Thursday, January 12, 2012

Be the Hare!

We spent last night at a middle school swim meet for Zachary.  Daniel came to watch, I was timing and Todd was there for a while before he had to run off to a city council meeting.  Daniel was very patient at this very long meet.  Tonight it is his turn.  Yes, tonight he will compete in an honest to God swim meet. 

Over Christmas vacation he participated in a Blue and White meet they called it.  It was a scrimmage between his team.  I was a ridiculous nervous wreck inside but once again put on my happy mom face and worked through it.  He was THRILLED.  He actually swam in two "races", the 50 free and 100 backstroke.  He finished.  And when he did I could see his excitement.  He finished waaaaaayyyyy behind everyone else.  He didn't care.  I was very nervous that I would care.  You see, I'm a wee bit competitive.  OK, maybe more than a wee bit.  Maybe a lot competitive.  But I impressed my self.  Watching him just be a part of the team, finish his races and be excited was ENOUGH for me.  Just being real here, I didn't think it would be.  I am often told people like my honesty here, so I'm being honest, even if I sound terrible, but I was scared I'd be mortified.   Isn't it wonderful when you rise above yourself?  I had no idea I had that in me.  I just watched him with a smile on my face.  It was enough because I know what a huge accomplishment it is for him to even go to practice every day.  I know what an accomplishment it is for him to sit through an entire swim meet.  I know what an accomplishment it is to get him to swim for 2 hours.  It's astounding as a matter of fact. 

Since that time there have been away meets, which we are not going to, and a home meet, but with 4 teams.  That is just a lot of people.  So we actually went to watch that one.  He wore his warm up,(see picture above) sat with the team.  Told everyone good job, nice race and incorporated himself into the team that way.  I sat with him and showed him things during the meet about how things are "done" so he could take it all in, without having to worry about swimming. 

Then one day I came into the end of practice to pick him up and they were practicing "starts" and "racing".  When I entered the pool it seemed like everyone was standing around, but they were waiting for Daniel to finish his race.  People were cheering for him to swim.  He was about half way and barely moving.  I already knew he didn't really understand the "race" part of it.  I have seen him swim hard against his brother.  Something about that motivates him to SWIM, he doesn't want his little brother to beat him, so he kicks it into gear.  But in this instance, and in the scrimmage, he looked like he was out for a Sunday stroll.  It's sort of adorable.  But it was clear to me that he had no idea what he was supposed to be doing.  Especially when he yelled, "do I have to swim to the wall?"  Um yeah...

After that practice I was talking to him about races.  How it's different from practice.  The only example I could think of about going fast is "the Hare" from Aesop's The Tortoise and the Hare.  He loves that story and knows it by heart.  He liked the comparison to going super fast like the hare.  We have talked about it a few times since then.  I was telling my cousin this story yesterday and she said something like, 'you need to find a story with a different moral, like Elmo winning a race, the whole point is that the tortoise wins'. But we were laughing and Beckie was yelling into the phone "BE THE HARE DANIEL" which made me laugh.  But  I do understand the conflict with the moral, and unfortunately, so does Daniel! So if anyone has any suggestions, please leave a comment.  If it is Sesame Street, or some other animated movie, that shows trying your best in a race, that would be the best motivator. 

Last night after Zachary's meet, Daniel was riding home with me in the car.  He said, "I'm not a tortoise, I am the hare! A tortoise has a very heavy shell that makes him slowwwwww."  I was laughing along with him and said "yes it would be hard to swim with that heavy shell!"  (again, turtles swim and as far as I know rabbits do not...I need some help here people!)  But we were joking and having fun.   The last thing he says at night is what he is going to dream about.  He said he was going to dream about being the hare. 

This morning he came bounding into the kitchen excitedly saying, "I dreamt I was the hare!"  But then he looked at me and said "but slow and steady wins the race" with a bit of a question on the end there.  I replied that slow and steady wins only the very long races.  In a very short race fast fast fast wins, so you have to try to go your fastest.  Be the hare. This seemed to satisfy him.  He is very excited for tonight.  He has proclaimed that he will "Be the hare." What we really want is for him to understand the difference between a race and practice. Which he did not.   Todd and I were laughing about all of this on the phone this morning because it really doesn't make any sense at all.  It is all conflicting, but Daniel is really enjoying the thought of being the hare.  Todd I can't wait to find out what this means to Daniel.    Knowing him he'll take it literally and go super fast (for him) and then stop at the end and not finish. Just like the hare.  Or he'll try his very best, which is what we want from everyone.  Or...who knows?!  At the very least, it will be interesting!  Seriously, what have I done!?! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year; Two Years in the Making

Happy 2012!   I hope this finds your families healthy and happy after the holiday season.  We decided to go "low key" this New Years.  We stayed home.  It's been a busy break with swim practices, so instead of packing up and going somewhere we thought we needed some down time before school started again. 

New Years Eve found us hanging out, playing cards and waiting for the ball to drop.  Daniel was also waiting, although ready to leap into bed after we counted down.  His favorite part is counting backwards from 10 of course.  It is oh so very very Sesame Street!  At about 11:45 he wandered downstairs, already showered and in his pajamas waiting for "the" moment.  He brought his I pad with him while he waited in the family room.  Todd and I were playing cards with our friends when we heard the TV go silent.  We both turned around to look into the family room and then we saw "it".  For those of you who know us, or have read this blog for a long time, you know what "it" is.  "It", like Voldemort, is the thing that cannot be named, said, talked about, make a reference to, anything.  The Belle Tire commercial was on during The New Years Rockin' Eve "with Dick Clark" hosted by Ryan Seacrest (I don't know why that makes me laugh...Dick Clark, please please retire.) 

But for those of you who aren't familiar with our years and years (and years) of dealing with "The Belle Tire guy", here are some old posts for you to read.  Here  I think that should pull up all of them.  I reread a lot of these last night.  Realizing that for the past two years we have been actively working on helping Daniel past this fear.  Really, it's been his whole life, but the past two years he seems to have matured enough to work harder on it.  He is still terrified by the little demon.  This seemingly innocuous little guy has really pissed me off for a long time.  Only because he paralyzes my child and prevents us from going to a lot of places for fear that he will suddenly appear on a screen somewhere.  I have written about "Sensory Perceptual Issues in Autism and Aspergers".  But as a reminder, it explains that "perceptual thinkers can experience thought as a reality. It means that when they think about something, they relive it visually, auditorially, etc and emotionally." (ONeill 1999).  If you have ever seen Daniel react to this guy you'd know he was reliving a nightmare over and over again. 

One of my followers became someone who worked for Belle Tire, because I wrote about them so much, I guess they had to know who this blogger was who kept talking about them.  They feel bad.  They've even written to me, which is nice, but also kind of funny.  But what can they do?  I only wish they could do something.

So back to NYE.  Silence.  Todd and I looked at each other, with that non verbal communication that only 20+ years of marriage can give you.  Todd jumped up and went into the room (we can see the TV from where we were, but not Daniel).  Daniel was looking at his I pad, with kind of a scrunched up look on his face, looking off to the side.  Kind of like when you see something really disgusting and don't quite want to look at it...  Then when it was over, it was over although he was a little upset.  He muted it and looked away.  That's what he did.  What he DIDN'T DO was: yell, cover his ears, run from the room.  None of it. None of the typical for him fight or flight, over the top panic. He simply picked up the remote and hit that powerful little button "mute", averted his eyes and waited for it to be over.  For two years, when we go into restaurants with TVs (that are muted) we have told him "it's safe,  it's on mute", he won't hear "it's" voice and he can look away when it's done.  For over two years.  It has allowed us to slowly go to more places.  He gets a little anxious, but he's been doing it with some underlying panic.  Then on NYE, this happened.  The couple who were with us, both know very well, about his problems with this. We all looked at each other in astonishment.  I'm so glad they knew how BIG, HUGE, ENORMOUS, this was for him and were able to celebrate that with us.  We didn't have a lot of time to do that, because it was time for the countdown.  We had poppers with confetti (yup, loud, but we warned him, and he was fine with it and happy to pull one himself). We counted down, we kissed and hugged and welcomed 2012 together.  With maybe just a little more enthusiasm that we had planned on because Daniel made a huge leap forward that night.  I think confetti and celebration were a perfect way to follow up this growth.  That is why we are always working on things.  It took over two years, and we saw a change right before our eyes.  I'm hoping this is a sign of things to come.  Happy New Year from the Sneathens!