Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bada Boom

Aidan, my 10 year-old typical kid, and I jetted down to Duck Key, Florida, this past week for a little respite on his Spring Break. Friends of ours spend a week at a resort there, and I just latch on to their vacation plans like a leech each year.

(Hey, what can I say? They're of Irish descent, and Aidan has red hair and freckles.  I just push him in the door of their rental house and figure they'll never notice they've got a fifth kid at the beach. I got to read two books before they even realized he was there.)

Duck Key is far to go for just four days, but I love these mini-vacations. It gives me enough time to disconnect from all the demands of parenting Conor and really enjoy concentrated time with Aidan.

After a two hour flight to Miami, we had a 100 mile commute to the Florida Keys. This gave us much needed quality time.

"Mom, why does that sign say 'Gentleman's Club' but has a picture of a lady on it?" Aidan inquired, looking at me rather quizzically.

((Who the hell taught that kid to read?!?))

"Because it's a place where men go to look at naked ladies dance around," I replied. Keep your eyes on the road, Alisa, eyes on the road.

I glanced at him quickly. Damn. Aidan, sitting in the passenger seat next to me, screwed his face up like he just ate a lemon. "I don't think I'd like that," he continued. He's currently mortified by anyone's nakedness, including his own.

"Wait until you're older.  I'm bettin' you change your mind," I countered.

"Does Dad go to those places?" he continued.

((Who the hell taught this kid to talk?!? And why isn't he playing on his iPhone?))

"Only with skanky clients twenty-five years ago," I replied.

No! Not really.  That's just what I thought.  What I really said was--

"You'll have to have that discussion with your father."
(Programming note:  my husband does not frequent strip clubs. What can I say?
I was like a deer in the headlights. I wanted to lob that hot one in my husband's side of the court tout-de-suite!)
See?  Quality time.

("The answer is NO!, Alisa," my friend laughed when I arrived and told her the story about the Gentleman's Club questions. "Just...No!" Damn, I always get the answers wrong to word problems.)

Bwa ha ha ha ha!  Just say no!

Getting Conor prepared for the disappearance of his mom and brother for four days took some finagling. I made sure we went during school days so his schedule remained structured. (My boys are in two separate school systems, so they have totally separate spring breaks. It works quite well for us.) I made sure all Conor's favorite foods were stocked up in the house so my husband wasn't caught off guard by a lack of inventory.  I forbade all of Conor's aids, therapists, and school personnel from getting sick or having a car breakdown for that week or otherwise having a life.

Ok, ok, I forgot to leave the check for Conor's art therapist but she was cool with it. She said she might come back.  Maybe.

It doesn't matter.  Conor wound up having a tantrum the day before, threw up the morning we left, and missed school that first day.

Sorry, honey, gotta go!  Don't want to miss my flight!

Bye! Love you!  Sorry about the vomit! Mwah!
Here's a copy of the social story I put together for Conor. (I saved the PowerPoint file as a movie, so I apologize for any technical issues. I'm pretty hopeless at these things.) I really emphasized staying on Level Three during my absence. He still screws up his pronouns so writing things in his voice--in a way he can understand things--can be tricky.

The day after Aidan and I returned from our respite, Conor had another tantrum, this time at school. Looks like we were back in the thick of things.

That's ok, though.  Aidan's back in school (finally! my God, fourteen days is forever) and preparing for the highlight of his fourth grade year--the PUBERTY and SEXUALITY unit. The way I see it, our little trip past the Gentleman's Club was a great start to his learning all about human sexuality, reproduction, and character development. I'm just a little ahead of the game. You know, because of all of our quality time.

Bada boom, bada bing.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Movin' Out. Or Not.

I want to buy a new house. I went on today and searched for the ideal place. Four bedrooms, four bathrooms, granite kitchen countertops, wood floors, fireplace, in-ground heated pool and outdoor kitchen with fire pit, built-in/walk-in closets, finished basement, nice-size lot, fenced-in yard for the dog, central air conditioning and radiant heating, fitness room, mudroom for the kids and dog, mother-in-law suite, temperature-controlled wine cellar with cheese refrigerator, and a room dedicated solely to wrapping presents. Oh, and a supremely organized and uncluttered 3 car garage.

Hey, if you're gonna dream, dream big I say.

Yeah, there you go. Perfect. Probably more than 4 bedrooms, though.
So there I was this afternoon, plugging in the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, the price range and bam!--there were 5 web pages of choices, none of which remotely interested me.

I don't want to buy a new house. The thought of moving makes me quite nauseous, if you must know the truth. Packing up thirteen years of this-n-that combined with the fact that we can't leave the city school district because of Conor's hard-won educational placement makes the idea of moving nonsensical and ridiculous and totally untenable. Preposterous, really.

And I can't leave my good friend, she plies me with wine when I'm bumming, and she lives, like, three streets over.  What if my new neighborhood doesn't have a funny woman who plies me with wine every time I feel down? I mean, seriously, the new neighbors might try to give me cookies when I'm sad and I'm gluten-free.  The horror, the horror.

Plus, the nationally-recognized Kennedy Krieger Institute is practically in my backyard (we have a big backyard) and people fly their kids in from all over to go there. So, you know, there's that.

I know this, I know moving would be moronic, and it wouldn't solve a damn thing. But it continues to bounce around my brain like a ping pong ball. Boing, boing, boing, boing. (Which explains why I was in therapy for three years. Magical thinking.)

It's just... I keep trying to find the answer to how to improve our situation. These tantrums that Conor has--they're like a weight that sits on our shoulders and we just can't seem to shake free of it.

This is what it feels like each time Conor has a tantrum.
We just can't seem to get out from under them.

Quite honestly, after a tantrum, we all--Jim, Aidan and I--walk around for days with our shoulders slouching. Quite literally.

I hate living like this, with the stress and chaos of these tantrums. And so I sit and stew. What to do, what to do. And listen, we aren't getting any younger, you know? My husband turns 55 this summer; we ain't no spring chickens.  It's not going to be long before we can't handle a tantrum, physically anyway.

My husband would probably
agree that I'm good at writing.
At writing checks, that is.
How do I fix this, how do I make it better? I'm a fixer. I see a problem, I figure out who to write a check to in order to get it fixed, and it's fixed. (Hey, I'm no DIY-er, you know. I'm incapable of doing much of anything other than writing, quite frankly, and even that's doubtful most days.)

The point is, we're doing everything we can--and he still has these tantrums. Still. (Matter of fact, he's had two just this past week.)

Behaviorist. Protocols. Routines. Schedules. Menus. Social stories. Appropriate educational placement. In-home aids. 1:1 school aids. A 36-page Individualized Education Plan complete with platinum Behavior Intervention Program. Tokens. Medications. Reinforcers and more reinforcers.

So, there you go. I have no idea what else to try. Some individuals on the spectrum have suggested the gluten-free diet but food is such a fight with Conor that I don't have the stomach for that. (Get it?  Stomach? I crack myself up.) 

We also did that when he was younger and, while it helped, it was not the magic bullet others have experienced. I don't know, the individuals who suggested it say it helps with the negative thoughts.

So that's it.  I don't know what else to do. What do you do when there's nothing new left to do?

The quality of this video stinks, but that hair! That hair is da BOMB! I bet you he really misses it.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

You Might Think It's Funny, But It's Snot

You can only wear white at Wimbledon, but you can blow
your snot onto the courts. Provided, of course, that it's white.
There were clues that Conor wasn't feeling too well. That maybe he was coming down with a little somethin'. The snuffling. The dry throat. Wiping his nose on every blanket and dish towel he could get his schnoz on.

Or the fact that he was literally blowing his nose on the back of his hand and fingers. Yeah, that.  Some clues. (I knew I should have gone to med school. I am all over this.)

Conor has a cold. And he would like someone to take the boogers out of his nose. And how, you may ask, did I sleuth that out?



All. Day. Long.

We sent him to school on Wednesday because he had an early-dismissal. (Every Wednesday is early dismissal.) So it was only a few hours. Plus, it was just a little head cold and not a bad one at that. No fever. Barely a cough. Just some congestion and a really bad attitude. However, we sort of got the impression, shall we say, that school personnel thought he should have been kept at home to recuperate.(Recuperate=torturing his mother rather than his 1:1s and teachers.)

And so, on Thursday, we found ourselves at home with a Conor chock-a-block full of snot.

(Hey, that rhymes. ♫chock-a-block-full-of-snot♫. Nice little ditty.)
During every waking moment, he would look intently in our eyes, and entreat us to TAKE THE BOOGERS OUT OF CONOR'S NOSE! MOM!  CONOR DOESN'T WANT TO BE SICK ANYMORE. TAKE THE SNOT OUT!"

Oh, wait, no, I got it myself.

At one point, I was so crazed from his yelling at me that I desperately suggested a walk to our local grocery store. I guess I figured that the fresh air and the change of scenery would distract him for a bit.

Well, the only thing worse than having your 14 year-old yelling at you nonstop is to have him yelling at you nonstop IN PUBLIC.

At one point on our walk, Conor yelped, "Conor's going to do ring-around-the-rosie on the street sign that says Indian Lane and THEN Mommy will help Conor get the boogers out."  And he did it, like a wacky, weird little voodoo song-and-dance routine. My husband and I just stared.  When he finished, I grabbed his hand and we continued walking like nothing ever happened.

♫♫♫♫♫Not happening, not happening, la-di-da-di-da-da.♫♫♫♫

A quick public service announcement: Yelling at your child to STOP YELLING AT ME! is not an approved behavioral intervention for children with autism, Tourettes, and a cold.  It does, however, prove I'm not a cyborg.

But if I WAS a cyborg, I would be a sexy one.
Because, why not?  Plus, I really dig those shoes.

I'm only human.  And a sick Conor is an exhausting Conor. (Well, more exhausting than he is on a usual day.) I haven't been this tired since his brother was a newborn.  It's probably because I wound up sleeping in his bed for three nights straight.  He asked me to, and this way, I can give him the Tylenol Cold + Sinus immediately upon his waking in the middle of the night.

Open mouth. Pop pills. Sip of water. Go back to sleep. (And that was just me.) No, not going back to sleep for a bit? Gonna be awake for a few more hours? Ok. Sigh.

I pulled out all the stops. The Afrin. The Tylenol Cold+Sinus. The Vicks VapoRub. (Yeah, I slathered that everywhere. I practically gave the kid a bath in it.)  The warm mist humidifier with the generic VapoSteam liquid stuff in the little cup. I tell you, I had that thing turned so far up that it was practically raining in his bedroom.

The only thing I didn't try was that blue bulb thingy they give you when you have a newborn. You know, to suck the snot out of their nose? (Damn, why didn't I think of that?) Thankfully, the cold didn't last very long, at least not the worst of it.  He went to school on Friday and is back on track with his activities. Now we're busy slathering balm on his poor chapped lips and nose. You know how that is, when you blow your nose too much and then the decongestant dries your lips out.

"Mom?" he asked me softly on Thursday night before bed. "Mom? Conor wants the boogers out of my nose."

I know, honey, I replied. I know.

All I know, Conor, is that you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose but your mom sure as hell ain't picking your nose for you. Sorry, buddy.