Smash-N-Break had his evaluation. The school can take upwards of 2 months minimum to get back with us with a draft before we even meet to finalize a report. The wheels of government sure do turn slowly. So far, they haven’t gone to see him in school and haven’t spoken to his therapist at all, which are our two big areas of concern and issue. Further, Texas has a disgraceful thing of decreasing the number of students classified as “special needs” needing a 504 or an IEP down from 13% to 8.5% Congrats, Texas! You did it! Not really a good thing if you have children who have slipped through the cracks, but you met your goal! Good for you! NOTE: Texas – this really isn’t something to be proud of. You’re hurting kids. Dumbasses. NEW NOTE: Someone told Texas Department of Education how dumb they are, and they have finally reversed this.
We met in September with the school. We meet Friday, December 9.
His therapist continues to work with him. He’s also now had the testing done (ADOS model) and he “qualified” or whatever the term as on the spectrum. She also sees red flags in Littles. I’ll cross that bridge later. The school district evaluator could see the red flags of autism, and said she would need to “see him at school to see if he only does this around mom”. Hello. He’s FOUR! He spends most of his time around mom. He’s going to be most relaxed and most himself around mom. He can (and does) fake it at school – I get to deal with the aftermath of 15 minute scream fest at the top of his lungs after pickup. I mean, he wouldn’t talk to the evaluators much or interact with them much. They went and got other kids and I left the room. He knew one of the kids from soccer, and still wouldn’t talk to them! He would talk to them through his puppy by barking, but he wouldn’t talk to them. This is normal. This is Smash-N-Break. Add in the above information about Texas and special education, and I’m preparing for a battle I hope I don’t have to face.
People I have told have asked some of the most inane questions.
Does he talk? No, I’m a great ventriloquist. Jeff Dunham has nothing on me. Move over Achmed, the Dead Terrorist!
Does he make eye contact? Yes, but he’s in training to be an evil villain in a movie later, so he gets those shifty eyes.
Its from vaccines, isn’t it? No, don’t listen to a Playboy Playmate for medical information. In fact, don’t google so much. Why don’t you trust those people who went to, I don’t know, MEDICAL SCHOOL to use their training and superior understanding of microbiology, chemistry, and just science in general versus your Google Doctorate.
Did you take prenatals? Yes, but I puked them right back up mostly, so not really.
You must feed him a lot of processed foods for this to have happened (substitute to have caused this, too). Really? Thanks SO MUCH! I was feeling SO GOOD about giving my kid autism. It’s EXACTLY what I wanted to gift to him!
Was he a natural birth? Or did you get an epidural (said with a shudder)? Actually, I felt the doctor cut my uterus open, and felt her move my organs around and kicked her in the face. Or tried to. So, no epidural. However, they did give me some drug to knock my ass out. And that was much better than feeling a c-section. Mint?
God built him this way, and he is perfect the way he is. “I praise you,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14 I don’t know what caused this, and I need to change from seeing it as “my son isn’t neurotypical” to “my son can teach me so much about how he views this world”. I can learn from him. I can see the world in a completely different light. The cause doesn’t matter. This is Smash-N-Break. That’s what matters.
I can also grieve. I have grieved. I cried so hard when his psychologist said he was on the spectrum. I envisioned not fighting for him harder in Colorado when I felt something was off with his speech. I felt like thinking “we beat the autism odds” when Littles turned 18 months caused this. I wouldn’t have chosen this for any child in the world. I wouldn’t want to give any child a special need or diagnosis. I took him to a birthday party not long after we were told he is on the spectrum. I cried so hard on the way home. It broke my heart. Shattered. All the other kids the same age were talking, playing, laughing, running. He knew them from school. He hid under the picnic table. He would walk away when they tried to talk to him. It was a very upfront in-your-face moment of “Yes, he is different”. And it hurt. I didn’t want him to be different. An hour and fifteen minutes into the party, Littles went on the bouncy slide. He then came back to Smash-N-Break and said “Come on. Go on slide with me.” He wasn’t trying to push Smash-N-Break – he just wanted him to come play with him. To see your 2 year old helping your 4 year old come out and have fun just hurts. The bouncy slide was empty, so he tried it. He then played on it. On his own. When other kids came back, he would hug a side and still go down. He was smiling and was happy, though. But, I knew what would be “normal”. Then, I got him in the car. Being in public for so long in a strange environment had been hard on him. We had a 15 minute scream fest on the way home. It’s the high-pitched, open mouthed, wail. He just couldn’t hold it in any longer. He was exhausted, too, for not playing much. He just wanted to sit in my lap that night. And, I was happy to oblige.
I had a friend send me an awesome link. Oh, the tears flowed. I bawled like a baby. It was the exact words I needed to see, hear, and feel. I felt these words like they were a hug from a dear friend. I needed that. I’ve made a few friends down here, but the ones I truly needed, my village of women, weren’t here for that hug. This article was that feeling for me. It honestly felt like that mom hug, where she just brings you in and you can sob and she tells you it will all be okay. All from just a few hundred words on a screen. She wrote my mom hug. The sentence “It crushed me and put me back together all at the same time” – she KNOWS. She gets it. I’m still putting the pieces back together after the crush, and having it formally diagnosed so that I can get all the insurance and school/therapy headaches straightened out, I will probably be crushed again. But, there is a community out there of people who have been there. Who have put themselves back together. Who are there to help dial the light down from blinding so we can see. I still cry when I read her article. It’s like she’s talking to me and just me, but she’s not. It’s because these feelings are so normal. These feelings aren’t wrong. It’s a normal thing to feel this way. There is support. There is hope.
So, if you’re waiting for a diagnosis you don’t necessarily want, but
need to make sense of your child (or yourself or your spouse), take comfort. Others have been there. Others will help guide you. Once you’re out of the blinding light and into a new normal, you can be there for the new person who is blinded. Feel all the feelings. Embrace it. Grieve it. Then put it all back together to make a new masterpiece. It may be more Picasso than DaVinci, but it’s still your masterpiece.
My name is Q, and my child has ASD. ASD will not have him.
I’ll be adding to this as Christmas goes on, but I figured I could share what Jingles will be up to for the 2016 Christmas season. (Okay, really, Plus One will add to it for me, because computer stupid Q.)
First, Jingles had to become poseable. Get some floral wire and velcro. Rip a tiny bit of his seams at his arms and legs. I did it near the top joints in his red part. Then, cut the floral wire to fit his length. Stitch it closed. Hot glue (or be smart and buy velcro with a sticky back) to his white mittens. Yay – poseable elf!
Next, I had to plan ahead. This isn’t always my strong suit. But, I’m so afraid it will be Bubba’s last year really believing in the magic of Santa. So, I did it.
I ordered snowflake balloons from Oriental Trading. (Plus One here. These are the worst tasting balloons ever. I can’t feel my lips and my mouth tastes like gasoline. Q agrees. Try Amazon for these instead.)
I’m prone to leaving a load in overnight. I need to do this one when I don’t need to do laundry the next day.
Bury him in a bowl or canister of sugar.
Hide him in a stack of toilet paper.
Hide him in my coffee cups.
Hide him in a tissue box.
Feed the ducks
Make blue jello, and get some rubber duckies. Luckily, I had leftovers from Smash-N-Break’s birthday. Set the Jello with the ducks in it overnight. I then enlisted Plus One’s help one morning to have Jingles sit on the edge of the Jello, throwing croutons onto the Jello.
Reading a story to stuffed animals
Set up a cocoa bar.
I found a recipe online and will set it up the night before, so it’s ready for them in the morning.
Wrap him in lights trying to decorate.
Bring out the Elf movie, and have him sitting ready to watch it with the food Buddy makes.
You’ll need to make spaghetti the night before. You’ll also need syrup, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, mini marshmallows, and chocolate fudge pop-tarts.
Have him leave a note “Write on! Your good behavior hasn’t been overlooked. Here are some Christmas pencils!”.
I LOVE Dad jokes. I googled a bunch of Christmas Dad jokes. I put together a list. I cut out squares of two-sided scrapbook paper. Then, I printed the jokes on labels. One side was the question and the other was the answer. Tie it together with a ribbon. I’ll link to my Joke List once it’s done.
Movie night, with Jingles spilling popcorn.
Hide him in a jar for the kids to carry around and play with him. Leave a note “I’ve stuffed myself in a jar so you can take me with you! Don’t pop my lid, or I’ll fall out and lose my magic! I’m so excited to see what you show me today!”
Get a Mylar balloon. Tie underwear to it. Put him in the underwear.
Something that I’ve kept abreast of are grandparents’ rights. It happens when your mother-in-law (MIL) decides she knows better than you what is best for your child. You know, the child she tried to deny was your husband’s baby. I’ll eventually get to my point about that. First, allow me to introduce MIL. I’d use her name, but Google and anonymity.
In The Beginning
Short story time! Plus One is his mother’s only child. When Plus One was 14, she and his dad divorced. She didn’t date again that Plus One is aware of. She did commit what is now known as parental alienation. Even I heard about what an SOB her ex was, how he never paid child support, how he never kept visitation, how she’s sure he cheated on her, blah blah blah. I’ve met my father-in-law. Could he have done more with his son? Probably. But, MIL prevented it whenever possible. Hard to fight for more in those days, too. So many states were so pro-mom and golden uterus. Suffice it to say that my father-in-law is a decent guy who did try, and has been SO GOOD to both Plus One and I when we desperately needed it, and has been a good grandfather to our kids.
But, she didn’t really LIKE Plus One all that much either, unless he was doing something that made her look better. She DQ’d him in a swim meet when he was like 1 body length ahead of someone else for an imaginary second-pull underwater. Even his coach agreed there was no second-pull.
Then, Plus One meets me. His parents have been divorced 8 years. In that time, he had become the man of the house. Mom needs to vent about Dad? Plus One hears it. Mom needs to vent about work? Plus One hears it. Mom needs someone to be her Emotional Prozac? Plus One! Come here! In other words, emotional spouse. He was hers. And I was an interloper. She was nice enough at first. I knew she wasn’t a fan of me. One example – I had a severe kidney infection. Like, raging fever, hallucinations, etc. Plus One fell asleep on the couch with me. I’m SICK. Nothing happened. She flipped her shit about how it was disrespectful. Okay, her house her rules. I can dig it. But, don’t tell me the next time I see you about how you used to send Plus One to his girlfriend’s house in middle school or high school when her parents weren’t home, and she would come over here and sleep/spend time when you weren’t home. Isn’t that special? (Church lady voice) She also invited an old ex-girlfriend was still friends with over for a weekend. A weekend I was down from college. And wanted Plus One to spend time with said girlfriend. Funnily enough, I never saw her visit again. And, I KNOW this was just a friends thing with Plus One. They’re still friends. But, I am 99% sure that was the only time his mom reached out to her. When Plus One and I were in our home together, she would still call him to come over and take the trash out, take her tires out, mow, etc.
Here Comes The Bride
Fast forward – we get engaged. We tell Plus One’s family. Lots of congratulations from everyone except MIL. She is frowning and playing with her mashed potatoes. She’s obviously upset. Planning the wedding, she tells me that the wedding isn’t about the bride and groom, but the parents of the bride and groom. She then continues by telling me that the most important person in attendance is…..the mother of the groom because she’s losing the most. Now, I have all boys. I will be the mother-in-law one day. This is so obviously NOT TRUE. We discuss the guest list. I was bad – I didn’t allow her to invite anyone. To be fair, neither did my parents, but I knew she was mad. She told me she needed to have her friends around her if we were going to invite “her ex”. Not Plus One’s dad. Her ex. Not what’s best for your shared child. I held firm. She whines to Plus One to not invite his father. He tells her that if it’s that big of an issue, she doesn’t have to come to the wedding. She decides to threaten to sue for back child support “so it’s uncomfortable for him”. I’m guessing she either 1) decided not to, 2) there was no back child support, or 3) found out it would go to Plus One and dropped it. My guess is either 2 or 3. I don’t have enough faith in her as a person for 1. I show her my wedding dress while it’s still in alterations, trying to include her. Her response? “Oh, you’re wearing white.” While planning our wedding, we also bought our first house. Her response wasn’t happiness. It was, and this is a direct quote, “You will fall flat on your face within 6 months and THAT WOMAN isn’t allowed to move in here when that happens!” She lurves me so much.
Our wedding – she behaved. Well, mostly. The only pictures I have of her smiling is when she and Plus One are standing at the altar alone. She has a creepy mega-grip on his arm. Everywhere else, it’s either frowns or an obvious fake/forced/barely there smile. Yes, we got married in the stone age before digital cameras, but come on. Every picture but the ones with just her son? Also, she walked around our reception asking if anyone had “dirt on Q” that they wanted to share.
Before The Kidlets
One Christmas, Plus One finally had enough seniority at the police department to take time off at Christmas. Now, we had been together for almost 7 years. In those 7 years, we had spent ZERO time with my family or his dad’s side of the family for holidays. Well, we did spend one Christmas with his Dad. I hadn’t met him yet, and we were getting married in a year. So, she had had 6 Christmases, 7 Thanksgivings, 7 Easters, etc. When Plus One had to work, I was sure to go to the holidays in his place, and we found time to celebrate with his family around his work hours. Mostly – I mean, he did work graveyards and swings a lot, so it could be challenging. So, Plus One tells her that we are having Christmas with my family. My brothers were flying into Colorado. We had a niece who was almost one that we wanted to meet. I was so excited. MIL gets angry and tells me I need to learn to be fair with holidays. Excuse me, what, twatwaffle? Ummm, fair would mean 7 years of holidays with just my family, and then 7 years of holidays with just Plus One’s dad’s side of the family, and then 7 years of holidays alone. She asserted it again that I needed to be fair with the holidays, that she was alone and my mother had other children. No, bitchflake, you don’t get to claim all holidays for all eternity because you got divorced and only had one child. Life doesn’t work that way.
Plus One gets a chief’s commendation at work. Big deal – ceremony type award. Families are invited. It was for a call that had a bad result in that a child drowned in a creek, nothing he could do to change that. Plus One had the child in the creek call ongoing with a wildfire burning, and handled it like a champ. MIL tells me that Plus One really shouldn’t get an award because the child died. Something 100% out of his control to her meant he shouldn’t be recognized for being a badass dispatcher and handling all other emergencies while taking a very difficult and challenging call.
I finish college and we move to the other side of the state. Just in case I wasn’t aware of how badly she hated me and how much she did complain about me to others, one of her friends was quick to confirm it. I was in line at a grocery store buying some packing type supplies. Lines were long, so I’m chatting with strangers. If you haven’t noticed, I like to talk a lot. One woman commented on what I was buying, and asked if I was moving. I said yes, and named the town we were moving to. Now, it was a small town that many people wouldn’t just move to. The woman looked at me and said “OH! You’re the bitch stealing MIL’s son!” She knew enough about me, what I looked like, where we were moving, and had heard enough “bad things” to warrant calling me a bitch in public. I did respond “You say that like it’s a bad thing?” but I was fuming inside. Plus One had made it clear to his family that this was me moving and he was just having to follow, and she had obviously lapped it up like a dog that I was “forcing” him to do something else.
Plus One graduates from college. He went to school while working full time. We moved across the state in the process. I’m super proud of him. We go to his graduation. He is like 5 people away from walking across the stage to graduate. She takes THAT MOMENT to go call a restaurant for a reservation that was still 2 hours away! She missed it! Then had the audacity to ask me NOT TO TELL HIM! I did, but not right away.
The Crotch Fruit Ripens
Once upon a time, I was pregnant with Bubba. We had tried for 3 years to get pregnant. No, we didn’t share our struggle publicly. But, come on. It should come as no surprise to anyone that we announced a pregnancy after being married 6 years and together for 10 years. When Plus One called his mother, instead of the normal “Congratulations”, he got this: “(silence)…A baby, huh. Well, you know Q was working out of town a lot in January.”
Now, Plus One, God love him, isn’t fluent in bitchspeak. I, however, am. I knew what she meant was “it’s her audit manager’s baby!” Plus One instead say “I know! Isn’t it great!?” She couldn’t really argue with that statement. She even sent a card to say congratulations. Oh, wait, no. It didn’t say congratulations. Instead it said “A baby. Wow.” I’m her favorite! Can’t you tell!? I snatched Plus One and magiced him away with my fancy hoo-ha. It’s sparkly. Then, I “made” him a college graduate, got him a white collar job, forced him to move away from a dead-end town, and made something out of him other than “her son”.** I’m awful. I know.
Anyway, fast forward to having Bubba. That’s a whole dramatic issue of his mother cannot handle not being the center of attention and made me smack Plus One in the face mid-contraction due to her antics. Seriously. I didn’t want her at the hospital during my induction. Plus One did. In the interests of being “fair”, I allowed it with the understanding that she wasn’t to see me until baby was here. I knew she’d like seeing me in pain. Plus, stress stalls labor. That was ignored, and she was back in the room. However, she didn’t get to see me in too much pain. As soon as she was in the room, my contractions stopped dead. I was on pitocin, and they stopped dead. She’d leave, they started back up. Our biggest request was she was to handle her side of the family, and Plus One would share information with his father, so that he could share it with his side of the family. She’s been divorced for 18 years at this point. Not a huge expectation to allow the sides to find out from their respective person. She calls my father-in-law’s mother to share that I’m being induced, and am in labor. After being explicitly asked not to do it, she did it anyway. This upset my father-in-law, who called Plus One to complain. I’m mid-contraction and can’t talk. He’s on the phone with his dad because his mom HAS TO do things like this. He finally realizes I need his help counting through the contraction. Trying to make up for his huge lack of judgment and the fact that his mother has proven me right yet again, Plus One starts holding up fingers for me to breathe through like a quarter inch from my face. Not being able to talk, I just hit him to make him back up. She also had two grandma showers for my baby. I wasn’t invited or aware of them, but that’s okay. I’m not tacky. Well, not THAT tacky. I do have metal yard art that I find adorable, and Plus One finds tacky. While I’m recovering from my emergency c-section, she’s bringing out thank you notes for gifts I’ve never seen for people I’ve never met and expecting me to write them.
Oh No You Didn’t
Then, she starts her mental abuse on my child. Mama Bear decides to roar. When her ugliness was directed at me, fine. My kid? All bets are off. Bubba is named after Plus One’s dad and grandfather. MIL hears his name and announces, while holding my hours old newborn, “I’m just going to call him Nabisco instead of that name.” (Nabisco. I still don’t understand that comment.) Oh, Q has a raging fever and an infection at her surgical site? Please sit next to me, Plus One, and I’ll hold your hand as comfort. No, no, don’t go towards your wife or child. Pacifiers are bad. Dirt is bad. Shouldn’t you do this instead of that? Sure, I’ll visit to see him, but can I wait until my son is there, too? Oh, my son is here! I’m going to ignore everyone but my son! Use a thimble to cut his gums to alleviate his teething pain. Just rub it back and forth until you see blood. Tee hee, I always have rights if I don’t like what you are doing. Isn’t he a little small? Plus One was never that small as a baby. You aren’t going to raise him as a Republican are you? Oh, no, I don’t really want to hold him. Let me sit by my son and hold his hand instead. My son needs a backrub. Come here, Plus One, *I’ll* rub your back. Do you clean, Q? Oh, with nasty chemicals. Uh uh uh (that disapproving sound some people are masters at). Bubba was about 6 months old the last time she laid eyes on him. Back and forth issues occur. We sent our boundaries (which really were simple things like don’t talk so negatively about my wife that a stranger calls her a bitch, and other things). She refuses to respond, insisting it’s abusive. Well, cuntcake, if it’s abusive to have boundaries, imagine how abusive the behavior that is causing the boundaries has been. We eventually send a cease and desist when she started sending us junk mail certified. She did it a few times. Once, I signed for it. About 2 or 3 other times, I refused it. But, since the first one was junk mail, I don’t really care what was in the other ones. She also sent Bubba a birthday gift after not seeing him for 6 months (or being interested in him the first 6 months of his life). RTS that sucker, too. No relationship with the parents means no relationship with the kid(s).
Negativity Be Gone!
After a full year of no-contact (it was glorious), I got a unicorn up my ass and decided to reach out to see if she had had time to reflect on missing her son and grandson. I knew she didn’t want me involved, but I’m part and parcel to the family. You get me, too, or you get none. I sent an olive branch email. Her response was to have a divorce mediator contact us. When I contacted them, they stated that it was to mediate and sign a contract for her relationship with her grandchild and to mediate a potential divorce. News to me! News to Plus One! Needless to say, we declined that gracious opportunity. And this is when I learned about grandparents’ rights. Sad when you have to have an attorney retained just in case your batshit crazy mother decides to force you to legally have a relationship with her.
It’s been mostly silent from us from then on. We saw her once when Plus One’s grandfather broke his hip. I emailed her when pregnant with Smash-N-Break. She said best wishes. We moved out of state to Texas. She broke her silence to wish us a Happy President’s Day. No, I’m not kidding. 7 years of silence, and HAPPY PRESIDENT’S DAY! She has sent her flying monkey minions our way to tell us to bury the hatchet, be the bigger person, she doesn’t know what she’s done, is this Plus One talking or is it Q, she didn’t raise you like this, blah blah blah blah blah. I told you my hoo-ha is sparkly!
Anyway, I’ve rambled. I’ll put part 2 of my opinion on Grandparents’ Rights in a new post.
**I didn’t make him do anything. He is an awesome person who finally had someone supporting him instead of dragging him down into the dirt about how he couldn’t do whatever he set his mind to. Seriously, in my opinion, his mom is as abusive as someone who beats the crap out of their kids. She did a number on his mental health. He’s stronger than her and that, though. He’s healed a lot. He’s a great man. I’m so proud to call him my husband.
***Plus ones note: I post all of the blog posts because I haven’t taught Q how to yet. I didn’t edit anything and agree with it all. My mother did everything she said, and I was a jackass. I am still trying to apologize for what I did. Q deserved better, I needed to be a man.
It is amazing how God puts the right people in your path, right when you need it.
I had occupational therapy for Littles today. Smash-N-Break had occupational, speech, and behavioral therapy. Littles was way overtired. He was happy playing on my phone for a bit, but then wanted to build blocks. He asked me to help. I immediately shut my iPad, got on the floor and started playing with him. That’s just what you do when a 2 year old asks you to play with them. We built a castle, then Kitty (his stuffed Beanie Boo that he cannot go anywhere without) needed a castle. That was followed by Kitty needing a tower (or 3), a castle, a house, a bed, and a chair. I had one email come in that I had to read from Bubba’s teacher, but once I realized it wasn’t important I put my phone back away.
Smash-N-Break’s therapist came out and we all go back to chat. I left my stuff in the waiting room because I’m stupid and too trusting. We left, went and got pumpkins and dinner with Bubba and Plus One, and did our normal routine.
Imagine my surprise to open my iPad hours later to find this note*. It delighted me. I was feeling down because I have a date for the formal autism evaluation for Smash-N-Break. I was doubting myself. I felt like I yelled too much today. I felt like my kids will only remember “angry mom” and how I need to work on that. I needed this today. I needed to know that others see that I’m not always “that mom” trying to make her kids behave and failing. I have been feeling that fight-or-flight instinct for a few days, and can’t pinpoint why other than I feel like my whole family needs someone better than me. I feel like I’m failing my entire family most day. I cannot express how much this meant to me. It came when I needed it. To know that someone unbiased sees positivity in what I do with my kids was a needed reminder that I am enough.
If you see someone doing things right, tell them. We are all so quick to judge and find others lacking. Instead of knocking people down, lift them up. Let them feel what I feel right now. You won’t regret it.
*The note says:
You are the MOST AWESOME mom. 🙂
I think you are doing an excellent job. He is precious and playtime with you made his day – and my week!
Joy to observe you – Brilliant!
Keep it up!
You are doing everything right. 🙂 He said thank you – 6 x’s. I counted. AWESOME!!!
Homecoming mums and garters. If you’re from Texas, you know what I’m talking about when I say those words together. If you’re not from Texas (like me), prepare to be edumacated!
What Are Texas Homecoming Mums?
Basically, a homecoming mum is a large decoration of ribbon and trinkets, personalized for the girlfriend and/or date to the homecoming dance. The boy will ask the girl to the dance, and then a few days later present her with the mum if she accepts. She will wear this at school, and I’m sure hang it in her room. She doesn’t wear this to the dance itself – I was worried as some of these things are bigger than the girl! I didn’t understand the point of wearing it over your dress to the homecoming dance. Plus, the pictures I’ve seen are of girls wearing them while they are in jeans. I didn’t see teenage girls wearing jeans to the homecoming dance. Some mums are very pretty. Some are…..not. Some have LED lighting in them. You can pay upwards of $300 for a homecoming mum. Girls can also present their date/boyfriend with a garter. This is NOT the leg garter that I knew about from weddings. It’s an arm band – a much smaller version of the mum. I ordered Bubba a garter for his homecoming game this year. When in Rome and all that. Plus, I want to embrace Texas culture, as I don’t want or plan to move out of our house unless I’m in a casket. So, if my boys are going to be raised in Texas, I want and need to understand the culture.
The story goes that, years ago, a boy gave a girl a single flower to ask her to homecoming. From there, this flower has developed into a steep tradition that is cute and sweet. (Most of the time – bigger does not always mean better.) I’m not buying it. First, as Plus One pointed out, the mum does resemble the Native American battle shield. This makes me wonder if it’s closer to some Native American roots. Second, come on. We ALL know what a southern woman means when she says “Bless your heart”. I’m pretty sure the first mum of ribbon and trinkets was a passive-aggressive “Bless your heart”.
I Prefer The Steel Magnolias Version
Imagine Truvy and M’Lynn from Steel Magnolias, sitting around drinking wine. Both ladies had boys. Those boys dated. Imagine if they didn’t like the girl their son was dating. They were brought up properly to not say anything. (I’m closer to Clairee – don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me.) But, from experience, mothers can be incredibly passive aggressive if they don’t like the whorish she-tramp trying to steal and trap their precious son. I haven’t done this yet and vow not to do this, just had it done to me. So, I can SO EASILY see Truvy and M’Lynn drunk Pinteresting and making a homecoming mum for their son to ask their girlfriend to the dance with.
Int Room – Afternoon (Immediate)
*Fade out music*
Clairee is serving wine, letting Truvy and M’Lynn vent away about the she-devils their sons have been dating.
Why don’t you say something? White or red?
White, please. It wouldn’t be proper.
Pours glass and hands it to Clairee
Then do something. Here’s your glass.
Pours another glass for Truvy. Hands it to her
If you won’t be direct, be indirect. Make something for your son to give her for the school dance. Here, have another glass.
What good would that do?
If she is raised right, like y’all, then she will accept it and wear it without saying a word. But she will know. Oh, she will know. Here, let me top you off.
What could we make?
I’m sure I’ve got craft supplies around here. Give me some time. Oh, we’re out of wine. How about some scotch?
Truvy and M’Lynn
Slurring tipsily, yeah they are day drunk
Why don’t we make them a battle shield, but with girlie things? Tell them it’s to protect their heart or something. Y’all are proper – you can spin it.
Leaves and returns in a moment with craft supplies and scotch. They drink more, and then do drunk Pinteresting before Pinterest. They’re southern, so it still looks pretty decent, but the message is clear.
Here is a big huge mum covered in ribbon and trinkets that you are to wear as marked property of my son’s. I made you this, because you don’t measure up to my expectations. It’s pretty enough, and hides a lot of you. I expect you to wear it. And you cannot say anything bad about it, or I will be insulted and the victim.
Seriously, Why Did They Do This?
Seriously, some of these things are monstrosities. There is no sugar coating it. Some of them are very pretty and decent, and I would have been happy to wear one. But, the first girl who got a true homecoming mum with ribbons, trinkets, stuffed animals, maybe even lighting, made by your boyfriend’s mother – there is no way to hide the fact that it was made to probably embarrass the poor girl. The good news is it didn’t work, and a new and proud Texas tradition was born.
Side note: I still vow to not be the passive-aggressive you don’t measure up to my expectations mother of the boyfriend/groom/husband. If/when my boys want to do this, if I cannot make it look pretty with my crafting inabilities, I will buy them one.
School starts for my kiddos in a week for Bubba, two weeks for Smash-N-Break. (Insert confetti flying, champagne sipping Q – I love them, but I’m so ready for school to be back in session.) Since the “meet the teacher” times are a free-for-all and not scheduled individually, I’m writing letters to the teachers to introduce my kids. It may come off as “that mom”, but honestly – you’re meeting 20+ kids in 2 hours. I’m just trying to help let you know about my kid. I’ve kind of been around them awhile. I may know what makes them tick.
It also made me pause and think. Bubba has generalized anxiety disorder, and probable ADD/ADHD. Smash-N-Break has ADHD and SPD, and “warning signs” of dyslexia. He’s just too young to test. Littles has SPD. His pediatrician and occupational therapist agree he has some moderate risk towards autistic traits (that’s the wrong word, but I’m only one cup of coffee into my day, so sue me), but it could just be the SPD. He’s too young to test for more than that, yet. Plus, he is functioning pretty well in everyday situations, so it isn’t warranted yet. Given his genetic history, he is predisposed to ADHD, so we will see later if the traits I’m seeing of that continue. But, all of that to say, I’m technically a mom of children with special needs.
Technically Yes, But Really?
This made me pause. When I think special needs, I didn’t picture my kids. I picture those moms who are so inspiring to me, and those moms who fight so hard for their kids. I picture kids with cancer or other illnesses, Trisomy disorders, deaf, blind, seizures, autism (anywhere on the spectrum), kids who can’t walk or talk, etc. My kids? They aren’t that severe. The disorders they have aren’t affecting their daily life. Or is it, and we’ve just grown accustomed to rolling with the punches? I feel like I’m insulting true special needs moms by saying my kids have special needs. They’re fight is so much bigger than mine. They’re daily life is so much different. Things I take for granted, they celebrate as major accomplishments. And they are major accomplishments. I don’t want to take away from that.
Yes, Really Special Needs
But then I thought a little more. A special need means just that – there is something that the child has that has a special way to handle it. My kids have things going on inside of them that need a little bit of extra help. It’s why going out in public is like preparing for war for me. I never know how good or bad it’s going to be. I never know how many times I’m going to be looked at as “that mom” who “can’t control her kids” or “is giving into a tantrum” that is really a sensory meltdown. Hell, I never know if I’m going to have to abandon the grocery cart before buying everything because of the issues the kids have.
Even something as simple as taking the boys to get their haircut exhausted me. Littles just hated it. If he would sit in the chair, he would cry the entire time. He sat by himself once. Generally, he would need me to hold him, and then he would be pinching and clawing me like mad until it was over. The sound and feel of the clippers, plus being in public and around strangers, overwhelmed him. The last time I took him to an actual place to get his haircut, he tried to bite the stylist. That was it for me. It wasn’t worth doing this to him every other month.** The boys get buzz cuts. I’ve learned to do it at home. He’s better for me at home. As he gets older and better with his SPD, and if he decides he wants something other than a buzz cut, we can try a barber again. Until then, I’ll do it on our front step.
Bubba has anxiety. He knows the difference between a watch and a warning in regards to weather. Thunderstorms scare the ever-loving daylights out of him, to the point he hides. So, my telling his teacher that he has this issue is telling her that he may need a little bit of extra help to calm down if a thunderstorm or tornado happens while he is at school, and how he calms down best. It’s letting Smash-N-Break’s teacher know he has these medical diagnoses, and he will be more challenging as a result. It’s also letting her know that *I* know it, and won’t be upset if she comes to me with other issues, tips, tricks, what-have-you.
The “T” Word
Yes, my children’s special needs are so very easy to overcome compared to others. But, to those with “typical” (I’ve learned to hate that word) children, a day in my shoes would be overwhelming to them.
A Mom Of A “Typical Child:
who listens well and has a normal amount of energy cannot understand the lack of impulse control hyperactivity tornado that is Smash-N-Break.
doesn’t have their child fall to the ground, unable to move, because a wasp is outside.
doesn’t sit on the floor of Walmart trying different shoes on the wrong feet of a 2 year old because you need to find a pair he will wear, and he won’t wear them on the correct feet. He likes the pressure of the shoes when they are on the wrong feet.
So, while my battle everyday is so much smaller than so many special needs moms, I do have special needs kids. And that’s okay. My saying my kids have special needs doesn’t make them less than, or take away from their special needs. It doesn’t make me less than. There is a person behind every diagnosis. That’s what matters – the person, not the label.
**Don’t worry – I didn’t subject him to years of haircut torture and abuse. Maybe 6 total before I started doing it. I don’t have a lot of faith in myself and figured they’d look more like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber.
A mom of three boys, two with special needs, before she gets her morning cup of coffee. Autism, no coffee, lots of love, tons of fun.