Rules

Every household has rules.  Kids and adults need rules – to give us boundaries, define how we will interact with each other, and thereby provide a comfortable environment to live in.

Families with Autism, if they are anything like THIS family with Autism, likely have more rules… and certainly more interesting rules… than the families without Autism.  Our kids with Autism structure their worlds differently and so the rules must accomodate that… accomodate their perspective… and that can make for some weird strange unexpected interesting rules.  Rules that sometimes must be repeated again and again and again.

Some of the more interesting rules from the last month include:

(from me, after Christmas pageant practice at church) “Here’s a rule.  This is very important.  You do not sing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” in mouse language at the top of your lungs while everyone else is singing “Silent Night.”

(from me, while holding onto the dashboard in the car) “No one is to smell Daddy’s armpit while he is driving!  Do you understand?  NO ONE!”

(from our younger son (with Autism) while giving his order to a waiter in a restaurant) “Here’s a rule.  It is very important.  The chef must stir sugar into the recipe but NOT the poison!”

I particularly like that last one.  Any other “interesting” family rules out there?

God’s Bacon… or Bakery?

People often assume that my younger son (with Autism) is lost in his own world, not paying attention, and unreachable.  They make the mistake of dismissing him, ignoring him, and/or underestimating him.

Eventually he proves them wrong, often with hilarious results. 

Especially in church.

This last sunday our Pastor was at the pulpit, delivering a sermon around God’s plan for each of us.  I was in the choir loft, listening to Pastor (of course!) and watching my family sitting in the second pew from the front (right in front of the Pastor).  My husband and older son were sitting face forward, eyes up toward the pulpit, feet still, mouths closed.  Pretty typical sermon-listening posture.

My younger son was next to them, sprawled out on the pew, legs akimbo, fingers busy with a paperclip, eyes focused on who-knows-what on the floor, feet gently kicking the kneeler in front of him, lips and mouth working at some sort of silent exercise.  This is not typical sermon-listening posture.  But then, my son is not typical in many respects.

So Pastor is talking about God’s plan for us.  He says that God has our lives planned out.  That we need to trust in God.  His voice gets louder as he makes his points.  His hand gestures become broader.  He explains how this does not relieve us of all responsibility (“God’s plan, our hands”).  He gets louder and even more animated.  He goes on to say that we humans often feel such a need to control our destiny that people “sometimes … rush in thinking they need to save God’s bacon!” (gotta love Southernisms)

My younger son quickly and loudly pipes up with “WHAT?  WE NEED TO SAVE GOD’S BAKERY?”

Pastor quickly recovered from his surprise and said “Yes!  Can you believe some people think they need to do that?” and went on with his prepared text.  For a moment however he lost his audience.  Everyone else was laughing and twittering about my son’s cute outburst, asking each other if that was set up by Pastor, and amazed that a little boy was actually paying attention, much less THIS little boy who doesn’t look like he pays attention to ANYTHING.

Let me tell you now – he pays attention – and he picks up on a heck of a lot more than you think he does.

… and those gigles heard from the choir loft?  Those were from a proud mama who loves her baby very much and couldn’t help wondering if God’s bakery serves egg and bacon biscuits past 11 am.

That’s So Old School

Recently my older son had a sleep over.  As his buddies were munching on pancakes the next morning they were “talkin trash” and comparing notes on a variety of topics–homework (boring), Brian Urlacher (totally cool), and girls (hot).  They were so funny (except for the “hot” comments – which strode somewhere between hilarious and nervewracking) – spouting opinions about this and that.  I just listened and kept making pancakes while they chattered away.

At one point a lull in the converstaion came.  To break the silence my older son said “Remember when we used to play Guitar Hero?”  This is the Wii game that has been all the rage for the last year, in case you haven’t heard of it (i.e. live under a rock).  It involves “playing” a guitar along with a band on screen – if you get the hand movements right along with the chosen song you get cheered on by the crowd, your band fees go up, and you get to go on tours.  If you don’t do so well parts of the song fade out, you get boo-ed, and you don’t make money with your band.  There are multiple versions of it now available.

I resisted the urge to break in with “You mean like 3 days ago?” while I poured batter on to the hot griddle.  I kept quiet to see what would be said next.  I wasn’t disappointed.

“Yeah” answered one of his guests.

“Yeah,” my son said, “that’s so old school!”  He shoved another big forkload of syrupy pancake into his mouth while his buddies nodded their agreement.

I couldn’t resist any more.  I put down my spatula and leaned against the counter.  “Son, what do you mean by ‘old school’?”

He looked up at me with his sweet freckled face and said “You know, Mom… been there ,done that…”

“Oh.  I see.”  I turned around and tried to stifle my laughter.  Where do they come up with this stuff?  This feined ennui and sophisticated boredom – at ten?  Heaven help us!

Mommy Comparison

My older son (typical kid) has a good friend (R) who lives in the house behind ours (or we live behind them, as he pointed out to me recently).  These boys are inseparable.  They are best friends and they talk about everything that may be on their minds.

One evening at the dinner table my son wanted to tell us about a conversation they had had that very afternoon.  It was one of those good natured conversations where they start to compare things in their lives to see who had it “better” than the other.

My son started with “We were talking about how R’s Mommy is prettier than you.  She is really pretty,” he declared.  He looked a bit smug.  I think I raised an eyebrow followed by a slight cringe as I imagined what might next come out of his mouth.

My husband looked ready to intervene in order to salvage my ego when my son continued with “Yeah, but we agreed that my Mommy could heavy punch his Mommy.” 

He sat back with a grin on his face and I saw all the pride shining in his eyes.  My cup runneth over.

Well, I thought, what more do you need to know?

Pretty is as pretty does… in a young boy’s mind at least.

Note to my gentle readers: No, I do not “heavy punch” people.  I don’t think I’ve thrown a punch in my entire adult life (although I may have tried to punch one of my brothers at some point when we were kids… I don’t remember it but I admit it is possible).  I do not advocate punching people nor pets nor trees nor anything.  Punching is violence and punching is bad, unless you are being attacked in which case please don’t not punch just to be polite.  Punch and scream and kick and yell and get away.  There – did I cover it all?

Who Whispers Secrets Into YOUR Ear?

Can I just say… the St Louis Zoo is really really a GREAT deal?  Free admission, lots to see, beautiful landscaping… and hippos coming out of your ears!

there's a Hippo in my ear!

or at least…. Hippos coming out of my son’s ear…

My youngest is a huge animal lover – he lives for trips to the zoo, the aquarium, and the farm.  When we took a summer trip to a family reunion in Southern Illinois, we just had to make a detour to the St Louis zoo.  My son dreamed of this trip for weeks ahead of time and the experience far outshone his anticipation.  We all had a great time.
Okay – so the hippo isn’t REALLY coming out of his ear.  He just happened to be in the right place at the right time with the right facial expression… the crowd parted briefly… and I got a fantastic pic of my youngest that makes me smile every time I look at it.
Here’s to all of the kids out there with dreams of the future, adventures realized, and especially for those who ever dreamed of having a hippo whisper secrets into their ear.

Here Be Dragons

Note – If you know me and you know my mother-in-law, please, I beg of you, please don’t tell her about this.  None of us wanted to deal with this and we especially don’t want to deal with her dealing with it – it’s just too much and we want to spare her.  Thanks.

HERE BE DRAGONS

I dropped off the edge of the map and it took me a while to find my way back.  My sincere apologies.

I had such wonderful news to share–a fresh journey we had started–and then life took a turn and I lost a few things.  Literally.  I had set a course and was traveling down it, making plans, anticipating outcomes, dreaming about our future… when my course went off track and I found myself outside the borders… surviving the dragons.

You see, I stopped blogging when I started to have a miscarriage last May.  I lost a little life and I lost the desire to write.  I was battling dragons that I had not encountered before.  I was in such pain and the dragons were fierce.  They toyed with me for over a month before they tired of me and left me to find my way back home with a tired soul, a sense of what was gone and a desire to just go back home.  Oh yes, and with a few painkillers left in the prescription bottle.  Those rude and ruthless dragons.

Like adventurers of old however I am back to tell you that the dragons may be fierce and they may be fiery but I have survived and lived to tell the tale.  What’s more I have battle scars and lessons learned and even treasure found along the way.  

Treasure, you ask?  Why yes!  Treasure of the best sort!  Friends, casseroles, and stories shared of similar loss, heartache and survival – stories that for some reason we hide away until a fellow adventurer makes themselves known to us – stories that we don’t bring out of the hope chests until we know that a fellow soul might find comfort in knowing that others found and fought the dragons, too.

Those stories of other tiny ones discovered and prayed for and lost… while they might break the hearts of others… for me came together as a shepherd to gently guide me out of my dragon’s den.  The stories of shared experiences helped to dissipate the pain and feel the love that was offered so freely.  Those stories helped me to ignore my own dragons and recognize my fellow survivors.  I was able to let go of my little dream and reach for another, as yet unrealized, journey. 

Unlike adventurers of old I will spare you other details as they really aren’t all that interesting to more than this little family.  It is, I hope, sufficient to say that it was the third month, we were very sad, and we hope to thrill you all with tales of a different sort of adventure in the future.

Thank you for all you’ve given to me.  I am looking forward to laughing together through this life and and it’s wonderful journies!

What’s In A Name?

A few years ago my youngest was learning his letters.  One of his teachers taught him that the Xs represented a kiss.  When he came home and told me about this, I taught him that the Os stood for hugs.  He was tickled with this information and made sure that his Daddy learned this vital information as well.

Months later he learned to write his name.  He came home that day and announced that he had a hug AND a kiss in his name.  He held up a school paper to show me just what he meant.  He showed me the X and kissed it.  He pointed out the O and then hugged the paper.  He was so proud.  “I am the only one with both a hug and a kiss in my name!!!” he crowed.

On this Mother’s Day, my youngest crawled into bed with me and handed me a card.  Inside he had signed his name and drew several Xs and Os beneath.  He had me kiss each X and hug each O, including those in his name, then he gave me a hug and kiss for each as well.  My heart swelled.

My sweet baby, my darling son.  True to his name, he is full of Xs and Os… and blessings every day.