Sick day + sick day + snow day = recycling day. I hope you don’t mind, but I do want to keep this blog thing moving along, and haven’t really had a chance to write anything much, what with my gut exploding for two days, then the city transforming into a lovely snowdome today, necessitating hours of sledding and a home full of hot-cocoa fueled children. I know me; if I let anything slide too long it just slips right off my plate and I will forget about it for an embarrassingly long period of time. The gift of my ADD brain. Did I mention that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? Scratch your kid with a developmental difference and you will see a familiar flea jumping off.
One of my favorite Autism books is Not Even Wrong by Paul Collins. He is a wonderful, wonderful writer; a historian who has a son that he is discovering is autistic as he is being inexplicably drawn to researching the story of Peter the wild boy, possibly the first documented Autistic in English history, for his next book. Talking with his mother he is reminded that he himself was once placed in special ed because of his preternaturally acute hearing which caused him to micro focus and/or tune out extraneous noise and/or tantrum when overwhelmed by the aural assaults of the world. Apple and tree, apple and tree.
But once again, I am digressing. Oh, yes, today I am digging into the bowels of my computer, pawing through the snippets I’ve written over the past few years, and pulling out something that I’ve always been particularly fond of.
This was written when the boys were just three and Jacob was much more Autistic than he is now. My parents were living in an “independent senior residence” at the North edge of Riverdale, and much more spry than they are now. Four years ago, but seems like a hundred: my children evolving, my parents devolving; I sometimes feel like the hub of an insanely spiraling merry go round.
So here is my “Balloon Story” written on September 10th, 2005, and posted on Urban Baby (remember THAT crazy site?) in response to a mother posting about a tough day w/ her Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) son:
Hang in there, we ALL have those days. I had one today myself: I went to visit my parents at their retirement community for "family day" with my 3 year-old twin sons. One is on the Autism Spectrum w/ a PDD-NOS diagnosis, the other is typically developing, even a bit precocious. My PDD son was just having an "off" day - melting down over every little thing. Usually he LOVES the bounce house but they would not let him into it until he let go of the pointy metal toy in his hand, and when I took it away he just couldn’t get over it. He kept crying & screaming "I want Mommy" even while I was holding him and I just lost it -- hissed "I am your fucking Mommy, now stop it" in his ear (NOT my proudest Mommy moment.) OK, it turns out I was really pre-menstrual (I just got my period in middle of night, which is why I am up and typing at 3 AM - waiting for Motrin to kick in so I can get back to sleep) so I have, maybe, an itty bitty bit of an excuse for that.
And then there was my typical son who was just having the time of his life - enjoying his Grandparents, the rides, the other kids, playing and conversing away and I had one of those awful moments when I let myself think what if. “What if they were both typically developing?” And I knew that this would be such a FUN time in my and their lives. Because my typical kid, while also a lot of work and an occasional total pain in the ass (like all little kids) is a HELL of a lot of fun at this stage, talking and commenting on everything with a great sense of humor, interested in the whole world, and trying to figure out how he fits in it. And how much effort with so little reward EVERYTHING with my PDD kid is, just comes crashing down on me at those moments. And the truly awful thing is that, for an instant, hating Autism spills into hating my son. There, I've said it.
And then, of course, everything gets better, and he eats lunch and gets in a better mood, & goes into the bounce house & has fun. And even though he's lying on the grass spacing out holding a toy between his eye and the sun while his twin brother is getting his face painted while chatting w/ his Grandma, it's OK. And I remember that 5 months ago I'd been begging God to please just let him say "Mommy". And at the end of the party we're the last family left, so my boys get ALL the helium balloons they've decorated the grounds with. And while my typical guy wants to hoard & hold onto his, my PDD guy is finding total joy in releasing them one by one to watch them sail away into the perfect blue sky. "Kite, Kite" he says and "Bye, Bye, balloon" and he even waves. And it's OK -- it's just MY family.
OK, that’s all for today. I know it was supposed to be Ethan’s day, but he’ll just have to wait, which he just hates to do. And did I mention he has a touch of ADD, too?