Thursday, February 25, 2016

We're All Transitioning

The day before yesterday was my middle son's high school orientation. Since he isn't my first child it's not my first time going to one. I thought there would be nothing new for me to learn. I know this is the beginning of high school for my teen, and it's time to be thinking about what they might like to be doing after they graduate, so they can be on the right path with all the best credits under their arm in four years to be off to the best start. I know this, and I've heard all this. I prepared for boredom of the long speech I knew I was about to endure.

At the beginning of the meeting the principal always asks for a show of hands if this will be your first child going into high school. Then, he always asks if it will be your last, and applause always follows for those parents who have done their dues, and are sending their last child off to high school. Bubby raised his hand.

I was confused.

I spent most of the rest of the meeting trying to understand why it was that he had raised his hand. He is not the youngest child.

I surveyed the room.

Once while we were leaving one of my daughter CJ's event's my husband leaned over, and whispered, "Please, tell me we don't look as old as these people." referring to the other parents. We didn't. Since we had CJ at such a young age we were a couple years younger than most of those parents. But, this set of parents? We were about right in line with. Some had on Vans, and other styles that nostalgically reminded me of my 90's days. Unlike CJ's peer's parents no stupid questions were asked, and each, and every one looked as eager to leave as I was. I was pleasantly surprised at how short the meeting was turning out to be!

I also wondered which parent belonged to the shitty kids who had been picking on my Bubby. I wondered if they knew that their kid was shitty to autistic kids in school for fun, or if they'd care. Probably not, since from what I've been told the main child acts the way he does because "he's spoiled".

My eyes gazed over the upper levels of the school where the classrooms, and lockers were. I wondered how Bubby will do here. I wondered how much different it will be to middle school. I glanced over to the vice principal who used to hold another position at the elementary level, and made Bubby's life a lot worse than it had to be. I worried for more than a minute about that scenario.

I think our road to sitting there in that big, open cafeteria planning out high school classes was so different than most of the other kids who occupied that space. It was a long journey that didn't seem that long. It didn't seem that long ago that he was in kindergarten. The educational environment is so much different now than what it was ten years ago when we started out. Only one teacher believed he was autistic, and only because she had a child like him. They all chose to believe that he was just difficult, some chose to believe that even after he had an official diagnosis. Things have really changed drastically in the last several years in relation to what people think autism is, and isn't.

So, the meeting ended, and I kept wondering what the hand raising I mentioned earlier meant. Then, later than evening it hit me after I got home. Bubby is the last child to go to high school in our home.  Beans is home schooled, and even if he weren't he'd not go to a high school. If he were enrolled in a public school due to his level of need they'd have him in life skills, or some similar classroom, but there would not be a meeting about classes for him, or college, or anything like that.

My heart sank a little.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Spaghetti Sauce and Gaslighting

I would bet that most of you (if not all) reading this have read articles online about gaslighting. You've probably seen all the signs of it lined up neatly in bullet points, and yet felt like you still were unfamiliar with exactly what it was, and how it applied, if it even did, to your life. At least, that is how I always felt when I read articles like that. Sure, they felt familiar, but I don't generalize well. I need examples. Exactly what does it mean by gaslighting? How would that look in a real life interaction?

The other day I was making some dinner with a can of sauce. I always make my own, so I was nervous it wouldn't taste the same. That's when I recalled this story you're about to read, and realized that it is exactly what gaslighting means.

Several years ago my family went to go visit my parents. Must have been a good thirteen years, or so ago. I was in the kitchen helping my mother prepare dinner. I could tell she was in one of her strange moods, because nothing seemed prepared, and she seemed to constantly forget what she was doing. She had planned on having spaghetti, but the store had run out of the regular spaghetti sauce that she normally buys, so she bought another kind to try. She said this straight out in the kitchen in front of my husband, and I, because she was hoping she would like it. We get dinner made, and tables cleared off so we can eat.

We are all sitting there eating, and all is going great, until my father has his second bite. She knows it's coming. She has to know. We all know. He is really picky about his food. The texture, and brand, ect... It can be frustrating to deal with a grown man who has so many issues with food, and his hissy fits about it, but still....

"Is this sauce different?" he asks.

"No." she replies.

My husband looks at me as if he needs to verify what he just heard.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Finding Life's Meaning Under a Blanket

This afternoon I was laying on the couch under a fresh blanket that had just gotten out of the of the dryer. My husband had taken the kids with him for a bit, and I was alone in a quiet house.

And, I thought..."Wow, this is what life is about."

I was so relaxed, and I could feel the blanket (which is weighted) falling around my body gently, as the warmth soaked down to my joints. I was reminded of how nice it was to lay back, and do nothing while I had nowhere to be, and nothing in particular to do, but enjoy right now. I felt my thoughts tug to past where I wondered the last time I felt this way, but then I thought, does it matter?  Does it matter if I ever felt this, or when I felt this, or if I ever feel this again? Does it change how I feel this now? Well, maybe it might, because if I am thinking of another time, I can't be fully immersed into enjoying this one.

That's when I realized that (to me) life is about: