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Posts Tagged ‘special needs stories’

Stopping To Smell The Roses – A Story About James and Grandpa

Growing up my dad used to tell us long, elaborate, wildly fantastical stories – at bedtime, on one of our many camping trips or basically anytime the mood struck him. I’m grateful to have inherited some of my dad’s story-telling genes and am equally happy to share another one of his tales with you (this time 100% true), about him and James.

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Stopping To Smell The Roses

by Michael Gerrity

The Roman philosopher Seneca once said that a good memory is the best gift that you can give yourself and James has provided more than a precious few.  One day sticks out in particular – I get a chuckle every time it comes to mind.

About four years ago when Michaela and Ryan were moving to Manhattan, I had James at my hotel in Times Square.  I was in town on business and they were looking for apartments.  I decided to take James to Toys R Us.  At that point in his life he was most definitely not interested in the giant indoor ferris wheel so we ended up buying a basketball to take outside.  I was wondering where we could toss it around when James came up with a great idea.  If I would just stand on the corner of 51st and Broadway and make my arms into a hoop he could use me as a net.  So for about 30 minutes James shot baskets using my face as a backboard.  Even being in NYC we attracted a bit of attention, but we were creating a great memory and having a fantastic time.

After I was exhausted and dirty enough, I convinced James we should retire to our hotel.  James agreed after finding out the hotel had Sponge Bob Square Pants on their TVs (apparently not something found on TV at home).  We entered the lobby elevator – my room was on the 17th floor.  As we entered we were followed by one of the hotel security staff – a big burly looking fellow and a tall young woman dressed in a chic black gown and carrying a dozen red roses.   We said hello. Neither of them responded.  Before we hit the fourth floor James had asked twice if he could smell the lady’s roses.  She and the security man continued to stare at the elevator door without flinching, as if engrossed in some Escher drawing or a Broadway Play.  It was bit uncomfortable as James continued to request a sniff, and as we approached the 8th floor they both kept staring straight ahead.

At this point I just wanted the ride to be over (desperately).  Then James turned and looked up at me and said in a quiet, but crystal clear voice, “Grandpa I really wish I could smell those roses.”  Now the silence from our elevator companions was nearly unbearable.  Just when I thought I could take no more of their ignorance of James, the cool lady broke, bent down and said “Would you like to smell the roses?”  It was all James wanted and he took one long sniff of sniffs.  I could not help but notice the smile on the woman’s face as she watched James’s grateful reaction.  From the corner of my eye I caught the big burly security man staring straight ahead and grinning from ear to ear.

Embarrassing? Sure. But it was also a most memorable and beautiful moment – especially to see how his quiet, innocent persistence brought some joy and smiles to others, despite themselves.  Thanks James for helping us all “stop and smell the roses.”

Patience and Foortitude, Part 6: Through The Looking Glass (A Bird’s-Eye View)

January 26, 2012 1 comment

It’s been a really rough, long night. But in “special needs land” rough doesn’t always mean fighting, tantrums, illness or accidents. I often get to the end of one of these doozies and think to myself, how on earth could I ever explain to anyone why tonight was so utterly exhausting? How could I even explain tonight, period? So instead of regaling you with the half a dozen ways this evening was difficult (look at me not  exaggerating numbers – go new year’s resolutions!) I am going to just share one story in particular to better describe the rabbit hole I find myself in from time to time.

Tonight I baked cookies with the kids for our bedtime treat – it’s a fun, less rowdy activity to get everyone geared down for the evening. We were all feasting on cookies and milk at the table when I noticed that James had suddenly and quietly begun weeping into his hands.

“James, what on earth is wrong?” I asked. No answer. “James? Are you okay?” Nothing. “Okay, James you have to tell me what is going on.”

“Just a sad video,” he mumbled. “What?” I asked. I had no idea what he could be referring to since we had not been “plugged in” for at least 30 minutes.

“There was a really sad video,” he said again. He continued to cry in earnest as his two younger siblings devoured their cookies, oblivious (or just used to?) the meltdown James was having.

I started to get a bad feeling because he had been watching youtube on his ipod earlier in the evening – occasionally he has stumbled onto weird, not-so-great things (searching for trains, gets a train crash). We’ve tried to filter/block what we can and are vigilant about checking his ipod, but with the busy evening had I missed something?

“What was the sad video?” I asked nonchalantly.

“It’s about a parrot,” James sobbed. “It was really sad.”

So I got his ipod and looked up the video and my heart sank – the last title was “Kill Senegal Parrot – Christmas Parrot.” What the hell kind of sick stuff had he stumbled onto?

“James, what have you been watching?! We’ve talked about youtube!”

“It’s so sad mom,” he cried into his hands.

I turn back with a sick pit in my stomach, to force myself to watch the video that has so horribly upset James. And then I did a double take.

Kili Senegal Parrot – Christmas Parrot. Not Kill. Kili…?

I clicked on the link and watched the minute and a half tearjerker unfold before my eyes. I encourage you to watch the video as well by going to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lBiurZe9QU, so you can fully appreciate why James was so distraught this evening.

I hope you enjoyed watching this video half as much as I did (though giddy with relief, I mercifully kept all smirks to myself around James). How will I ever be able to properly filter my son’s videos? Is there a G+ rating for “includes dramatic music?”

Has anyone else experienced this “phobia of emotional music” before? It seems to be intensifying in James – tonight he cried about this video for several hours, even as I made fake retching sounds while reading Garfield comic strips to him as part of his bedtime reading (I was that desperate). He asked me if his glass of water “would make him feel less sad” and as I left his room told me to see if I could find happier videos on his ipod for the morning.

But let me ask you, what is happier than watching Kili eat nuts from a Christmas stocking?

An Unexpected Gift

December 29, 2011 5 comments

I rarely get to see my entire family together – maybe once every couple of years. I’m the oldest of five, and with some of us married and each of us living in a different state these days, it is not often that we’re all under one roof. So as my visit approached with the whole gang I felt super excited, but also a little anxious about the chaos level for James – the volume alone can be unsettling to a typical person, let alone one with serious sensory issues. And though I love them all dearly, my rowdy, sarcastic, fun-loving (adult) brothers don’t really have the first clue about how to handle a disabled child. Instead of handling James with kid gloves as many of our friends and family do, they have a more “take no prisoners” approach. Literally.

This picture depicts a scene right before leaving my parents condo after an all around fantastic visit. We were trying to get on the road because we wanted to be home in time for a decent bedtime – the kids’ schedules had already been messed up enough with holiday festivities. But it was indescribably hard for me to tear James away from his surprising and fabulous role of “typical nephew,” just hanging with the guys, ready to take on the enemy and the world one dart at a time.

I almost hate to try and describe the scene for fear that I won’t do justice to the simple, pure joy that watching James brought me for the first time in a while. I was captivated completely, frozen in the hallway just mesmerized by James as he strategically planned out his next invasion, not minding that he was getting nailed with Nerf darts, not minding the screaming and shouting that surrounded him, not minding being picked up, thrown over my brother’s shoulder and carried up the stairs – all things that would’ve normally made him teary and anxious. As someone who has been reminded of James’s differences, shortcomings and disabilities all too often over the past couple of months, being able to watch him fit in and feel good (as was written all over his face) was such an amazing gift. Even more, watching others play, rough house, and joke with him as they would any other 11 year old boy brought a few moments of peace to my heart that I didn’t even begin to realize how much I had needed.

So little brothers, thank you! I bet you had no idea that your insane, over-the-top, noisy Nerf battle would ever be spoken of so fondly. I have received many wonderful and touching gifts this past week, but this gift, wholly unexpected, is still one of my favorites, and I know it was one of James’s favorites too (even if he thinks it was his ipod).

I’ll return to the regular posting schedule once school resumes next week. In the meantime I hope everyone is enjoying a fantastic holiday!

Patience And Foortitude, Part whatever: A Special Needs Brainteaser – Can You Find The Dumpling?

“Mom, I’m done.”

“But you hardly ate anything.”

“I’m full. I feel sick.”

“Okay then just sit here with me for a minute.”

“Could I have more dumplings?”

“If you want more dumplings you need to eat 3 more bites of chicken.”

“Okay.”

James is motivated by dumplings to eat anything. I really hate to divulge my secret recipe (passed down from my own mother) but there is little more than flour and water to it. James has never been a picky eater – in fact up until recently it was just the opposite. But his new meds have really diminished his appetite and sometimes getting him to eat anything these days – ice cream, ramen noodles, lasagna – is impossible. Unless it’s dumplings, or something that will be rewarded with dumplings.

Despite James’s numerous medical, developmental, and social issues, we have been very lucky to have an affectionate, loving, generally well-behaved child. But since Thanksgiving break (more appropriately dubbed Thanksgiving breakdown) James has been having a rough time (to put it mildly). For lack of a more graceful adjective, he has been acting “more disabled.”  He has been more short-tempered when his siblings are being noisy, more obsessive about his handwriting being just so, more defiant about beginning everyday tasks before he is “ready” (shower, homework), and more prone to making random noises, talking to himself, and dramatic tears. His para has also noticed some changes at school.

The morning routine tragedy is manifesting itself as a pit of anxiety in my stomach every morning and a bout of insomnia in the evenings. A while ago I wrote a “thank you note” post for James’s new alarm clock, which reset a difficult morning ritual into a fresh, effective wake-up call. Then last month James decided that he could no longer tolerate the “scary, loud” car noises his alarm made (the Hot Wheels alarm he had carefully selected), so we switched it to the traditional radio station wake up. Since Thanksgiving break even the radio alarm has become a source of misery, and there have only been 3 peaceful mornings (including last Saturday and Sunday when James was allowed to sleep in).

I’ve been hesitant to write this post because I don’t want the stigma of “behavior problems” to follow (or precede) a child with such an unblemished behavioral record, so let me say right off the bat that what you are about to read has in no way carried over to James’s school life (and believe me, I’ve asked). I’ve also been hesitant because I’m just not sure I can do justice to the trauma that is becoming the first 20 minutes of every morning.

There are a few variations on the morning theme, because I sincerely believe that I have tried everything short of screaming and corporal punishment at this point. But in general, the morning starts off with the alarm clock playing music. James gets out of bed to turn the alarm off – this involves stomping over to it, shouting at the “bad” alarm clock, or sometimes just slamming it off and going back to bed. About 5% of the time James actually remains out of bed and goes to the bathroom, where he sits groggily for as long as I let him – 15 minutes would not be unusual if I was in the kitchen packing lunches. The other 95% of the time James gets back into bed and goes back to sleep or pulls the covers over his head and waits for me to come into the room.

Upon entering the room James is either sleeping or sees me come in and immediately says “It’s not morning” or “No, I’m too tired.” I have come bearing pills, gifts, bribes, threats, songs, tickles, hugs, stories, surprises, breakfast menus – it is no use. He refuses to get out of the bed to get dressed. After about 5 minutes of futility I finally pull the covers off of the bed, to which he responds with screaming. It gets even better if I have to lift him out of the bed and carry him to the clothes – though he has lost a significant amount of weight it is still quite a sight to see me wrestle a flailing, yelling, 5-foot tall boy to a standing position.

Once finally out of bed and realizing that the morning is in fact here, James resigns himself to putting his clothes on while talking back, slamming doors, or throwing toys around. Or, on less dramatic mornings (about 50% of the time) he sits on the side of his bed with one leg in his underwear, where he remains frozen in place as I check in every 5 minutes to encourage progress and dish out strikes.

Yep, strikes. The “strike system” has been effective for a long time in our household – 3 strikes and you lose a privilege or 3 strikes and you go to timeout, depending on what is realistic in the moment. James’s three main privileges are Wii, computer time and TV time. A strike can be issued for anything from talking back to not following directions (the fifth time) to fighting with siblings, you get the drift. James has lost the Wii and computer every morning since Thanksgiving weekend, and has lost TV more than 3 times in two weeks, which is highly unusual. That is a total of 6-9 strikes per morning (and my husband feels like I am being kind).

Now though I am usually able to issue strikes and get James moving without raising my voice, the ordeal is nothing if not noisy. By the time James is dressed, strikes have been issued, threats have been made, and James has fallen into full blown hysteria. Loud hysteria that sometimes wakes my two sleeping toddlers. When my two sleeping toddlers wake, my husband usually follows suit. Needless to say, nobody is happy about being woken up this early (especially my husband).

But now James is dressed. And happy. He comes to the kitchen to tell me he’s sorry and he’s going to be good today. I give him his medication (which will conveniently take effect as he goes to school). He starts his rambling chitchat about breakfast food and what day it is and what he will do at school today. He says “I love you” half a dozen times. I look at the clock – it’s been anywhere from 20-45 minutes since he was woken up. I’ve been up for an hour and already feel drained and exhausted, but am also relieved that the worst is over.

Unless he woke everyone else up. In that case the babies are up and crying and my husband is up and angry. Angry that James woke everyone up and angry that James was screaming at me. And frustrated that my disciplinary approach is obviously not working. I’m not complaining about my husband, I’m frustrated too. But if my husband is upset, chances are that James will soon be upset again too. At this point I would do almost anything to keep the peace.

So where, I ask you, is the dumpling?

Before you come up with an answer to this riddle that would probably work on a typical child, consider these clues:

1) James doesn’t seem to care if he loses his privileges anymore – he is perfectly happy (alot of the time) to read a book, play with toys, or just to stare at the ceiling and make noises in his room when he doesn’t have the Wii, computer or TV available to him. So strikes and privileges have lost a lot of their effect over the last couple of weeks.

2) James is pre-medication when he is woken. One of his pills must be taken in the morning and lasts for around 10 hours to get him through the school day. It is hard to know if he is unresponsive to direction because he is so out of it when he wakes up or because he is being defiant (probably a mixture of both).

3) I have tried both negative and positive reinforcement. I have issued strikes and offered gold stars toward a big prize. I have offered small prizes like wonton soup for breakfast or doing a Mad Lib together before school if he gets ready quickly enough. I have threatened that Santa is watching and that I will drop him off at the police station instead of school if he doesn’t get dressed and stop talking back. I have stood in his room while he screams at me and hugged him as if I didn’t notice, hoping he would give up.

4) I have put him to bed anywhere from 6:30pm to 9:30pm for a total of 10-13 hours of rest/sleep. James is allowed to read for a while with a dim light on in his room because he is afraid of the dark. Sometimes he reads for an hour, sometimes for 2-3 hours. The amount of sleep he gets has not seemed to affect his willingness to wake up – he seems more concerned with the fact that “it is dark and therefore not morning” when I come to get him out of bed.

5) I don’t usually raise my voice. Even if I thought that would work it is usually early in the morning and everyone else is still asleep, so I’m trying really hard to keep things quiet.

Someone recently suggested that I threaten to pop a balloon (his #1 phobia) if he isn’t dressed in five minutes. Another suggestion was to make a loud noise like snapping a belt to startle him into moving. I understand the theory behind both (completely independent) suggestions (made days apart) but feel uncomfortable with frightening him into getting ready. Additionally, if James is frightened and then still upset upon arriving at school, he will dwell on it for half of the day. Example: someone different than usual met him at the school doors one morning last week and he worried about it all day and was still telling me about it on the way home.

I should probably ask an expert about this, but to be perfectly honest I don’t have time to go to the bathroom by myself let alone set aside time to meet with a professional, especially in the throes of touring every last middle school on earth. And besides, what better advisors to consult than other special needs parents who may be reading this and thinking, Been there, done that, or I found the dumpling!

What do you think? What is the motivation James needs to make the morning go better? Should I carry around a bag of dumplings with me at all times?

Top Ten: Emotions Experienced By A Grandmother Of A Special Needs Child

November 8, 2011 3 comments

It’s time for another installment of the ever popular Top Ten series. Still keeping it in the family, today’s guest writer is none other than my mom. Knowing this ahead of time gave me a week to reflect on the introduction I would write for her, but as today drew nearer I was still getting nowhere. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs over the years, especially if you count the downs as one huge leap into the valley of teenage rebellion. But though it sounds like a cliche, it’s 150% true – nothing makes you appreciate your mother more than becoming one yourself.

So after some consideration, the best word I can think to describe the relationship I have with my mother is “irreplaceable.” There is no one else on the planet I feel more comfortable leaving my children with (I think they actually prefer her most of the time) and nobody I would rather call when one of the kids are sick (she’s also a nurse – bonus!). But she’s also the first one I call when I’m worried about talking with the principal at school or when James says something really funny (and embarrassing). If I hang up two and a half minutes later, all of a sudden, without so much as a goodbye, I know she won’t feel insulted if I don’t call back right away – come on, who else can you do that with? IhavetogobeforeJamesgetshitbyacarsorrygottarunwillcalllater click.

As a mother of 5, I know that she actually gets it when I am stressed out about seemingly little stuff (lots and lots of little stuff) or when I am ridiculously excited about James playing ball at recess or getting dressed in the morning without a fight.

My mom reads books on Gmail video chat to my 2 yr old so I can help James with his homework. She brings comic books for James and finds special apps on her iphone for the kids when she visits. She drops everything and travels 2 hours each way to babysit while I go on school tours, doctors’ appointments, and IEP meetings – even a date once in a while!

She’s the only reason I didn’t cry at the DMV, when after hours with a screaming toddler they told me my license was suspended due to an unpaid ticket for a bumper sticker in my rear window. From 2004. She’s the only reason I didn’t totally flip out walking 3 miles to my OB last year, in the pouring rain, 8 months pregnant with my 18 month old in the stroller, desperately waving at any taxi that passed within a mile radius. She’s the reason that instead of feeling defeated, we both ended up laughing like lunatics while running through the rain.

My mom has an incredibly soft spot for James. I think she is too easy on him and generally spoils him rotten. But I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know that there is someone out there who is as crazy about all of my children, special needs or not, as I am.

So in the end, I guess the hardest part about writing this intro for my mom has been picking out a few highlights from the million things that make her special and that she has done for me (and my family). I mean, this is supposed to be her guest post. So for now, without further adieu:

Top Ten: Emotions Experienced By A Grandmother Of A Special Needs Child

by Elizabeth Gerrity

  1. Was my SCARIEST moment one of his surgeries or hospitalizations? No! It was when we were boarding the train and his leg fell through the gap between the train and the platform up to his thigh. This was after I pointed out the gap to him about ten times! He didn’t even lose his shoe though and his leg was okay!
  1. One of his CUTEST moments was when the shoe saleswoman was trying on a pair of shoes for him and he leaned down toward her and hugged her and told her he loved her. Or was it when he told the guy in the elevator that he loved him?
  1. One of the ODDEST things about my grandson is his fear of bubble wrap. I can be in a totally different state from him but when I see bubble wrap, I feel a wave of anxiety!
  1. The FUNNIEST exchange I’ve heard recently:

Mother: James, if you don’t pull yourself together, you’re going to bed at 7:00.

James: Noooo! 6:00!! (he can’t tell time).

Little sister, age 2: (in a soft voice) 7:00….(also can’t tell time)

James: Noooo! 6:00!! And so on….

  1. The GROSSEST occurrence was when my grandsons megacolon caused both toilets to overflow stool (fecal material, BM, poop) all over the bathrooms and his mom spent Christmas Eve up to her elbows in it.
  1. My SWEETEST story was when the group of waiters and waitresses sang a loud Happy Birthday song to James and he tried his very hardest not to cry but couldn’t help it and the more he cried, one by one the singers stopped singing. When it was all over, he told them it was a great song.
  1. My most ROUTINE moment with my grandson is when he asks: “This is a nice day, isn’t it Grandma?” about 50 times in ne outing….but he’s usually correct.
  1. My most LOVING moment is when the room is quiet and from across the room, James’ voice calls out: “I love you Grandma” Always nice.
  1. My most SATISFYING moments are making my grandson laugh! He thinks everything is funny, over and over again! Even my jokes!
  1. My PROUDEST moments are watching my daughter in action! I remember her as a teenager and at times, teenagers can be a bit self involved. I have watched my special needs grandson bring out qualities in my daughter that make me so proud! She is a mother now, 24/7 as the phrase goes. She is his advocate. She is loving and patient. Although at times my grandson is our greatest challenge, he is our gift from God!

Patience and Foortitude, Part 5: Machine Gun Mouth

October 17, 2011 1 comment

It’s hard to believe James didn’t speak until he was four and a half years old.

Sometimes I have to reach deep within myself for a bit of that initial indescribable excitement I felt when he said “up,” “pluh” (please), and “muh” (more). Mere months later, after we had started to give up hope and were looking into assistive communication and teaching sign language, he was stringing words together and was well on his way to being what we refer to as “Machine Gun Mouth.”

I don’t know much about guns, but whenever I envision a machine gun I think of a blast of ammunition spraying out and random bullets hitting whatever people fall into their path. Replace “ammunition” with “conversation” and “bullets” with “words” and you have Machine Gun Mouth, aka my son James.

You probably think I’m exaggerating, or at the very least being a little bit mean. Unless, of course, you’re one of the people who spend a lot of time with James in which case I am willing to bet you chuckling at the accuracy of the above description.

I’m often walking 3 kids back and forth to school, so I’m not going to go to the effort of taping our conversations. But recently one morning my husband stayed home with the babies while I walked James and I was finally able to record about 6 minutes worth of an actual trip to school on my cell phone voicemail.

Without further adieu, here is James aka Machine Gun Mouth (my responses are in italics):

So do you love me? I love you so much. You’re the best mom (hand up for high five).

James I love you but I want you to change it up today – you can’t wake up so grumpy every morning.

I’ll change it up. See? (big smile) See? I changed it up. Okay, good.

See mom? I changed it up? Mom, look I changed it up. Yes I see James – thank you.

Mom? I’m going to change it up. Good, now stop repeating yourself please.

Oh, that’s cool. What? I don’t know. What’s cool? I don’t know.

I love you so much. Thank you. Do you love me so much? You know I always do because I’m your mom.

So, you know what my mind is thinking? No, what? How good I’m going to be today.

It’s a beautiful day today.

James, keep up. You don’t want to be late.

Mom, you’re so pretty. You’re the prettiest mom. Thank you. What do you say to me? What do I say? That I’m the most famous boy. Oh, really? Yeah, I’m the famous boy and you’re the prettiest mom.

Call of duty 4 the lethal war. What? Call of duty 4 you know, for ipod. No, what about it? Its call of duty 4, you know? The lethal war. What about it James? Why are you talking about it? Noah plays it in Schenectady (distant cousin seen once every few years) and its a shooting game. Shooting games are bad. Why are you thinking about this? Call of duty 4 is for ipod. ipad or ipod? ipod. Look at that cute black dog. Yeah that is a cute dog. Remember hally tosis and he breathed on the robbers and knocked them out with his tongue (book we read, last year)? Yeah, good old hally tosis. it was so gross, right? and the robbers went “blah” right?

Look, there’s a baseball. Baseball, huh? See it, mom? Mom – baseball is cool, huh? yep. you know, baseball. I play baseball like this (throws a pretend ball) on my team, right? Right, mom? James, look where you’re going! Don’t walk until you see the white walking man. Where do Dad and I play baseball? James, stop talking while you’re in the street – right now. Where? Do we play at Riverside Park? No talking just walking! James eyesontheroadrightnow!! Okay.

Oh, we can start talking again. Whew, we made it across the street!

Mom. mom.  yes? mom. what? mom. James spit it out. Um… I love you.

So today is a nice day right? yep.

I love you so much, do you love me so much? Yep.

It’s a nice sunny day. right mom? right? yes James.

Treat ’em right this Halloween night! (said while pointing at a passing stranger with a small dog who looked at us strangely and hurried away) What did you say? You should treat ’em right this Halloween night. Right, mom? (starting to laugh despite myself) Where did you ever think of such a thing? I learned that from Duane Reade.

So, what do you do on Halloween? Do you trick or treat? trick or treat, right? you know? what do you need? need? you know? oh, to bring a bag for candy? and what do people give you? mom? what do people give you? mom, do they give you candy? James, stop at the corner. James, right now! You need to look where you’re going – do you see the orange hand?

Now, this conversation is when it’s just James and me and yes, that was really only about 6 minutes worth of a 15 minute walk to school. Okay, go back and try to read all of the following while singing “Wheels on the Bus” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and you will be able to experience a tiny bit of what it’s like twice a day for me when I have the other two kids as well. If you can add your own screaming baby track in the background that’s an added bonus about 25% of the time.

Transcribing this conversation was eye-opening for me in some ways. I only said “I love you” back sometimes. I bet that looks terrible! But at what point is it okay not to say “I love you” back? The fifth time? The twentieth time? How about the fiftieth time – in one day? When you consider that James said “I love you” at least three times in six minutes you will realize that this is absolutely no exaggeration. I also noticed that many of my responses were 1-2 words, the way I respond when distracted (or trying to get out of a conversation…).

I know, I know – this is my child, for crying out loud! I’m supposed to say I love you and simultaneously be thrilled at what an affectionate little boy I’ve raised. I should also be extremely grateful because there are plenty of children who did not start talking at 4 years and are still not able to talk at 24 years old. And most of the time I am grateful, or at least cognizant of that fact, truly. But sometimes, I long for a quiet, peaceful minute, or at the very least a conversation that I can follow and be engaged in.

I’m not saying there is anything to be done about this “issue,” but a little venting goes a long way toward refilling the Patience Tank, right? As it often goes with family and loved ones, we all do things that annoy the others from time to time – biting nails, leaving dirty socks on the floor, dumping out ALL of the legos. My husband, who loves me dearly, would probably tell me not to cast the first stone regarding excessive talking.

Or should I say spray the first bullets?

Another gem has been posted on The Water Cooler

Glad I still have a sense of humor or I’d still be wincing from this one.

Another Top Ten, Special Birthday Edition

September 16, 2011 3 comments

As I write this it is officially James’s 11th birthday, just a few minutes in. As per tradition we will take him out to dinner tonight and have an understated birthday party for him and a few friends this weekend. I’ll bake a cake for home but there will be no birthday song and all presents have been pre-opened to check for bubble wrap (after one incident this week I’m not taking any chances).

11 years – I just can’t believe it. More than a third of  my life has been wrapped around this special, unusual, lovable, different, friendly, challenging, wonderful little boy. So, in honor of James’s birthday and in doing things differently, my Top Ten this evening (morning) will be devoted to the Top Ten Ways James Has Changed My Life Over the Last Decade.

Since James was born:

1. I am told “I love you” no less than 50 times every day (this is not an exaggeration).

2. I became the absolute center of someone’s universe. It is both humbling and intimidating.

3. I have learned that there are more important things than my career, and have finally found peace with putting it second (a very distant second).

4. I have learned what patience really is, and strive (beg) for more of it every day.

5. I feel sincerely excited about incredibly small victories – going down a grocery store aisle alone, participating in a fire drill, pouring a bowl of cereal, or putting a toe in the ocean are all reason for major celebration.

6. I’ve learned more shorthand than most teenagers text in a month: PT, OT, ABA, SID, ASD, PDD-NOS, ADD/ADHD, LD, MRDD, NT, LVH (can you figure them all out?)

7. I am more risk averse because I am needed.

8. I’ve developed an aversion to balloons popping and fire alarms.

9. I have reevaluated and redefined my definition of “successful.”

10. I have learned that there are few more painful things in the world than watching your child suffer and struggle, and not being able to fix it with a kiss (or at all).

11 (in honor of the 11th birthday). I have been more joy-filled, devastated, overwhelmed, frustrated, excited, terrified, worried and proud than I ever dreamed possible.

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear James, Happy Birthday to you!