Posts Tagged ‘special needs siblings’

Monday Minute: Margaret, the show girl of the USNA

Showgirl_dancer.jpegThanks for this, James.


Me: Hey, bud. How was school?

James: Great! No homework.

Me: Can I see your folder? I see a study sheet in here on the city, state and country where we live (seriously? this is what they’re testing him on?). Are you ready for the big test?

James: Yeah.

Me: Fine – what city do you live in?

James: New York.

Me: Right, but what part?

James: Colonial Road. (Okay, perhaps some review is a good idea)  Read more…

Monday Minute: James Welcomes His New Baby Brother, Kind Of (Special Photo Edition)

October 15, 2012 4 comments

As expected, James had the hardest time while I was in the hospital. Though he was in the perfectly competent hands of people who loved him and knew him (and his fondness for routine), he still struggled greatly with not having mom in the house. By the second day his preoccupation was so great that even the most basic of skills, like answering “can you get a glass of water?” became impossible for him to answer the first, second, or eighth time.

Read more…

Monday Minute: Waffles and Ketchup and Mustard, Oh My!

September 17, 2012 Leave a comment

So last week I jumped around for a minute of related material spread over the course of the day. This week is the exact opposite – the entire conversation happened during a matter of minutes and was bizarrely and loosely connected at best.

Setting: Dinnertime. Children eating broccoli quiche, belgian waffles and hot dogs (we were out of sausage so I improvised). The unusual array of condiments at the table was probably partially to blame for what follows – syrup, chocolate sauce, ketchup, and mustard were all needed because of the presence of both waffles and hot dogs. So it should come as no surprise that James had his waffles lathered in mustard, M dipped hers in ketchup and A was using the chocolate sauce (for his waffles and hot dogs).

Key (there are too many people in this house): J = James, M= Margaret, A= Adam and I am in bold.

J: Can I have some more waffles?

You just had 4 pieces.

J: But I want one with ketchup.

James, that’s so gross.

M: No, it’s good, see? (holds up waffle dripping with ketchup)

J: And chocolate syrup.

No, you need to pick one dip at a time.

(Sighing, I get up and proceed to the kitchen to take another waffle off of the iron)

J: Margaret, stop it! Stoooooppppppp!

(calling from kitchen) Margaret, stop. James, stop yelling at your sister!

(walking back into the dining room I find M 2 inches from James with her lips pursed)

Margaret, leave James alone!

M: I’m just teaching James manners – look, look at his mouth!

It is also rude to point in someone’s face.

M: But his mouth is wide open.

(I feel bad about my table manners obsession momentarily, until James puts 6 inches of quiche crust into his mouth at once)

J (mumbling through the crumbs): No it’s not.

James, that was 5 or 6 bites, not 1.

M: Yeah, James.

J: Stop it!

Okay everyone stop talking to each other unless it’s pleasant. James, did you have a fun day with Scott and Kristin?

J: Yeah. So, I really love Kristin (his stepmother).

That’s great – did you have a fun day at the zoo with them today?

J: Yeah. Did you know Scott is married to her?


J: Whoa. So how did he get married to her?

The same way I married Dad. Remember?

J: Oh – yeah.

M: Scott is a prince.


M: And Kristin is a princess so they got married.


M (to me): You can still be a ghost, if you want.

A: And I’m a witch!

M: And I’ll be Dorothy.

Finish dinner or we’ll run out of time for a movie night. Please.

M: You’re not a witch, you’re 1. And I’m 3.

A: No I’m 3 and you’re 1.

J: And I’m 12. Can I have some more waffles?

No, you can finish your other food but no more waffles.

M: May I be excused?

Yes, go ahead.

M: I’m going to the bathroom before our movie time. Don’t start it until I get back!

J: Can I have one more –

Not. Another. Waffle. Not one more bite.

(A immediately shoves his entire remaining waffle into his mouth at once)

J: Mom, look, Adam is not using good manners!

(Adam starts to gag)

Adam, you spit that out right now!

(Adam promptly throws up on the dining room floor)

M (from upstairs): Mommmmmm, I pooped!

J: Am I being good now, Mom? Am I using my good manners?

Monday Minute: Where Do Trains Go When They Get Old?

I witnessed this sweet, yet odd (as if it would be anything else), conversation between James and Margaret on the LIRR today.


James is in italics, Margaret is in bold.

Look, James, there’s a ton of trains out there!

Wow, cool!

Why are they all out there like that?

That’s a train yard.

 A train yard?

Yeah, it’s kind of like a nursing home for trains.


When trains stop working or when they get old they go to train yards.

Those trains are taking a nap.

Yeah, old trains need to take a nap so they can get back on the job.

Have a good nap, trains!

Bye train yard!

Monday Minute: Beware, This Post Is Insanely Inappropriate

Since we returned from April’s break, Mondays have remained a rough spot in the weekly schedule. It’s almost like Monday’s bustle slaps James in the face, leaving him sensitive, dazed and grumpy.

James is in italics, my responses are in bold.

(James grumbling at Margaret in the next room)

Stop it. Right. Now.

What’s going on? (walking into dining room)

Ugh. (Dramatically drops head into hands at the table)

What is it?

This is insanely inappropriate.

Excuse me?

Mom, she’s still looking at me.


Margaret is staring at me.

Is she doing anything else?

She’s staring right at me!

Maybe because you are making loud unhappy noises while she is eating. It’s okay for people to look at you, James. Margaret eat your cereal please.

Yeah, stop looking over here.

Hey, stop it. She’s not touching you or talking to you. It’s okay.

No, it’s insanely inappropriate.

Give me a break. If you don’t like it go to your room and read by yourself.

(shaking his head in disgust, muttering) Just insane.

Eventually James shoves back his chair, stomps off to his room and slams the door. Margaret continues to eat cereal, looking at me to gauge whether or not she’s in trouble. I return to the kitchen.)


Monday has been smacking me around a bit these days, too.

Top Ten (or so): Things That Have Been Said When It’s Been “One Of Those Days”

I think these are probably better left unexplained. Despite what it looks like, it wasn’t a terrible night – just “one of those days.” From about 6:00pm on.

1. Me: Run out of this room right now and don’t stop until you get to time out. That is not fast enough!

2. M (my 3 yr old): I’m going to hit the ghost with this oven mitt. Come on! A (cackling madly): Spooky ghost!!!

3. M (Coming out of James’s room): I said sorry for hitting James. Do I have to go to time out?

4. A (my 16 month old): I put it in the garbage. Me: What in the garbage? A: I put it in the garbage. Me: What?! Show me!

5. M: I don’t want to put my baby in the garbage. Me: Well, that’s what happens when you’re too rough and her head falls off.

6. Me (to Adam, who has just rescued his apple. From the recycling bin): You bring that apple back here right now. Hey! Right now!

7. Me: You didn’t eat your soup. James: I’m done – I’m sooooo full. Me: There’s white rice in it. J: Oh, okay (resumes eating).

8. M: Am I so cute? Holding a wet pair of keys, a handful of wipes and two wet barbies. Wearing a baseball cap, a tutu, a backpack and “glass slippers.” With socks.

9. M (tearfully): Can we please go to the grocery store, mom, and buy a brand new baby Toby? Please, mom!

10. Me: Where did you find that banana? A: On the train table. Me: Fine.

11. M: You tickle me and I’ll watch, ok?

12. Me (to M): I’m going to count to 3 and you’re in time out – 2…… James: You forgot 1. Me: No I said “count 2-3.” James: Good one, Mom.

The Bucket and the Mandrake: Two Small Stories, One Big Lesson

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Varda was kind enough to host me today on The Squashed Bologna as part of her weekly Special Needs Sibling Saturday series.

Among other accolades, she has been selected as a BlogHer 2011 Voice of the Year and a Top 25 Autism Blog on The Babble (hint: if you like my blog think much more popular and go from there). As you will figure out when reading her blog, Varda has a very old recently widowed mother and a pair of 8 year old twin boys, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum, and the other of whom has some ADD (as does she).



Varda’s writing is funny, touching and insightful – make sure to check it out!

Click here to read my Special Needs Sibling Saturdays story (titled above) on The Squashed Bologna: a slice of life in the sandwich generation.

A Birthday Surprise

September 17, 2011 1 comment

So yesterday when I came to pick James up from school I was met by his para, Ms. T, before the class came outside. “Did James have a fun day?” I asked. Her eyes were wide. “The whole cafeteria sang happy birthday to him,” she announced. “The minute I saw what was happening I ran over as fast as I could, but it was too late.”

Let’s pause here. For those of you who know James, you are probably reading this knowing what kind of catastrophe I just told you about. For the rest, here is a little background. Since James’s very first birthday, he has been terrified of the birthday song. I actually have a photo of him on his first birthday – in his highchair with a chocolate cake in front of him while relatives sing Happy Birthday. He’s sobbing, which only looks more pathetic with a glob of chocolate frosting on your cheek.

It’s not quite like his phobia of balloons (there’s really nothing out there that matches that) but it’s significant enough to bring him to tears every time someone sings the song to him, especially groups of people. It’s also significant enough that we can’t drop him off at a birthday party, just in case, making it hard for him to attend very many. All the way through his school career, when a classmate has a birthday he asks to leave the room and “get a drink of water” while they sing “Happy Birthday.” Thankfully the teachers have all been very supportive of this practice.

Over the last year or so we have seen improvement in certain situations – for example, if “the song” is sung to someone else while there is a lot of background noise, or if it sung to another family member in our house. We even sang it to James as a family last year in a very understated, casual way that did not reduce him to tears (we asked him first if it would be okay).

But back to yesterday. I’m pretty sure that when Ms. T told me about the cafeteria incident my eyes bugged out of my head like a cartoon character. “Is he okay?” I asked. She replied, “Well, when they started singing he stood up, and I ran over there. He stood on the table while the whole cafeteria sang and saluted. He told me he was a birthday soldier.” “Was he crying?” I asked. It still hadn’t occurred to me that any of this story took place without a boatload of tears. “No,” Ms. T said. “He stood on the table like he has seen all of the other kids do on their birthdays and told me he was being saluted on his birthday.”

I can’t appropriately convey to you how huge this is, what an amazing milestone this is. And of course, like the ferris wheel over the summer, nobody I’ve told so far has reacted in the insanely excited way I think appropriate for the situation (totally not expecting anyone to). But to me this is so much bigger than finally going on the ferris wheel or even swimming in the ocean. There are plenty of children, and adults, who are fearful of ferris wheels and big waves, but there are very few who cry during the birthday song. For James to be able to participate in and enjoy something so “normal,” something that has excluded him from his peers for so long, is a giant step toward James being able to function in the world without us one day. And even more wonderful than being able to function, being able to relax and enjoy the fun things like birthday songs.

On the way home I casually said, “So I heard the kids sang to you in the cafeteria today. That sounds pretty cool.” James replied, “Yeah, they all saluted me. It was really awesome.”

But just because James was on his best behavior for his birthday doesn’t mean my other kids were cooperating. Ordering Chinese that evening with the babies in full gear took 3 phone calls. I’m pretty sure the restaurant thought I was crank-calling them with my huge order and all of the noise in the background, not to mention two hang ups (third time’s a charm!). However, I didn’t think that explaining I dropped the first call because I had bad cell reception with my back pressed against the door of my bedroom while trying to order and blockade the noise of my screaming children, and the second time had to hang up really quick because while blockading the door my 11 month old started putting clean laundry into the toilet would even sound realistic. Calling back a third time and shouting my Mastercard numbers into the phone over two crying children seemed to be evidence enough.

Needless to say I was incredibly grateful that James decided he really wanted to order in (instead of our usual birthday dinner out), because I couldn’t imagine taking that caravan out to dinner last night. But for the record, I would’ve taken him in a second had he wanted to, just to see how many more people I could get to sing “happy birthday” to James and witness the miracle for myself.

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