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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Park is Not a Choice Today

I don’t want to take you to the park today.
God.
Am I even allowed to say that out loud?

I don’t want to chase after you, and watch you watch the other kids having fun.
I don’t want to glare at the other parents, trying to catch them staring at you and imagining them making judgments about you
While their healthy, chubby, “normal” children squeal and play stupid games
Like hide and seek, or tag, or kickball

I don’t want to try and convince you to climb up the stairs and slide down the slide and swing on the swing when all you really want is to jump up and down and flap your arms and escape from my heavy clutch so you can RUN

Free and Fearless

Possibly into the busy street just yards away
Possibly into the arms of a stranger
Possibly towards a group of children
That may reject you

I don’t want to ask you questions that you won’t answer
Like “are you having fun?” or “do you think this place is better than the park we went to yesterday?”

I don’t want to feel this way
But today I do
With impatience and frustration
Greeting me along with the rise of an indifferent sun
That insists on shining despite
The darkness in my heart

I don’t want to take you to the park today
And maybe that makes me weak
Or lazy
Or irresponsible
But if you should decide to crawl up here beside me
I will hold you
In my arms
And smell your hair
And whisper in your ear
Watch you effortlessly fall asleep
Because you feel safe
And I would be happy with that
Because I just don’t have
The energy
To chase you
At the park
Today



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Mother and Her Child

"Where are your socks?"

"Put on a sweater!"

"Don't eat that!"

"Dry your hair before you go outside!"

"Don't you talk back to me!"

"Wait till I call your father!"

"Pick up this mess!"

"You're not going out dressed like that are you?"


Just another morning encounter with my well-meaning Mama.
I so enjoy these moments together. 

In fact, some people like breakfast with their coffee.  I prefer to start my day with some good old fashioned criticism and Polish folklore.

If I've been told once, I've been told a quadrillion times to suck in my stomach and microwave that cold cereal before it causes my body to implode on itself. 

Ah.

Good thing I have her to remind me that at 32 years of age, I'm nowhere near being able to make my own decisions, and that being a self-sufficient adult will always be but an illusion. 

Otherwise, who knows?  I might end up doing something crazy, like tempting fate and walking out the front door with my hair soaking wet.

I Love you Mama.

Thanks for the fear-based parenting style that I am now so proudly and naturally passing down to my own two terrified, manipulated, co-dependent children.

Being a Mom with emotional baggage rocks.

It's the gift that keeps on giving.




Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Lady Behind Me In Line Would Probably Trade Places With Me If I Let Her But Just For the Record, I Wouldn't.

I am grumpy
for 12345678910 different reasons
dragging my offspring
from store to crowded, overpriced, store
as Superman insists
on pushing the cart
bumping into
walls
and
displays
placed in the middle of the aisle (WHO THOUGHT OF THIS?!!)
I bribe
with donuts
and
chocolate
and
try one nostril breathing
(some yoga crap I saw once)
but it doesn't work
and the blood pressure climbs
as I continue to
deplete my bank account
at record speeds

We are
standing in line
and I
tell Superman to
"Knock It Offffffffffffffffff"
as he throws his
beanie baby up and down
up and down
up and down
and I growl when he
touches the gummy worm display
giving him a dirty look as I bend down
to scrape Monchichi off of
the Swine Flu-Infested Floor
I feel a gentle tap on my shoulder
and turn to meet the smiling gaze of a stranger
standing in line
alone
dressed in red
smelling of "I can shower for thirty minutes if I want to because no one pounds on the door trying to barge in"
and she says
with a twinkle in her eyes no less
that she WISHES
her son were still that age
since now he's all grown up
and it wentsofast
I imagine her twenty years ago,
standing in line somewhere
growling at her little one
she tells me how she misses those frustrating, exhausting, exasperating jaunts
with the child
who is taller than her now
and has better things to do
then stand in line with his mother
throwing beanie babies
into
the personal space
of a stranger

She watches as
Superman begins
tossing that stupid toy again
up and down
up and down
tells him what a good job he is doing
giggles at his pride
and I am reminded again
what is most important
in this very short
very fragile
very unpredictable life
so I THANK her
for saying
exactly
what this
grumpy
yet
suddenly
so grateful
mommy
needed
so badly
to hear

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Everyone Should Have a Calm Chart

I am observing Monchichi in therapy with Wonder Woman, our wonderful, irreplaceable, brilliant autism therapist who we lovingly refer to as "BOSS."  He is learning a new technique to keep his anger and frustration in check.  He can't tell us to "piss off" so he yells and grunts and flaps instead.  It's okay now, at seven years of age.  But if he's still doing it at 16 then I predict high hospital bills.  For everyone.

The beauty of behavioral intervention though, is that we can give him other ways of coping with those high-octane emotions.  Hence, the calm chart.

So I'm watching as Wonder Woman directs him towards the wall, where his brand spanking new Calm Chart is hanging.  It's just a laminated board, with velcro on it, and corresponding cards illustrating things that he likes like stretching, squeezing a pillow, getting a head rub and taking a deep breath.  He picks three cards and I watch as he begins to squeeze the living daylights out of his little monkey pillow. 

This.  Is.  Brilliant.

I need a Calm Chart, I think. 
Oh! 
The endless possibilities!
I imagine the choices on my GIANT laminated board
Chocolate.  Cheese.  Full Body Massage.  Pedicure.  Double Nonfat Vanilla Latte.  Seven Day, Six Night Trip to Bora Bora.

Squeezing a pillow?
Clearly my son is an amateur.

I think about the people in my life who would benefit from a Calm Chart:

My mom.
My husband.
My sister.

YOU.

I think about the fact that if everyone had a Calm Chart, we might not be so inclined to hiss at each other when in a crowded mall (yes, I'm talking about you weird mullet guy who was clearly offended that I didn't cower away as you stomped up the sidewalk towards the mall entrance and then proceeded to HISSSSS at me.   Ew.)

He could have definately used a Calm Chart.

Or
a Behavioral Interventionist.




Monday, December 21, 2009

Can Reindeer Be Jewish?

I am
paying the price
for keeping my children
indoors
today

by
counting to 400 during catch

by
wiping drool and cheese crackers off of the leather couches

by
breaking up a Mack Truck Mid-day Standoff

by
fielding questions
such as

"Can We Play Catch Again?"

"Can I Have More Chocolate?"

"When Will Daddy Get Home?"

"Can Reindeer Be Jewish?"

To which I replied:

"No"

"Absolutely Not"

"Not Fast Enough"

and

"Well, I'm sure reindeer are free to excersise the religion of their choice, just like all of the other little animals intheforestandpleasedon'taskmewherebabiescomefromrightnowbecauseiamtiredandyoujustmightgetthewholeuglytruthoutofme.

Tomorrow.  The.  Park.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Be Nice to Your Kids. They May Be Changing Your Diapers One Day.

If there's one thing I've learned from caring for my elderly grandmother, it's that old folks are deceptively heavy.  Especially naked.  When trying to give them a shower.

If there's another thing I've learned, it's to start sucking up to your kids. 
Now.

Because it's never to early to begin planning for that stage in your life when the house plant in the corner is definately the same thing as a flushing toilet and the oatmeal makes it directly into your mouth 1 out of 5 times.

Someone has to keep you from putting the hemmorhoid cream in the wrong place. 

Someone has to keep you smelling pretty and not like, well, an old person. 

Someone has to tuck those droopy boobies back into that heavy duty bra before they come loose and maim a loved one.

So take heed dear friends, and maybe buy an extra christmas present or ten for your future caretakers this holiday season.

Or you could raise them Catholic, like we do, and guilt them into service.

Because I don't know about you, but I would much rather give family members the pleasure of scrubbing all of those hard to reach places than waste such a joyous opportunity on a big-boned nurse with a moustache wearing pastel scrubs named Griselda.

Just sayin.




Monday, December 14, 2009

Sort of Like Going to Hawaii But Actually Totally Not the Same

6:00 a.m.
the internal alarm clock forces me out of bed
though i have made sure the curtains are all but glued shut. 

Cold pizza packed for husband's lunch
Half Caff sloppily tossed into leaking coffeemaker
meowing cats fed, strong aroma illicits mental note to change litterbox
loving hug from firstborn leaves wet mark, prompting bathtime to be moved up by 8 hours

Dishes.
Breakfast.
Breakfast Dishes.

Swiffer the hell out of the sticky floor, which is inexplicably sticky again in 2.5 seconds.
Check bank statement.
Hyperventilate.

Laundry.
Scrub the stairs.
Vaccum gigantic pine needles which are shedding from gigantic Christmas tree at an alarming rate.
Wonder if Christmas tree will be bald by Christmas.

Stare at sinkful of dishes.
What. The. Hell.

Dress for errands
which include
post office
video store
Target

Watch as Monchichi spills boxful of ornaments.
Opens the refrigerator for the thousandth time.

God.  What are we feeding these cats?

It is 8:30 a.m.

Make no mistake.
This working mother of two

is on Vacation.









Saturday, December 12, 2009

Find Something To Celebrate

My best friend (the one I keep around because she knows way too much) said something pivotal to me in the wake of what experts in the field would coin as a Crappy Week.

"Find something to celebrate, " she said, as she handed me a home cooked meal complete with a chilled bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider.

I sighed as I realized  I would have to listen.

She was using her bossy voice.

And if you know my best friend, you know it's best not to get on her bad side.

So I went home.
And ate. 
Because I cannot celebrate anything on an empty stomach.

But I was unnerved.  I had been prepared to wallow in a sludge of well-deserved self-pity and then the little snot had to sprinkle her love and rainbows and puppy dogs all over my gloom. 
So.  Annoying.

And so, in-between shoving biscuits into my mouth at lightning speeds, I began a mental quest to find something, anything, that would replace the gray haze lingering over me with a downpour of joyful bliss.

It didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would.
I was struck with not one, but many things to Celebrate.  They weren't life-changing events.  They didn't include winning the lottery, or curing autism, or miraculously fitting into my little sister's jeans (God I hate that bitch).  They were more like tiny little bursts of "yay" that get trampled on when life gives overbearing doses of "Crap." 

But there is strength in numbers, and as the list grew, the dread and fear began to fade into the background, a faint whisper among the growing group of "yay's."

The goofy string of lights the husband put up on the headboard of our pine sleigh bed.

The quiet and unsolicited hug from a student whose trust was finally earned. 

The inappropriate pride at hearing monchichi trying to echo "shut up" after hearing it on tv. 

The generosity of a co-worker who has no underlying agenda.

The explosive laughter of friends as an impromptu game of Pictionary quickly went from G to X rated. 

The site of loads of laundry that someone else neatly folded and tucked into dresser drawers. 

The idea that maybe more christmas cards will have to be ordered, because the list of friends and family in our lives continues to swell at an alarming and wonderful rate.

The comment of a reader that is actually moved by something this writer has to say.

Small.
Sometimes microscopic.
Easily forgotten seconds from a larger, more noisy chunk of time.

Certainly nothing worth hiring a marching band over.
Baking a cake for.
Throwing multi-colored confetti because of.


Certainly nothing worth actually Celebrating.



Right?














Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love Is An Action Word

Sneaking quietly
across the dark hallway
desperate for that first cup of what saves me
i hear your trademark thump
announcing your arrival
your finger pointing at your mouth
I wish I had already gone to the bathroom
but I open the fridge
and get to work
Because
Love Is
An Action Word

You wait until
I am melted into the couch
watching bad television
giving in and giving up for the night
to ask me for
"just two more buns please"
and with a sigh
i sit up and hand over the Hawaiin Sweet Bread
Because
Love Is
An Action Word

You talk nonsense
and believe no one
hiding sweaters in cupboards
stubbornly packing your closet
the details of the war vivid and true in your stories
the memories of your home and beloved garden slipping in and out of consiousness
I listen
as I support your frail body in the shower
change your clothes
and comb your hair
Because
Love Is
An Action Word

Bad news
written in the slouch of your shoulders
the fog in your eyes
the heaviness of your gait
and I run towards you
arms open
heart broken
your pain is my pain
Because
Love Is
An Action Word

I will
say NO to you
and make you cry
I will sneak vegetables into your food
I will lie
tell you that I'm not scared
protect your heart
own my mistakes
forgive yours
I will let the doctor
make it hurt for a tiny while
share dumb jokes
cook nooRdles
I will smother you with kisses
and teach you how to hope
give in to silly demands
prepare you for the unexpected
listen to your fears and whines and triumphs
disapprove of your first love
keep your secrets
i will celebrate
and grieve
with you
mimic
your
steady breaths in the darkness
carry you up
a thousand stairs
defend you
with my
bare hands

Because
Love Is
An
Action Word








Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Days Go By

You know those days..............................

When you wake up in the morning and the house smells like coffee?

When you step on the scale and the number is lower than it's been in weeks and you step on it again just to be sure and its still shows the lower number?

When you only need a little makeup because your skin is glowing and you look radiant and refreshed?

When lunchtime comes and you don't feverishly fiend high-glycemic-index-only-foods?

When your grandmother isn't putting on five layers of sweaters and all of her jewelry because she is convinced she is in the wrong house and you need to take her to the right one RIGHT NOW and she points her cane at you like if she could she would chase you down and beat you all the way back to Poland with it?

When your bank account has more money in it than you know what to do with and you can stop into Target and drop a couple of c-notes on crap you don't need just because you feel like it?

When your children are perfectly coiffed and take the kind of Christmas Card photo that would make God himself weep in wonder at how he was able to create such two handsome well-behaved boys?

When your bra is too tight in the cup area and not the circumference area?

When you crave Kale instead of Chocolate?

When the dishwasher is secretly a Transformer who cleans the kitchen while you are away at work?

When you don't forget to call the school bus dispatch office to cancel bus service for your child because he is sick, so that the bus driver doesn't have to drive all the way up the mountain you live on and then resent you for the rest of the year and never show up on time again and refuse to give your child the window seat for the duration of the school year?

When you aren't buying McDonalds Happy Meals on the way home just to keep those minature people who run your life from setting your hair on fire while you sleep?

Ya.

There are those days.

Then
there are the days
you're just happy
you didn't forget
to wipe.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Foundation for Funding Autism Education Because We Are Grossly Underfunded

Last Friday, the husband and I were invited to attend an Autism fundraising event held by a local couple.  Their son was also diagnosed at the age of two and the devastation that it brought mirrored our own pain and frustration. 

But this family chose to turn grief into hope.  They began a foundation, in their son's name, in order to support their local public school special needs teachers as the epidemic grew and the state budget shrank.

We, meaning the Autism Community, are, for the most part, not a united front.  I'm probably not supposed to say that, but it's true.  We are divided by theories and diets, medical "miracles" and conservative approaches.  We argue online, in the media, in tidy living rooms; we gather our latest research and statistics, and have little patience for naysayers because lives are at stake.  But in the end, we are just parents with a common denominator, holding on to any thread of hope that our children, stricken with something that we struggle to understand, will someday live a life that makes more sense and causes less pain. 

Our own family has taken a more conservative approach with our son.  We believe firmly in the progress he makes through a rigid schedule, filled with behavioral interventions, speech, occupational, and physical therapy, and a classroom environment that makes sense for a little boy who is unable to voice his demands the way most children can.   His epilepsy makes him especially vulnerable to the medical interventions that work for some families.  We cannot afford to take risks and so we stick with what we know.  But we respect the passion that other parents posses in treating their children.

We are the guinea pig generation.
Struggling to find answers through trial and error.

But back to my original point

The family that started this foundation to serve their local community, was inspiring, to say the least.  I sat there that night, watching the table they reserved for their son's teachers, therapists; miracle workers really, and my mind began to race.  What a beautiful tribute to their little boy; turning anger into action.   Bringing much needed supplies to classrooms that need it the most.  Building a bridge between educators, parents, and children, instead of burning it, like some of us regularly do.

And so naturally, the next step was to copy them.

So here we are.  In the planning stages of our very own Non-profit organization, in honor of our son, to better our special needs community in an area we can all agree on:  better resources for our Autism Educators. 

That's where YOU come in. 
We're not asking for money (yet)
Just some help in picking out a great name.

Below are some of the ones we've come up with so far.

Andrew's Foundation for Autism Education

The Andrew Autism Foundation

The Foundation for Autism Education in Honor of Andrew Because He is The Best

The People's Republic of Andrew

Autism Sucks and We Need Money to Stop It So Pay Up


 Let us know what you think.

After all, it has to fit on the "Pay to the Order Of" line of your check.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

8. But Whose Counting?

I shushed you in the hallway this morning
and hissed "shut up" as you opened your mouth
because Superman was sleeping off a high fever and you were being loud

so you whispered "Happy Anniversary" and I felt like the world's biggest ass
and the luckiest girl in the whole wide world
all in the same breath
while we giggled and you winked because once again, you beat me to it

Yesterday, someone asked me who I fantasized about
and i didn't have to close my eyes
to picture you coming home in your button down dress shirt
a fresh splash of cologne on the side of your neck
pulling me in for the kind of hug that melts me into you
and when I said your name my girlfriends rolled their eyes and tried to peer pressure me into changing my mind
but I won't
because baby
you've still got it

We survive
together
we thrive
together
You Are My Best Friend
and you have taught me how to
laugh
and
love
and
forgive
and
admit defeat

You nudge me through doorways
and prefer i use less makeup
I am the prettiest girl in the room
and you are a happy man
because I am yours

You still give me butterflies
with that smile
and the way you love our babies
planning a great big future for the four of us

We
are
building our dream
one compromise at a time
one embrace at a time
one iforgiveyou at a time

We
are
eight years
into
something
so much better
and bigger
than I could have
imagined
as you tasted
my watermelon lip gloss
and my knees went weak

For the patience
the forgiveness
the strength
the inspiration
the laughter
the arguments
the partnership
the passion

I am so grateful

so thankful for your love
so honored to have you standing next to me in this life

I love you,
my evolutionary bastard












Sunday, November 22, 2009

The First of Many, I'm Sure.....

Whew.

Just got done giving Superman his very first lecture.

As in, "park your keister on the couch and listen up little dude....."

So.
I have come to the following conclusions:

1.  Best Husband Ever is definately the bad cop
2.  I am definately the SappyMommyIforgiveyoubaby cop
3.  Giving lectures?  Waaaaaaaaay more fun than getting them.

Watch out Superman.

It's on.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sometimes Confessing is Half the Battle

There is an ugly side to this mommy.

Sometimes, she comes out while in public places, as she anticipates strangers' reactions to her silent son, obessing whether or not someone may think he is rude, selfish, stupid.

She shows up during conversations with other mothers, as they complain about the mundane, comparing notes on achievements, professing their child's genius as they sip their overpriced nonfat lattes.

She lingers on the playground, scrutinizing the neurotypical peers surrounding her precious boy, ready to defend his honor should some snot-nosed-know-it-all make him a target of sneers and stares and "retard" jokes.

Her hands clench as the fridge door opens for the hundredth time that day, the string cheese in his hand his latest obsession.  She watches as he rolls it across his chest, the tiny snack no longer edible, his interest piqued for only seconds, as he searches for something new to quench his angst.

And sometimes
she comes apart
in silence
like when
she stares at a photo
of a child
that could not possibly
belong to her

shame
precedes
denial
guilt
follows
right
behind

the little boy
with his mouth hanging open
the little boy
with the empty look in his eyes
the little boy
who reminds her of the kids she avoided
as she pranced down the halls of jr. high

THIS CANNOT BE HER LITTLE BOY!!!!

There is an ugly side to this mother.

A side that sits obediently
at cocktail parties
and
potluck dinners

But
in the wake
of a photo
that manages to capture
what she sometimes hates
what she cannot fully comprehend
what she violently fears
there is nothing polite about the thoughts that crowd her

this is not the woman
you want to invite to dinner

tonight
she gives in
to her ugly side






Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Literacy: It's Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

Oh.

Gone are the days of baby gurgles and coos. 
Fewer and fewer mispronounciations of everyday words. 
I am still in denial and will forever say "nerdles" instead of noodles. 
Even when Superman is in his forties.  It's creepy, I know, but I'm fairly certain it's all I'll have.

Gone are the days of spelling bad words to the husband when something heinous, like the dishwasher breaking, happens.  Don't act superior.  If you have kids, you know you've done it.  "Oh S-----H------I-----T. 
I got so good at it I could spell it faster than you could yell it.  In two languages.

Gone are the days of leaving magazines laying around for fear that headlines will be read outloud and naturally questioned:

"How To Satisfy Your Man."
"What He Really Thinks of You in Bed."
"Romance and Sex.  He Thinks They're Synonymous"

and yes.

I am assuming that my Superman could read the word Synonymous.

and yes.
it just occurred to me that I have crappy taste in reading materials.

So now I have this first grader that can read just about anything, and instead of rejoicing in his passion for the written word, I have to go around the freakin house and make sure there are no traces of my
high school-era notes lying around because God forbid if he got a hold of one of those we'd have to sell our organs ( livers at a heavily discounted price) just to pay for the therapy bills.

My point is that illiteracy really doesn't get fair and equal representation in our society and it comes at a high price.

Specifically a whole new kind of "baby-proofing," if you know what I mean.

D-A-M-M-I-T.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Need New Friends

Preferably Butt Ugly ones.

Because nothing rubs my ego the wrong way than when my girlfriends show up at an event looking just as hot (if not more so) than me.

I'm tired of the sexy haircuts, the updated makeup, the skinny jeans and pretty patterned tops.
 
I want some drawstring-pants-wearing-mullet-hair-sporting-gold-capped-teeth ladies in my life.

The kind of women who are destined to make me look good.

I want to go to Wednesday Night Bunco and not have my natural beauty overshadowed by everyone else's good looks. 

I mean, I love my friends, but not enough to keep them around if they continue to refuse to fatten up and break out a little.

Sheesh.
How selfish can people be?

So if you know of any below-average gals that I can befriend (could it be YOU?) , before the next Girls Night Out preferably, then email me a photo and measurements.

I can't afford to let another pretty face into my life.

Plus, if you can grow chin hair, you'll be bumped to Best Friend status.

Guaranteed.






Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Was Going To Complain About Something

but then

rhythmic murmurs
fragile kisses
and
a Wild Thing
awakening
attacking with
unsolicited tickles

and
fresh sunlight
Chocolate Delight Special K Cereal
hot coffee
made by someone else

and
children in jammies
laughter in their eyes
hungry pouts in place
Halloween candy demands
yogurt and bananas instead

and
students
needing hugs
extra explanations
band aids
low grade fevers
phone calls home

and
leftovers
early christmas commercials
the new Sprouts ad
daydreams of
Barnes and Noble book signings

and
more love
than i know
what to do with

distracted
me



Saturday, October 31, 2009

Violence Rampant in Orange County; Local Woman Attacked by Loved Ones.

For Immediate Release:

October 31st, 2009 - Orange County, California

Authorities have yet to comment on the last two days' events, keeping details of local attacks on an innocent woman quiet for now.  Due to the sensitive and graphic nature of the crimes, local law enforcement is handling this as a high profile case.

The victim was enjoying festivites relating to the upcoming Halloween holiday when she was suddenly, without warning, attacked by her own husband in the middle of a busy intersection in Old Town Orange.  Formal domestic abuse charges have yet to be filed.

The next day, while participating in holiday festivites in her classroom, the same woman was brutally attacked by a co-worker whom she considered a close friend.  Police are baffled by these heinous crimes which targeted the same woman twice in two days and are closely investigating a motive.

Local news agencies have acquired two leaked photos which we have included below.  Please be warned that they are graphic and violent in nature and children should not be present while viewing this disturbing evidence.























Victim's husband inexplicably turning on victim in broad daylight.


















Victim's friend, a mild-tempered fourth-grade teacher with a heart of gold, attacks victim in the middle of her classroom.



Victims and suspects could not be reached for comment. 

Further details pending.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A "Better" Set of Problems

When my world came crashing down around me that unassuming March day five years ago, I could see nothing past Autism.  It  began to suffocate me the minute the doctors bluntly uttered the word; a word that gave life to a burden I did not believe I could bear.  I choked everytime I said it outloud, and as family and friends offered their awkward condolences, I screamed on the inside about the unfairness of our fate.

Two months later, I watched my firstborn appear to fall asleep in his food bowl, and eventually collapse on our lawn ;we met with top neurologists and learned that epilepsy was more common in children with autism.  I redefined falling apart and greeted each day with a sorrow that consumed me from the inside out.

The days weaved into months and we fell into a routine; therapy and doctor visits conquered our calendar, and new vocabulary terms made their way into everyday conversations.  Terms like Non Verbal, Stimming, Sensory Overload, Poor Eye Contact, Low Muscle Tone.  The more we said them, the less sense they made, and I struggled to piece together what was so obviously broken. 

As Superman flourished intellectually and socially, Monchichi's delayed development was in stark contrast to his brother's.  Each time Superman hit a milestone, I felt guilty about celebrating too much or guilty about not celebrating enough.  I bit my lip to stop the tears when I heard my younger son eloquently let me know that something went wrong:  "Uh Oh," he would say; at once music and sadness to my ears.  Monchichi grunted and whined as he struggled to make sense of the world and OH! the frustration we all felt.  How the days dragged on, the nights sleepless and filled with a heaviness that threatened to bury us.

He had no idea I was his mother, and I tried in vain to make him love me more than he loved anyone else.  I gave deeper and longer hugs.  I covered his chubby smooth cheeks with sloppy kisses.  I buried my face in his belly and blew rasberries the size of Montana.  But he barely blinked when I left the room, and gave me the same treatment he gave everyone else; it was a generic love that I clung to, but I pined for something more.  I was his mama, after all.

He broke my heart a million times with fleeting eye contact and a silent list of needs I felt I could never fully meet, and when he began to bang his head on the walls and floors of our home, this abstract life making him so obviously crazy, I called for reinforcements because another day alone was more frightening than anything else I could possibly imagine.

I prepared for the worst.
And didn't dare to hope for the best.

**********************************************************************************

I am sitting across from his second grade teacher.  It is half past noon and her animated face and loud booming voice give away the passion she has for her job.  She tells me what a joy he is, how far he's come, how she loves his unruly curls.  He is sitting in my lap, his stare meant only for me; his arms wrap around my neck, and he nuzzles me the way only a boy who loves his mama can.  I laugh out loud, and tell his teacher that he has forced my husband to sleep on the opposite end of the bed, his rhythmic sleep in tune to mine, his dependence on my presence something we will have to address in therapy soon, since I am barely able to go the bathroom without him trying to break down the door.

I am dumbfounded when she tells me that she has never heard him say "No" or verbalize his colors.  I sit him up and command him to repeat after me and she shakes her head, both of us playfully accusing him of taking the easy road in class.  We come up with a plan and she promises me a new set of goals, now that she has heard what he can do.  I promise a list of his 60 or so verbal approximations and turn to him and call him a stinker.  He snorts and giggles in response.   He has become a master manipulator, and secretly I am so proud.

We are driving home and my mind is fixated on the lab work we need to do in order to begin weaning him off of one of his three anti-seizure meds.  I begin composing a request for an IEP meeting to address the need for more challenging speech goals in my head.  I wonder outloud what kind of snack I can send him to school with for his classroom Halloween party.  Something everyone will enjoy.  I marvel at how he has outgrown all of his long uniform pants and that we need to invest in more before the cold weather kicks in.  I ask him if he is hungry and he barely skips a beat as he answers me with the one word he can pronounce perfectly.  "NO."  I fret over his appetite, but mostly because my mother is really fretting over it.  Out Loud. Everyday.  To me. 

I think about his obsession with the tractor tipping scene from Cars.
And how he opens the fridge no less than 25 times a day.
And that we have to sing Happy Birthday on request, because it makes him so happy and we are suckers for his smile.
And there's the whole having to sit on the toilet, dripping wet, right after a bath.  Not to pee or poop.  Just to ponder, we guess.
I worry about the fact that he has taken a sudden liking to eating cold hot dogs and what that is doing to his digestive tract and then I am reminded that I am out of probiotics and cod liver oil capsules and crap, if I go to the store now, he'll miss his early nap before therapy today and then Mr. Grumpy pants will haunt the house at all hours of the night.  And that, as I write this blog post, he is in a power struggle with me and my beloved LG front loading washing machine.

*Deep Breath*

I sit and I think
about
how far he has come
how far WE have come

and that

it is, for now

a Better set
of problems.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Inequality in Shopping: A Case Study

Subject 1 contacts Subject 2 for a Saturday afternoon excursion to local Target.

Subject 2 quickly agrees and wipes drool from face.

Subject 1 and 2 enjoy Starbucks pit stop to fortify themselves prior to entering said Target. 

Subject 1 attempts to hog radio station selection.  Subject 2 quickly asserts herself and after brief scuffle during which Subject 1 almost runs into a pole, both subjects come to an agreement on Lady Gaga tune.

Subject 1 thinks she is Lady Gaga.  Subject 2 is disgusted.

Subjects arrive at destination and enter through automatic doors.  Large red cart is located and retreived.

Subject 1 begins to make her way towards lingerie section.

Subject 2 follows suit but makes detour to pick up some family necessities.

Subject 2 tries not to stare at Subject 1's underwear choice, which is clearly slutty and inappropriate.

Subject 1 heads to makeup and self-care aisle.

Subject 2 heads to pullupswipescheeseitsyogurtfruitsnacktylenollunchablelaundrydetergent aisle.

Subjects reconvene at check-out.


Please refer to Exhibit A
















Subject 1's purchases.

Clearly Subject 1 enjoyed her shopping experience





















Please refer to Exhibit B.
















Subject 2's purchases. 

Subject 2 was obviously annoyed during her shopping experience, but tried hard to put on a brave face.




















Subject 1 and 2 depart from Target.

Subject 1 feels fulfilled and energized.

Subject 2 feels like she belongs in Walmart.

Subject 1 is perky and perfect.

Subject 2 wants to kick her ass.

Findings:

Study shows obvious inequality in staged shopping trip between a single, sexy, she-devil, and her shorter,  more domesticated, granny-panty-wearing sibling.

Solution:

Subject 2 shops alone.  Or via internet.

Subject 1 can suck it.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Love at 5 MPH


You
will always
be
in the driver's seat
the steering wheel steady in your hands
 chosen without your consent
but you
honor your duties
steering with integrity
and
purpose



He
will
always
be
 your passenger
counting on your guidance
as you commandeer
his safe arrival
something you promise
just out of
the
purity of your
heart

You are
going somewhere
and
it only matters
that you go
together
the wind
blowing through
your
hair
the sun
shining
behind you
the misunderstood world
at your fingertips

your heart
outgrew your
body
the day you took his hand in yours
and helped him buckle
his seatbelt

You head towards
a place
where love
transcends
speech
and
everyday expectations
the journey
possible
only because
you
wouldn't go
anywhere
without
him




A marvelous
pair
of
everyday heroes
kicking up dirt
as
they drive
towards
something
incredible

it
is not
your average
joyride


Saturday, October 17, 2009

DAMMIT

Nola is lost.

She is our one year old cat.  Grey and white, with a crooked tail, we adopted her last fall when our first family cat, Lulu, disappeared one windy day.

Now we are reliving the nightmare.  Superman still cries for Lulu when he is exhausted or run down.  His defenses gone, he misses the first important thing in his life that he ever lost.  And here we are again, facing a situation that is heartbreaking and crappy, to say the least.

A fellow catholic at work suggested I find a statue of St. Anthony and turn him upside down, and possibly consider sticking him in the freezer, just to let him know I mean business and to find our freakin cat ASAP. 

If you are not catholic, this may sound odd but we are in the midst of a pet crisis, so please don't judge me.
If you are catholic, this may sound odd, and I know for a fact that you will judge me, but then you'll feel guilty for doing so and add our cat onto your daily rosary and/or prayer list.

so be it.

I have purused, with one eye closed, the deceased section of our local animal shelter, as well as the lost and found.  If she's gone for good, I just want to know.  Waiting for her to appear at the door is....once again, crappy.

I managed to keep my childhood cat alive and well for almost 15 years in this very same neighborhood.  Now we've had two go missing in one year. 

What.  The.  Hell.

Anyway.
kitty prayers are appreciated.
and don't say anything to Superman.
We're still trying to figure that whole deal out.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Marathons Are For Losers

Yes.
You are right.
It is a mean title.
And maybe a bit extreme.
But weilding my power on my blog via a shallow and mean title makes me feel just a bit better.

Because my stupid little sister just ran her first half-marathon yesterday and even though she's worked really hard since March, and even though she's committed, devoted, and consistent, and even though she has stuck to her guns and deserves to feel empowered, elated, and euphoric, when she came to see me after the run, sporting her lick and stick outfit courtesy of Asics which exentuated every stupid size 5 curve and taut muscle, I wanted to yank the giant medal off of her neck and bop her on the noggin with it.

Jealous?
Duh.
Annoyed?
Certainly.
Motivated?
Not in the freakin least.
I still have ten workout dvd's in their comfy shrink wrap, perched on my bookshelf, gathering dust and taunting me as I eat pasta straight from the pot.

And in November, that selfish, egomaniac is running the NY marathon, where the medal will be much bigger and heavier, I'm sure, the pants tighter and more erogonomically proficient, and the gloating non-stop for days as my little sister crosses that 26.2 mile finish line.

I will be crying on my couch, watching the whole thing on the flat screen.

Chocolate cake in my mouth.

Pride in my heart.

Because as far as little sisters go,
she's
sort of
delightful
and all that
mushy crap.

Plus.
I have no one else to compare her to, because
she's the only
one i've got.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What Lies Beneath

I know what you're thinking. 
"Boy, that Jo.  She's got it so together."
"What a perfect example of strength, integrity, passion, and impeccable comedic timing."
"Man, if ever there was a talented, well-rounded, Polish-American woman with dual citizenship, that Jo sure would take the cake."

Yes you are.
You are too thinking that.
You may not realize that you're thinking that.  But you are.
Trust me..

Well.
There is definately more to it than that.

For instance. 
As we speak, I am going through what some might lovingly refer to as a "nervous breakdown."
"Why?" you may ask.

Well, if you'd hold your freakin horses, maybe I could get a word in edge-wise and tell you.

Center.  Calm.  Reflect.  Respect.  Relax.  This.  Is.  Retarded.

Tomorrow, at approximately 2:30 p.m PST, my husband and my second born will embark on a camping trip. 
Without me.
There.
To Supervise.

The other day, my husband said the words boulder, climbing, us, all in the same sentence and I think I might have brutally attacked him had I not been fighting a losing battle with vertigo. 

You don't understand.
I control EVERYTHING around here.
I was raised by a woman whose mantra was "The man is the head of the household, the woman is the neck.  Neck moves head.  No neck, no head.  Neckless heads worse than headless necks." (I think it loses meaning in translation). Regardless, it means that I'm the boss. 

Now.
I don't go around proclaiming that to anyone in particular (except to myself, in the mirror, each day as I wake, a wicked smile on my face, rubbing my hands together )
But it is a known fact.

I buy the groceries.
I pick out the clothes.
I cook the dinners.
(Wow, I never realized how being the boss was so reminiscent of being the village slave.)
I make generalized decisions about the welfare of my family, most of which do not include, in any way, shape, or form, Boulder Climbing on a weekend camping trip for a bunch of grown children and their offspring.

Oh.
And what if the husband forgets to put on Superman's footsie pajamas at night, and Superman freezes in his tent, gets frostbite, and loses his big right toe, all while his unaware and stupid father snores loudly enough to dislodge some of those gigantic boulders those idiots want to climb?
Oh.
And what if stupid, selfish, immature husband forgets to feed Superman the lovingly prepared health-concious and digestive-friendly (ever been irregular while camping?) meals that I made?  What if my precious son is forced to eat cold hot dogs and Spaghettios straight from the can
What if, because someone forgot to remind him,  he doesn't brush his teeth and comes back from this godforsaken trip with a rotting mouth and has to eat applesauce three times a day until his adult teeth come in?????

Now I'm just Pissed Off People.
To think.
I married a man who would let our son freeze, starve, and lose all his teeth.

All in the name of some stupid camping trip that does not include the one person who is, quite frankly, capable of running the freakin show.

It will be a miracle if I let the car leave the driveway tomorrow afternoon.
I'm just sayin.
Someone might dramatically throw themselves in front of a parked white volvo station wagon and make the kind of scene that might embarrass aformentioned someone's significant other and force gently suggest to him that maybe backyard camping isn't such a lame idea after all.



I'll bring the smores.




Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Today

Today
I let
an unruly email
get the best of me
as my ego slowly bruised
black and blue
and
the world once again revolved only around me

then
the sudden wail
of a tiny blonde angel
as she fell off of the steel structure
mere feet from me
her left hand visibly broken
a mangled mess that
I could not fix
her mother
gracious enough
not to punch me out
as I handed her daughter in a condition
much worse than when she left her with me

then
a silent drive home
three kiddos munching on trans fat
as I pull up to the driveway
my mother leaning againt white stucco
her face swollen and red from tears
her hands shaking as she nods her head in disbelief
a 25 year old girl
she knew
had seen just on Monday
run over on an Orange County Freeway
after checking
on a flat tire
her parents in Poland
cannot hold their daughter
grieving across the ocean
I gag
as I think of their
Pain

and then
I make
frozen pizza for dinner
write out my shopping list for Trader Joe's
trying to stay grateful
instead of pissed off and confused
questioning the validity of
25 year olds dying
and children crying
and suddenly crappy emails
don't seem so freakin important
and neither does
my stupid shopping list

then
Lady Gaga
beckons my son to my side
and I serenade him
promise to always be his
"Paparrazzi"
his little body
much too small for his seven years
pressed against mine
twirling in the living room
it is a moment I do not take for granted
I am not promised
much of anything
beyond
these
few
seconds

am I?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Get Your Own Disorder. This One's All Mine.

I figure, if you read my blog, you

a.  love me unconditionally and won't be swayed by anything I say.  EVER.
b.  have a child in my classroom and therefore know the importance of kissing up to the teacher in order to   ensure that said child does not go hungry/thirsty/or abandoned on the playground during recess whilst in my care, so no matter what I write about you will think it is the work of a genius.
c.  don't know me at all and therefore not a factor in this decision, although I'm sure you're terrific and you'll see through my diagnosis and continue to read what I have to say because it impacts your life dramatically and without my blog you would lose all will to live.
d.  This is your first visit and you have already clicked onto another better and more entertaining blog.  So you won't be offended when I say #$#$% you.

So.

I was fifteen years old when I made the discovery, in the local public library in the Psychology section.  One book, slightly disheveled and pulled out on the crowded bookshelf, caught my eye:  "The Boy Who Couldn't Stop Washing."  I yanked it off the shelf, even though I had no particular issues with bathing and spent what most would consider an average amount of time in the shower.  But the book spoke to me and I was compelled to flip through it. 

And there.
On the last page.
A checklist of symptoms.
The answer I had been looking for for years.
Finally in my hands. 
A chance at some sort of explanation, understanding. 
In a tiny book that made its way into my shaking hands.
An entire childhood redeemed by a few case stories that at least somewhat resembled mine.

I was crazy, just like I thought.
But at least there was a name for it.

And so that night, I crawled into my parent's king bed, and with a mixture of relief and fear, tearfully told them that I had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.   If there was a movie made about my life (hey.  it could happen.) then this would be where the photo montage would be inserted; timeless depictions of a young girl struggling behind the smiles and crooked braids, an adolescent uncomfortable in her skin, the black eyeliner thick, the green eyes searching for something that makes sense. The Fray's "How to Save a Life" would be in the background, powerful lyrics intertwined with pictures, another example of  the Human Condition.  Oscar nominated of course.  I would wear a billowing green dress, my handsome husband on my arm, the diamonds dazzling in the sunlight.......

Oh.  Hey.
Sorry about that.  I'm back now.

Anyway.  I won't give you all of the details.  Not when I can write a book about it and make some money instead of giving it away for free all the time on this blog.  What's that saying?  "Why buy the cow when she makes sour milk?"  Or maybe it's  "Free milk makes for poor cows?"   In any case, my parents promptly ploppped me down on the nearest leather chair in our local Psychiatrist's office and I walked away more confused than ever and with a prescription for Anafranil.  A drug made for people like me.  Too scared to take it that night, my father, his shiny red cape blowing in the breeze coming through the kitchen window, downed a pill with me and I went soundly to sleep.  He stayed up barfing all night.

But as my seratonin levels began to finally find some peace and quiet, my sweat glands started a party of their own, and as a fun little side effect of my tiny pills, I couldn't walk the ten step staircase to Home Ec class without leaving a salty trail of sweat behind.

1.  Eww. 
2.  Social life way more important than relief from life-long OCD.
3.  Quit the meds and began a tumultous and sort of fun career of self-medicating (read: Keg Parties and   Parent's Liquor Cabinet).

Enter my thirties.  Why do I suddenly feel the urge to share all of this with you?  It's not sudden.  It's a burden of mine that I have carried since before that fateful day in the library.  When I didn't know why I had to say goodnight three times in a row and my parents couldn't fall asleep before I did and I clutched my grandmother's hand as we slept on twin beds pushed together for added protection.  I silently suffered as I began my descent into a life filled with odd numbers and even transactions.  I wrote gritty poetry that no one understood and hid behind bad choices, chain smoking, and burgundy lipliner that I reapplied in-between each class.
And then.
I found a boy who loved me and married me and to this day, almost ten years later, sometimes has to nudge me past a doorway if it takes too long for me to get through.
I birthed two sons, and suddenly I wasn't that important anymore. 
They were.

And the joys and sorrows of motherhood, the cries of autism and epilepsy, the triumphs and transgressions of  everyday life with a full family began to silence the need to live perfectly on this planet. 
And, as I turned down the volume in my own mind, I was able to hear the rest of the world; what I found out was more healing than anything the doctor could prescribe.

You're just as messed up as I am.
Whether you know it or not.
It may or may not have a name, but believe me, you are out there.

Which brings me to my next point.
Don't try and ride on my OCD coat tail because it's all mine.  I need it.  I'm writing a best selling memoir remember, and a crazy quirky clinically insane  interesting author sells more books than someone who is..... boring normal.

Plus, now it's all vogue to have chemical imbalances and so I wanna come out before the train leaves the station, if you know what I mean.

So.  To recap.

You will read this post, feel sorry for me, then gasp in surpise at the fact that I have OCD stamped in my medical records (among other things....but one issue at a time please), then wonder if you will ever look at me the same way, then feel inspired and empowered by my story of triumph, then wish you were my best friend (unless you already are, in which case you will feel very grateful and superior to others) then tell everyone you know that they are morons for not reading my blog because not only am I witty and smart, but i am also unstable and how cool is that??

Okay.

Goodnight.
Goodnight.

Crap.  One more.

Goodnight.




Thursday, October 1, 2009

Certain Things Worry Me

Like coming home from school with Superman and his friend (who is of the female persuasion) and five minutes into the playdate, seeing Superman come out into the kitchen with jeans, a red robe, and no shirt on.  What.  The.  Hell.

Like having a student throw up on my rug and when asked to go rinse his mouth out he innocently asks "why?"

Like the personal safety of a certain oh, shall we say, maternal figure in my life after asking if I've lost weight followed immediately by "because you know, you could be beautiful."

Like the random discontinuation of favorite products by Trader Joe's.  If you've ever shopped there, you know what I mean.  Or you don't buy the good stuff.  Either way, it must stop.

Like the fact that I get along really well with teenagers.   Even though most of them are morons.
What the hell does that say about me?

Like the 9:4 girl/boy ratio in my classrom right now.  I feel like a mama cat nursing kittens because the girls all want hugs and love at the same time.  If anyone needs Exposure Therapy for claustrophobia, germaphobia, girlaphobia, kidaphobia, lifeaphobia, or maybe just wants to torture somone they know, please contact me.
Immediately. 

Like whether or not my Halloween costume this year will live up to the one I had last year.  I take this holiday very seriously people.

Like the dream I just had about a co-worker who got plastered on rum on our school field and I had to go rescue him as he stumbled around belligerently before our boss found him.  Will I ever look at him the same way again?

Like the fact that Monchichi's new favorite song is "Happy Birthday" and must be accompanied by a lit candle.  This is how we get him to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and juggle forks and knives.  Lately, it seems his childhood has just flown by since by my latest calculations he is now approximately 656 years old.

Like that I care enough about Twitter to try and schedule it in among children, a husband, work, writing my damn book, physical therapy, autism therapy, piano lessons, playdates, Polish school, Saturday chores, potty breaks, and other mild inconveniences related to existing on planet earth.

Like that I feel like I am coming down with something ugly that may or may not be the swine flu and that I am only half kidding when I tell you that I'm filled with terror.  Terror.

Like that if I don't get my act together and start blogging more regularly, you'll trade me in for a prettier, shinier, less moody blog.  And then I'll have to hunt you down and make you spend time with my Polish relatives.