Today is the first day of the rest of your life…

Well, it has finally arrived.

It’s May 18th.

First day of no-school forever.

FOREVER!

How ready are we?  What option do we have but to BE ready?

We have done all we can do, and we will take it from here with a grain of salt.  The BUS and BACKPACK PECS are put away.  The new order of things will slowly take root.

J is ready, I think.  He knows what’s up, and maybe he’ll be in denial for a while, but we’ll figure out how to help him adjust.

It isn’t like we haven’t experienced a lot of change over the past five years.  We were a four-boxing glove family.  We were a Rasta hat and scrum cap family.  We were a Risperdal family.  We were a Slinky family.  We’ve reeled in the bells and whistles and are left with “sleep with them” boxing gloves, “wear to bed” Rasta hat and scrum cap.  No Risperdal.  Slinky…well…Slinky’s a “person” to J, and I’m sure he’d quote Lilo and Stitch if we tried to ditch Slinky.  Slinky is part of J’s ohana

We’ve made progress.  Little by little we have reclaimed some semblance of “control,” and we are pretty firmly set on the parts where our lives function very well.  But change is inevitable.  We cannot control change unless we opt for absolute stagnation.  And stagnation is not something we encourage.  School had to end.  J’s teacher wanted to stretch it out a little, but I knew if we fell into that trap we would just be going against all our preparation for the transition.  All that “it’s until the 17th!” and the countdown would have been for nothing, and J would be confused.  So I said no…let’s stick to the plan.  Change is necessary.

Change, however, seldom comes in singles.  Another relocation is in the cards for us.  Health issues that, thankfully, have been discovered very early in the game are on the calendar.  So transition is the name of the game, and change is the card we drew from the pile…

We’re old pros at this, so we’ll do what has to be done.

J left yesterday morning with his THANK YOUS and his little gifts for aides and teachers.  He had a good day except for a brief portion during which Voldemort (the one person who gives him grief) made his life miserable.  It passed.  It was too important a day to let anxiety linger, and the situation was managed.

At 3 PM I sat on my usual spot, and waited for the bus.  The same lady that usually parks in the middle of the road (blocking the bus driver’s view and thus preventing J from walking independently from bus to mother) parked in her usual spot.  Here I was, one last time, trying to reinforce “you can walk without me,” and there she was doing the absolute opposite for her neuro-typical child.  Here’s the kicker: she drives to the school, makes sure he gets in the bus, and then dashes home to wait for him.  He’s five.  I get the concern, but…this was the one last time to reinforce the “walk towards me…I’m here…you’ve got this!”  That I had to navigate around her car and (several times in the past) cars pulling into the neighborhood’s shared driveway nearly hit me is inconsequential.  But I digress…

Change is in the air.  OK…change is cramping our shoulders, making us frown, giving us pause.  We know as we get older this process of perpetual readjustment and fine-tuning will be more difficult, but we understand that the world we live in is one of constant change.  Gone are the days when people were born, grew up and died in the same town.  We are so far from “home” that it never ceases to amaze us.  Oh, the times we’ve stopped and said “HOW did we get HERE???”  And now it seems we’re on the way to doing it all over again.  The only plus-side we’ve come up with so far is that we no longer have to agonize about school district suitability, but services, etc. are still important.

Last week our main concern was today, and now we’ve added several more things to the list.  But J is happy.  J is taking it all in stride.  J will, like water, fall into whatever container we pour him in, and that’s a good thing.  We will choose a good container; we will, as always, make him a priority.

So here is today…a few hours ago it was just tomorrow. And J is happy with the way this particular morning is going.  Dreary, yes, but a good morning nonetheless.  It is raining and it is gloomy, but we are both in our pajamas (don’t judge) and Dada’s off to work.

Our plan today is simple: he’s already  made his breakfast (with less than 45% guidance and assistance from me,) and then we’re going to do our chores, exercise, and learn the fine balance of not getting into each other’s hair on a more permanent basis.  School breaks, in hindsight, look like piece of cake now…but we’ll learn…we’re going to figure this “we’re all grown-ups sharing a home and with very little to intervene with our day-to-day routine thing.”

The rest will fall into place, right?  Eventually?  With a modicum of stress?

As with birthdays (after a certain age or stage in life) today we don’t feel at all different from yesterday.  That might be a good thing.  Maybe it wasn’t meant to be a monumental shift.  Maybe it’s just like going to the optometrist and finding that one lens makes the images crisper…

Yeah…

I think that’s it…

Let’s go with that…and let’s put the “comfort item” snow boots away…

shall we?

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Fifteen days…

Well, I would like to say that I’m closer to being ready than I was five days ago, and I am…but not as ready as I thought I would be.  Life, as usual, intervenes with the progress of all my preparations, and I find myself fine-tuning even as I go along.

J is happily oblivious to all the planning and re-planning that I’m doing, and he basically ignores all grown-up conversations that relate to the upcoming transition.  Granted, this is in part due to the fact that we have not once used the word SCHOOL in our conversations regarding the matter.  We have become the masters of word substitution.  We have even taken to quoting Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin and imitating Owl when he says that Christopher Robin “has gone to S-C-H-O-O-L!  [gasps]  Skull!”  In short, we’ve become ridiculous.

J knows something is about to change significantly, and he has decided that, for the time being anyway, he will not let go of wearing his snow boots.  They comfort him.  We’re not going to press the issue because it’s not worth it.

Yes, I know…life cannot always be comfortable for J, but…this I’m willing to give him leeway for.  It’s just snow boots.  If he steps on us, yes, it hurts, but that’s a relatively small price to pay for a little comfort for our son.

While we have not really seen TGG more than three times since he moved out (and, believe me, the times we HAVE seen him have been far from pleasant,) we know that J has acclimated to this change.  The first few days were rough, but we’ve found the balance, and now we can actually mention TGG’s name without eliciting negativity or anxiety in J.  That, my friends, is progress.

Another plus is that we now have a J-sitter…or a J-companion…or a presence that allows us a brief respite here and there.  Well, technically, we have TWO.  A neighbor recommended her dog walker as a potential helper, and -after a brief interview- we invited her and her husband to dinner.  Our helper is a young, pretty med student.  She is barely a year older than year, and we wanted to make sure that both she and her spouse would feel comfortable with the arrangement.  When you are looking for a babysitter, the requirements are of one sort; when you are seeking for a person who will keep your adult son company while you have some “me” time, the requirements are different.  We wanted to make sure that both our helper and her husband knew that we care as much about their comfort with the situation as we care about J’s.

And that’s how we ended up with two companions rather than one.  That is: one afternoon a week, SHE comes over and helps with J, but if we’re going on a “date night” they BOTH come over and hang out with him.  We leave dinner ingredients, and they cook and eat.  It was tremendously comforting to find J sitting at the table eating balsamic chicken and couscous with chard in a totally relaxed and happy mood.

To be frank with you, we had been planning an escalation of food bribes if the first outing didn’t work out: duck, crab, veal, lobster, leg of lamb…  Yes, we are shamelessly in need of a break here and there, and we’re not afraid to go to any gastronomic lengths to achieve it.  We can tell that J is a fixture wherever we go because when we showed up at the bookstore on a Saturday evening without him the booksellers were saying “hey!  You’re on your own tonight!!!!”  We felt compelled to explain that J was at home and happily hanging out with people closer to him in age than we are.

And so we reach fifteen days to the last day…

The list of things is still long.

The level of chaos waxes and wanes.

We’ll figure it out.

Eventually.

Of course.

Twenty days…

J’s school career has 20 days left…

This isn’t, of course, a crisis, but it is important.

Calendars are being re-designed.  Schedule boards are being refurbished.  Schedules themselves are undergoing a major restructuring.

The change won’t be bad.  It will, however, be change.  Transitions are never easy, and we don’t expect this one to suddenly break away from the existing and well-established pattern.

I am letting you know because you’ve been peeking into this page for a while.  Actually, you’ve probably stopped altogether.

Life has been hectic.  Life has been more interesting than usual.  We have grown accustomed to all this.  We are, after all, veterans of transition, alteration, reinvention, crisis, chaos, maturity, regression.

So…

Twenty days…

Not counting weekends and an election day when schools are closed, we will sing the Yellow Bus Song twelve more times.  Ok, it’ll be more than that…we all know it’s necessary at least ten times each evening preceding a school day.  We will sing the Bus Song at least 120 times…on twelve separate evenings.

The PECS for BACKPACK, BUS, IPAD BAG, LUNCHBOX will be retired.

The PECS for teachers and aides and therapists will be phased out.  J’s new occasional companion has been added to the mix, and he now sees her on Tuesday afternoons until we start adding hours.

A new way of living our day-to-day life is being initiated.  We will do it on a trial-and-error basis for the first few weeks, and then we’ll have the new, and more permanent, groove of everyday from here on end.  No, it won’t be set in stone.  Parents of kids in the Spectrum know that what is stone today can become dust tomorrow.  So we will make adjustments to a new groove as we go along.

Twenty days…

A minimum of 120 Bus Song performances between now and then…

Life out of the system…

Life as a household of three…

Life without the net of “it’s only for the summer,” and “Christmas break lasts only a couple of weeks.”  From here on end, and until a permanent slot appears in a program for developmentally-disabled adults, this is the way it goes…

Twenty days…

and lots and lots and lots and lots to do before then…

The vagaries of winter…

For J’s birthday the weather was lovely.  We were out there with no jackets or sweaters.  It was like spring, but perhaps sweeter because it was in January.

Cut to the past two days and the next three or four…it’s cold, people.  It has snowed, but not so much that we’re stuck.  Just enough to make a mess of roads, to freeze over, and to cancel school…

J is being philosophical about it.  Being stuck on the bus for hours a few weeks ago had an effect on him, and he doesn’t really like walking on icy roads so he knows there’s a reason for being stuck indoors.

He had fun on his birthday.  He went to watch Kung Fu Panda 3, and he had steak for dinner.  We made cupcakes, and had ice cream.  We even gave him a sip of wine.  Were it not because we are fiercely protective of his privacy I would show you his reaction.  He is NOT a fan of wine.  He immediately requested a second bite of his cupcake and said BLECH with perfect pronunciation and enunciation.  It could not be mistaken for anything other than BLECH.  Perhaps, someday, he’ll make peace with beer, or perhaps he’ll stick to soda…

Very little has changed about J since turning 21.  Well, perhaps he’s added a few more pin-up girls to his walls, but that’s about it.  I think we have altered our mindset more than he has, but I expect that’s normal.  He doesn’t fully comprehend that he is an adult, and we do.  Life, we know, slowly changes and there’s not much you can do about it…other than watch and adjust.

The next adjustment we’re facing, and it’s a big one, is TGG moving out, and helping J with this transition.  J is sort-of getting used to TGG’s absences, but seeing his room completely stripped of his belongings might cause him anxiety.  We don’t really know yet, but we’re preparing for some iffy situations in the coming weeks.

The first thing we’re going to do is repurpose the room where TGG is currently sleeping so it can be more of a hangout room for all of us.  We are going to have J help us choose what we’re putting in there, and -hopefully- this will help him adjust.  If it doesn’t, well, we’ll go back to the drawing board.

The way things are right now, we’re looking ahead to mid-May and the big changes in our family life.    We are planning a short vacation with just J, and the search for a hotel with adjoining rooms in our prospective destinations is an important aspect of the planning.  We are no longer restricted by the school calendar, and we can move freely to see the fall colors in areas far from home, or spending a major holiday elsewhere…  In a way, this is all surreal to us.  We can’t believe we have reached this point.

You always hear how life is about change, and often wonder how that is possible if your life seems so stationary.  One moment, suddenly, brings the realization that things have been shifting in a nearly imperceptible manner all along, and you are left wondering where the time went, and what you did with it.  I admit to sometimes looking around and seeing tangible proof that my/our time hasn’t been wasted.  Other times I’m left scratching my head.

I know, in my heart of hearts, that we’ve been “doing” things, and have “accomplishments.”  I don’t know how these rate in other people’s standards for “doing” and “accomplishment,” but I’m confident we’ve managed to evolve over time.  In what ways?, you ask.  Darned if I can list them.  We’ve moved, at best, at a glacial pace 9/10 of the time.  That we’re not competing with other parents to figure out whose kid is more advanced soothes my anxiety.  People have long since realized that they win hands down, and they’ve let go of the competition.

At a certain point in life, I suppose, the race to “be the best parent” is replaced with “be the best grandparent.”  Since we’ve entered that fray in a rather unexpected way, and the make-up of our extended family is not particularly traditional, we’re no even in the race.  We love our grandson.  We think he’s awesome.  We will encourage and support him.  We are there for him.  We are not going to let anyone put pressure on this disparate group of people who are involved in this child’s life to prove that he’s “good enough” at anything.  Our main concern is that he establishes a good relationship with his uncle J; this is proving tricky, of course.  J is HUGE compared to Little B, and Little B is still too young to understand that they share many interests.  That understanding will come in time, but when you look like a little mite compared to your uncle, well, the time might be a little longer than the rest of us would like.

J is, as we all know, a gentle giant.  He is Ferdinand the Bull.  He is Lambert the Sheepish Lion.  He is a sweet cupcake with a jam center.  He is kindness personified, and he is very gentle and quiet around his nephew.  Little B hasn’t yet figured out that, in this particular equation, he is most definitely the Alpha, but I’m sure that, as he approaches the Terrible Twos, he will notice that Uncle J is basically a human jungle gym with an excellent selection of toys, books and movies.

Life, as I said, keeps going whether we’re ready for it, or not.  The alternative, of course, is not to be alive.  And we actually enjoy the mess we live in, even if at times we don’t quite notice that things have altered over time, or if we notice that they haven’t.  That the kids are adults means we’re adults…amplified, and slowly shriveling.  We can deal with that, I suppose.  It does, as I said, beat the alternative…

And it snows again, and it’s cold again…winter can’t make up its mind, and ain’t that always the way.

 

Happy 2016…we already don’t know what’s going on…

I hope the holiday season has been kind to you.  We had a great time for Twelve Days, and survived quite beautifully the unusually warm weather we experienced.  Of course, we observed with a mix of horror and bafflement what the weather was doing to everyone else.  Tornados?  Flooding?  No snow?  Too much snow?  El Niño has not been particularly kind to anyone, and yet we feel like he hasn’t slapped us yet.  It’s early days, of course.

Now, on this Friday First Day of the Year 2016, we woke up to cold weather, a quiet house, and the cats mysteriously absent from our bedroom.  J has taken to sleeping in so when he got up, realized we were in bed, and returned to his bedroom we didn’t think anything of it.

More and more, J has been relaxed about things that used to queue him up before.  The med is gone, and his anxiety is there, but it’s not pounding at him relentlessly.  It’s just there.  And he deals with it.  We can tell because he spends more and more time without the band-aids, and then -when he wants them- he’s very insistent, very briefly, about it.

The kid who used to get up at 5 a.m. when he was on vacation has turned into the dude that will happily chill out until 8:30, and will then shuffle downstairs in a happy mood while I wonder “is this the new normal now?”  If the Risperdal was having an effect on him still, I don’t know what it was because J is a lot more relaxed now than he was on December 12th when he took his last pill.

Of course, Houston, we now seem to have a mild problem.  J had a tantrum earlier today because we mentioned the word SCHOOL.

I’ll give you a moment to process that because  had to take a few moments…

The only time I’ve seen J get nearly desperate, angry and flick his chin or hit his jaw since he stopped taking the Risperdal was a while ago…when we mentioned SCHOOL and the YELLOW BUS.  I had to actually ask him to stop, hold his hands and try to talk him down, but he was insistent.  He didn’t want anything to do with school up on his board, and he took those PECS away from me, and put up what looks to be like a rather thorough list of chores he wants to do next week.

Once we allowed him to do this, he calmed down and went back to his usual routine.  He is happy now.  We continue to be baffled and confused, but J is calm and unconcerned about next week’s routine.

WHAT is going on?

One guess is that he still feels it’s Christmas.  Not that there’s a tree, or any other decor in the house that might give him that impression.  The only things left to take down are the lights we set up outside on the railing, and that will be swiftly taken down to reinforce that the holidays are over.

The only other thing I can think of is that J is as confused as the bees, trees, and humans have been by this weather.  Maybe J thinks that Twelve Days was moved up by some administrative glitch that went unnoticed, and now we’re back on track.  Maybe it’s all that Hallmark Movie Channel goodness of things like November Christmas or whatever.  I don’t know, but this might be something that consumes the rest of the weekend in terms of damage control and preventive measures.

One thing I will tell you is this: just when you think you’ve got one thing figured out with any individual in the Spectrum, something else will crop up.  It’s inevitable.  I woke up pretty confident that I had 2016 sort of figured out for the first five months (I was not sure about “end of school year” stuff,) but now…now I’m not even sure about the first full week of the new year.

Well, this is nothing if not interesting!!!!

 

Call me crazy…

I have, from time to time, toyed with the idea of regretting my decision to be a stay-at-home mother, a professional mother, a mother for the ages.  This hypothetical regret is so very fleeting, and so very banal that it doesn’t even sit in the back of my mind.  If you ask me, I will tell you immediately and unequivocally that I have loved being a mother, and that I consider my dedication to my children, the most important thing I’ve ever done…

I actually no longer feel that way.  I feel like I made a terrible decision, and I failed miserably.  And, no, this is not a flight of whimsy, a “oh, poor pitiful me” moment.  This is a resounding call from deep in my gut.  This is like a stone bouncing violently against the walls of a deep and wide metal container…clank, clank, clank…

This is not about J.  I fail J every single day, and I know it.  I am at peace with this because parenting an individual in the Spectrum, as I’ve mentioned many times before, very much like Sisyphus and his rolling boulder.  More often than not, I am run over by the boulder, recover, chase after it, and then start up again.  As they say out there: it is what it is.

My issue is with TGG.  Our issue.  We are all pretty much overwhelmed.  Dada and I spend so much time trying to figure out TGG that we have realized it’s taking time away from J.  That, in of itself, is a clear indication that something’s gotta give.

We have been, as far as parents go, far from perfect.  We’ve tried to be encouraging, understanding, supportive, loving, caring, patient, all while trying to foster in our children a sense of self and the proper environment for maturing at the proper pace.  I’ve made Halloween and theater costumes; I’ve not missed a single performance, parent-teacher conference, doctor’s appointment, summons to the principal’s office.  I’ve kissed boo-boos, dried tears, said “buck up and try again” when needed.  I have been very responsible as a parent; I’ve taken this whole process seriously.  I married a man who takes it seriously, too, and if we have been stern from time to time it’s because we have had to be.  We set curfews; we grounded people (yes, even J…not that it worked particularly well,) and canceled privileges.  We also struck a balance between the practical things and the fun things.  We’ve always encouraged our kids to talk to us…even if we don’t like what they have to say (or sign.)

In a very broad sense, TGG has been an awesome kid.  He never really got into trouble with the law, although some neighbors once called the cops to say he had thrown an egg at them.  The laws of physics proved to the cop the improbability of that having happened.  Another time, some friends who were in the car with him pointed a BB gun at other vehicles, and the cops were called.  They were quickly caught…because TGG drives like a little old lady.  The other kids, who had previous legal issues pending, were carted off, and TGG and J (who had just been picked up at school) were sent home with a stern warning.  There were several instances of underage drinking that we were not particularly pleased about, and we certainly didn’t go easy on him then.  The cure for that was pretty much turning 21.  There was the pot smoking we never caught him doing, but being former young people we clearly recognized, and that, too, went away.

The main problem with TGG is that he hardly ever finishes anything.  What he finishes, he finishes with the least amount of effort possible, and with the least stellar results imaginable.  TGG barely graduated from high school; the class that almost sank him?  BAKING!  TGG almost finished his EMT certification course.  He choked on the next to last test…and that was the second time around taking the course.  (When I say choked, seriously, he was totally overconfident and underprepared for the test…and once you failed a test for a module, you were out like yesterday’s leftover fish.)  He did finish his Medical Assistant certification course, and he passed his test, but…his grades dropped vertiginously once he “fell in love.”  That romance lasted six weeks and resulted in one grandchild…

We didn’t kill him when we found out, via misdirected text, that he was about to become a father.  We were understanding.  We were caring.  We were patient.  We were supportive.

TGG loves his kid.  His son, though, is not a priority, and -worse yet- he’s not a driving force in TGG’s life.  TGG hasn’t yet understood that having a child changes your life, and that you have to start thinking like a grown-up and make difficult decisions.  TGG still wants to have his cake and eat it, too…

When TGG decided to go back to school to start working towards a degree in Nursing, he was motivated, and we were thrilled.  We paid for his classes and books; we told him not to worry about rent or household expenses so that he could switch to a job that would accommodate his class schedule without putting too much strain on his finances.  We helped him reorganize his room, and we made sure he had the clothes he needed for his new job at Target.  During the time when he wasn’t yet getting paid, we made sure he had gas money.  We made sure there was dinner served for him when he got home.  We took over all the things he used to do with TGG.

And then…

He has fallen in love.  Every single person in the planet deserves to have someone who loves them, and who they can love.  Every single person deserves happiness.  Good judgment often flies out the window when it comes to these things, and it certainly has in this particular case.

TGG has “fallen in love” (and other things) with a very young single mother of two.  When he’s not at work or at school, all he lives and breathes is this person.  She is the center of the universe because she is “patient” and “nice.”  We, on the other hand, are demanding and he doesn’t know how to please us.  We explain to him, ad nauseam, that we want him to study, to work on getting a decent footing before he starts running into the future like a desperate linebacker during the Super Bowl…and without a helmet.  But he’s in love.  He’s getting two Ds, one C and an A (in very basic classes, mind you…this isn’t even Nursing coursework,) and he doesn’t know why this is something we might be worried about.  He had to take the entrance exam to the Nursing program…he dragged his ass for months, and then he passed everything but the Science.

He doesn’t understand what we “want.”  He doesn’t know what he could “do” to make us stop worrying.  I’ve stated my position clearly: it’s time for him to move out, face the world as it is when your parents aren’t there to catch you when you fall, and learn a little bit about what it takes to be what we are: grown-ups.  He thinks, bless his soul, that I’m bluffing.  The fact of the matter, and hate me if you must, is that I am NOT bluffing, and I am ready for my partially-empty nest and a little more peace of mind.  Rather, I am ready to worry about him from a distance, without actually seeing the way in which he thinks everything will work out just right if he just lets things happen.

Am I wrong?  Am I a bad parent?  Am I being mean?  Am I too old-fashioned?  Am I positively medieval?  Is it ridiculous of me to wonder how two twenty-somethings with children from failed relationships can jump so very quickly into a potentially child-inducing situation?

This affects J.  I know it shouldn’t, but it does.  J loves his brother.  J misses his brother.  His brother has barely given him a second thought in the past few months.  TGG spends more time with the girlfriend and her children than he does with his own kid.  Am I stupid to think that this is just not right???  Didn’t he learn from the heartache his father caused him with similar behavior and attitudes?

Our suspicion that he has Asperger’s is being solidified with each passing day.  There is a disconnect there.  There is a lack of emotion.  HE can’t seem to read the signs that we so clearly put out…so very clearly…oh, so so clearly.  He’s just baffled by our frustration and disappointment and concern.  Last night I blew up and told him I’m done, and I mean it…I can’t risk a stroke like my mother had at 56 and my brother had at 55.  I have J to think of, and TGG is, after all, a full-fledged adult…

Any thoughts?????

At long last, I resurface…

Greetings, one and all!

Yes, yes, I know I’ve been lost and not really missed, but I’m back.  It took almost a month, but I have all my ducks in some sort of row (not a straight or well-behaved one,) and I have time to sit and talk to you.

First and foremost, J is doing well.  The Band-Aid Fixation continues, but we now spend more and more time without the wrist stabilizer or the band-aids.  On one particularly happy occasion, we not only didn’t have the band-aids or the wrist stabilizer, we also forgot Slinky in the garage for about three hours.  I had to remind him that he’d forgotten…a joyous moment and a d-oh! moment all rolled into one.

A few days ago we visited our trusted friend, Dr. Psychiatrist.  J was well-behaved and happy throughout, and we discussed removing J’s med completely.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is about to happen…well…as soon as we run out of the med and refills already on queue.  We are thinking Christmas will be, to put it mildly, interesting.  I am sure that there will be some jolts and bumps to navigate as his body lets go of the very last bit of added chemicals, but that’s the way it has to be.

With every passing week the end of J’s life as a student gets closer.  There are 229 days until the last day of school…of those only 128 are actual school days, and we haven’t factored in snow days, or early release days.  The clock is ticking, and it’s neither stopping nor slowing down for our benefit.  The days of J as a student are numbered…

Yesterday we received this year’s version of the graduation announcements.  I thought to myself, as I looked at the envelope, “at least this is the last year when I will cry when I get this.”  We all know, because I make no bones about admitting it, that this is all very bittersweet for us.  J’s school picture, the last one ever, was absolutely spectacular.  He has finally mastered the art of smiling for the camera without looking like a boxing glove is going to come out and smack him.  We hung this version next to the framed proofs for his first school picture ever.  The contrast is marked: on the first a tiny, nearly-bald, skinny kid looks confusedly at the camera, and in the sixth frame you can tell he’s just melting down completely.  They never sent us the actual picture…they just gave us the proofs.  We framed them.  They’re so…J!  Next to it, a portly, handsome, hairy young man smiles gently; his goatee leans to the right and his eyebrows look unruly, but he is handsome and he’s loving the attention.  We’ve come a long way, baby!

Attending graduation is out of the question, of course.  J could not possibly deal with the overstimulation involved in hundreds of students doing a processional and then sitting through a ceremony that won’t last ten minutes.  Needless to say that the cap and gown won’t be his favorite thing to wear.  An alternative must be concocted out of thin air, then…something that will be ceremonious enough to mark the end of an era and the ushering in of a new one.

I’ve suggested the So Long, Farewell song from The Sound of Music performed by teachers, aides and admin personnel, but I don’t think they are keen on learning the choreography, wearing the costumes and leaving the room in any semblance of order.  The end-of-school-year picnic his class celebrates every year will have to do, but I think we’ll try to throw something in there to make it a clear message that this is J’s last ride with his class.

Our family is undergoing changes.  Some of them are less dramatic than others.  We are starting to look, in earnest, for a house to buy…or, at least, for the type of house in the type of neighborhood we’d want to settle in for the next fifteen years or so.  We are hoping TGG moves out soon; this might be a tricky thing to achieve because he is not really concentrating on school as he should (he is “in love”,) and he makes barely enough money to pay for the things that are obligations.  We, the parents, feel the effects of aging…the creaking, cracking, impatience, etc.  Acid reflux has become “a thing” around these parts, and we see it getting worse before it gets better.  That J is almost out of school is the biggest change of them all; that he will be out of school and med-free is an even bigger change.

I confess to you, as I have to Dada, that I am not torn about TGG finally moving out.  I am really looking forward to it, in fact.  That is as close as I will ever get to having an empty nest, and it’s taking very long in getting here.  TGG, at this point, needs to go off on his own, and learn from his mistakes, and I am totally ready to close the door and wave bye-bye.  It may sound mean of me, but sometimes we don’t let our kids grow up because we are there to fix things.

My situation with J is the absolute opposite, and yet it’s the same.  While I am anxious about the prospect of no school forever, I am also looking forward to seeing where we go from here.  In a lot of ways, I feel more confident about J hitting his stride and maturing more smoothly than TGG has.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ve always pushed J more because J has more hurdles to overcome, and TGG doesn’t see that we’ve been exceedingly nice and patient with him…and takes advantage of it.

But I’m not here to gripe about TGG.  I’m here to tell you that we are doing fine, and that we are moving forward.  I promise (or threaten?) to not stay gone as long as I have recently.  It’s just life, you know, and acid reflux…and 24 year-olds who don’t quite “get” why their parents are impatient with the choices being made.

But I’m here…it’s all goodish.  You’ll see…