Saturday, April 30, 2011

Measures of success

You know when you're friends with other people that have kids, you open your home to more children running in and out of the patio screen door with sandy bare feet, and dragging Capri-sun pouches and drippy ice cream cones across your carpet, and digging through the entire box of toys to find one matchbox car. When you have autism mom friends, you get so much more. I know when my friend Kate's daughter Emily comes over she is going to dump the stuffed animal net all over Elliott's bed, and try to climb in my fish tank. Because I am used to it, I am not phased. I will always have a can of Pillsbury frosting for her to eat in my fridge. I will be right next to her mom to help lure her outside with a teletubby when its time to leave and she sinks to the ground in a meltdown. When you have certain things in common with these moms, their children become like your own. You see past all the autism.
Today was a family fun event at a gymnastics place in town. Chandler's dad was bringing him, and I was just there to hang out and watch him play. Last time we were here Emily had no intention of leaving without a fight. And fight she did, she bit her mom, and kicked her strong little legs until she was buckled into the car, struggling to escape. I rode home in the backseat with her. Today as the clock hands ticked toward five-thirty, and I was giving Chandler some extra hugs until I see him when dad brings him home Sunday night, I watched Emily jumping. I didn't have to wonder if mom was anxious. I was anxious. I got caught up in a conversation about Chandler with Anna, the music therapist, and when I looked around everyone had coats and shoes on, and I ran to catch up. There was Emily. Sunny stamp on her hand from Nate the gymnastics director, and holding mom's hand while she beamed, and walked perfectly out the door, stopping for a kiss and a high five from another mom. I could tell mom was about to cry, and I could hear the many comments as Emily strolled past the families grinning. Great job! Way to go! Awesome! My help was not needed. Emily's success, is her mom's success, is my success, and Chandlers, and all of these kids and their families. We feel the emotions together, we celebrate the magic of these moments. Autism is often a lonely road, but together we travel with much more joy and pride. I'm so proud of you Emily!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A ride in the convertible...

Easter Sunday. It's all about chocolate bunnies and little speckled eggs, and little girls in starchy white gloves, squeaky clean little boys in ties and stiff collared cute. So freakin cute. I watched my brother in law painstakingly put bunny footprints in flour and nibble some teeth marks into a bowl of carrots, while he put hot wheels and Reese's rabbits into the boys' baskets, and grandma adding plush bunnies, flashlights and jellybeans. Easter is my in laws holiday. Complete with cousins, pickle trays, greenbean casserole, and a hidden candy hunt in the yard at the farm. I wonder if everyone knows why I am sullen with sunken eyes slugging down my third glass of wine. Maybe its because my nightmares about the pond we tossed rocks into yesterday kept me up until two. Or that Elliott woke me up by shoving an orange jellybean in my mouth, his melodic little voice, "Try it mommy! They're yummy!" No that's not it. Its the fact that this year I have Chandler for Easter. Chandler is improving with holidays. No more screaming at every irritation. Less meal stress now that I care less that he eats a bun, and some cereal for Easter dinner., and he comes around more. But he's anxious, and he paces. Which makes me anxious, and pacey. With 15 adults and 10 kids, and two doors opening and shutting over and over, my breath catches each time I hear a slam. I peek out the window, race downstairs to the guest room where he watches his DVDs he brings along, run out the back door to the edge of the fence to the pasture. This time he is in the middle of the sandbox letting the grains of sand slip between his fingers. Everyone says, "He's fine." They don't always think, maybe I'm not fine. This Easter I'm not fine.
By three I've had all I can stand, I hold my composure until all the bags are in the car, and my tears flow in streams before we hit the mailbox. My husband gets it, so mostly he's quiet. When we reach my parents' house , I relax slightly. He knows everyone here, and I have more eyes on him. I sit in the lazy boy and hold my nephew who I call "Squishie" because he is a 6 month old chubby bunny with no wrists. He giggles and attacks his monkey lovie. Two times I yell at Chandler out the patio screen to get back in here! My dad blocks the downstairs door. We have leftover ham and lemon dessert. I look up suddenly to see two little blonde heads running across the field. OMG. I hand off Squishie like an MVP at the superbowl and take off in bare feet and by the time I am halfway across the yard, my nephew Noah is dragging Chandler by the sleeve. Noah is crying. "Auntie, he ran away!" I can't even tell him I am proud and glad, instead I am yelling at Chandler "NO! We do NOT run into the field!" He looks confused and says NO! back. My tears are stinging my eyes, but not falling. I am done. Exhausted. I tell my parents we are leaving and Chandler says "" I hesitate for a minute, and then I put him in the convertible along with Noah and his little brother Ethan who is my 4 year old nephew that is serious and quiet, like an old soul in a tiny body. With the top down and radio up, we cruise around the block. I watch the boys in the rearview mirror strapped into the backseat, Noah's head buried in a Pokemon game, and Chandler grinning and feeling the air with his hands. How can I keep you safe? Why don't you know your limits? I'm so angry with you, but your smile melts my heart... Ethan breaks my thoughts with "Auntie. I'm cold, can we put the top up?" To which I say, "No, Ethan, its cool to have the top down." "Auntie", he says, "Does this car have air bags?" I shake my head and laugh, "I dunno." "Well, you should be wearing your seatbelt", he admonishes me with his lips pursing, and his brow furrowing into a frown. The sun is going down, on another holiday in the autism trenches, but we're going out in style with the top down.