONG time…

Y’all this is an amazing Friday. I’ve been a huge ball of nervous tension for about six weeks now. Today, is going to be a great day I can just tell. Here are five reasons why:

1.) My school listened to my concerns, heard me, worked with me and moved the WeeOne to a more structured classroom to give him the fresh start he needed. He’s going to end his year on a positive note, I can just tell.

2.) I’m going to wash that gray right out of my hair. I know that seems trite. But there is just something about coloring your hair that makes it all shiny and soft and less, well, gray.

3.) I walked the boys in to school today; everyone was in a fabulous mood. Everyone slept, including the mama. AND y’all get this. A girl stopped Big and gave him some dinosaur toys. I cried. I hugged her neck. I made him say thank you. She made my day. In this huge, significant way. I will remember this child fondly for the rest of my life.

4.) This weekend is a BIG one. My baby (well, she’s not really mine, but I love her like she is) has her wedding shower tomorrow. Literally, it feels like I was just at her high school graduation party. It has been my privilege to watch her grow into the amazing woman she is. Also, I’m going to my bazillionth Neil Diamond concert with my mama! “I am, I said.”

5.) My cousin sent me the most amazing photo from the Phoenix airport. She found SMILE Biscotti. Matt is a young adult living with autism who created a business to begin supporting himself. I cannot tell you how much hope this photo filled me with.

Life is good today my friends. Life is good.

xoxoxo K