Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walking Placidly Among the Noise and Haste

I should be in a snit.

Had a third "I would hate to have to suspend him" talk with the program director on Friday, and it is not looking good for my elder boy. But as I said to her, and I know it to be true, in the grand scheme of things, it is not a big deal.

I did not lose my temper when I had to sign the incident notebook a second time in less than a week. I remained calm while Nic repeatedly screamed at me, "You are throwing a fit!"

"No, I am not throwing a fit," I repeatedly responded. "I am standing here calmly and telling you in a quiet voice what is going to happen as result of you flinging yourself on the ground and screaming like a three year old. Which, by the way, Nic, is a fit--which is what you threw."

I haven't quite figured out what I am going to do about this, yet. He remains grounded for the forseeable.

Track was canceled on account of the cold today, so unexpectedly, our day is open. I see hiking in our immediate future.

I'm not sure to what I owe my calm. Maybe that we've been so busy has helped me to stay focused. We've had a packed weekend so far, and running around from place to place has been a good distraction. I lectored this morning, and my class was a good one--talked to the kids about making good choices, and we had a lively discussion and a lot of fun.

I'm feeling a sense of peace and calm that I have never felt in my entire life. Serenity is a gift, and I feel like it has been delivered me in abundance.

To what--or whom?-- do I owe that?

Of course this is a rhetorical question. I know the source. And I am infinitely grateful for once again receiving the perfect gift, the perfect fit, and at the perfect time.

Have a beautiful week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Haiku to you, too!

So it's Lent, and I've given up beer and wine (indeed, all alcohol). The irony here is that my kids have given me plenty to drink about if I were in that frame of mind, not the least of which was the "I would hate to have to suspend them," conversation I had with the program director at AfterCare today.

I don't get mad. I keep Lent by writing Haiku. Why? I find the energy is better spent that way, and I am also pretty good at it.

I've written about 3 dozen of them between last night and now; some highlights:

My kids do know how
to wind me around axles
I beg for mercy

the edge of the cliff
draws ever closer; I wish
my brakes worked better

Haiku therapy
Allows me to keep Lent by
venting spleen by hand

wrath of mom is good
enough to get older son
to empty washer

I got off a couple of other good ones, but they are in my other e-mail account.

Salve to my soul was a voice message left for me from a very dear friend. "I thank you for your kindness to me. I love you guys, and I know I am loved by you guys, and there is nothing better on this side of heaven than that."

And in other news, I am working with Nic on track. He likes it, even though he came in last in all his heats on Sunday. He wants to get better, and fortunately I am in decent enough shape to help him get there. The kids on the team are nice to him, and the coach so far has been very kind and supportive. And both kids learned a thing or two about shot-putting today.

Thankful for all the kindness that surrounds us, even when things don't go exactly as planned. It's all good.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Clarity (Or, Life in an Alternate Universe)

My yesterday reminds me of much, not the least of which that it is possible to recover what seems to be an irrevocably lost day.

It definitely didn't begin well. Jumbled communication and roadwork ensured that we would get to swim lessons late. Which was just as well, because Nic and his new teacher butted heads over the modified backstroke. He wanted to use his competition kick and she wanted to teach him the correct kick for the stroke she was teaching.

From the balcony, I could see each one's point of view. And in a moment of clarity, I realized that this is the last session we'll do at this pool.

They did as well as they could in this program, but the truth is, neither of them are progressing. It's no one's fault; this just isn't the program for them.

How freeing that felt to realize and accept that.

We went to the library and explored a new park in anticipation of swim practice.....that wasn't. Yesterday was meet day at a program 45 minutes away. I called the coach, got directions, got the boys changed, hopped in the car, and headed west.

When we got there, Nic proceeded to give us a full-bore nuclear meltdown over the buzzer. Which lasted a half hour. Which he owes me for for the next week. Anyway, a kind man gave Nic a pair of headphones to block out the sound, dad arrived with lunch, and he went on to win two races (and messed up the third because he was too busy fussing with the headset to hear the starter).

On the way home, we found a park that I wanted to hike for a long time--and de-stressed the way I like to de-stress best. And the kids liked it, too.

Nic runs his first track meet today. All I ask is that he do his best, have fun, and stay in his lane. He promises that he will do all three.

Here's the thing. He knows he doesn't really fit in with the Special Olympics. He doesn't really fit in with the track team (and I wonder if the coach is wondering why I don't bug the SO track people--and do I really want to go there? NO.) So we straddle our shadow world, not necessarily being this OR that, but I feel less life-or-death about activities working out or not.

And I take it a lot less personally when things don't work out.

Probably the biggest take-away from yesterday was that my kids are amazingly flexible--we did a lot on the fly that worked out almost in spite of me. And I guess I am more flexible in that it was really easy for me (for once) to see what I need to engage in and what I need to walk away from.

Speaking of engaging in and/or walking away, I made some really good choices this week. For me. I'm wondering how much the kids saw, or even if they noticed.

The thing is, my kids notice everything. Whether I want them to or not.

All I can do is keep listening, keep heeding that inner voice....

...and keep moving forward.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What 'Good' Looks Like

Track began for Nic this week, and much to my surprise, he is looking forward to his first meet this weekend. Considering what a hard sell the first practice was, I deem this a success, no matter how long he lasts with it.

Honestly, I am skeptical; the coach, while patient, may or may not have already written Nic off. I put on my running shoes and ran with them last night--and beat Nic easily in the 100 and 200.

He's out of shape; this much I knew. That I am in better shape than he is scares the crap out of me. BUT, I figure if absolutely nothing else, this will be a good tri-weekly workout for the three of us.

And I will try to get us running in the off days, too.

But thinking about Nic this week in the context of the bigger world, I find myself wondering; am I deluded? Do I really think he's doing okay?

Because I look at Nic relative to Nic's behavior. I know a good day and a bad day when I see one. But it occurred to me throughout this whole business with the meltdown last week that perhaps my perceptions are skewed.

Because even Nic's good days to some people just look bad.

This is an axle I try not to wind myself around (too tightly). I can't worry about the pitying looks he gets. When I think of the speechless screaming toddler he was; when I think back to the screaming echolaic preschooler he was--and compare these to the awkward but personable young man he is becoming, all I can do is be amazed, and grateful, and thankful, at how far he's come.

But the rest of the world doesn't necessarily see Nic through these eyes. And I also see the same kid they see--one who stammers, one who tries hard to blend in and look like everyone else--yet is painfully aware that he is not like everyone else and does not blend in.

Yes, I do see this.

And right now on this gorgeous spring evening, I hear the sounds of the neighbors outside enjoying the weather. I have the windows open so we can enjoy it, too.

But we are inside. If we went outside, it would just be...awkward.

Which reminds me of another thought I had this week; bullying definitely continues beyond school. I have seen meeting dynamics alter with the presence of one person; I have opted out of situations that leave me at a social disadvantage; I refuse to engage in negative interactions with anyone.

What kind of example is this that I am setting? Is discretion the better part of valor, or am I just tired of rowing upstream?

What do I want for us? Are we there yet?

I think of all the obstacles Nic has had to overcome to get where he is. I think of the fact that he is in Scouts, track, swimming, bowling, aftercare, and soccer. He likes the Phillies and rock climbing and camping. He likes Wii and computer games. And he has friends, even if he doesn't go to school with them.

You know, that looks pretty damn good.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Nic's thermonuclear meltdown is worth mentioning, but I'm not sure where it falls in my narrative.

In the ordinary ebb and flow of our lives, I should be used to the patterns of spectacular flame-outs accompanied by feats of brilliance.

So, brilliant, among these things I can include investiture to the new troop, bowling, selling tickets at Pasta Dinner, the hike in Gettysburg.

And then there was the call I got on Thursday while I was out with my department. Which was followed by a phone call from the program director the following morning.

My whole life seems geared toward disaster containment. I'm not aware of how much it takes out of me until I withstand the emotional beating this kid is capable of doling out.

And what of my little guy? As evidenced by the teachers' conferences today, he is almost an afterthought, much to my guilt and shame. He has his own issues, but he doesn't nearly do the damage. So he gets short shrift. He had me to himself on Saturday, and we had a full day of swimming, lunch out, playground and movies--and we were both happy to be able to pay full attention to one another.

But I feel bad. I want to do better by G.

So, what do I find myself doing? Lately I limit my human interactions to only positive ones. How do you do that? Well, I'm pleasant to everyone I meet--and I simply don't engage in negativity. Any of it. And I find that if I don't engage in it, it's easier to stay focused and positive.

So, I am engaged at work, because I like it and I like the people I work with. I am engaged at home. Just because. And I find that staying focused and positive helps keep me relaxed, lowers my stress, and keeps me moving forward.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Offense intended?

I have long since gotten over assuming anything has anything to do with my son's autism. Well, either boy's autism, really, but I am thinking about Nic.

Capsule summary: Nic wanted to be stage crew in the upcoming talent show. I made all the prerequisite calls, had a few encouraging phone conversations and emails, penciled dates on the calendar, yet.....

I knew it wasn't going to happen. And there are a lot of moving parts involved, but I knew when the other mom used the word 'inclusion' that she knew my kid has issues. And that 'something' would prevent his participation.

The other shoe fell this morning, although I didn't hear it until this afternoon when I opened my email after I got in from work.

In my experience, the longer and more ornate the explanation, the greater the guilt involved. And this one was an intricately carved Swiss clock of an email.

My response was short and sweet: I appreciate your email, and my son will have plenty of opportunity to participate in stage crew in middle school.

Honestly? I've been doing this long enough to know what battles are worth fighting. This is not one of them. I'm actually grateful for the evening and afternoon I get back as a result.

If he's denied the opportunity in middle school, however, they may as well invite the wrath of God.

But for now, I am content to take the explanation--however ornate--and call it a day.

In other news, Nic placed second twice and first once in the three heats he swam yesterday. G and I had a great time tussling and playing 'keep away' while we waited for Nic to swim. Nic, meanwhile, had a great time chatting with his coaches and teammates--actually, this is the most social I've seen him at a meet. It was great to see and watch.

So, for all that, the great times we had skiing, track coming up, more swim meets, does the talent show really matter?


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Not feeling guilt

I am sitting with my feet up on the desk and looking out my office windows. I'd feel guilt about sitting here and indulging in a few lines if I didn't already clean the downstairs, do three loads of wash, sort the bills and run to the bank.

The guilt, of course, is not in the sitting, but in letting the kids watch Night in the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian for the 50th time.

Actually, I can't even feel bad about that. They've had very little hang/down time in the last two weeks, and we're headed out for swimming and hiking in another hour or so and tomorrow is church, PREP and Nic's first swim meet. We had a great time skiing yesterday, and I'm happy to report that the kids have another thing they are both finding that they are good at. I was sorry to miss bowling yesterday, but I think the four of us needed a ditch day, and yesterday was perfect.

Well, maybe perfect is too strong a word. The snowing conditions were less than optimal (slushy and icy in all the wrong places), and the first couple of hours were a little frustrating as a result. We broke for lunch and figured out a new strategy; Nic would ski with me, and dad would work with G.

Actually, that worked great; Nic and I had a number of excellent runs, and he beamed with pride when I made my first successful (meaning: remaining upright) run. I flamed out spectacularly a few times (my barking shoulder, collarbone, knee, hip and wrist remind me that I did), but I didn't break ANYTHING, and as far as that goes, I think I did fine.

As a point of pride, the only time I wiped out coming off the lift was out of my control; Nic forgot himself, grabbed my arm, and his skis tangled in mine and took us down (I heard later that every time he and dad got off the lift this happened). It didn't happen again.

He promised us 2 more runs after lunch; we got 10 out of him.

I relieved dad of G duties so he could get in a few runs on his own; he had a blast.

And a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

(It's a Good) Overload

I used to think that township sports were the only game in town. Fortunately, my thinking was wrong. Unfortunately, in my enthusiasm, I overenrolled my kids in spring activities.

Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking. Scouts, swimming, soccer, track and bowling? I guess I expected more things to crater. We haven’t gotten to track yet, so that could very well be a nonstarter.

We crammed a lot in the last couple of weeks, and looking ahead, we’re booked with activities well into April. We tried skiing last week and are fitting in another run before the thaw; bowling has introduced new friends; Nic crossed into Boy Scouts last week at the
banquet; his investiture into his new troop is next Monday; he’s also volunteered to be on stage crew for his school’s talent show; his first swim meet is this weekend.

Prep goes well for G; working on getting Nic up to speed with his sacraments.

And camping, and hiking, and fishing, and kayaking—the possibilities are endless. I wanted to also throw in rock-climbing, but that might have to wait. We have gotten in some bouldering at Hawk Mountain a couple weeks ago; we might do some more of that
locally in the coming weeks.

The sunshine, the promise of spring, reminds me that possibilities are only limited by my imagination.