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?

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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!

Pride In His Work

My youngest son has recently joined Cub Scouts.  Wolf Scouts to be specific.  He is thrilled to join the den and I am thrilled that he has an avenue through which he may make some friends outside of Occupational therapy sessions.

He loves the Cub Scout uniform shirt, he loves the idea of camping, but he is especially fascinated with the idea of earning badges (I guess this ties in pretty well with all of those behavioral positive reinforcement charts we’ve had over the years).  So, every couple of nights we look through the Wolf book and complete a few of the badge requirements. 

“Let’s go to my work now, Mommy.”

     “Your work, Sweetie?”

“My Wolf work, Mommy.  I need some badges!”

So we work on earning some badges.  The first was the “Family Fun” badge, then the “Duty to God” badge.  Accomplishing these requirements is a source of great pride for my son.  In a world where he is usually labeled as “behind” and “delayed”, where play dates are superceded by therapy sessions, and where he is starting to realize that there are significant differences between him and his typical peers, he has found a place where he can earn tokens of accomplishment just like other kids.  Tokens that mean something to his typical peers.  Tokens that show he can participate in their world.  These are a big deal, my friend.  They are proof that he belongs.  

As we mark off each item, he supervises my signature on each line to make sure I get it right.  “Very good letters, Mommy,” he says, repeating the phrase that we parrot night after night, encouraging him to mind his handwriting while he does his school homework.

The night that he finished these two badge requirements he made sure he included a report in his bedtime prayers… “I earned two badges God!  I did (what were they Mommy?)… I did the Fun badge and my Duty to you badge!  Are you proud of me, God?”

I think my son is proud of his work… and God is proud of HIS work, too.

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.

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.

Ball Games, Peanuts, And Creative Packaging

We went to a Braves Game this last weekend.  I am not a huge baseball fan, but I can certainly appreciate spending a pleasant day in the stands, watching our team play a good game, chatting with friends, and enjoying the beautiful weather.  Oh yeah… and the food!  It just isn’t the same without the hot dogs and peanuts.  It is a wonderful American tradition.

Whenever I go to the ballpark and see those peanut shells I am reminded of a cute story from years ago.  One of my best friends has a boy the same age as my oldest.  We’d taken both families to see the Braves play.  The boys brought their gloves in the hopes of catching a fly ball.  We parents brought in a large bag of peanuts to share.  The boys practically dove into the bag, selecting their peanuts, then setting about the business of cracking them open (without spilling the nuts inside) and popping them into their mouths.  After the initial surge of nut popping activity, my friend’s son seemed to slow down a bit, pondering his peanuts as he twisted them open.  Then, after opening one and eating the nuts inside, he held the shell up for closer inspection.  He turned it around and around, then turned to his Mom.

“How do they do that?” he asked.

“How do they do what, Butterbean?” she replied.

“How do they make the little waffles and get them around the peanuts?” he said.

That makes me chuckle to this day.  Peace to you all!