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.



Meltdown Hangover

I am 99% of the time firmly in the autism is beautiful, never easy, but beautiful camp. I never presume to tell you how the autism in your house should make you feel. Ever. That’s not my job. I know Big’s autism isn’t about me, but it kind of is. I’m his mama. He walks around everyday with a large piece of my heart. So, when his heart breaks, mine rips open. Today I feel like autism is brutiful, to steal a phrase from the great Glennon.

If you follow our Facebook page, you probably know about yesterday’s meltdown. If not, you can read about that here. It was a doozy. The important thing on his end is that he made it, he moved on. He ended his day and night on a positive, joyful even, note. He woke this morning bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on the day. 

Here’s the part where it’s about me. I have a meltdown hangover. My head and stomach hurt. I’m tired and feel like one of those nights from long ago when I took tequila shots. My chest has a tightness and anytime my phone buzzes, I panic just a little. I start looking toward the future distant and the one that is creeping up at a pace I can’t stand. I’m scared of puberty and what it will bring for my kind and gentle boy. Teenagers aren’t exactly known for taking care of the ones with fragile hearts and spirits. I’m scared of impulsivity and boys and adding autism to the mix of an already combustible cocktail? I don’t know if I’ve got it in me. 

Yesterday Big said, “It is all too much mama. I can’t do this anymore.” At that moment, my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. Fighting through tears on the phone, I said, “yes, baby. Yes you can. You can always do this.” His little voice over the phone was so unsure. So scared and tired. I did the best acting of my life in that moment, not sobbing. Sounding upbeat. 

Today, I can’t shake it. I can’t have some hair of the dog and Tex-mex for this hangover. Time. I just need a little time. This weekend we are due for heavy rains and flooding which means couch time and seeing my boy be himself, naturally happy and silly and getting on my last nerve. Maybe by Sunday. Sunday morning over cinnamon rolls and coffee I’ll bet my hangover leaves. 

I made this photo today saying Big might very well be the picture of resilience. Maybe that’s the beauty of his autism today. No matter the challenge, he comes back. I should learn from him.  

Pardon any errors here. I’m blogging on my phone while the WeeOne dominates the computer. 


Pottery Barn Dreams

Someone had a meltdown today.  It was this persons quarterly freak out. I will give you three guesses as to who lost their stuff today; the first two guesses don’t count.  Big? you ask.  Nope. He’s been the picture of composure lately.  WeeOne. Nuh-unh. He’s doing just fine unless he thinks you’ve turned the PlayStation off without saving. Daddy? Nah. He’s calm, cool and collected.  That leaves one person who lives in this house.  Me. That’s right me. I freaked out. Big time. At lunch. Sitting at the table with my husband, I wept and cried and melted down about a sofa.

On the surface that seems like such a shallow thing to melt down about. But our sofa is old. And Dingy. And sagging. And the springs are all poky.  And every time I sit on our old, dingy, sagging, poky sofa I think about how now’s not the time for a new one.  It pisses me off. There I said it. It makes me mad.

We are a hardworking, middle class family. My husband works at a demanding job so that I can stay home, work part time at a preschool two days a week, and be available to take our kids to appointments or be home when they are sick or off during the summer. Most days, i wouldn’t trade this scenario for any amount of money in the world.  But, about once a quarter, I freak out. I don’t want lots of ostentatious things. I don’t need diamond earrings or an elegant watch.  We have two cars with no car payments, a mortgage for our land, but not our house; we have a tractor payment, but carry over no credit card debt. But a sofa. I have my eye on a new sofa. I’ve had my eye on that couch for several years.  I could easily talk myself down from a new sofa when the boys were babies and toddlers and generally gross human beings, but it’s getting harder and harder.  I mean, the four of us barely fit on our sofa.

This year we managed to do something really smart.  We were able to put money in to our health savings account.  Can I just say, that simple little act may have saved our marriage.  The beginning of the year is always so stressful with the pharmacy and prescriptions not giving a damn if you have a new deductible or not. FYI nearly $900 in January for medications is anxiety producing. I’m proud of us for avoiding that discussion at the end of this month when it comes time to pay the bills. Score one for us. But, still, where’s the couch fund?

We don’t have cable; I don’t get my hair and nails done at a lavish salon. We don’t eat out often, and we don’t buy expensive clothes. Target is our fancy store. We don’t take elaborate vacations, even though one day I’d like to be able to comfortably take our kids across state lines. We don’t send our kids to expensive private schools, buy them name brand clothes (they don’t care about that yet…although, I’m sure it’s coming).  We DO buy good food, have lots of medical bills and travel many miles back and forth to work and school; these aren’t negotiable. The frustrating thing is, there isn’t a lot of area to cut back on. Do we sometimes sneak in dinner out? Sure, but not often.  Do I sometimes buy an unnecessary item or three at Target, yes. But there just is not a lot of scaling back to be done. Then, I think, “I need to get a better paying job/go back to school/become an extreme couponer/be better about watching what I spend.”  In the next thought I’m thrown into the spiral of how do people with very little income do this? How do they provide food, shelter, clothes, phones, electricity for their families?God forbid, what happens when an unexpected medical bill pops up? Then I feel guilty:  when we inevitably have a surgery to pay for in any give year, we are able to make it work and still manage to have most of the things we want. And you, you selfish girl are having a full blown meltdown about a couch. What part of having a new couch and your pottery barn dreams come true will make your life better?

You see, it’s not abut the couch, really. Do I really want a new couch? You bet your sweet bottom I do,  but it’s about the juggling, the struggling just to keep up.  It’s the what happens ifs that add up. It’s the feeling guilty for wanting things that you can’t have right now. It’s the feeling that the grass is greener (sort of) for some and not at all for others. You know what else it is:  It’s that for once, I kinda want something to come easy.  (Gasp) Yes. I want to be able to go get something because I want it.  I want to do it now. I want it to be EASY. (in theory I could do this if I wanted debt, but I don’t so I won’t).  But I want buying a couch to be EASY. I want things to be EASY. Sometimes, they are.  More often than not they are easy-ish anyway.

Pottery Barn, I’ve started a stash.  By the time I’ve saved for my PB Comfort SlipCovered 3 piece sectional, you will probably have discontinued it so my couch buying experience won’t be easy, but whatever.