Sunday, October 31, 2010


I learned a few things from the wild and woolly week from hell:

1) EVERYTHING looks hopeless through the lens of PMS
2) My kid still looks for loopholes, and I need to shut those down
3) The new principal ROCKS! She has taken ownership of her school and insists that everyone else does, too--in short, she totally walks the walk...AWESOME!
4) I can still be articulate and polite in the face of my own emotional meltdown
5) I need to lean on EVERY ONE to get this house to roll a little differently.
6) Some people will tell you exactly what you want to hear to get you to do stupid things. And even if you DO stupid things as a result, most people will give you a bye, but ALL people will definitely give you a bye if you OWN it.

I am grateful for the leaf drop that happened this week, because I love the hard physical work out that comes with raking leaves. It really helps my head when my body gets a good work out.

It all comes out in the wash. One way or another.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

No Bully Zones Are No Place for the Defenseless

I sit here with my heart hammering in my chest in the wee hours of the morning, wondering what damage I've done to my older child.

You see, in working with the school to make sure Nic behaves, he has been losing computer privileges at home every time I get a story about his mouth with teachers or behavior on the playground. For the record, he has been awesome in the classroom 99% of the time, so by and large he has been losing computer over recess.

Well, that's not going to happen anymore.

Because you see, something awful happened on Tuesday that ripped the cover off the facade of what the school purports they have been doing for my son. The principal assured me her first responsibility was creating a safe place for all students.

I discovered yesterday that her school is NOT, as it stands right now, a safe place for my son.

What happened on Tuesday was bad. But the upside of what happened was that I had a 40 minute conversation yesterday with the other mom. Who told me her son told her "Well, everyone throws wood chips at Nic." And "Everyone teases Nic."

And gives all those times that Nic told me "it's not fair!" gravitas.

So when I told Nic that I talked to the other boy's mom, and told her what he told me, his whole face lit up in that rare and beautiful way it does when I have done exactly what I needed to do for him, and he was not able to articulate what he needed.

He will hang in there. Because he is tough, beautiful and brave.

And I will, once again, arm for battle and get him what he needs.

Part of me is torn up beyond words, but I am only going to use that to get me where I need to go.

Yet I am human, and what the bigger world does to me and my family keeps me up at night.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


It's been a number of years since I woke up in a cold sweat, fearful of the future and of everything else.

Today, I got to dial it back to zero, because there I was. Although the job goes fine, I had some feedback that made me sufficiently anxious; add that to two full-on meltdowns from Nic--or should I say two MORE--plus the usual money/bill/rest-of-my-life stuff had me staring at the cracks in the ceiling in the dark.

After about an hour of this, I said. "I leave this to you, God." I rose, dressed, and walked out in first light to lector, replacing some one at the last minute.

Once again, I am grateful for being in the right place at the right time. The readings spoke to my anxiety, the visiting brother gave a great homily, and I was invited out with Fr M and our visitor for breakfast. And as usual, we ran the conversation from seedlings to pine trees, and as usual, I was grateful to be included, and reminded of what's important.

They dropped me off, and I went inside to dress the boys and bring them to church. Nic followed about 60% of the mass again, and I introduced the boys to Br H at the end of the mass, then off for me and G to PREP.

I figured out how I need to run that room. And if anyone thinks they can do it better, they are welcome to do so. But it was a good class, the kids were well behaved, and we all had a good time.

I don't know why a lot of these people who volunteer have such a lousy attitude, though. Really, if you call yourself a Christian, let's act like one, shall we? Sheesh.

Came home, spent three hours clearing ivy, branches, weeds, and leaves away from the house. I am tired, but settled. And satisfied.

Nothing cures a soul of anxiety like good company, good friends, and hard work.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Constant Motion

We've had a long intense week. Too much reflection here will cause me to curl up sobbing and fetal under furniture, which is not useful or productive.

The good news is that I think I figured out a solution to my faith formation problem, which came from the unlikeliest of circumstances. And I made a conscious decision to stop apologizing for Nic's behavior--he's at a point where he can (and should) own it.

Make or break moments come unexpectedly; I believe this qualifies. And he actually came through it magnificently.

The most important thing we all learned this week is that Nic's underlying issue is his anger at my returning to work. And as I told his team, he needs to accept that we all work or go to school, we all do the best we can, we all treat one another with respect and dignity, and all behavior counts at all times.

I believe my words made a difference, because he turned a corner yesterday at school.

He'll be fine.

So will I, if I survive him.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pride goeth.....somewhere

So I was thinking that we are at a good place in life if I am at such a point that I can think of both boys' faith formation. Sunday provided me a couple nice surprises, namely that Nic can and will follow mass if he has a missalette (he followed more than half the mass last Sunday), and that Gabriel already knows the Hail Mary.

PREP is a challenge for G, though. The room is loud and echoey, there are kids who are loud, and the teacher can't throw her voice to all corners of the room. Suboptimal sitch, but we'll work with it.

So lest I get too full of myself and my kids, Nic's had a rough couple of days at school. It's partly him, partly everyone else. He's going through a touchy period that makes it hard for him to roll things off his back as usual, and it's gotten him in hot water two days running.

Hoping tomorrow is better. Some days are like this. Just hope it's a short streak.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I need to start running again. Walking doesn't cut the mustard. Metabolism post 40th is not a pretty thing. And I can't believe that walking 6+ miles a day isn't making a damn bit of difference.

It's been a pretty intense week here at autism central. Hubby's been in Asia, and we have been full of nonstop karate-chop action since last Thursday night; soccer practice, dinner out with friends, pizza and Phillies with bro and SIL, swimming, soccer, more soccer and overnight tent camping with the scouts, church, Sunday school, Franklin institute, elevator adventures, FWSP and the Hawk Platform, more elevator adventures, TOPSoccer under the lights, boys to work with me, Valley Forge, KoP, and I HAVE LOST MY VOICE.

I'm so glad the nor'easter canceled soccer tonight. I wouldn't have been able to coach with this frog in my throat, anyway.

Just a few notes on the coolness of the boys. Nic and M had some nice interactions at camp over the weekend. That was such a nice time that I wish we did that every weekend. The boys had a great time. And I talked to M's dad, and things are cool there. I think there is an opportunity for the boys to be friends, but it's not something I am going to try to force.

Nic saw B at TOPSoccer the other night (his mom was running the snack stand), and was very pleased to introduce B to his TOPSoccer buddies. How cool is this? Nic was proud of his friends, and I love the fact that he doesn't differentiate his friends by their abilities or labels. He just does not see people that way. What a wonderful world it would be if all people could see the world like that--no us and them, just us.

Love it.

G has decided he is done with the small bus. And I am making sure that he and his decision are supported on all sides.

My kids hit the proverbial wall with all the busy-ness of the week. I am letting them veg and making pizza. Which won't help my carb argument, but tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's going on?

I need to expand more on the blog I wrote last week about the boy in my son’s grade. All these stories about the violence that results from bullying has led me down a path I've been avoiding. What was particularly jarring about what happened is that I had a vague memory of a story that happened a few years ago. I just looked it up and found it here.

A few things stick with me. That the parents were engaged and involved. That the boy was troubled. But the single most enduring image I have in my mind of this boy is him, wrapped in a blanket, crying. The other is the outreach of the community to his family after the fact.

After the fact. I can’t help thinking this could have been avoided if there had been community involvement BEFORE it happened. Because if there were, very possibly, this boy could be home with his folks, and the other boy would still be alive.

Instead, he’s in jail with no hope of parole. Both families have lost a child, forever, in two different, horrible ways.

These events are what came to mind with what happened on the school yard a couple weeks ago. Have I headed something off? It’s too soon to tell. But only by raising awareness can we all take ownership of our kids, their safety, and their well-being.

It’s the least we can do.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Vaya con Dios

I walk with God.

There, I said it. I've always been a deeply spiritual person, but it took a near-death experience for me to really OWN my faith, to proclaim it, and not be afraid of whatever consequences may come of that.

Granted, I am not a bible thumper, nor am I church lady, nor am I holier than thou. Rather, I live in such a way that I have a clear conscience; I understand that the good in me will out, even over what other people may say about me that is untrue. I live as if every day is my last. Because whenever that will be, I will be ready to meet my maker.

By the same token, I don't judge anyone else, because that's not my place. Or my business. Plus, I lack the bandwidth.

I live with an attitude of gratitude. And I am teaching my boys to do the same.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Turning the other cheek on a new moon

I hate when my Do Not Engage alarm goes off.

I went to bed last night thinking it should have been Friday night instead of Thursday, since my week starting Sunday has been tense and emotionally fraught on every imaginable level. It's been an awesome, beautiful and rewarding week, but intense, emotionally charged and exhausting.

The email that came at noon yesterday iced the cake, from a former friend who betrayed me six ways to Sunday, to whom I gave multiple chances, and she blew every last blessed one. I thought I had said goodbye to her for good years ago,

Yet she shows up via email, ostensibly to tell me something I already knew, probably looking to dig up and throw more dirt.

So I asked my network, what would you do? How would you respond to some one who has exhausted your goodwill in every imaginable way?

Half told me to delete. The other half told me to rip her a new one.

I did neither. I was proud of my response, which was short, sweet, and on point.

And I strongly suspect was not what she was looking for.

Oh well. Have a nice life.

And go pick on some one your own size.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Through Another's Eyes

It's been a meeting kind of week.

The one that weighs most heavily on my mind happened on Monday. While my boys and I were with another waiting for our pack meeting to start last week, the boy waiting with us drew a pair of stick figures, one holding a gun on the other, and made it a point for me to see it.

And I made it a point to not react.

Until I got home to my computer and read about an altercation that happened between Nic and this other boy earlier in the day. Then the picture took on a more ominous tone.

After all, was Nic the figure on the business end of the gun?

So I met with the teachers on Monday, agitated, concerned, and they responded in all the correct ways. I kept it together until I made the parking lot. And burst into tears.

Mourning. My own child. And this other child. What would become of this boy?

And then a voice told me to stop it. Just stop. After all, nothing has happened.


Suddenly, I was seeing the world through his eyes. How hard it must be for him to not have any friends, to not know where to start, to be so frustrated because no one else seems to get how hard it is to be him.

How desperate he must be if he was reduced to drawing a stick figure holding a gun on another. And to make such a point of showing it to an adult.

Who he was certain would share this with other authority figures.

So I wrote this note the next day to the support teacher:

Thanks for taking the time to meet with me and my husband yesterday. I've been thinking long and hard about what we talked about, what happened in the school yard, all the events leading up to that and the drawing, and what I come up with is that the drawing was a cry for help.

The more I think about it, the more I think he wanted to be called on that picture--WHY else would he had made it such a point to show it to me?

I know I am wandering into school counselor territory, and that this is NOT my child, but I see him (who is quite different from Nic in many ways) as a child who really wants friends and just needs help in the delivery. I'm thinking peer buddy? Nic has had a number of kids work with him over the years (B, J, not to mention the girls too many to name) that have played a huge part of his development socially. And Nic is not always the easiest kid to get along with.

I'm just throwing this out there. I know you can't force kids to be friends with one another, but everyone has to learn to work together and cooperatively, and I'm thinking, perhaps, pairing with a peer buddy will help kids get to know him and discover that he really is a good kid and worth getting to know.

I know this is not my place, but I am writing you as an adult who was once a child very much like him.

Thanks for listening, and if there is anything else I can do to help here, please let me know.

Maybe I can make a difference in this child's life. Sometimes life throws you these opportunities to see what you'll do with them.

The teacher wrote me a note back saying that she and the school counselor were working on making my suggestions a reality for this boy.

I hope. And it might fall on us to do more. But that's okay. Maybe this is why it happened.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


As I was sitting in my church with my family today, it occurred to me that I am about 95% of the way finished on my life's short-term to-do list. G is enrolled in PREP. My family attends church together every Sunday (and a special hat's off to my agnostic hubby for not only taking them to church, but also G to Sunday School the weekend I was gone--I know his heart's not in it, but he knows how important this is to me, and that he's on board means more than anything to me).

The last in my short-term to-do's is to have Nic do confession and communion this year. I also need to write a Letter of Intent for both boys (wills and special needs trusts are complete and signed--and hopefully we will never need the latter, but it's in place if we do), which I will do in the next week.

I'm trying to instill the idea that if we have time to play, we have time to take a few minutes every day to thank God we can, and thank God we can enjoy life, and to pay back whenever, wherever, and however we can.

We have a ways to go, but the seeds are planted. I just hope I'm around long enough to watch them grow.