Monday, October 24, 2016

More Than Soup.

Not long ago, I ordered myself a little bowl of soup.

Small-ish.  But huge in my head.  I had been thinking about that little bowl of soup for years.  The more I thought about it, the bigger my little bowl of soup grew.  You've seen my little bowl of soup.  Maybe you haven't given it much thought?  But if you're even a little familiar with childrens' books, you've probably seen it before.

See it sitting back there.  Simple, right?  Not the biggest part of the story.  Certainly not when we were kids reading this book.  When I was a kid, I don't know that I even really loved Where The Wild Things Are.  The Wild Things themselves were neat to me.  I wasn't impressed with the kid's behavior.  I wasn't fooled into thinking he actually traveled somewhere.  I was a no-nonsense kid and wasn't buying that he was anywhere but in his bedroom imagining.  What I did think was cool was that the kid got to eat his dinner in his bedroom.  The little things, right?

As a 30-something mom with a kid with Autism, I see this book in a WHOLE different way now.  Actually, my Max was named after the kid in the book.  I liked the idea of Max being a kid full of imagination.  It's always been my dream for my kids to have big personalities with even bigger imaginations.  No other kid has ever been better named.  He has morphed into the King of the Wild Things himself.

Max was diagnosed at the age of four.  It was a long, slow, and grueling process.  The actual diagnosing took a few weeks.  It was all the professionals I asked from the time he was 2 years old that turned my hair gray and kept Max from receiving services earlier.  I heard things like, "He makes too much eye contact." or "He's too loving." I even heard, "He's way too cute!"  The cute statement came from his special needs pre-k teacher.  No one would listen.  No one would discuss his aggression, lack of speech, his picky eating, the je ne sais quoi I could feel in my gut.  It wasn't until I got to the right pediatrician who actually listened that I was on the right track.  The aggression though.  I have never gotten help with the aggression.  The aggressive aspect of his Autism is definitely the hardest on me, our family, and most of all Max.

One day, I read the same Where the Wild Things Are for the one millionth time.  Suddenly this childrens' book smacked me square in the face.  What the hell is Max-the-character's problem?  What if he doesn't just have bad behavior?  What if it is something so much more?  Something out of control?  Something like... Autism?  It added a whole new spin to the whole thing.  Where is the mom anyway?  Tired.  She is tired.  Too tired to once again pick up the fight and deep pressure hug Max-the-character until he succumbs to the lovin'.  She instead takes the easy route that she'll probably regret later - putting him in his room to work it out himself.  I could suddenly see through the eyeballs of that mama just trying to keep it together.  And I could see that Max-the-character was creating a world for himself when the real world became all too much.  That, to me, is one of the most painful parts of Autism.

But as we know, Max-the-character does come "back home".  And eventually, so does my Max when the world becomes too much.  In Where the Wild Things are, the mother helps Max-the-character in the only way she knows how at the time:  she is sure to give him a nice full bowl of soup, and, most importantly, she is sure it is hot.  She could have set it out at any point with a to-hell-with-it attitude.  But no, she was warm herself and kind.  And forgiving.  It was only a few weeks ago that I realized there is also a big piece of cake beside the soup.  The whole meal says, "not only do I forgive you, but I love you, and I understand you.  And I will always be here for you when you get back from your own world."

And so, now I can't read Where the Wild Things Are to my kids without a lot of deep breathing and eye blinking.  It just resonates so loudly with me.  My Max has come so far.  That bowl of soup represents to me a quiet patience that I strive to attain every single day.  Some days I succeed.  Some days I do not.  At all.  But regardless, I will always be there when he comes back home.

So... that bowl of soup.

 I carry it with me everywhere I go now.  I look at it often as I contemplate that quiet patience.  It has definitely been a journey.  This motherhood gig is by far hardest thing I have ever done.  But isn't it the hardest things, the things you bleed and sweat and cry over that often bring the most joy?

Friday, August 05, 2016

What Science?

It's strange, but even though lesson plans are something I do for the family, they make me feel incredibly guilty.  I can't explain why.  I suppose it's the whole sitting thing.  I am not running around flitting and flatting to and from mess to mess.  Maybe some of the guilt comes from the fact that I actually, somewhere deep inside, don't mind lesson plans.  And yet, I hate the jobs that are so important, but at the end of the day, there's no actual physical evidence that I worked my butt off.  The house is still a mess, the laundry is still staring at me through its hampers.

And every time I sit down to work on lesson plans, children crowd around.

"What are you doing?"

"Can I play on the computer?"

"Can you give me a bath?"

"Can I watch Netflix?"

Sometimes it can be lovely.  Like when a child can just sit with me and do a puzzle or look at a book.

On this particular day, a few weeks ago, I was working on The Littles' science plans.  Science has always been a struggle in this house.  I can't get on board with most of the popular homeschool science curriculums because I'm a fan of evolution.  I'm all about doing some religious studies, but including Adam and Eve in science studies has always baffled me.  So anyway, I've found a pretty simple science text I am going to Pinterest the hell out of and make my own plans.  This is hella hard since there's the writing of it, and the gathering of materials, and the actual execution of the whole thing, and then the actual maintaining.  We will see.  I sure do love ordering crap online and having it come to me all wrapped up in a neat box.

So, I gather my materials and put on my glasses.  Glasses = I mean business.  I open my planner and begin typing away.  We will start with the five senses.  Max sits down beside me with a frog book.

"Why'd we get the tadpoles, mom?"

Sigh.  "So you could watch them, Max."  On I go, typing away all about the five senses.

"Where'd you get them, mom?"

"From the neighbor's pool, Max."  I can sense now we are in a question-answer session, which is 75% of my time with Max.  I take a lot of deep breaths.  On I go.  Five senses.  Five senses.

"When do the tadpoles get their legs, mom?"

"I think about six weeks, Max."  Why can't I ever get time to myself?!

"How do they turn into frogs, mom?"

"I think there's a diagram in the book, Max." If I could just find some activities to go with the five senses...

"Where does their tail go, mom?"

"It disappears, Max." How the hell am I going to get this done?!

"Can you help me draw a tadpole, mom?"

FIVE SENSES.  FIVE SENS...  Oh... Suddenly I realized what had been going on right in front of me without my realizing it.  Science was happening right there with no pomp and circumstance.  And that's the best learning.  We read the book, observed, and drew some tadpoles.  I quietly shut the lap top.  I can't say that every day is like this.  But when it happens, it's sweet.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Bring On the Summer Slow Down.

It's been one of those weeks.  I'm worn.  Here's how it began:

That's my chimney.  In all its glory.  Embarrassing?  Sure.  Mucho.  But, hey, it's all done now.  Originally, some dude The Hubs knows wanted to charge us $1200.  Fourteen hundred dollars later, we did it ourselves.  Now, The Hubs would be quick to point out that in our total, we have a new porch door, two drills and a saw.  It was tiring and awful and with our hilly landscape, it took three days instead of one.  We're off the do-it-yourself kick for a long while.  Shout out to the brother-in-law and fam who came out to help.

A lot of this happened.  Because, I mean, how else are you gonna deal with a house full of people and an effed up chimney??

(And you can love on your fancy beers all ya want, at the end of the day, I'm a simple gal.)  It also helped me get through moments like these with each. and. every. kid.:

Almost all the kids had no problem going waaay above the house and I have a pretty tall house.  Did I take a ride?  No.  No I did not.

Max graduated from Kindergarten... again.  But for real this time, yo.

So it begins.  The "Am I doing everything I can????" questions.  To myself.  All summer.  The OT at school let her license lapse.  No OT.  Speech is a joke.  He's a little fish in really big waters.  Floundering around in the mainstream, yet not "bad enough" to be in the Autism class.  Teachers can not work with that they do not see.  There has never been help with his aggression and behavior at home.  So do we homeschool or go back to public school.  I have all summer to make that decision.  Yet, it doesn't matter how much time I have, I see both sides and they both have awesome points and they can both suck.  (I am eloquent, eh?)  Research I shall.  I'll make the decision and with enough luck I will look back and wonder why it was so hard to make the decision I made, hopefully.

This guy is cutting teeth:

And this is what we have planned this summer:

So that was the past week.  It felt huge, and yet I have been stuck in this house for all of it.  I'm ready to cool off for a while.  The summer slow down is most welcome all up in this hizzy.  And hopefully, just hopefully... I can blog more.  Maybe.
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