Understanding

Before we go any further, I want to tell you what I DON’T want this blog to be about:

Pity.
Sympathy.

I am not rolling my life out with Jack to elicit comments about how strong I am or what a great job I am doing etc etc. I appreciate those comments….but that’s not what I am after.

What I AM after– for ME, for Jack, and for all those other warrior parents and children out there is

UNDERSTANDING.

The average person walking by us in the grocery store, the Costco, or on the street may see just one minute of our life and make a snap judgement about what it is.
Please: Don’t.

You may see a child drooling, staring, stimming, or any other number of what you perceive to be “odd” behaviors.
You may hear noises and sounds that don’t sound too happy or melodic–to YOUR ears.
When you see us and you stare…..
Please have the courtesy to smile.
That downcast look doesn’t help.
We don’t pity ourselves or our children.
The downcast look with a quick turn away because you were embarrassed to be “caught looking” doesn’t help.
We are not embarrassed to be with our child.

If you have questions about their condition or behavior–ask.
But, please — ask nicely, and have respect for the answer.
Ask after our children just as you would ask after any other child you see out in public.
We have trials and tribulations,  joy and milestones to celebrate like everyone else.

That’s  just MY two cents on  this stormy Friday afternoon.

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It’s the Great Pumpkin, Jack!

It’s fall.
The air is crisp and clear, there is a smell of burning leaves in the air and Halloween is on most everyone’s mind.
Recently the first grade class I work in — along with all the other first grade classes took the exciting trip to —
TA DA!
THE PUMPKIN PATCH!
Getting 80 first graders onto a bus and out into a field is a bit like herding kittens.
The trip there was noisy, hot, and not without reprimands to stay “bottom to bottom, back to back and hands in your lap”.
The kids were hopped up on excitement and getting out of the regular routine.

I- along with the teachers on this trip- was ever alert for the kids safety on the bus.
Once we got to the pumpkin patch it was controlled chaos- this class goes here, that class goes there….
Here’s the rules for picking your pumpkin…..
MY student that I work with had a little challenge.  he was told we were going to the pumpkin patch and getting a pumpkin.
He did not care about the presentation in the field about the types of pumpkins
Or the history of the farm
Or the history of the area.
he cared about:
LETS GO GET A PUMPKIN.
once we were let loose– he found a pumpkin and then was eager to go.
Why wait? We got our pumpkin– lets go!

Now, on another day-Jack’s class went to the Pumpkin Patch too.

Let me tell you about Jack and Halloween.
In a nutshell? He doesn’t care.
Dressing up means nothing to him.  Candy means nothing to him.
The idea of a PUMPKIN being associated with it means nothing to him.

This is what that trip meant to Jack:
He got a bonus ride in car– during school hours!
he was pointed to a field with heavy orange balls he was not able/allowed to throw.
And another bonus car ride  back to class.

His teacher, his aide AND the bus driver all sought me out after that trip to tell me that Jack had such a good time on the bus–He was so happy to be riding in the van.  So happy to be out.

And I thought about that.
Jack had no care about where he was going

or what he was going to do once he got there.
He was just enjoying the ride.

I think I need to remember to do that, too.

 

Full Circle

I make this remark often:

EVERYTHING that has occurred in my life has prepared me to be Jack’s mom.

This past week I traveled 3000 miles to attend my 30th High School Reunion. The FaceBook group of this event made the anticipation palpable.  We couldn’t wait!
AND?!
It was amazing.  It was beyond words.
It was– dare I say?– Life changing.

After the reunion was over, when we moved the festivities to the Hotel Bar- I encountered more catching up, more cocktails, more confessions and more absolutions

And there in the middle of it all, stood Mark.  Oh, Mark!! From the moment he introduced himself in 7th grade home room I was smitten.  It was a crush that lasted well after high school. He was always aware of the adoration– MY GOD!– who wasn’t!?  I was never teased– in a mean way, and we became friends.  We worked on shows together and we laughed together and we hung out together.  He was a constant.

He stood in front of me.  He had a confession: I was the one he came to the reunion to see.
He gave a small nod- and of course Sheryl (his grade school to high school girlfriend).
He gave a shrug of his shoulders– and of course Bonnie.

“But YOU”, he pointed to me, drink in hand — “you are who I really came to came to see.”

I look back and I realize something about that crush– after the initial Ignatz brick throw- there was TRUE FRIENDSHIP.  And that was something I did not encounter much as a child.  There was an ease, a love, and a respect back then that we shared.

And so we stood there  in this bar and we talked.  And talked. And talked.  Sure, we chat of FB– but this was the intimacy of face to face…..when faces and eyes reveal so much more truth than words on a screen.
He talked to me of his son–
This past year he received a diagnosis of Aspbereger’s.   He went through the painful diagnosis period, the acceptance of the diagnosis, of walking through 504’s and IEPs and then finally: Watching his son blossom with a few tweaks of routine and curriculum
I stared at him mouth agape–
only to be interrupted by another “long lost friend” leaving — hugs and promises to stay in touch–
Mark motions through this that he will be outside.

I find him among the smokers hanging outside…..
I take his face in my hands
I admonish him:
WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME?!
Why didn’t you tell ME!?
Of all the people who could help you with this.  Who could advise you. Who could point you to resources.  Who would  understand your need to vent…………………I KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE–
Why did you not tell me?
He stammers a bit about our different situations– I am flustered– perhaps I am coming on too strong, but its in my nature to want to help….to spread the word about our children– to share vital info and strong shoulders.

And he drops a bombshell on me:
“You DID help.
“You DID advise– I watch you,”  he says, “on Facebook– I don’t always comment– But I see you with Jack, the videos and the status updates”

And it all falls together so simply.
I see things so clearly
Connections.  Awarenes.
The far reaching effects we have on each other — if we allow it.

And it goes back to Jack.
I make this remark often:

EVERYTHING that has occurred in my life has prepared me to be Jack’s mom.
I have patience, calmness and an infinite amount of compassion to offer. I have been on the down so many times and things always work out for the best.  My FB status’ reflect these trials, tribulations, discoveries, and Jacks early morning risings with copious amounts of coffee.
Mark see this and is totally unaware that HE is part of this equation that has come full circle.
HE was part of what shaped my patience, my compassion, my humor.
HE is being affected by his own kindness to ME — reflected back from Jack.

THEN:

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NOW:

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