It’s Possible That I’m a Terrible Person

I’ve been extra busy the past couple of weeks because Alex has gone away for the past two weekends, and will again next weekend. The reason for his travel—nay, abandonment? He’s going to see Phish. And, yes, your math is right: He will miss Halloween.

Big sad-face emoticon.

Naturally, I’ve been a little surly. Part of me is all, “Go ahead, sweetheart. Have a great time.” But then, this other part of me, who is dragging my three kids all over tarnation all weekend by myself while he sleeps in and then goes to see cool music at night is like, “I haaaaate you.”

That mean, kinda terrible (but oh, so justified), part of me laughed really hard on Sunday when Alex called to let me know that he hurt his leg because he fell into a ditch.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Seriously. The dude—stone cold sober, by the way—wandered off the road a little bit and fell into a ditch. A ditch, for the love of Christ. Who does that? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Oh, shut up. He’s fine. It’s not like he’s still lying there or anything.

This whole thing reminded me of the time years ago when Alex and I were crossing the driveway next to our marriage therapist’s office and she almost backed over him. I laughed and laughed and laughed. The therapist seemed to think there was something deeply damaged in my subconscious because I thought it was so hysterical that she almost killed Alex, but I swear I was just enjoying the irony.

C’mon. Alex was almost run over by his therapist. That’s funny, right? It’s not a sign of a latent hatred of my husband, right? If anything, it just means that I’m kind of a bitch. And it’s not like she actually hit him or anything. I bet I wouldn’t have laughed nearly as hard if she’d done that.

Also, maybe that therapist was trying to throw the blame off of her own self, hmmmm?*

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make a very guilt-ridden traveling Alex do stuff for me. Like the dishes.

* We left that therapist shortly after Sam was born and she freaked out when we told her that we weren’t giving him a pacifier and she went on and on about lifelong oral fixation or some such. We never scheduled another appointment and she never called to see if we were still alive. I don’t think she was a very good therapist. Or a very good driver, either.

Godspeed, Little Friend

Noki
2007-2010

Rest in peace, my gerbil friend. My thoughts and best wishes go out to your human family. The world is a little less fuzzy today. You will be missed.


Video source

* Um. It’s possible that all of these photos are of Noki’s cage-mate Robert. It’s terrible, I know, but I still can’t tell which is which. I do, however, know for a fact that it is Noki who is dead. My sympathies to Robert.

Magical Thinking

I was driving my kids over to my friend H’s house today because Alex is out of town and she took pity on me and asked me over to dinner. And, OMG, dinner was good. Thank you, H (and M). You made my weekend.

On the way over, I was chatting with my kids and they started discussing what they would do if they had magic powers. This is always an entertaining conversation to have.

Sam toyed with the idea of time travel at first, so he could travel back in time to school to fix his mistakes. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. And then I’ll let you know that we are seeking professional help for his anxiety issues.

After discarding that idea, however, he decided that teleportation would be more his style. Regarding magic: “I would use it to get around.” You know, kind of like a city bus.

Jack first went with the more aimless idea of “I would shoot lightning out of my finger,” but couldn’t elaborate why he would do so. He thought about it for a while, then added, “Also, I want to summon a pool with a slide.”

You’re waiting to hear what Quinn would do with magic aren’t you? You’re on the edge of your seat, aren’t you? Oh, it’s even better than you could imagine.

Quinn, given the power of magic, would have big plans.

“I would use it to destroy the world.”

Let’s hope he never acquires magical powers.

*******

Proving that I can babble on and on about anything, I wrote about professional sports over at Draft Day Suit today. I was thrilled to be asked to contribute to the site’s “Why I Love…” series. The women behind Draft Day Suit are some of my favorites. You shouldn’t let their questionable judgment in letting me write about sports for them color your opinion of their fantastic site. So, go over to see Why I Love the Oakland Raiders, then poke around a little to see some of the other cool posts there.

Autism Unexpected: DC to Host Eunice Kennedy Shriver Challenge this Saturday

EKS_Challenge_s640x392

This Saturday more than 700 athletes, with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities, will gather on the National Mall to run, walk or bike in support of the 1st Annual Eunice Kennedy Shriver Challenge, which will raise money to support the Special Olympics and Best Buddies International.

Among those 700 athletes will be the event’s co-chairs, Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics owner Ted Leonsis and his Best Buddy, Special Olympics medalist Ken Holden. Leonsis and Holden were matched as buddies through Best Buddies’ e-Buddies program 12 years ago and have emailed each other literally every day since. During that time, they have grown to be close friends.

2005 Best Buddies 17th Annual Ball at Shriver residence, Potomac, MD“We email usually twice a day and sometimes more if lots of excitement is happening in sports,” Holden says. “We make fake billion dollar bets and I win lots of those bets. If [Leonsis] is in town, we go out to eat and sometimes go to see Caps hockey games together. We are really best friends, you know.”

For his part, Leonsis writes about Holden and Best Buddies in his book, The Business of Happiness. “I’ve never had a relationship with someone with an intellectual disability,” he writes. “I learned that I had underestimated how capable they really are.” Through his connection with Best Buddies, he says he “became connected to the higher calling of reducing the isolation of those with intellectual disabilities.”

Organizations such as Best Buddies don’t just benefit those with disabilities. The friendships born from these pairings are important to everyone involved. Leonsis writes that getting to know Holden “has enriched my life immeasurably. It has made me happy.”

As someone who has participated in both the Best Buddies program, founded by Anthony Shriver, and Special Olympics, founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Holden has words of praise for the late Mrs. Shriver. “She opened people’s eyes to the need for us to able to compete just like other athletes were doing,” he says.

After his special needs elementary school got involved with the Special Olympics when he was 10 years old, Holden says he was thrilled to finally get to be a kid who was in a sport like his brothers. His favorite Special Olympics event is biking, but “I love all of my gold medals and am really proud of the ones won with a team sport,” he says. “Standing on the riser and having a gold medal placed around my neck made me feel very important and happy.”

As for Best Buddies, Holden reports that even though he had always gone out to do things with his family, having a Best Buddy, starting when he was in college, was different because it gave him an opportunity to go out with a friend. “That was the first time I had a regular friend that I could leave in a car with for a football game, movie or out to eat. I had done those things, but always with a family member,” he says.

This experience has continued with his relationship with Leonsis. When asked what he is most looking forward to at Saturday’s event, he replies, “I am looking forward to having fun with my buddy Ted. I can’t wait to see him and share all of the fun events at the challenge.”

“I am really happy I get to help with the challenge because Mrs. Shriver made a huge difference in my life and all of the people with intellectual disabilities,” he continues. “She knew that people with disabilities had lots of abilities and she gave us all a chance to achieve. She is the reason I am the happy guy that is lucky to have Ted as my best friend too.”

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Challenge kicks off  on October 23 at 7:30 a.m. at the Washington Monument. It will feature a 20-mile cycling event led by D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Tour de France cyclists Bobby Julich and Christian Vande Velde. Olympic gold-medalist Carl Lewis will lead a 5K run/3K walk. The day’s additional events will culminate in a live performance by David Archuleta.

[Image: Ken Holden, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Ted Leonsis at the 2008 Buddy Ball.]

Originally published at Autism Unexpected on October 22, 2010.

A Tale of Two Field Trips

Sam had a field trip today. The third grade was going to see a production of Bunnicula at a local playhouse. As a longtime fan of Bunnicula as well as its many sequels, including Howliday Inn and The Celery Stalks at Midnight, I was all over chaperoning that trip.

The day that permission slip came home, I scoured it looking for the blank space where I could put my name down, thus ensuring a lovely trip to the theater without my two most ants in the pants children.

Naturally, there was no such space.

Evidently third graders don’t need chaperones at the theater. I’m sure when they go to the Boring Museum of Boringness on the busiest day of the year, then there will be a blank space for people to volunteer to chaperone.

Speaking of field trips that are kind of a nightmare to chaperone, the kindergarteners went to the pumpkin patch today. Guess whose permission slip had a spot for my name?

That’s us on the bus, shortly before I commenced to trying to not barf.*

I was in charge of three small children. Naturally the first thing I did was take them into a maze made out of hay bales. Good call, Stimey. I was smart enough, however, to keep them out of the corn maze, which, although less sneezy, was taller and easier to lose a child in.

My own family had gone to this pumpkin patch on Sunday, so I had the inside information on what to avoid. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to write “kindergarten field trip” on the list.

Nightmarish as field trips are, there are at least two things I had going for me: (1) I have three kids, so I wasn’t as flipped out as some of the chaperones who are parents of only children. Ha, ha, ha, ha, motherfuckers! Welcome to my world! and (2) I like seeing Quinn in his school habitat. It’s fun to see him with his peers. He wasn’t super social in preschool, so it was neat to see him with buddies this year.

It was also cool to see him happily and generously share the candy corn I’d put in his lunch.

He only kept a third for himself. But it was the yellow part.**

The one thing we all had to do, other than be back at the bus by 12:40, was go on a hayride out to the pumpkin field and pick out a pumpkin. Naturally one of my little charges found the biggest pumpkin in the pumpkin patch. Fortunately, he decided it was too heavy before I broke down and agreed to carry it in my backpack, so he selected a smaller one.

I gave in to carrying the pumpkins because the other kid didn’t want to choose a pumpkin because he didn’t want to carry it. I felt that going back to the bus with three kids and two pumpkins might somehow be worse than going back with just two kids. At least THAT would have been expected of me.

But Quinn? Quinn found his pumpkin right off.

He is SO FUCKING PROUD of that pumpkin.

I selected a lovely, medium-sized, orange pumpkin for myself. Then Quinn found the pumpkin he preferred that I choose for myself.

Lucky me.

Shortly thereafter, we boarded the school bus and returned to the school.

I mean the “Cool Bus.”

Quinn spent the entire trip back to the school laying down on a seat. All that bragging about his green pumpkin must have been tiring.

I didn’t throw up on this bus trip either.

 In case you’re wondering, Sam said Bunnicula was awesome.

* I succeeded. Small victories are awesome.

** Dude, I’m kidding. But funny. So very funny.

******

I leave you with one last photo, just because it’s so funny. You know how when kids have their school pictures taken, sometimes they have a second, optional photo with weird backgrounds and props? Like, sit in front of this lamppost and hold this rubber duck? And then your kid smiles that school photo smile and it’s so hilarious that you have to buy the photo even though it costs $13.50 a print?

Exactly.

Lessons in the Face of Rudeness

Do you ever have one of those days where nothing goes right and you decide that you’re a terrible parent, only to have your entire mood turn around when someone tells you something unexpected and wonderful about your children and your parenting skills?

Isn’t that the best?

Yeah, I had the exact opposite of that happen to me today.

We were at OT this afternoon for Sam, because Sam gets OT now because he has some handwriting issues, and my children were all insane in the membrane, as they are wont to be, running around like little maniacs while the OT was trying to talk to me about how we can just get Sam to slow down and write neatly already.

I flashed back to when I had all three of them at a doctor’s office and they weren’t even being all that, let’s say “enthusiastic,” and the doctor told me, “I feel for you.” I’m not sure if that’s because I had just made a joke that even though Jack is autistic, look at him drawing quietly in the corner, and she was “feeling for me” because I have a child with autism or that she was “feeling for me” because my children have the decorum of wildebeests.

Honestly, I’m a lot more upset about the latter.

I spend a lot of time when we are out in public giving lessons when my children are rude. If you were to run into me somewhere, you would likely hear me saying, “This is a place of business, so we do not run,” or “We walk on the right side of the hallway,” or “If someone says ‘excuse me,’ you look up to see if they are talking to you and then you move out of the way.”

That last lesson was taught in a 7-11 and resulted in the gentleman next to us sheepishly saying “excuse me” and moving out of our way as we left. He told me it was a good lesson.

The lesson I taught in the face of rudeness today was, “When your OT calls your name, you don’t just ignore her until you are finished reading your sentence.”

Anyway, all of this constant correcting makes me feel like I am the worst mother in the world with the worst behaved children in the world. I said something to that effect when Jack tossed Quinn into a glass wall this afternoon.

The therapist then told me, “No, you’re one of my favorite moms. I think you’re doing a great job with them. You’re trying. So many parents don’t seem to try.” That may not be exactly what she said, but it was the gist of it. I don’t remember exactly because I was too busy feeling happy, trying to pay attention, and attempting to prevent any of my kids from getting on the elevator without me.

I do remember driving home feeling pretty proud of myself.

I was proud right up until I had to make a stop and, on the way back to the car, accidentally threw Quinn to the ground, bloodying his gums and injuring his cheek on the door to the car. What followed was a carnival of “I hate you, Mom!”s and “You did that on purpose!” from one child, followed by a vigorous defense of me by another child, which resulted in a verbal fistfight between the two of them.

I arrived home to an untidy house, dinner that had to be made, homework that had to be finished, and a rapidly disintegrating self esteem.

Parenting is hard.