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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Dating Red Part 2

So we are a couple of months into this relationship now.  It's going better than I ever could have expected.  I am seeing him grow and stretch, choosing her above his own selfish wants and needs, which is major for him. For example, she wants Chinese food.  He hates Chinese food, but he goes with her and makes it through the meal without complaint.  He comes home hungry of course.  But this is something that he would NEVER do for his family.  He may go with us.  He may find something to eat, but he would be majorly complaining the whole time.

He has gone to see a romantic comedy at the movies, when he really only likes action thrillers.  He has gone to the mall shopping with her countless times.  He usually HATES the mall.  Of course, the mall is probably a much more pleasant experience with a beautiful girl by your side.

It was her birthday the other day.  I was secretly thrilled that he has found a girl that shares in his love an enthusiasm for roller coasters.  He went with her family to an amusement park for the day. Score! He's out of my hair! 

I won't get into details, but when he came home he told me that she had kind of a hard time during parts of the day. She became very upset with her family members and had a bit of a meltdown.  Of course, I won't get into her diagnosis.  I don't even know what it is for sure.  Let's just say they seem have some similar issues.

I explained that a full day at an amusement park can be fun, but overwhelming at the same time. Blue has a meltdown at the end of almost every amusement park we've ever gone to.

He experienced the behavior as kind of unnerving.  I said to him, "You do understand that you have displayed very similar behavior."
He said, "Yes. But I don't see myself when I'm doing it.  So I guess I don't really know what it looks like."
I thought this was an incredibly insightful statement.  Sometimes he still surprises me.

After their date, she called to apologize for what he had seen that day.  He told her there was no need for apologies.  He understands.  He's been there and has had friends who have been there. He told her not to worry.  He is there for her, no matter what.  He doesn't give up on people just because they are having a hard time.  He also assured her that her family loves her.  That her parents are just doing their best to help her, but they are not perfect.

I thought I was going.to.die. Who is this mature person and what has he done with my kid? What is they say about autism and empathy? This kid has empathy, for sure! 

It's kind of cool when you hear your words of wisdom being regurgitated out of the mouth of one of your children as if it were his own original thought.  The part about her parents loving her, no matter what ...that was all me. The rest was all him and I could not be more proud.

If interested ...the first click here for the first Dating Red post

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Aspergers at Dinner

Having dinner together as a family is a simple, ordinary thing for most people. Very little in my life is simple or ordinary. The simplest things become complex when we put together the special personalities and idiosyncrasies of our immediate family.

Most nights, we eat in shifts.  Honestly, we try not to have the entire family sitting down all at once in order to keep the peace.

We have Red, who usually NEVER likes what we are eating or where we are going if we are dining out. He makes the face like he's tasting crap when he takes a bite of a dish he's unfamiliar with or a vegetable. He wants to completely dominate the conversation.  He chews loudly.  He practically inhales his food so fast, that I wonder how his body actually digests it.

We have Blue who loves to eat any and everything.  He doesn't want to talk about or hear about anything his brother has to say, especially if he starts talking about religion. Oy!

You have my mom, who interrupts me every time I open my mouth when I'm speaking to my children.  She completes my sentences before I get the chance.  Give her a good glass of wine or three, food served extra hot and she's happy.

Then you have my husband, who is a complete extravert when it comes to friends, colleagues or complete strangers. He is Mr. Personality! However, when it comes to having dinner with just us, you can tell he's trying his best just to get through eating the meal, so that he doesn't have to listen to Red talk anymore.  I call him the table manager.  He is constantly arranging, straightening and rearranging the table, all while trying to control the table manners of his teenage sons.

Once we went out to breakfast with both boys.  I think we were traveling.  He actually instructed Red through the whole meal.  Cut your pancakes with your knife and fork.  Now take a bite.  Drink some milk.  Eat some eggs.  Now wipe your mouth.  Take a few more bites of your pancakes now.  I thought.I.was.going.do.die. Red actually went along with it for some strange reason.

And then you have me.  I'm perfect.  Haha! Actually, I usually don't have much of an appetite, especially if I had to prepare the meal.  I usually eat just enough so that I can have wine. When dining out, I try to orchestrate a friendly, neutral conversation in which all hell will not break loose at least until after we finish eating the meal.

Tonights dining out Italian family style was ...um...not fun. Red really did try his level best to talk the entire time about his video editing in a rather negative light.  He talks about all of the things that are wrong with his videos because he doesn't have "professional" equipment.  Then he tries to start with the laundry list of things that he needs to buy for video editing.  I cut his conversation short and told everyone we would only talk about neutral, non-controversial subjects.  We could talk about movies, mutual friends, what we have planned for the week.  Things of that nature.

No matter how we tried, Red continually attempted to bring the conversation back around to himself.  If I was engaged in dialog with Blue, or my mom, he would interrupt. "Mom. Mom. Mom."

My husband sat there and said almost, absolutely nothing except for what he wanted to order.  He did reach in a couple of times to tell us to pass the bread, plates or whatever so that the table would stay arranged and spots would be open for the food as it was served.  He also would tell the boys when they had had enough bread, to use their napkins properly or whatever.

This was painful for me.  I didn't have enough wine to make it all better.

On the way home, husband still said very little.  The boys started a conversation about family.  Which cousin is the funniest, or something along those lines.  We actually shared a few laughs over this.  My husband's reaction? At one point he plugged his finger into his ear, because Red was laughing and talking while turning around to see us in the back seat.  In the process, I guess he got a little too close to dad's sensitive ears. (Aspie much?)

When I got home hubby bolted out to the store like he couldn't stand to be around us all another minute.  He needed a sensory break.  We've all been there right?

All I could think about was ...in just a few weeks, we have a family reunion. We are all supposed to travel to St. Louis together, stay in a hotel and spend lots of quality family time. Together.

I think I just might call in sick.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lost My Happy

I can't find my happy.  I think it's at the beach.   Unfortunately, there is no ocean anywhere near here.  The Gulf of Mexico is several hours south, and there are no plans on the books to head that way.

I grew up in L.A. where the Pacific Ocean was a 20 minute drive.  I don't think if I truly appreciated that luxury as I was growing up.  Now, I miss it so much my longing is palpable.  The sound of the waves crashing against the shore, sauntering aimlessly at the waters edge, collecting sea shells, the cool breeze and the sunset. What made me think I could survive these hot summers in Texas without it? What the hell was I thinking moving here?
Taken in Manhatten Beach California, 2013
*cries at the memory of cooler days
This happens to me every summer since the boys have been teenagers. My anti-anxiety meds feel like they stop working.  I end up spending so much more time with them.  Me time is short. Everyday I decide what part of myself to give away.  Do I give them my exercise time? Maybe I'll give them my shower.  Here you go kids ...take my writing time.  Enjoy!

When they were little, we spent most of our days by our neighborhood pool.  I would catch up on my novel reading. I had other girlfriends with little ones.  We would meet up poolside and hang out.  The boys would be so worn out by the pool, they would come home eat, watch movies and play games.  They were much more easily entertained.  Hours on end talking about their worries and problems was not a part of the equation.  These days that takes up a lot of my time and energy.  Listening to relentless, repetitive, negative dialog is exhausting.

When they were younger, we also took regular family vacations with the whole family.  The boys actually got along long enough for us to travel together and have it not to end up being an absolute nightmare.  As they came into the teen years, we seldom take whole family trips anymore, unless we go to visit family and there are plans for the boys not to spend the majority of the time together.  Otherwise, we do separate get aways.  My husband and I traveled to Napa in March, followed by a trip for me to L.A. to see my dad.  We had plans to go to New York in June, for our 20th anniversary.  That didn't happen due to my mom being in the hospital and as of yet, it has not been rescheduled.

This summer there were no other trips planned due to Red working, and Blue going to summer school and volunteering at at Special Needs camp.  So, it's mostly just me toting them around from camps, to summer school, work, friend's houses, or local city pools.  (Dropping them off at the pool is actually kind of cool.)  Then I add my mother to the mix, taking her to her medical appointments, to the hair salon and nail salon.  Also, running back and forth to the grocery store for her.

I could say ending up in this situation is bad planning on my part.  I should never plan on being in Texas all.summer.long.  Never! The only trip on the schedule right now is St. Louis at the end of August for a family reunion on my mom's side of the family.  That should be fun.  But it's not the beach, and it's not exactly cool weather.  In my opinion, anytime I have the teenagers with me, it is not considered a vacation.
I need some kind of boost to change my sucky attitude and perspective.  It's really sad when you know you're perspective is off and you're thinking in the extreme negative.  Yet, you just can't shake it.  When you reach the point where people are grinding on your nerves for nothing other than being who they are, who they've always been, but somehow, their very being just makes you angry, bitchy and you want to scream! Just leave me alone! Please! I know it's not really them, it's me.

I've been in this funk for going on 3 weeks now.  I honestly thought it was PMS, but the P has come and gone and the depression is still lingering --hanging around like an unwanted house guest. So I dunno?  What is this? Pre-menepause, hormonal imbalance, a different flavor of crazy or just plain old summertime blues?

I am fully aware of my negative mood and my negative thought patterns. My usual patience are very thin. I've apologized to my husband a few times for frankly, just being a bitch.  He was really sweet about the moodiness for the first few days, but now I think he's just about had it with me and I can't really blame him.  I hugged him this morning for the first time in almost two weeks.  I felt pretty good when I first woke up. Suddenly, I realized that I miss his affection and I miss showing it towards him.

It takes an extreme amount of patience and energy to deal with my children when I'm feeling like this.  I fight with every ounce of my being to muster that energy.  Getting angry, impatient and showing them my ugly side only sparks their anger and behaviors.  Having to remain calm when someone is melting down, attacking your already heightened senses, goes completely against human nature.  We naturally feel that fight or flight instinct, but fighting or flying away is not always an option when you have two teenagers with autism and anger issues.

So for the adults in my life, who don't have Aspergers (or maybe they do ...lately it REALLY feels like my husband definitely does, but that's a whole other blog post). They certainly have quirks and idiosyncrasies that I have very little patience leftover to deal with.  When my kids are talking at me constantly, and I am consistently playing fire-woman to their inner angst which turns into outer meltdowns and fights, I just don't have a lot left to be a loving, social, adult, wife, daughter and caregiver.

In my head, I know that I am blessed to have my mom here, living with me,  but when she is pushing the boys buttons, making my job harder or asking me to do things for her that she could easily do herself, I get irritated.  Sometimes, she just wants my attention because she doesn't get out very much.  I'm sorry, but when I have both boys talking at me for hours, the last thing I feel like doing some days is sitting and chatting.  I just want silence.

There are moments when I don't feel like putting on the happy face and personality to hang out with other adults, being nice and polite, holding in how I really feel, because who wants to hear it really?  I don't even want to share these feelings with my husband.  He is really busy with work and has a lot financial pressure.  I don't want to add my whining and sadness to his plate.  Besides, when he's this busy, he will probably end up saying something I really don't want to hear.  So I hold a lot of it in.  Except here...I let go.

Again, I know this is bad perspective.  This is what depression does it steals your positive attitude and ability to truly count your blessings.  Depression reverses the truth.  Part of me knows that I'm just being a whiny baby ...kind of ungrateful in way.  But who am I kidding ...these feelings are real.  My tears are real.  They are effecting me, my relationships and interactions with my family.  When I give too much of myself away,  resentment builds. And really, who do I have to blame except for myself?

I am longing to go on an adventure.  I want to go out and see the world, ...the cooler part of the world, where nature is beauty and can simply and easily be enjoyed.  I miss my friends in California.  I also have this longing to get on the road to meet a lot of the autism mom's that I have connected with through my Facebook autism support groups .  These women, get me.  There are even a few wonderful guys who do as well.  They don't judge me.  Some of them feel like sisters that I have never met.  I have been blessed to meet a few of them.  I've also met one of my brother's from another mother, J from Find My Eyes.  We get to hang out every time I go to L.A. now.  I wrote about our meeting meeting J and his family here.  What an awesome feeling to be able to connect with someone else who has kids who you love more than anything, yet they are the biggest pain in the ass that you've ever had in your whole life!

I wish I could tie this post up in a nice shiny bow and say that I know what to adjust my attitude, to find some semblance of my happy again. I hesitate to even share this because it feels so negative.  However, these feelings are lingering they don't seem to magically disappear just because I want them to.  I always think, maybe someone else out there is going through the same thing, and by reading my thoughts, they will feel less alone.  So here you are!

I have some ideas to work on getting my happy back and helping me make it through this long hot summer.  I can only hope that they work.
  • I need to plan more simple pleasures into my days.  (I would love to get back to painting on canvas). 
  • Plan me time ...I mean really put it on the calendar and stick to the plan.  
  • Take my showers back every day!  I mean don't leave the house without one because one of these boys is rushing me to get them here...or there.  Besides, it's too hot to be smelly. 
  • Steal my writing time.  Even if I need to run and hide in order to do so. 
  • Schedule time for thought, meditation, yoga and other exercise. 
Last week one of my autism mama friends shared this post with me about finding respite.  Bec Oakley the author has some awesome ideas on little ways for us to find a reprieve from the madness here on Snagglebox.com. Check it out.

I do know this for sure.  I have to look for my happy ...proactively.  It's not going to just show up without me doing some work. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The REAL List -Guest Post by LeeAnne Klopp Owens

My sister from another mister, LeAnne wrote the following essay about shopping for school supplies.  You know that awful thing that we all dread doing around this time of year.  She shared it with our private Facebook Support Group last week.  I thought it was so perfect, helpful and of course hilarious, I wanted to share it with a wider audience here at Confessions.
 
LeAnne is the mother of five children with a variety of needs from ADHD to ASD.  You read that right 5 children! Her son Chistopher wrote a hilarious and honest essay last year about Aspergers and Physical Education .  He allowed me to share it here.  After reading it,  my son Blue thinks Chris should start his own YouTube channel.  "Life According to Christopher."

LeAnne is author of Swimmin' in Alphabet Soup a wonderful blog where she shares stories about her unique family.  I admire her strength and most of all her ability to laugh through the craziness that is her life.

School Supply List - The REAL List

Buying school supplies for five minions, ranging from a senior in high school to a fourth grader, is a huge undertaking. Add in that two minions have attention deficit disorder and two are on the autism spectrum and it becomes a chore that ranks right under childbirth without medication. Because I'm a giving person who wants nothing more than to help my friends whenever I can, I'm going to share my school supply shopping plan of attack and the items you actually have to buy. Heed me friends, I've done this for a lot of years and I've now got it down to an exact science!

The most important rule in tackling the supply list shopping is to NEVER let a child go with you! It adds 4 hours and $200 to the total cost. If you don't take my advice I don't want to hear your whining when you get home with half the list, a case of wine and a migraine.

It is best to divide and conquer, to shop in waves so to speak. Tackle the adhd lists first:

Pens and pencils - Triple the amount listed, buying the least expensive #2 pencils and ballpoint pens available. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES send the amount on the list to school the first day. If you do, you will start day 2 of school with a child telling you they have no pencils or pens and raiding your extra supplies!

One Binder and Folder - The list for middle school and high school students will say to have a folder for each subject. DO NOT WASTE THE MONEY buying that many. Your child will stuff every single flippin' paper in ONE folder, if you're lucky enough to get them to use one folder, or jam rumpled papers in their backpack for you to dig through searching for the form that HAS to be turned in the next day or the world will cease to exist.

The Biggest Spiral Bound Notebook You Can Find - Loose leaf paper? Are you a masochist?!?!! Trust me, it is an accomplishment worthy of a chocolate fountain and free flowing champagne if your child can find assignments and notes in the one huge notebook. Giving them loose leaf paper is just asking to be on a teacher or principal's speed dial.

The Sturdiest Calculator you can afford - If they are on sale and you can swing it, buy three. And for the Love of all that's Holy, buy the extended warranty!

Sharpie Marker, Black - Use this to plaster your child's name on EVERYTHING, including their jacket/coat, backpack and maybe even their arm. Hey, laugh if you want but I've seen too many "No Name" papers to run the run the risk that he might not remember who he is......

Now, wave one is finished so take a day or two break and celebrate! Right after you hide everything you bought. DO NOT give school supplies to your adhd child and expect them to get into their backpack. YOU put them in the backpack the night before school starts, then hang the backpack (and lanyard if they wear one) on the knob of the door they use to leave in the morning.
 
We're ready for Wave 2 - The autism student supply list:

Pencils & Pens - Price is not considered for these. You know just like I do that he/she will use only ONE exact type and brand of each. Bite the bullet and buy them by the crate. Seriously, if you don't and get the call saying "He/She is refusing to work because they don't have the RIGHT pencil/pen" I will not feel badly for you. HIDE THESE from everyone else in the house. If you have a safe, lock them away. Again, trust me, it's for your own sanity.

A HUGE Binder and folders - A folder for each subject is good. Just remeber that at no point during this school year can the color, texture, look or feel of these folders change. Plan ahead and buy in bulk. One little rip in the pocket will be cause to curl into a fetal position and lament the loss so be prepared to replace folders at the first sign of any wear or tear!

Loose Leaf Paper - My advice is to clean the store out. Those little paper things on the side of a sheet torn from a spiral bound notebook are the enemy! It will take your child three times longer to make the paper "perfect" than it will to complete whatever assignment is on the paper. Not to mention the erasing holes in the paper, which leads to the paper being tossed and starting over, which leads to using MORE paper.....

Calculator - Make sure it is the EXACT one on the supply list. Your child will check and compare and woe to you if it doesn't match. Again, buy two or three - once they use it they will likely refuse to EVER change brand/model so have a stock pile.

White Out - Buy it by the gross.

Once you've bought all this, watched your child thoroughly examine each purchase and determine it is "right" you can load up backpacks with their guidance. Because everything will have an exact spot where it MUST go. Put the loaded backpack in "their spot" - you know, the spot in your house where if anyone else places something World War III commences and pour yourself a glass of wine or cup of coffee to celebrate a job well done.

Best of luck this school supply shopping year! Remember, it could be worse - it could still be summer vacation and the grocery bill that goes along with that.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dating Red

I turned around, blinked my eyes and suddenly, Red is dating a girl.  If you follow our story, you know that dating has been a subject that's been on the agenda pretty much since he was able to talk.  He has always enjoyed the attention of the females.  In the toddler years, this was easy.  He was the cutest boy ever, with big brown eyes and super long eye lashes and a smile to die for.
I miss this innocent smile...Red, age 4

Come 4th grade that childish innocence and smile was traded for a scowl that read, Approach me if you dare! Which of course, made it much harder to find girls who were willing and able to look past that.  Of course, he was still as handsome as ever ...an impeccable dresser, who could easily wear a white shirt and all white Nike tennis shoes and come home without a spec of dirt to be found anywhere.

Still, he managed to pull in a girlfriend in the 4th grade.  She was the only black girl in his class and he one of two black guys. I guess that made him stand out in the crowd and somehow, he did it.  They "went out" together for maybe a month before things fell apart.  And by "went out," I mean she came to our house to play.  Her mom took them to a movie.  We took them both to a football game.  And then one day, it was over.  She started ignoring him suddenly and that was all she wrote!  He was livid! He cried.  He didn't understand what he had said or done.  It was a mess.  So he spent the balance of the school year hating her, majorly distracted by her mere presence and they were in the same classroom. Yeah.  That was fun.

Middle school was filled with more girl drama --two-week girlfriends, followed by months-long drama.  What did I do? Why doesn't she like me anymore? Why is she so mean to me?  High school was even worse.  He never actually landed a girl in that competitive setting.  He was too busy looking at the ones who were impossible to get --the cheerleaders and most popular girls who didn't give him a second glance.  He had tunnel vision.  I prompted him over and over again to take his blinders off --to look around and see all of the really sweet girls who didn't have anyone.  He couldn't do it.  He was  stuck on "certain" girls, which I thought would surely be the death of me.

When I say this latest dating situation came out of nowhere ...I mean, no.where.  For months he's been back on the, "It's not fair that I don't have a girlfriend" kick.  He moaned and ranted on Facebook about it.  He even blatantly said, it was my fault because I kept him away from all of the prettiest girls in high school.

Months ago, I heard him speak of this girl in his Adult Transition group, but not with any particular interest. And Red usually tells me EVERything.  In fact, sometimes he tells me things I don't even want to know.

They've been to a few social outings as a group.  They sat next to each other on the bus. "She chose to sit right next to me and the bus was almost empty," he said. 

When I met her, she just seemed very sweet, sincere and honest.  And apparently she is interested in getting to know my son better.  I just think it's kind of funny that the very first step in that process in their minds, was to put on Facebook that they are in a "relationship."

One night he's moaning about how long it's been since he's had a girlfriend.  The next day, I'm out having lunch.  I check Facebook to see that a girl has linked with him in "In a Relationship". What.The.Heck?

I downplay my reaction when I get home.  He actually seemed a little reserved about it as well.  He told me the status was her choice.

Since then, they have gone on 4 dates ...two trips to the mall for lunch and shopping, 1 trip to her church for service on Sunday and they volunteered together for a homeless program that her church sponsors on another day.

My worries are all about the fallout and what our family will have to go through if this all falls apart.  In the past, fallout from friendships and relationships have meant hell for our family, and by our family, I mean mostly me.

There are so many intangible things to learn in this process of an interpersonal relationship with the opposite sex. This is compounded of course by Aspergers and just plain old being naive and inexperienced.

However, I've been too this rodeo before with my older son.  I watched him fall in love and get his heart broken. We talked Slim about safe sex, if there really is any such thing.  We watched him make mistakes that we could see coming a mile away.  Sadly, many of us must learn things the hard way.  We refuse to learn from other people's experience.

It's my parental policy to try to keep the lines of communication open, so that there is no need for any sneaking around.  Lord knows ...I was really good at that when I was a teenager.  We will have to have numerous talks about the birds and the bees and all that goes along with that.  And I do mean numerous! I am hopeful that Red's strong Christian faith will be helpful in keeping things slow and easy for a while.  He believes that sex is reserved for marriage.  At this point however, he has no idea how the body can take over the mind in the heat of the moment.  I hope to be nearby with a fan to keep things cool.

One thing for sure, despite my worries and fears, I can not keep him from experiencing this step in his life.  I will be there with my eyes and ears open, hoping that it is a source of happiness and confidence building for them both.

I provided transportation for the most recent date, which gave me a chance to get to know her a bit.  Once I picked them up, he asked me if I could drop him off at church after we took her home.  We were closer to his church already.  I said, "Well I could take you now, but you would have to ask her how she feels about me dropping you off first and then taking her home."

He asked her. She responded, "I want him to ride home with me like a proper boyfriend is supposed to do."  And that is exactly what he did. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Crazy Train

The things that are going on behind our doors makes me feel like a complete failure as a mother.  I know I am doing and have done a lot for these boys, but nothing is ever enough. 

This status I posted on Facebook may give you some idea of what’s going on. 

3 a.m.  -My mom calls my cell phone from her downstairs bedroom. 
"Are you o.k.? I heard you ask Red to leave your room. Do you need me to come up there?" 
She was dreaming or rather having a nightmare. We live in a war zone. We suffer from PTSD. 
Feel me? 
Red is so miserable, worrying about every detail of his transition into adulthood. Both boys generously spread around their every emotion for all of us to bathe in. They seem to have no interest in self-regulation, or using the coping skills that they’ve been taught in therapy.  They want  to express every emotion that they are going through, loudly, over and over again. Years of therapy, and social skills classes sometimes feel like a waste of time and money.  

When Red is in a decent mood, he puts a lot of energy into annoying the hell out of all of us.  Recently, he actually said, “When I’m being annoying that means I’m happy.” His repertoire of annoying behaviors includes singing, loud heavy metal music as soon as he wakes up in the morning.  It doesn’t matter that the rest of us are sleeping or perhaps trying to watch the news or whatever.
This makes me laugh! Reminds me of I Love Lucy
He has also been ranting and raging and perseverating on religion.  Sometimes, following me around the house, refusing to leave me alone.  He reminds me of those people you see out on street corners screaming, “If you haven’t accepted Christ as your personal savior, you're going to hell! Get saved today!” I’ve even put on headphones to drown him out because he just won’t stop talking! He seems to be in and out of mania. He’s driving the crazy train and he’s taking me along for the ride. 

Blue has absolutely zero patience and tolerance for his brother.  He is impulsive, and like a moth to a flame when it comes to Red’s behaviors.  He wants to control him.  He has to chastise him and constantly tell him what he should an should not be doing.  He calls Red all of the names in the book, except for the one that we gave him (stupid, idiot, fat, ugly, worthless).  Of course, I’ve tried everything to curb this behavior, but they are both out of control!  The fighting between them is pure madness right now.  

I would say that our family is in crisis.  We can not keep living this way.  We need to make some major changes with a quickness.  I believe we need family rehab, intense therapy, something! And fast or somebody is going to end up getting hurt. I may be the smallest one in the house, but it ain’t gonna be me!

I have a plan ...it may or may not involve finding someone another place to live.  I am also open to suggestion. Suggestion! I said! Not judgement. You know what...go ahead judge me.  I'm too tired and crazy to give a ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Graduation

At the end of every week for the past several weeks, I have thought ...Boy! That was the week from hell! I think I deserve a prize for surviving.

Last week before Red's graduation, was the epitome of a week from hell. I thought nothing could top the previous week when I had come home from the hospital with my mother.  He went completely ballistic, as we were coming through the door.  You read that right ...coming through the door after her being in the hospital, for 5 days.

"Why didn't you take me to church!?" he asked incredulously. "Why do you have to have Blue's therapy appointment on Wednesdays when you know I need to get to church?"  He went on and on and on from there. ranting, making all kinds of threats.  This ended with a phone call to the Crisis hotline. A call that miraculously got him to pull his shit together.

I have told him numerous times, "You know I have his appointment on Wednesdays, YOU need to find another way to get to church. And don't wait until the last minute!" Sometimes he pulls it off, getting someone from church to pick him up.   Sometimes, he waits and there is no one available.

On that particular day, not only did I have to be across town for therapy with Blue, I also needed to be back on this side of town,  immediately following because suddenly, they decided to release my mother from the hospital. (Even though, she wasn't much better than when she got there). My husband was out of town, of course.  I don't have the superpower of being 3 places at once, so something had to give.

The person who was dialing my phone over and over again, being rude and demanding, was the person who lost out on a ride from me.

Back to this last week before graduation ...Red had completed his high school credits in January of this year.  So, when he arrived on campus for graduation rehearsal, he had not been submerged in the high school cesspool for over 4 months.  Being in the gym, surrounded by hundreds of seniors, brought back all kinds of insecurities, old wounds, thoughts and feelings about every single bad thing that ever happened during high school.  It sent him over the edge.

I got a phone call from him during rehearsal, "I'm not doing it! I am not walking the stage with these people. I feel uncomfortable here."

Later I received a text, "I want the girls to scream my name when I walk across that stage.  Since that's not going to happen...it's pretty much going to be a disaster."

I didn't push.  I told him it was his life ...his decision.

Well, he came home and jumped head first into the deep end.  He ranted he raved.  He blamed all of us and everyone else in the world, for all of his problems.  He said some of the most god awful things to all of us ...my mother included.  Some of the things he said  quite frankly, were unforgivable, certainly unforgettable. Rage or no rage, Aspergers or not. I was done! I really didn't want him to walk if we had to see more of this behavior.

I was trying to pull off a little reception for the following day after graduation,  here at the house, so that his friends and our friends could stop by, have a bite and acknowledge his accomplishment.  Plans for that came to a screeching halt after he said all of the horrible things that you just can't take back.

After saying everything he could to our family, then he took to Facebook to let everyone in the world know how he was feeling.

"I don't want to go to graduation. I'm going to be embarassed and people are going to make fun of me on stage. They're going to say "Look its the angry guy!" and I will not be embarassed in front of the whole school!! I wish I could make a speech in front of the whole entire school and prove them wrong that I am not the person they think I am!!! I am way nicer than you think and I will not be humiliated!! But I guess that none of my classmates actually care about me especially the girls."

This post rallied a lot of attention.  He received encouraging words and thoughts from so many people. He got phone calls from family members with words of encouragement.  I tried to explain what graduation is really about.  It's a celebration of accomplishment.  It's not a popularity contest.  It's an opportunity to put the past behind you and move forward.

He made it through the second rehearsal the following day without incident. He became determined to walk.  In the past, he has volunteered in the classroom with kids with autism and other disabilities who have much more to overcome than he does.  Some of them would be walking the stage on graduation day.  He was determined that if they could do it, so could he.
He Made IT! 

When that graduation march song played, my heart filled with pride.  My eyes filled with tears.  I thought about every meeting that I went through to fight for what he needed.  I thought about every phone call I received from school when he was falling apart.  I thought about all of my worries and fears that this day would never come.  That his anger would someday get him into trouble that I couldn't get him out of.  In that moment, I believe that his walking across that stage meant more to me than any other parent in that stadium.

While all of the kids were standing to receive accolades, awards and recognition, I was thinking, He made it! And he never got arrested or ended up in the hospital! That's my boy!

One of his peers that he started kindergarten with was in the top 10 students graduating.  He has already received a scholarship to the University of Texas.  I am so happy and proud of him. This young man would periodically come over to tutor with Blue on high school projects.  I am equally  happy that Red made it to graduation...period.  He has a job that he loves. Many students don't have that yet.  He has a passion for video editing and has taught himself, more than many other students will ever know.
Red & friend since day 1 kindergarten
He's going to make it.  His path has not been easy.  There will continue to be bumps, curves, and setbacks.  He may need more support than your average adult, but he will get there.   I am hoping that getting there, means that soon he will get out of my house!

By the way, he did not take one picture with his family after the ceremony.  He was too busy taking pictures with all of the friends and hot girls, whom he accuses of ignoring him all throughout high school. You all will have to see me in my hot dress another time.
Girls he wanted to scream his name
He settled for this picture...thrilled in fact