The Slumber Party List

My older son, 9 yrs old, wanted to have a sleep-over party with his two neighborhood buddies.  He asked us about it over dinner one evening and we agreed that he could ask them for the upcoming Friday night.  This would be the second time our son would have a friend sleep over and he was thrilled.  While he has two boys that he likes to play with regularly in our neighborhood, he doesn’t have a strong social network, due largely to the various demands his younger brother places on our time and attention and the fact that most little boys in my son’s peer group don’t see his little brother as someone cool to associate with.  It usually isn’t a big issue – it just is what it is. 

As we discussed the sleep over, my younger son (with Autism) was wildly enthusiastic about the idea and immediately assumed he would be co-host, to my older son’s dismay. 

Our older son worried that his little brother, with his strange speech and odd behaviors, would make the evening “uncool” and that his buddies wouldn’t want to spend time with this weird little brother.  He worried that his little brother would do something to embarrass him.  We had a little talk with him and asked him to go along with his little brother’s excitement and just trust that the event would go off without any issues.  Plus, we added, if it went well we would be happy to host such events much more often.  With that carrot dangled in front of him, he happily agreed (with only a trace of trepidation lingering in his eyes) and we started to call his friends’ parents.

Our younger son, still in party planning mode, asked for help in coming up with a party “list”.  He dictated the following (in order):

1.  Jokes

2.  Pizza

3.  Stories

As with all highly important strategic family documents, we read the list aloud and tacked it on the refrigerator for reference.  My older son rolled his eyes and announced that this was “a SLEEPOVERFORGOSHSAKES and cool dudes (where on earth does he get these terms?) don’t have lists, they just do fun stuff like play the Wii and eat pizza and stuff.”  Younger son’s eyes filled with tears and he shot back “You goof brain!”   Oldest son cried out “But its dumb!  You’re a potato head!”

I first reminded everyone that we do not call each other names, then comforted my youngest with a “we’ll see how it goes and make sure we keep this list.  It is a good list and we cannot forget the pizza!” while shooting my oldest a look that warned him to keep his darned mouth shut because we respect each others’ ideas and if he doesn’t there will be no sleepover list to concern himself with as there would be no sleepover and he’d better not forget that I control the ice cream distribution in this house young man…

So anyway… the big evening came and two little boys arrived, pyjamas and sleeping bags in hand.  Younger son excitedly tore his list off the refrigerator, said “Here’s a list of what we need to do for the party!” and presented it to one of the boys, who glanced at the list, then made a face at my older son.  Younger son tried to present the list to the other boy who just ignored him and turned away (I had to restrain myself from swooping in).  Older son distracted them both by challenging them to a game of Guitar Hero (a Wii game where you “play” the guitar in a rock band – one of the boys brought it with him). 

Soon the strains of “Slow Ride” began (the first of about 183 repetitions of this song) and the three boys happily took turns while my youngest, quickly forgetting the slight, adopted the role of groupie by cheering them on from his sleeping bag.

Later, we ordered pizza and the boys attacked it as if they hadn’t eaten in days.  They happily munched and recounted stories from Guitar Hero (“remember when I missed that note and there was all that booing?”), questions about Pro-football (“who is your favorite… the Bears or the Colts?” note we’re in Atlanta and the Falcons weren’t even mentioned – darn that Michael Vick), and general 9 year old boy potty humor comments (“THHFIIPHPHFFFF“, “Hey!  You farted!”, “Gross!”, “belch”, “I saw a dog with diarrhea…”” ).  It was… fascinating… and our youngest, while not adding alot of content, continued his groupie role by faithfully chortling along with the others and adding his own trick – showing everyone the chewed up pizza in his mouth before swallowing (I am assured that this is a totally normal behavior, although it understandably doesn’t appear in any of the standardized testing our Developmental Pediatrician has used to date).

After pizza the boys went back to Guitar Hero (more “Slow Rider”) and then put in a movie.  All seemed to be going well, we reassured ourselves.   This is easy – we can do this – not a problem – we’re cool – the house is still standing, and no-one is crying – we’re good).  After the movie they went back to some more Slow Ride… I mean, Guitar Hero.  Our youngest wrapped up in his sleeping bag and fell asleep.  Another boy looked heavy eyed and ready for his own sleeping bag.  I suggested it was time for the slumber part of the party, but the boys rallied and loudly declared that they were going to stay up until midnight!  They were dudes that stayed up late!  They were just getting started partying! (and one went so far as to proclaim that he stayed up until after mid-night every night of the week!)  I smiled and told them that they could stay up but needed to shut down the Guitar Hero and turn off the TV since the rest of us were going to bed.  They said “no problem” and “Good night Mrs. X” and “this is a cool party, Mrs. X!” and “What are we having for breakfast?”  As they scooted into their sleeping bags, I told them we would deal with breakfast in the morning, wished them good night, and climbed the stairs. 

As I got to the top, I paused to listen to their chatter below.

“So what can we do now?” yawned one.

     “I don’t know”

          “There’s the list”

     “Let’s look at the list”

         “Here it is.  It says Jokes first”

“We did that at dinner”

         “Then Pizza”

    “We did that at dinner too”

         “Then Stories”

“That was the movie”

    “Maybe we can tell more Jokes”

At that they began with “Knock Knock”,  “Who’s there?”, “THFIIIIIPHPHPFFFF”,  “GROSS!”, “Do it again!”

I smiled.  What a good list.

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Emoticons – Which ones say what?

I found this short little quiz on emoticons (you know, those combinations on the keyboard that signify a smiley face or a rose, or whatever 🙂 ).  Since I am only comfortable with the smiley and maybe the winky 😉 (or whatever it is called) I was fascinated by the range of emoticons out there.  You might be too.  Fun stuff!

http://netforbeginners.about.com/cs/netiquette101/a/bl_emoticons101.htm

Trapped in a diagnosis?

This was forwarded to me  in one of the online discussion groups to which I belong (how valuable these are!) and thought it was just too good to not share.  If you’ve ever felt trapped in a diagnosis, particularly with your lovely and yet developing child, this is a good one to bolster your spirit.

Forget the Diagnosis (By Jene Aviram)

Autism! PDD-NOS! Aspergers syndrome! ADHD! High functioning! Low functioning! Delayed! Hearing these words about your child can be crushing. They can devastate you to your very core. The good news is THEY DON’T HAVE TO! 

Let me tell you why…It doesn’t matter. That’s right. It simply doesn’t matter. If you want to really help your child then read on. I’m serious. Don’t be like the thousands who wish they had “lived” this concept sooner.

Pretend for a moment you have a newborn. He is simply perfect. By the time he is two years old, his fingers are so long, they look strange. You go to a renowned physician and ask “What’s wrong with my child? Why are his fingers so long?”. The physician smiles and says “Your child has a condition called spindle fingers. He has a natural gift for playing musical instruments. Many dream of having this talent”. You’re absolutely thrilled and can’t wait to share the news. You rush home but on the way you stop to buy a toy xylophone, piano, drum set and flute. You set them out on the floor when you get home and you watch proudly as your toddler strums each one of them. You don’t care that everyone else thinks it just sounds like noise. You have a budding musician on your hands and he’s practicing!

As the months go by you encourage your child to play instruments. He gets a little older and expresses his preference for the piano. You take him to piano lessons, listen to famous piano players and perhaps even go to concerts. You explain to your son that his fingers are long because he is talented at playing the piano. Your son plays the piano beautifully. He is proud of his fingers and his talent. You are proud of your son.

You run into the physician a few years later. You tell him proudly about your child’s piano skills. He smiles broadly and says “I made it all up. There is no condition called spindle fingers”. “What?” you shriek “that’s impossible. My child is an excellent player”. “Of course he is” says the physician “It’s called belief. You believed in your child’s fingers. You believed in his talent. You encouraged him. It didn’t matter how many mistakes he made. You hardly heard them because you knew he was on the path to greatness. Your son felt your belief. He saw it in your eyes. He felt it course through his being. It inspired him. Every time he looked at his long fingers he thought about his talent. He felt proud of himself. He knew he could do it. Your unwavering faith inspired him to be the best he can be”.

My advice to you is this. Forget about the boxes and the labels. Ignore the judgments. Your child is fascinating. Your child is a unique and wonderful being who is incredibly special. Give him or her the tools. Encourage them on their journey. Never lose faith in them. Stand by their side. Teach them as much as you can. Watch in delight as they soar far beyond everyone’s expectations. Everyone’s except yours and all those who joined your belief along the way!

******

Thanks Jene for articulating something that rings true for parents everywhere!

Posted in Autism. Tags: . 3 Comments »

A Tale of Dreams, of Woe… and of Veggies?

Broccoli… Celery… Gotta be… VEGGIETALES!

I don’t know about you, but in my household, the words to the VeggieTales themesong are heard and sung several times each week.  My kids are hooked on this series and they’ve been a fun way to teach them about good decisions, loving and trusting God, and stories from the bible.  If you’ve never heard of this series, think of what would happen if you had Monty Python write a children’s sermon.  As they say in the videos, it is Saturday morning fun with Sunday morning values (or something like that).

Anyway, I digress.

I’ve long wondered what happened to Bob and Larry (a tomato and a cucumber, in case you didn’t know), Big Idea (the company that made the VeggieTales series), and Phil Vischer (the man who created Big Idea, Bob, Larry, and basically drove the company and the series).  With the Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything movie recently released in theaters, my curiosity just couldn’t hold out any longer.  So, the other day, I googled for the information… and found Phil’s blog.  And on his blog was the story – Phil’s sincere account of his dream, the successes, the decisions, the mistakes, and ultimately how Big Idea failed – and the pain and heartache that went with it (link to the story below). 

Since I also have struggled to build a company (although it never achieved the kind of success of Big Idea) and mourned when it died a most horrible death, I could relate to alot of what Phil says.  Wow – someone else asked the same questions I did!  “Why did God give me this dream?” and “What does God want me to do?” and “I thought God led me to this.. so why is it all going so horribly wrong?”  Oh!  the drama and agony and joy and pain!  It is a great read – I highly recommend it.

http://www.philvischer.com/index.php/?p=38

Phil, if you ever read this post, please know that there are many many people who benefited (and continue to do so) from your dream and efforts to give God and vegetables a more prominent place in our kids entertainment portfolio.  Thank you!

What Kind of World Do You Want?

The band, Five for Fighting is generously donating $0.49 to Autism Speaks each time any of these videos are viewed. The funding goes toward research studies to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the link below to watch the videos and pass it along. They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass this goal.  http://www.whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com/videos/list/sort/views/type/asc

There are several videos based upon songs by Five for Fighting or other artists’s songs.  The band is encouraging people to create their own versions – they are wonderful to browse through.  Please check it out!  Help us move toward a cure!  Please choose those that benefit Autism Speaks.

Life’s Sountrack

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if we had our own soundtrack, just like the characters in the movies or TV? 

Just think what danger we could avoid if we could only hear that telltale music playing just before we open the door to see our spouse doing the diddly with our best friend–with the music, as soon as we heard it we could pause, compose ourselves, make sure our hair is fabulous (so we can deliver our line in a self-assured manner) and think of a snappy comment before opening the door (“You can have him and his Viagra!”).  Without the music you are in danger of blindly opening the door and letting out a most undignified and uncool “AAACK!” (not that I’ve ever found myself in this situation, but it is one where I would definitely want the music to warn me :)).

Even better, how much more enjoyable that trip to the grocery store would be if we could hear happy, zippy music in the background to make our steps lighter and the task less dreary (the faint muzak could never accomplish this).

How about those times when you are feeling downtrodden or overburdened with life’s troubles?  Wouldn’t it be great to hear “I Will Survive”?  For me it would mean an instant mood lift as the music bolstered my resolve to do just that – survive whatever it is and show the world that I am truly fabulous!

How about at work?  “The Typewriter Song” (by Leroy Anderson) would be a good one.  (Maybe “I Will Survive” would be more appropriate!)

Think about it–What would be in your soundtrack?  Would it compliment or supplement your life and how you’re living it?  It could be good stuff 🙂

Beginning and Good Stuff

So I am new to blogging – but hope this will be a way to help me find and express the crazy funny life I lead and to focus on the good stuff…