Kids in the Grass

My kids like doing a lot of things that I think seem less fun than beating myself over the head with a brick. I could make a list, but the thing that has been in front of my mind lately is this:

Quinn and Jack wrestling on a grassy hillThey wrestle all the time. ALL THE TIME. At home they will retire to Jack and Quinn’s bedroom and wrestle and throw things at each other. Or they will go to the basement and I will hear nothing but thumps and thuds and the occasional scream. Then, when Sam has soccer practices, Jack and Quinn will hurl each other to the ground and sit on each other and mash their faces into the grass and generally do all kinds of horrible things to each other, all while laughing hysterically. Bonus if there is a hill, so gravity can play a part.

I don’t get it.

Maybe that is because when I was a kid, my sister and her friends would wrestle me to the ground in a less even matching of skills. One memorable day, they tied me up in a vacuum cleaner cord, then dragged me up the stairs and threw me out on the back porch. In front of my mom. Who laughed.

Wrestling: not really my thing.

Regardless of my personal scars, it makes me so happy to watch them play this way. They end up in tears far less often than you would think and giggle and get more exercise than when they do almost anything else.

Sometimes I wonder what people think when they see them rolling around on the ground screaming and sitting on each others’ faces and stuff. Although probably people just ignore all of us except when they roll into someone. Which does happen occasionally.

The point of this whole post (other than to exercise my typing fingers) is so that next time my kids can’t seem to get along for more than 15 seconds and they’re all screaming at each other and I’m hiding from them under a blanket on the couch, I can look back at this and remember how much my kids love each other, how much they like each other, and how much fun they can have with just a patch of grass and their muscles.

Team Stimey Takes Virginia!

I am so excited to tell you about Team Stimey’s Super Awesome Fun Spring Break Adventure! We packed a lot of fun into our two-day vacation. Alex had a business trip on Monday so I decided that instead of sitting around and being surly that he was gone again, I would bail as well. Only I had to take the kids.

We based our trip around Luray Caverns in Virginia, adding on other roadside attractions until we had the best 48 hours ever. Alex went to Cincinnati and had a meeting in a conference room overlooking a freeway.

You can guess who had more fun.

I have to admit that I was annoyed when I woke up and saw my spring break adventure looking more like spring broken adventure.

Clearly I was delighted by spring snow.

Clearly I was delighted by spring snow.

Although the snow did teach me something interesting.

Quinn makes his snow angels face down.

Quinn makes his snow angels face down.

That kid is his own person, that is for sure.

Regardless of snow (I had prepaid for our hotel room so we were going—even if a tornado showed up), we headed out and arrived at Luray at about noon. Now, Team Stimey had been to Luray Caverns before, but it was a long time ago (click that link to see my tiny babies) and we didn’t go on a cold, snowy spring day. It was practically deserted when we went this time. There were no lines and no sweltering heat and there was plenty of snow to threaten your brothers with.

This photo cracks me up over and over. It is so them.

This photo cracks me up over and over. It is so them.

We grabbed some lunch and then jumped onto a tour. Our guide was great except that she didn’t have answers for any of the Minecraft-related questions my kids had. It’s almost like they didn’t train her at all.

The tour started off really well. All three kiddos were happy. Sam was learning, Jack was musing about types of rock, and Quinn kept finding dark little recesses and saying, “Look! A cave system!”

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Back at the beginning of the tour when they were still willing to stand together for me to take a photo of them.

So, let’s talk about my kids and the way they handle tours for a minute. Last time we went to Luray, we did a self-guided tour. This time they didn’t offer that option, so we were with a group of 25ish that traveled together. This isn’t optimal for my kids, but I’m lucky in that they can mostly handle it. Mostly.

Sam is my kid that is best suited for tours, exhibits, and other learning stuff. We were hanging in the back of the group so I could take some photos without people in them and also so that we weren’t distracting the guide with infinite questions about bedrock and mining. Every time the guide started talking, Sam would gasp and run up to be in ear shot.

In fact, my cell phone is full of videos of the guide telling us things about the cavern. I had to threaten him to make him stop taking video that we will never watch.

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Also on the phone? At least one photo of me and my camera.

Jack tends to get overwhelmed and spinny in tour situations. The cavern, however, was spacious enough and involved enough walking that he was okay. The best way to help him regulate himself is to take him on a long walk, so considering the tour was about a mile long, this was just his thing. Near the end of the tour, he was up at the front chatting with the guide. Maybe he was giving her that sorely needed Minecraft information.

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I’m imagining that he was thinking about different kinds of Minecraft blocks in this photo.

Then there is Quinn. The thing I’m coming to realize about Quinn is that he has a time limit. He started off the tour completely happy, but his attention span is not…expansive. Also, when he is unhappy, tired, or bored, he gets loud. God forbid he is all three. Because when he is all three, he also falls to the ground.

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Oh, Quinn.

Quinn and I are working on finding a happy medium together.

We emerged from the caverns into the greatest unblemished field of snow that ever was. That snow quickly became the greatest blemished battlefield of snow that ever was after my kids’ epic snowball fight broke out. It was one of those rare, unplanned, no-one-got-mad-or-hurt bouts of awesomeness that very occasionally happens. It was the absolute greatest.

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Even Quinn came right back to happy. Also soaking wet. That too.

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Quinn is a fan of the “snowball as big as your head” tactical approach.

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After snowball fighting, terrorizing some geese, and exploring around, Jack found his sensory happy place lying in the snow.

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Sam’s happy place, on the other hand, involved throwing snowballs at me. See that particularly well-aimed one hurtling toward my camera?

The hedge maze we had planned to go through was closed because of the snow, which I thought was absurd, but my thoughts had very little effect on the open vs. closed status of said hedge maze, so we departed to our hotel.

Now, my kids were happily watching a movie in the backseat, so they were unaware of what happened next. I should preface this by telling you that my GPS, which is probably the same one you have, reminds me very much of a Dalek from Doctor Who—its “RECALCULATING” sounds exactly as evil as “EXTERMINATE” and makes me laugh every time I take a wrong turn. I also may or may not repeat “RECALCULATING” in a Dalek voice every time it happens.

Now, my GPS always gets me where I’m going, but it often chooses the weirdest damn way in the world. In this case, instead of choosing a2 + b2 on two-lane and larger roads, the GPS sent me straight across c2—the hypotenuse, which in this case turned out to be a series of increasingly windy and snowy roads over a mountain on which there were NO other cars. If I’d had slinky college coeds in my car instead of damp tweens, it would have been EXACTLY like the beginning of a horror movie.

Perhaps the best part, however, was when I made a wrong turn and the GPS recalculated and I assumed it was sending me on a new route, but it was in fact sending me on the longest, most dangerous 11.2-mile u-turn I’d ever been on. I knew that Dalek GPS has been trying to kill me.

Fuck you, mean GPS. Fuck you.

(start at the bottom) Fuck you, mean GPS. Fuck you.

That done, we finally got to the hotel, which was the best hotel in the history of hotels, but notable mostly for the fact that it had an indoor swimming pool in which my kids spent HOURS.

CANNONBALL!!!

LOOK OUT BELOW!!!

Also making this hotel notable was that they offered free hot chocolate in the lobby and a microwave in the room, which made an excellent combination for Quinn, who warmed up his one cup of hot chocolate many times over the course of the evening.

It's even more delicious if you get to operate machinery to prepare it.

It’s even more delicious if you get to operate machinery to prepare it.

I tell you, we got our money’s worth out of that hotel. We swam evening and morning, ate sooooo much breakfast, and checked out a half hour before we were kicked out. It was an excellent choice to stay overnight.

The other thing that made it an excellent choice to stay overnight was that Luray’s hedge maze was open the next day. I think that my kids were more excited about the hedge maze than the caverns, so I was glad that we were able to head back. It was substantially more crowded that day, which lends more credibility to my new “go to busy attractions on terrible weather days” theory.

The hedge maze at Luray is huge and awesome and has four goals and a center fountain for you to find so you’re not just wandering around aimlessly. Once everyone got yelled at once (by me) for running off in separate directions, Team Stimey stuck together and eventually we made our way through.

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What could possibly go wrong?

The maze was actually really hard. Especially considering said maze was kind of an asshole.

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This totally outraged Quinn.

Luray also has this new thing called Ropeland or some such where they harness you up and send you into a…well, a ropeland. It was really cool. There were three levels, one of which was crazy high. That is the one Quinn got tangled up in and had to be rescued from. Naturally.

Quinn looked so extremely put out by this situation.

Quinn looked so extremely put out by this situation.

Sam went up and came down almost immediately because it hadn’t occurred to him beforehand that he is afraid of heights. Jack, per usual, was fearless.

This is on the middle section.

This is on the middle section.

After Ropeland, we headed back toward Maryland. I had planned a stop at Dinosaurland and was considering one more stop, children permitting, but we only made it to the first stop. Did I mention that Quinn had a time limit? Yeah. It expired almost immediately after arriving at Dinosaurland.

Regardless, I did get this most excellent new Facebook profile photo.

You'll never go...um, on the concrete again!

You’ll never go…um, on the concrete again!

Also, it turns out that my kids are surprisingly resistant to standing in front of giant fake dinosaurs and pretending to be scared of/running from/being eaten by said dinosaurs.

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This was SO halfhearted on his part.

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THIS is how you do it. (Also, I don’t know why a praying mantis is at Dinosaurland. Also, also, I don’t think this is a “life-size replica” as advertised.)

When all was said and done, though, the way I knew that we were really done with Team Stimey’s Fantabulous Spring Break Adventure is when I started to feel like this:

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When you’re standing in front of a pile of trash and a mini-bulldozer with this expression on your face while watching your kid sit in a giant King Kong hand, you know you’re done with your day-o-fun.

(I just realized that I can’t NOT show you the King Kong photo. Here it is. You are welcome.)

I call them Surly and Surlier.

I call them Surly and Surlier.

The End. Come on back next year for Team Stimey’s Incredible Adorable Allegorical Spring Break Adventure II.

Proud

I’ve been pretty excited about January 21st for a long time. My family always celebrates MLK Day with a big todo and when it fell on the same day as President Obama’s inauguration? Well, I was ready to celebrate.

We were going to watch the inauguration on TV and then MLK’s I Have a Dream speech on YouTube and then we were going to have cake and it was going to be great.

Things changed though, when Jess from Diary of a Mom, who does so much fantastic advocacy work, ended up with an extra ticket to the inauguration, and I jumped on her coattails and rode them all the way to DC.

Algernon rode her coattails too.

Algernon rode her coattails too.

I have a lot to say about our amazing day in (and eventual escape from) DC, but you know what is exhausting? Inauguration Day. Or more specifically, getting away from Inauguration Day. I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

Before I go to bed though, I will let you know that after I got home, we very happily watched Dr. King’s speech, complete with lively commentary from my three kiddos.

Then we sang happy birthday to Martin and had our cake, which was delightful.

Sam insisted on chocolate. Because, you know.

Sam insisted on chocolate. Because, you know.

In sum, today is a day that I was proud to be an American and proud of the leaders and heroes we get to learn from. It was exciting to be able to listen to the president and his terrific speech that was so much about equality and fair chances and then come home to kids who are so very interested in figuring that whole thing out for themselves.

So, not just proud to be an American, but proud to be a parent of such great little kids. (And proud to be a friend to the wonderful Jess. Thank you so much for taking me with you. You are a blast and a half to hang out with.)

Happy Inauguration Day, America. And Happy Birthday, Martin!

I Have a Great Idea!

No, Stimey. You don’t. In the future, if I ever say, “HEY! I HAVE A GREAT IDEA!” this should be your response:

“No. You don’t. The activity you are contemplating will end with you feeling angry and your children feeling resentful. You should probably just let them stay home and play video games. Attempts to leave the house never work out well. Attempts to leave the house are NOT great ideas. Good day, ma’am. I SAID, GOOD DAY, MA’AM!”

Otherwise, I will end up in this situation:

not a great idea

You’re on the edge of your seat, aren’t you?

So, I am on the PTA at Quinn’s school. I am the secretary, which means I take minutes at meetings and can otherwise pretty much keep my head down and not volunteer for anything else because, Look! I have an elected position here! I already help!

It’s actually quite a calculating move. If that doesn’t work, then I sigh deeply and mutter about having kids in three elementary schools. That is a really effective backup plan.

Well, at one of those meetings where I was to be taking notes, I didn’t keep my head down far enough and I ended up agreeing to be on the “Cultural Arts Committee.” Basically, what that committee does, as far as I can tell, is attend some Cultural Arts Showcases that the school district holds where acts that want to be hired for assemblies do 15-minute versions of their acts. They hold five days of these showcases and I volunteered to go to two. The first day went from 9:30 to 2. Do the math on how many 15-minute acts that is. It was a long day.

By the second day I went, I was totally into the performances. I even had to participate in one of the acts as an audience participator for an improv group. I pretty much made the whole day worthwhile.

I was that good.

The fifth day of the showcase was today from 9:30 to 12:30. There was no school today, so none of us committee members were going to go because we all had our kids at home. Then I was all, “I HAVE A GREAT IDEA! Kids like assemblies! I bet they would like 12 assemblies all in a row! What a GREAT idea!”

(You: “I SAID GOOD DAY, MA’AM!”)

This seemed like a really fun idea until we arrived at 9:30 in the morning to a Celtic music band complete with kilts, microphones, and amplified bagpipes, whereupon Quinn tried to crawl under a chair.  I think Quinn is now afraid not only of zombies, but bagpipes as well.

The band was actually pretty awesome. They were awesome enough that I felt bad that we spent the whole 15 minutes with my hands pressed securely against Quinn’s ears, which framed the pained grimace on his face. I almost left right there. But there was science up next and I know that my kids are nerds and like science, so we stuck it out.

Quinn wanted to sit front and center and he was smiling, so I let him. Unfortunately, this did not last for long.

This was a dark few minutes.

Way to be a good audience, Quinn McJerkerson.

I spent a few minutes at the end of this act and the beginning of the next act wallowing in self pity. You know of what I speak: Why is it always my kids? Why can’t my kids pull their shit together? Can’t they just go somewhere and enjoy the fun like everyone else in the damn room?

Then I checked myself, remembered that there are sensory issues and fear of unpredictable acts at play, and took Quinn and Jack out to the hall for a minute. (Sam was in ideal-student heaven.) I chatted with them and told them my expectations and how we have to respect the performers. Then I found the building’s cafeteria, where I bought snacks and cans of lemonade for everyone. I figured that spending the next two and a half hours policing open cans of juice were worth the peace that they would bring.

God love snacks.

God love snacks.

Things were looking up—especially considering that there were no more bagpipes on the horizon.

Many of the acts asked for volunteers from the audience, which was awesome for my kids, who probably rarely get chosen at school assemblies because there are a million kids, but when there are only 20 kids and 12 acts, your odds go way up.

There was one guy, Andres, who wanted volunteers to basically jump up and down, which had Jack’s name written all over it. Then they had to act out animal actions and learned some Spanish words. The guy was trying to finish his show, but Jack volunteered that he knew how to say cat in Spanish, so the dude added a little section for cats. Jack couldn’t decide how a cat would move, so Quinn launched out of his chair, having spent many hours contemplating cats in his brain.

We are gato.

We are gato. Jumping gato.

Incidentally, in my head, that is how Quinn moves most of the time—blurry-like. I liked Uno, Dos, Tres con Andres. He was cool. Available to visit grades K-5.

Sam got to be an actor in the bullying skit. That lady asked the audience to help her figure out gestures for certain phrases. My awesome kids were quick to volunteer gestures for “stupid” and “sissy.” In fact, Jack’s gesture for sissy was “a little violent, but okay.” The whole thing stressed me out a little.

Eventually we got to the jazz ensemble, which is when I discovered that Quinn doesn’t like jazz.

Jazz hands, a la Quinn

Jazz hands, a la Quinn

To be honest, I don’t much like jazz either, which is something I try to not tell people, because they tend to think me unsophisticated and dipshittish if I tell them. This little group was actually pretty good. They were not of the interminable, noodley jam type of jazz group that makes me fall asleep in self-defense.

Nonetheless, it was time for Quinn, Jack, and I to take another walk.

Quinn had to abandon the territory he'd staked out and was jealously guarding.

Quinn had to abandon the territory he’d staked out with coats and was jealously guarding.

When we returned, Quinn wanted to know how many acts were left, so I told him three and that the last act was the Maryland Zoo. Quinn took that to mean that they would be bringing a baby tiger for him to play with. Seriously, I said that the zoo was coming and he immediately perked up because of the tiger they were bringing. It was that fast.

I was all, “I don’t think they’re bringing a baby tiger, Quinn,” and he was all, “But they could bring a baby tiger,” and I set about to trying to repair 39 years of atheism by promising lifelong servitude to God if only the Maryland Zoo could bring a baby tiger—or at the very least a non-subpar animal.

You know what I’m talking about. No one wants to see another box turtle.

No offense to the box turtle.

We watched a dance performance (They counted aloud, “one, two, three, [pause], five, six, seven, [pause]”; Jack counted aloud, “[pause], [pause], [pause], four, [pause], [pause], [pause], eight,” and Quinn waited for the tiger.

We watched a Shakespeare performance, which Sam loved (Jack shouted “to be or not to be!” in the middle of the dramatization of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to much acclaim), and still Quinn waited for the tiger.

Then it was the zoo’s turn. They had a small, baby tiger-sized box, but I wasn’t hopeful. Quinn started saying, “I hope it’s a kitty! I hope it’s a kitty!” Then I saw what was inside and breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t a baby tiger, but it wasn’t subpar either. The two women from the zoo gave their lesson on habitats of the world and then…they released the Kraken!

I mean the penguin.

I mean the penguin.

His name is Tails and he is awesome. We were not allowed to pet Tails, because…well, would you let a room full of kids pet Tails? We did get to see him up close though, which made my membership on the Cultural Arts Committee totally worth it.

See?

I want one for a pet now. What could possibly go wrong?

I want a pet penguin now. What could possibly go wrong?

And with that, we were free.

Now, remember how I was all, “Oh, this was a terrible idea”? Well. I kind of feel like we turned it around. I think once I consciously decided to recognize that my kids weren’t being jerks on purpose and that I just needed to take some simple steps to accommodate them, we were able to hack it. At the end of it all, each of them said that they’d had fun—although I don’t know if that is truth or just the penguin high they were riding.

In the end, I’m glad I took them. I’d probably do it again. See, this is the great curse of being a big, dumb, stupid optimist like me: I always come away seeing the bright side and the silver lining, which leads me to believe that the next idea will be great too.

Don’t worry though. The next outing is going to be GREAT.

The Distinguished Frankencat

I have this super awesome cat named Denali. She is awesome. SUPER awesome.

This is her:

OH MY GOD, LOOK AT HER. SUPER AWESOME, RIGHT?

She was my sister’s cat until my sister moved in with the woman whom she would eventually marry and who is deathly (I’m not kidding about that. Really. DEATHLY.) allergic to cats. Denali lost the power struggle between human love and cat love. It probably worked out for the best for my sister.

It definitely worked out best for me, because I got Denali.

Denali is persnickety. She ONLY liked my sister for a long time. Then she ONLY liked me. Now she likes Alex too. Although we still laugh about the night that Alex was sleeping because it was 3 am and Denali, who sleeps on my pillow above my head, freaked out for absolutely no reason and started attacking Alex’s head.

This is only made funnier by the fact that Denali is a polydactyl cat, meaning she has a ton of extra toes on each foot, making her gigantic paw attacks even more deadly.

Denali, however, does NOT care for the children. I should repeat that. DENALI DOES NOT CARE FOR THE CHILDREN.

She used to hang out under our bunk beds and if I asked my kids to crawl under there to pick up toys, they would start sobbing about how they were afraid of Denali. She made her feelings about kids known.

She hangs out upstairs all day and only comes down after the kids go to bed. If a child gets within, say, about three feet of her, she starts hissing. Every once in a while, a kid will wander into the room after their bedtime, catching Denali with her proverbial pants down. Sometimes, if Alex or I has her on one of our laps, we’ll let them pet her, because she is less likely to strike at them if we are holding her.

An angrier cat you have never seen when that happens. She flattens her little ears and manages to look more put out than you’d think would be possible considering she is incapable of frowning.

All of this information about Denali is to preface the fact that she had, like, a ping pong ball-sized cancerous tumor that I found a couple of weeks ago and she had surgery Monday to have it removed.

My kids are totally flipped out about it. Sam says he’s never going to touch her again. (From inside Denali’s head: “I should have done this YEARS ago!”) I think they heard us explain surgery and fixated on the “cut her open” bit. In their minds, I believe that they think that her incision site is at risk of popping open at any time for the rest of her life.

Kind of like a real life, furry piñata. Only instead of candy, there is blood and organs.

This is why I have to hide the cat from them until her fur grows back, because they will not do well if they run into Denali 2.0: Frankencat.

Denali: “Why must you humiliate me on the interwebz?”

I’m happy to report that she seems to be doing well. We napped for a long time together this afternoon. Her presence made me feel like I was being a good cat mom instead of a loser who can’t keep her eyes open for more than three hours at a stretch. The dog slept with us too. But she is legitimately a layabout.

I might have to help her recuperate tomorrow also. It depends how tired I am.

Awesome. SUPER awesome.

Cross your fingers that her recovery is smooth and that her cancer is gone.

*****

Also, over at White Knuckle Parenting this week, I wrote about the constant running narrative about good manners that I force my kids to listen to in public. If I have to say, “Look out for people!” fewer than 15 times a day, it is likely that we haven’t left the house.

Writing About My Kids Online: Safety, Privacy, Legal Issues, Advocacy, History, and Loooooove!

I have read a flurry of posts recently about how much we should write about our children online. This is a fascinating question, and probably one with a different answer for each blogger out there.

I remember way back in journalism school, I took a class on magazine writing from a woman who said it took her about six months before she started using her baby as story fodder.

At the time I was a little bit aghast about her rampant exploitation of her child. But, hey, look! Now the only difference between me and her is that I exploit my children probably far more often than she does and for a lot less money.

There are a lot of reasons why I blog—self-expression and community being two of the biggest. But I also have specific reasons for writing about my kids the way I do. I see this issue through the lens of six smaller lenses (think fly eyes with lots of compound parts—or just six compound parts): safety, privacy, legal issues, advocacy, history, loooove.

Safety:

I’m vigilant about my kids’ safety. I have an alarm on my house. My kids don’t walk places by themselves (yet). I make them wear seat belts. I keep them away from swiftly moving water. I teach them about getting lost (and getting found). I am, repeat, vigilant about my kids’ safety.

I don’t think I would be less vigilant if I didn’t write about them online. I think most threats come from people in the real world. And statistically, most threats would come from people we know, so…

The way I write about my kids is very conscious and deliberate. Although I take precautions by keeping major identifying details out of most of my posts, I am aware that it wouldn’t be that hard to track me down in real life based on what I write. I’m not sure who is motivated enough to do such a thing, but I’m not going to say they’re not out there.

I use my kids’ real names and photos. I use my full name, although I only use my maiden name when I write, partly because that is the name I have always used when I write and partly because it is not the same as their last name.

Here’s the thing about the safety issue: I will always be vigilant about my kids’ safety. I have weighed the dangers of writing about them online and have deemed it an acceptable risk.

Privacy:

There is a lot of talk about how our kids are going to hate us when they’re teenagers because of the things we write about them now, or that what we write will prevent them from getting a job in the future. These arguments do stop me a little bit. I don’t want my kid to be teased because I wrote about potty training him. I also don’t want him to not get a security clearance when he’s job hunting because I wrote about how he wore a plush duck head as a hat for a year and that shows history of mental instability.

Again, I don’t use my kids’ last name. But that doesn’t mean that no one can find me. People I know in real life have already just stumbled across my blog while looking for entirely unrelated things. I can’t assume that Googlers of the Future (be sure to say that in a spooky voice) won’t be able to find my funny little musings on the time that Sam smacked down a three-year-old on the basketball court and decide to not hire him because he’s not a team player.

Again, here, I’ve decided that this is an acceptable risk, mainly because I follow one very important rule when I blog: When I am writing, I imagine that the person I am writing about is reading over my shoulder.

It doesn’t matter if I’m writing about Alex, my kids, or the neighbor down the street who doesn’t even know I blog. If I wouldn’t say what I am writing to their face, I don’t write it. Because here’s the thing: that person may very well stumble across my blog, put two and two together, and come to me about it. I want to be able to stand behind my words instead of go for the cheap, snarky shot that I can’t defend.  That’s not to say that all these people reading over my shoulder will be happy with what I wrote, but I do consider their feelings before I put hand to keyboard.

As my kids have gotten older, I have written less and less about them, because I do think their feelings about being written about as an older child are different than when they are young. I don’t want to write something that will make them upset or that will potentially come back to harm them in future years. And, yes, they do know about my blog, but I’m not sure they totally get it.

I also don’t tend to write other people’s stories. Sometimes big things happen to people close to me and I don’t write about it. I write about me and my family. That’s not because I’m a narcissist (well, not just because I’m a narcissist), but because it’s not my story to tell. That’s also why I blur other people’s faces unless I’ve explicitly asked them if I can put them or their children on the internet. Those aren’t my choices to make.

Legal Issues:

I have kids with special needs. When you have kids with special needs, there is always a chance that you will end up in a court of law or in a legal wrangle over special education services. I don’t want what I write here to hurt my children or stop them from getting what they need to succeed.

On the other hand, I have an accurate, real-time record of a lot of the major things that have happened to my children.

These sorts of legal issues can also be a factor in divorces and adoptions, neither of which I plan on experiencing anytime soon, but you never know.*

I loooooove you, Alex.

Advocacy:

A big part of the reason why I write is to make the world a little better for my kids. I want to share with people what it is like to be part of a special needs family. I want to teach people who might not know otherwise that there are a lot of things about autism that they might not expect.

I want to help other parents who are going through what I have been through. I want to tell them that it’s okay. I also want to hear from parents who can help and support me. This doesn’t just go for autism either, this can apply to marriage, parenting, antidepressants, or being infested with zombie squirrels.

I feel that real, honest writing can help people be more comfortable and accepting of who they are. I hope that normalizing some of the hard parts of life makes people realize that they’re not alone.

History:

I truly think that giving our children these stories about them, especially if they are so obviously full of love, is a gift. What we give them with our words is not just insight into us as their parents, but their younger selves. I don’t have strong memories of my childhood, certainly not as detailed as what I put on my blog. I would love to have that for me. I hope my children feel the same.

I also, as someone whose father died when she was seven, would love to have day-to-day stories of what he was like. God forbid my children ever need anything like that, but no matter what—death, divorce, illness—they will know my husband and I and what our relationship to each other and to them was like. Hell, my mother is still around and I think it would be fascinating if she had kept a record like this.

I think having a picture of me as a whole person will be great for them when my kids grow up. I also think they will relish the stories of them that I share and will like to see how our family meshed when they were children.

I also hope that this blog will give an adult Jack some insight into who he was as a child with autism. Maybe that can help him as an adult with autism.

In fact, I print out everything I write and put it in a three-ring binder so they will be able to read it like a book when they are ready.

I don’t feel like I have a lot of history. I wish I did. I am giving that to my kids through this blog.

Looooove:

My blog is a love letter to my kids.

By writing it, I get to brag about them, poke fun at them, be exasperated by them, show my astonishment at the wonder that is them. All of these pieces put together is my love letter to each of them about how much I adore the whole entirety of their beings.

So when someone suggests that I am harming my children by writing about them online, I consider what they have to say and then I think about all the good that comes from it and the love that oozes from every keystroke.

I know that how I write about my kids online is the right thing to do for my family.

Bone Tired

Oh my. I had a weekend. I don’t think I’ve been this tired for a long time.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of videotaping a wedding for the brother of a friend, and it was so much fun. It was the first wedding I’ve taped, and it was amazing. The only problem is that the reception was so fun I wish I could have been there dancing instead of taping all the people having so much fun.

That, and the fact that my right arm was so tired after ten hours of holding a large video camera that it kind of wants to fall off. I can’t wait to go back and look at all the footage.

Then Sunday was Sam’s birthday party, which was all kinds of fun, but involved me leading 18 kids in a sports-themed party, meaning I got to run them through obstacle courses and relay races.

AND I sent each kid home with a metal whistle in their goody bags, which makes me the best mom ever, but the very worst friend. It was terrifically loud for the last five minutes of the party, when the kids found the whistles. I’m laying down bets on how many of the parents have “lost” the whistles by now.

I have all kinds of things to write about, including the cardinal that has been flying into my mom’s window over and over for nearly a week now, but it’s 8:49 p.m. on Sunday and I’m going to bed.