Monday, August 9, 2010

House Rules

{gigantic sigh, heard round the world, or at least round my living room}

A good local friend, who is also a mom of a child on the autism spectrum AND a speech pathologist, loaned me a book recently. It's "House Rules", by Jodi Picoult. I should have known better, and my hubby even said so later (privately), but I graciously accepted the book and began to read it a few days later. I've read Jodi Picoult before, at least 3 of her other books, and I always am left feeling emotionally drained, even stunned sometimes---see: Handle With Care, about a young girl with a rare condition causing her bones to break at the slightest thing, etc. Talk about an emotional roller coaster.....her parents sue the OB, who also happens to be the mom's best friend. Oh yeah, good times.

And now we have House Rules, recommended to me because the main character has Asperger's Syndrome. Generally, I like seeing portrayals of these kind of characters in books, on TV, etc. because I'm curious to see how accurate they are, how much time the writer has (or has NOT) put into his research in creating the character. Well, Jodi Picoult has put her time in, that's for sure, and maybe that's why the book is so hard for me to read.

The main character, Jacob, is more severely affected by his (imaginary) Asperger's than is Mr. L, for what it's worth. Jacob's family has had to make many more accommodations in their daily lives because of his extreme need for order and routine---see: White Food Day (first of every month), avoidance of all things orange (including no parking next to an orange car, etc). You get the idea. But these aren't the things that get to me when I'm reading, it's the fact that Jacob is arrested and charged with the murder of his social-skills tutor. And the fact that he is communicatively and socially impaired, combined with the fact that the police and judicial system know NOTHING about autism or how to deal with him, scares the *#@# out of me.

Because he's 18, he's legally an adult, meaning that his mother can't be there to advocate for him, isn't allowed to make legal decisions for him, etc. But he is in no way competent to make his own decisions, despite what the police think which is only based on how brilliant he is and the fact that he can quote the Miranda rights verbatim. And it just keeps spiraling from there, horribly bad coincidence after misunderstanding after misinformation after terrible unfairness.....I know you get the idea. But somehow I can't stop reading.

Disclaimer: I am about 2/3 of the way through the book at this point. No I don't know how it ends yet, and please don't tell me. Let me break my own heart on my own time, ok? Surely, this brilliant young man who does remind me a bit of my own first-born cannot have really committed murder. Surely he will be exonerated, and the people involved will all be miraculously educated about autism and live the rest of their lives educating others......right? RIGHT?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

time passages

Early August always brings on the flood of "well, this is the anniversary of the day that I _____________..........", and it all revolves around Mr. L's birth in 2001 and my abrupt, jarring introduction to preeclampsia. Yesterday was the first of many such days to come over the next couple of weeks--the anniversary of the day I went to an outdoor marching band exhibition and was bombarded by veteran Moms telling me to sit down and that I didn't look "well". Gee, just what a preggo lady wants to hear, thanks!

It was my first pregnancy, so how the hell was I supposed to know what it would feel like and what was "normal"? (oh how I hate that word) I kept telling them "I feel fine, really, I'm ok", but would humor them by sitting down in the lovely blue and white striped folding chair because they wouldn't take no for an answer. In 48 hours, I would be in a doctor's office being told that under NO circumstances could I teach school that fall (first day of school was only a day or so away) and that I should now consider myself "on bedrest", effective immediately. 96 hours after that, I was being prepped for a c-section. It all happened so fast, and by now, 9 years later, it's just one big blur in my mind.

Ever since that early August of 2001, I have had preeclampsia permanently stamped on my mind, my heart, and my physical body as well, in the form of 2 c-section scars and lingering high blood pressure. Along the way in this journey that I never chose, I have met so many amazing women who are fellow survivors of preeclampsia, and I am forever grateful for their friendship and the knowledge that I am not alone in what I have suffered. You ladies know who you are, and I consider you all my sisters, no matter how far away you may live. I can admit that my memories are fading a bit with time, and that the emotional pain of the preeclampsia experience is not as sharp or as fresh as it once was, thank goodness. However, it's still there, and here's how I know.....the twinge in my heart whenever I hear news of the healthy, safe delivery of a full-term baby by someone I know. I would never, ever wish my experience on anyone, and I don't begrudge other women their easy, happy pregnancies, their "natural" childbirth or their 1-night hospital stays followed by the joyous homecoming of mother and baby. But you'll cut me some slack when I point out that, no matter how happy I truly am for you, it still hurts, and that's the bottom line.

Friday, July 30, 2010

things that make you go hmmm....

Just tidbits today, stuff I've thought about in the last few days......

1. Heard the song "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister today (YAY for Sirius Ch. 8), and remembered back to the days in high school when that song first came out and we used to sing it at the top of our lungs:

We're not gonna take it
No, we ain't gonna take it
We're not gonna take it anymore

What, exactly, were we "not gonna take"? We lived in semi-suburbia, ordinary comfortable lives in ordinary comfortable homes. Oh, but we were teenagers, so that automatically means we were oppressed, right? ;) If that was oppressed, I think I'd like to be oppressed again!

2. Why is it that whenever I go to a friend's house for the first time, I come home feeling horrible and inadequate by comparison? Specifically, her house vs. my house, her level of "with-it-ness" vs. mine, her organization and wonderful Mom traits vs. my lack of organization and .....well, you get the idea. This happened today, but it's not the first time, nor will it be the last, I'm sure.

3. And while we're on that topic, am I the only one that believes that most foods and drinks are ok and not too terrible if consumed in moderation? Talk about feeling inadequate.......when you visit that friend and she's serving lunch, and casually drops into the conversation that "we're not ketchup people, but I think I have some you guys can use if you want" or "we're not condiment people either, but there might be some mustard around here.....". I do not ban foods for my kids, for the most part. Soda from time to time? Sure. Pizza? Damn straight! Ketchup AND mustard AND barbecue sauce to dip your chicken nuggets in? Certainly. A bowl full of Oreo cookies? Only if you agree to share some with me.......

4. How many years after a picture is taken does it start to look old or "dated"? How many years will it look ok, and then at what point will you start to think either:

A--Wow, look how young we were!
B--Oh my Lord, what WAS I thinking with that hairstyle/shirt/pants/gigantic earrings/Madonna-style white lace headband?

I've been married for just over 14 years (YAY for weddings Class of 1996!) I know that for many years after the wedding, I could look at the pictures and think that everyone looked "normal" wacky, dated hairstyles, no cringing at the out-of-style clothes, etc. Now, not so much, especially about the hair, but I don't know when we passed that imaginary line between "I look good" and "WTF?"

Discuss. Yes, you!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hopeful Parents

In case you haven't discovered it yet, Hopeful Parents is a great website and community for families of kids with all kinds of special needs, disabilities, etc. You really should check it out, it's an amazing place! Every day there are new blog posts up, written by real-life Hopeful Parents (including yours truly.....I write on the 24th of every month). There is a forum/discussion section, and the organization is becoming a tax-exempt federally recognized group as well.

I'm so excited and honored to be a part of the Hopeful Parents community from its inception, and to be around to see where it goes into the future. If you read this blog, you are probably a Hopeful Parent yourself, so come on over and join us in advocacy, support, and understanding.

I'm in love with....

...the vacuum cleaner. Or more specifically, the vacuum cleaner attachments. Not quite to the level of fetishism, LOL, but pretty intense nevertheless. I'll try to elaborate, but there are some things you just can't explain....

We have Pergo floors in most of our house. This was my request from about 5 years ago, after seeing them in other houses and how great they looked while being super-easy to keep clean, etc. What I didn't take into account was how obsessive I would become about keeping them clean and keeping "bits" of any kind off of them. It just drives me to distraction to walk barefoot on the floor and feel that I've stepped on anything other than just plain floor. But I also live in a busy household, with 2 boys and an elderly cat.....which means food crumbs, stray cat litter, tidbits of grass/dirt/sand coming in on our shoes, etc. Remember the old Princess and the Pea story? Well, that's me with my feet on these floors--even the tiniest, microscopic speck on the floor makes me insane if I step on it.

So I sweep. A lot. I "swiffer". I steam-mop. And every day, several times a day, I vacuum. Vacuums are for carpet, you say? Only for the unimaginative, I say. I've found that nothing, no method of floor cleaning gives me the satisfaction that vacuuming does, and using the hose attachment is even better. The budding psychologist/therapist in me keeps trying to figure out why I feel this way, and I think I'm on to something.....what do you think?

Life is messy. MY life is very messy most of the time. Cluttered, dirty, far from perfect. Bits of unwanted crud all around, getting in my way, interfering with smooth progress from one place to another. Kind of like my floors.........

But now picture me with the vacuum, super-duper hose attachment firmly in hand, walking around the house just searching for dirt. Searching for crumbs, bits of grass, grains of sand that fell out of the boys' shoes. One minute, the floor is messy and covered with dirt. Next minute, vacuum power comes to the rescue and vanquishes the dirt, making it disappear! And everywhere I go, the same story....the all-powerful vacuum takes away all of the dirt, leaving the floor clean and uncluttered. If only the clutter in life were as easy to control and easy to remove.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

who am I these days?

So since I've been away from blog-land for so long, I feel like this is an opportunity for me to re-focus on what I want this blog to be, the kind of things I want to post about, etc. And since I live such a thrilling, exotic lifestyle (wanna buy the Brooklyn Bridge?), I've got lots of amazing stuff to write about on a daily basis. ;)

Stuff like:

college, Part Deux
autism/Asperger Syndrome
Music Therapy
couponing (a new'd be amazed!)
politics (progressive and proud of it!)

....and other scintillating, fascinating details of my daily life.

Today, my rant of the moment is about Facebook, which I have an intimate love affair with (and my 663 "friends"). I'm all into the whole "freedom to post and say what you want" part of FB, but occasionally I wish some of the people there would just think for half of a freaking second before they click "comment" and put their random/hurtful/prejudiced/judgmental/mean thoughts into written form. Others have just as much right to express their opinions as I do, but let's remember something, guys: There's a person, a living, breathing human behind each keyboard, and they have feelings. You may or may not really know that person, but she exists. (no, sitting beside her in sophomore World History in 1987 doesn't really count, but don't tell that to the 663).

I posted a few days ago on the wall of little E's new teacher for this school year. I heart her already, she is going to be a great fit for him this year, so saith the Mommy Instinct. Before last year ended, she'd responded positively to my request to have a brief meeting with her about Energizer over the summer. Experience has shown me that it is good for all concerned to fill the teachers in about my boys before the new year starts....saves everyone a lot of heartache as well as the need to re-invent the wheel every time. He's on meds, he sees a counselor, he has 2 different private therapists, he has a 504 plan, etc etc etc, and she needs to know all of this.

So, like the innocent, naive dummy that I am, I had the audacity to post on her wall and ask to look at a time for this quick meeting about E. Little did I know that I would be pounced on by people who don't know me or my children, but are "friends" of the teacher and are disturbed by the idea of meeting with a parent during the summer. Oh, and did I mention that one of these commenters is a former principal? Such lovely phrases as:

"...but they are just your careers, not your families, not your lives."


"You should NOT meet with parents over the summer! There is plenty of time to do that during the year. The summer needs to be for you and your family.. The only kids you should focus on are your own!!!!!!!!!"

Pardon me? EXCUSE ME? Just who do you think you're talking to? You obviously haven't seen my teaching certificate or my 14 years of experience in the field. You must have missed my wedding to another teacher, with 16 years in the classroom to his credit. I'm pretty sure I taught more students in my first 3 or 4 years than you have EVER taught, Ms. "Administrator". And bless your heart, you must never have had the privilege of being a parent of special needs kids, or knowing the unforgettable thrill of having the school office call you to say that your child choked another student hard enough to leave marks.

So let's just leave it at this. YOU DON'T KNOW ME, OR MY CHILDREN. Until you've held my boys and cried along with them during a meltdown, until you've had to give stimulant meds to your 4 year old, until you've spent 17 weeks at your children's bedsides in the NICU, until you've had to pick up your very big, very heavy son off of the ground in a public place during an Asperger's "moment", you'd better keep your self-righteous opinions to yourself. Step off, as they say, get the hell over yourself and stay out of my business.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm back......

Well, here I am. 329 days since the last blog post, and now I'm back. Why the sabbatical? No real reason, no excuse, other than that old chestnut "life got in the way". The last post was on my 38th birthday, which also happened to be my first day of college classes. This is "College: Part Deux", by the way, 16 years after I got my degree, knew everything there was to know, and set out to conquer the world.

Anyway, I intend to be much more prolific around here in the future, and I'm sorry for just dropping out of sight like that. I'll do my best to give you the VERY abbreviated version of what has happened in the last 329 days. That is, if anyone is still around to read this blog anyway...........

I'm now officially halfway through the Music Therapy program, and I know without a doubt that this was the right decision for me to make for my life and my future. Two more semesters of classes, a 6 month internship, and I'm ready to be certified as an MT. I'll be 40 by then, but hey.........40 is the new 30, isn't that what they say? Or is it 50 is the new 40? Or pink is the new black? I can never keep that stuff straight.

Mr. Literal just finished 3rd grade (!) and Energizer finished Kindergarten. Both had good years, but continue to struggle in various ways. I'll write more about their school year adventures over the next few weeks. Next school year starts in slightly less than a month, and their teachers have been chosen (the ones I asked for!), so I've got high hopes for another good year.

So, again, sorry for being MIA.......or was it AWOL..........? But I'm back, and looking forward to reclaiming my spot in the blogosphere. :)