And ESY is over…

Those four weeks flew by, and we are back to waiting for school to start again.  The big calendar I make every summer helped J track the progression of summer; we went through no-school, family trip to D.C., no-school, ESY, and now no-school again.  The stretch between now and going back in mid-August for his usual routine.

This is the last year that we have back-to-school to look forward to, and I am trying to come up with a proper way to transition with as little melodrama as possible.  We’ve pondered a countdown calendar…but that might be too Doomsday-ish.  Making a huge calendar and, rather than putting stars on the days as they are finished, removing the school buses one by one…that might seem ominous.  This is a work in progress…and it’s not progressing very well…

Tomorrow we are going into town to run some errands.  I’ll let you know if I fall short of J’s expectations (I will,) and if all goes well (it might…)

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A red (like a tomato) letter day….

When future generations of historians decide to look back on this particular date, I hope they will take into consideration the fact that today, of all days, J ate tomato for the first time.  I mean seriously a tomato…not tomato sauce, not ketchup, not pizza or pasta sauce…  I mean an actual tomato…grown in our garden…picked from one of our plants…ripened to perfection on the vine…sliced in our kitchen with the same dinky knife we use for all other tomatoes…

Not only did J taste the first chunk of tomato that I, foolishly hoping for a miraculous development that completely varied from the usual “I am a vampire and that is garlic, madam!” reaction that fruits and vegetables cause.  Or imagine Ferdinand the Bull sitting on that bee…

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I’ve been pleasantly surprised (and ultimately, because I don’t get enough when the plate goes around) by J’s love of avocados.  I have been encouraged and fortified by his willingness to eat carrots in his egg-white omelets and egg salad, cauliflower in his scrambled eggs, pumpkin in his French toast, peas and broccoli just for the fun of it, spinach in almost anything…

Tomatoes, however, were the verboten fruit.  Until tonight.  That first chunk of tomato was a gateway chunk of tomato…

We had tacos for dinner.  This, as you might already know, is an exciting prospect for J because he loves the texture and smell of the home-made tortillas, the juicy chicken fresh off the grill, the yellow rice, the melting cheese…  I simply decided to try handing him a chunk of tomato.  I wanted to dance around the kitchen when he put it in his mouth and chewed it, and when he actually ATE it and asked for more I wanted to step on the balcony and do my best Madeline Kahn singing “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life…” in Young Frankenstein, but I figured it would be inappropriate…

I didn’t make a fuss because if J sees I’m making a fuss he might think “I’ve just made my middle-aged mother happy…what am I THINKING????!!!!”  Dada walked into the kitchen and, after much exertion with the body language and the eyebrows, he noticed that he, too, was witnessing a miracle.  TGG, squeaking like Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles, tried to act non-chalant about the amazing developments of the evening.

J enjoyed his tacos.  J loved the rice.  J trilled happily throughout the meal, smiling and beaming like he’d just won a big prize.  We were excited, impressed, happy, surprised…feet looking for other feet under the table for the equivalent of a high-five.

Unless you’re the parent of a picky eater, or your kid is autistic and has gone out of his/her way to stick to a monochrome menu for years, you can’t really understand the thrill of tomatoes at dinner. Twenty years (give or take) eating tomato-related products, and about fifteen years fishing out chunks of tomato skin from sauces…  And then, out of the blue, on a hot summer night, someone (who has been attempting the same stunt with faith and planning that are equal only to Evel Knievel’s) hands you a chunk of tomato and you eat it…

Have you seen Kristen Bell talking about how she is fine as long as she is between 3 and 7 in the emotional scale?  Have you seen Kristen Bell reacting to a sloth?

That is EXACTLY what I felt like inside watching J eat tomato…

So let’s not talk about when he started munching on lettuce.  OK?

Little pitchers and all that…

As we know, the Thursday before ESY started J had to go to Urgent Care because his thumb hurt.  The X-ray indicated there wasn’t a fracture, but there was a sprain of some sort.  The doctor fitted him with a thumb immobilizer that has become J’s best friend and confidant.  Add to this his penchant for wearing band-aids for no good reason other than to remind himself that he’s alive and breathing and you get a pretty alarming picture.

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We’ve had the same bus driver for 80% of the time J’s been attending school here in WV.  By now, four years and multiple bandaids later, she should know that our son has a flair for the dramatic.  This is the kid who will buy bandages EVERY SINGLE TIME we go shopping.  I’ve told Dada to invest in Johnson & Johnson since we’re helping keep the company going strong.

Anyone here have a child in the Spectrum who isn’t comforted by deep pressure?  Compression garments?  Weighted blankets?  Pillows piled on top of his/her body?  Cocooning?  Individuals in the Spectrum feel comforted by these things, and J is no different.  That he takes it to the point of looking like a Civil War walking wounded is an entirely different matter.

If you’ve never seen J and you witness this “look” of his, you’ll wonder what is wrong.  If you ask, I will gladly explain the whole thing to you, especially if you’re uninitiated in the intricacies of Autism.  I will even, if you feel that my explanation is insufficient, invite you to call the proper authorities so they can do an investigation.  I KNOW what it can look like to those who don’t know what J is like.

There’s another little quirk of J’s that poses a problem: echolalia.  J will repeat the very last thing you said, and this can be considered leading the witness.  If you, as an adult who should know he’s in the Spectrum and has trouble communicating, ask “are you hurt?,” you will get HURT as a response.  “Again?”  will get AGAIN.  If you ask him “was it a rampaging elephant?” J will respond with ELEPHANT.  I don’t mind people asking him, showing him pictures, asking him to point as long as they understand that J doesn’t have the complete ability to answer spontaneously 100% of the time, and that you are probably leading him to the answer you want.  That is why, when we go shopping, and he points to a general display of items, I tell him FIND THE ONE YOU WANT.  I step back, and I wait patiently until he gets that he is the one who has to choose.

Asking a question about whether he is hurt again in front of a busload of special needs students who might go home and say “J is hurt again” is not a very good idea.  Some kids will repeat what they hear.  Other kids will embroider and filigree what they hear.  It might not happen, but it also MIGHT happen.  It’s a possibility…

Every single person that works with J is welcome in our home.  We actually make a specific invitation to come and see how J lives, what our set-up and our system is at home, what our expectations are, and how he navigates it all.  We remain in constant contact with staff from school, and we try to make sure they understand what we’re aiming for here.  Whether they take us up on it or not is entirely up to them, but we wouldn’t ask if we didn’t mean “come over and see what we do.”

I love when people are genuinely concerned about my son’s well-being because it tells me they care, and they will tell me if something seems fishy.  I don’t mind people asking me questions, and wanting to make sure that he is being treated properly and respectfully.  What I do mind is when people call out, from inside the bus, asking J if he is HURT AGAIN!!!!???? in front of a busload of impressionable kids who cannot process the situation with the clarity of their neurotypical peers.  None of these kids can ask J “hey, dude…are you ok?  Is something happening at home?” and then -as concerned friends- take it to a grown-up for follow-up.  These kids can only repeat it at home in a way that their parents won’t be able to interpret based on their knowledge of us, and of J.

Discipline doesn’t mean mistreatment, and we don’t take advantage of J’s inability to communicate when we scold him.  We explain why we’re upset, and we do our best to get him to understand when he’s done something inappropriate, dangerous, risky, rude, and so on and so forth.  Our biggest problem, perhaps, is that we work gradually to wean him off the comfort items he cherishes and we respect what they mean to him.  I always let teachers, staff know when he’s really hurt, and how serious it is; I always inform the teacher if he is sick, and what treatment he is undergoing.  I don’t do this because I am afraid of misunderstandings but rather because J cannot explain for himself how he’s feeling or why, and what’s being done to help him.

I am J’s voice, and I will speak for him when I have to, but I will also allow others to question what I say because I have nothing to hide.  Echolalia is a dangerous thing because not everyone understands how to ask questions of a person who resorts to it rather than to spontaneous speech, and J’s privacy should be respected even in cases of extreme concern for his safety.  A neurotypical child questioned about his/her well-being and safety will not always be upfront about the situation, especially when it’s done in a public and potentially (to them) embarrassing manner.  Asking the child/adolescent/adult in a more private setting, establishing an environment of trust and safety will create a better opportunity for sincerity and confidence.

J’s fine.  He’s healthy.  His thumb has healed and we’re working with the timer so he leaves his beloved thumb immobilizer off for short periods of time throughout the day, BUT he does feel his hand needs to be controlled.  I don’t know why…maybe it’s hereditary OCD, or maybe it’s that splash of bipolar disorder that dwells in my mother’s genes as passed down through the generations.  I have to respect what he thinks that brace is doing to protect him from himself…and I will work on alleviating his concerns in any way I can.  If, for the time being, J thinks the brace is necessary, then the brace is necessary.  It may very well be that it goes the way of the boxing gloves, the Rasta hats, the whole milligram, the three-quarters of a milligram, the half of a milligram of med…or maybe, like Slinky, it will stay as part of his everyday needs and supports.

I can live with that.  I accept that it’s the way it is for now and might be for a long, long time…  But ask me, please.  Don’t assume and unwittingly spread that J might be in danger…  Ask me.  That’s what I’m here for…

The Mother Who Invented Autism

My mother used to say, of young mothers who had “newfangled ideas” about child-rearing, that they thought they’d invented motherhood. I always found my mother’s attitude surprising because, technically, she didn’t raise any of her children; we were raised by grandmothers, aunts…my mother chose Pedagogy over Motherhood, and her area of expertise was teaching teachers how to be teachers…

A few years into my mothering experience, my mother told me that I thought I’d “invented Autism.” That, I hate to admit, was the closest thing to a last straw in our relationship. We didn’t really recover from that before dementia took her into a realm where she is, thankfully, happy and no longer judgmental.

Fourteen years have elapsed since that ill-fated conversation. I didn’t have a cogent response to her argument then, and it’s taken me years to understand what she (sort of) meant and (sort of) empathize with her views.

I’d like to clarify that I’m not launching into a tirade about my mother’s opinion of my parenting style. I think my style and hers are so far removed from each other that comparing them is unfair. While my mother’s generation burned bras and fought for equality so that they (and their daughters) could have it all, I -much to my mother’s chagrin- chose motherhood over career. Mind you: I wouldn’t have had much of a career in the first place so, in that sense, it was a no-brainer. I’m not saying I chose motherhood over career because I didn’t have a choice, but because I actually (for some insane reason) feel committed to THIS.

I didn’t invent Autism. It landed on me, dropped from the ether by some mysterious force that I cannot identify or name. It wasn’t there one day, and the next it was. I didn’t invent Autism, but Autism sort of invented me…or transmogrified me.

The reason first-time mothers think they invented motherhood is because of the transformation that takes place. We KNOW, when that first baby pops out, that we have been transformed, and we feel baffled and empowered in equal parts. I remember often putting down Dr. Spock to ask myself “how come I don’t KNOW this already?” When TGG was born, I was pretty sure that I knew what to do, but I was not going to baldly admit that I was terrified of screwing up royally. My aunts, blessed women who were old enough to be grandmothers and had dealt with cloth diapers, no running water, no protocol for introducing cereals to determine allergies, no formula, were the only people I trusted to tell me how to go “about it” in a way that wasn’t dictated by my pig-headed, first-time-mother arrogance.

When Autism landed, I didn’t have the benefit of “been there, done that” wisdom to guide me. I was alone. What I knew of Autism came from reading papers students wrote for my mother’s classes at the university. When I tried to suggest to people who might help me that J was autistic, I was basically told that I was imagining things, comparing him to TGG, and making an attention-seeking mountain out of a molehill…

J was assessed by neurologists, Autism specialists, school district personnel. In the midst of my shell-shock (because Autism came with a devastating hurricane, a divorce, and a relocation to an unfriendly environment) I couldn’t really GRASP all that was being said to me. All the clinical mumbo-jumbo was designed to give me the grim news, the grimmer prospects, and the grimmest sense that I was (pardon my French) fucked.

Nearly nineteen years have elapsed since that morning when J stopped being the kid I’d known all along. Did I really know him? I am not so sure now. There was always something different about him when compared to TGG. That is what the pre-diagnosis world latched on to; I was (unjustly) comparing one kid with the other, and finding him wanting. In truth, my friends, I found J baffling, confusing, difficult, mysterious, undecipherable.

Sixteen years have elapsed since the proverbial bell was put on the cat. The transmogrification was immediate; I went from sort-of-have-it-together-mother-of-two to I-don’t-have-a-clue-mother-of-two. The self-flagellation has stopped over the course of time.

Self-flagellation? Don’t tell me you don’t do it too. You, from time to time, think you’re screwing up so massively that you don’t know if laughing or crying is the correct response. You, like me, at times wonder if you will EVER figure out the one little thing that seems to trip your kid (ok, grown-up child) up. It is no secret that I am in an almost perpetual state of confusion.

Sometimes I wonder what it was like for the first mother of an individual in the Spectrum. Who was she? When and where did she live? How did she cope? Autism didn’t have a name then. It was probably considered madness, or some sort of enchantment. The tantrums might have seemed like violent trances. The self-injury the work of the Devil. Children were abandoned on hillsides to be eaten by wolves for lesser, albeit more visible to the naked eye, extraordinariness.

The obstreperous behavior of children in the Spectrum before there WAS a Spectrum might have been easier to deal with because there were less people to judge your parenting skills. The isolation the parents and child feel from the rest of society might have seemed less marked because people were not as socially connected as they are now. These days your kid can’t have a meltdown without someone potentially putting it on You Tube, or writing about it on Twitter, or sharing it on Facebook.

Back then there were no PECS, ABA, IEPs… The mother who invented Autism probably didn’t even realize that she was in an extraordinary parenting circumstance. She might have been surrounded by a lot more children than she could reasonably handle, and didn’t have time to dwell on the situation.

I also wonder about Charlotte “Lala” Bill, nanny to Prince John of the United Kingdom. Prince John, son of George V and Mary of Teck, was epileptic and exhibited signs of an intellectual disability and possibly Autism. The solution, in this early-20th century, royal scenario, was to isolate Prince John; while it’s been argued that the family was unfeeling, it seems that -aside from the upsetting nature of his conditions- it was safer for him to live in Sandringham with Lala Bill caring for him. Did Lala Bill stop to think how overwhelming all this was? Until all the tools and resources came together recently (in the great scheme of things the 20th century is equivalent to last week, isn’t it?) none of the women who preceded us knew what they were up against.

No one asked them if they thought they’d “invented Autism” because the darned thing didn’t have a name until “last week.” If they were criticized it was because they didn’t keep house well, their children weren’t turned out properly, and so on and so forth. Perhaps people wondered if their child was possessed and why had this befallen this particular mother. I’m sure these mothers wondered the same thing; I’m sure in the midst of life and all else, they stopped to almost dwell on it, and then they realized it was pointless. Their wisdom, if they had any to impart considering how busy they were with life and all, is lost to us…unless “spare the rod and spoil the child counts,” which I hope we’ll totally skip.

We all think, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, that our situation is special, exclusive, extraordinary. It is. Autism is a Spectrum Disorder, and the way it affects each individual, each family is special, exclusive, extraordinary. When we compare notes, we sometimes say “my son/daughter does that also.” We say it with surprise and shock seeping into our tone, as if we can’t believe someone else might be able to understand where we come from, and what we go through. We start feeling not-quite-so-isolated…until someone offers advice or empathy based on experience.

Mind you, this doesn’t happen every single time, but there are neophytes (meaning recently-diagnosed families) who think they can see ahead farther than the spot from which we (the older, more experienced veterans) are standing. I try to clarify that I am not giving advice, insights, information, suggestions, anecdotes because MY/OUR way is better than whatever it is people are currently doing. I try to clarify that there is a lot I/WE don’t know, and a lot more still that, when it works for J, baffles us because it is SO unexpected.

I try to make sure that people know all the feelings of confusion, anger, frustration, sadness, loss, hubris are normal. I, too, have felt like the caveman (or woman) who discovered fire one moment, and like the skipper of the Titanic the next. People seldom listen to that part, and the truth is that they will in time discover (because Time teaches us all) that they didn’t just NOT invent Autism but that they were re-invented by it. In that sense, us old-timers are like the grandparents who sit and watch their kids make every mistake, fall prey to every folly that we, in turn, were warned about by our elders…

Somewhere in the convoluted weave of the fabric of Time and Space, the Mother Who Invented Autism is chuckling at all of us, and rightfully so.

Week Three of ESY…or, as we call it around these parts, the next to last week of ESY

So far it’s been smooth sailing at summer school.  Maybe it’s because J hasn’t fully understood that THIS is the last summer school EVER, but I’ll take it as it comes.  He is happy.  He accepts that Thursday means three solid days of not going to school, and that Sunday means four consecutive days of going.  In Morse code, my dad would say, that’s O-O-O-H-H-H-H…that it sounds like OOOHHHH is no coincidence.

The ball pit project is progressing slowly.  In the meantime we are doing other things to make J more comfortable.  These are things, by the way, that appeal to his aesthetic, make him happy, and go a long way to drain my wallet.  He found string lights at Target that are covered with star-shaped paper lanterns.  We’ve pinned three of them to the ceiling, and they create a trail of stars that he likes to look at when he’s relaxing.  We’ve found tissue paper tassel garlands in pastel colors, and he likes to watch them move with the breeze from the ceiling fan.  Katniss Everdeen stands guard on his craft closet door downstairs, and watches over his sleep at night in his bedroom.  His pinup girls are now surrounded by glow-in-the-dark stars, and he has a flashlight he can point at the stars or the girls.  I don’t ask questions…I simply listen to what J wants.

His weight is holding steady, and he still likes going to the gym.  We will have to make adjustments very soon, though.  TGG has registered for classes at the university, and he will have to work and go to school so his chances to work out with J are limited to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays IF he can keep his current job.  It is quite possible that he will have to find another job that will accommodate his school schedule so all the exercising time will shift to us old folks…not that we don’t need it.

Of course, now I arrive at the sticky part of our summer: the thumb immobilizer.  Faster than you can say “comfort item” this little piece of hardware has become J’s best friend.  When separated from his new comfort item, J is a bit antsy.  When you make an assessment of movement for his fingers, thumb and wrist without the brace on, J will happily go ballistic on you.

I have figured out that this is J’s way of making sure that brace remains as a comfort item.  There are, and I’ve told him this, more convenient (and safer!) ways to get his point across.  The last time he threw a fit about this I took it off, replaced it with a significantly smaller, and not quite as comforting brace, and sent him to bed immediately.  The next morning, quiet and obedient as a little mouse, J did all his chores, and humbly asked for his bigger thumb immobilizer.  I took the time to have a chat with him, and -as much as he rolled his eyes- he got the notion that we’re just trying to help.

I know the absence of the brace upsets him.  I know that it, along with the many bandaids he wears on real and imaginary sore spots, reminds him of behavior that can cause harm.  My assumption, and I can only assume because of J’s difficulties in communicating more abstract feelings even with the Proloquo, is that he is using the brace as a shield against hitting his forehead.  TGG was never in the habit of grabbing J’s hand and making him slap himself (a game my older siblings called “why are you hitting yourself?????”,) but I think that J sort of envisions his hand as having a “mind of its own.”

Like other individuals in the Spectrum, J battles with OCD.  Things have to be just so, and it doesn’t always makes sense to the rest of us.  Maybe hitting his head is part of that.  Maybe J feels compelled to hit himself, and the brace plays the part of Jiminy Cricket.  Seeing those black straps encircling his thumb, wrist and forearm remind him that he hurt his hand hitting his head, and dissuade him from doing it again.  The problem is that I need to make sure that this is not a ‘forever’ comfort item…

And here come the timers, and the short pockets of time when J cannot have the brace.  He has become very dexterous at cutting meat, buttering bread, zipping up his pants, and so on with that thing on so I’ve had to go back to manners and socially-considerate behavior.  Mealtimes, bath-time, going to the bathroom…no brace.  Granted, he hems and haws, but…for the time being I have to deal with this part of the issue in the way that I’ve found most effective: timers.

So that’s where we are…

And with seven days of ESY left, we have another long spell of not having a school routine ahead of us.  When August arrives, and school begins, it is the beginning of the end…

But that’s a problem for another day…

It takes a lot of balls…………to fill a ball pit

The frame for J’s ball pit arrived today.  It’s not really a ball pit frame…it’s an indoor/outdoor playpen consisting of with interlocking panels.  It’s meant to be used as a play area for children, and I’ve decided that it’s a better (sturdier) alternative to an inflatable pool.  I had decided that I’d set it up with half the panels and the small sampling of balls I’d already purchased (because, as luck would have it, there were bags of 100 going for less than 13 dollars when I went to the store the other day.)  My hope was that I’d be able to gauge J’s enthusiasm for this project, and then I’d commit to buying more balls if he was into it…

He is into it…

When I walked into his room with the folded playpen, J looked at me with the patience he has developed over years of watching his mother go on wild goose chases.  The look on his face said “WHAT are you going to do to my TV room now?”  Glasses hanging from chain, manual on J’s work table, and hands busily trying to achieve the result explained by the instructions on how to separate the panels, I struggled (more because I’m old and infirm, like Dada says) to disengage and then re-attach panels.  J stood there, patiently observing me.

A four-panel pen completed, I moved it to the corner where the full-size pen will go.  J looked from it to me, and then shrugged, unimpressed with this cage I’d just placed in his environment.  “Ah, but here comes the other thing, J…” and I ran to the closet.  When he saw the first bag of colorful balls he smiled.  “I see!,” his face seemed to say.  And then the humming and singing started…

Granted: 300 balls don’t make much of a dent in the pen as it is now, and even less of a dent in the pen as it will be, but now that I KNOW J is interested in this particular project, I can shamelessly and comfortably buy more balls.

Little by little, of course….

This is going to take ten times the balls it now has.  This will take the rest of summer and then some to properly fill.  Because J is not only tall, but also big, it won’t take as many balls to fill it as it would if he was a toddler.  Still, that’s a lot of balls…and we have to spend money in drips and drabs because our last name is NOT Rockefeller.

I am also going to put a mat on the bottom (clearance rack in the Linens department will be scoured for mattress pads…I’m sure that I can go all Frankenstein on a couple of those for the right price and piece them together to make a good cushion.)

It’s coming together.  Slowly, but it’s coming together.

In this household we’re all about results, and sometimes it takes a very roundabout way to get them, but we’re working on it…

Just 2700 balls more and we’ll have a ball pit.

The litmus test for summer…

J is off to school and, hopefully, he is as happy there as he was when he woke up this morning.  I sent him with a note that reads: SPRAINED THUMB; NOT SERIOUS; WILL FUSS OVER VELCRO…

J has been generally happy.  We haven’t really had a tantrum since we figured out that, yes, his thumb was bothering him, and the doctor addressed it with the wrist stabilizer.  He did get fussy a couple of days ago, but it was easily solved with additional cuddling and attention, and firmness of hand when he attempted to act like a survivor of the Blitz.

The doctor’s response to Dada’s e-mail basically told us what I have been thinking all along: yes, we can increase the med, but we need to seriously consider if we’re willing to go back and forth on this.  Perhaps, he mused, it’s not the right time for a reduced dose, but perhaps we just need to ride it out.  In the long term, J’s body will be affected in different ways by taking the med, just like he will be affected by NOT taking the med, and it’s just a question of which one we want to try first.

The psych expressed his confidence in us as caregivers, and that, my friends, made me realize that we don’t suck as much as I sometimes think we do.  There are times when I am pretty sure that I’ve botched the entire day, and Dada has admitted that he feels at a loss once in a while.  Caring for J is not easy.  Please don’t take this the wrong way, but there are days when I understand our cats better than I do our son…I’m not comparing him to an animal, but he IS inscrutable in ways that I’ve only been able to compare with our resident felines.

One of the most difficult things to get used to when you’re raising an individual in the Spectrum is the progression/regression dance.  You want to think that this next thing they’re learning is going to stick forever, and sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s hard not to take it, initially at least, as a personal failure.  We all want to believe that we will be the next great story on Autism, that we will raise a child who will rise above and move forward, and blaze a trail for everyone.  Even when we pretty much know -because we’ve been doing this for a very long time- that we’re just fighting the same exact battle as everyone else with the same mixed results that are par for the course, we feel deflated and less-than when we realize it…again.

I firmly believe that J just needs time and patience (as much from us as his own) to make it through this latest rough patch.  It’s got to be rough for him.  It’s got to be a constant wondering why he has to be the one who acquiesces and goes along with our attempts to make things better.  I’m sure somewhere in his head he hears his own voice saying “ah, more PECS!  Yes, let’s throw more PECS at this, woman!”  I don’t really want to go all Jerry Maguire on him, and I would hate if he turned around and earnestly said “you had me at PECS!”  I’d rather we do the back and forth thing, especially if we can forgo the SIB when it’s not going so well.

***

To quote Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky: O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

The J that left for school happy returned from school happy, and did beautifully while there.  I was so happy about this piece of news that I may have whimpered with relief in front of the bus driver and aide.  I DID kiss J rather noisily and hugged him very tightly while he giggled.  He was very proud of himself for behaving, and I made sure he got all the kudos he deserved and then some.

Since he got home he’s been happy, and asking for his bus song.  I don’t mind repeating it because I can tell that not going to school was wearing on him these past few weeks.  I do this knowing that next year the bus song will be a thing of the past, and we’ll be back to dealing with an anxious person who doesn’t quite know what to do with himself.

And, therefore, I’ve made yet another decision that I dread.  I hate driving.  I don’t have a license.  I am the biggest scaredy-cat on the face of the roads of America.  I’m going to get my driver’s license.

Don’t worry…this is not happening today or tomorrow.  And I’m not driving just for the heck of it.  I’m driving so I can get J places, and with a purpose.  I was not one of those teenage girls who couldn’t wait to get a license, and I’m only getting a license because of J.  I seriously doubt that at the ripe old age of 50 my personal anthem will become The Beach Boys’ Fun, Fun, Fun or Little Old Lady from Pasadena.  I think it isn’t an exaggeration to predict that whatever car I am driving will have the CAREFUL NERVOUS MOTHER DRIVING sign from The Partridge Family fame.

A middle-aged mother’s gotta do…I am not thrilled, but I am bound and determined.  Dada is on board, and petrified.  It’s not that I haven’t driven before, or that I don’t have the skills for it, but I am not as brave as you might expect me to be.  In fact, I’m downright cowardly when it comes to manning a wheel and moving a vehicle.  We are hoping that, with a lot of practice, this will be a thing of the past…or, at least, a smaller issue.  Since I have absolutely no intention to drive on the freeway, drive during rush hour, drive in snow or ice, and very possibly skip the rainy days too, I will (hopefully) be ok.

So…there you have it.  Good day for J.  Good day for everyone.  Monday is in the books…on to Tuesday, then.