August 12, 2022

Seventeen Years Old


Dear Tad,

Today is your 17th birthday, and really, this cannot be happening.  How on earth can YOU be 17???

I have said this before, but you somehow have the healthiest and happiest social life of all of us.  As I write this, you have just spent the most amazing day out.  You began your birthday with a breakfast doughnut, and then your Dad bought even more doughnuts for you to take to share with your friends at day camp.  Day camp was spent doing a ropes course, zip lines, and then laser tag and mini golf after lunch.  The doughnuts got eaten at lunchtime as a birthday snack.  When I came to pick you up, I also picked up two of your friends (a little mom schedule juggling, it happens to us all), and I took you all to Costco for a snack, and then to the mall, where we met up with even MORE friends for a movie.

And this was even missing the friends who were on vacation!  You see what I mean when I say you have a healthy and happy social life?

Generally, you are a pretty easygoing teenager.  But you do have your moments, buddy, when it’s clear that you are struggling with wanting to be “grown-up” and making your own decisions, and lash out because you are uncertain of what that should look like.  All you realize in that moment is that we are telling you “no.”  And, shockingly, you don’t like being told “no,” even when it’s with good cause.  Growing up is certainly a struggle, I get it.  Right now, your whole life is full of contradictions.  You want to be big, but you really want to be little again.  You want to do fun stuff, but you don’t want to be responsible for doing things to get to the fun stuff.  You want freedom, but have to have boundaries and structure.

Oh, and you want your sister to give you rides, because Mom is not cool enough to drive you places, and you prefer riding shotgun in Ane’s car to Mom’s minivan.

In so many ways, you are a typical 17 year old boy.  And yet, you’re not, and that line between what is “grumpy teen boy” and what is “autism” can seem pretty thin sometimes.

But we love you so much, Tad.  I wish that I could spare you the emotional roller coaster that you have been on, thanks to adolescence, but I know I can’t.  All I can help you do is ride it out, and continually reassure you that no matter what, your Dad and I love you very much.  (Your siblings are on the fence about that, but never mind them.)

But we’re still going to keep spraying Lysol into your room and running that ozone generator occasionally when we’re out.  Because…. yeah.  You’re a 17 year old boy.

Happy 17th birthday!


Twenty-Two Years


I have been married longer than I was single.

Happy 22nd anniversary, Webmaster!  Someday we will be able to get away for our anniversary…. but it is not this day. (snicker)

March 21, 2022

Thumper Turns Nine


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.


March 8, 2022

Terrific Twelve


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.