Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Mental Mother

Often, late at night I find myself rehashing conversations I've had with my kids...in my head. My teen is rapidly maturing and developing his own viewpoints on the world around him. Sometimes those viewpoints are so far removed from anything I think or feel that I'm left momentarily speechless. Taking into account the fact that our conversations are largely one-sided because teen boy is autistic and his delivery of thoughts is frequently a rapid brain dump with my take only being a source of argument with his opinion always the correct one, it's difficult to get my ideas across.

We had a largely one-sided discussion on religion earlier with Tyler stating that all religions are a crock, there's no such thing as "God" and people who believe in a faith are deluded. He called all religions "magical thinking" and blamed them for many of the problems in the world. He is a super logical kid and often a very linear and b&w thinker.

I tried to get across the idea that even if you don't believe in the more miraculous aspects of organized religious beliefs, you can't really argue with the basic tenants of doing unto others and just generally not being a jerk. I got a response of "Jesus wasn't real, mom. Why do what a fictional character tells you to."

Yeah. Speechless.

So, here I am, rehashing how that conversation could have gone better. "Son? One very important thing I take away from the teachings of Jesus is the idea of unconditional love. Love for the world and love for our fellow man. I feel a sense of responsibility to leave this world a better place by being kind and being a source of goodness and light. Just because a good idea comes from a source you think is fictional doesn't mean it isn't a great idea that you can apply to your own life. There are absolute truths in this universe that very wise and enlightened people have come to accept, no matter the source. I love you and want to help you in your journey towards becoming a good man. Don't be distracted by the pomp and circumstance of organized religions...simply seek out what is the central message of faith. Be enlightened. Reject darkness and embrace light. I won't ever force my own beliefs on you, but encourage you to expose yourself to a variety of faiths and seek your own answers. As long as your heart remains open to hope and love, you'll be ok."

Huh. Not too bad for a 4am ramble. I'll just leave this here in the hopes that one day my son will get curious and read it. Then he can continue this conversation in HIS head at 4am. Love you, my boys!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Shh! I'm working here!

Does anyone else get a running commentary in their heads from individual body parts as they work? No? Just me then... This is how my morning went.

Self:  OK! Wake up and get to work. Lots to do before company comes next weekend! First up, pick up all the dirty laundry and put it into baskets.

My Back: You aren't going to try and move those without help, are you? You'd better not!

Self: Now to just move these into the hallway... [PUSH]

My Back: Oh my GLOB! You ARE trying to do it without help! No! NO! Stop it!

Self:  Ow holy crap, that hurt. OK, OK! Calm down. I'll sit for a minute. [Darling husband comes in, freaks out over more laundry to do and lists all the reasons why it can't be done before pushing baskets into the hall.] Thanks honey! What's next... Dining room needs to be picked up, large things moved about to make room, table cleared, room vacuumed, and new rug laid down.

My Back: You can't be serious. You've already taken an Aleve. Take the hint, Woman!

I set about picking up toys, trash, more clothes, costumes, legos, art supplies, and so on - sorting into various toy bins, boxes, and trays. Trash pile grows and lego table over flows. Video games missing for months are found. Max fights over which things are trash and which are trinkets to be kept. The mess on his desk grows higher. Bending, stooping, pushing, pulling, moving the big toybox across the room...

My Back: Hello! You need to sit down. Now. I'm serious! If you don't take a break right this second I'm going to make you fall over in pain. I mean it! SIT! Sit down! I'm counting to ten...1, 2, 3, 4, 5...

Self: Oh for the love of...fine! I'm sitting! [plops down on dining room chair in the nick of time]

My Knees: If you think you're getting up again, I can tell you now, you are seriously mistaken.

Self: Come on, you guys! We've made a dent! Look! I just want to clear off that little side table, move it back where it belongs, moving the chairs over there, have Max stack his snack stash on the table and then I can vacuum! Then we can roll out the new rug!

My Back: No. I'm done. You stay sitting or I'll quit on you for the next three days. Then how much can you do? Hmm? Ha!

My Knees: Listen to Back. I'm done too. And you'd better put Feet up or they are gonna start barking at you.

Feet: Ruff! Bow wow wow wow! Grrrrrr!

Self: *sigh* Fine. I'll take a break. Can I get some quiet now?!

Body parts all sigh with relief.

Self: Don't get too comfortable. We have more to do...

Feet: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

And so it goes. I'm sitting and resting. Kinda. I better eat something before my stomach starts in on me too. No one wants to hear THAT conversation. Stomach has a potty mouth.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Irreplaceable

The dryer broke this weekend, but unlike when its inefficient and water wasting partner broke down, this time I didn't get my hopes up.  Nope, no heading off to the Lowes website shopping for a shiny new washer/dryer set because I knew my resourceful and mechanically inclined man was going to fix it. See, this ancient and inefficient pair are rather like the equivalent of a classic car...before the advent of complex catalytic converters or computer controlled fuel injectors.  Mechanically inclined men can just run out to one of those ubiquitous junk yards and find a replacement part, hunker down, get greasy and fix the ancient hunk of junk.

Sometimes it stinks having a mechanically inclined man. ;)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

I'm fully aware of autism, thanks very much...

International Autism Awareness Day. Yep. Check. Am I wearing blue? Heck no! My son would have a fit! My contrary teen on the spectrum HATES the color blue and all things "Autism Speaks." (You wave a blue light bulb or puzzle piece in his direction and I can't be responsible for your safety. Be warned!)

We've had a couple of recent discussions about "Autism Awareness Month" and all the hoopla going on in his school. He has described to me (in very inappropriate and colorful language) the posters, shirts and activities going on around him. He did NOT appreciate the "art" project he was forced to do involving a ribbon covered in puzzle pieces. I mean, seriously? You are making the autistic kids do an autism awareness project?! REALLY?! How stupid is that! Like THEY aren't fully aware. Duh.

Two favorite moments from these discussions:

  • The moment when he blurted out his feelings about a certain poster in the hall that says "Does your child have Autism Spectral Disorder?" It was designed by a kid. Did you notice the problem? Tyler did. "What the hell is autism spectral disorder? Where you think you are haunted by dead autistic kids?!?!" His observation came at the rapid-fire rate that is Tyler's normal mode of communication and I about fell off my chair laughing. 
  • The other moment was when Tyler snatched a blue sheet of paper off my desk that was printed with the t-shirt design contest his old school was running. Design an Autism Awareness Month shirt. "Let me do that! I have the perfect one!" Max instantly objected to Tyler using HIS blue form, so Tyler took a blank sheet of paper and in about 60 seconds he'd sketched his own shirt design. The "shirt" was wildly inappropriate, of course. It contained a certain 4-letter word starting with F and a drawing of a hand with the middle finger pointing upward and the instructions that this be a blue shirt with white letters. You know, because...awareness. *facepalm* yes, but I was really impressed at the level of art talent in his sketch! 60 seconds and he'd done a perfect line-art drawing of a shirt and a hand/finger with legible text. He really DOES have artistic talent, but has no desire to utilize it. Sad.
No, I won't be posting a scan of his shirt design. It's very very inappropriate. But that brings me back to the point I'm trying to make with this post. This awareness month hoopla is rather painful for those of us who struggle with autism every day and particularly painful for my ASD teen. See, I think, like your average teen, he is struggling with self-identity right now. There is a particular autistic teen in his school that is, erm, highly noticeable? He loudly stims in the hallways and sometimes escapes from his aids and randomly shows up in other classrooms while wearing underwear on his head or some other unusual behavior. 

Tyler doesn't approve. He doesn't like making a spectacle out of himself (unless he feels he needs to take a stand, then he will loudly protest.) He doesn't want anyone to think that he and this boy have anything in common. He finds the "autistic" label embarrassing and maybe inaccurate. 7th and 8th grade is a really hard time under normal circumstances. Imagine you have something about you that makes you different when you don't want to BE different. He won't admit to that if you ask him directly. He will tell you different is good. Better to be different than one of the boring sheep that follow the herd. 

Ah that lovely teen attitude coupled with ADHD, ASD, sleep disorder, anxiety and depression. We are having fun. Not. We are wearing blue. Not. I take the few moments of levity and cherish them, because they are links in my mom armor that help me survive another day. 

Please consider lending your support to organizations that provide services and support directly to people with autism and their families. Like local charities that provide help, training, and job opportunities are very important. Flashy awareness campaigns and sales of things that are blue only benefit that big corporate entity, typically, and not any actual autistic people.