musings in mayhem

writer, mom, tutor, superwoman

Archive for the category “my son Mr. Cynic”

some days

….are just like that.

I am thinking of people who need to be thought of.

I am appreciating the beauty in tiny moments, but I can’t upload the pictures from this morning’s drive to preschool. In fact, I lost my header photo and can’t seem to retrieve it.

I wanted to do more edits, had an awesome session of it yesterday and finally completed for the thousandth time the emotionally relevant chapter that is twice as long as the rest of the chapters, but I finally accepted that it was okay, because a middle reader can handle one 10 page chapter in a book of 35 chapters that are 3-5 pages each. But see people statement re: doing more edits today, but maybe I still can. And there is laundry, of course.

I wanted to go to a retreat this weekend, but it isn’t in the cards. I am sending Mr. Cynic, and he is cool with that.

It’s a gorgeous day, the library book I was waiting for was finally in yesterday, and I checked it out. I feel like going outside to watch the blue jays and cardinals flit between the changing trees, listen to the wind rustle them, too, and maybe, just maybe read for half an hour uninterrupted, outside, where there is beauty to be found everywhere, if you just look.

That last option is sounding the most appealing at the moment….

And then I will go pick up Toots, and the mayhem will resume. Captain Comic is having a rough first quarter of the school year again, and Mr. Cynic still needs to pack for the weekend and I am not sure when his ride is coming for him.

But yes, tra la la – opting for some time in the warm autumn breeze and light and colors.

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1st day of school

Yesterday was the first day of Mr. Cynic’s Junior year and Captain Comic in seventh grade.

Mr. Cynic has been riding the bus to high school for the past couple of years, though we live .4 mile from the school. That’s closer than I lived to my high school, to which I walked – up hill both ways in the snow. Seriously, I did. It was hilly where I lived growing up in Connecticut. Not here though, and only the occasional appearance of snow.

But back to yesterday, Mr. Cynic and the first day of school. He had the same bus driver for his first two years of high school. She could probably drive her route with her eyes closed. She retired and there was a new bus driver, who drove rather like a lab mouse introduced to a new maze. She had no idea where she was going in the morning. And again in the afternoon. At every intersection she turned the wrong way, according to Mr. Cynic. When his bus was significantly late on the way home, I received a text message: going to be late. bus driver doesn’t know what she’s doing.


When he finally arrived home, he declared he was never taking the bus again. I smiled. The boy who eschews exercise will be getting some. Every day.

Captain Comic’s bus involved less drama but more nerves on my part. He has been riding the SPED bus since we moved here five years ago. He stands at the end of the driveway in full sight of his peers at the corner bus stop to get on a different bus. Last Halloween, I found out that they all knew him, but he didn’t really know them. As we walked around the neighborhood, the common cry was “I see him at the bus stop.” Last spring, his IEP team and I decided it was time he ride with his neurotypical peers. And when I had an IEP team meeting last week, they all told me, “Mom, you cannot walk him to the bus stop. You cannot ask his friends if it’s okay for him to sit with them. He needs to do this himself. He’s thirteen.”

And while my instincts know this is true for any other kid, I still want to protect him, manage his interactions. So I stood at the window with the camera and watched him. He did alright.

Which one is Captain Comic? Look at the socks.


I checked in via email with his case manager and he had a great first day, even with a homeroom teacher change. 
Mr. Cynic is excited to have friends in most of his classes, and is excited to be taking Music Theory with most of his band mates. Keep in mind, they have not rehearsed all together once as of yet, so band mates is still a relatively loose term.
In the meantime, Grandma took Toots with her to her morning pool exercises, and after three weeks without even cracking the manuscript with all the mayhem here, I had an excellent edit session at the local library. I dove into the creative river, doused myself and completely rewrote two chapters really well! The session exceeded my expectations, especially since I felt so lost as I opened the document.
Honey, post-surgery, went back to work yesterday, even though I felt it was too early, but I can’t keep him from work. It’s his thing. It’s hard to see that he loves it sometimes, but deep down, I think this is his creative drive, even when used for others’ purposes and under crushing deadlines. 
So we have returned to the usual mayhem, and having a routine for it that’s a little stiffer than summertime benefits us all, especially after this area has been hit by Mother Nature with smoke from the great Dismal Swamp fires for weeks now, and an earthquake and hurricane last week. The ten to fifteen inches of rain that came with Irene did not douse the swamp fires. Yesterday afternoon, we had a good bit of buckets full rain while Captain Comic was walking Lucy, and with them came Tornado Warnings. And still there is smoke in the air. But we go on, relatively unscathed, unlike many of my friends and family all over the East Coast and inland. Some are still waiting for power after the Hurricane while others in Texas droughts and fire fields, are now without well water. 
I feel very blessed that we are back to our normal. Almost – Toots starts preschool next week.

first real beach day

At the beach, the world is bright, the waves lull, even when there is a strong riptide, and everything that has gotten under my skin for the past year rolls off of me in the breeze off of mother ocean.

And Captain Comic stops talking when he hits the water, for hours at a stretch, or when he’s buried in the sand. His synapses reset from the sensory input he gets from being wholly contained over most of the surface of his skin, whether sand or water. Sensory ReIntegration. I think he and I are alike in that manner, he’s just more so, to the nth degree. Other than when he sleeps, the beach is the one environment in which he does not talk endlessly.

I loved the beach for a lifetime before he was born, but for him, I love it even more. At one point, he and I took a walk on the pier to see the fishermen’s catch. Toward the end of the pier, one young man had caught a skate! That was really cool for us to see. As we talked with him, he said in the past week, a couple of sharks had been caught at this pier. You should have seen Capt. Comic’s eyes bug out when I said, “Right where you were swimming in the same waters!”

It is a struggle to get him to put on sunscreen before he hits the surf. In front of the woman in the white top from right to left is Captain Comic, Mr. Cynic and Mr. Cynic’s new gf. She’s cute and very nice, also very blonde, hence she is now known as Goldilocks. They had to move away from the pier zone by 200 feet, partly due to riptide, partly the fisherman’s lost hooks. We kept the encampment by the pier, so it was a little walk to the swim zone. Toots decided she didn’t like the ocean after it hit her in the face when she was with Honey. But I got her there a couple times later to rinse a ton of sand off and to cool down. We got hit with a good sized wave, too, But when I laughed about it, she laughed about it, too. She still would rather go to Water Country.

Here is the gang of youngins all helping out to bury Capt. Comic in the sand. Goldilocks was a good sport in entertaining him, and Toots, who is completely enamored with her.

He emerges to rinse off:

 Honey, soaking up the sun. looking up the pier. It’s nice to see him relax. It’s not nice to see how easily he sunburns, even with 45SPF.

Toots, when we first arrived planted herself in the sand and proceeded to swim in it and douse herself with it.

After a couple of hours, and Captain Comic and my walk on the pier, we discovered a playground near the parking lot.

Toots kept up with the teens, fearlessly. I swear she is a girl after my own heart. There was a time I rock climbed, before I totally wrecked my back, shoulder, etc. Captain Comic, after some initial Parkur moves in preparation for making his ninja movie, decided the puddle between the bathroom and play space was the most attractive place to be. Yuck.

 Play is very serious business for a three year old.

All in all, it was a perfect beach day. Life is good. Wear sunscreen.

drastic measures

There comes a time in every mother’s life when she has gone beyond anger and desperation.

There comes a time when reason alone must rule.

I went into the boys’ room this morning in order to collect a bit of inevitable laundry. It turned into an exercise of futility with significant use of my old rock climbing skills.

I blew several fuses, veins, etc. And then reason took over. I wrote this to post on their door.

Boys,
You are not to go anywhere or do anything that you enjoy until you work together to get this room CLEAN and KEEP IT THAT WAY. What is going on in here regarding clutter goes beyond health code violations.
You are to put your mattress pads and sheets on your beds properly and you are to keep them that way, pillowcases, included.
You are to have nothing on your floor.
You are to vacuum and dust. Clothes go properly in their drawers and closet.
You are NOT to castigate, insult, or blame each other for any of it, because you are both responsible for the horrendousness from one end of the room to the other. If I hear yelling or arguing, you will both lose something of value to you. I know where you live in your likes and dislikes and will use this knowledge accordingly.
Papers you want to save go in a drawer of the file cabinet. Choose a drawer and put a sticker with your name on it, try to keep the papers standing up, like in folders.
Your bed shelves are to be cleaned out, and trash thrown out outside.
You are to keep this note on your door until such time as you can show me you can each and together keep your room orderly and clean.
If you rip it off, you will lose screen time for a week. And I will print another and post it again.
I love you and am not going to yell about this. It is a fact of life that you are responsible for your personal hygiene.
So be it.
Mom

There is something much more scary to them when I don’t yell. I am not even going to say a word. That should chill them to their very bones.

When they come home from school and take care of walking the dog and mowing the lawn, they are not to be seen or heard, but for the shuffling sounds of cleaning, until such a time as I can see the floor, made beds and clothes and crap all put away. The end. 

blur

Some weekend soon, I need to stop this hustle bustle and just take the kids to the beach, so that we can do nothing but watch them in the water and sit back, somewhat relax. My weekends have gotten out of control – scheduled, but just too much. At least one, and upwards of three events per diem is too much for anyone, let alone bad back and bad ankle me. I need to recognized this better and take care of myself in less of an after the fact manner.

In the meantime, Memorial Day weekend was a blur, and only two events did I have the kids involved. Otherwise, Mr. Cynic pretty much spent the long weekend babysitting. I already mentioned Friday night in the my last post, and Sunday night included two seatings for a Lynda Carter show at the Virginia Arts Festival. She had a great band filled with Hall of Fame musicians, including Blue Lou Marini, the sax player who has played with everyone and who Jim Henson modeled his Muppet sax player after. Wonder Woman can sing, but to be honest, while the show was enjoyable, she took a lot of old favorite songs of a generation or three and turned them all into mid-tempo cabaret numbers. Not quite my cup of tea for an entire show. I need more variance. But, I will say, she is still absofrigginlutely gorgeous. and you can tell she hasn’t had a ton of outside help with it. She was also very down to earth, even while on stage.

Mr. Cynic would have babysat for one more event, but I decided to risk Captain Comic’s ability to cope with a crowd and a live orchestra. It didn’t go particularly well and we skipped the orchestra in the end.

Here is some photographic excerpts from a couple of things this weekend, camera battery died, so it’s all via cell shots:

The neighborhood pool opened for the season! Sorry about my finger. just think Kids in the Hall – “I’m crushing your head!” It also looks like I sunscreened  the lens.

 I only saw Captain Comic at this lifeguard break, for three solid hours of pool time. Mr. Cynic invited his latest girlfriend. He’s turned into a teen serial monogamist, four girlfriends in three years. At least he’s not a playah. To be fair, these past nine months or so of dating his prior gf, it was difficult for them to see each other outside of school.

 When I had a chance to water the gardens and yard at some point, I discovered a few things growing, some intentional, some not, like this birch under the wisteria covered slide platform.

 And this oak sprig under the trampoline.

 I discovered my first snap pea pods, and Toots and I thoroughly enjoyed them. Pea pods barely make it to mouth by way of table. usually, I just eat them straight from the plant.

 Watermelon from seeds I planted earlier this week!

 And squash, too! It must be that good dirt I planted them in.

We made it to the pool again briefly between things on Monday.

 Then we headed to the Arts Festival Picnic for the Volunteers in Norfolk, which was too hot and crowded, and Captain Comic coped by chowing down multiple hot dogs and sodas and bags of chips. I couldn’t stop him for anything. There’s a little issue with impulse control with our aspergian brethren. Captain Comic has particular difficulty in this aspect of Asperger’s Syndrome.

The great thing about the event is that the local PBS station’s tent was next to ours, so Toots got to meet Buddy from Dinosaur Train! And I rode home with a pocketful of excavated little dinosaurs. This was the better picture until the invasion of the elbow.

 This one was very off-kilter because the glare off the water behind them made it impossible to see where they were in the frame of the shot.

The Virginia Symphony Orchestra played, but not until after we left. We were so overheated, the crowd was unbearable for Captain Comic and me, some people have no concept of personal space or basic common courtesy aand I was hurting, and tired of trying to keep tabs on two of my kids running in opposite directions while the eldest kept whining about when we would leave.

As much as he can be extremely trying at times ( a large portion of this weekend he was non-stop and confrontational noise), how can anyone, let alone me, not love this boy? Here he is watching the Youtube video Kitten vs Scary Thing for the about the 412th time in  about 2 days. I caught him giggling away during a little downtime on Monday morning.

I wish I could tap into joy so easily, so unreservedly, so utterly and so often. With Captain Comic’s help, I will learn one day to just completely let go in laughter over something as simple as a kitten encountering a tennis ball. (Yes that is my messy desk and crammed bookshelves.)

So my weekend was crammed with mayhem, once again, and with an extra day of it added. How was yours?

saturday morning convo

Grandma, Honey and I volunteer for the Virginia Arts Festival. Last night in Williamsburg, we ushered for a concert of Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Absolutely outstanding show, I was mesmerized. So was Honey. These are giants of jazz, for those who don’t know. Honey and I had to educate a few of the other volunteers a little bit about who these musicians were. I forget sometimes that while there are some people who are absolutely fanatical about jazz – like one guy I saw keeping set lists, there are many more who have never dipped their toes in that syncopated water. Honey and I fall somewhere between those extremes, a little closer to the fanatics.

So while all three adults of the house were in Williamsburg, Mr. Cynic babysat. Babysitting largely comprised of viewings of Kung Fu Panda, expected, and apparently Captain Comic added Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius.  


This morning, after our late night arrival home, Toots wanted to wake us – twice. The second time, she climbed into our bed with the Jimmy Neutron DVD case in hand.

Toots (points to the picture on the cover): Das Jimmy Neutron.
Mom: M-hm.
Toots: And das Carl.
Mom: M-hm.
Toots: And das Jimmy Neutron’s dog, Tonnor.
Mom: I don’t think Jimmy Neutron’s dog’s name is Connor. Daddy, isn’t it something like Einstein?
Honey (slowly rouses from sleep): …………………………………………Goddard.
Mom: Oh yea, the dog is named after a famous scientist, Goddard.
Toots: We sing dat in pweschool.
Mom:  What?
Toots: Goddard.
Mom: What?
Toots: We sing Goddard in pweschool, before we eat.
Mom (light slowly dawns): OH!
Toots (sings): Goddard fadder, Goddard fadder, we thank you, we thank you…..
Mom (chuckles): That’s God our Father, not Goddard, silly!
Toots: Oh.

milestones

Preschool is serious business.

Not really, in fact it’s built on play. But they sure take the end of the year to extremes.

It’s the last week of Toots’s preschool. She went two days a week all year. Tuesday was a party in her class. Thursday there was a performance and awards ceremony. Here’s a peek. The whole thing was utterly cute. So cute it could kill an ordinary man.

That’s Toots in purple in the front row, with her class of Busy Bees. Behind them are the Froggies, 2 classes of the next age group up. 

We mother and educator types were slayed, weeped and wailed – not really, but we were a very teary lot. The Director for fourteen years also retired. It was said that her first students were entering college, entering the military and entering the workforce. She was incapable of reading her own speech. Toots’s teacher presented the Director with a bouquet, etc, having worked with her for five years, and had her kids under her care for four years before that. She could barely get through her presentation, utterly weepy.

And then today was the Picnic Festival. Toots started off shyly, which is odd, because shy is the last word to describe her. But once she settled in, she had fun, fished for candy and toys, got tattoos, blew bubbles with her friends. But no matter how many times she built the courage up to go into the blown up caterpillar, she could not do it once the air blasted her in the face from within.

I don’t have the slightest clue what has happened to this school year. A couple of weeks remain to the public school system for Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic. Mr. Cynic has his fourth girlfriend since September and will be a Junior next year. A Junior. I still can’t get him to drive though he has his permit. He doesn’t have a job. He is my baby, but he is taller than me (finally) and his voice is three octaves below mine.

Mr. Cynic smiling after his jazz choir concert. 

Captain Comic struggled his way into sixth grade and middle school, until the new school finally figured out how to comply with his IEP. Now, he is – for an aspergian – a social butterfly, eating lunch in the cafeteria with friends rather than his case manager’s empty classroom. He has joined the homework club, and stays after school to complete his assignments, again with friends, rather than having knock down drag out screaming matches at home with me over them. He finally is getting the hang of riding a bike.

This was taken on the sly of him at the doctor’s office 
when we went in for an acne issue a couple of weeks ago. 
He’s reading a pamphlet on childhood diseases, and thoroughly enjoying it. 


I don’t know about this growing business and how it affects the kids at the moment. But right now, this mother can barely take it any longer. How do I make it stop? 
 Just for a moment, though, because it sure would nice to one day not have quite so much laundry to do.

before & after

It was a process that took days, and woman hours, and a few man and kid hours, too.

I had another over-scheduled weekend to try to squeeze the most important thing to me into – because, really I should have done this about a month ago.

I moved the shadiest garden plot to the sunny side of the yard. a 4×8 plot.

Before:
Here is where it was:

Of course I took the before shot when the plot was in its sunniest hour of the day. Those birch trees, and others absolutely cover this plot in shade for most of the day, especially the back end of it.
Yuck, right? All the grass and crap growing under the plastic is largely because once upon a time, I bought a truck load of dirt from a guy. Turns out it wasn’t good garden dirt. And then I was on bedrest pregnancy, and recovering from it, and had surgery because of it, and so forth and so on, and it sat in my side yard growing things I had no intention of growing in it for a couple of years. Even after I’ve been weeding it mightily and feeding it mightily for few years, it still just likes to grow crap, not so much what I try to plant in it.
Target, sunny side of the yard. That chaise is where you can find me for a little while most sunny days. And Toots likes to picnic there for lunch. The plot is going to move in next to the plot you see to the right. the wisteria is finally filling in, wall like, after the bloom cycle, to the left of the frame.

During:
I tried, but couldn’t loosen the frame. I couldn’t get it to budge at all. Honey did it by himself with a proper lever system he rigged up. Flipped it right over. I love when he gets all manly.

Then he had something going on and I tried to move the frame across the yard with my bad back and ankle and reluctant Mr. Cynic. We couldn’t budge it, except to get it up on its side.

The next day, Honey got back on it and after a failed attempt with positioning on the flat tire wheel barrow, 

we recruited Captain Comic and the three of us worked with cinderblocks and my garden supply Radio Flyer.

It worked! 

And then we maneuvered it into place on the barrier tarp over the grass.

Then we went out to Lowe’s for more good dirt and some garden path stones, and stopped for Hawaiian Ices with Captain Comic and Toots. Mr Cynic was working on a school project at a friend’s house, but I saved him some of my ice and he thanked me.  Toots climbed her first tree while The Rapture did not come except for me, because I was always up a tree as a kid. That’s my girl!
When Mr. Cynic came home shortly after we did, I drafted him to move the dirt and stones from the van to the plot. I told him he could count it as a work out for his independent gym credit. Six bags of dirt and four concrete stones.

Then this morning, I finally got back to work. But my bad back and ankle did not like me before I did, and even more so now. 

That’s some good dirt.
Apologies for the awkward angle.

After:
It’s still a bit shallow. but I planted watermelon seeds toward the back, yellow straight neck squash seeds in the middle, and a tomato and a cucumber seedling in the front. The fat rain drops began to pelt me. But I decided I could plant one more thing and get all the tools, etc back into the shed in time.

And I managed to plant a pepper in the new plot with good earth. And I believe that completes my plantings for the year.

But of course now I am dreaming about bulbs…..

asperger’s syndrome and bikes

Asperger’s Syndrome presents some unusual challenges as a parent that most parents never have to deal with. Certain things most parents accept as a given can never be assumed to operate in the same seamless and joyful sense.

Bike riding is one of these things. It involves both fine and gross motor skills, quick and accurate reaction time, muscle memory, and a wide variety of other things most people take for granted. Most neurotypical kids learn to ride a bike by the time they are six years old. Usually it involves one parent secretly letting go from behind and tricking the kid into the ride alone.
In my conversations with many parents of Aspies, I have found typically, if ever, they put together the pieces of learning to ride a bike when they are about twelve to thirteen years old. Captain Comic is that now. Some parents have found alternative bikes, like the leaning back three wheeler, a better way to go for their kids. Some never learn to ride, some learn to ride via an attachment to their parents’ bikes, but Captain Comic had gotten too big for that. 
He has recently made friends with a couple of boys in our neighborhood who tool around on their bikes and scooters quite a bit. Yesterday they came knocking, and asked him to join them. 
I was arriving home from the second trip to the dump with loads of branches that I, Mighty She-ra of Yardwork had trimmed from the big weeping birch on our corner. 

This post is not about me, it’s about Captain Comic, but I had to share that I singlehandedly trimmed the entire tree’s bottom rungs of branches that reach to the ground all by myself by hand, old school with clippers and handsaw. My friends on Facebook know this already. I was quite braggadocious about my muscley feat over there. I made Mr. Cynic hang from a particularly large branch over my head that I was sawing, so that he might pull it down quicker – all ninety-five pounds of my sixteen year old son. The pipsqueak, I love him.
But enough about me.

So as Honey and I arrived home from the dump, Captain Comic was bursting through the front door, with a bike more suited to Toots’s size than a kid who is practically my size, with training wheels and flat tires.
Later when I asked him what his friends thought of that first bike, and his riding along with them on the tiny, flat tired, training wheeled thing, he replied, “They were cool with it. They didn’t care.” 
This makes me very happy: as nutty and oddball as he is, there are peers right here in our neighborhood who accept him just the way he is. sniff

But back to the topic. After inflating the tires on another dusty old thing in the garage, I didn’t give up on him, even when he gave up on himself and the process. I threatened and cajoled, as nicely as possible for him to just keep trying. I whipped out Nelson Mandela’s tale when Captain Comic declared he was, “Hopeless, I tell you! HOPE-LESS!” And he fought and yelled and fell and threw the bike and ran away, and I threatened no screens (tv, computer, videogames) unless he tried into a side cul-de-sac and back to the house.  
And then the magic happened. He stopped fighting me. He stopped fighting himself. He stopped fighting the bike. He listen (sort of) when I talked about feeling his core muscles tell him how to correct the balance. He told me to stop talking and he kept trying, past our house, across the busy intersection and into the other cul-de-sac, and then back home again. 
He is this close (fingertips together) to taking off in freedom and speed around the neighborhood.
Witness:
If you turn the volume up you can hear him tell me to stop speaking, and what happens when I say okay, then sorry.  He’s so funny. I love this kid.
Nothing is hopeless. Not even a child with a form of autism learning to ride a bike. All you have to do is keep trying.  


slow down

Is that even possible?

At the moment it doesn’t seem so.

Case in point: in the midst of this completely overscheduled weekend (is that three in a row? more, less? I can’t even conceive of my past few weeks at the moment), I showed up at a housewarming. My friend whose new home we were warming, took one look at me and laughed in that Aw, are you okay, you look pathetic way. Then I walked into the house and saw a couple of other friends. One took one look at me, threw her arms around me and said, “Are you okay? What happened?!”

I turned to everyone and said, “I made it here, but if I don’t go home now and lie down, I won’t make it through the rest of the weekend.”

Okay, moms who have given birth, especially naturally, you know that point you reach when you’ve been in labor for hours and you know you don’t have it in you to push that one more time, but then the urge comes, and you feel like dying would be so much easier than to do that one more push and you’re too tired even to cry, though you feel like that’s all you want to do, and you can feel yourself slipping practically into unconsciousness?

That’s how tired (minus the painful labor) I felt standing in my friends new home, surrounded by caring women. Thank goodness. They got it and said, It’s okay, go home and rest. Hugs, and I was gone. I pseudo napped for a couple of hours with Mr. Cynic on the opposite sofa, old Twilight Zone episodes – funny, huh? – in front of us. And then the rest of the family came home and it was time to go go go to the next events of the evening, and I’ll tell you more about everything as soon as I have really recouped and can find pictures, etc. For now, I need to get ready to go to the dentist. again. Wish me luck.

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