Sunday, November 30, 2008
We put together an entire Thanksgiving feast together on Turkey day. It was sometime during that afternoon that I noticed Todd was going the wrong way in his sickness. Instead of bouncing back as we thought, he looked downright frightening. Most parents know that look from their kids, but there was no denying it. He had pink eye and a sinus infection. So it's Thanksgiving day we are in a cabin FAR off the beaten path in a house with 4 kids and 4 adults. This cannot end well! Daniel told him that his eyes were "red with menace!" This is from "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas", but a very appropriate use of the phrase!
We ate our dinner and Beck had some drops from a previous pink eye episode, which in and of itself was enough to be thankful for!! How would she have those with her? During dinner we all talked about what we were thankful for. Each other was a big one, and so was Earth. Each kid seemed to be very thankful for our planet and nature. You can appreciate it more out there amongst it all! They got to go sledding, build forts (not Daniel he prefers the inside in the winter, I get that!) Daniel sang us the Thanksgiving song from one of his favorite shows of past Bear in the Big Blue House. I looked for the video on You Tube and couldn't find it. He sang it word for word to all of us, he probably used to watch that video 6 to 8 years ago and he knows every word. That never ceases to amaze me! "thanks for the stuffing and pumpkin pie, thanks for the meal that's in store, thanks for the sun up there in the sky! So much to be thankful for!" It's super cute and he did a wonderful job. I liked that he alone got to be center stage and everyone appreciated his performance. Daniel was thankful for pumpkin pie, which he does not like to eat but really loves the IDEA of pumpkin pie. That makes him think of Thanksgiving. He ate one bite and had the most awful look on his face and said "that's great, I'm done now".
We left on Friday and headed to Todd's parents. Where Todd immediately went to an urgent care and got some antibiotics and his own eye drops. We got to spend time with his brother and his wife, Todd's parents and my dad and his fiance. In short, a whole new group of people to infect. I asked if we should go home between these legs, but he'd have nothing to do with it. I went out Saturday night and had drinks with friends from college, highschool and elementary school! Todd very wisely stayed at his parents. I got to catch up and chat with some very dear friends who I don't see enough of. We had a stormy drive home on Sunday and watched a van spin off the road into the ditch, it took much longer than usual to get home, but we made it safely. It doesn't sound like the ideal weekend by any means. There were a lot of negative things, but for me, since I wasn't the sick one I found a lot of things that I am feeling particularly thankful for this Sunday night. And if we get through this week without anyone else coming down with pink eye THAT will truly be something to be thankful for!!!
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I realize explaining this will probably take away the humor, but as my husband tells me with some frequency, I suck at telling jokes, so why stop now? Ya see, my vision of this is Daniel is the person on the sidewalk. The sign says WALK. So he would just WALK. That's what the sign says. So if someone is turning their car in front of you, even though they shouldn't with pedestrians present, he'd just WALK. If there were crocodiles in the road, dog gone it, he'd go. The sign says to after all. It makes it very difficult to teach a rule then explain the millions of scenarios that break the rule. I would constantly tell him to cross within a cross walk and he'd go off in the other direction, the wrong way, and therefore INTO traffic. I swear I lost 10 years of my life in these exchanges. But, it all has to be learned. I was surprised that he didn't understand some of these things already. But apparently, he didn't! Who knew? And if there is any chance of him driving and owning that "little yellow car" he so wants to own some day, better to start learning these things now, before he is behind the wheel of a deadly car.
In the mean time, the bikes are hung up on the roof of the garage. The snow is flying, way too much for November, and we are taking it easy until spring time. We did get to take those family rides to the library, to his old elementary school (2 miles away!) and to his current school. We never did make it to the Aquatics center. But that's OK, we have lots and lots of bike rides in our future.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
We put it aside and he gets on a bike. Soon enough he switches to a two wheeler. It has a big handle on the back so the spotters can grab it easily and help guide them. They can also be running and easily help them balance. You can purchase the handles and attach them to your own bikes. I inquired about this and they said I could NOT because Daniel's bike wouldn't accommodate it. It is an adult sized bike and the construction won't allow it. Great. That's a strike for me.
So Daniel is riding while they are holding the handle. When they start letting go and running behind he would sort of make these diving turns. He would turn SO sharply and it would look like he was about to wipe out, but he would adjust it (and his spotter would help). Then he would SCREAM at the top of his lungs like someone was doing this TO him, when in fact he was doing it to HIMSELF. This continued on for a while. The directors were called out onto the floor. Daniel was upset. Oh boy. Here we go. Here is a picture that I titled "the Daniel conference," He's right in the middle of it, by the way.
Then they are headed over to the doors where I'm looking in. I here "mom, we need some help". She says she has seen this before (I told you they've seen everything). They thought he was doing it for a few reasons 1. He is testing the new found skill/boundary. Seeing what will happen. 2. He is getting some sort of sensory pressure when he does this. It, at the same time, thrills him, and scares the crap out of him (hence the screaming!) They, to their credit, wanted my advice. I believe I told them to tell him why he shouldn't do that and keep trying. I believed he'd work it out. And, he did. The screaming was a change from the constant singing of the last few days! I couldn't believe I was thinking this but I wanted Monster in the Mirror back! FAST! We left that day with him having ridden a bike on his own. I mean really. Day 4 he did it on his own. When that child sets his mind to something, he achieves it!
Day 5, Friday. He starts off inside. Pretty quickly they move him out to the parking lot. I am getting anxious because I am realizing after this session we are ON OUR OWN. I need to know what the heck I'm doing to help him. They told me to "where your running shoes" on this day so I could run with him. Excuse me? I am so out of shape. I may not be over weight, but in terms of stamina, I can barely make it to the corner in a jog.
At the end of the camp everyone went back inside. They had a little ceremony and gave the kids certificates and a bag of treats and a calendar. All of which Daniel was VERY excited about. He should be one proud kid, and he was. He looked in the mirror and faced that monster who was stopping him and he conquered it, because sometimes that Monster in the Mirror, it just might be YOU! In case you can't quite get the tune in your head. Here it is for you. If you were a Sesame Street fan, I guarantee you'll remember it and it will bring a smile to your face!
Monday, November 17, 2008
The polar bears are wonderful. On this day we lucked out. They were very active. You can go in a tunnel under the water and if you are lucky they'll be swimming above you. As they were here.
We went home and I looked up another shop in Lansing. Riverfront Cycle. I highly recommend this store. We had a GREAT experience. I lucked out in that my cute young salesman had been through a similar camp helping teach kids with special needs to ride. He knew where I was coming from! When things like this happen I feel destiny and everything lining up. It sounds crazy, but it felt right and it was. We got Daniel the MOST amazing bike. It is a Giant which apparently people who ride bikes know of. I do not. The 10 speed bike I had in high school I bought with my own money at Meijer, so I am not an aficionado regarding bikes and quality. Which is why I wanted the camp instructors opinions. I bought the bike and new helmets for both boys (cha ching) and off we went. I immediately had a panic attack that I bought the wrong thing and, well I don't know what I thought would happen, but I thought I would have done the wrong thing (OH NO!?!) and then Daniel wouldn't want to return it. I guess that's my thought. But no. The next day, Zachary went to a friends house and Daniel and I loaded up his bike and took off for Detroit. They were going to put him on a two wheeler today! Thursday. The goal is Friday to have "graduated" to the "outside". We were on track, we had our new Giant in the back and Zachary didn't have to spend another day riding. Things were looking good. . .
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
In my neighborhood we are fortunate that our bus stop is at our neighborhood park. This creates a wonderful time in that, on days weather permitting, the kids want to stay and play for a while. Sometimes this for a while turns in to an hour, sometimes it's 10 minutes. You never know. But usually we are there for some time with each other. If one of is late, we tell the bus driver, no worries, we'll take care of them until the mom gets here. If we are stuck someplace we can call someone and say, "will you be there and tell them not to worry, I'm coming". All of our kids are comfortable with this. They know they are in good hands. We have quite an array of "moms" at our stop. We have Dr's, Grad students, ministers, Speech paths, almost anything you need, we have it. It's sort of an unlikely group of friends who all bond together at 8:00 am and 4:00 pm 5 days a week. It is wonderful to know we all have each others backs.
Sometimes we talk about the kids, sometimes it's school, sometimes it is about ourselves as women. But what I have noticed is that these are people we don't know a whole lot about. I really don't know their whole families. I hear about the high school age daughters, husbands etc but really if I ran into them on the street I wouldn't know who they were. Yet I consider these people my friends and someone I let my kids go to their houses. We have built the relationships over time. We share joys, but we also share our pains. We can in 10 or 20 minutes unload what is going on, often cry, and then move on with our day. No one tries to fix anything. Usually we nod and say we understand and let me know if I can do anything. Sometimes when situation calls for it, we make meals for people, or go in on a plant or flower arrangement, signed, the bus stop moms. But I have come to rely upon these people and share with them. When appropriate they can say "wow that sucks, I'm sorry that happened" And that can be the end of it. Because really isn't that what women want? They don't want someone to solve their problems. They want someone to listen, or not listen, if you need to cry you just do, and then you move on.
I had a call during the day last year, saying can you get him from the bus stop I'm stuck at the hospital for a test. It went long. Is everything OK I ask? No, I have a tumor, is the reply. So I get the child from the bus stop. He's not worried, he gets a play date and the parents get piece of mind that they can deal with their immediate problem. We visit her in the hospital, bring her food, make her laugh and hope we did enough. Luckily this time, everything turned out ok.
The day after Obama was elected 3 of stayed and cried at the joy of knowing our world had changed forever.
Today someone was crying at the bus stop. She has a LOT going on. And you never knew it. She shared what it was, said "wow that felt good to say out loud". Then turned around, walked away and went to work. We all said how sorry we were, how can we help. And we mean it. We would all step up at any time. But really we did the most important thing of all, we gave her an outlet. An outlet to someone who doesn't know who your talking about, has no emotional connection to, just a sounding board. It's a beautiful thing.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Zachary has, for years, loved history. Especially presidential history. He, at age 7 could name the presidents in order backward and forward. In about a minute and a half. He quizzes me constantly. "Mom, name the first 10 presidents in order." I can get to 6 then I get stuck. Every single time. He breaks out in hysterical giggles every time I get to John Quincy Adams then stop. "How can you not remember mom?" I don't know. I just can't! He is full of statistics and information. I love that, among many things about him. About a year and a half ago we were in the car in Florida and we were playing the initials game. You know? You give initials to a person then they ask questions to figure out who it is. So we are going along with SB (Spongebob) etc and he says to my aunt. GF. The questions start, and continue and continue. Finally, she gives up. My aunt is a teacher and knows a LOT of information. She gave up. Geraldine Ferraro. She ran for vice president with. . . . hmmmm I can't remember who, but she did and I can picture her but can't remember the details. That's how my brain works! We laughed and laughed. He stumped her alright.
So when this whole election process started he was THRILLED to find out a woman and an African American were running against each other on the democratic ticket. How exciting. History in the making. Whichever one went on to run would be history. The boy loves history. I was sort of unsure through the whole thing who I wanted to get the democratic nomination. I felt they both had their merits. I knew whoever it was I would be supporting that person. Then when John McCain picked Sarah Palin (cough cough) Zachary was even more thrilled knowing whoever won it would be historic. So, in short, this election became a BIG deal in our house.
I am only referring to Zachary in this entry because, despite my trying, Daniel doesn't understand this whole thing. On the way to school, we'd chat about the signs on the lawn, of who the homeowner is supporting. I'd describe what was going on. And he'd talk about the sun or the trees or the squirrels and I'd go back to what he wants to talk about. In recent days I would talk about Barack Obama and John McCain, then ask the next day and it would be all new again. It left a pit in my stomach, because I knew he didn't understand. It meant nothing to him. He had no connection. That is where it is left up to us to try to elect a president who we feel can help Daniel the most. Isn't that what it's about for us parents? Trying to lay out a future for your children that is the best for them? So we keep talking to him about it. The day after the election he finally said "Obama". So we were getting somewhere. We keep trying.
When Obama came to MSU I rode my bike down to campus and stood outside of the rally. Some said there were over 20,000 people there. It was electrifying. I don't care if you are a Republican, Democrat, whatever all were there. There were McCain supporters carrying signs and shouting at people, there were Obama supporters coming together. I was smiling the whole time. This is America. Where everyone can come together and listen to a speech and be against it or totally invigorated. I loved every second of it. I missed all the people I was supposed to meet, but really I think it was better. I stood there on my own watching the people and taking it all it. It was wonderful.
As the election drew near, Zachary asked if he could come and vote with me. Absolutely. Talk was the lines would be long. But I knew he wouldn't care. On election day I went and signed him out of school. He was SO excited. Not to be leaving school, but because my 8 year old knew that sometime huge was going to happen that day. I, was so proud that he wanted to be a part of it. That an 8 year old boy understood the gravity of what was happening that day. So we went to the polls. It was very crowded but not really a line. We waited maybe 5 minutes. We saw neighbors and acquaintances. I read through everything with him and showed him how you fill out the ballot. He was fascinated. We went back to school.
Todd and I watched the spin and results and the magic maps with great interest. It seemed early on that there wasn't going to be much of a contest. We were both very tired and went to sleep before the concession speech. But the next day I watched everything online. I really couldn't believe it happened! I was sure that some how it was going to get messed up. But no. It actually happened. The first thing Zachary asked me was who won. When I told him Obama, he was jumping around the family room. I was so excited for Obama. But I was more excited for our country. I really didn't think that I'd see an African American become the president of the United States. The negative part of me, felt like too many people are still to racist to elect someone like Obama. But Obama did something no one else has in a long time. He united people. People came out to vote in record numbers. They made history happen. Each and every person did it together. I know people who cried all day Tuesday with joy, elation, relief, and hope. The only time I cried is when I told my children it happened. That Obama was elected for them. It was the knowing that anything can happen. The walls can come down. That individuals can work together to get it done. That anything is possible. That this lesson transcends the election. In our house, knowing anything is possible takes on a different meaning. It is not putting a limitation on someone. Not deciding what they can and can't learn. Because Daniel has proven to us over and over, he will always surprise us. Sometimes, even your country can surprise you.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
After reading and learning all the things we had been doing wrong and what actually worked I went right to the schedule of camps. Typed in Michigan. . . one camp came up. ONE! It was in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This is about 75 miles from us. A suburb of Detroit. Which means horrible traffic. It is the car capital of the country right? I lived there, one of the reasons we left was the traffic. Oye. This wasn't going to be pretty. I signed up right away. The camp was the 3rd week in June. So far so good. No vacations planned that week, nothing on the schedule. You could pick what session you wanted. There were two in the morning, and two in the afternoon. This is a very important choice. I'm sure most parents have this, but with our kids (meaning kids on the spectrum) we need to make sure all of the stars are aligned properly. So the time was important. I chose the 10:30 to 11:55 time slot. Thinking we could leave by 9:00 am. Not too early. We could have a fairly relaxed (or at least on the surface, I would be a mess inside!) morning, of getting up, eating a good breakfast, driving to Bloomfield Hills and most importantly missing the morning commute!
Driving distances is not on Daniel's list of favorite things. Whenever we get into a car the first question is, "how long is this going to take?" So I knew that I had some work to do to, in the words of Tim Gunn, "make it work". But that's what I do right? That is my job. That is why I constantly have these scenarios running over and over in my head. I figure out how to make it work. We found the answer, we signed up, now we get to "make it work". I wish I was as fabulous as Tim Gunn somehow he always seems to know how to make it work. Me? I need some time to figure it out and figure out how Zachary fits into this week.