Kindness does exist

I had a pleasant surprise Friday afternoon

Between the horrific incidents in India, Sandy Hook, and Steubenville I will admit to feeling less than stellar about humanity as of late.

So, it’s Friday after noon.  Ten minutes before dismissal and my first grade class is participating in TIDY FRIDAY:
Getting the classroom tidy (pencils sharpened, books straightened, etc) before the weekend.
I look out the window and I see Jack waiting in the yard of his classroom.
I also see parents lining up at the gate waiting for the release of their little cherubs.
Then I see a boy– he looks to be about 12.
He is on a bike.
He is waiting too– perhaps for a sibling?
And I see  him wave.
To Jack.
Jack responds with a little stimming dance. (hands flapping, an excited little crouch)
Another wave.
Another dance.
It appears that the boy is also speaking to Jack.

And so our class is dismissed and I go to pick up Jack.  As always, he is happy to see me and we go….
But not before I steer Jack off the path to this boy.
Jack is having NONE of that….he does not like deviation from routine so he protests in a way that only a non verbal autistic child can.

LOUDLY.  🙂

Still, I approach this young man and say
“I saw that you were waving to my son.”
He looks panic struck for a moment.
He says: “Yes.  Is that OK?”
I touch him on the shoulder and say:
“It is VERY OK.  And I want to thank you for your kindness”
He looks relieved
He says, “oh.  OK! no problem. He was just standing there.  He looked happy”
I tell him how much that kindness means to me and we turn to go.
He says “Ma’am? What’s his name?”
I turn: “Jackson”
He waves again, “Bye Jackson!”

Now this may not be THAT big of a deal.  But it gave me hope.
It made me feel good.
There’s a kid that took a moment to think outside himself– at an age where that is not the norm, no matter HOW good they are raised– to bring a smile to someone else.
Someone way outside the “norm”…..

Moments like that restore my faith in humanity.
I hope you find those small moments as well.  🙂

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Merry day of Lots of people here

A  friend asked me if  Jack was excited about Christmas.

The answer? Nah.
After all,  how does one EXPLAIN Christmas to a child like Jack?

You really can’t.
And really, why SHOULD you?

I can tell you this:
Jack is excited about all the LIGHTS!
I capitalize it because  he joyfully SCREAMS the word.The same goes for the Christmas tree.
I mean how cool is that?!  There is a TREE inside the house!
And that TREE has LIGHTS on it!
Jack refers to it as the TRISTRIS tree.
Our tristris tree is devoid of anything fragile or breakable.  I mean, what with all the lights and such, it is ripe for getting Leggos, straws and blocks thrown at it.
Christmas morning will be just the same for Jack.
He will rise.  He will get his bowl of  cereal and a drink and will sit in the chair watching Spongebob.  He will get his meds in a bowl of goat yogurt and mashed banana.  We will entice him to open presents.  And the best part will be:
RIPPING PAPER!  Sometimes the gift will be cool to him……but mostly its about ripping paper.  🙂

All the festivities will go about and Jack may or may not participate.
He may or may not stop to throw something at the tree.
He will just be Jack amidst all our strange rituals.
He will be.

And he will be loved.

 

What’s in a Name?

Let me  just put this out there:
I have always hated my name.

My given name is Tina.
It is NOT Christina, Albertina, Bettina or anything else other than TINA.
And to add insult to cliche injury, my middle name is Marie.

Find a woman with the name Tina and dollars to doughnuts sez her middle name is Marie.

So………….. WHY do I hate my name?
When I was little I always thought it was a “fancy” “girlie” name.  I don’t know why. Unlike other little girls, I was not into things fancy and girlie.  I have always been quite pragmatic.  I thought, when I was little , that the name “Dorothy” would be a good name for me.  It sounded sturdy.

Now here is the part of the story where I let you in on a little secret:
Mine was not an idyllic upbringing:
There was neglect.  There was abuse.  There were secrets and things NOT talked about by the light of day.

It was no secret, however,  that I had a very low birth weight.  It’s right there on my birth certificate that I weighed just under 4 pounds.  No, I was not a preemie.  Yes, I was jaundiced.  It was a story told over and over about how it looked like I could fit in the palm of one’s hand at birth.  And THIS is how I got my name.   Had I been a normal birth weight, the story went, then I would have been named Kathy. But I was TINY.  Hence the name, “Tina”.  Teeny Tiny Tina.  Get it?

yeah.  its a hoot, isn’t it ? (this last should be written in the sarcasm font, but my computer doesn’t have that.)

Flash forward a few years to a particularly nasty fight between my mother and I.

Well.  To be fair, I think SHE was doing most of the fighting, I was dodging verbal slashes and nasty remarks.
During this argument it came out that the reason for my low birth weight was that she tried to miscarry me by throwing herself down the cellar stairs. I was not wanted.
She only succeeded in damaging the placenta, hence the low birth weight.

Now, my oldest brother, whom I love dearly and would have been 7 or 8 at the time, says this is not true.
That he would have remembered it.  That it is only a story my mother made up to hurt me.
I say: either way, the effect is the same.

And so I hated my name.  I thought for a while that I would change it– but what a mess that would be!  Not just the legalities, but the pretension behind it and explaining why and blah blah blah.
When I did theater, I smooshed my names together so I became TinaMarie.
Still…….meh.
Thankfully, a slew of nieces and nephews came along.  It was found that saying “Aunt Tina” can be a little troublesome for young mouths, and so I became “Aunt T”.
T?!
Ooooooooooooooooooooooh yes please!! I LIKE IT!!!
T.
yep.  I go by T quite alot.  and I like it.

But this is a blog about Jack, isn’t it?
Ah, yes, Jack.
Jack  loves to say certain words. He plays with the sounds and the shapes of the letters.
When Jack says my name he says : “Teeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeena” or “TEE-nuh!” .
Sometimes, if he is urgently wanting chips it’s “TinaTinaTinaTina Teeeeeeeeeeeeena”
But  it is ALWAYS said in a sweet tone.  Never a reprimand.  Never anger.

And so, Jack has given back my name.
Jack has made it so I can hear it, accept it, and answer to it without anger or hurt in my heart.

After all…………..What is in a name?
Listen to THIS and you’ll know it’s love.

A beautiful face

I have lots to write about.
I have oodles of things that I want to say.

I have gripes, complaints, information, and news to disseminate.

But not right now.

RIGHT NOW I just want you to see how happy Jack was yesterday.
These shots were post temper tantrum (he wanted “SHOES ONE” and “CAR YES!” a little too early)

But once all that screaming, anger, frustration and vitriol passed…..
Here he was.  In a patch of sunshine . Smiling.
That’s the way to move on in life, don’t you think?
So….enjoy these pictures.
I know I do!

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Post Thanksgiving

You would have thought that I would have done a big old “blah-blah-blah-Blog” about how thankful I am this holiday season….etc etc etc ad nauseum.

I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

You know why?  Because each and every day I have something to be thankful for.
And I remember to be thankful EACH day for those small (and not so small things)-

I am thankful for a day/week/month with no seizures.
I am thankful when there is no traffic leaving school so Jack doesn’t get upset.
I am thankful for non rainy days so Jack can be outside.I am thankful for DVD’s that don’t have 10 minutes of previews before the expected show.
I am thankful for the co-op putting those gluten free high end chips on sale.
I am thankful for those small moments of awareness when Jack makes a connection.
I am thankful for laminate floors that make cleaning up fuzzball mess much easier than carpet.
I am thankful each day for continued health and learning.

I am grateful and thankful for a daughter who rises to the challenge each day– who can spot a seizure, stem a temper tantrum,  doesn’t mind being a slinky holder or a partner on the bounce-poline, and loves unconditionally.

I am thankful and grateful for a husband who seems to have super-powers– who works, loves, balances, teaches, shops, cooks, and MORE with his eye on the big picture of FAMILY.

And I am thankful for my family.

Last Thursday was about ALL of that and a truly bitchin’ turkey dinner.

THAT word

Today, in internet land I posted a comment on a FB page stating that I would NOT join the “let’s all get behind Papa John’s pizza” deal and “boost the economy” by buying said pizza
My reason, I stated, was:
I refuse to support a company that claims Obama is making it hard for them to make any money at all therefore cannot give their employees proper benefits, BUT they can afford to give away two million pizzas.

I thought it was pretty sound reasoning.
And it is documented all over the interwebs.
AND…well, I stated it nicely with no name calling.

THIS was posted after it:
Give away pizza? Are u a retard? Another liberal who doesn’t understand.

yeah.
THAT word.

I asked the person, very nicely to consider the use of this pejorative, as name calling is not productive.

His response?

Tina I don’t care what you want and you can take that to the bank. Retard is a word in a dictionary and was the acceptable term until libs decided it wasn’t.

Oh so compassionate and clever, don’t you think?

While I DO understand that this word is INDEED in the dictionary, it should be used in a way so that it is a VERB

Take note that is is NOT used as a noun until #4

4.Slang: Disparaging .

a.a mentally retarded  person.
b.a person who is stupid, obtuse, or ineffective in some way: a hopeless social retard.
I do not identify myself as a liberal or “lib” as this internet troll claims.
I do not usually identify myself as any one thing-
except, perhaps ,compassionate.
I do not think “libs” ruined the use of this word.
I think this word is used as a last bastion of those without an argument.
And……while Jackson may not care about the use of this word, I do.
He may be developmentally delayed
He may be brained damaged.
He may even BE “retarded”But I can guarantee you that he has a kinder heart than the person who insulted me today using that word.

And to paraphrase the troll….
I’ll take THAT to the bank.

Resistance is Futile

The all knowing omnipotent “they” say there are two certain in life:
death and taxes.

I would humbly add to that :
My inability to not be  a clutterbug
andThe constant presence of Lego’s and gears on our floor.

I went to a new friends house the other day.  It was amazing.  Well decorated.  Clean.
And no piles of “things” anywhere to be found.
And no indiscriminate small part toys on the floor or lurking in corners. (I checked!)
There were also no random cheerios or chips pieces anywhere to be found.
No errant threads or fabric scraps lurking about!

You know, what with him being brain damaged and developmentally delayed-I’m gonna’ go ahead and give Jack a pass this go around.  He throws thing for the sheer joy of watching their arc and seeing them spin.

Me?  There is no excuse.  I have an “I’ll just stack it here until I can get to it” mentality.
I am loathe to throw out any piece of fabric, ribbon, or doo-dad that I perceive can be useful in some unforeseen time.

Maybe I should just take a tip from the boy and throw it all away…..

joyfully, with glee, for the sheer joy of letting it go……

hmmmmmmmmm

I’ll get back to you on this.  🙂

What does it mean?

Every night, as I walk into the bedroom with Jack he does something that annoys the heck out of me and I can’t seem to make him stop.
He knocks over the plastic laundry hamper that sits next to the bed.
It is not a violent motion.  It is not a malicious moment.
It is just a “hey, there’s that thing…..I need to tip it over” matter of fact motion.
Sure.  I could move it.
But there is really no other place to put it.
As he climbed into bed last night, after tipping over the basket, I got to thinking about his routines.
And somehow it occurred to me that this has a purpose for him.
Whatever it is…..I am not sure WHAT it is….
but it is part of his going to bed…..
He sees me close the door.  Turn on the sleep machine.
Pull back the covers.
Perhaps this is HIS contribution.

I am going to focus on being less annoyed.
And see this through Jacks eyes.

Wish me luck.  ❤

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.

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.