13 days down – 4 to go, Christmas and New Years Eve

So, we are flooding here in Georgia right now.  My basement filled with water Christmas day – a foot of water.  The kids have been home for 13 days and the weather hasn’t been cooperating with planned zoo trips and playing outside.  They haven’t killed each other yet, but it seems like that may be any minute now lol.  Four more days until they go back to school…not that I am counting.

We survived Christmas.  The week leading up to it was tough for Mickey – it always is…adjusting to the lack of routine, combined with excitement of the upcoming holiday.  He lost some gifts before the day even got here, but Christmas eve and day were awesome. Christmas eve we did our traditions – we fed reindeer, looked at Christmas lights, baked cookies for the jolly fat elf. For the first time excitement got the best of Minnie and she couldn’t sleep and consequently kept waking Mickey up.  Santa came and delivered fun and noisy stuff like guitars for both kids and a karaoke machine for Mickey (because he needs amplification).  Minnie got her much requested American girl doll from Grandma.  Fedex caused some stress by losing the karaoke machine (his big gift from Santa) and the laptop I got the kids as their big present.  Target came to the rescue and I was able to replace both on Christmas eve.  We spent the day with my parents and my brother after opening our gifts at home and it was pretty close to perfect.

As we have arrived at the last day of 2015, I always go through and do a brief(ish) summary on our year.  Here it is: How to sum up 2015? The year of the rain and the road trip. 5 trips to the Disney World, one Disney cruise, 3 trips to Indiana. We had some big accomplishments too – both kids joined scouts, Mickey danced his first recital and his first Nutcracker, Minnie her 4th, 2nd and 4th grade were begun, we went to zoos, adopted some orangutans, fostered some kitties, Mickey discovered Johnny Cash and Star Wars, Minnie rescued frogs and worms and donated a foot of hair, we celebrated our 3rd adoption day, Mason and Sherbert made us laugh and we did a Disney 4 park challenge. We have had some tough times too – I lost my beloved grandpa, there were some health concerns in the family and we are heading into 2016 with some of those concerns. But, we survived it, we laughed, we cried, we found a great therapist and a new psychiatrist that we like (no small task), we learned and loved and we had no major behavior regression that required significant interventions (that was a first for us). So, bring it on 2016. I have high hopes for the year and a lot of prayers for the health of my family.

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My hopes for 2016 for us include finding out for sure that I will be able to donate the kidney that my brother needs so that we can get him back to a place of health.  I hope that Mickey continues to progress and we get further away from the rages that we are still seeing (though they are short and certainly not what they once were).  I hope that we can find him a school setting that offers him some options.  I hope that we can continue to see Minnie progress academically, because we think we have made some progress with her reading.

And for all of you, I wish you a safe, healthy and happy New Years!  May 2016 bring you joy, progress and great health.  We will be celebrating in our traditional manner tonight – Mexican dinner out with my two favorite dates, one last trip through our favorite Christmas lights, kids in bed by 8 and then I will wake them 5 minutes before midnight and they will have a glass of sparkling cider (champagne for mommy) blow some noise makers and be back in bed by 12:15.  And I will go to bed grateful for another year.

New rooms and holiday exhaustion

Mickey has decided he hates his bed.  This wouldn’t be an issue except Mickey can’t focus on anything else.  This started on Friday, but to be honest, he has hated the bed since we switched it out just before Christmas last year.  The slats will not stay put, even when properly attaching them, the mattress is not like his old one, the headboard was too low and things fell, etc.  We redid his room last year because he had outgrown his loft bed with slide and play fort underneath.  I moved him to a basic trundle bed and have regretted it ever since.

Minnie has a beautiful Cinderella carriage bed, but she has decided that she has outgrown it to.  So, Mickey disassembled both beds Friday night.  He formulated a plan and started it – without permission.  So, when I am unbelievably busy with work, Christmas, shopping, wrapping, I now have two bedrooms completely torn apart.  I had told him we would deal with it after the holidays, but his fixation would not be pacified.

So, the new plan looks like this:  When I was doing the home study part of the adoption, I had to set up kids rooms.  But, I had no idea what age or sex or even whether there would be one child or three.  So, I bought a lovely espresso sleigh bed for one room and a very large staircase style bunk bed with a full/twin setup for the other.  This was in our old house.  Initially Minnie got the sleigh bed and Mickey the bunks, but within a short period of time we realized that Minnie needed the bigger room and Mickey didn’t care about stuff, so he was perfectly content (and it was easier to keep him safe) in the smaller room.  So, we swapped rooms and I found Mickey the slide bed, because he was too hard on furniture and I didn’t want the sleigh bed ruined.

Now Minnie will take the sleigh bed and Mickey wants the bunks.  I don’t know how I am going to haul that monstrosity out of our basement storage, but that is the plan.  For now we will just move the matching dresser and the top bunk upstairs.  The full sized mattress needs to be replaced, so there is no huge hurry other than Mickey’s fixation.  Minnie will take Mickey’s old dresser (which I have to refinish), some new shelving (already moved in), new nightstands (re purposed from another room) and some serious organization.  Until I can get all of this done, I have Mickey on a mattress in his room and Minnie in my room.  I am overwhelmed, but I am also hopeful that we can end the year of complaining and maybe help both kids get better organized.  Their rooms are a nightmare.

Schools out for two weeks, which means I have two weeks of 24/7 togetherness and a dozen Amazon and Target packages showing up each day which I get to try to subtly accept and stash.  Then I am ferociously wrapping after bed and hiding.  We have baked cookies, visited with friends, family, Christmas light toured, saw Santa on a fire truck, shopped and shopped some more, wrapped, and dealt with the theft of my debit card.  I have two more things to find for my mom.  I will be Amazoning, because the thought of shopping any more in a store makes me nauseated.

It has been a long rough 7 days, but Christmas is coming quickly.  The bank is working on getting my account back in order and I have a new card.  Minnie has a play date this afternoon. Mickey is working on taking the top bunk apart.  This week will have us visiting with the kids’ foster mom and a million holiday traditions.  It will be interesting.

Oh yeah, and I met a guy and went on a date.  I don’t want to discuss how long it has been since I have been on a date.  I was honest about Mickey and our life.  That usually eliminates a second date, but I don’t see the point in wasting my limited time with someone who is going to run screaming for the hills after he gets a glimpse at our life.  So, I was honest and he called back anyway.  I am confused and maybe even optimistic.  He also understands that he won’t be meeting the kids anytime soon, nor will I meet his.   I had to add a tag for dating because it has been so far off my radar, I really haven’t considered it in a long time :-).

Merry (almost) Christmas.  Last minute chaos is in full swing over here.  I hope you are all more relaxed and less stressed than I feel right now.

Nutcracker was a success!

Mickey and Minnie did great.  Three shows, months of rehearsals, one cast party, late bedtimes, backstage chaos, etc.  Mickey held it together through all of it – not only that but he loved it.  And that was obvious on stage.  His joy was evident and I was stopped by many people to tell me what a joy he was to watch because you could see his absolute excitement. He knew his parts and did them well. Minnie, as usual was her larger than life self on the stage and she is anxious to move up to junior company next year (4 roles instead of 2).

He is already excited about next year.  Mickey talked to the boy in apprentice company who holds the role Mickey covets – Nutcracker prince and that very sweet young man offered to help Mickey with the “boy” roles for next year.  Mickey isn’t and won’t be old enough for the Nutcracker prince, nor is he an experienced enough dancer, but I love that N was so sweet to offer and Mickey was so excited to work with N.  N is kind of a legend in Mickey’s mind – he has been dancing for years and is quite good, but Mickey has watched him grow from young Fritz to the Nutcracker prince, with roles in the chocolates dance and several others.

I volunteered backstage and that is utter chaos and so much fun.  Flowers were given to both of my children – from me on Saturday, along with their traditional Nutcracker, and from my parents today.  I normally don’t purchase the dvd, but I will because today is something that I won’t forget…today, Mickey proved that he isn’t to be underestimated and that when the motivation is right, the coping skills in place and the passion for something – he will fight his Autism tooth and nail and sometimes he will win.  He survived approximately 11 hours this weekend, over two very long days completely out of his comfort zone – backstage, away from me, with no snacks, stayed up late, was around 107 other dances in chaos and noise, nervous and excited, and he didn’t melt down. Not one incident.  He hit his marks, did his performances, was on stage when and where he was supposed to be, in the correct costume, etc.  This doesn’t amaze me with Minnie, she has been doing this since she was 4 and none of these things (other than the late hour of Saturday night’s show) have ever been an issue for her, but all of these are issues for Mickey.

Both kids fell apart when they got home tonight and struggled to come down off the Nutcracker high, but I am going to disregard that.  I am going to go with feeling very proud of both of them.  I love that Mickey has found something that he enjoys and doesn’t frustrate him (he liked soccer and karate but hated that he was bad at them).  I love that Minnie aspires to be Clara and keeps dancing in the Nutcracker for the opportunity to be Clara and that Mickey wants to be the Nutcracker prince.

I should mention that what I don’t grasp is the desire to perform on stage. I liked team sports, I liked band, I loved dance and gymnastics, but refused to do recitals or exhibitions and never, ever wanted to dance in front of people.  My desire to be a star is completely non-existent and likely the earliest signs of my social anxiety disorder, but I love that my kids like to perform.  That they can enjoy the accolades and the benefits of their hard work.  I love that they have found a studio where they are accepted and given opportunities – even though they may never be the best dancer (they might, but right now they are just enjoying the process).  I am immensely grateful that they work with Mickey and see him for how awesome he is and what he can do and not for how challenging he can be (and trust me, they know how challenging he can be).  So, tonight I head to bed with pride and happiness in my heart – that their Nutcracker weekend was everything they wanted it to be.

The newest nutcracker additions – the green one on the left is Mickey’s and the Mouse drummer 2nd from the right is Minnie’s.  Their roles are already written on the bottom and Mickey suggested some sort of special display shelf for his so that he can enjoy it all year long. 20151213_233510.jpg

Sometimes you just have to laugh

This week has been pretty quiet.  We are gearing up for Nutcracker performance weekend.  First show is at 2:00 tomorrow. As a side note, sorry for all the Nutcracker talk – it is rather all encompassing for us. This is a huge deal for Mickey and Minnie too, for different reasons.  Nearly five months of weekly rehearsals and a lot of excitement and anxiety (that is only for Mickey – Minnie lives to be on stage).  All of this is big.  Mickey is already prepping for next year – he warned the older boy that he has an eye on his roles lol.

Today though, Mickey had a rough afternoon on the bus.  Nothing critical – just singing loudly and putting his feet in the seat, but his driver was annoyed….here is a snippit of the conversation:

Driver: Tell your mom what happened today?

Mickey: Great Balls of Fire is not a quiet song.  I like to sing and it isn’t a song you can sing quietly…

Driver: I didn’t ask you to stop singing – I just asked you to sing quieter

Mickey: **with a large huff** you just don’t understand. It is Jerry Lee Lewis and GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!!

Driver: I don’t understand why you don’t follow directions

Mickey: UGh, we have gone through this – my birth parents used drugs and alcohol.  I have Autism.  I can’t follow directions.   **and he turned and walked away.

Now, obviously he is capable of following directions.  His loud singing is a regular complaint, etc.  But, I laughed (not in front of Mickey), but I was kind of tickled by the whole thought process. I talked to Mickey about behavior and that he can’t use his birth parents or his Autism as an excuse to not follow directions, but I still think the whole exchange was funny.

Then we got inside and I was hit with this:

Mickey: Did you know that Coat of Many Colors was on tv last night?

Me:  I heard that it was

Mickey: UHHMMM, you know I love Dolly Parton and that is my favorite song, right?

Me: yes

Mickey: So, have you checked Hulu? I am going to need to see that. Did you think you could keep it a secret (I had hoped).

So we had a quiet Friday watching Coat of Many Colors because my delightfully quirky 10 year old adores Dolly Parton.  My life is just strange sometimes….and don’t get me started when Dolly introduced the movie from Dollywood, which Mickey didn’t know existed, and he is now absolutely convinced that Tennessee is the best state in the U.S.  In his words “Let me get this straight – Tennessee has Graceland, Nashville, a Johnny Cash museum and Dolly Parton’s theme park – and we only live one state away!!”

I am highly amused by my kids on a fairly regular basis….I love both of their quirks.  Have a good weekend – I will post a final Nutcracker update after we get through the three performances.  This will be a trying weekend for Mickey and my fingers are crossed that he handles it as well as he thinks he will.

Confessions of a fraud

Does anyone feel like this parenting thing is just one big series of guesses and faking it? I get comments on a regular basis saying things like “you are so great with him” or “they are so lucky to have you”, etc.  Those are nice comments and I appreciate the sentiment. But, it is all crap.  Here is a confession – I have no freaking clue what I am doing most of the time.

Parenting traumatized children isn’t always simple.  Minnie doesn’t have any diagnosed issues, but she has nightmares – a lot of nightmares and short term memory struggles.  Mickey has multiple diagnosis and trauma.  Both kids were ripped away from two families before they were 4 & 6.  Both had been abused and neglected.  Minnie couldn’t bathe or swim because of her intense fear of water after somebody tried to drown her as a baby/young toddler.  Mickey has a deathly fear of being locked in closets.

But, here is the truth – no matter that I spent 100+ hours in training classes before adopting, and I have read dozens and dozens of books on Autism, trauma and adoption in the last four years and we have spent hundreds of hour in therapy – most of the time I am guessing. I try to apply common sense, natural consequences, with a healthy dose of sunshine and physical activity, less natural consequences like groundings and sentences, rewards and sometimes even bribery. I listen to my kid because he can usually tell me what he wants or needs, though I often have to decode it.  I am sarcastic and even my son with Autism now has learned how to decode that sarcasm (Minnie already speaks fluent sarcasm).  I try to find the humor in the often ridiculous parts of our life.  I am determined (sometimes too much so) to make up for the life they had before I met them and the fact that I missed out on so much before I met them.  While Mickey has to work hard and we as a family work hard to help Mickey, I am determined that he won’t look back on a childhood that is nothing but being in trouble and sitting in therapies.  We had to do that for 18 months at six days a week.  That was necessary so that we could get to a place that allowed us to live life. Even after that 18 months we did at least 2 days of therapy a week, in addition to his speech and OT at school, for another couple of years.  Now he sees a therapist once every two to three weeks and we increase during rough patches.

When people who have known and seen Mickey for the last four years, we get lots of compliments on his progress – which has been vast.  When he is being difficult, which is often enough, I get those words of support – but in reality, I feel like a fraud.  I get upset.  I get frustrated.  I have yelled at my kids, because I am not perfect.  Some days I just want to chuck it all and go sip a cocktail on a beach somewhere.  I do not have infinite patience – I HATE taking Mickey to a store, I detest cleaning bathrooms and I do not force my son who hates socks to wear them – in part because socks are the absolute bane of my existence with regard to laundry and in part because it isn’t important enough to battle over every single day.  If his cold feet bothered him, he would wear them (plus, we live in GA so it isn’t as though frostbite is an issue or anything). We also love, hug, laugh, sing and dance, we do extra curricular activities, we try new things, we eat out – sometimes too often, we travel to visit family and to their happy place, Disney World.  We keep a routine, which Mickey needs and then sometimes we break it, because he has to learn to deal with that too.  We drive around and look at Christmas lights and we jam out to the radio at volumes that are probably not good for little kid ears and I absolutely indulge Mickey’s quirky taste in music and Minnie’s adoration of all things animals.  As Mickey said – I won’t win any mother of the year awards and he is right.

I am just doing the best I can and it isn’t worthy of praise or compliments. In some ways I am incredibly lucky because Mickey is on the higher functioning end of the spectrum – though technically his diagnosis is moderate/severe. But, with a lot of work we have gotten him to a relatively high functioning place.  I am lucky that Minnie escaped those early years and alcohol exposure relatively unscathed.  Most of all, I wake up every single day glad to be their mom.  I worked hard to build this family through adoption and I work hard to provide them the best life I can – just as my parents did for me.  It isn’t praise worthy, because it just is.  My reward is that I get to watch these two amazing kids growing into amazing people.  But, it is a ton of luck and guessing to get them there.  Will they someday tell their therapists or their spouses about all the ways I screwed up? Almost definitely.  Because I am just doing the best I can and when in doubt? I fake it. The fact that I have fooled anyone into thinking I have a clue what I am doing is laughable.

Here is one sneak of our Christmas card photo shoot this weekend – these two are the reason that I try my best and fake it ’til we make it.

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Nutcracker dress rehearsal

Minnie and Mickey did great.  Both are anxiously awaiting their performances next week.  This is Minnie’s fourth year performing, so it is relatively old hat for her.  Mickey was my concern and he did really well.  A bit of a fit when snack time came and went (they can’t eat in costume), but it was easily diffused and he completed the entire 4 hour dress rehearsal – that is a good sign for next weekend.  He also says he can’t wait to do it next year.

Here are a few pics and the last one is of the shelf of Nutcrackers that is awaiting their new ones.  The tradition started with Minnie’s first performance and we got her a Nutcracker.  We write the year and the roles for that year on the bottom.  Mickey is excited to get his first one.  Mickey is the cannon soldier with the plunger and the squire in the turquoise vest with the trumpet.  Minnie is the drummer in blue pants and red top in the front and the cherub front and center. In the picture in the gray shirts (finale rehearsal) Minnie is just in front of Mickey and they are both giggling because her skirt is so big it is in his lap.

Family pictures tomorrow morning and then Santa visit tomorrow afternoon. I have to get those Christmas cards ordered – I wouldn’t want to procrastinate 🙂

Awesome news

So, yesterday was just amazing on several levels.  I don’t talk much about my job, but I love what I do and I love the company I do it for.  I started with them the first time, when I was 20 years old – in 1997.  I began my career there as an admin assistant and swiftly moved to doing data reporting.  When I decided to start college at 24, I talked to them about moving into the Information Technology department and they gave me an entry level programming position and taught me on the job.  When I discovered that programming wasn’t my passion, but software testing was, they let me make that move.  The company isn’t flawless – I have been outsourced once, I left once in frustration over salary, was brought back as a contractor for 5 years and left again when they cut contractors.  Almost 3 years ago though, contracting had become scary as a single parent with two kids and they called and offered me a full time position with the opportunity to eventually work from home 3 days a week.  I jumped at it.  So, I have spent 16 of the last 18 years with this company in one form or another.  Yesterday, they called me (while working from home) and offered me the opportunity to work from home full time.  I enthusiastically accepted.

This opens many options that were off the table for Mickey regarding his education.  See, my commute is 50 miles each way and they had modified their work from home policy to two days a week, so that means about 12 hours a week in the car.  That also means that private school was not an option because I couldn’t do transportation on my office days. This also saves me a ton of money in the summer for daycare and eliminates the distress I had over what to do with Mickey. It eliminates the need for after school program for Minnie too, thus freeing up another couple hundred bucks a month – not to mention gas, work clothes, etc.  I will have to go in to the office once a quarter or so, for meetings, but I am very excited to begin my full time work from home career on Monday!

My dad was released from the hospital yesterday too.  We still don’t have the answers we would like, but he is doing better but will likely face a surgery in the next couple of weeks.  My brother’s dialysis is finally starting to help and he feels better.

And my mom called and apologized for what she had said about Mickey on the cruise.  She was frustrated, she was annoyed with him and she told me that she hadn’t realized how hard it was to live with his behaviors day in and day out.  She said she really does believe college and band and all of those things are doable, she just hadn’t realized how hard it can be to get him through a day when he isn’t at his best (out of routine/new place, etc).  I don’t think it is hard – it just is, but I forget that I once cried every night for six months with exhaustion from dealing with the extreme behaviors. Today is a piece of cake compared to that, so it is just automatic and nothing special. But, when you don’t live with it every day, it may seem far more difficult than it is – especially when your expectations are something different.  My mother has probably not spent more than 14 hours or so with him at once – and 9 of those he was asleep, prior to the cruise.  We have gone to a funeral but we rode separately and stayed in different rooms, etc.  This was a lot.

This does concern me if something happens to me.  As it is setup today, my parents would take the children.  I do not know that my mom is equipped to deal with Mickey.  But, in reality, neither was I.  She would figure it out, much as I did.  She loves him and Minnie, of this I am positive, but the gut wrenching discussion last week is a little less gut wrenching with the apology and the knowledge that while she said stuff she shouldn’t have, she does still have hope for her grandson.  I don’t know that I am over it, but I am relieved to know that in a moment of rationality and calm, she sees the work he has done, she knows that I do everything in my power to help him, and she sees potential for his future.  She was ecstatic over the private school options that opened up with the work from home change and she even offered financial support, if we need it to make it happen.

So, my supportive mother is back, my dad is out of the hospital, my brother is better, Mickey no longer has to stay home by himself after school, summer daycare issues are resolved and I keep my awesome job with the awesome company that I love.  We are going to start this weekend that is slammed with Christmas pictures, helping my parents with their Christmas stuff, and Nutcracker dress rehearsals on a good note.  Be ready for pictures in the next post – hopefully Mickey continues his almost entirely successful Nutcracker experience when we get to the stage and in costumes – tomorrow will be a good indicator of how next week will go for the three performances. Have a great weekend everyone.

Reflections

I have had about a week to chew on the issues with my mom and my son on the cruise.  I am actually saddened by this and it is possible that this cruise did irreparable damage to our relationship.  I will not ever stop talking to my parents, I will always do the things for them that a daughter should do, and in most ways nothing changes…but, something is missing for me now and I can’t quite put my finger on it or articulate it, but I will try.

I am not blind to my sons difficulties, nor his behaviors.  Trust me – I live with them every day and sometimes they aren’t easy to live with.  I get frustrated when he doesn’t do something out of defiance, or when he mouths off or even gets aggressive, because he has the ability and coping skills to manage those behaviors – and he does – most of the time. Some days, living with Mickey is just tough, for both me and Minnie.

I am also not blind to the tremendous progress and growth we have seen with him in the 4 years and 2 months since he moved into our home.  At that time, it was not believed that he would ever live independently, his psychologicals showed very low intelligence, his fine and gross motor skills were a mess and he had never completed a day of school.  He raged for hours and hours and hours on end nearly every day, his speech was unintelligible, he skewed far younger than his 6 years and had the emotional functioning of about a 20 month old. And most of all, he was violent and aggressive – dangerous to other people.

Over the last couple of years though, I have had hope that he will not only live independently, but hopefully thrive.  We still have work to do, no doubt about it.  Following directions remains our biggest challenge, keeping control of emotions a very close second. His eating skills could still use some work, but he no longer shovels food with his fingers until he vomits – he just makes more of a mess than is age appropriate and slips into incorrect fork holding periodically.  This is a work in progress.

I, as his parent, have to pick my battles daily.  I will not turn every meal into a war zone to get him to hold the fork properly.  He knows to stay in his seat, he knows how to behave appropriately in a restaurant, he is not disgusting – he just eats to fast and ends up with food on his face, but this drove my mother insane on the cruise.  She turned every meal into a huge production of nagging.  Food is Mickey’s comfort and his coping skill, the one thing that convinced him to get on the ship in the first place was the food.  Arguing through every meal and getting onto him for excitedly ordering his food as soon as the waiter came to the table is not worth it.  I normally touch his hand or knee and remind him to slow down.  I will point to my fork when I see his hand has migrated down to the tines, rather than the handle. I do not make a huge issue of it.

The incident on Castaway Cay that made my mother decide to pack it up was that Mickey was asked to pick up some inter-tubes, so we could wheel her wheelchair away from the beach. He was talking excitedly and not paying attention and I had to repeat myself a couple of times.  This is pretty standard, if he is distracted and on a beach full of people he was definitely distracted.  I had to say “Mickey, Stop and  PICK UP THE TUBES!  He got upset, but he picked them up, but he threw a dirty look my way that ticked my mom off.  I don’t care about the look – he was picking up the tubes while he did it.  That combined with the fact that he had lost his rental tube over the rope to the snorkling area and freaked out because he thought Grandma would be mad.  It was easy to talk him down and it didn’t ruin anything, but the two incidents made her decide to call it a day.

Mickey was upset and took off running.  I know better than to chase.  That escalates further – I watch and make sure he isn’t being unsafe (running into streets) and will sharply call him if there is a car – in this case he ran to the tram circle, but the tram wasn’t coming, so I let him go.  He will come back – he doesn’t like to be far from people.  So, this was his venting of frustration. He was back with us and angrily fuming in about 2 minutes and he got on the tram without incident.  This incident though convinced my mother that perhaps we hadn’t made the progress that I think we have. She told me to quit fighting to get him moved from his current school placement.  She suggested that he will never work or live independently and that we would be lucky if he doesn’t end up in juvenile detention.  She told me not to worry about standardized tests because she doesn’t think he is going to graduate anyway. She told me that he doesn’t deserve or need extra curriculars because he can’t handle them.

Those statements were like a punch in the stomach and I have spent the last week trying to figure out if I am being objective in his progress.  Are we pushing for things that aren’t possible? Am I more blind to bratty behaviors than I think I am?  Do I let too much slide?  I certainly let more things go than I do with Minnie, but that is because to get his behavior to where hers usually is, I would have to nag him every waking minute – and that isn’t fun for anyone.  I expect please and thank you. I constantly remind him to hold doors or not barrel onto elevators (another big annoyance for both my parents on the ship). I do not accept violence or disrespect.  I expect him to behave appropriately in stores and restaurants. I would like him to follow directions the first time, but we aren’t there yet….but he will follow them.  I would love it if every single store didn’t set off a constant stream of “I wants”, but even with never getting in, we aren’t there yet, but he doesn’t melt down, he just keeps asking (and I tune it out).  I would like him to never get angry and yell or stomp or storm off, but we aren’t there yet either.  Where we are though is that he doesn’t get angry and kick the person nearest him – he doesn’t throw furniture over or destroy whatever is around him.  That is progress and there is still work to be done.

I know my mom was angry and I know she had a lot on her mind.  My dad is still in the hospital and we don’t know why.  My brother is still violently ill from the dialysis.  We were all a little stressed and Mickey was not at his best.  However, I wonder if she is right?  I don’t think she is, but I would be lying if I said that a future in the juvenile justice system doesn’t seem like a possibility.  His impulse control is bad, just bad.  He understands consequences, but he doesn’t always think about them before he makes choices.  He doesn’t like school and unless that changes – getting him through high school will be a battle.  A battle I intend to fight, but a battle no less.  He would love to join chorus and band, but do I know that he will be okay singing or playing songs he may not care for? Nope.  But, 4 years ago we didn’t have a lot of hope.  Now I do, and I thought my parents did too.  My heart is a little broken that in 5 days where he is outside routine, which is always tough for him, that she is ready to write that hope off as an unrealistic dream.

Are the coming years going to be easy or fun? Almost definitely no, but I will not give up hope.  I will still not spend every waking minute nagging him into compliance.  We will tackle the bigger issues with gusto and work on the small in more subtle and slow ways, as we always have and I believe we will continue to see slow and steady progress in most areas. The progress that we once didn’t believe he was capable of has convinced me that we don’t really know how high he will soar. I hope that my mother is able to see that too, when not so bogged down in her frustration with the ways in which he isn’t typical.

Sorry for another lengthy post.  My mom has been one of my  best friends for years and I am really weighed down with the heartbreak of knowing that she doesn’t believe in her grandson the way I thought.  Or maybe, she just doesn’t understand Autism the way I thought she did and assumed that his progress in areas made him suddenly typical?  I don’t know, but I am over here adjusting expectations – not for Mickey, but for my relationship with her.