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Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Twilight Zone

The last few days have been hell around here.  At first I blamed it on the full moon.  When that came and went, I didn't know what to blame it on.  Am I living in Twilight Zone or what?

The Hubby was out of town most of the week, and it seemed like Red was taking full advantage over that fact.  Every night he started ranting and raving over one thing or another.  He's been stuck on what a family of sinners we all are. We all curse like sailors!  None of us are Christian enough. He wishes he had been born into a "real Christian family," with a father who is a Pastor. He's been in and out of being almost manic.  He certainly isn't grounded in reality.

We don't curse any more than he did a year ago, before he went and became perfect. If he hears a curse word come out of my mouth it's out of shear frustration with his behavior. Everything is extreme with him, black or white, all or nothing.  No one can live up to his level of perfection, including himself.  But of course, he never looks at himself.  It's much easier to blame and criticize the world all around him.

He seems to be angry for no apparent reason.  He is depressed.  He has feelings of aggression towards me and his father that he has not acted on, but they are there, boiling under the surface.  It amazes me how he goes out into the world and puts on this happy-go-lucky facade.  Well, maybe not happy, but at least not angry or manic.  When he comes home ...my Lord! He changes into Mr. Hyde.

Then we have Blue, who can be aggressive.  The one person in the world who pisses him off just enough, and he feels safe to hit is of course, his brother.  Blue has been back on a bit of a anxious, agitated, anger roll lately.  He's fine at school.  He's great when it's just the two of us alone.  In fact, we've been having some great times together and some awesome conversations.  However, when you put him into the mix here at home, with Red and we have a great mix for explosions.  Blue wants to control the world.  He really wants to control his brother.  He feels like his brother is clueless, because he doesn't think the same way that he does and he really wants to straighten him out, by yelling at him and trying to control his every move.  Yeah! That's really going to work.

My Facebook status from 2 days ago...

"I love each and every member of my family...individually. It's just when they're together ...I don't like any of them.


Hubby comes home from the business trip.  When I tell him of the antics that have been going on while he's been gone, he is pissed to put it mildly.  He has so had it with the disruption to our lives caused by Red.  He would really like him out of the house yesterday.  Of course it's just not that simple.

It's really hard to remain calm when your teenager is being, belligerent, loud and extremely disrespectful.  I'm sure it's even worse if you are a man who works hard and believes he deserves a certain amount of respect.  Unfortunately, Red just doesn't have any respect to give, not to anyone in this family.  Especially, if you challenge him and become aggressive when he is already feeling aggressive.

He only respects authority when he feels that they have something of extreme value to take away from him. He respects his job, because he doesn't want to lose it. He wants the money.  And he actually likes his job very much.  He rushes to show up on time, like I have never seen him rush in his life! He's a model citizen while he is there.

He respects police because he knows that they can take away his freedom.  So he never crosses a line with them or when he thinks they may become involved.  I think here, at home, he really and truly feels like he has nothing to lose.  He can not seem to grasp the fact, that he could very well lose the privilege of living here. We have proven that this can happen.  Our oldest son lost the privilege of living here when he no longer wanted to respect our home, or our rules.  He had to get to steppin'! Get his own apartment. Yes. He had struggle harder than he would have if he was able to continue living here.
The ranting and raving got so bad the other day, I actually texted his pastor and asked him, if he knew anyone in the church who would let Red come and stay for a while.  He said he would look into it, but it's doubtful.

Anyways, it's just been a circus around here.  We've been going from one rant to another.  If it's not Red ...it's Blue.  Blue takes out his frustrations on his brother and vice versa.  Much of this is typical sibling crap, it's just on steroids because of their levels of anger.

Then of course, we have my mom here who just can not manage to keep her 2 cents out of anything.  She gets upset, and hold's a grudge whenever Red opens his mouth and pours out a bunch of nonsense.  She takes everything they say and do personally.  She has no life outside of this house, so it's almost like she thrives over the constant conflict ...spewing out personal insults to make matters worse. It's like managing a freakin' kindergarten around here.

Anyways, that's my rant.  I had to get this out of my system so that I can go back to playing the role of Mother Theresa, instead of the raving lunatic that really am.

I will leave you all with this ...this morning as the boys are arguing over everything and nothing at all, I said this to Blue,

"Arguing with Red is like arguing with a big, thick rock with no cracks in it.  You are never going to get through to him.  You are never going to change his mind, so why waste your energy?"

*This actually holds true for a lot of people. Keep this in mind when you're arguing with someone, who just doesn't get it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Living with the Aspergers Christian

I love my boys with every fiber of my being, but some days they are so hard to like.  I know how difficult life must seem to Red right now as he faces the realities of adulthood.  Change is hard for the average human, for a teenager with Aspergers, change can be excruciating and therefore, very painful for those who love them the most.

At 18, most kids are excited about the possibilities of independence. Who wants a parent around always telling you what to do, when to come and go when you no longer feel like a child?  Red wants the best of all worlds. He wants to remain at home.  He's afraid of leaving.  Yet he feels, that it's us, his parents who need to do all of the changing in order for us to get along.

I have written before about him being the Annoying Aspergers Christian.

His latest sermon is about how we should "never curse" because cursing is a sin.  Well, so is disrespecting your parents but you do that every.single.day.

"But you guys shouldn't try to get revenge just because I'm not respectful."
Um. What? We don't have the time or energy to put into revenge.

The reality is that actions have consequences.  If you run around yelling, demanding, and causing problems, we will not be going out of our way to do anything for you, besides provide the basic necessities of life.  That means no extra rides, here and there.  No stopping to pick up fast food for you. No money for movies and entertainment.

If you are relentless in your preaching and judgement, don't expect that we will not get exasperated at some point.

Can you imagine having your Pastor living in your house, for free and having him judge every single move make?  Oh and by the way, this Pastor is a bit of a fraud.  He has not fully studied the word of God.  Most of his knowledge comes from what others have told him, of course with their own spin on it.  He picks and chooses scriptures that he wants to enforce, without knowing the complete context of said scriptures, all while not walking the walk himself.  You are an adult who has studied the word of God completely and you have enough life experience to know how to apply your faith to your life. Does it sound like fun? This is what I'm living.

What I try to get him to see is his own behavior.  He is continuously yelling and screaming about what we need to stop doing.  Yet, he will not stop and remove himself peacefully, when we have told him in a calm voice, that we no longer want to discuss the subject.  When I have had enough and have asked him repeatedly to stop, but he won't, then he just may end up being cursed out! Now if he wants to avoid the wrath of my anger, simply leave the room! Walk away! You can not keep poking at the beehive and expect not to get stung at some point.

I am human.  I have feelings and emotions.  I can only stay calm and in control for so long.  And believe me, I am the most patient mother he could have EVER been given.

Part of the issue is that he wants what he wants exactly when he wants it.   This of course, is not always practical.  The other part is that he craves attention.  The other, other part is that he often does not know what to do with his free time.  So he comes into a room and expects to be entertained.  If he does not get the reaction that he is looking for than he gets louder and louder, or annoys the dog until he's yelping.  Better yet, he starts in on a subject that he knows we do not want to talk about, repeating himself over and over again, revving himself up, until he gets some kind of commotion going.

He has never been particularly aggressive, but there are moments where he towers over me with clinched fists, aggressively, and loudly, blocking my way so that I can not leave a room or he will not leave a room.

Something has got to give here.  I don't know how much longer I can not continue like this and my husband's fuse is even shorter than mine.

The good news is, that he continues to do well in all other settings including his Adult Transition Program.  He is now working 10 hours a week.  He goes off to events with his church, consistently.
I'm sure all while telling everyone who will listen what a horrible, sinful, cursing like sailors, family he has to live with.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wandering

Photo Credit -Virtual Day of Remembrance Facebook Event
They want to share this far and wide. 
The first time Red wandered away from me was when he was about three and a half years-old. 
I  am bathing his newborn brother, Blue.  Red is in the bathroom with us at first, but then he wanders down the hall for a few minutes.  I think that he's in his room playing.  I’m at home alone with the boys.  My husband traveled quite a bit for work.  At the time, he was working as a contractor for the Air Force and would travel all over the world ensuring the safety of their computer networks.  While I was home ensuring the safety and care of our children.  At least I was supposed to be. 
Suddenly, the doorbell rings.  I wasn't expecting anyone this time of night, un-announced.  I grab Blue out of the bath, wrap him in a towel and trepidatiously open the front door.  It's my neighbor from two doors down, with baby Red in a t-shirt and diaper.  
Mortified! What kind of moron does she think I am? How in the hell did he get out the door?  It turns out, he went through the kitchen, through the laundry room door, and underneath a crack in the garage door. Beyond being mortified, I was grateful that she was so sweet about it.  So many other scenarios could have played out.  And for so many, they have.  The very worst has happened for so many children on the autism spectrum.  
Of course, I knew nothing of autism at this time.  All I knew is that my child did not communicate with me the way that I expected him to as a toddler.  He talked in garbled language that I did not understand.  He had been diagnosed with a speech delay at the time, but that was it.  No talk of autism. In fact, I don’t think I even knew what autism was or how big of a spectrum it actually is.  This was 1999. 
I knew nothing of this wandering scenario that I would eventually face again as the years went by. 
For so many families, the child isn’t found within a five or 10 minute period.  For many, they are never found alive.  This very well, could have been our family.  
Today, April 1, 2014, in a virtual candlelight vigil, we remember the many children with autism who have lost their lives after wandering. 
The Kennedy Krieger Institute reported in a 2011 study that up to 48% of all children with autism will engage in wandering behavior or "elopement," which is defined as the tendency to leave a non life threatening space and enter into a potentially dangerous one, and is a rate 4 times higher than their neurotypical siblings.

The Krieger Institute also reported "35% of families with children who elope report their children are “never” or “rarely" able to communicate their name, address, or phone number by any means."

In 2012, the National Autism Association reported that "accidental drowning accounted for 91% total U.S. deaths reported in children with an ASD ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering/elopement."

This vigil is being organized to spread awareness of the very real issue of wandering behavior in autistic children and the unspeakable tragedies that can, and have occurred as a result. 

Please join us in respectful remembrance of the children who have died.

For more information on keeping our children safe visit autismsafety.org


Thursday, March 27, 2014

That WTF Moment

You know how you leave an I.E.P. (individual education plan) meeting and then digest everything that was said, then you're like ...WTF?

I had 2 meetings in the same day. Both were successful.  In fact, I  was extremely proud of Red!  He ran his meeting like a champ! At Last Year's Meeting  Red sat down and said, his number one goal was to become popular! That’s it! I was flabbergasted. While Blue ran his meeting like a total boss! This year was like night and day for Red.  

Red's Powerpoint Presentation
Prepared 100% on his own
If you're wondering why I still have 2 meetings, even though Red is finished with his high school credits.  It's because he is in the Adult Transition program through the school district.  The program is helping him grow personally in to adulthood  -preparing him for independent living and transitioning into college.  

Blue has some concerns about the STARR test for Language Arts, which is the latest Texas version of standardized testing. This is the only class where he has an 82 average.  All other classes are 90’s and above. He just does not get all of the figurative language, and the author's intent, especially in fictional writing and poetry.  He also probably could give less than a damn about the author's intent. Kind of like I felt about algebra when I was in high school.  

Blue posed the question to the committee, “What if I don't pass it?” 

The answer given was he would be given several opportunities to retake it.  In the end, if he didn't pass it, the I.E.P. Committee could decide to wave the testing and change his graduation plan to minimum plan.  Which would mean, he would have to go to Community College before he goes to a university.  

Since I know he will pass, I didn’t take issue with the answer.  But after the fact, I thought about this and I'm like ...really? WTF? So a kid who is taking AP math and Science and getting A's would be reduced to minimum plan because he doesn't get figurative language and can't pass some stupid, subjective, standardized Language Arts test? Um. Hell no! 

He will pass.  They just try to scare the shit out of them and make the test seem harder than it is, so they will end up passing.  This within itself, pisses me off.  But what about those students who can't pass it? This is ridiculous!  The state of Texas Department of Education needs to hear from this big mouth mama, and from you too if you have a kid with an I.E.P. 


If it came down to them changing his graduation plan, there would be a law suit. Idiots! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Consulting Parent

I believe there comes a point when you are no longer in charge of every decision your child makes about his or her life. Where you become the consultant, not the executive in charge.  When you arrive at this crossroads, you try to guide the child in making the most beneficial choice for his or her life.
You're only deluding yourself if you think you're in control. -Confessions Of An Aspergers Mom -Facebook Status, 3/25/14

So when you find your 15 year-old kid looking at inappropriate videos on the internet, no not sexual in nature, this time.  Nevertheless, they are non-productive for his life, with loads of explicit language and gratuitous violence. You can go the route of forbidding him to watch these videos.  You can take away privileges for a time.  Take away the phone, the computer, the game system. Sooner or later, he will find his way back to the filth and ignorance if he really wants to.  So how do you handle the situation? 

Well, I’ve been to this rodeo before with my now 25 year-old son.  I never allowed guns in my home.  He made them out of legos or played with them when he went to his birth-mother's house. I didn’t buy violent video games.  He played them when he went to visit friends or relatives. When we found that he was looking at videos of an inappropriate nature, we took away the computer. We grounded him from driving the car and so on.  We put the computer out in the family room, put on parental controls, etc.  

Did this stop him from finding a way to watch them again sooner or later? Absolutely, not.  

When I was a teen, my mother kept a very tight reign on me.  It never kept me from doing one.single. thing. I really wanted to do.  I had the will.  I found a way. Instead of spending all of her time, forbidding me to this or that, I would have been better served, if she spent her time teaching me how not to give myself away to the lowest bidder, just because I wanted attention. And by lowest bidder I mean guys who didn’t deserve my attention or my love.  I would have been better served by being guided into making better decisions for myself.  She did the best she could, bless her heart.  Thankfully, I didn’t turn out too bad.  I finally figured things out …my way. 

In this case of Blue, my now 15 year-old son, I think the lesson lies in helping him figure out what kind of person he wants to be.  Do you want to immerse yourself in language that will have you constantly thinking negative thoughts?  I realize you are going to hear foul language out in the world, especially, on the high school campus.  But do you want to have that language so deeply in your psyche that it’s stuck in your head all of the time.  Then you end up getting yourself into trouble by using it at the inappropriate time. You do know you have issues with anger.  When you immerse yourself in this language, you’re not going to take the time to think when you’re angry.  You’re just going to let words fly out of your mouth and then deal with the consequences. 

Yesterday I heard you calling your brother a prick.  Do you even know what that means? No.  You don’t. I asked you what it meant and you thought it meant stabbing someone with something.  Um…No. That would be using the word as a verb.  When you call someone a prick, you’re using it as a noun…And not a very nice one.  Certainly not one you want to be using in front of your mother, or your grandmother.  Do you want to be viewed as someone who is disrespectful or do you want others to think that you’re intelligent enough to come up with better vocabulary with which to express yourself? 

When my brother was your age, he often found himself in all kinds of trouble, but he NEVER used certain language in front of my mother or grandmother.  He had too much respect for them.  

No. Looking at these videos does not make you a bad person.  I know all of your friends are looking at this crap too.  One person sees it.  He shows it to you.  You show it to another friend.  You are all sucked into believing this is good entertainment.  What I would like you to think about is what else could you be doing with your time that would make you into the person that you would like to be? 

You’re not alone son.  I have different groups of friends, some who lead me to do doing better things with my life, and others who are counter-productive.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like many from the counter productive group.  But after a while, I find myself thinking …is this what I want to do with my life?  Is this the person that I want to be?  If not, then I will find myself moving in another more positive direction.  If those friends would like to come with me, they are welcome.  If not, that’s o.k., but I may not have as much time to give you, because I am moving forward in my life. 

I pray son, that you will make good choices for yourself.  I will be here to support those good decisions when you make them. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I state above that I am not the expert Mom with all of the answers.  Do you have good solutions to helping our teenagers make better decisions for themselves? I value your input, even if I don’t agree with it. Comment below. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Love Thy Neighbor / Kill Thy Brother

Sometimes I carry so much self-imposed guilt, I think I must have been Jewish in a past life.

Last night I dreamed of my neighbor who has not been well in quite some time.  I've been wanting to visit her ...prepare a meal for her family.  O.k. Who am I kidding? I know I don't have time for that. So last week, I bought her a beautiful plant.  Since she was in my dream last night, I knew that I had to visit her --today. No excuses.

The boys are having a snack and watching Sponge Bob, together, almost peacefully.  I think it's a good time for me to make a quick exit to my neighbors house. My mom is at home, of course.  I'm going over for 15 or 20 minutes.  They will be fine. No problem, right? Right?

As I am leaving Red whines, "But where are you going? I want to come."
Really?
"Come on dude.  I'll only be gone for a few minutes. I don't know exactly how she's doing.  I want to visit her by myself."
Why I need to explain this...I have no idea.
"But I want to pray for her!"
"Great. You can pray for her from right here.  I'll be right back."

15 minutes later, there is a ring at my neighbor's door.  Guess who? Not one, but both boys.  They are panting as if they've been running.  I notice an object in Blue's hand. It's a bar-b-q spatula -a large one.

"I'm sorry mom but I just wanted to come over here and see Ms. C. and Blue was chasing me," Red says panting and trembling.
"Mom! You told him not to come over here, so I was trying to stop him! He just doesn't listen!"

What.the.hell?!
Really?
Imagine these two huge teenage boys, chasing each other across the street, one with a spatula in his hand,  yelling at his older brother.  "GO.BACK.HOME! You need to learn how to listen!"

My neighbor's husband is also standing at the door.  Yeah. I'm slightly mortified.
I separate the boys and ask Blue to please go home.  I can't send them both together, obviously. Blue objects at first, but finally agrees to go.

Well, neighbor! I hope you were up for a little excitement!  No that's not just your pain meds kicking in.  That's my real life crazy, following me to your house!

She invites Red in.  She tells him to calm down.  He prays with her.  She is touched by his gesture.  It was a beautiful moment actually.  After a totally, ludicrous one.

We make a quick exit.  I return across the street where Blue is waiting ...spatula still in hand.

He proceeds to tell me loudly how much of an idiot his brother is -and that was one of the nicer words he used.  Oh, this is before I can even make it through the front door.  Oh yeah.  He is yelling and swearing loud enough for all of the neighbors to hear in the front yard.  

The only thing that finally shut him down was when I told him, the neighbors just might call the cops because he is disturbing the peace!

After things simmer down, I remain in the front yard to do a little raking, and weeding.  I only had 2 neighbors, stop their cars to ask, why I was breaking my back when I have 2 big teenage boys who live here, for free!

Oh neighbors ...you have no idea.

Watching the Sunset after the drama
amethyst & reiki gemstones for protection from the crazy.
Believe it or not I'm at peace.









Monday, March 17, 2014

In Your Face Bully!

 Bullies don’t always go away just because they’ve been busted and are punished repeatedly for their behavior.  Unfortunately, a few weeks ago I wrote the post  "The World is Full of A**holes", which tells the story of a bully that Blue has been dealing with this year in high school. I told you all then that Blue is not afraid of the bully.  For that matter, there are not many people in the world that Blue is actually afraid of.  He has this fearless personality going on, which is ironic since he can be a very anxious person.  

So on this particular day this bully decided once again to screw with Blue.  Blue is not one for ignoring an asshole.  He is one who will give you a great big reaction when you push his buttons.  This makes him a great target for someone who is looking for a payoff for their asshattery. 

The kid decided to follow Blue out towards the busses, name calling and pushing him along the way.  Blue turns around and doesn’t hit the kid, instead he hawked up a great big loogie and spit in the kids face! Ouch! 

Sure enough, Blue comes home that afternoon and begins acting out, fighting with his brother.  In the process, his feelings about what happened during the school day come up.  He told me exactly what had happened with the bully.  

“I spit on him.” 

*Really? You went there? You? Mr. Germaphobe, spit your DNA and all of your germs on another person? Wow kid!  You’ve got balls! (I didn’t say the balls part, but I sure did think it!) 

I knew instantly, that although Blue’s retaliation may pay off in the form of the kid finally leaving him alone, his choice would probably come back to bite him.  If administration got wind of what Blue had done, he would surely be punished for it.  When I encouraged him to talk to his Social Skills teacher the next day about what happened, he declined.  He knew he was wrong, and would probably be in trouble. 

So, I am in California, enjoying a leisurely morning before I go to visit my father, when my phone rings.  It’s the high school on the caller i.d. Duh duh duh duh! Yep.  The shit hit the fan.  There was yet another incident with the bully and after further investigation, Blue’s transgression was reported. 

“…I can understand Blue’s frustration, but we have to send a message that next time he should go towards a teacher, instead of handling matters himself,” says the Assistant Principal. 

“Really, because he has reported these incidents several times in the past to teachers and nothing has stopped the child’s behavior.  In the heat of the moment, what would make him think that would make a difference this time? Quite frankly, I understand his frustration as well. That's why when he told me about it, and he told me about the same day it happened, I chose not to punish him for it."  

So the bully got a few days of in-school suspension, (sitting alone in a room with a teacher all day) while Blue got 2 days of lunch d-hall sitting in the AP’s office for 25 minutes.  Not a major punishment really, since Blue doesn’t eat in the cafeteria anyway.  He usually eats in a teachers classroom with a few other kids.

 Did this send a message to Blue? Perhaps.  Did it send a message to the a**hole bully? Who knows? 
This past week there were no further incidents.  

I spoke to Blue about perhaps transferring to a charter school specifically for math and science, where there would be more serious students like him and less bullies.  He investigated the possibility by looking at the web-site and Code of Student Conduct with his friend J., who is also on the spectrum.  When he got back to me, his answer was an emphatic, "No Mom! I'm not doing that!" Number one, he wants to have the same science teacher that he has now for AP Chemistry next year.  They have a great relationship.  She gets him since her boyfriend has Aspergers as well. 

Number 2 he said, "I would rather fight with the kids who are jerks, than go to a school where you have to where a uniform and they have so many rules, you may as well be in  prison. "

So there’s that.  

The lesson here for Blue's Mom ...this kid can take care of himself. Stop worrying so much.

p.s. Blue did have a couple of therapy sessions regarding bullying and the appropriate reaction to help deescalate the situation and not give a big reaction.