Saturday, December 25, 2010

In pursuit of the perfect Christmas...belly? A look back at Christmas 2007....

~"Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching."~ Fran Lebowitz 

 Of all my childhood recollections, the most vivid revolve around Christmas. The tree, the toys, Santa...all of them conjure up wonderful memories of my earlier days. For a kid, it can be the most exciting, suspenseful time of year. For a parent, it can be the most powerful.  Powerful, because of one simple phrase..."Do I need to call Santa?"

  Nothing works better at eliciting good behavior than the threat of calling Santa. "If you don't put down that ornament, I'm calling Santa" "Your not going to bed?!...lets hear what Santa has to say about that." Sometimes I go as far as picking up the phone and dialing. The slightest infraction, the tiniest misstep all I have to do is mention his name in order to get the desired response. "NO! don't call him!"..."I'll go to bed"..."I won't draw on the dog!"..."I'll get out of the washing machine!".... Oh how I love that man!  I admit, I have gotten heady with the power of it all.  Power, however, like most good things can be abused. Use it too much or wield it too carelessly and the threat starts to wear off, the message loses its luster.

  I learned this lesson while picking out last years Christmas tree. Excited about getting our tree, we piled into the mini van, all of us in high spirits. We were a happy family in search of the perfect tree. The gentleman selling the Christmas trees was a portly fellow. That in itself is nothing my children would comment on. It was however, the fact that his underwear happened to be sticking out of his ill fitting sweat pants that got all of our attention-particularly Oscar's. Once Oscar sees something-something that catches his eye....he MUST..MUST comment on it. He is like a dog with a bone-he CAN NOT let go.  Knowing this, I tried to gather him to my side before he could say anything....but..sigh... it was too late.  Very softly, in a low monotone voice, Oscar started saying "unnnndddeeerrrwwwweeeaaarrr"(repeatedly) This of course started my other kids laughing..I gave them "The look" (every parent knows this look) and in my sternest mother voice said "Should I call Santa?" and quickly ushered them back into the van. I thought it had worked, that I had averted disaster...but I was wrong.  We still needed to tie the tree to the top of the van, and who was going to help us to do that? You guessed it-the chubby tree salesman in the ill fitting sweat pants. Now in order to tie the tree to the top of the van we had to leave both side doors open-and sitting on one of those open sides was Oscar. There I was, on full red alert mother mode -trying to catch Oscars eye, ready to invoke the name of Santa, but he was distracted. You see, as the salesman stepped up to reach the roof, his body leaned in the van door-and looming through the door , hanging out of his shirt, was the salesman's belly... it was big , it was hairy and it was an inch away from Oscars nose.  As I looked on in horror(sweat was forming on my upper lip), I started to say(desperately) "Oscar, think of Santa", but it was once again too late. He glanced at me, and with a gleam in his eye...he said in a very low voice, "Beeellllllllyyyyy" as he  ever so slowly extended his finger... Sammy and Lily were besides themselves ..and I was torn between screaming in laughter and acting the mature adult. It was as if the entire world had stopped moving-with the exception of Oscars finger..which was creeping closer and closer(as if in slow motion) to the  salesman's stomach...and as the tip of his finger began to brush the dangling hair-the salesman jumped down and away.. the tree was tied on..the crisis averted..I was exhausted. Oscar just smiled.

  In my relief , after my heart rate returned to normal, I realised that the pull of underwear-the lure of a big belly, these things were even more powerful than the repeated threats to call Santa. That as my kids become more aware of the world around them, and less immersed in the world of our home, my days of Santa threats were numbered.

  I wonder if my kids will look back fondly on these Christmas memories-the way I look back on mine. Will they even remember all of these adventures? I was thinking about this when we went on our Christmas tree quest. This year, getting the tree was uneventful, although when we suggested going back to the same tree lot as last year, Oscar grinned and said "unnnderrrwearrr."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No more tartan knickers!

~"I pity the fool"~ Mr. T  .

 I was reading a post the other day where a mother stated "I don't believe people when they say they don't want sympathy for their child's disability.  Check the thesaurus, sympathy isn't a bad thing." No, sympathy properly expressed isn't a bad thing. In this case however, defining sympathy with synonyms is. Sympathy simply put is "pity". I can say with absolute certainty that I do not want pity because of my children's disabilities. That's just well...icky.  I mean really-pity? How absolutely insulting. Not just to me-but to my kids. If you want to pity me-do it for something worthwhile like a dental appointment or having to go to one of the kids school concerts. I'll gladly accept it then.

Speaking of which, This week I went to Oscars Christmas concert. Unlike the last concert, I was not armed with a designated driver and Valium.  I didn't even have Zoe as a distraction. I was all by myself. A woman-alone.  The only positive I could think of (besides Oscar performing) was that there was a new music teacher.  Yes, the woman who had brought us the "Greatest unknown hits of 17...(yes, the year 17) has retired!!  Not that I mean any disrespect. She was a lovely person who I learned much from-and it wasn't just patience!  I mean who could forget the woman who brought us the same exact Christmas show for the past five years?  I certainly didn't know that carols could also be dirges!  I'll always look back fondly on  Sammy's recorder angst  and who could forget "The gingerbread slave" ?  Good times...good times. She was a lovely lovely woman...I do believe that she truly cared about teaching music. I just think she got tired of it a few years before actually retiring from it. I wish her well.

  This concert was different. I knew it from the moment I got there.  I immediately went to find Oscar to let him know I had arrived-and he was acting odd.  He was so tense.  Usually the boy hops when he sees me..or at least smiles. He just sat there very stiffly-barely turning his head to acknowledge me. I thought "O.K.-he's almost ten now..maybe he's too cool for his mom"-at least in front of his friends.  so I went and took my usual place-at the back of the the case I have to leave quickly..because you never know when an emergency can conveniently  pop up.

  The concert started in the usual way-sort of. First up were the instrumentalists-kids who had only been playing a few months-but were ready to perform. There were only two numbers-and it was sweet. Yes, one girl did go off key with her saxophone quite a bit..but she was happy and proud of herself. Maybe because she didn't have to sit through a long speech about something old and musty beforehand or play in the dark as had been the tradition.  I thought it was wonderful.  Next to perform were the fourth graders-Oscar's group. I have to say-I was prepared to plaster on a smile while I chanted a mantra (in my head) of "please be fast please be fast" as I let my eyes unfocus and glaze over. But it wasn't necessary! Nope-the music teacher got up, gave a quick explanation of what they were singing ...GASP! Kwanzaa and Hanukkah as well as Christmas songs! They were actually singing songs less than 100 years old! From other cultures??!! Be still my heart! What about the usual * "Mold in the corn crib and Jesus wept"? or* "Tartan knickers Kumbaya"? No, these songs were perky and jazzy-so the kids were as well.  Even Oscar-who I could hear singing loudly-slightly raspy and off key.( Although he was still looking a bit stiff-even when they sang "Santa wants a brand new bag"..I put it off as him having too much sensory overload-and he was trying to keep it together. Regardless, it was pure joy to watch.)  Then they got to the last song "Everlasting Fruitcake"..a funny tune about a fruitcake that a family keeps giving away-but keeps getting back.  At the very end of the song-a doorbell rings..and my boy(MY BOY) steps down off of the riser and pretends to open the door. He is handed a fruitcake..he looks up-and at the top of his lungs announces "OH NO NOT AGAIN??!! WAAAAAAA!!" He  brought the house down. And amidst the applause and the high fives he was getting from his friends-he searched me out..and grinning from up on the stage..mouthed "mama.. did you see me?"  My heart just... overflowing..I mouthed back "Yes I did!"..he gave me another smile..a hop..and followed his class off of the stage..

  I had no idea Oscar was doing idea that he had a line in the show. He had kept it from me as a surprise.  And surprised I was..and thrilled and overjoyed and so many other emotions I can't even list them.  Although I can say with total conviction-not one of them was sympathy-for either myself or my boy. He amazed me that day...and continues to do so everyday.  He works hard because he WANTS to..because he CARES. Because he is who he is-I pity anyone who thinks less of him for that.

  In some ways I am going to miss the old music teacher.  She gave me such good material. But I have to say, I really like the new one.

*-I took the liberty of making up those song titles..but trust me-they weren't too far off from what had really been sung in the past few years.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I've been called many things but never this...

 Papa Bear has graciously awarded me with this "Stylish blogger award"..and I am flattered. Now I know that some people make light of all the blogger awards that are around the blogosphere. But not me!  Hey, I spend most of my time in the company of four kids, three dogs and a things like this award really make my day. So thank you Papa Bear! I hope this sends some traffic your way.

  Now in order to accept the award, I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself and then nominate three more blogs for the award. I decided to share the more quirky  things about here goes.. 

  1) I believe that in no uncertain terms-Lima beans ought to be outlawed. I think that they are one of if not THE most wretched tasting vegetable on the face of the earth.  When my mother would try and serve them for dinner, we would all devise ways to get rid of them. Even my dog loathed them. If you gave them to him he would just let them fall out of his mouth. I used to stuff them in my pocket.

 2) I am not very good at crafts or craft types of projects. My lack of skills and or interest in this type of thing caused me to be dropped from my Brownie troop when I was six. I didn't mind.

3) I can at times be a "literal thinker" much to my embarrassment.  When I was in high school, the topic of "euthanasia" came up. I could not understand the debate or the discussion. I thought "why are all these people making such a big deal about kids in China?"  Thankfully, I kept my thoughts to myself..

4) When I was little, I had an imaginary friend. Her name was "Gengi".(pronounced Jen-Gee) I don't remember when I stopped playing with her.  But, it just so happens that there is a perfume by the same name.
Which makes me wonder if my imaginary friend has been more monetarily successful than I have been. I wonder if she's on Face Book?

5)  I don't know why I started this-but I created an imaginary brother and sister for the kids.  Their names are "Cecil" and "Cheesy". It amuses me to no end to tell Sammy or Lily "It's time for dinner..could you go upstairs and let Cecil know?" Sometimes they play along..(the real kids)  sometimes they get annoyed. I have a good time.

6) I Love watching "The Weather Channel"..(with the exception of "Wake up with Al" because he annoys the crap out of me) I watch it so much that I sent them an email asking that when they were forecasting the weather for my part of the country.."Could the forecaster please step two inches to the right as they were consistently standing in front of my part of the state." It seems to have worked-most of the time anyway...

7) I bought a "Dyson vacuum two years ago.  Not because I thought it was a great product-No, I like how Mr. Dyson( in the commercials) pronounces the letter "S" as in "suction"..strange but true...I do need to get out more.. 

  So there you have it-seven odd little things about me. Now on to the fun part. Three blogs that I find "Stylish"...There are so I'm going to pick two new(to me) ones and a favorite.  

1) Flowers are joy  Because who can resist pictures of lovely flowers-especially in the winter?

2)Kitaiska Sandwich I have only recently started reading her. I have not had the time I wanted to go over as much as I would like to-but I think she's interesting, writes well-and is a champion speller.

3)DSWalkerauthor Again, another blogger new to me. She has interesting posts that invite conversation.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A couple of kids..a spectrum..and some Krabs...

~"Too many people grow up.  That's the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.  They forget.  They don't remember what it's like to be twelve years old.  They patronize, they treat children as inferiors.  well I won't do that."~ Walt Disney

 It isn't easy being different.  It is especially hard when you are twelve. This year is a big one for Sammy.  He is in a different school, he has different things expected of him. He is straddling that fine line between boy and young man. Forming his own opinions through his own experiences instead of relying solely on mine.  For the first time he has been separated from the herd and it hasn't been easy. Autism plays a part in this-although certainly not all of it. Hormones are rearing their ugly little heads as well..The combination of the two can be daunting... challenging..and just plain exhausting. Sammy is coming into his own and he has a lot of questions..a multitude..tons..a veritable cornucopia. 

  Sammy knows that he is on the spectrum. It has always been our thought that autism or any other disability is nothing to be ashamed of.  Our son is not "less than" because of autism. None of our kids are.  That is how we raise them.  The problem is that now that Sammy is coming into his own, he is starting to see his siblings with different eyes and it is hard on him. Especially when looking at Oscar.

  My boys are a pretty good example of how differently autism can manifest itself. They are so very opposite from each other. Kind of like "The Odd Couple"...Sammy would be Felix and Oscar..well, Oscar. Sammy is all things proper and dignified and Oscar.. is not. I can't tell you how many times Sammy has walked around various public places, his arms stretched wide (much like a policeman guarding a crime scene) yelling "Nothing to see here folks!" while Oscar either lay on the floor screaming... walked around on all fours wearing a collar pretending to be Scooby- Doo..or molested a mannequin professing his undying love for her. He is the Yin to Oscar's Yang. I find it amusing...Sammy? He really struggles with it-especially now that he is more aware of how the world works.(just as a side-note..Sammy has done this to all of us at various his sisters..even his Papa and myself-but hey, when Barry White plays over the speakers of the supermarket a couple HAS to dance-it's the law!)

  It hasn't been an easy year for Oscar either. He has been sliding academically-and we are working to find other options. Unfortunately, Oscar would prefer not to work at all. He would much rather spend his time on the computer finding various videos to entertain him. Yes, my son won't read a chapter book-but he can bookmark "Cats farting" "Wile E coyote gets the roadrunner"," Arthur poops" and "punching Barney" on YouTube  with little or no effort.  Being nine years old, he finds great joy in bodily functions. His is a world of butts, farts and poop. It isn't uncommon to hear Oscar repeating verbatim various videos he's seen.  "Mr. Krabs! You're naked" "Aye my boy you're right I am naked!" "Mr. Krabs you're going to pee!" "Aye my boy I am going to pee!ssssssssssssssssssssss" Mr. Krabs you're going to poop!"  "Aye my boy you're right I am going to poop!ppfffplooopppp" (Of course this is done with the appropriate Sponge-bob and Mr. Krabs accents)  The problem is that Oscar doesn't really have conversations at home...he gets off the bus from school and basically spews everything he has kept inside for the day.(we've made it a rule that fart, poop and butt jokes are to remain at home) This bothers Sammy because he wants so much for Oscar to play with him..and Oscar isn't interested. ( Don't get me wrong-they have their moments...times when they are totally connected with each other..where they act out movie scenes or play with toys up in their room..but these moments are far and few between.)  Oscar has held it together and worked so hard to behave at school that when he gets home...he immediately goes on line or starts telling his various poop "Jokes".."Mama..I have a new joke for you!"  "What is it bud?" "Owen did you poop??!!..HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA"  That's Oscar humor in a nutshell. sigh...Sammy just doesn't get it...

  The other night Sammy came to me and asked "Why doesn't Oscar talk to me?...He's always just saying poop jokes or making fart sounds....He would rather play on the computer than be with me.".."Oh Sammy...Oscar loves have to try and remember that some things are harder for Oscar than they are for you.." "Why?."Do you remember when he didn't talk at all..?" "No.".."Do you remember when all he could do was scream?".."No"..." you remember when YOU stopped talking?" " was hard to hear all the sounds and I didn't always know what you were saying?"  " know how that sometimes still happens with you?" "Yes.." " need to remember that Oscar really hasn't been talking for very long..he is still figuring it all out...just know he's working really hard to do so-just like you do..give him time..he will get where he's going in his own way.."  "I still think he likes his YouTube videos more than he likes us!" "Oh buddy..that isn't really isn't..he loves us all very much"..At this point Oscar over hearing us joined in.."Sammy I don't like videos more than you."  "Then why won't you play with me or when you watch t.v. with me you always want to watch baby shows! Why don't you watch big kid shows like I do?"  "Do you know why I like baby shows?" "No Oscar why?" "Because they have no worries" and with that he left the room..."No worries"..sigh... I guess it isn't easy being nine either...

   Sometimes I feel as if I am walking on a tight wrong step and it's over. Sometimes I find myself worrying right along with Sammy..Will Oscar be o.k.? Am I missing something..should I be doing more to help him..will he ever WANT to do school I asking too much? Oh..the crazy worry! I'll be sitting with Oscar trying to discuss the book he is reading at school and I'll say "Oscar..what do all the characters have in common?"..and he'll look at me and say "Well...they all have arms" or "They don't have horns" and just when I reach that level  of thinking "he can't do this" he'll look at me and say "Mama..I did a search for two wheeled electric scooters..let me show is what I want for Christmas" (at 800 bucks-fat chance of that happening!) so I kick myself for worrying..because I know he'll get where he's supposed to-in his own way and in his own time..and I know this is true because in the back of my head I'll hear Mr. Krabs saying "Aye you're right my girl he will!"or will it be Oscar? either way-I'm not worried.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The power of Santa compels you...

~"Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare"~ 
Ed Asner

 I seem to have lost my moxie in the past week. I just don't feel like doing anything. This isn't a bad thing per say...perhaps a bit frustrating as I do want to get some things done.  I just don't seem to have the energy to do them.  My get up and go seems to have got up and went.  Nothings wrong. I'm healthy, happy..everything here is pretty good. Maybe it is just the change of seasons..or too much Thanksgiving turkey. Either way..I'd like to get it back..Christmas is coming-and with four kids, I need all the help I can get.

  The holiday season is an interesting time at our house. The kids being kids work themselves up into a frenzy of excitement starting at Halloween. It is kind of like a horse race..the bell rings and we are off-usually with me in the lead.. This year though, I feel like I am still at the gate. I think in part this has to do with all the changes going on.  My herd is growing up.. and I feel like I'm staying still. Yes, I know this is what they are supposed to do..and for the most part I find joy in it-I do..but at the same time, I don't like it..not a bit. sigh...I guess I'm feeling a little left out.

  This is the first year that Sammy knows...really KNOWS that there isn't a Santa. He has suspected for quite some time..but he wasn't ready to accept it.  Until now. Which has led to some interesting conversations. " SAID there was a Santa."  "I know I did..but Santa is just one of those things parents do to make the holidays more fun."  "But YOU SAID there was one." "Well...there is kind of..think about it..what IS Santa? What does he represent? He's fun and magical!!  All parents want to be fun and magical Sam!!..Besides, one person couldn't possibly deliver toys and gifts to EVERY house."  "But YOU SAID HE WAS REAL."  "Well...I think he's real in a way..he is the reason for Christmas!" "But YOU SAID people celebrate Christmas because of Jesus." "No..I said many people..not all people...Christmas is a time of joy and fun..and can you understand  why we have least a little?" "But YOU SAID...."   "ALRIGHT! YES I said there was a Santa! I am Santa! Thats night a year I turn into a fat man with a beard and deliver toys all around the world..that's why I'm so tired on Christmas!..the secret is out!! Now you know!! HO HO HO!!" ..."MAMA..sigh..well, what about Jesus?".at that time Lily chimed in with "Jesus?  who is Jesus?" "You know, Christmas is his birthday? have to go to church if you want to learn more about him.."Oh..well I always wanted to try sushi" "Uhh..Lil? They don't serve sushi in church...?"  "Oh..o.k."....sigh...I know-lots of people are honest with their kids from the start. They didn't want to raise them with the idea of a magical guy sneaking into their homes one night a year delivering presents. I get that-I do...and I respect their decision. But I like the idea of Santa..the magic, the mystery...the power. Yes!  The power.  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas day, I can't think of a better threat than "If you don't stop drawing on the dog-I will call Santa." or "Girls! Get out of the washer!Santa is watching you." Oh I can hear the skeptics now "You can't expect to raise your child to be a critical thinker..or to trust you if you raise them on on myths..Don't you want them to behave themselves simply because it is the right thing to do?"  Oh blah blah blah.. Talk to me when you are removing fifteen boxes worth of band-aids stuck to every possible surface of your house...or when your kids think that sliding down the staircase in a sleeping bag is good fun even if it does tear the banister down.  Don't get me wrong, my kids are pretty well behaved for most of the year. It is the holiday season that turns them into hyperactive monkeys(with wings). Maybe I am just partial to fat, bearded men in red suits-or worse..maybe I simply relate to them...either way-Santa is a vital part of our holiday season..(and my sanity)

  I don't think it's Sam's new found Santa realization that's getting to me though. I think it is more that they are all growing away that has me feeling so introspective. Parenting is topsy turvy sometimes isn't it?.  For years, I was the center of their universe..and some ways, I'm becoming more of an observer than a participant. Stepping back and letting them figure things out on their own...watching how they look to each other for answers.   A large part of me revels in this. There was a time..and still are times when I worry and fret about the future for my kids. I don't know what it holds for them..I don't know how far they will go. I have to remember though-to look at the here and now and to occasionally glance back to see how far forward we have come. From where I am standing right now, the future- although uncertain, looks pretty bright.

  Last week we were listening to Christmas carols as we were driving out and about.  Now, there is nothing like a rousing rendition of "Rudolph the red nosed reindeer" to get the blood pumping. Especially when it is sung by "Mitch Miller and the Gang"  .  My kids are fabulous in that they will sing with me-at the top of their lungs.(much to Omar's amused discomfort) ..So there we are singing along when Zoe starts kicking the back of Lily's seat. Lily in turn grabbed Zoe's foot and a screaming match ensued. "Girls!!" I yelled "Santa is watching!!" They immediately stopped.  Sam just looked at me (rather accusingly I must say)  Lily said "Sammy do you remember that Christmas eve we were looking out the window and we saw Rudolph's nose glow?" Sammy said "I remember..we were looking outside and we saw the reflection of his nose on the roof!!  And then we heard a banging sound.." Sammy glared looked at me..and Lily said "Mama?...that was Santa right?"..."uuuhhhh...ask me later..I can't hear you the musics too loud."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Re-run..

    last week marked my two year "blogoversary"..I can't believe that I have actually kept it up for that long..I have made so many friends and connections in this little community of ours and I am thankful. ..and as tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the states..I thought I'd share one of my earlier posts..Happy Thanksgiving to everyone-no matter where you are..I am thankful for you..

That which does not kill me makes me thankful 

~"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."~Mae West

" Girls! Leave the table cloth on the it is NOT a cape!"

"put it on the table..THE TABLE not your HEAD!"

"It's for Thanksgiving....Why? because it makes the table pretty..."

"No it is not a sheet! It is a Table Cloth...FOR THE TABLE!"

"THAT'S IT! If you touch it again, you won't have cookies UNTIL YOU ARE 47! "

Thus begins our Thanksgiving celebration. Like most families, we gather around the table to feast on Turkey and all the sides. The only exception being that our holiday feast includes frozen pizza. Frozen pizza, because that is one of the five things that my boys will eat, and they had already met their quota of peanut butter and jelly for the week.

Thanksgiving is often a time for family traditions. One of my children's favorite traditions is arguing over where they will sit. Actually, they do this at most meals. It just seems more festive on Thanksgiving being that there is a table cloth involved. My tradition is to ask everyone what they hope the next year will bring, and what they are thankful for. The answers from my kids vary from "I hope the next year brings toys", "I am thankful for toys" to "why is this sheet on the table? " and "I am thankful for this sheet". I try and set a good example by saying that I am thankful for my family, for having this wonderful feast and that I hope that the next year is as wonderful as this one has been. I am also secretly thankful that the table cloth is still on the table. 

This year we we did things differently. As per my oldest son Sammy's school assignment, we were to go around the table and give thanks for things we wouldn't normally be thankful about. For example, being thankful for a mortgage, because it meant we had a roof over our heads, or being thankful for homework because it meant that you were learning. Sammy turned to me and said "I'm thankful for you mama." and continued to eat his pizza. Now I could take that one of two ways...he either didn't understand the assignment or he equates me with the mortgage. My ego chose the former.

As I later pondered the idea of this assignment, I asked myself what am I truly thankful for? The obvious things of course, we have a house, a steady income, four unique children, three of which happen to have an asd. What would I normally not think to be thankful for? Should I be thankful for autism? It has shaped who we all are. How we behave, how we think. Wasn't it Nietzsche who said "That which does not kill you makes you stronger"?( Then again, Nietzsche wasn't a stay at home parent.) On one hand, how could I possibly be thankful for something that has at times caused my kids to have to work so hard, and on the other, that work has in part made them the incredible people that they are. From their struggle, we have all grown. I know that I am a better parent-a better person. I take little for granted, and I have much joy. For that, I give thanks.

That night, while I was tucking Sammy in, he once again said that he was thankful for me. I asked him why? He said "Mama, you help me to learn so I can grow up to be a good adult."and I thought, right back at you Sammy, right back at you. He did understand the assignment-it was me who got it wrong. Yet another thing to be thankful for.

And so another Thanksgiving has passed. There was a wonderful turkey, thought provoking conversation....and the table cloth stayed on the table. All in all, a great success- AND I still have a few weeks to figure out how to keep the GIRLS OFF OF THE CHRISTMAS TREE!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Not going to "Never" land..

  ~"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."~ Mark Twain

  I should have known...or at least suspected. If ever I wake up in the morning and I don't want coffee, something is wrong. Very wrong indeed.  The thing of it is...well, I didn't figure it out until I took the dogs  for their walk. When I was standing in the middle of my view of the entire neighborhood, in my oldest robe and a pair of Omar's pajama bottoms..then it hit me.. all of a sudden-I knew. I had caught the dreaded stomach bug from the kids....oh and it wasn't pretty.  There I was on hands and knees heaving the contents of my stomach for all the world looking like a lifetime alcoholic coming off of a bender..or a reality show star looking for publicity.  It was that bad. The dogs just stared at me. I don't know what the neighbors thought-but they haven't dropped off any brochures for rehab, so I should be o.k.

  I was in a bind.  Omar was gone for the next twelve hours, and I was on my own...alone with the herd.  Now, anyone who has kids KNOWS what that means. Parents don't get sick.  It is against the rules.  I even  think it's part of the Geneva convention-it just isn't allowed. Now I have been known from time to time for breaking rules...and they say that "necessity is the mother of invention" and it was necessary...I threw myself on my children's mercy. I was that sick-and there was no way I was going to be making snacks and lunch and more snacks and dinner.  It just wasn't happening. "Mama! Your Sick? "Yes..I have to lie down.." "Mama's sick..her belly is going bleeech" "Is your belly sick Mama?"..".....yes.."  "Mama,,are you going to get sick..are you going to throw up..Mama?..".."" "MAMA's BELLY IS GOING BLEEECH!!!" 
"Oh No Mama's going to throw up!!" "Mama's belly is sick!"  and on and on they went...I snuck upstairs sometime during this fascinating conversation and passed out. Oh, it isn't like I wasn't aware of them..they came upstairs every thirty two seconds or so to check on make sure that I was find out how long you put a "hot pocket" in the see if they could have a ask me if I was still sick..sigh..  No,I didn't abandon them...It is more like I left them to their own devices. Which can be a dangerous thing. But in this case- It wasn't.

  The next morning..I was feeling half way to normal as I made my way downstairs. There, I was met with four happy kids and a  kitchen that looked as if a tsunami had hit...there were dishes everywhere..wet towels and washcloths (Zoe had decided to clean every surface of the house-including windows and computer screens)  buckets and papers...a mess of epic proportions...AND  It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
 "Mama! you're better!"  "We did your jobs for you Mama!" "I cleaned the table.."  "I made lunch for everyone!"  "I helped too!"   They were euphoric. So proud of themselves.  They had done it-gotten through a day without me. Made choices and decisions...they stood on their own...and while it might have made one of the biggest messes I have ever in my life cleaned up-it was also one of my greatest pleasures to clean it.  My kids took care of themselves and of me..and no one was maimed in the process!.  How cool is that?

  You know, I think back to the early days...especially with my boys.  How far they have come. . I am so thankful for the people involved in the diagnosis. Particularly Oscar's.  His early years were the toughest. We seemed to have more questions than answers...We didn't know if he would ever talk..or!  We didn't know.  We were given a lot of "maybe's" and for that I am very thankful.  Even though at the time it was frustrating-I wanted answers!  But "maybe" is hopeful(even if I didn't think so at the time).   I can't imagine being told "never"..what would that have done to us as parents?  More importantly-what would that have done to Oscar?  No, one of the most important lessons I have learned is to never say never. I don't know what the future holds for him..I try not to worry too much...sigh.. Worrying seems to be an essential part of parenting doesn't it?...My boy is only nine years old, and I see how very far he has come.. the past three years alone have been full of leaps and bounds..How could I possibly predict what he will or won't be able to do?  He counts on me. If I don't believe in him-how can he believe in himself?  Whatever happens-whatever the future won't be because we lived in "never" land.   Although I will say That I never will ignore my body again if it tells me it doesn't want coffee...and at the same time, I'll make sure I am wearing more than my pajamas to walk the dogs when it does...     

Thursday, November 18, 2010

1001 Tips For The Parents Of Autistic Girls

  I have been asked to give a book review as a part of the 1001 tips for the parents of autistic boys and girls blog tour. I chose to review "1001 Tips For The Parents of Autistic Girls" by Tony Lyons.  The reason being that my youngest Zoe, had only been formally diagnosed a few months ago. Before that, most of my knowledge about autism came from my experience with boys.  Zoe's diagnosis did not come as a surprise-we had suspected as much for a little over a year. Once we had had her screened, we knew it was just a matter of time. It was the time BEFORE  her screening that surprised me. We knew she had some "issues"..but hey, in our family, who doesn't? We just hadn't put the pieces together as she had presented so much differently than her brothers.  I felt a little foolish for not having seen the warning signs. There isn't a whole lot of research done on girls with autism, so I was happy to see a book written especially for them.

  In the introduction. Lyons expresses that there isn't much out there information wise for girls on the spectrum. He also states that this book is a compilation of information from many different sources.  That some of the "tips" may appear to contradict themselves. That knowing your child is key in deciding which tips might work for you.  He also recommends that you discuss ANY and ALL treatment with your child's physician. I think all of this is important to know BEFORE you dive into the book.  Otherwise, you will wind up confused.

 Some sections of the book are geared to older girls and circumstances that we are not yet dealing with. So I chose to focus on the areas that concern us now. Mainly diagnosis, education, and diet.

  I found "Diagnosis and Evaluation" (chapters 3 and 4)  to be quite informative.  Just speaking from my own experience-autism in girls can present very differently than it does in boys.  Early intervention and parent persistence is stressed in this section. For diagnosis, there are great tips on what to to if you think there is a problem, where to go, questions to ask, and symptoms you should look for. I did not agree with everything. For instance

 "PDD-NOS Does not meet sufficient criteria for diagnosis of autism or aspergers.  Frequently children are initially diagnosed with PDD-NOS and then move to autism" 

 Two of my children have a diagnosis of PDD-NOS, it is accepted by the state and school district as being part of the autism spectrum. They receive services because of this.  There has never been any indication that their diagnosis would change.We were told  that with early intervention they could continue to develop and grow.
They have and do.

  I think that "Education-Planning A Siege" (chapters 5-10) was by far the most useful and informative chapters of the book.   There are tips on how to approach a meeting, ideas on keeping log books and what to do if your child's needs are not being met. It also listed what your rights are as a parent-and your child's rights as a student.  I think that these chapters would be useful to ANY parent of a child who requires any special services. In other words-these chapters are for helpful for anyone navigating the waters of special education. I would however add my own special tip 

"When preparing for any educational meeting, it is wise not to experiment with your "personal touch" eyebrow shaper-as shaving off half of an eyebrow does not project the image of a capable parent." but that's just me...

  I was very disappointed in the way the book addresses "DIET" (chapter26) We have eating issues in our household. Texture, smell, color, all play a role in my children's eating habits. I would like information or tips on HOW to address these issues.  Instead, it appears that this chapter is mostly based on the assumption that autistic people have problems with malabsorption, food allergies and celiac disease. This is absolutely untrue.
While autistic people can and do have food allergies-just like everyone should NEVER be assumed that.they walk hand in hand. There were too many statements in this chapter and not enough tips. It is one thing to say "Remove such and such from their diet" or "It will take a few days for them to adjust" but to not explain HOW to do these things leaves a gaping hole. I would love suggestions on how to expand on my children's menu of five things without causing anxiety attacks.  I'd like to make it easy for the kids as well..

  In reviewing this book, I skimmed a lot of chapters, and focused mainly on the things that are pertinent to us now. I found some very good information.  I am sure that as my girl grows, I will be able to find some more useful tips to get us through things like puberty and high school. There is plenty of useful and good information to look for.

I have to say that I don't like the title of the book. When we were first going through diagnosis with my son nine years ago, I would have been happy for just ten good tips on what to do in certain situations. Tips to me are help, ideas, strategies for accomplishing something. This book in my opinion, offered more statements than tips. Yes, ideas are good-but you need follow through-HOW to implement the ideas would be a start. I thought the book lacked that.

 Would I recommend this book? Yes-but only to a parent that is not new to diagnosis. For even though the author warns of contradictions in the introduction-it is hard to remember that when reading the tips.  Some of the tips read as fact. If I didn't know what I do of autism,(and it is still very little after nine years) I might not use the book as recommended. Instead, I might accept everything as written and wind up very confused. For the rest of us, who have some experience with autism, I'd say it was worth reading.  There is something in it for everyone. You just have to look.
  For anyone interested in the boys book-Jen of "Autism the King and Eye" wrote a thorough post on it here.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ramblings of an overwhelmed mother who used to be a daughter....

"...All Cats are grey in in the dark"~John Heywood's  Book of Proverbs. (1546)

      You know I try and keep a positive attitude..try and find the good in every situation. We all have days when seemingly everything goes wrong..when no matter what you do-nothing goes according to plan .I have always thought that when life hands you lemons, you  make lemonade..or as T and L say- you get yourself  some tequila and salt and have yourself a party.  So I try-really I do.  But this past month or so..It just seems as though the weight of the world has been on my shoulders and no amount of tequila is going to help my spinning head.

  Anyone following me knows about my recent IEP woes..and my ongoing construction and my lack of a decent bathroom..Add to it-my car dying, my dogs getting fleas, Oscar discovering that bodily function jokes are a RIOT,  and all the kids getting a stomach bug- culminating with my daughter throwing up on my head-yes, my head! Let me tell you, it isn't a fashion statement I would recommend...All I wanted to do was jump back and yell "ick!ick! ick!" but I couldn't..because I'm the mom. I wanted to make her feel better..and really... what's a little vomit between family?..It was certainly a bonding moment-and I'm not talking about me and my daughter.  Sigh...sometimes it is hard to be the adult..sometimes I want to be a kid...sometimes I want MY mother...

  Last month marked the twenty third anniversary of my moms death.  She has been gone for half of my life...and yet her influence remains.  Sometimes I wonder what she would think of me now...of this life I have carved out for myself... She had a roaring sense of humor, but being a DEVOUT Irish Catholic, felt terribly guilty about it.   What would she think of my kids yelling out various words at the top of their lungs..usually having to do with the more private of the body parts?..My mother didn't have body parts..well with the exception of a chin up and ankles down.  Everything else was kept locked away somewhere...her closet I think. To her sex was for procreation NOT recreation.. She was an enigma.. an interesting mix of faith, intellect and humor..and I think she would have enjoyed what I have become.  I know she would have laughed to see me this way-her independent and strong willed daughter being brought low by fleas and inadequate plumbing. I think that she would have laughed with the kids..and would have put my current woes in perspective.   She would say "Stiff upper lip"... "Up Kerry!"..or some other odd thing, telling me to suck it up..move strong..  My mom was not fond of big emotion.  It's crazy, but there are times that I can still hear her voice in my head ... After all these years..she still guides me.  Which makes me wonder what kind of impact do I have with my own kids...what will they remember?  That's just plain scary..

  Will they look back and remember a woman who yelled too much, misplaced everything, and threatened them with showing up at school in her pajamas?  A woman who overcompensated for her sheltered upbringing by being so explicit in teaching "the facts of life"( along with charts, diagrams and song)s that we all wanted to just sink into the floor? Will they still hear my voice?  What will it say?.  It certainly won't be "keep a stiff upper lip"..What is a stiff upper lip anyway?  Has anyone ever tried to keep one? It is an odd thing to try to do..and still, I don't know how it helps...unless it is to take your mind off of things because you are concentrating on keeping your upper lip..well...stiff. But that is besides the point.  My mother was so neat..and I'm just so messy.  

    Last night, I was lying on my bed pondering the past few weeks... The car problem is fixed, the fleas are dead, the IEP's dealt with, construction almost complete and a bathroom is on the horizon. The herd is once again healthy!   Things are looking up as they always do. Sometimes though, I need to just take a moment to  let it all go. So there I was- relaxing...when I felt my cat on my legs. Now, this isn't unusual.. he likes to hang out with me-especially when the kids aren't around.  The thing is..he was moving around too much....and after a long day of holding kids(or rather being hung on by kids)-I wanted a little of my own space. So I looked down-about to tell him to move off of me...when I realized...he was humping my leg.  My cat was humping my leg...with reckless abandon!. EEK!   In my shock (and horror) forgetting that my children were awake and could hear everything..I yelled "Holy crap the cat is humping my leg!!" sigh... My children being who they are...well, I know it is only a matter of time before they repeat that....probably at some inopportune anywhere other than home...  I just hope it doesn't stick....that these aren't the words they remember me by..that it isn't one of the phrases they hear in their heads as adults....sigh...stiff upper lip...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A room with no view...

                                   "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times......"
                             ~Charles Dickens~

  It has been a rough couple of weeks here at Chez Herd.  So many things happening all at once.... The good news is that we have made a huge dent in our (so far) five year house remodel. We have replaced all the interesting brown particle board paneling with fresh drywall in the entire upstairs AND plotted out the area for a new bathroom! Yes-it looks as if we are finally going to have a second bathroom put in. We have lived for so very long with only one.  One bathroom for six people-a few of which think that clogging the toilet is "all in a days work".... One bathroom that is at least fifty miles from the bedrooms-or at least it feels that way at three in the morning.. when one of the herd needs to use it and is too afraid to make the treacherous journey alone. Oh.. there is NOTHING quite like being startled awake by a face hovering two inches from yours and the words "My belly doesn't feel good" to get your legs moving in the middle of the night!   Sadly, because of the distance, I don't think that we have ever made it in time in all the years we have lived here...sigh...I'm thinking that it might be time to replace the carpet on the stairs.

  Our house was built before the popularity of indoor plumbing (or as I like to call it-The" Porcelain  Age") So, I'm guessing that the original owners of my house, not used to the luxury of an indoor "privy" had no idea of where to put a bathroom in. So either they were just used to the inconvenience of  "going" outdoors-or they were masochists-because they stuck it in the most inconvenient of places. The kitchen.  Yes, If I chose to, I could cook dinner and greet guests at the door all from the comfort of my shower...and NOTHING screams ambiance more than a soaking wet  naked child walking into the kitchen while you are cooking dinner..It can be quite the conversation starter.
" Why are you wet?"
"I'm not wet"
"You're soaking wet!!..and you're naked!! where are your clothes!!
"My clothes are wet."
"I kind of figured that..why are they wet?"
"I fell"
"What do you mean you fell??!!"
"I dropped my headband."
"What do you mean?"
"I dropped it in and I had to get it out"
" Where did you drop........oh."
  Although I don't expect conversations like the above to cease anytime will be nice to have them someplace other than in the kitchen.  So you have to understand my unbridled joy over this upcoming addition to our home.(yes, I probably need to get out more)

  Surprisingly, the herd doesn't seem to be affected by all of this chaos. They have been pretty excited to come home every day and see what work has been done.   There was a time not too long ago, when I couldn't even hang pictures on the wall without a total freak out(with torn pictures and shattered frames)-when any change to the home environment  involved intense negotiation- so this is huge progress .HUGE. No, the only really big issue that we are having during all this the misplacing of things. Or rather, MY misplacing of things.

  We have two of the nicest gentlemen (friends of ours) doing the work..every day they have hung Sheetrock..mudded the walls and sanded off plaster.  In fact, there is so much plaster dust that when you walk by, you wind up looking like an extra from the movie Scarface. The house is a total and absolute mess. So what do I do?  I worry that these friends of ours will think I'm a total failure at every day, before they arrive, I scurry to hide the piles of dirty laundry and other crap from sight.   Heaven forbid they think I keep an untidy house!  The problem is...well, I keep misplacing ALL of Omar's socks..our teaspoons...and fourteen chocolate chip cookies.  I know-it's weird...but there you have it. And no...the cookies weren't eaten...they were tucked away in a bag on the top of the fridge...the socks were in the laundry and the spoons in the drawer.Where they are..well, your guess is as good as mine..My hope is that there is a crazed person wandering my neighborhood..wearing thirty pairs of socks..playing the spoons and eating cookies.  My fear is that I stuck them somewhere like in one of the workers toolboxes and my secret will be found out...and the workmen will think that I am a crappy housekeeper! Oh the shame!  The shame!
sigh...I'm getting carried away...plaster dust can do that...

   I am cautiously optimistic that we may actually get a second bathroom in before Christmas-THIS year! We have been keeping very steady in this round of remodel..and I think we just might get it done...think...and hope. I'll let you know how it goes..And please, if you should see a strange person wandering around wearing thirty pairs of socks, playing the spoons and eating cookies...please send them my way.  Winter is coming and Omar needs his socks.                

Monday, November 1, 2010

Autistic people communicate

        To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.
          ~Anthony Robbins~

   When my boys were younger, they were non verbal. They did not have words, and yet they communicated.  They did not have the internet, and yet they communicated. My children did not have cell phones or touchpads or keyboards, and yet they communicated. They have ALWAYS communicated.  I simply had to listen.

Today there is a call for a "communication shut down" in which people are staying off of the internet in order to raise awareness about autism-specifically non verbal autistic people. This is supposedly to teach non autistic people what it feels like to have no means of communication. I think that this is a mistake. I think that if you want to raise awareness about autism, you should listen to what autistic people are saying.  Autistic people communicate.  They always have.  People just need to learn how to listen.

So today, instead of shutting down-I'm going to open up.  Below is a list of autistic bloggers. I encourage everyone to go on over and read them..but more importantly, listen to what they are saying.
Autism Blogs Directory
Autistics speaking Day

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The post I don't want to write.

"It's the hurt I hide that fuels the fire inside me" ~Ray Lamontagne~

  I don't want to write this post. I don't.  I can think of a million things I would rather do than sit here tapping away on my keyboard.  In fact, I would prefer chewing on tinfoil than writing this post.  But I have to. I don't feel as if I have a choice.   It is finally quiet now..the kids are in bed...another week has ended-and I am thankful. It had started out as a promising week.  We had Zoe's IEP meeting on Monday.(if you are new here-two posts down will explain our difficulties) We wound up getting everything we wanted for my girl and then some. So I'm not complaining. In fact the week was pretty good until Wednesday, when everything came crashing down. 

  Oscar came home on Wednesday with three quizzes he had taken at school.  They were all marked with a 100%.  At first, I just glanced at them-and immediately praised my boy for his work.  Then, I sat down to look at them....and my heart dropped.  It wasn't his work. Not at all. 

   Oscar has a full time aid at school.  She helps him with math, spelling, and supports him in the classroom. He has difficulty with fine motor skills.  He can write-but it is very frustrating for him (he is a whiz on the keyboard though) so his aid acts as a scribe for written assignments. She is to copy down what Oscar says word for word.  She is not to correct or amend it.  It is his work in his words. Or at least it is supposed to be  This is how we have always done it.  Now, Oscar has difficulty with both pragmatic and expressive language-it makes his work very distinctive- sometimes downright unusual.  The point is-it is recognizable as Oscar's work.  The quizzes he brought home-were too well written-too well thought out to be his. Because- it appears that his aid took it upon herself to write what she thought were the appropriate answers. Not Oscars answers-HERS.  In her words. Now I'm sure her parents will be thrilled that their child, a graduate student, was able to ace a fourth grade quiz..but Oscar's parents aren't.   Did she think that I wouldn't notice?  Apparently not.

  The next morning, I called the school.  I spoke to everyone that I could think of.  I was could this happen? Why wasn't anyone saying anything!!  Little did I know that my world was going to be turned upside down.  You see, it was implied that perhaps this has been going on for a long time.  That Oscar in reality has not been doing any of his work.  That in essence, the school has been babysitting my son for the past...what? six weeks? months? years? My heart fell-dropped-imploded. I swear my blood literally ran cold. I felt like the wind was knocked right out of me. That someone could actually say this-to imply that Oscar was NOT capable..and furthermore allude to the fact that I had no idea after all these years-years!..I broke...crumbled..shattered.  Because..I let myself believe it.  Because I was afraid that maybe I did only want to hear the good things..that I allowed myself to be fooled..because it was about me..and not my boy.  Could this be true? Could I be that shallow..that needy?  I was sick with the thought of it-and damn near hysterical.  What kind of mother am I?

  I did the only thing I could think of. I called more people..I set up an emergency IEP meeting (this Wednesday) and I questioned those who had worked with my boy in the past.  The latter shames me.  There are some people at that school who have given their very best to my Oscar-who are passionate about what they do-who care and want him to work to the best of his abilities. HIS ABILITIES. People who have willingly given me their time in order to help my kids. I questioned them.  I can only say now that I wasn't thinking clearly or rationally. I was so hurt for my very hurt. How could anyone think that this incredible child-this boy-my son was living a lie.  Do they not understand how very difficult it is for him? Yet, he perseveres.  Every little change, every single sound..sight..smell..everything is a distraction..and yet he still tries...and tries. And he succeeds-in his own way-in his own time.  He does not need someone else's words-he has his own..and although they may seem odd from time to time-they are his and he earned them. 

  I am so sorry that I allowed myself to fall into that trap . The trap of doubting myself-and far worse-doubting my boy. He deserves better than that.  He also deserves people around him who are responsible. Had I not bothered to look at his quizzes...had I not bothered to call..I would not have known any of this.  It makes me wonder, would anyone have called me? I'm not sure. I do know this-the people who speculated about Oscars ability and my naivety are cowards.  They have no problem discussing it behind closed doors..I'm sure they even acted appalled and shocked...but did they say anything to me? When they saw me in the hallway at school..did they express concern?  Did they ask to speak to me..send smoke signals-no. That is unacceptable.

  I do not know what the outcome of this meeting will be.  I do know that excuses have already been made..floundering has commenced-and I am angry. My son deserves to be treated with both dignity and respect. I'll not have it any other way.

  I so did not want to write this post..I have three others almost ready to go-but this one...sigh...this one just needed to be let out.  I'll be back to my regular self next week. You can count on it. Just as you can count on all of these issues being dealt with at Wednesdays IEP meeting.  No doubt about it. None.      

Saturday, October 23, 2010


~ "Tonight tonight won't be just any night.."~From West Side Story
-music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

 Tonight is going to be a momentous night for one of her first big steps into the exciting unknown..Tonight will be her first ever date. No, it isn't the kind where you have dinner or go to the movies..and definitely not the kind where you sneak off to be alone together and is so much more innocent than that.  Where you are more friends than anything else. But, it is still so special..because it is the first..The first time you have been asked somewhere by a boy..the first time you were chosen..made to feel special..made to feel pretty and popular..I still remember my first date nine hundred million years ago. His name was John and he asked me to the seventh grade dance.  I can't really recall the details..although he probably wore flannel .  I felt wonderful..yes unsure.. grown up and oh so sophisticated wearing my Bonnie Belle lip-smackers (Dr. Pepper flavored)  I was twelve years old and I felt so mature ...I was living life to its fullest! least until 9:00 when my mom picked me up.

  So I think about that girl ..and I wonder if she will remember this night..this first..this boy who asked her. I guess that it doesn't really matter.  Because I will remember. Because tonight, Sammy's is the boy who asked that girl.  Asked! .My boy asked a girl to the dance!! sigh... My not so little son is drifting into that strange land that falls between boy and young adult.  Going from one "hood" to another. Interested in girls but having no idea why. I look at him and I am at a loss for heart doesn't know whether to be happy at such growth or sad at such....growth..  Here is the kid that so many people said "would never"...and yet he did..and does.  And really-I know that this is wonderful...and monumental..and all kinds of good stuff in between..and yet..and hurts. What in the world is wrong with me!!??

As I helped him get ready for the Halloween dance (He was "Manus" from Symbiotic Titans) I set some ground rules.  He was not to leave the building...he was to pay attention to his "date" as he had asked to be her escort...But-most importantly, he was not to hit her or anyone else in the head with his light saber. Yeah...we had to improvise a little on the costume-but he didn't have a problem with it. (another HUGE step)
 We dropped him off at the school and told him to have a great time. Three hours(of pacing) later..we picked up a tired but happy boy. "Hey-how was the dance buddy?"  "Great."..."Did you have fun?" "Yes." ..."Did you meet your girl?" "Yes."..."Well???" "I'm hungry..can I have a snack?" "Yeah...did you dance..?" " feet hurt." "Did you dance with your girl??" "Uh huh..can I have some cookies?"  Arrgghhh...this growing up stuff is really really hard on an innocent mother! sigh..But I figured if he wanted to tell me about it he would.  I've got to give my boy some it or not.  Even if I am dying for details.

   Later on as he was going up to bed he said "Mama?...can I tell you something?"  Part of me wanted to believe he would talk about the dance..but the experienced part of me knows better. "yeah bud..what's up?" "You know that show Deltora Quest?..well, they are going to the Sea of Rats...crazy huh?" "uhhh...yeah?"
"O.k....goodnight Mama".."Goodnight buddy.." Good night indeed.