Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Look

Cheesecake Factory. The finest restaurant in which Conor has binged and purged.

I'm not truly certain why it happens. I have an inkling. But it does happen. Not every time, not every month, but often enough. We'll go out to eat, and Conor winds up giving back some or much of what he ate.

See, we eat out each Wednesday night. I don't remember how it started, but our routine is to go out to eat on Wednesdays at a rotating list of restaurants. Red Robin, a local spaghetti joint that thankfully closed, Outback Steakhouse, you get the drift.

Listen, I'm certainly not going to complain about not having to cook dinner and do the dishes. And trust me, it's quite an accomplishment to have a child on the spectrum who can go to a restaurant for a meal. Not everyone can say that.

Vomiting at Red Robin? Ok, I get that. Trust me, I get it. Outback Steakhouse? Ok, I can see it. All that G'day Mate and Hallo Sheila! is enough to make me nauseous. But The Cheesecake Factory? The Cheesecake Factory? What's he got against The Cheesecake Factory?

We sit. He gobbles bread and fat pats of butter. We try to limit him, lie to him and tell him that we need all those extra pats of butter we tell him he can't have. We slip them into our pockets, finding the forgotten butter bombs hours later. He slurps down two huge glasses of raspberry lemonade, the kind with the sugar around the rim. The waitress, she keeps bringing them to him without us asking. He inhales handfuls of french fries with ketchup. He shovels bow tie pasta with marinara sauce into his mouth.

We cajole him to slow down, take a breath, take a break, please, you don't need to eat so much. Please, honey, please don't eat so much. Drink slower, don't gulp.

Then he gets The Look. If you're a parent, you know The Look. Hell, if you were in a fraternity, you know The Look.

"Conor," I ask him, rubbing his back gently as he leans forward. "Are you feeling ok? Do you need to go to the restroom?"

"No!" he says. "I don't want to be sick." He wraps his arms around his ample belly.

"You don't look like you feel well, sweetie," I said. "Are you eating too much pasta? That might make your tummy upset, eating too much."

"No!" he replies loudly, his voice raspy with puberty. He rapidly, defiantly shoves the remains of the bow tie pasta into his mouth. He swallows and sits back. "There," he continues, "I finished it."

"Ok, honey. But we're going to go to the bathroom now," I say firmly and stand up.

We walk, him in front, my hand on his back, wending our way through the other diners. He's with me, we have to go into the women's room, at least if he's going to vomit. So I can hold his hair back.

(No, seriously, vomiting requires more, shall we say, hand-holding. He's less independent in this area.)

He heads for the large white sink with the silver sparkling faucet. Grasping the edge of the Corian counter, he belches loudly.

"Conor," I implore quietly, "why don't we try the toilet?"

"Ok," he acquiesces. I'm surprised; he's never agreed before. We brush past an older woman-of-a-certain-age who seems only a bit aghast at the sight of a 15 year old man/child in the women's room. Thankfully, the large wheelchair accessible stall is empty, and I quickly lock the door behind us.

Standing upright, he vomits into the still, clear water, keeping the mess to a minimum. I'm not excited about the prospect of having to wipe up a public toilet, but I do what I can. Years of coping with Conor's bodily fluid output has given me a sad sort of expertise in this area.

I can tell from the, uh, lack of volume that he hasn't cleared out his stomach much at all. To be frank, I doubt this bit of stuff even hit his stomach.

He's done, he announces. He wipes his mouth on the back of his hand. He's ready to go back to the table. He raises his hand for a high-five.

"Wash your hands, sweetie," I say. "Let's go wash your hands."

Saturday, March 29, 2014


"Mom, how many dollars do you have left?" Conor asked me as I came in the door after my 5-day trip. His typical brother and I had gone to Florida for Spring Break, leaving Conor and his father to fend for themselves. (My boys are in separate school systems, so different weeks of Spring Break. It works for us.)

"I don't know, you'll have to ask your dad," I replied wearily, heaving the extra-large black rolling suitcase up and over the step into our foyer. The airline had hung a scarlet tag marked "HEAVY USE CAUTION" on my bag, announcing the shame of my over-packing to everyone whose eye it caught. My yellow carry-on bag fell off my shoulder and clunked onto the wooden floor.

"Mom," he continued, squeezing his hands together. "Mom, how many dollars do you have left?" (He means how much does he have left to spend. He switches pronouns sometimes. Of course, I'm sure my husband truly is wondering how much I have left to spend after 5 days in sunny Florida with our youngest son.)

"Conor, Mom just walked in the door," my husband, Jim, chided gently. "Why don't you say 'hi Mommy, how was your trip?'"

"HiMommyhowwasyourtrip?" Conor said. "How many dollars do you have left?" Jim shook his head.

"Six," my husband said, exasperated. "Conor, you have six dollars left to spend."

"Mom," Conor said, holding his hand out to take mine. "Can you help Conor order off of Clay King a triple light-switch plate for six dollars?"

"Sure, honey," I replied, sighing. I left the bags in the foyer where they landed. Maybe my imaginary butler will magically whisk them away, I thought. "I'll help you."

Coming home after a trip away from Conor is bittersweet for me. I love him, I miss him, but I need that annual break. (My husband gets to golf for a week with his buddies once a year. I get to go on Spring Break with Aidan and one of my closest friends. That's our deal.)

When I return, though, it seems as if Conor doesn't miss me at all. That's what I told my husband that night over a late dinner as the kids were engrossed in America's Funniest Videos.

"It's like he didn't miss me at all," I said to my husband, picking at my food. I felt weary and numb from a day's travel. "It's all about what I need to do for him, what he needs, what he wants me to do." It feels like he only misses what I usually do for him, like he's not missing me for, well, who I am to him. I know it's because of his disorder, of course, but it still hurts my feelings sometimes. As silly as that sounds.

It also didn't help that Conor had FaceTimed me everyday while I was away, sometimes twice. He would sneak away from my husband on his Treasure Chest time and videoconference me before Jim even knew what he was doing.

"I want Mommy to ride the tram while she FaceTimes Conor," he'd ask. (The resort has an electric shuttle, or tram, to take people around the campus. Conor went last year, so he knows exactly what is there.)

"I want Mommy to get ice cream and order cookies-and-cream ice cream and eat it while we FaceTime."

"I want Mommy to buy Conor's t-shirt in the gift shop while we FaceTime." Every time my cell phone rang, it felt like my own Svengali calling to order me around. Show me this, do it that way, do it on my terms.

"He missed you," my husband assured me. "Especially at night when it was your turn to put him to bed. He would ask about you. He missed you, I know he did."

"It doesn't feel like it," I replied, shoveling the food into my mouth. "It doesn't feel like it at all."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Give It A Rest

Have you ever been so tired that you can't fathom ever not being tired anymore? God, I am so tired, and I've been having these stupid heart palpitations since I had elective surgery in January.  (They do, I have to say, look fabulous, thanks for asking.)

These heart palpitations, though, are totally freaking me out.

And I'm supposed to be going away next week with my typical son for a bit of respite. Which sounds really great, but leaving for 5 days fills me with anxiety.

Well, fills me with more anxiety than I already feel on a daily basis because, let's be honest, I have anxiety all the time.

I suppose I could say it's because Conor is really Mommy-focused these days, but that's not the whole truth. There is so much routine for my husband to remember here at home, there's the ever-present fear of a tantrum, we have a freakin' menagerie of animals now, and of course, the palpitations.

(The cardiologist can see me in 3 weeks, the receptionist said. Oh sure, it can wait. It's just, you know, my heart.)

And Conor, who just turned 15 in February, he's having a hard time growing up recently. I know this, because he tells me he doesn't want to grow up.

"Conor," I said to him this morning as he begrudgingly woke up over a bowl of oatmeal, "you did a really nice job of making a teenager decision last night to do your BRTs when you were upset, and to stay on Level 3 with your good behavior. Way to go!"

"Conor doesn't want to grow up," he muttered, rubbing his eyes.

"Why?" I asked. "Are you scared to grow up?" (I know, I'm leading the witness. Sometimes you have to, the communication disorder is just so hard.)

"Yes," he replied. "Conor wants to be a baby."

Of course, in the past, Conor has said he wants to be a baby because "babies get to hit". Those are his words, by the way. Babies don't get in trouble for hitting, he thinks. (Ok, insert frowny face here.)

But this time he admitted that he was scared to grow up. Which I get, 'cause it's, you know, scary. And he can't deal with the increased societal pressures of behaving appropriately very well. It's hard for him to hold it together a lot of the time.

But then we watched "My Cat From Hell" and the woman's cat had died. (It was the replacement cat that was the terror.)

"Why did the cat named Mia die?" Conor asked me, tucked under the fleece blanket on our couch. It's been freezing here in Maryland.

"Because it was old," I said. (It was.)

"Conor's not getting old. Conor won't die," he continued.

"No, sweetie," I assured him, patting his arm. "You're still young! You're just a teenager!"

Christ, I thought to myself. Maybe I'll stop complaining about him watching Caillou after all. Nobody ever dies on Caillou. It's not like watching a Disney movie.

Still, I don't have to worry about that today. I'm too busy worrying just about next week and how things will go while I am gone. Still, I will get on that plane tomorrow with my almost 12 year old typical kid and will close my eyes and hope that everything goes smoothly. Except now the weather forecast is calling for snow and ice tonight into tomorrow because, well, why not?

Yeah, something else for me to worry about. Sigh. I need a break.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Keep Your Hands To Yourself

"Conor wants to touch my leg closer to my penis," I said.

"He says that?" his behaviorist, Karen, asked as her eyebrows shot up.

"Yes, he does," I replied, rolling my eyes. "Then he tries to touch my upper thigh."

Just for the record, I don't have a penis. Not sure why I feel the need to say that, but I do, so I am. So there we go. 

And for some reason, I was pretty sure Conor knew women didn't have penises. I feel like I taught him about the different type of equipment years ago. Evidently not. He still screws up his pronouns sometimes so maybe he's just flipping it around? (The pronouns, not his penis.)

don't know. He's still trying to touch my upper inner thigh inappropriately despite my blocking/ignoring/re-directing, and it's starting to really freak me out. And, if I'm being honest, to piss me off royally.

"Has he had sex ed?" Karen continued to press me. "I used to teach sex ed, I can put something together for him."

Oh dear God, I am not prepared for Conor and the whole sex education thing. 

Look, I'm no prude. I've filled in the birds and the bees for his typical brother years ago. Hell, thanks to my unfiltered mouth, we've even had to explain to Aidan what the term 'ho' means. And, props to Google and an improperly set parental control filter, he looked up the literal meaning of the f-bomb on the Internet himself and told me all about it. ("I like to know things," Aidan told me. Well, now you know.)

Fuck, now Aidan knows what that means.

So, back to Conor. We've had our brushes with needing sex ed, what with the questions about eggs, his infatuation with pretty women, and even a discussion about S&M. (Thank you, Rihanna, for that little one.)

It's just that you never know what you're gonna get with Conor, and I do not want to be in the mall listening to him yell out vaGIna vaGIna vaGIna!

I don't know why that would be more embarrassing than his calling out PEnis PEnis PEnis!, which he may do--while giggling. (Insert discussion of feminist/misogynist/patriarchal society/puritanism here.) All I know is that I don't want to be around when Conor starts calling either of those things out as we leave the mall's food court. Just... no, I don't want that. Nobody wants that.

So yes, I will happily hand off the sex education topic for my son on the spectrum to his behaviorist. Leave it to the professional. (Although, in fairness to Karen, that doesn't mean you won't hear Conor belting out vaGIna at the mall's food court, sad to say.) 

In the meantime, since he does this most frequently during his morning routine, Karen has come up with a means of removing myself, somewhat, from this process. That's the idea anyway. He's fixated on having me help him do the things he needs to do in the morning (as opposed to his father helping him).  

She's broken down the steps in his morning routine, and we're working on his independence in this area. I start him off with the first item on the token board and check-in periodically with him to make sure he's moving along, trying to limit the verbal prompts and helping out when needed. He's supposed to move the token down to the bottom when he's completed that step.

Reducing our interaction will hopefully lower the number of times he's engaging in this fucking annoying behavior, thus (again, hopefully) reducing the self-reinforcing aspect of it and limiting its saliency.

So win-win: more independence in a daily routine and less groping of his mom's upper inner thigh. And, no sex education talk for me.


Look, I tell Conor, just don't hand me no lines and keep your hands to yourself.

Hey, it's a sing-along. (Start around 0.53. The first 30 seconds are pretty boring. The quality is terrible but it was 1987.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Two weekends ago, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to let Conor earn a hermit crab named Linda as his next Extreme Superstar Award. 

What can I say? He hit me up before I was finished my coffee, and I was only halfway through the Sunday Styles section of the New York Times. I hadn’t even had the chance to read about the five designer outfits Julia Roberts wore one whirlwind day in Manhattan before he was hounding me.

“When can Conor get a hermit crab named Linda?!?” he crowed at me for the hundredth time, pointing his finger at my face. “I want to put it on the calendar rules book!”

Before I knew what was happening, I opened my mouth and blurted, “You can earn a hermit crab named Linda for your next Extreme Superstar Award, Conor.” Close mouth. Open mouth again, insert hot sweet coffee, close mouth. (Ah, look, Julia Roberts is wearing Stella McCartney. Now Valentino. Hey, mixing it up with Dolce & Gabanna!) 

Conor's big blue eyes got even wider, and he looked shocked for a moment. "YES!" he yelled. "Named LINDA!"

Look, Ma, a new tattoo!
Oh, for the love of God, let me just say that for my next tattoo, I should have “Sucker” inked on my forehead. Do I need another animal to try to keep alive? After all, Linda will join our already packed menagerie (if/when Conor earns it)—Linus (standard poodle), Gordon (gecko), Sierra (bearded dragon), and Rex and Fredella (goldfish). I successfully thwarted a request for a rabbit named Dakota once, but I totally caved on the crab. Maybe it’s because I’m from Maryland; we do love our crabs. Can’t deny that. They're delicious.

Ah, hell, the way I figure it, a hermit crab is much less work than any of the other animals. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than a new bed frame, which also tops the list of Extreme Superstar Award reinforcers.

Look, this is how the whole thing went down.

Last September, Conor sees me redecorating his typical brother’s room. Despite being almost 12 years old, Aidan’s bedroom still looked much like a toddler’s. Some paint, a new rug, an Ikea chair, and some sports pictures on the wall, and voila! Teenage room.

Well, you woulda thought I just bought his brother a brand new puppy. From then on, the idea of re-doing his bedroom gripped Conor’s brain like a vise. Never mind that we had done it over just before his discharge from the NeuroBehavioral Unit. (Done nicely with two accent walls in colonial red, his favorite color.) 

Ok, I admit it, his room is a little bare, at least half of it. 

We're supposed to use the mat to block head banging but
usually we're just barely hanging on during the firestorm.

So now it's just a crude headboard.

We deliberately keep it that way, as we try to manage his tantrums in his bedroom. Less stuff to throw at us, ya know? He tore all the pictures and the star light down and pitched them at us in a rage anyway, so I didn’t bother to replace them. The other side of the room is more… well, cluttered.

Funny, I never noticed how completely different the two sides of the room look.
Kind of split-personality. Oh look, there's the other mat in the corner by the lamp.

He never seemed to care. But now? Now, Conor wanted to change it all. Preferably that day. Like, NOW.  (Did I say he wanted it now? Wasn't sure if I mentioned that.)
I know he wanted it now, because he told me. All. The. Time.

In our never-ending quest to get our son’s challenging behaviors under control for extended periods of time, my husband and I, together with his behaviorist, tweak his protocol every so often. We hope, of course, to reduce the frequency of his tantrums. We’ve had moderate success over the past year and a half-- since Nov. 2012, Conor has averaged 31.5 days between bursts (some low numbers of 2 and 5 days between bursts and some high numbers of 55 and 80 days between). Essentially, he’s been averaging about 1 per month for awhile, with a few longer stretches. 

You can see notes where we've added or changed things in his protocol. We started the
Extreme Superstar Award on 12/4/2013. His behaviorist keeps the data for us, so I've got to give her props.

 The duration of the tantrums remains stubborn at an average of 50 minutes. This, of course, doesn’t count the almost-tantrums, which can be almost as stressful as the real thing.

Mario Buatta is known for his love of chintz.
He's famous for decorating for celebrities like Mariah
Carey. All I can say is… ew.
So, my hubby and I figured, if Conor really wanted to unleash his inner Mario Buatta, let’s use it to our advantage. If he didn’t have a tantrum for three months, we told him, he could re-decorate his bedroom. At Christmas. 

“Can he go that long?” his behaviorist asked, raising an eyebrow when I told her what we had done. “Has he done that before?”

“39 days,” I replied, “but he’s really motivated by a new ceiling fan.” (Ceiling fans are Conor porn.)

In hindsight, I can see it wasn’t really fair to expect him to go that long without a burst. Not without some support, a social story, a protocol, something in writing, a visual schedule or system that we all understood. Basically, a binding legal contract…with pictures and tokens.

This, of course, is what went running through my mind after his tantrum 60 days into the little impromptu experiment. Ok, ok, I’m not a behaviorist, I just play one in real life. I don’t always know what the hell I’m doing, despite having a behaviorist on the payroll for years. Yet we got 60 days out of it. 

But he failed. So I failed.

Conor earns the star at 8:30pm each night.
But he has to be on good behavior 24 hours a
day to earn the Extreme Superstar Award.
And thus, we re-grouped. We broke down the items Conor wanted into a list—new ceiling fan, 6-drawer dresser, rug, bed frame—and started yet another behavioral protocol. We wrote him a social story explaining that, if he went 30 days straight with no tantrum, he could earn one BIG item. This way, he can earn items that may be over his budget, that are extremely motivating, that encourage a longer-term focus.

I came up with the name "Extreme Superstar Award," inspired by competitive reality TV shows and his current protocol. It's really, really important that you flash some jazz hands when you talk about the protocol. Gives it that little extra pizzazz.

So this is the 5th layer of a behavioral protocol, if we don’t include the 5 point emotional scale. 6th layer? I don’t know, I’ve lost count. Token every 30 minutes to earn screen time, superstar token every 3 hours for earned outing twice a week, financial bonus for 4 consecutive days without a burst, perseveration protocol and budget protocol to address common triggers…egads. 

It’s giving me a headache just thinking about it. (I'm not even going to go into how we got from earning a new 6-drawer dresser to a hermit crab. This post is already too long. Suffice to say, the dresser arrived early but broken and he discovered a friend had a hermit crab. A HERMIT CRAB!!!)

So, there it is. That’s the story of how we wound up with yet another behavioral protocol and the promise to earn a hermit crab named Linda.

Let’s just hope I’ve had coffee, some bacon and eggs, and a good 30 minutes with the Sunday edition of the New York Times Magazine before he asks me for that spankin’ red hot Jeep Cherokee he’s had his eye on lately.

Yeah, Conor wants to know when he’s gonna be able to drive. 
Hold me.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Town Crier

Whereas, Conor had a Very Public Meltdown in the Game Room of T.F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island, because of Plane Delay, and had to Abort the Flight Home from Christmas Travel To See Family, and Hence, spent More Than Ninety Minutes Thrashing his Mother In the Backseat of a Rented white Altima with his Wicked Tongue, Continually and Unremittingly and At Great Volume as His Father Drove South in Lashing Rain and Wind with White Knuckles on the Wheel of Steering.

and Further, Conor spent the Remaining Five And A Half Hours in the Rented white Altima happy and Asking to Snuggle with his Mom to Enable Sleep. She Declined to Snuggle. He Slept somewhat Anyhow.

Whereupon, arriving at Home, Conor Re-Commenced the Very Loud Meltdown in said Home as his Mother Dared! to Ask Him to Carry In his plastic Cup from the Rented white Altima, and As Such, Father determined to Sleep in the Room with Conor as Conor Stomped About and Screamed and Wished Daddy to DIE! DIE! DIE!

And Thusly, also Conor Demanded Quite Loudly to be able to Disrobe Completely and Sleep Naked. And to Poop within the Water Closet. (He Did Not Poop despite Vigorous Effort.) And Thusly, again, Conor Stomped and Screamed and Caterwauled Quite Viciously whilst Naked and Finally Settled in bed, with His Nakedness under the Covers and his Father's fully-clothed self most decidedly Above the Covers.

Sleep still Eludes Them at 1:33am as Monday Morning Commenceth hence.
I'm a crier.

You know, 'one that cries, especially,' according to Yahoo. (I love the 'especially'.) I admit it. I am. I really can't help it. I've always been this way, it's my nature.

I'm… sensitive. (It's ok, you can say it with a lisp and a high falsetto. That's cool.)

I cry when I'm tired. I cry when I'm angry. I cry when I'm hormonal. I cry when I'm sad. Except when I'm depressed. Then I don't cry at all. Weird, right?

I cry when I write sometimes. I'm crying as I sit outside my typical son's room so I can intercept a raging Conor before he has a chance to go in there and frighten the shit out of Aidan as he tries to get some sleep.

(Right now it's 1:33am, and I've been sitting on this stair step for so long now that my ass has fallen asleep. But it doesn't matter anymore--I can't tell if my ass is asleep or if it's numb because of the amount of Apothic Red I've consumed.)
Ok, it's not 1:33am anymore. I wound up going to bed at 2am, when Conor finally quieted down.

To continue--

This is Jon Cryer; he plays Duckie in Pretty in Pink
for those of you younger than 40.
You may know him as that inane character
on sex-obsessed Two and a Half Man/Children.
I cry, especially, when I'm frustrated. And man, I was more frustrated than Ducky on Prom Night when Blane takes Andie to the dance in Pretty in Pink. (Or, rather, doesn't take Andie to the dance, but gets her in the end anyway.)

I blame myself. My husband suggested we drive from Baltimore to Boston (and back, obvs) to visit family for the holidays. Seriously? Drive to Boston from Baltimore? For four days? (Two days of driving, two days of visiting.) Talk about your ass falling asleep.

I suggested the train. My husband hates the train. Too long but just as public as the plane.

So ok, I figured we could fly. Conor's a pretty good flyer, he loves to fly. We've taken him on Spring Break with no problems, and he recently completed a quick trip up and back to see the New Englanders already, so I figured it wouldn't be a problem.

I know, it was so unlike me, I hate flying with Conor, but there it is.

So… I buy the tickets, pack our bags, write the social story, hire a house sitter for the critters, and away we go. Fly up to Providence, Rhode Island (cheaper than Boston's Logan), grab a rental car, and head over to his cousins' house for our first visit. They live only 15 minutes from the Rhode Island airport, Conor loves it there, easy-peasy. Spend a few hours visiting and noshing. Great, he does great.

And, over the next few days, we drive from house to house to house, visiting aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, grandaunts, and catching up. We spent a lot of time in the rental car but also time in the pool, on the treadmill, drinking wine, and hanging out with family members. We even crashed one birthday party.

And he was great, he was doing really, really great. Usually our trips are filled with ups and downs and upsets and what not, but this time, he's really holding it together. So when I saw the weather forecast of a rainy, windy night on the day we're set to fly back home, I wasn't too worried. I called to see if we can get on an earlier flight, but we could not. All booked up.

No worries, I thought to myself. Stick to the plan.

My husband and I checked the flight status and the flight was on time, so off we went to the airport. I was a little cocky 'cause I signed up for flight status texts to be sent directly to my phone while my husband has to go to the website like a sucker. I could totally get the flight status like a boss. Two texts already, still on time. Yeah, baby. 'Cause that's how I roll. On. Time.

Rental car dropped? Check.

Bags checked at the curb? Yup.

Security? Like shit through a goose. Fast and smooth.

My husband took the kids for pizza while I sauntered down to the gate for the pre-boarding pass.  Yeah, you know the one, for pre-boarding when you have a family member with a disability, or a disability yourself.

"Hi," I smiled sweetly at the flight attendant behind the counter. "I'm traveling with a child with autism, and I was hoping we could get a pre-board authorization pass?" Big, dazzling smile.

I looked at the board behind her. Our flight's not listed. As I turned away, I asked, "oh, and the flight's still on time, right?" I mean, it has to be, right?

'Cause I hadn't received a text.

"Oh, no," she replied smiling sweetly back at me. "It hasn't left Chicago yet. De-icing now. It's pushed back an hour and a half."

Oh God. Suddenly, my phone buzzed. I'd gotten a text. From my husband.

Guess I'm the sucker now.

Down the hall, they came toward me. We had to tell him. I mean, we can't NOT tell Conor. The flight was at least 90 minutes late, if not more. So, we told him about the delay.

Let's just say it was not taken well. Fortunately, I was able to get us into the nearly deserted game room so we weren't out in the full view of every other pissed off passenger at the airport. One poor dad and his kid left quickly as Conor began screaming and stomping and wailing and such nonsense.

"You shouldn't scream like that," the kid said sternly on his way out of the game room.

"That's not helpful," I replied curtly as I went back to trying to calm Conor down.

Yeah, see, I can correct your kid AND try vainly to calm my kid down AT THE SAME TIME. Like a BOSS.

(This "boss" thing isn't working out for me. FYI.)

And so, we left. Our bags made the flight. We didn't. They wouldn't have let him on the flight like that anyway. I certainly wouldn't. My husband wisely told the Hertz counter agent that we had a 'medical emergency' (as Conor screamed and caterwauled in the rental car area), and, wow, did we get that white Altima rented quite quickly.

And that's how I found myself, in the back seat of a rented white Altima with a very upset Conor, trying to hold back the tears from yet another frustrating, maddening, saddening, exhausting almost-tantrum. I don't know, I have to take a lesson from my typical 11 year old or something. I saw Aidan almost crying and then, the next second, cool as a cucumber. Like nothing ever happened.

I've gotta figure that out for myself. Someday.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

I Love You, David!

Don't be embarrassed, David. It's just a g-string.
On Thursday night, two of my sisters and I took in a David Sedaris reading at our local symphony hall. It was a birthday present to my youngest sibling, but I have to admit it was a bit of a selfish gift.

See, I totally and completely love David Sedaris, and I contemplated taking a pair of panties with me to throw on stage in the middle of his reading. Of course he's gay, so I decided that would be somewhat useless. Briefly, I considered taking a pair of my husband's boxers and tossing them up on the stage, but since my husband was at home taking care of our children I figured that was a bit disingenuous, to say the least. I mean, I don't think Jim's read even one of David Sedaris' books.

Anyway, in the middle of laughing my ass off at one of David Sedaris' essays, my phone starts lighting up with texts. (Yes, I know, I'm one-of-those-parents who doesn't turn off the smart phone when I'm at an event. I have a child with special needs, I sneer when people glare at me.

Ok, no one has ever glared at me, but, you know, best to be prepared. It's hard to come up with something really good off-the-cuff like that. And my mother frowns upon my "the fuck you lookin' at?" response. Besides, it was on vibrate, people!)

At 8:30pm each night, Conor earns time on his iPhone. When he has earned enough tokens with good behavior, that is. My boy is mad, mad, I tell you, for texting, and recently he's discovered how to share the contacts on his phone with other people on his approved list. (He's not allowed to text just anybody. What are you, nuts?)

He's also figured out how to search the internet and find the contact information for his favorite stores. Then he inputs them into his Contact list. And next, bam, you've got the store's contact information in a text message.

Now, Hot Pots is a paint-your-own-pottery place that my son has started frequenting. To me, Hot Pots sounds vaguely like some second rate strip joint. Like--yeah, I'd love to dip my bread in her fondue kind of thing.

In reality, it's nothing like that, obvs. He IS totally cheating on his main paint-your-own-pottery squeeze, Amazing Glaze, but I guess he wouldn't be the first man to go looking for some Hot Pots on the side, you know?

I'm thrilled that Conor has learned to text. It's important that he continues to learn to communicate effectively as he gains more independence, and now he can socialize like many of his typical peers.

On a screen on his phone. Duh.

Teaching him to be appropriate with his texts has been a challenge, though, and as you can see from the message, it can be just another avenue to nag me or his dad about desired outings.

Wait… did I say nag? I meant perseverate.

So, we've got a whole 'nother protocol in place to address his perseverations, be it verbally or via text, which I'll share with you at another time. (God, you are so lucky. Make sure you check back on the daily to learn about the wild new perseveration protocol. It'll set your pants on fire.)

Suffice to say, I was thankful that ignoring the text was the appropriate response since I could tell the National Public Radio listener next to me was getting antsy about the glare of my iPhone screen. Besides, David Sedaris started telling stories about his sister, Amy, and the rest of his siblings going to London to celebrate Christmas with him and Hugh, and I simply couldn't stop laughing long enough to get the panties out of my pocket much less respond to Conor's texts.