Monday, March 14, 2011

Filling In The Blanks

I hate filling out forms.  Not because it is tedious (but it is) and not because they are time consuming (because they are), not because I don’t think they are necessary (even though they are very repetitive for the exact same office), but because of the little place that asks about my employment.

I hate leaving that little spot blank.  I hate checking “not employed.”  It drives me batty.  I want to shout I once had a high-paying job with lots of power.  It’s not that I don’t think staying home with my children is a valid choice—and I did CHOOSE, happily, to do so.  It’s that by leaving that spot blank, I’m saying I do nothing for work.  But that’s not true.

All of us parents out there, getting a paycheck or not, know what work our children involve, especially those of us with special needs kids.  My developmentally typical kids are WORK, but my special needs little guy is MAJOR WORK.

Yes, I take him to therapy.  But I also work at home with all the homework they give us.  The therapists, who gets to fill in that little blank, sees my son for one hour a week.  I work reinforcing things at home for several hours a day.  Little by little, all day long.

I handle the meltdowns when his environment is too overwhelming.  I cook.  I clean, and my sensory seeker makes sure I clean 5x more than I would if he wasn’t a sensory seeker. I drive from appointment to appointment.  I coach my kids in etiquette, and help with extra circular activities.  I volunteer on over-drive at the school so I know I can get things for him that the school might otherwise not give him.  I do everything that people get paid for.   Like all parents.  But when I fill out that form, I feel dismissed.

I know it has more to do with financial responsibility, but I DO work.  I work for my children.  I fight for my son, day in and day out.  Searching for what works and taking off the table what doesn’t.  We’re trying to discover what all his issues are.  And I want to be recognized for that.  That I’m trying.  That I haven’t quit.  That I don’t dismiss my son.  And that those stupid, horrible, judgmental people in restaurants and grocery stores shouldn’t be giving me and my son looks of disdain!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Great Marshmallow Meltdown

Today we experienced the Great Marshmallow Meltdown.  It all started with my oldest (10) shouting at me.  OK, that’s not where it began, but it’s where this story starts.  “I hate you!  You’re no fair!  Life is no fair!”
To Which I replied, “It’s OK that you hate me.  It’s not your obligation to love me, and I’m OK with that.  I love you, with all my heart, which is why it’s partially my job for you to hate me from time to time.”
“I don’t care.  I hate you!  I want a new mother.”   {{ And, yes, I am trying to find a font that can slightly represent the disdain in his voice}}
“Sorry.  You got stuck with me.”
“Life isn’t fair!  It’s just not fair!!”
“Yes, it’s fair.  What it isn’t, is equal.  Never confuse fair with equal.”
“Quit telling me that!”

Yes, that is my mantra:  “Life is fair.  Life isn’t equal.”  That is the thing with having a child(ren) who needs more, or less, from time to time.  When your kids aren’t on equal playing ground, you need to recognize that everything is different in every situation.  I truly believe that is regardless of having a special needs child or not.  It’s just when you have a special needs child it shows up more often. 
My children all have the same two parents.  They live in the same house.  They attend the same schools, if not at the same time.  But they don’t have the same things.  They don’t share a room.   My oldest has a small closet compared to the other three, but he has a beautiful view of the lake from his bedroom and a window in his closet.  My second has a bathroom all to himself.  They have different teachers because they have different learning styles.  And, due to their different needs, we parent each of them differently.  Yes, I am four moms rolled into one.
I parent each child, give privileges to each child, have restrictions on each child based on THAT child’s needs and abilities.  I think this is fair.  It’s not equal, but it is fair.  My oldest can go off with his friends without an adult.  He is responsible and a rule follower.  He is independent and smart and developmentally on track.  He participates way more in many different activities.  I can say with absolute certainty that #2 and #3 will not be able to do so at the same age. 
So, when my second, who can barely stand any foods (his super sensitive taste buds—SPD issues), got marshmallows for a snack and I told my oldest no, we had the Great Marshmallow Meltdown.  Yelling.  Screaming.  Door Slamming.  Downright horrible, unacceptable behavior.  Stuff that isn’t going to get him a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g!
Now, I did offer #1 a snack (healthy), but he was leaving for a birthday party where he would be consuming cake and ice cream and all sorts of other junk (sleepover), so I didn’t think it was something he needed.  And, those marshmallows were for a recipe I plan to try.  And he treated himself to ice cream at lunch and a child brought in cookies for her birthday.  Volunteering has its advantages of giving you knowledge.
I try to remain calm during these bouts of explosive hormones.  Who knew how hormonal a 10 year old tween could be?  He gets that early puberty thing from my husband, like most of their less than stellar traits.  He doesn’t read this.  J  Just in case your wondering…  If I stay calm and rational, I get my son’s goat.  OK, childish, but who isn’t from time to time? 
It leads me to think though, how do you explain that when you have a child whose needs are different, why they get “special treatment” from time to time?  Why it is fair.  My kids who don’t get the privileges my oldest get, feel slighted.  My oldest feels slighted because he thinks the others are getting something he doesn’t.  And they aren’t wrong.  But it is still fair, if not equal.
Ah, well, hopefully they’ll understand as adults.  When they have their own hormonal tween child screaming at them.  And, hopefully, they’ll love me by then.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Books! Books! Everywhere there is books!

I am excited!!
I had posted earlier that our elementary school is an inclusionary school.  I’ve also posted on how much I volunteer.  Well, those two things collided today.  The librarian is getting a head start on next year’s book order; she’s making the wish list so when the funds come in, she can order.  Let’s just see how much funding she gets in this economy though!
Anyhow…  I was asked today, what books would *I* like to see on the shelves.  Me.  Little old me.  I get a say.  I get to pick some books that teachers and children will have access to.  Yeah!  Go me!
Of course, what do I pick?  I quickly said Sensitive Sam.  She went and hit one copy.  Done.  That was it.  Sensitive Sam will be on the book shelf at our school next year.  I told her I wanted The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone With Autism.  Done.  Could it really be that easy?  How about Taking Autism to School and Squirmy Wormy?  Sure, why not?
Oh, how excited I was.  I’m picking books, she’s pulling them up on the publishers page and ordering them.  She isn’t even question it. 
But (and there always is a “but”, isn’t there?), then I asked for Hartley’s Steiner’s (oh, do I LOVE her blog!!) This is Gabriel Making Sense of School.  That was a no-go.  Was it the librarian?  NO!  The publishers don’t carry her book!  WHAT!?!?  But how could this be?  Our librarian did write it down and if it pops up, we’ll get it.  In the mean time, it’s not coming to our school.  Please, Hartley, get your book to those publishers!
But the other books…  They are on the way.  They will be here next fall.  On the shelves.  For kids to read.  For teachers to read to the students.  To help promote a better understanding for all.  And that excites me!
What excites me even more, was I was told to think of any other books I might want on the shelves.  Me.  Little old me.  I—I—get to pick some books.  About my child’s issues.  Things that might help.  Him, and other kids.  Go me!
What books would you add to the shelves—I can still add more.