I Pity The Fool…

Yesterday was a mixed bag for me.  For starters, when Kaleb had his yearly physical on Tuesday, he couldn’t read the eye chart – which was bizarre considering he’d never had a problem reading it in years before.  Honestly, at first the nurse and I both thought he was just screwing around – when we realized he really couldn’t see it I immediately called Sho-Sho to see if she could get him an appointment to have his eyes checked.  So, yesterday morning I picked him up from school for his eye appointment.  Honestly, I was anxious.  Nobody likes having someone messing around with their eyes, and Kaleb had only been to the optometrist one other time, when he was way younger.  I prepped him as best I could, and promised if he was brave and did as the doctor asked I would put Minecraft on his tablet and he could play after he got home from school until dinner time (He’s on the tail end of an electronics ban).

So, off we went.  It helped that the eye doctor is a friend and mentor to my mom, and the same person who gives me my exams – she also knew enough about Kaleb to take a really light approach with him.  After a series of tests, which he handled like a champ, we were informed that he’s near-sighted.  After the issue at his physical, I couldn’t say I was totally surprised, yet I was still a little shocked.  So, the boy needs glasses.

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This should be interesting…

The appointment took way longer than I expected, so I ended up just bringing him home with me, since there was only an hour left of school and there wasn’t a whole lot of sense in sending him back, especially when his eyes were going to be sensitive to the light for a while.  As promised, Minecraft (the newest obsession) was installed on his tablet, and off he went to play.

Kaleb’s first flag football game of the season was at 5:45 last night, so we ate an early dinner, loaded up the car and headed out.  He was really excited to play (even though it’s not “real football”), and I spent the car ride reminding him of what he should (and shouldn’t) be doing on the field.  By the time we got there he was pumped and ready to go.  He helped me carry the stuff out from the car, and then took off to join his team.  It was obvious right from the start that it was going to be a bit of a difficult night.  Not like he wasn’t going to behave, but he was really spooled up, and I could tell immediately that he was going to be all over the place.  His coach is a good guy, and super patient with him, even when Kaleb is jumping all over him and constantly invading his personal space.

The game started, and things didn’t get off to the best start for Kaleb.  He was told where he needed to stand, but he was too busy spinning around and shouting to really pay attention.  His teammates were getting frustrated with him, but eventually he pulled it together and got into position.  As the game progressed things headed downhill.  Kaleb was on offense, standing to the right of the center, supposed to be blocking.  Time after time he would get distracted and his teammates would have to yell to him until he would snap out of it and go where he was supposed to.  After each and every play he would shout and scream – if his team progressed, he would scream “Yeeeeeeesssss!” and basically try to fist-bump everyone – if they didn’t gain any ground or missed a catch he would scream “Nooooooo!” and stomp around in circles for a minute.

Regardless of any of this, I’m proud of him.  When the ball is snapped he’s paying attention, and at least trying to block.  He’s keeping his hands to himself, and he’s having fun.  Three years ago I couldn’t even imagine that he’d be out on a football field, interacting socially, of his own free will.  But he’s out there, and he’s doing it.

The clock continued to count down, and about ten minutes into the first twenty minute half I’m frustrated for him.  The kids on the other team are laughing at him, his own teammates are frustrated with him, and he doesn’t realize any of it is going on.  And then it all went to hell – for me anyway.

The lady sitting to my left had a kid on Kaleb’s team.  She and another woman had been talking for the majority of the game, and I’ve picked up on enough snippets of their conversation to learn that they’re both teachers (though I have no idea where).  At this point, the kid playing center is yelling at Kaleb and telling him (once again) where his position is.  Kaleb at this point finally stands where he’s told with a little huff and a stomp – not the angry kind, but the kind of out of control, wild and crazy Kaleb mode kind.

Then the women next to me start commenting.  Now granted, we got there early enough they obviously don’t realize they’re talking about my kid.  But the fact of the matter is, they’re sitting in a group of people they don’t know – it’s poor form to talk smack about someone else’s kid – especially when that kid’s parents could be sitting right next to you.  The conversation started like this:

“That’s how I feel all day long.  I just told you what to do, why don’t you do it?”

“I know, right?  What is he doing?”

“*giggling*  I don’t know.  How many times do you have to be told where to stand before you do it?”

“What is wrong with that kid?”

You want to know what is wrong with that kid?  NOTHING.  He’s accomplishing a goal, despite so many odds stacked against him.  Hell, he can’t even see the ball and he’s still out there!  Here’s the real question – what is wrong with you?!  He’s a little kid, sure he’s all over the place, but he’s still just a kid.  And come on now, seriously, at this point it’s not hard to see that he’s different from the other kids.  You’re teachers – are you telling me you have had absolutely no interaction with special needs kids?  But what kills me is the absolute gall.  You wanna talk shit about my boy?  Fine.  But do it when you get home.  Not when you’re sitting on the sidelines with a bunch of other parents.  If you’re going to be cruel to a little boy who just wants to be part of the team, do it where other people don’t have to sit and listen to you spew your ignorance.

At this point, I’m in a spot.  I could turn my head and throw a bunch of venom in my voice, informing them that he’s autistic.  I could start a fight.  I could be a complete and utter bitch – we all know I’m more than capable of it.  But I don’t.  I opt instead to do what these women obviously aren’t capable of doing.  I hold my damn tongue.  First of all – my kid’s abilities and limitations are absolutely none of your business.  Second – the last thing I want is to have these horrible jerks looking at me with pity.  They don’t get to pity me – it’s my turn to pity them.  Your world is tiny compared to mine.  My mind is open, my heart is open, and I was at least raised with enough class to keep my thoughts to myself if they weren’t polite (when in the company of strangers at least!).

So I kept my mouth to myself, as I so often tell the boys to do.  I left fingernail indentations in my palms, but I kept my mouth to myself.  When halftime came and the kids all came running over to the sidelines, I gave Kaleb a high-five and handed him his water.  While he drank I reminded him once again not to yell in people’s faces, or hang off the coaches, and try really hard to get into position when the rest of his team does.  I didn’t even glance at the women next to me.  Until he went back to the huddle.  Then I looked – and offered a silent challenge.  Say another word.  Now you know.  That kid you were talking about?  His mother is sitting right here.  Say something else.  I dare you.

The last play of the game, the other team had scored and was going for a two point conversion.  Kaleb actually managed to strip the flag off the kid with the ball – after he’d already crossed the line and got the points – but that doesn’t matter.  He did it – he really, really did it – and he was so proud.  He wasn’t the only one.  I wanted to take that flag home and put it in a frame.

I’m not going to lie, after we got home and the kids got settled into bed, Watson (our elf) moved to a new locale and I had a glass of wine – I cried.  My heart hurt for my Monster Man.  He was doing something he loved – and yes, he was doing it poorly, but he was still going out there and putting in the effort.  He shows up to every practice and every game.  He watches training videos and reads articles to try and improve his game.  And all the while he’s being laughed at.  But the blessing in disguise?  He had no idea it was going on.  I did.  But he didn’t.  He just kept on being himself and enjoying the sport.

Both of the boys have games tonight, so we shall see how it goes.  But no matter what I’m proud.  I’m proud of them both for putting on their cleats and walking out onto that field with their heads held high.  And I will sit there and cheer for them both, for every time they manage a block, or strip a flag.  I’ll cheer, and I’ll know that in this moment, we are the real winners – no matter the outcome of the game.

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Better World…

So, school started back up for The Monster Man yesterday.  Hopefully this means my  sabbatical from writing a few times a week is over – since I no longer have to separate the boys every ten seconds.

On that note, I was going to write today about Kaleb’s first (adventurous) day of school, as well as a few other things surrounding it.  Then, I read a letter.  A horrid, despicable, heart sickening letter, and my focus changed for today.  For those of you who have not yet read this piece of trash, here it is:

ViiihHg

The family of a 13 year old boy on the Autism Spectrum discovered this shoved under their front door.  Go ahead, read it again.

I had to read it more than four times before I could make my mind believe what my eyes were seeing.  Of course, it didn’t help that each and every time I read it I got more and more upset.

Some of you have probably already seen it – considering I saw it for the first time yesterday afternoon, and have then seen it reposted on facebook more than 12 times.  If so, sorry for dragging a little bit of darkness into your day, but I have a few things to say about this.

First of all, to the vile excuse for a human being that wrote this garbage:

Way to go – you just pissed off half the modern world.  Well done.  I’d like to think if I met you on the street I would walk right up, stick my finger in your face and say “Look Lady…”  but I can’t go any further than that, seeing as how you clearly are not a “lady” by even the most vague definition.  Of course, even If I changed the word “lady” to any number of the foul things that pop to the forefront of my mind, I still wouldn’t say them.  You may wonder why – maybe you’d even be so naive to think me a coward.  However, you’d be very, very wrong.  I wouldn’t be the coward in this situation – that role has been taken by a spineless woman who hides her name and leaves notes under doors like some petty child who was not raised properly enough to take responsibility for her own actions.  Kudos to you, you’ve just won the invertebrate of the year award.

The real reason I would never walk up, finger ready to point and mouth ready to explode?  Well, how about being a role model for my children?  Instead of showing them that hate spawns hate, and ugly spawns ugly – you’ve just given us all an opportunity to teach our kids first hand that the best revenge in life is to be the better person.  Something I wonder if you’ve ever bothered to teach your “Normal” children.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not a saint.  I’m perfectly aware of my flaws, they make me human.  But I sure as anything wouldn’t want to teach my kids that the best way to fight a wicked witch is to sink to her level – sometimes all you need is a good support system and a bucket of water.

So, allow me to teach you a thing or two, about the children you so harshly condemn.

These children are miracles.  They embody everything this world has.  The light in the darkness of a civilization that spawns heartless people.  The struggles and trials and sacrifices made to lead good, fulfilling lives.  They are brilliant, and challenging, and more courageous than most of us could ever dare to be.  They face fear each and every moment of their lives and they persevere.  They show honor and loyalty with such clarity it is almost heart breaking.  When they give love they give it freely – without exception or rules.  They love you because they want to love you, and that is that.  It is pure, unselfish, and endless.  They bring new colors and ideas into the world without ever realizing they are doing it.

They teach everyone around them what it truly means to be brave, selfless, patient, and caring.  They are faced with challenges that for many seem minor, but for them are nearly insurmountable.  Can you possibly imagine what it would feel like to walk around all day with spiders crawling on your skin?  That child across the street may be wearing a tee-shirt that feels just that way.  Can  you imagine what it would feel like to walk into a room where the volume is so loud you can feel your eardrum vibrating, the light is so bright your eyes hurt even when closed, the people and objects milling around to such a degree it feels as if the world is closing in on you and you can barely catch a breath?  Welcome to a trip to the local grocery store for some kids.  Can you imagine waking up every night in the middle of the most terrifying nightmare you’ve ever had – and not being able to escape it?  Being awake while stuck in your nightmare?  Not knowing what is real and what is imagined?  Not knowing if that’s really your mom trying to comfort you, or the monster from your dream?  Welcome to sleep for some kids.

Everything is different.  Sight, sound, taste, texture – all of it is different.  No two kids are the same – and that goes double for a kid on the spectrum.

But they do it.  They wear uncomfortable clothes because they want to fit in.  They go to the grocery store because they don’t have a choice – they need food, and it’s not like mom can leave them alone at home.  They suffer through, and they make it.  They have parents and family members, and friends who would stop the world from spinning if for just one minute that meant their child on the spectrum could feel safe.  We give up everything for these children.  We give up friends, and past lives.  We give up BBQs and football games.  We give up sleep and favorite foods.  We read the same social stories over and over and over again, no matter if we could do it from memory, because our children need to see the story.  We drive from point A to point Z while listening to the same song or movie we’ve been listening to for a year, so our children can spend twenty minutes with a doctor who might have some insight.  WE suffer through heartwrenching IEP meetings, and being called horrible names by strangers when our children get overstimulated in public.  We go to school – our own school – where we teach ourselves the difference between ABA and OT.  Where we learn which therapy methods work best, and which ones cause our kids to spiral out of control.  We buy swings, and weighted vests, all hinging on the hope it might make life better for THEM.

We do not do this because we want praise.  We do not do this because we feel superior, or we want sympathy.  Those are the last things in the world any of us want.  We want our kids to have a real fighting chance – a chance for this world to make a place for them – because they make the world better just by being in it.  We didn’t ask for this, and neither did our children – but there isn’t a single part of it I would ever change or take back.  We live in fear for our children, not just for the future, but for the present.  An 8 hour school day feels like an eternity when you spend it sitting by the phone waiting to be told to come and get your child.  When you never know if they’re going to come home happy or sad, or lonely, or confused.  We want everything you want for your kids – but we have to fight harder to get it – and believe me, we will.

There is nothing I would not do for my children.  I would take on anything and anyone who stands in their way, and I’d do it with a smile on my face – because I am my children’s champion.  We are the families of special needs kids – and we are getting stronger.  Our voices are getting louder – and it won’t be long before the voices of closed-minded, selfish people like you are drowned out altogether.  And the world will be a better place for it.  Because our children are gifts.  They’re beautiful, chaotic, baffling, unexpected gifts – and you don’t just toss that kind of gift away.  You take it and you run, no matter how far you have to go.

I hope with all of my heart that your children have more positive, loving influences in their lives.  Because like I said before – hate doesn’t have to spawn hate, and it would be a great shame for someone like you to twist the minds of children to hate.  Children weren’t meant to be hateful – they were meant to be loved.  To bring new sights and sounds and scents into the world.  To bring joy and laughter and love to everyone around them.  If I were you, I’d take a good hard look at yourself – ugly isn’t something that shows in the skin – it starts in the soul and turns the heart black.  For your sake, I hope it isn’t too late for you to see just how very wrong you are.

Finally – to the family who is stuck dealing with this nightmare:

I don’t know how I would have reacted if I were you.  I know it wouldn’t have been pretty, and I give you a huge round of applause for handling such a difficult time with grace.  Your son is lucky to have you – and as far as I’m concerned, you’ve got our full support as well.  This will pass, and while it may always leave a mark on your heart – try to make that mark a good one.  Instead of focusing on how cruelly you were treated by one person – think on how many people have stood up to show support and love for you all.  Even when you feel at your most alone – know that you aren’t, not really.  We’ve got your back.

“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me…  You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”  ~Walt Disney

You and Your Parrot…

Mason has come up with a way to drive his brother completely insane.  And it is foolproof.  I mean it works 100% of the time.  0-200 in .5 seconds.  Perfectly happy Kaleb to complete and utter meltdown in the blink of an eye.

Unfortunately, Kaleb isn’t the only one being driven insane by this new habit of the Mini Monster – it’s going to put Daddy and myself right in the sanitarium.  Curious as to what Mason has got up his sleeve?

He’s become Pete the Repeat Parrot.

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He’s copying Kaleb.  Constantly.  Words, actions, facial expressions.  On top of that, he’s copying us when we’re talking to Kaleb – which is usually the final bridge that leads to meltdown city.  At first, we were letting it go to an extent.  I mean, it’s a good thing, right?  Mason copying Kaleb means he’s using more language, practicing words, etc.  Of course, we didn’t take in to account Kaleb’s volatile reaction to this.  At first, it was just a bit of whining.  The normal tattling complaint you will get from a kid when his brother is annoying him.

It didn’t take long for that to change.  Now it goes a little something like this:

“Mommy, I don’t want to clean up.”

“Mommy, I onna cean up.”

“No Mason!  Don’t copy me!”

“No Mayo!  Opy me!”

“Mason!  Stop it!  Mommy Mason is copying me!”

“Mayo!  Stop it!  Mommy Mayo opy me!”

“Masoooon!  You don’t copy!  That’s not nice!”  (Insert Kaleb whacking Mason on the head)

“Mason!  Knock it off, leave Kaleb be.  Kaleb, don’t hit your brother, stop screaming, and go pick up that mess.”

“Kaweb no hit Mayo go cean up mess!”

“Arrrggghhhhhh Mason STOP IT!!  Copying is not nice and you’re supposed to be a nice boy!”  (This is a new favorite saying of Kaleb’s)

“Argghehhherhhhh!  Opy not ice Mayo ice boy!”

*Insert extremely high pitched squealing scream*  Masooooooonnnnn!  Noooo!  Stop it!”

“Mason, get away from your brother, now.  Kaleb clean up that mess, now.”

“Kaweb cean up mess now!”

*shrieking I could not copy down on paper if I wanted to*  Kaleb runs at Mason and wacks him on the head.  Mason throws something at Kaleb and starts crying and screaming with enough talent to make a stranger think his toe nails were being removed with rusty spoons.  Mommy separates them both, only for them to go back at each other.  Inform Mason that I know he’s faking.  Inform Kaleb that the next time he screams or goes after his brother he will end up with the mother of all time-outs.  Only to be completely ignored by them both, and have them go at it again.

This has been happening multiple times a day, every day, for far too long now.  What’s worse, is when they’re going at it in the car or the store.  At least in the house we can separate them and get a few minutes respite from the screaming.  What are you supposed to do when they’re offering up ear-splitting shrieks in the closed, confined space of the car?  Turn the music up.  At least, that’s what I do.  And sing.  Loudly.  It doesn’t totally drown out the screaming battle going on behind me, but it’s a whole lot better than it was before.

What’s funny about this, is that just a few years ago Kaleb was guilty of doing this exact same thing to my nephew.  It drove the poor kid crazy.  And again, I let it go for a bit, because Kaleb was learning.  But once I saw just how nuts it was making my nephew I did everything I could to put the kibosh on it.  Of course, I was pretty much as successful as I am right now.  By that, I mean not at all.  Even now the kid runs like the devil is on his heels when Kaleb comes at him.

Hopefully we can find a way to get things calmed down soon, before we all go crazy and Mason ends up being the only sane one left.

Now that is a scary thought!

Father Of Mine…

Happpy Father’s Day!

I can honestly say I’m blessed to know a lot of amazing fathers, and I hope each and every one of them have an incredible day today.  But, more than anything, there are three men in my life who have completely shaped my vision of what makes a great father, and I’d like to take the time to say something to each of them today, since I’ll only get to spend the day with one.  First, of course is Daddy – who I am lucky enough to navigate parenthood with Monsters with.  Second, is Papa Clyde – AKA my father; and third is Poppy – my know-it-all (it’s true, he does know everything!) grandfather. Without these men I wouldn’t be the person, daughter, friend, or mother that I am.  Each one of them has influenced me beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Poppy 

Happy Father’s Day old man!  I haven’t called you yet this morning because I figured you might actually take advantage of the day and sleep in and I didn’t want to be the one who woke you up!  Mind you, I obviously have no problem doing this every other day of the year, but still.  It is Father’s Day after all.  I truthfully don’t even know how to write this.  When I look back at my life, and your role in it, I can honestly say you are one of the only people in the world I have always known, 100% was there for me, no questions asked.

For as long as I can remember you’ve answered endless un-answerable questions, simply to entertain me.  You’ve given me your love for a good baseball game, a cold beer, and a determination to learn how to do an Irish Step Dance (which we both know I will never be able to accomplish given my miserable failure at any form of dance).  More than that, you’ve given me stability, love, faith, and a sense of humor I would be lost without.  I have countless memories of conversations we’ve had while walking through grocery stores, or other public places – most of those memories are seared into my mind not because of the depth of them (not that we haven’t shared in some wonderful and serious conversations, because we certainly have), these memories stand out because of the looks on the faces of the strangers around us as they eavesdropped on the constant banter between us.

You have always been able to find a way to find the humor in even the worst situations, and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to you for giving that gift to me.  Being able to not just find the good in the bad, but finding the humor in what should be a humorless situation has saved me on so many levels.  Knowing I can call you and no matter how much of my own hair I have pulled out over the antics of the Monsters, you will laugh so hard I can’t help but laugh with you.  It’s become one of the most important aspects of my life, and my number one coping mechanism when things get rough.

You’ve been a father to me through thick and thin, going above and beyond grandfatherly duties, and I’ll never be able to properly express how much that means to me.  I have never felt like I didn’t belong with you.  You gave me my first lesson in love being thicker than blood.  So, when you’re sitting in the pavilion next, drinking a beer and listening to the radio, have that flamingo at your side give you a toast from me.  Next month I’ll be able to give you a proper toast myself, and I fully expect to leave with a heart full of love and a belly full of laughter.  I love you Poppy, I miss you to pieces, and I hope you have the best Father’s Day yet.

P.S.

Kaleb says “Happy Father’s Day!”

Mason says “Why?”

Ha!  I love you,

Princess Flamingo

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Papa Clyde –

Happy Father’s Day Daddy!

I’ve had my fair share of father figures throughout my life.  But only when you came along did I truly get a Dad.  I know I have probably already said this a hundred times, for a hundred different occasions, but I’ll say it again:  Thank you.

Thank you for being my Dad.  Thank you for taking me as I was, and as I am, and loving me unconditionally despite my best efforts to make you do otherwise.  Thank you for standing by me, behind me, and in front of me as I navigated the world around me.  Thank you for being everything a father should be and more.  Thank you for opening your arms, your heart, your family to me and never letting go.  Thank you for rescuing me from myself when I needed rescuing, and letting me struggle when I needed to rescue myself.  Thank you for everything.

Through you I have learned so much.  I’ve always been stubborn (a trait we both share to a fault), I’ve always been a heard-headed girl, who wanted what I wanted and that was that.  You’ve taught me how to accomplish the things I want in this life, while building relationships, instead of burning them to the ground.  You’ve shown me how rewarding it is to teach others, and help those around me.  You’ve redefined compassion and loyalty, while encouraging me to continue to be as outrageous as I want to be.  You’ve given me independence, while making sure to be there when I needed someone to lean on.

We’ve grown together – you and I.  We’ve both had some of the stubborn stripped away in light of things that we couldn’t see coming or control, and we’ve learned from those things.  In all the battles I’ve had to wage, with myself, my kids, my family – even you – you have always been there to find the light at the end of the tunnel with me.  We’ve been through awesome times, and we’ve been through hell, and no matter what you never lost faith.  You’ve made me crazy, and I’ve made you grey, yet still you stand proudly by my side and introduce me as your daughter.  You’ve shown me what it means to have not just a father, but a Dad; proving once more to me that love is stronger than blood.  I couldn’t imagine what my world would be like without you, and I never want to.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy, I will see you this evening, and I’ll raise as many toasts as I can to a man who changed my life for the better, forever.

I love you,

Your pain in the ass daughter.

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Daddy 

Happy Father’s Day Love!

Of course you know I had to save the best for last 😉

Oh where do I even begin?  We have the luckiest kids on the planet – because they have you.  But they aren’t the only lucky ones, I am as well.  In the last five years we have gone through hell and back more times than I dare count.  We’ve made each other laugh, and cry, and yell, and curse the heavens – but through all of it you have been, and always will be, everything.

You are my constant (I am perfectly aware of how completely unstable that must mean I am!), my rock, a beacon for everything that matters in this world.  You have taught me so much, and continue to do so each day.  You’re honest to a fault (seriously, no girl actually wants to know if the dress makes her look fat), your integrity and ethic is unparalleled to anyone I have ever known.  But those aren’t the reasons I love you.  Actually, half the time, those are the reasons I want shake you!

I love you because you are you.  I’ve never been more aware of how lucky I am to share this life with you than I am right now.  Our boys get to grow up with a father who teaches them that life isn’t easy – but it’s worth it if you work for what you want.  They have inherited the best of you, and for that alone they will grow up to be forces to be reckoned with.  You sacrifice daily for this family – for me, for them, for us as a whole – and you don’t get nearly the amount of acknowledgement that you should.  You spend months away from us to ensure we are able to do the things we want to do.  To give them the life that we want for them.  To give me a life I could never have dreamed of, and we will never be able to fully make you understand how much you mean to us.

Each and every time life throws us a curveball you take it and make it work to your very best ability.  You miss so much, yet without you, there wouldn’t be anything to miss.  You come home to chaos, and crazy, and you accept and love every single bit of it.  You chose us – and we are so incredibly lucky.  We are lucky to have a man who knows when to push and when to wait.  We are lucky to have a man who is patient, compassionate, understanding, faithful, and just as insane as the rest of us.

I’m sorry that you are missing Father’s Day.  But you’ll be home in just a few days now, and we will make up for it as best we can.  I know it’s hard being gone.  I know it isn’t easy to have to miss out on so much, I can’t even imagine how hard that is.  But what I also know is how much we love you.  We go about our daily lives while you fight tireless for us to have them, and we could not be more proud of you.  You are the strength in this family.  The foundation of the life we are building together.  I can look back at the last few years and know with an absolute certainty that we can face anything.  We can make it through anything together.

I cannot wait to start the rest of our lives together.  I cannot wait to marry you.  And I love you all the more because you’re crazy enough to actually want to marry me.

You are an incredible father, (future) husband, and friend.  You deserve an amazing Father’s Day – and when you get home, I will give that to you.  Once and for all you have proven to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that love is thicker than blood.  I love you more than words can express, and I will see you soon.  There will be cold beer, warm pizza, and a house of Monsters waiting for your arrival.  Have a wonderful day Love.

I love you,

The insane mother of your children, and your future wife.

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***There is a side note here.  Because I probably won’t be writing tomorrow, I need to say this now.

This is a bittersweet day for me.

Don, one year ago tomorrow you left this world, and all of us in it that loved you.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you.  For 364 days I have looked down at the pirate band on my arm I have thought of you. I hope wherever you are, you have the peace that was sometimes so difficult for you to find in life.  I hope you’re playing beer pong and listening to music loud enough to make everyone around you crazy.  Most of all, I hope you are happy, and I hope you know how much you were loved by so many people.  We miss you.

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Only Mama Knows…

Today is Mother’s Day.

Growing up I never thought I’d celebrate this day for myself.  Motherhood wasn’t in my ‘plan’.

And then this perfect, screaming little person turned my entire world upside down, and in the blink of an eye, everything changed.  My hopes and dreams were no longer for me – they were for him.  My actions were no longer a reflection of me, they were his.  Being awake at 3am held a whole new meaning.  I was able to fit the whole world in my arms, and each time I did I found myself less surprised by how absolutely right the fit was.

I watched, encouraged, molded, shaped, and spent my every waking hour loving this little person.  I was there to clap and cheer the first time he sat up on his own.  I took video after video trying to capture him standing up in his crib blowing raspberries.  I listened as he squeaked and squealed and cooed in his swing.  I barricaded my living room off day after day just waiting for him to crawl from one side to the other.  I watched him cover himself in blueberry pancakes for the first time, and laughed as I cleaned the mess.

I waited patiently for his firsts.  First time holding a bottle, first steps, first words.  Some of those came later than others.  Some came early.  And I cherished every single one.  I watched as little pieces of him developed into the independent, sweet, quirky child that he was growing to be.  I soothed and sang through the night terrors.  I watched as some of his quirks became more defined, and less ‘typical’.  I spent hours with therapists and specialists, reading books and sifting through article after article.

I fought with friends and family over things they weren’t able to see.  I fought with this perfect, screaming little person.  Most of all, I fought with myself.  Was I making something out of nothing like everyone seemed to think?  Was I overreacting?  Was I doing something wrong?  Was I doing the right things for my little person?   And then the day came – three years ago, the day finally came.  My little person finally said something I’d been waiting all his life to hear.

 “Mommy.”

And I knew.  I knew I was doing what was right.  I knew I was fighting for the right reasons.  And my first real spark of confidence in myself as a mother was ignited.

Four months later I was handed another perfect, screaming little person.  And all of the worry I had carried with me for the long nine months was instantly eased.  How could I possibly worry I wouldn’ t have enough love?  I didn’t have to be afraid that my heart wouldn’t be big enough – because it grew twice as big as soon as I saw those little eyes look at mine.

Now I was given a whole new set of hopes and dreams.  Ten new fingers and ten new toes to tickle and count.  A whole new little person to mold and shape, to teach and play with.  I watched with awe as he studied the world around him intently.  As he fell in love with cars and balls.  I watched as he took his first steps and laughed with him as he promptly landed on his diapered rump.

I tuned in to the quirks and oddities as he grew bigger.  I heard intuition whispering that things weren’t quite as they should be – and I listened.  And when my own fears and worries were acknowledged by the people who had fought with me the first time around, I felt the flames of my confidence in myself as a mother grow brighter.

Over the last six years I have laughed, and cried.  I’ve celebrated and commiserated.  I’ve learned what it means to be a mother, and a friend.  I’ve learned how to teach and be taught.  I’ve discovered what it feels like to truly love someone with all of my soul.  I’ve found a strength and an inner fighter I never knew existed.  I’ve been introduced into both the magic and the cruelty of the world we live in.  I’ve developed a patience and compassion I never thought myself capable of.

I have been changed by my children, by motherhood.

I have grown to understand and appreciate all of the mothers that have walked into my life.  And my children have benefited from the traits they have given me.  The fierce protective love and loyalty that my grandmother instilled in me.  The welcoming love and acceptance that was shown to me by the mothers of my friends, both as a child and an adult.  The humor and light shared with me by my aunts.  The honesty and faith given to me by the mothers I am lucky enough to know as friends.

All of the amazing mothers I have had walk through my life have molded the mother that I am today.  They all have had a tremendous impact in how I raise my own children.

But more than anything, the love given to me by my mother.  The respect, guidance, and endless love I have been given.  The unwavering faith and hope shown to me through tough times and through joyous times.  The laughter and the tears.  Through the wins and the losses, she has stood by my side, even when I thought I was alone.  I would not be who or where I am without her.  Without all of the amazing mothers I know.

As I sit here on Mother’s Day, tired and sore from a long night of battles with my boys, I have never felt more blessed.  Even when my heart is bruised and battered, when it’s hard to find the silver lining – I am the luckiest woman alive.  Because I have the most amazing family I could ask for.  The difficult times make the wonderful times that much better.  The triumphs made more brilliant by the tragedies.

I never thought I’d be a mother.

And I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you beautiful women out there.  To those I am lucky enough to know – you are an inspiration, and I couldn’t imagine walking this unknown road without you by my side.

I love you all.

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When I Grow Up…

Today was another evaluation day for Kaleb.  It was one I was kind of anxious about because I didn’t know what to expect – I hadn’t even been told it was happening until the other day.

Kaleb’s teacher called me the other day asking if I would mind coming in for the evaluation with the school psychologist.  I knew that was coming at some point, I’d filled out a mind-boggling amount of paperwork for it not too long ago.  What I didn’t know was that she had tried to do the evaluation 3 times already, and my brilliantly stubborn child refused to work with her.  The last time they tried, by the time they got him calmed down he sat up and said “No.  I am not going to play your stupid games.

I know that shouldn’t be funny – but seriously, I laughed out loud when I heard it.

So, they called to ask if I would come and sit in on this attempt – as it would be the last attempt.  It’s not standard procedure – but he’s not a standard kid.  So, I agreed to show up between 8 & 8:30 this morning to see if I could get Kaleb to cooperate.

Here’s the thing you need to know about my kid.  He isn’t just stubborn – he’s downright bull-headed.  And when he decides he isn’t going to do something (such as telling us that “Kids don’t clean!  Only grown-ups clean!  I’m not big enough!” for example) – he means it.  He will stomp his feet, yell and scream, give you “The Glare”, insult everything about you (I’d love to know when my sweet child turned into Rodney Rude) – but the point is, unless you come up with something really compelling (“Look, I’ll give you a quarter” does not do the trick.  Well, it did.  For about a day.) he isn’t doing it.  You either have to find some form of logic that is so airtight he cannot find a loophole – which is alarmingly difficult – or you’ve gotta offer something good.  

So, a part of me was worried about going to this eval because – well, yeah, I’m mommy – but I know how stubborn that little monster can be.  What if I just make the situation worse?  What if I walk in there and he freaks out because mommy isn’t supposed to be at school?  And, after Kaleb’s reaction when I told him I was going to come to school for a bit, my fears were justified.

“You can’t come to school.  I’m being good!  I’ve had good days!  Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday AND Thursday!  I’m going to have a good day!  So you don’t need to be at my school!”

“I know you are having good days buddy.  And I’m super proud of you for that, everyone is.  I’m not coming because you’re being bad, I’m coming because you have to meet with (insert name here) and I know that might be difficult for you, so I’m going to be there to make you feel better.”

“But I don’t LIKE her!  And I’m having good days so you need to stay home!”

Just shoot me now.

Anyway, I get up this morning, go through the battle again with Kaleb.  Mason is awake.  Why?  Why are you awake?  It’s 6:15 in the morning for crying out loud!  Like he cares.  Get Mason and feed the fish, make Captain Grouchy Pants his lunch and load up his backpack.  Of course, Mason knows what’s going on.  He knows a school bus is coming to this house and he is ready.  “Schoo bu?  Schoo bu?”  Standing by the door anxiously waiting for the moment he can run out and get an up close and personal view of this magnificent yellow machine.

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He’s seriously fixated on this.  There have been mornings when he has actually gotten out of bed, half asleep, went to the window, stood to watch the bus, and then waddled back to bed to go back to sleep.  It’s remarkable and odd – the definition of Mason.

We walk Kaleb out to the bus, Mason is in his glory – had I not been holding him I think he would have done everything in his power to get on that bus with his brother.  Wave them off, go inside and get ready – taking a shower while Mason holds open the shower curtain and yammers at me through a barage of “Close the curtain!  Go get Daddy!  Close the curtain!  Don’t touch that!  No!  Close the curtain!”  Of course he listens as well as a rock floats.

Say my good-byes and out the door I go.  Off to the meeting.  Starbucks first.  Seriously – this drive-thru is the best thing that’s ever happened to this town.  Get to the school, sign in, go find Kaleb who is walking back from breakfast with his class.  He sees me when I’m still half a mile away.  Here it is folks, the moment of truth.  Is he gonna spaz?  Or is he gonna be cool with me being there?

“Mommy!  You’re here!”  Runs over to me, wraps himself around me, and says “I’m so happy to see you here!”

Okay.  We are golden.  And that was a rockin’ welcome kid.

We go to the room where the psychologist is waiting – and Kaleb immediately dives under the table.  Um, what are you doing?

“No!  I don’t like her!  I don’t want to be here with her!  Go away!  I don’t like you!  Mommy take me back to class!”

Huh.  Well now, isn’t that just a problem.  The gears in my brain (greased up by a deliciously caffeinated cup of coffee) start turning.  What can I offer him that isn’t going to cost me an arm, a leg, and possibly my sanity?  Something that won’t give Daddy a stroke.  Something that won’t increase the mess in the house.  Hmmm…

MOVIE!  We can go to the movies!  It’s been months since we have gone, and it’s one of our favorite things to do together.  Plus, it IS movie night!  Plus, The Croods looks absolutely brilliant!

No, scratch that, am absolutely brilliant (yeah, I totally enjoy tooting my own horn sometimes)!

“Kaleb.”

“What?”

“Do you want to go to the big movie house with me and see a funny new movie that C thought was the best ever?”

He starts to crawl out from under the table

“Yeeeeesssss….”

Wary.  Too smart for his own good.  He’s waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“Okay.  I want to take you.  I want us to go and have lots of fun at the movie and wear our silly glasses and have popcorn and skittles.  Does that sound fun to you?”

“Tonight?”

“Probably.  Maybe tomorrow.  But we’ll see about tonight.”

“Okay.”

“But”

He starts to go back under the table.

“You have to come and do this work first.  If you do all the work you can go back to class, and then you can come home and we’ll figure out when we can go to the movie.  Deal?”

“But!  I don’t like her!”

“That’s rude.  Do you want the movie?”

“Yes!”

“Well, that’s the deal then.  And, I’ll tell you what.  I’m going to put the timer on my phone.  For every minute you sit like a good boy and do as you are asked, you will get a minute on the phone later.”

“Okay!”

Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am!  The psychologist looks at me with a mixed expression of relief, wonder, and shock on her face.  I’m thinking Lady, I am in no way above bribery.  

So, Kaleb starts to do the tests.  A couple times he gets off track and starts talking about his friends P and C.  He talks about Milo.  Makes him sound like a vicious rabid beast.  I had to explain after we were done – for fear the woman was going to call animal control.  At one point he stops what he’s doing, looks at her sideways, and says “Okay, I guess I like you now.  You’re okay.”  Then he just keeps on working.  Cool!  Score 2!

Then she lets him take a break and gives him some paper and colored pencils to write with.  She says “Are you going to be an artist when you grow up?”  His response:

No!  I’m just going to be MYSELF!”

Oh how I love my Monster.

So, we finish up – he did all but one section, which – considering his previous refusal to even sit in the same room with her – was totally okay.  We walk him back to class, the ultimate test.  Is he going to be cool staying at school?  Is he going to flip when I leave?  Nah.  Kiss on the cheek, a quick “Bye Mommy!  Love you!” and he’s finished with me.  Wooooooow.  This is turning into one of the most unusual days I’ve ever had – then again, look at my boy – nothing about him is usual.

I talk with the teacher and the psychologist for a little while longer, then head off to my second meeting (I wonder how relieved the staff at this school will be when they no longer see me taking up space in their office?).  This is to make up for a meeting I had to cancel a couple weeks ago when Kaleb was sick.  Which turned out to be a good thing because at least this time I didn’t have to drag the little ones with me.

This was more or less just to get some insight into the enigma that is Kaleb.  What works at home, what doesn’t.  Cause and Effect.  Nothing particularly new – but useful all the same.  Especially when I happen to really enjoy the woman who was filling out the form, and I know the answers are going to be used to help us transition the Monster Man to kindergarden.  Out the door at noon, quick stop at Panera (Yum!), home to eat my sandwich.  Kaleb gets off the bus in 40 minutes.  Right around 3pm.  Movie starts at 3:30.  I’m gonna grab the kid, load him in the car, and take him to watch some pre-historic fun (though not as much fun as Jurassic Park in 3D is going to be – don’t think I’ve forgotten that brilliant wonderfulness came out in theatres today and I’m going to go if it kills me).  Movie ends between 5 & 5:30 depending on previews, home in time to watch a movie with the Mason-butt and share some popcorn.  Perfect!

It’s been an all around good day – and as rare as those are, I’m going to enjoy every single minute of it.

Happy Movie Night!

King of Pain…

Dear Evil Lego that I stepped on last night,

OUCH!!  What the heck?!?!  I gave you a home, and this is how you treat me?  You lay there in darkness, just waiting for some poor soul to wander by half asleep, causing such great pain for such a little thing.  I do not feel bad for throwing you across the room with all of my might.  Nor will I feel bad for trapping you in your little yellow jail of doom.  You deserve it my friend.  I have arthritis in my feet, knees, and hips.  As such, the twisted way in which I fell for your little trick has caused me lasting pain throughout the night.  You do not care.  You merely sit there staring at me like an inanimate object.  We both know that’s not true.  You were not there when I went to bed – so how were you there at 3am?  It doesn’t matter.  As soon as I find you, you are getting locked away.  For today at least, you will not claim another victim.

Yours Truly,

A painfully irate mommy.

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Really, I have no idea how the Lego ended up in the middle of the floor last night, but as I made my way across the house, half asleep, to intervene in Kaleb’s nightmare – I was made painfully aware of its presence.  And yes, my first reaction was to throw it as hard and far as I could – which of course means now I have no idea where it landed.  It’s probably hiding behind some corner just waiting to attack again.

Anway, Kaleb went to school today with both his sneakers and his blankie.  Mason is still sleeping – but that’s what happens when you stay up until one in the morning.  I have a bunch of stuff to get done today, as our first walk meeting is tonight, and I’m totally spastic (as usual) trying to make sure I didn’t forget anything.  I’d like to say I didn’t – but odds are, I did, and I’ll remember it ten minutes too late.

I’m going to start keeping a tally of how many Legos have strayed from their Lego Head Jail.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with that tally – but I will think of something.  I always do.