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March 21, 2022

Thumper Turns Nine

9:57pm

My sweet silly Thumper,

Today is your ninth birthday, and I don’t feel ready to think of you as a nine year old.  Because nine seems OLD.  Nine is the same age that Ane was when you were born.  And I don’t think you would do very well if a baby sibling moved in right now.  (Prepare yourself for your new baby cousin, kiddo, because he is going to be part of your life in only a few more months….)

Things have definitely changed in a year.  ABA has changed, and while we have hit milestones (you have not worn an overnight Pull-Up in something like 10 months, you can button your own shirts and put on your own socks correctly, and your speech has most definitely improved), we also seem to be stalling out.  And this is not really your fault, and it’s going to require a fix (eventually) that will be a big one and one that means a big change.  And I keep putting off thinking about how that change will go, even though I know that it probably will be the best thing for us.  You’re only getting older, and the world is going to become less forgiving and less understanding.  You don’t realize that, and that lack of awareness makes me even more determined to make sure that you have a soft landing, whatever we decide to do.

You’re back in school, and the masks have come off – which confused you, but you’re not complaining – but now your sassypants behavior is escalating into… an angry hamster?  I don’t honestly know what is going through your fuzzy head, but everyone has a theory on “what is up with Thumper.”  Are you hearing more advanced language, and it’s frustrating you?  Are you frustrated with your inability to clearly express yourself?  Do you just want your own way and are becoming more rigid in your routines?  Are you going through a very very very belated “terrible twos”?  This is one of those times when I wish I could mind-meld with you and help figure this out.  In the meantime, if you could stop headbutting people, that would be a step in the right direction.

The other thing that has changed is your “label.”  No longer are you simply a kid on the autism spectrum.  Nope, you had to be “special” and add an ADHD diagnosis to the mix.  And not just what people think of as ADHD, but inattentive-type ADHD – which, I am told, makes you something of a unicorn in the autism world.  I always knew you were different – but did you have to be THIS different?  This wasn’t the way I had planned for you to one-up your brothers, dude.  Now we have to think about the wonders of a “dual diagnosis” and all the fun that goes with that.  Everything you do now has to be filtered through multiple sieves – “is this autism? is this ADHD? is this sensory?” – in order to understand why you do what you do.  And you did not come with an instruction manual.

Right now, I am using your favorite music to calm you instead of stir you up, and the current track on repeat is  “Love Theme from Superman” (John Williams FTW again).  A few weeks ago, it was the end credits to “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (terrible movie, good music).  For you, music is a universal language, and does soothe your inner beast.  It is the language which anyone who knows you, has to know how to speak.

And yet, you are still the most lovable, the snuggliest, the cuddliest, the giggliest, and the cutest nine year old I know.  And you are still a freaking ninja and hacker, with an unhealthy obsession with DVDs and their cases.  And an unrepentant cookie monster.  And I love you to pieces.  Happy 9th birthday, my sweet fluffy Boo.

Love,
Mama


March 8, 2022

Terrific Twelve

2:15pm

Dear Rerun,

You have made it to your twelfth birthday alive.  I consider this a major accomplishment on all our parts, considering the last two years that we have gone through.

When you think about it, these last two years can be measured by your birthdays.  Two years ago, your birthday dinner was one of the last “normal” events that we had.  School was on its “two week break,” and we had plans to celebrate your birthday at school the way we had the year before – with pizza and treats for lunch for the whole class.  Your teacher even commented that “we will celebrate Rerun’s birthday once we are back at school.”

Of course, that never happened.

Your birthday last year was marked by your beloved Ms. B and your case manager Ms. C stopping by our house with small presents, a “Happy Birthday” poster, and balloons.  You went back to hybrid school just a month later, but with only half the class there at a time, plus being there only two days a week, belated birthday parties were not on the agenda.

This year, you are in middle school, which means the era of pizza lunches for the class has passed.  And I’m kind of sad about that, because you loved it so much the one and only time that we did, and you asked if we could do it again.  It absolutely sucks that two birthdays of your life have gone by without getting the pomp and circumstance that we would have given you.

So we’re planning a kids’ party, but you have to share it with your brother (sorry, these things aren’t cheap) in a few weeks, and the family party will also be in a few weeks (when you request a cake from Auntie, buddy, you’re on HER schedule, not mine).  But today, you are twelve, and we will have dinner out tonight because we CAN.

I wish I could quantify what the last two years have done to you.  Academically, I think you’ve come out ahead of your siblings – all praise and thanks to Ms. B for that miracle – and your transition into 6th grade and middle school has been shockingly smooth.  First, you have really bonded with Ms. SC, your new one-on-one para.  Second, I’ve gotten a few phone calls from your teachers because Rerun, I am telling you, sending you to Tad’s former middle school was a gift for me.  Already having a working knowledge of the campus, the staff, and the classes has made this so much easier for the both of us.  And third, you are doing really well in class.  Your first semester report card was all A’s.  You are determined to plow through your work every day (mostly so you don’t bring home any homework), and I’ve talked with your math teacher, buddy.  It seems that you might need a challenge next year.  We shall see.

However, you are extremely Too Much Online (a side effect of the school giving you your own Chromebook), like to find the easy way out when it comes to putting in effort (if you aren’t being watched), and the early schedule that the middle school is on means that your evenings are a lot rougher (i.e. unmedicated) than they used to be.

And still, you are bright, curious, and hilarious.  You, we have discovered, possess a sense of humor not just for slapstick, but for the absurd.  Jokes that go straight over Tad’s head land squarely right in your brain and tickle your funny bone.  Showing you select Monty Python clips has been hilarious for both your Dad and me, because even if we have to explain something slightly more obscure to you, you don’t lose patience with it and you appreciate it.  Appreciation of the absurd can’t be taught, and you have that in spades.

Your brain is driven by one question: “how does it work?”  This applies to math, science, engineering, experiments – you want to know the hows and whys of very practical things.  I saw how you responded to the pre-tech elective class during first semester, and I think we know where you are headed.  At least, if you can stay focused and don’t get frustrated, and have teachers who are willing to answer questions and be flexible with you.

You also fight way too much with Thumper.  While some of that can be chalked up to normal behavior between brothers, DUDE.  He’s three years younger than you, and he struggles with verbal communication.  Fortunately, he doesn’t mind it too much if you’re bossy – unless it comes to video games.  (Could you please just let him have his own fun?)

Rerun, you are brilliant and exasperating.  I love you so very much.  I hope you never outgrow giving me a hug and kiss at bedtime.  I also hope that you are always willing to sit down with me for a cup of tea and a scone and some Instagram videos.

Happy 12th birthday, Pookie Bear.

Love,
Mom


December 27, 2021

Eighteen And Ever After

2:11am

Dear Ane,

In past years, your birthday has been marked with snow.  Sometimes that meant that the celebrations were postponed.  It was harder for you to understand when you were small, because it was YOUR special day and you wanted to celebrate.  With age comes flexibility, and so you can look outside just as easily as we can and realize, yeah, no one wants to drive through that snow and ice.  Not even you.

However, this year is not like other years.  While we are continuing to claw back every shred of normalcy that we can, Covid still looms large – not in our house, exactly, but in the world outside.  So even with normal weather, your birthday celebration probably wouldn’t have looked like we wanted it to.  The freezing temperatures outside – we’re going to have a low of 15 degrees today! – combined with the snow from yesterday will conspire to make sure that no one wants to come over tonight.

And yet, here we are.  Today you are eighteen years old, legally an adult.  I know that seems a daunting number to you, but honestly, nothing changed between yesterday and today.  You’re still here at home, you’re still working the same job, you’re still going to school.  You turning 18 is a big moment, but the bigger one coming (at least to me) is your high school graduation this coming June.

You asked me last night for words of wisdom, and I think we had some good ones, but I want to get some of these written down.

First, my heart aches for you and how these last 21 months have gone.  I wish that I could go back in time and make some different choices for your sake.  But I can’t, and we are now playing the cards we have in hand.  And that is a good piece of advice – work with what you have, not what you wish you had.

Second, we’ve talked about how inevitably, the “drift” will begin – you and your friends, after graduating from high school, will begin to go your separate ways.  And it isn’t because you don’t care about each other any less, but those day-to-day experiences that you shared together will come to an end.  We all go through this.  You will stay connected in some way or another due to social media, but change is coming.  New experiences are coming.  New friends are coming, too.  That being said, my next piece of advice is to not borrow other people’s drama, and to let your friends solve their own problems.  You are all emotionally stunted right now, and I am trying to keep that in mind as I listen to these dramatic tales.  Still, you have learned just how little you can affect other people’s issues when they don’t want to actually change anything.  Your life has enough of its own unique drama – don’t take on anyone else’s.

Third, remember how much you are loved.  Your brothers love you.  Your dad and I love you.  Your grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins all love you, too.  And most importantly, Jesus loves you.  I know how much you have struggled with that over these last couple of years, but you are loved – and you will never be able to walk away from that kind of love.  It will follow you all the days of your life.

Fourth, some general life advice.  Be on time.  Write thank you notes.  Show respect to those who are older than you.  Continue to be tolerant and empathetic to those with special needs.  Make yourself to-do lists, and put easy things on there that you can check off – like “eat breakfast,” and “go to school on time.”  Let yourself have a sense of accomplishment.  Figure out how to make at least one signature breakfast item, one signature dinner meal, and one really good dessert.

Fifth, advice on boys/men.  Find one who loves Jesus more than he loves you.  Look to how he treats his parents and siblings.  Judge him on how he treats elderly people and little children, and animals.  Take note of the friends he hangs out with, because they will become your friends, too.  If you can’t stand them, there will be problems.  Consider his job/career/profession, because it is unlikely to change.  Make sure you can live with what he does, and the lifestyle that goes with some careers.  Check to see how responsible he is with money.  Look at his residence and assess how he lives, how often he cleans, and his personal hygiene.  And then, judge him by how he treats your brothers.

Sixth, always keep learning.  Pick up a new hobby.  Watch good classic movies and TV series, even if they are obscure.  Read good classic books, even if they are children’s ones.  Keep expanding your mental horizons with adventures and travel, within reason.  Don’t put yourself into debt to travel, and don’t do anything stupid like sign up for a guided tour of North Korea.

We will celebrate you as best as we can today, and then we will celebrate you even more later.  To your dad and to me, you will always be that tiny little baby who gave us a huge scare while making her way into the world.  Eighteen years have now passed, but we have only grown to love you more.

Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to you.  Psalm 139:7-12

Happy 18th birthday, Ane!

Love,
Mom


August 12, 2021

Twenty-One Years

2:02am

Here we are, 21 years later.  We looked pretty good on the day Auntie and JW got married, so I’m using that picture.

At least, we looked good until we melted in the extreme heat, but we don’t have to remember that part.

Happy anniversary, Webmaster – maybe someday we’ll be able to take that trip we keep talking about!