Just Push Her in a Bunch of Butter and Lock Her in the Closet

 

It’s the last weekend before dance classes, baseball, soccer, and school activities return with a vengeance. 2015 has gone by so fast. Lacey is 6 months in to having her driver’s permit and as she was driving us to a soccer game and two baseball games today, I was mentally remarking how well she is doing behind the wheel and how she gains more and more confidence each time we get in the car. Meanwhile, back in the peanut gallery, Adam is giggling hysterically in the backseat and going through one of his favorite scripted dialogues about Lacey and her driving:

Adam: When Lacey get’s her driver’s license, she will take me to the Metra station, to Dunkin Donuts on Saturdays, take me to art class and Tae Kwon Do, and to Culver’s all of the time. But if Lacey crashes mom’s car or the driver’s ed car, what will happen?

Me: I don’t know buddy, you tell me.

Adam: If Lacey crashes mom’s car or the driver’s ed car, she’s going to get ‘all flunked up’ 

He then continues to laugh hysterically, which, I have to admit, every time I hear this, I chuckle to myself, for he has no idea that he is so spot on in so many ways. Lacey is always such a good sport about this image that he has in his head and will usually throw in a chuckle as affirmation.

At one time or another, we have all been on Adam’s “list”; but my poor daughter has been on this list for quite a long time. He has taken an extremely strong interest in her demise. Adam continually imagines Lacey flunking all her classes and not being able to go to college, locking her in closets, moving her into other rooms in our house, or better yet, other people’s homes. Yes, he has relished in his sister’s failures for what seems like and eternity. In his autism directness, he even flat out tells her that he only likes his brother. And while we continually correct Adam and remind him that he can’t hurt people’s feelings by being so direct, It just seems to repel off his head. And Lacey continually amazes me as to how she always seems to take it all in stride. She may, once and a while, throw in an eyeball roll, but her patience is endless with Adam.

Adam LOVES puzzles. He can typically complete a 1000+ piece puzzle in about a week, with minimal help. Upon completion, he always asks me to take a picture, then immediately destroys the puzzle and moves right in to the next one. He always tries to recruit me to help him, but I’ll fully admit that I have an attention span of a gnat when it comes to tedious tasks.  I immediately take a sudden and intense interest in the laundry, the dishes, cleaning toilets with a toothbrush, organizing my sock drawer…you know, anything BUT that! One particular rainy weekend, two weeks ago, Adam was in the dining room working on his latest masterpiece. Lacey wandered in, sat down next to him,  and began to work on a section. Adam immediately says:

If Adam ( he sometimes still refers to himself in the third person) pushes Lacey back into a bunch of butter and locks her in the closet, what will mom do?

He’s obviously trying to tell her to ‘get the heck out’. As I am correcting him not being very nice, I have to admit that  I’m amused with the visual of Lacey being pushed into butter and locking her in the closet, wondering where on earth he devised this potential “punishment”. I mentally note his crazy imagination and I’m silently thankful that he at least warned me that he is contemplating a retaliation. Lacey gets up and calmly says:

“Ok, Adam. Let me know if you change your mind and want help.”  

Over the summer, I spent a full week with just the two of them, while my husband and middle son were in Cooperstown, NY for a baseball tournament. I was surprisingly stunned as to how “anti-Lacey” Adam really is. Over the course of the week, he presented to me, many potential scenarios; from pushing Lacey into the pool, throwing her off the boat into the Chicago river, and finally wanting to fly HER out to Cooperstown and bring Chris and Alex back home. Lacey just continued to shake it off, commenting that someday it will change. As much as I too know this, I can’t help but to feel sorry for her.

They say that you can always pick out a sibling of a child with special needs by their endless tolerance and compassion. As long as Adam continues to express his dislike for Lacey, she will still continue to agree to make detours past the Metra train station, always be ready for a nightly tickle monster, listen to him read the same book over and over, continue to subject herself to getting her butt kicked by Adam at Mario Kart, patiently answer his endless questions, and let him monopolize her phone in order to listen to his favorite Imagine Dragons song for the one millionth time. And she will NEVER complain when Culver’s is ALWAYS the choice for a family dinner.

I know for sure that Lacey wouldn’t trade her brother for anything in the world. I also I know one other thing  for sure….when life “pushes her back into a bunch of butter, and locks her in the closet”, she will come out STRONG;  because she is the sister, of a brother, with special needs.

My Hores are Moaning

Adam’s first week of middle school with  is complete. Adam navigated his first 5 days without a glitch. 5 days down, 171 to go. I’m currently sitting on the sofa, writing, and breathing a sigh of relief….oh, who am I kidding, I’m actually sitting here diving headfirst into my second glass of wine. Tomatoes/tomatoes.

Adam says his favorite classes so far are math and science…no big surprise, for both of these classes are fairly concrete and have rules to follow. Adam loves rules. New to him are FACS classes (Family and consumer science…Home Ec for those of us who are a product of the 1980’s) His first class in this rotation is sewing. His first project; a drawstring bag.  As we were waiting in line at the fabric store on Friday night, with his chosen Chicago Blackhawks material in hand, I was counting my blessings that Adam has a wonderful paraprofessional, Mrs. H.,  that helps him to navigate his schedule and his day. On the other hand, I was thinking that this poor woman does not make nearly enough money, for the video that I have playing in my head, of my son operating a sewing machine, is nothing short of a bloody massacre. This is going to be a huge learning curve for all those involved.

As we continue to wait in line, I decide check his sewing project assignment one more time from my phone.  I scroll through Canvas, the on-line assignment program that our school district uses, and I happen to notice, much to my horror, that Adam has health class is first in his PE rotation. I’m now trying to fight the overall sinking and sick feeling in my stomach. Sewing and sex ed…all in the first month of school?  I silently promise Mrs. H, that I will start saving my spare change in order to send her on a fancy vacation accompanied by lots of tropical drinks that I KNOW she will need, come winter break, in December.

Any typical middle school boy dreads sex ed in middle school. But not Adam. His  mind does not allow him to understand embarrassment. He will march right into this class with the same pragmatic approach that he does with anything else in life. I often admire how matter of fact he is about everything and am often envious of this quality…..Until he turned 11 years old. Over the past 6 months I have had many interesting conversations with my son. His inquisitive mind, minus the inhibition, in combination with ‘who knows what’ is going on in his head, is a dangerous mix. For example,

Earlier this past spring, I was laying in bed with him,unfortunately fighting a headache, as he was reading one of his favorite chapter books to me. He stopped for a second and examined a crease in the middle of my forehead as he does occasionally. This time, however, instead of making a comment about my face being cracked, me being old, or some other blunt observation that he is so well know for, he just begins to rub it:

Me: Thanks buddy. That’s actually making my headache feel much better

Adam: Mom has a headache because why?

Me: I just have a headache.

Adam: Because why?

Knowing if I don’t give him a reason, we could potentially be having this conversation for a while; I decide to proceed with the old ‘answer-the-question-with-the-actual-terminology- and-reason-and-it-should-be-over’ trick.

Me: Probably because of hormones.

Adam: Mom’s ‘Hores’ are ‘moaning’ because why?

And with that, I quickly jumped out of his bed, turned off his light and ran for the hills. That was enough questions for the night!

-or-

The time that I came home from work one day and found Adam in him room playing on his iPad. I sat down next to him on his bed and proceeded to ask him about his day. He was immediately distracted by something on my shoulder. I look to my left and realized that my bra strap was showing. I cringed and braced myself for the parade of questions that I knew were coming:

Adam: What’s that white thing?

Me: My bra strap.

Adam: Mom’s bra strap does what?

Me: Girls wear them like an undershirt.

Adam: Or to cover the pointy things on Mom’s chest.

Me: Typically never at a loss for words, I feel my face getting redder by the minute, and am now frightened as to where this conversation is heading. I then reluctantly respond: “yes”

Adam: Otherwise what will happen?

Me: ummmmm…..I don’t know, buddy, you tell me.

Adam: Otherwise, if mom doesn’t wear that white thing, her chest is going to fall all over the ground. 

I sat there, really wanting to be in his head for just one minute, realizing that he does have quite the imagination. On the other hand, maybe it’s wishful thinking, because, for the record, if I did not wear my bra, my chest definitely WOULD NOT fall all over the ground!!

I still reflect on these conversations and continue to waffle on whether he even remotely understands anything about the birds and the bees. On the other hand, I’m completely convinced that for boys, bras, boobs, hormones, and butts are just innate and he 110% totally gets it!! Regardless, I’m thoroughly convinced that I will have more to worry about with Adam  than Alex, his brother, who turns beet red at the mention of the word “girl”.

So tomorrow is day #6. 170 more days to go. Mrs. H., I can’t tell you how much we appreciate you. For sure, you have your work cut out for you. I apologize in advance.

Meanwhile, I’ll be rubbing my temples, bracing myself for another week of Adam and middle school; anticipating headaches, and at the same time praying that my ‘Hores’ don’t moan too much!!

I love him with all my butt…..and my heart!

So last night, I had this dream….

Adam and I are on big yellow inner tubes floating on the Chicago River going west. I’m using my hand to paddle while frantically trying to grab his hand so that we don’t get separated. Suddenly, big military ships start heading our way and I quickly realize that they do not see us. Somehow, I get us both over to the side and a black iron fence appears out of nowhere. I reach out and grab on to it and start alternating my hands while frantically looking back to see that Adam has a hold of my tube. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a thick brown sludge start to swirl around us. I desperately try to paddle us out with my hands. We are eventually swallowed up into the sludge and….That’s it… I wake up.

I have been playing this dream over and over in my head all day looking for meaning; and suddenly it occurred to me. I was with Adam traveling up s*it creek without a paddle…..

Who has not felt this way at one time or another with their children? As my husband likes to remind me, after our third child, Adam, was born we transitioned from playing man to man to strictly a zone defense. As soon as one fire was extinguished, another one erupted. It’s life with kids, plain and simple.

Monday is the big day. Adam has had this date circled on the calendar for months. Never mind that we still had half a year of 5th grade to finish. He has been ready for a new chapter in his life to begin before the last chapter even ended. He spent the summer practicing creating “the flow” with an obscene amount of hair gel. He has decided that he is too old to take a bath and has switched to exclusively taking showers.He faithfully washes his face every night in anticipation of the non-existent pimple all because that’s what his older brother and sister do. He has even explored deodorant. On August 24, 2015,  Adam will officially be a middle school student. His next three years will be filled with pre-teens and teens jockeying for a spot on the ladder of social hierarchy. He will be entering a new world filled with cell phones, texting, social media, boys liking girls and girls liking boys. He will be entering a world in which where you choose to sit at a lunch table is probably the single most important decision and possibly the biggest disappointment and source of drama that a middle school student will face in the first couple of weeks of school. He will be surrounded by a new world of academics and demands that can send a young 6th grader into a tailspin of uncertainty. On Monday, Adam will be navigating this new experience. He is my third child to go off to middle school, but my first middle school child to charter these socially treacherous waters with autism. He is confident and ready; and as uncertain as I am, I couldn’t be more proud.

In June, as he excitedly walked out the doors of his grade school, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of sadness for we had been a family at that school for the past 10 years. Ferris Bueller once said it perfectly: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile, you could miss it.”  This statement couldn’t be more true;  I literally blinked and elementary school for all three of my children was over. My sadness, however, was quickly replaced by a huge sense of pride, for over the past 4 years, Adam defied the naysayers. He continued to prove that he could be successful in a mainstream classroom with the proper support, which I largely attribute to a wonderful and dedicated group of teachers and therapists that have faithfully stood by Adam’s side for the past 4 years. These wonderful teachers rolled up their sleeves, and went to the mattresses for our son, when we made the decision in the middle of his first grade year to move him out of his self-contained classroom back to a mainstream class. Adam has been on quite a unique journey; a journey that I know will continue to unfold. But just as each and every child is unique, each and every child with autism is unique. Just as he has been taught by many over his short life, he has taught many, many more.

You may be scratching your head and questioning…. ‘Tales From the Butt’ ?? This very, very, VERY long story has twisted, turned, evolved and has taken on a life of itself. Just as autism is very unique. My butt is Adam’s unique autism perseveration. He loves to talk about how big it is. (I’m 5’3″ and 120 lbs.) He often expresses how ‘boincy’ and bouncy’ it is. He loves to remind me that on May 4, 2014, he noticed my butt under a blue blanket, marking the date that his fascination with my behind began. He likes to imagine that I have train tattoos on my butt. He likes to pat it, talk to it and for whatever reason make the “mmmmmmm” sound by it. He has nicknames for my butt such as ‘hip hip hooray butt’ ‘engine butt’ ‘jazzy butt’ and my all-time favorite “found it at Costco butt”.  I have tried with all my might to understand why my butt is so interesting to him. Our discussions about his fascination circle right back to that infamous day in May when my butt caught his autism eye under that blue blanket. I have identified dates on the calendar marking the time in which he needs to stop talking about my butt…..with no luck. I’ve also tried to ignore his perseveration, but his intrigue with my booty is endless. As exhausting as all of this “butt talk” can be,  I am grateful for two things: 1.) Adam is only fascinated with my butt. 2.) He is a rule follower and therefore abides to my strict instruction that he may not talk about my butt at school or the principal will call me and he will be in “big trouble”.  I have put all of his teachers on “butt alert”. This was quite a unique and interesting conversation the first time I presented it in the “parental concerns” portion of the IEP meeting. In the end, even though at times I feel like I am only a butt to him, I’ve come to realize that my son’s fascination with my butt is his unique way of expressing that he loves me.  I have no choice but to find the humor in his unique and endearing way of displaying his affection. Therefore, I in turn, love him with all of my butt….and my heart!

And so, in two more days, I will have a sophomore, a 7th grader, and Adam will land at his new middle school as a 6th grader in his own unique blaze of glory. I’m excited for him to begin his new chapter. I will be right there along side him paddling west on the Chicago River, with ships coming straight at us, helping him to navigate this socially awkward time in his own unique way. I’m sure that there will be many, many more unique ‘Tales from the Butt’ to share.