Beets And Betty Davis Eyes

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BEETS

Several years ago, in preparation for an upcoming trip to Scotland, I started working ernestly on our family trees and found we are related to many Kings and Queens from France, England, the Netherlands, etc. Needless to say this has provoked many interesting conversations around our house.
Andre: Beets? Beets? You know I don’t like beets.
Me: You are going to have to try them. They will taste great.
Andre: I know what happened to the kings in our family
Me: What
Andre: Their mothers fed them beets
Me: Eating beets has never killed anyone
Andre: Want to make a bet? I bet if you analyzed their stomach contents you would find beets.
Me: Why Do you think that?
Andre: Anything can be hidden in beets
(Not to be outdone) Paul: Yeah the color hides everything
Andre: I am sure they were poisoned with beets
Me: Doubtful. Who would want to poison them?
Andre: Their mothers
Me: WHATTTTTTTTT?  Mothers would not poison their children.
Andre: Oh yes they would
Me: Come on, Andre. You are letting your imagination run away with you
Why would a mother do that?
Andre: Because they want the power.
Me: What?
Andre: Women didn’t have power and they wanted it. It’s been that way through history. Mothers always want to find a way to control their children. You can’t deny it can you?! And beets were the way to power.
Me: You will still be eating your beets.
Andre: Drats. I thought this little history lesson would change my history with beets.
Me: No way, dude.

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BETTY DAVIS EYES

The things your kids share with you in the car.
Andre: I think it would be awesome to be able to read someone’s mind.
Me: Why is that
Andre: Because you could do all sorts of wonderful things for them like buy them the puppy they have always wanted.
Me: Andre, you are the one who wants a puppy
Andre: I’m just saying…you know there would be one time when it wouldn’t be so good to know what someone is thinking.
Me: When would that be?
Andre: When they are sitting on the toilet going to the bathroom. I mean the things that go through your mind when you are on the toilet…well they are just not things you want others to know
Me: Is that why you spend 30 minutes at a time in the bathroom?
Andre: Might be

 

13 And Counting

I remember the first time I saw Gracie. She was sitting on her foster mother’s lap, so tiny and delicate, that she looked like a doll. She was a preemie so everything about her seemed fragile and small. I fell in love with her right then and there as I stared at the tiny 3×4 inch photo in my computer screen; engraving her sweet face on my heart forever. Truly, it was love at first sight and I was bound and determined that she would become our daughter. I thank my lucky stars that my dream came true because everyday with Gracie has been a delightful dream with a mixture of happiness, joy, and a pinch of awe thrown in for good measure. She truly is amazing!

Today Gracie turns thirteen. It is hard to believe that I will never again be raising a mere child. Instead, I am guiding young adults towards the time when they leave the nest…hopefully for good.

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Since Gracie is a now an official teenager, it means I have four teens living in my house. Maybe I should say co-existing, as war could erupt any minute when you are stepping through emotional teenage land mines which are scattered, undetected, here and there. Gracie assures me that she will not act like a teen but she is already rolling her eyes and using THAT tone of voice which indicates that somehow I have become the absolute dumbest person ever to live on this planet. Forget the 55+ years of experience, the college degrees and my affable personality…I am soon to be regulated to the status of something below pond scum.

While I am excited about someday becoming an empty nester (finger crossed) I do have to admit I miss those times when my children thought I could do no wrong, when they believed I was smarter than G*D, and when the little things I did brought them such pleasure. Those were simpler times though I didn’t recognize them as such. I often viewed them as chaotic with all the meltdowns that two children with autism could bring. But now… well, even the meltdowns don’t seem quite as bad as when I was in the midst of them and I can look back and be proud of how I handled some situations that would tax the patience of a saint. Not to say I handled them all well but I did GOOD ENOUGH and that is just fine with me at this point in the game.

Today is one of those momentous days. Time and perceptions will shift for both Gracie and I as the label of TEEN is applied like a gooey sticker to her soul. May we each grant the other grace and dignity in the coming years as she grows wiser and my brain cells shrink in number. May we create memories that sustain us and may we see the best in each other instead of the worst. For the teenage years are upon us…may we both survive them with patience and our sense of humor intact! And may Gracie happily survive the impact that autism has on a family and a sibling..she has done a remarkable job thus far.

Happy Birthday My Sweet, Talented, Gracious, Fun-Loving And Hard-Working Baby Girl! You are my Superhero!

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Breaking Records

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I’ve lived with autism for 16 years. I have yet to understand it. Take Andre. High school student who is also taking college classes and getting A’s and B’s. Smart, right? Then why can’t he change his underwear?

Seems to me that he is on some sort of record-breaking quest because recently I have noticed a pattern which I am sure Guinness World Records would love to have a stake in.

Record Breaking Attempt #1.

Number of Days Between Showers….SIX

Yes, six stinky days. Believe me, it’s not that we are willing participants in these record-breaking attempts. It’s just that life gets in the way. Often we take notice after Andre walks by smelling like road kill and the following conversation ensues:

“Honey, when was the last time Andre took a shower?”

“I don’t know. I thought it was your month to remember all his idiosyncracies.”

“No, my month was last month. This is your month.”

“No, last month I caught him hiding cookies in the downstairs bathroom so he could have a snack when he was on the toilet. It is definitely your month this month.”

And then all is revealed when little sister pipes up with:

“Well this week is my week to clean the bathroom and he hasn’t been in there once!”

AGGGGGG…epic parental fail.

AGAIN

Record Attempt #2.

Number Of Days Without Changing Underwear…..SIX

Yes, I am at fault here. I forget that an almost 6 foot tall person may need reminders to change his underwear EVERY SINGLE DAY. The lazy mother in me is tempted to teach him to turn his skivvies inside out in order to get a few more days use out of them but butt skid marks on the outside just look worse than skid marks on the inside so I am going to let this one ride.

Record Attempt #3.

Number Of Days Gone By Without Brushing Teeth……FIVE

I know this to be true because we just returned from a holiday where I put his toothbrush in his bathroom. On the last day I asked him to go get his toothbrush so I could pack it.

“Toothbrush? You brought my toothbrush with us on vacation? Why would you bother…its our vacation.”

At home I have signs up as reminders to brush his teeth. I have placed multiple toothbrushes in multiple locations. Even at the kitchen sink. And I think that is the problem. There are so many around that, just like dust bunnies, pretty soon they just begin to blend into the scenery. Sadly, little sister who brushes her teeth numerous times a day has cavities galore. Andre…not one. Ever. He is the Anti-Christ of the American Dental Association.

 

Record Attempt #4.

Number Of Times Per Day “I DON’T Wanna” is said. 1,440 x2=1880. That is about every 30 seconds.

“Time to go.”

“I don’t wanna.”

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“I don’t wanna.”

“I think you better start on your homework.”

“I don’t wanna.”

Clean your room. I don’t wanna. Take out the trash. I don’t wanna. Take a shower. I don’t wanna. Come eat breakfast. I don’t wanna. Find your shoes. I don’t wanna.

And so it goes.

I admit, that these things, while annoying, are definitely not life-threatening. YET. But that is exactly the point. Because one day we will no longer be on this earth to monitor (even half-assed) Andre’s idiosyncracies and our fear is that one day his mummified body with rotten teeth laying nearby, will be found in year-old underwear, crushed under piles of pizza boxes and food wrappers that he refused to clean up. And like global warming; we don’t know how to stop this slide toward disaster.

The one positive thing about all this record-breaking talk is that it has spurred me on to try to break one myself.

Record Attempt #1.

Number Of Days I Remain Consistently Sane

I’m going for….

ONE

 

 

 

 

 

On Giving Love When You Have None Left To Give

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Sometimes my house is pure 100% chaos. Sometimes it is as quiet as a lamb. Most of the time it is somewhere in between. But then there THOSE TIMES; the times when Andre digs in and NOTHING I can do will change the trajectory that we are about to embark on.

Change for Andre is difficult. It often is for those on the autistic spectrum. Sometimes that change is as small as using grape jelly as opposed to strawberry on Andre’s PB&J. But more often it is something along the lines of telling him to do his chore.

“Andre you need to empty the dishwasher!” (for the third time)

“I dun’t want to”

“There are lots of things I don’t want to do either but they must be done so empty the dishwasher. NOW”

“I dun’t want to”

This I dun’t want to would go on 100 times if I permitted it. Usually at this point the conversation will escalate to one more warning. Then I head upstairs (with him trying to stop me…pulling on me or poking at me) and take all of his electronics and tell him that he can have them back when his chore is done.  This is followed by ten minutes of attempted manipulation, threats (I’ll put your phone in the sink if you don’t give me back  my stuff) and flat out increased defiance. Finally, Andre will realize that he has gone too far and then resorts to such things as:

“Tell me you love me mom”

“I need love. Give me a hug NOW.”

I want a kiss NOW”

Along with all the demands he begins hanging all over me DEMANDING a hug or a kiss by clawing at me.

Of course, by this time I am worn out and tired of the CRAP. I try to remember where this is coming from inside his head (fear of abandonment/fear of being unlovable/anxiety) and react accordingly. But there are times when giving him what he needs (a hug) feels so ugly and disingenuous after all the chaos and manipulation that I find it hard to wrap my arms around him. I find it hard to find a place in my heart to grant him the grace that he needs. Most of the time I manage to dig it up from G** knows where but there are times it is almost impossible to find and it is at those moments when I feel like I have been swallowed whole, the best parts of me ripped out and flung far and wide. It is at these times when I start crucifying myself for not being able to give my son what he needs because it is such a little thing that feels so big.

Luckily, most of the time I do not get to this place of self torture because as I start to fall down the rabbit hole; I get ensnarled in the tree roots and find a foot hold to make my way up again. But there are times that I would like to keep falling down that rabbit hole just to feel the impact upon landing. To feel the brokenness that results. And when that happens it makes me realize that is probably what Andre is feeling (the impact) and then I find I can go over and give him that hug. A hug that will ultimately mend us both. A hug that that tells him that I love him and he loves me and that we are in this thing called autism together. Forever.

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Mother’s Day

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Today is the first day of school and it is about as good as a man getting down on one knee and slipping a diamond on your finger. For moms all over the world this day sparkles and shines like no other.

I remember each of my children’s first day of Kindergarten. Everyone was excited and a bundle of nerves, parents included. Now it’s old hat as I go through the list that is burned into my brain like a branded cow.

“Do you have your…lunch, notebooks, backpack, pencils, school schedule?”

“Where are your shoes? Did you change your underwear? (yes, this question MUST be asked in my household) Go put on your socks! Hurry! or you will be late!!!”

” You didn’t brush your teeth. Go do it. Andre…the hair…brush your hair! Wait….you didn’t shower, Andre. Don’t argue…DO IT! Paul, go wash your face and put on your medicine. Make your beds!!! What do you mean you don’t like chicken salad…since when?”

And so it goes until all questions have been answered to my satisfaction and off we go, kids slightly nervous and me, the calmest I has been in months with a smile plastered on my face that is wide as the Grand Canyon and remains with me all day. Yes, this feeling is better than any happy pill that has ever been invented!

“You sure sound chipper,” remarks my dad.

“You look great,” another mom comments.

“You have a glow about you!” says the grocery clerk.

And they are right. After a summer of sibling arguments and hearing “I’m Bored;” I have the eau de parfum Ode To School #5 floating about me, the fog has lifted from my brain, and I am glowing more than I ever did when I was pregnant. For today is the first day of school and I happily refer to it as… Mother’s Day!

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Homesick

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At 10:00 p.m. the first night I dropped her off at camp I received the call I had been dreading.

“I’m homesick,” sob, sobbing harder, and then louder.

“My roommates didn’t show up.” SOB, tears falling so hard and fast as they hit the phone it sounded like rain hitting the roof.

“You don’t have roommates?”

“Yes, I convinced two other girls to join me.”

“I hate it here!” WAAAAHHHHHHHHH

“Don’t you like the pool?”

“No, its horrible!” Sniff, sniff, sniff

“Are you learning any new skills?”

“N-o, I h-a-te it h-e-r-e” hicup, hicup, hyperventilate.

“Are you wanting me to pick you up?”

“Yes, come immediately!!!!”

“Honey, by the time I would get there it would be 3 a.m. and I just drove home from their today. I can’t do that and I won’t do that!”

WAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

And the longer we talked the worse it got until I finally realized I was in a no-win situation and she would keep this up until Sunday, the battery power on her phone died, or at the very least until the sun rose.

In exasperation I said to my littlest

“Honey, I have to go, so put on your big girl panties and tough it out. Here’s the thing, you have the ability to choose what this weekend will be for you. You can choose to be miserable or you can choose to be happy, to have a great time, learn lots and create a bunch of memories. It’s your choice. Personally, I would choose happy because that is the only REAL choice you have if you want to have a good life. Start practicing making good choices.”

And then I hung up the phone before it got wet as the  salty drops started to splatter around me.

The Eagle Is About To Soar

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Yesterday my boys, Andre and Paul, received their Life rank in Boy Scouts. It is an amazing feat especially when one factors in all their challenges. Next up: Eagle Scout the final and highest rank. They are already busy deciding what their project will be. It has to be something that benefits the community. They have to plan it, fundraise for it, and organize volunteers to help complete it.

I have to admit I have been a lousy Scout mom. With all the other things I have done in the past or am doing I have rarely attended meetings and only occasional events. It is B who has done on a million hikes and campouts, attended every meeting, flipped pancakes for fundraisers, helped them earn merit badges and has taken a week off of work to make sure that the boys attended Boy Scout Camp. Without B, there would be no Eagles in the making. He has been there for years helping the boys to learn new skills and helping Andre when he falters. I am so proud of all of them.

As I watched Andre yesterday, his autism in full gear for whatever reason, walking in circles and shaking his head; I know that I have the Boy Scouts to thank for all he has accomplished. For all that both boys have. And while I have not always agreed with the policies put forth by the organization, I know that my kids have mastered skills that will benefit them in the future and may well save a life one day. In fact, Andre did earn a rarely given award, the Honor Medal, for saving a life.

So as they enter the final frontier of Scouting I want to congratulate my boys and thank all the adults who have mentored them and pushed them through. All those volunteers who have made Scouting fun and exciting. Because it is a joint effort by all involved and everyone involved are responsible for the fact that our soon-to-be Eagles are about to soar.

 

 

If I Die Soon…Advice To My Daughters

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For about the past  ten years whenever I travel I tend to freak out before I go. While I never used to be afraid; I am now scared of flying. My family expects this of me now and they laugh at my trepidation.  “That’s just crazy mom,” they say with a smile.

I originally told B I was not going to China with him because I had an overwhelming feeling of dread. So now, as I contemplate this trip I have decided I need to leave my daughters some thoughts that I think contribute to living a good life just in case I trip on a yak and fall to my death on Everest. I thought of all of these things off of the top of my head instead of consulting the internet so that is probably why the list is what it is.

For N and G… Love CLHD 12/18/15

Here goes:

  1. Wear a bikini every chance you get when you are young and take a zillion pictures. You will never look this good again so you might as well document the heck out of it.
  2. Any person who tells you that you can’t do something doesn’t know you immense capabilities. Don’t listen to the naysayers.
  3. You never NEED a man. EVER. It’s okay to enjoy one though and be with one because he makes you happy and looks after your interests on the same level as his own.
  4. Report serious wrongdoing or abuse of power.
  5. You are a woman in a sea full of them. Stand out while supporting one another and for goodness sake don’t go poaching someone else’s man. You deserve more than sloppy seconds.
  6. Don’t worry about what others think and do what is unexpected. Your life will be so much more fulfilling if you do.
  7. Fulfill your dreams before having kids so you don’t resent them.
  8. Backpack…somewhere…anywhere…at least once in your life.
  9. Don’t be in a hurry. Get your degree then travel for awhile before doing your life’s work.
  10. Listen to your intuition. Really listen and follow it. It will rarely let you down.
  11. If some nut job forces his way into the car, steer into a building, another car, a light pole…anything. A car is replaceable but you are not.
  12. The first time a man hits you leave and never look back. Oh and be sure to say F*** You on the way out.
  13. You have an obligation to participate in the political system. Do so wisely and anyone who is a hater- work to defeat them.
  14. Don’t shave your legs for a month.
  15. Always walk to your car with your keys in your hands and your thumb over the alarm button. Look before you get in. If ANYONE makes you nervous go back to the store. NEVER be afraid to yell HELP or create a scene.
  16. Do what makes you feel good at least once a day.
  17. Chances are if you are a hater someday you will be the hated. Don’t hate.
  18. Not everyone is going to like you. Deal with it.
  19. There are times in your life where nothing will go as planned. It’s okay…you will come out the other side perhaps a little scathed but destined for something that is meant just for you.
  20. Those things you think are really important are usually not as important as you think. Let them go.
  21. Enjoy sex and have a lot of it. Enough said.
  22. The only thing worrying creates is more worry.
  23. Love is the greatest thing in the world and love is the worst thing in the world but do your best to love like its the only thing in the world.
  24. Age 20…one piece of candy = more. Age 50…one piece of candy = 5 pounds, three new zippers and having to have your wedding ring re-sized.
  25. You can love whomever you want as long as they aren’t already taken.
  26. Always ask if you need help. There is no shame in it.
  27. Corners are for mice.
  28. Make a bucket list when you are young and then work to hard to cross everything off of it before you die.
  29. You can revise your bucket list at any time.
  30. Test drive the stick shift before you marry it. There is nothing worse than being married to a manual when you like to shift from high to low gear when you are going for a joy ride.
  31. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be a snob.Have compassion.
  32. Offer a hand up whenever you can
  33. Carry a McDonalds gift card in the glove compartment of your car to hand to a homeless person who is down and out…you may be there too someday. One never knows.
  34. Give 100% to what you are doing and then when you are done… rest.
  35. You are many things and many people rolled into one. Don’t just be the one that is the easiest. Be the one that makes your life feel complete.
  36. Be respectful to the elderly.
  37. Everyone has a story. Listen.
  38. Don’t drink and drive.
  39. Don’t make a promise unless you intend to keep it.
  40. Plan for the future but don’t live in it. This also means you should have a small water and food supply readily accessible in order to survive something unexpected.
  41. Remember your kids might see what you wrote on Facebook someday. Be nice.
  42. Clarity bring rewards. Think before acting.
  43. A good bra makes all the difference in the world but there are times to burn it too.
  44. Anytime someone says they know you better than you know yourself…don’t believe them.
  45. Be kind just because it is the right thing to do, just don’t be stupid about it.
  46. Read
  47. Say NO freely and with force when needed.
  48. Save money for a rainy day. Cardboard boxes fall apart when wet.
  49. Learning that you can’t always get what you want is helpful to figure out early on.
  50. If you have to get high more than once a month you aren’t being your own best friend.
  51. Never go to bed mad.
  52. Tell your spouse everyday three things you appreciate about them and be sincere.
  53. No eye rolling unless you are trying to get a part in a play.
  54. Never let yourself get more than 10 pounds overweight without losing it because somehow it rapidly grows to twenty.
  55. Forgive yourself. Often.
  56. Only give a loan if you can be pleasantly surprised if you ever get the money back.
  57. You should never have more “best friends” than the number of phone numbers you can remember in your head.
  58. Make mistakes just don’t be a jackass about it and keep making the same stupid ones…especially as it concerns men.
  59. Life is fluid. Try not to live in rigidity.
  60. I used to believe you could never love a child too much and then I met some adults who had.
  61. Don’t chew gum. It is totally non-biodegradable and will be around longer than we will.
  62. There is a reason why they say patience is a virtue. Unfortunately, I never had enough. I hope you do.
  63. Every time you have sex with a different man you give a little piece of your self away. Make sure you have enough of the good pieces left for yourself.
  64. Orange juice is good. Vodka is better.OR-G is superb. Together they are amazing. Reminder see #38.
  65. Love yourself first in a healthy non-narcissistic way…the rest will follow.
  66. Winnie the Pooh and Piglet had a great relationship. Aim for that.
  67. Your EVERYTHING MUST BE FAIR IN LIFE certificate was lost at birth. There is no way to order another one.
  68. Ugly women wear layers while beautiful women wear smiles.
  69. Compliment, compliment, compliment when you truly mean it.
  70. Exercise your body and your mind.
  71. It’s good to be smart so don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being so.
  72. Don’t act dumb in front of boys.
  73. Don’t have too much pride or stubbornness to apologize first.
  74. Learn to just sit comfortably with yourself as a way towards self-discovery.
  75. There is a difference between loving and spoiling.
  76. Go to the doctor once a year and get your yearly GYN exam. Please.
  77. Loyalty is rarely overrated.
  78. Your children are not really YOURS…you just borrow them for awhile.
  79. When you have no words just hold hands.
  80. Perfection doesn’t exist. Stop searching for it.
  81. I have spent too much of my life being negative. It doesn’t do anyone any good. Please don’t do that to yourself and others.
  82. Laugh hard and loud. A good snort in public is good for the soul.
  83. Your husband will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. It isn’t necessarily the end of your marriage even though it feels that way.
  84. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I already did that for you and your allotment is all used up.
  85. Sometimes you just have to work harder whether you want to or not.
  86. You are beautiful just the way you are. Believe it.
  87. If you hate your body in some way you just end up hating yourself. Stop it.
  88. Acceptance is a wonderful thing in most aspects of life. Try to partake of it often.
  89. If you see that your love for someone is like constantly riding a rollercoaster it is time to apply the emergency brake and get off the ride.
  90. Drama is for the stage only. Don’t create it and don’t accept it into your life.
  91. Never give up unless you are doing something stupid.
  92. Most things (except becoming pregnant) will not matter six months from now.
  93. Know I loved you.Deeply. Happily and sometimes in a flawed way.As you know I was far from perfect. I made lots of mistakes. Sometimes I did things out of fear rather than love. Don’t do that.Take the good of me with you, discard the bad and don’t take too much of me with you on your own journey. You are who you are and are under no obligation to be anything like me. Find your own path…mine was just for you to walk alongside me for a while but your own path awaits. Make your steps count but skip along that path too. Skipping clears the head and makes you feel alive again. You have but one life on this earth. Make it amazing for you, your family and for humankind. That’s all you can do. I love you…always have…always will.
  94. And please remember everything on this blog is copyrighted 2015.

Jigsaw Puzzle of Life

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We never enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles until this summer when my 90 yo aunt introduced us to them while we sat on the summer porch looking over the lake. After that, Gracie and I were hooked.

There is nothing quite like time spent doing a jigsaw. Life slows down, your senses are heightened and magic begins to happen as an image slowly begins to form. All that hard work and in the end you see the results unlike so many things we do in life in which we never “see” what we actually do. But the best thing about the jigsaw that happens is the time that Gracie and I spend together. We sit in near silence except for the “eureka” that is voiced triumphantly when we find an elusive piece.And sometimes in this quiet time a different type of magic occurs and little bits of conversation emerge that never would otherwise.

“Mom,” she says with a sense of pain and frustration that catches the words in her soft little voice, “Celeste (her nemesis) asked me in front of my friends, “Can you see out of your eyes?”

I give a snort of indignation.

“So what did you say?”

“I told her, what, do you see me with a white cane or something? How can you ask such a stupid question?”

“Well done. I hate when people try to get our goat and I am proud that you didn’t let her.”

These are the types of conversations that my tween and I have as we stare at 1,000 little pieces scattered over one small card table. Brief, sweet, insightful…I hear things I normally wouldn’t have as we sit in the silence together. It’s perfect amount for a 12 yo who is not sure she needs her mother anymore and enough for me not to put my foot in my mouth and say something unnecessary or unneeded. And in that, I realize our words together are a lot like those jigsaw pieces…small, misshapen, but often fitting together until a picture is created. And that is enough for both of us right now.

The “Good Enough” Parent vs. The “Golden Ladder” Parent

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I’m a loser parent. In an age when parents rush to get their children in the most prestigious pre-schools, spend a fortunate on multiple language, music and sports lessons, and attempt fill their children’s social calendars with more dates than the CEO’s of major corporations; I am happy to report that I am not one of these “Golden Ladder” parents. I strive not for excellence but to be just a “Good Enough” parent.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your views; my kids do not have a “Golden Ladder” parent. I am not the type that believes that each rung that their child climbs has to be new, exciting, educational, worthwhile, and play some important role in getting their child where they want them to be in 20 years. For these parents each lesson and each task must have some sort of fundamental purpose that will serve their child well in their future life and help them score in the top 1% on the ACT. Everything their darling tries is of earth-shattering importance and each rung of the ladder must be comprised of something meaningful to give their child the competitive edge that they will need when they attend a prestigious Ivy league school. They think their children must attain perfection and be model citizens as they climb their way to the very top rung where the golden ring awaits.

The trouble with all this expectation on a child is someday the “Golden Ladder” kids will fail and both they and their parents will not know how to handle it when they do. I met one of these “Golden Ladder” parents a couple of years ago in the doctors office. At that time our autism behaviors with both boys were in full swing (read LOUD) and this “gentleman” proceeded to lecture me on my children’s behaviors while pointing out how quiet, still and properly behaved his three sons were. Meanwhile the nurses slowly nudged open the reception window to hear this blowhard’s comments. They quickly called my family back apologizing for the lout who probably never would have had the nerve to say to my husband what he said to me but felt he had the right to berate a woman to make himself feel powerful and get his rocks off.

I went home and I was feeling like crap.I was tired of trying my best but not measuring up to the “Golden Ladder” parents standards. But what this man didn’t understand is that what he could show his child once and have a successful follow through; I have to show my boys 200 times each. In a day sometimes. That is autism for you. Parents with autistic children also have to work 100 times harder day in and day out than parents whose children are neuro-typical dealing with such things as food issues, anxieties and toilet training problems. Many of us have autistic children with insomnia which means we inherit the condition via osmosis so we are perpetually exhausted. In fact, many parents suffer from PTSD disorder due to the high alert status we contend with every day. Being a parent to a special needs child is not for sissies.

Having raised three successful and wonderful children to adulthood I wished I had just turned around and said to that idiot “I hope you are right about your kids. Unfortunately, you will learn someday that they have their own voice, their own dreams and their own ideas which more than likely will not be in step with yours. So before you lecture anyone else about their kids I suggest you wait until yours are grown and then we will talk. Because what I have learned from having all my children is that we all have expectations and sometimes they must be dialed up and down accordingly. Don’t make the mistake of forcing YOUR will and desires on your kid.  For if you expect your child to constantly achieve “the highest/be the best/” then you are setting them up to cheat in order to make you happy and achieve your expectations. And if you stress constant achievement and teach them that being the best is all they should strive for, then most-likely they will not learn to be content.”

That is what I wished I had said. Instead, I whispered in his ear that he was an horse’s ass because I knew if I said it out loud ass would become my son’s new favorite word. To everyone.

One of the best things I have learned from having two boys with autism is that climbing the “Golden Ladder” is not what is important. What is important, autism or not, is being able to encourage your child without being vested in the outcome and to let them have room just to be themselves. And knowing that sometimes their actions will make your cringe. But do it anyway. But perhaps the most important thing I have come to understand is that by laying the ladder flat and just putting one foot in front of the other, that is more than good enough and it is just what they need. Even if your child does their walking on their tippy-toes.