Suzy the Hamster

Because I couldn’t make this stuff up, here is a story that illustrates the ridiculousness that is my life. Two weeks ago, Summer the hamster unexpectedly met her demise.  She showed no signs of illness, we had only had her about 3 months.  She was up and playing on her wheel the evening before and dead the next morning.  I didn’t tell the kids that morning because I didn’t want to spoil their day at school.  I waited until they got home and I made another choice too.

I decided to replace Summer, to help soften the blow of her death.  Summer was not terribly friendly (in fact she drew blood every single time you touched her), so I didn’t expect the kids to be that heartbroken.  I was wrong.  However, I replaced Summer with a delightful little Robo dwarf hamster who was sweet.  We named her Suzy.

Suzy loves to be held.  Suzy is adorable and teeny tiny.  The children adore her, all the while pointing out that they loved Summer too.  Lest I forget about her or think they did.  So, imagine the horror when we walked in the house last night and the hamster cage was lying on the ground with no Suzy.

Sherbert was obviously the offending party here, but we see no evidence that darling Suzy didn’t survive the fall.  What we can’t seem to do though is find Suzy.  She is approx. 2 inches long and our home is approx 2800 square feet, spanning 3 levels.  We have put Sherbert up in one room, we set traps for Suzy (bucket traps), we made Mason spend the night in his crate, we googled many possibilities.  The reality is, Suzy may be gone, but I hope not.  My kids aren’t equipped to deal with the loss so soon after Summer.

So, please send some good vibes to Suzy.  Guide her back to her cage and we will figure out a way to Sherbert proof her cage so that she is safe and sound.  In the meantime, Suzy has the run of the house (hopefully) and I am very hopeful that we find her chilling in her cage when we get home.  Fingers crossed!!

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Well, it wasn’t pretty…

but, we survived birthday week 2016.  Mickey lost his presents and party, but he got his cake.  Yesterday I went to school and took cupcakes (but not his special lunch) to class for he and his classmates.  It was a compromise born of a much better weekend than Friday morning indicated. He apologized for behavior, he begged for “earning back” his presents and I had to say no.  Unfortunately, I gave in last year and look where it got us.  I would very much like to ward this off from happening again next year – though it still might.

Interestingly, yesterday when I took his cupcakes to him, his teacher pulled me aside and said “Mickey has contacted the resource officer at the school and asked him to track down the birth mother.  He says he has an address and he wants him to start there”.  This may be a good indicator of why birthday week is a problem. We don’t usually see such obvious connections, but birthday/birth family makes sense.  I have always attributed the birthday week meltdowns to the out of routine, over stimulating, etc, but this makes more sense. It is worth noting that the address wasn’t one and obviously the officer wouldn’t do it anyway, but interesting that that was where is head was.

So, on a nicer note – the Johnny Cash wax museum project is coming along well.  Mickey has NEVER been so excited by a school project.  We even used that Halloween black hairspray to darken his hair for our test run this weekend. Here are some birthday/Johnny Cash pics. So, happy 11th birthday, Mickey.  Thank you for challenging me in every way, for providing me with tons of laughter (and tears), for working hard to make progress.  I can’t wait to see what the world has in store for you, my boy.

The pre-birthday meltdown

So, as is his usual, the end of September whatever it is, has taken a hold of Mickey.  Every year this week is tough, presumably because it is birthday week (Minnie, Grandpa, Mickey) and whether it is excitement or something else, Mickey’s behavior sucks. This year had been okay – not great, but okay this week.  Until yesterday.  He got in trouble at school yesterday for the first time this school year – 6 weeks (woohoo!).  I was contacted, but he was back under control, right up until the end of the day when he pushed over a desk and rolled a chair at the teacher (hard and in anger).  That cost him his privileges for today. This made him angry.

This morning he decided to act that anger out by refusing to get dressed, refusing to get on the bus, screaming at me in front of the house, hurting his sister, kicking the glass storm door until it broke, kicking my car, punching my car and slamming the flag and flagpole repeatedly on the ground until he broke them.  This fit lasted 10 minutes. He refused to go to school because he wasn’t going to get fun Friday – basically the afternoon of free time.  He was scary, he was angry, he was hurtful to his sister and I.  I recorded it all on my phone in case the neighbors called the police (it was that loud at 7am).

His birthday party is tomorrow and at this point, I can’t let it happen.  He, once calm and in the car on the way to school, tried negotiating his party and presents – “If I am good today”, “What if it is a perfect day?” or “please don’t tell Grandma”.  But, at this point I think it has to go.  This was serious this morning.  Had the police station been open when I drove him there this morning, I am not sure he would even be in school this morning.  It was that bad.

I wanted an officer to talk to him, about the harming of his sister, the truancy/refusal to go to school, and the destruction of property.  He thinks this is no big deal, so I wanted somebody with authority to explain the seriousness, not that I wanted to have him arrested. He is convinced that I am stupid, so when I say those things are against the law, he laughs it off.  See his school doesn’t work the way a regular school does – because of disabilities, it would really take bringing a weapon for the police to get involved. So, in his mind, because he has Autism the rules don’t apply the same way.  I don’t want a “scared straight” situation, just a talk with an officer who can make him understand the seriousness of what he is doing.

I informed the school that should there be any significant behaviors today, I am to be notified immediately.  I am not sure what I do from there, but I am beyond frustrated and at my whits end.

On a more positive note, yesterday was my dad’s 69th birthday.  Happy birthday, Dad.  Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do.  You have always been my biggest cheerleader, my fierce protector, and my rock.  You worked hard for your family and showed us what love should look like, in the way you are with mom and with your children and grandchildren.  You never hesitate to help me with the kids, see a band competition, a ballet recital, help teach a kid to ride a bike or build a birdhouse.  You rock, Dad and I am grateful that I got to be your daughter.

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Snippets and Birthday 1

Snippets with my children during birthday week:

Minnie: tomorrow is my birthday!!!

Mickey: I know.  Since you are going to be nine, you could wake up and have the puberty.

Minnie: What?!?!?!?

Mickey: You know, where you get the boobies from.

Minnie: You are almost 11 and haven’t gotten the puberty yet.

Mickey: Duh. Boys don’t get boobies

Minnie: But you get hair under your arms and you don’t have hair under your arms.  So, clearly you are dumb.

The puberty, really?  Clearly we need more work on our puberty talks, but I was dying laughing.

Mickey: When you and Grandma are out shopping, remember how much me and
Minnie love you.  Like, so much that we just know that you are going to think about how much and will buy us the most amazing gifts.  Me and Minnie prayered for that.

Mickey: Since my birthday is on a weekend, I was thinking that Uncle should bring cupcakes to school on Friday and you can bring them on Monday.  My classmates would really appreciate twice the cupcakes.  Good plan?

Minnie: Mom, I am not sure I am ready to be 9.

Me: Why not?

Minnie: I don’t know, but maybe I can stay 8 just a little bit longer.

For the record, I would be okay with that.

Happy 9th birthday, sweet girl.  It is here – ready or not.  Your kindness, compassion, love for all living things and the joy you bring your brother and I is indescribable.  You find the best in everyone – you befriend the underdog, you see beauty where it is hard to find, your passion for animals and your light is impossible to darken.  Please be strong and keep it that way – you are the most remarkable at being you and my sincerest hope for you is that you are able to keep that up with the confidence and self assurance that I know you possess. Dance on baby girl – you are amazing!!

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Calming…

Things have calmed a bit.  I had a conversation with Mickey about how great he was doing at school, on the bus, at Grandma and Grandpa’s and at dance.  We talked about how proud I was of all of that, but also why I can’t have him behave the way he had been at home.  I explained that his sister and I love him and while I can certainly appreciate that it is hard for him to keep control all day, he can’t treat us (and our home) the way he had been.

See, Mickey has had a couple of amazing breakthroughs in the last 2 months.  The biggest being that he realized he has been self-sabotaging every attempt to leave his school.  Since early 2nd grade, when we attempted to move him from the awful school we hated back to his beloved home school, fear got the better of him and impeccable (for Mickey) behavior turned into constant problems.  When we moved to our current school after months of spiraling behavior following the initial sabotage in 2nd grade, we have tried 3 different times.  All 3 times, we have a meeting, make a plan, talk with Mickey and watch him destroy any chance of ever leaving.

He wants to leave.  He wants to go to a school where they offer arts and music.  He wants to join the band and the chorus desperately.  But, those things will never happen at his current placement because his current placement doesn’t offer music or art in any form.  But, even though he wants to go, he is scared to leave his safe place…I understand that (see 19 years with the same company – not because it has always been the best job, but because it is the safe, the known). But, he and I went to dinner 3 weeks ago, while Minnie was at a sleepover.  He said he was ready to leave his school.  He talked to his teacher about what steps he needed to do to leave.  He asked me to review his IEP with him again so that he could work on those goals as well.  He took the initiative and acknowledged (for the first time) that fear has kept him where he is.  We talked about that fear is okay, but he can’t let it stand in the way of his dreams.

Because of that, I wondered if I could maybe make him see that he was storing all his daily frustrations and them unloading them on me and Minnie.  He yelled at me, but came back down later and said I might be right.  So, we brainstormed a few ideas to see if we could find a more appropriate outlet for that annoyance.  We don’t have a fool-proof plan yet, but we have seen progress this week and the rest of last week.  So, that is good – yay for maturity and self realization.  He had his fist rough patch at school yesterday, but it was short and minor and his teacher is still thrilled.  Unfortunately Summer the hamster inexplicably died overnight two days ago.  Both kids are heartbroken.  There was no sign of illness – she went to sleep and didn’t wake up.

Next week is more family birthdays.  This weekend we have a full schedule.  We are gearing up for our next Disney trip, etc.  So, fingers crossed we are coming up with solutions for Mickey.  We see the therapist in the morning so hopefully he can help us come up with some other ideas for Mickey right after school to release that tension and help him get through the evening a little better.

Have a great weekend!

 

Silence, birthdays and updates

I haven’t written because I don’t know what to say.  So, let me start with a few updates and then we can get to the main issue….

I turned 40.  I don’t know how the hell it happened, but it did.  I am not upset by the age, I am struggling to reconcile myself with that age though.  When I was the age my son is now, approx., my parents turned 40.  It seemed so old and grown up.  Obviously it isn’t old, but it feels like I should feel more grown up than I do.  It still feels like high school was a couple of years ago to me, not 22.  But, whether I was ready or not, 40 is here as of last week.

Employment – I was scheduled to lose my job the day before my birthday.  However, I got a call from another division within the company asking me to come down and work on a different project.  The end result is likely the same, but we are hoping it buys me 6-8 months of time.  I now have to go into the office three times a week, thus adding 15 hours of commute time to our already packed schedule and I am working a ton more hours, but at least I am still employed.

Dance classes have started – Mickey is loving his tap class, has declared his Jazz Funk “too funky” and loves his ballet class and just started his Nutcracker roles (soldier and squire – again). Minnie is rocking her Nutcracker roles (Party scene girl, candy cane, frost fairy), her Jr. Company class – where she is among the youngest and her dance team class – where she is the oldest :-).  Dance is going well.

School – We are entering week 5 and for Mickey this has been our best year yet.  He loves his teacher, he is engaged in learning, he is even asking relevant questions (peppered with many irrelevant ones as well).  So, all is well there. Minnie loves school and thinks her teacher is “awesome!!”.  There have been no issues to report.

Why the cryptic beginning to the post then?  Well, that is because while everything seems to be going well we are having a serious problem.  One that honestly has me scared.  I feel as though we are a house of cards and the wind is blowing.  Mickey had two incidents this weekend that were scary.  They were violent, they were illogical, they were nasty.  Both were triggered by my saying no to something very minor.  This has honestly been building for weeks – since school started.  I am seeing a lot of throwing items, hitting his sister, turning over furniture, screaming, yelling, kicking and language (seriously, the language!!).

We have not seen those behaviors in a very long time (except on very rare occasions and usually with a more dramatic trigger than a no).  Sunday he broke his desk, turned over a chest of drawers, broke a dining room chair and then ran about a mile down the street.  Yesterday he seemed to be purposely escalating the situation after the initial no.  He overturned the coffee table and threw everything he could get his hands on.  He called me some words that I didn’t even know he knew.

He is now about 2 inches shorter than I am and when he is raging, his strength is unimaginable.  I am very concerned by the increase in behaviors and perhaps even more concerned that we are only seeing this increase at home.  I guess I prefer it there to school or dance, but still….

He will be 11 very soon and I feel like we might be dealing with hormones.  He hates my new schedule and it is highly disruptive to him, so there is that.  Otherwise, life is pretty stable for him, but this path we seem to be careening down has me petrified.  He is going to hurt himself (not intentionally, he doesn’t self harm at all) with the aggression.  His seemingly random explosions have his sister scared and me too.  So, please keep us in your thoughts.  We see the therapist soon and I will be asking.  I don’t think it is meds – he is doing great during the day, but ever single thing I do seems to piss him off beyond reason.  The issue is clearly me, but I am unsure how to get past it.