Sometimes My Brain Hurts

I’m tired. Not the sleepy kind of tired…or the exhausted kind of tired. My brain is tired. It hurts. So much going on right now…so much emotional crap being thrown at me from every conceivable place…well not “crap” but y’know.

Someone asked me yesterday if I was really glad that summer was here so that I could have my kids home with me. After I actually laughed out loud I replied, “Yes and no. I’m not a great stay-at-home mom.” Deep down the honest explanation would have been way too hard for her to understand and I didn’t feel like trying. Not everyone cares to know.

Colin has been off his meds for about three weeks. Due to, in part, the fact that he’s scheduled to see his Pedi for a med check and I always take him off a week ahead of time so that we can discuss the differences on/off the stimulants. Butttt….I had to cancel the appointment and am playing phone tag with the office to get a new appointment time. Meanwhile…Colin begins the “Big Spin”. The Spin that doesn’t end.

He exhausts me. Without meds, C is on a constant quest for stim. Tactile stim is his gig. While most mothers would die for the endless hugs and incessant kisses they just make me sad because I know why he’s doling them out. Him and Albert…the fearless stuffed dog who tells me more about Colin than Colin does. Albert goes absolutely freaking everywhere with us!!

“Albert wants a kiss”
“Albert is lonely, will you sleep with him?
“Albert will miss me, so can he ride in your car today while I’m away?”

Albert was at the petting zoo with us today for exactly nine minutes before I’d had enough of Albert needing to feed the ducks one pellet at a time. We decided Albert was tired and should nap in the car for awhile. Then I figured out that Albert is part of his tactile stim need. Once Albert was gone, C decided that putting the little duck food pellets in between his bare toes so that he had 8 pellets stuck in his own little webs was the new “good feeling”. I saw someone walk by and grin while he did that…like it was cute. Maybe to them…to me all I thought was “Please God. Not again.”

The most exhausting thing is the non-stop one-sided conversation. A diatribe on Mario or Sponge Bob I can handle about once a day. Right now…it’s constant. I’ve taken to telling him that he’s got three minutes to talk or he gets to tell me three facts about whatever the current obsession is. (It’s a new rule…should work right?) And then my heart breaks because I realize that we’ve talked all day long with each other and not once has he initiated a conversation that had anything to do with anyone else’s interests or feelings. He’s just researching the facts, Ma’am.

I try to find the fun and crazy things about this Asperger’s Beast most of the time. There are many of them…we giggle a lot and love this little man to death.

But tonight I’m tired. My brain hurts. I need a little bit of a vent…thank you very much.

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The End of Summer

School starts in two weeks. That means I have only one more true week of summer vacation. “Practice Week” begins on Monday the 23rd. Reacquainting Colin with a more rigid routine is not something I’m looking forward to, but it has to be done. When summer started, I told myself that keeping him in his normal morning routine (get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, take meds before tv or games) would be critical. Also, adhering to a regular bedtime would make it easier on him so he wouldn’t be tired during the day…which brings Tigger out in full force. Did any of that happen? Um…no. The only routine activity he’s clung to is reading the Sunday comics. “I only like the Sunday ones because they have color. The ones on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are not in color and that means I don’t like them. They don’t make sense without the color.”

I think it took all of two days for me to sink into the joy of sleeping in and letting the kids get up without me. Colin won’t walk down the hall to the living room alone if no one is out there…so on mornings that he’s up first…he crawls in bed with me and turns the tv on. Actually, he doesn’t crawl in. He does this wild sort of run-jump-plop-scramble maneuver. Then, because he hasn’t had his meds yet, the stimming begins. That involves rubbing Mommy’s arms, playing with my elbows, touching my legs and putting his face two inches away from mine and asking “When are you getting up?” Not all that relaxing for me, but still.

The dumbest thing I did was not enforce his morning routine of getting dressed before anything else happens. By the end of last school year, Colin was finally at the place where he would get his clothing, socks and shoes on independently. Then, eat breakfast…brush teeth and THEN he could watch tv if time allowed. Guess what…he is still in his pjs as I write and it’s 10:30 a.m. So, Practice Week is gonna be tough. Adding to the stress is a new bus schedule, new bus route and new bus number. When I told Colin about this change…”I’m STUPIFIED!!”…was his only response, followed by flapping and spinning. Ugh.

Clearly I am not winning the Aspie Mother of the Year Award. But guess what? We had a fun summer! We stayed up late, swam in the dark, chased fireflies and ate lunch on the trampoline. We laughed a lot and grew a lot. So, my last official week of summer will be more of the same. I promise.

And only when I’m all happy and tired out from playing will I get back to filling out forms, scheduling therapies, IEP meetings, TSS set-up and enforcing routine. For now, we’re all just having too much fun…and I’m fine with that.

Birds, Bees…and Weak Knees

I have noticed Colin initiating more spontaneous conversation lately that FINALLY has nothing to do with Mario Brothers. A few weeks ago, it seemed like a little switch went on and we’ve been having quite long and complicated conversations that revolve around him wanting to know something about life.

Tonight’s conversation, however, made me weak in the knees.

Sitting by the pool, warming up after an after-dinner-swim. Erin’s still swimming and he’s watching her. He’s wearing his swim shorts, swim shirt and ever-present life vest. Wrapped in a colorful striped towel with his little purple lips….

Him: “Mommy…I think I’d like to be a girl.”
Me: “Why?”
Him: “Because girls are pretty.”
Me: “But boys are handsome.”
Him: “I’m quite tired of being handsome. I was hoping that I’d be a girl.”
Me: “You’re definitely a boy buddy.”
Him: Big sigh.

One minute passes silently.

Him: “I think you’re going to have another baby and it will be a girl.”
Me: “OH NO! We are definately NOT having any more babies.”
Him: “Well, you should have had two babies the last time…me and a girl.”

Another minute passes. By now, Erin’s out of the pool and we’re wrapping up and heading in.

Him: “By the way, was Erin a baby?”
Me: “Yes, everyone starts life as a baby. Liam was a baby too.”
Him: Smacks forehead, throws head back…”What the heck?! You had THREE babies! All at the same time?!”
Me: “No, at different times.”
Him: “Was I the first one?”
Me: “No, Liam was first…that’s why he’s oldest. You were last, that’s why you’re youngest.”

He thinks for a minute (by now he’s stripped totally naked, cause he like to be that way) and as we walk towards the pool fence door he asked THE QUESTION.

Him: “Mommy, how does the doctor get the baby to come out of the Mommy?”
Me: gulp…weak knees. “Um…well…you know how girls are the only ones that can have babies, right? And you know that girls have vaginas…remember, it’s near the place that their pee comes from. Well, babies also come from the vagina.”
Him: “What?! But it’s so small there.”
Me: “It gets bigger…trust me!”

Erin: “OH MY GOD MOM!!!”
Me: “I have to tell him the truth Erin.”

Him: “But I’ve only ever seen hair there. Isn’t that where your Penis (yes, emphasis added) is supposed to be?”

Somehow that ended it…and now I sit wondering when he’s going to ask me HOW the baby gets in there…right now he’s concerned with how it gets out.

Lord Have Mercy.

When Red isn’t Really Red

I would like a word with the Crayola Company. Frankly, any maker of crayons, markers or colored pencils. I’d like to invite them to my home to observe the frustration Colin experiences when he’s required to do a coloring activity. Why? Because not one crayon in the box is labelled “Red”, “Blue”, “Green”, “Yellow”, “Brown”…you get the idea.

Colin doesn’t like to color for fun. His preferred style is to scribble with a Black crayon. However, when homework requires him to “Color the square shapes red”, for example, he’s more than willing. It’s required, therefore it’s a rule and he must follow it. (One benefit of his typical AS personality.) Because his fine motor skills are diminished it takes a LONG time to get the coloring to stay within the lines…but he’s meticulous in that task. What would take a neuro-typical child three minutes to complete takes Colin ten. IF he can find the right colored crayon to fit the job.

This is where my gripe with those crayon companies comes in.

Colin’s literal brain can’t use “Posh Pink”, “Rusty Brown”, “Blue Green” or “Amber Yellow” when his instructions call for pink, brown, green or yellow crayons. Even “Light Blue” won’t work if the required color is simply BLUE. We’re working through it … like we’re working through everything, but it’s not easy. He feels like he’s not doing his homework right.

I do love all the beautiful colors in a great big box of crayons…it’s just not Aspie friendly and I’ll be darned if I can find a normal box (other than with the kids meals at Applebee’s) of crayons without the extra hues thrown in.

Yesterday, I took Colin and his best friend (Yeah! he has one!) to the petting zoo and then for ice cream. Colin ordered his typical “Green” ice cream (read mint-choco-chip) and I got strawberry. He looked at my dish and uncharacteristically ventured outside his zone and asked if he could taste my flavor. He liked it! Cool…

HIM: “Mom, next time we come here I will ask the persons with the ice cream for a medium cup of strawberry…and then the time after that…which will be two times from now…which is the third time…I’m going to try the raspberry ice cream in a medium bowl.”

Well, okay I thought.

Later that evening he repeated this agenda to Liam at the kitchen counter while they ate dinner.

Colin: “Liam, I had green ice cream today…next time I go to the petting zoo I am going to have strawberry…I tried it and I think I like it…then the third time I go I will sample raspberry.”

Liam: “Cool buddy. It’s good to try new things. You want to try raspberry huh?”

Colin: “Yes, Raspberry is darker than Red. I don’t know what color Raspberry really is, but if I taste it, maybe I can find out and then I’ll know.”

There ya go, Crayola…just flavor the off-the-wall hues in the box and we’ll be fine!

Who Are All These Children…

and why are they calling me mom?

It’s one of “those” days here. School cancelled and all my plans for getting things done go out the window. I sit in the kitchen listening to the banter in the living room and alternate from laughing at their silliness and yelling at them to STOP!

Liam, in particular, gets very hyper when he’s bored…VERY hyper. He tries to find ways to wind his little brother up as much as possible. It backfired this morning though.

Liam: “Colin…you stink!”
Colin: “No I don’t! You’re a fart head!”
Liam: “What did you say? You little stinky kid!” And then mutters a few things in German that I don’t want to know the meaning of.

Colin (who weighs a whopping 34 lbs) runs across the room and jumps on Liam where he’s sitting. Liam (who is 70 lbs heavier than C) gets him in a leg grip and tickles him which produces giggles and then a big round of punching to get Liam off of him. Liam screams at him and starts wrestling him but Colin is like a little fly on flypaper. Once he has his arms and legs around you…it’s a vice grip. This little game rapidly degenerates into Big Brother screaming and getting too rough and Little Brother crying and getting hurt.

So, Mom Referee has to intervene and pull them apart and of course yell at Liam for starting it in the first place. Kiss the boo boos on the baby and give the eldest my best evil eye warning look.

A few minutes later, they had kissed and made up and were sitting side by side on the couch again.

Colin: “Liam, you are such a Kid!”
Liam: “No I’m not, you’re a Kid…I’m a Teenager.”
Colin: “Liam? Can you lift your right leg up?”
Liam: “Why?”
Colin: “Because I want to get under it so that I can get you in trouble again.”

Priceless.

Breathe…Baby…Breathe

Living with a child who has Asperger’s is like living with a football referee…or anyone who wants to control everyone around themselves. Tell people what to do, point out when they screw up and blow a whistle on any behavior that doesn’t jive with your world view.

Tonight I had four extra kids here while their mom went to a meeting. Lovely kids…close friends…but Colin totally wigged out cause I allowed them to play Mario Kart on the Wii, which is his domain and he is undoubtedly the expert in all things Mario.

Taking turns was tough, but they worked it out alone. We have only two Wii remotes and two Wii wheels, so Colin had to take turns with two others. The schedule of play they worked out was fair…”It’s a nice pattern, mom” he says.

However, he didn’t stop talking, advising, yelling, cadjoling or subtitling the whole event. Commentary included…
“NO!!! You messed up!”
“That’s great! Oh WOW!”
“Don’t go that way…you’re so stupid!”
“Gimme that…you don’t know what you’re doing!”

Here’s the conversation we had:

Me: “Babe, you can’t always tell people what to do. Let them play by themselves.”
Him: “But they don’t know how to do it!” Stomp feet…thrust fists down at sides.
Me: “They have fun anyway, it’s okay if they don’t win or if they mess up.”
Him: “But they are slow! They can’t do it right! They push the left button instead of the “A” button and the whole thing stops working!”
Me: “But that’s okay baby…they don’t care. It’s fun anyway.”
Him: “AAARRggghhh…..”

Here’s my imagined conversation:
Him: “Why won’t anyone listen to me? I know what I’m doing.”
Me: “We’ll listen, but won’t always do what you want.”
Him: “Why not”
Me: “Cause we all have different ways of doing things.”
Him: “But why…it’s dumb”
Me: “It’s how the world works buddy. Everyone does things and says things and sometimes we don’t like that…but you can’t always be right. Not about everything.”
Him: “But I AM RIGHT!!! ALWAYS!!!!”
Me: “No you’re not…Breathe, Baby, Breathe.”

I Understand You Perfectly!!!

Somewhere in my past I got the idea that I must be perfect. As a mother, I should know instinctively what my children are thinking and feeling. Or rather, that they should be just like me so that I would always know what’s going on in their little worlds. Thank God that’s not true…I’d hate to see little clones of myself…however, I’d like a little more intuition when it comes to the Asperger’s nature of my child. Please?

I shoulda known that he’d have a little meltdown yesterday. I just didn’t realize that he’d smack me over the head with insight again. I hate it when that happens. Makes me feel like a teeny tiny Mommy. He wanted to play a Wii game…fine. Wii on? Check. TV on? Check. Wii game inserted? Check. Anything working? NOPE. Just a frozen image, 47″ wide, staring back at us from the screen.

Him: “Mom, it’s frozen again.”

Me: “Great…just great.” (Frustration sets in cause I know now that a tantrum is coming if this isn’t going to work. Not in the planned agenda…tears soon to follow. And I am not in the best of moods myself.)

Him: “I’ll just wait a little and see if it starts.”

Me: “It’s stuck. It’s not going to work.”

Stupid me reaches over and ejects the disc from the Wii. Pushes the power button. Won’t turn off, won’t do anything. Crap!

Him: “AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!” (I actually winced before he did it, i knew it was coming.) “WHY did you take it out? Why? Why? You broke it!!! Put it back.”

Me: “No, it’s not working. This stupid disc froze the whole machine and we’ll have to wait until Dad gets home to fix it.”

Him: Sob, gasp, Sob, wail “NO! I can fix it! Just put it back in the Wii and I’ll fix it. I know how to do it!!”

Me: “No you don’t buddy. Last time this happened we had to wait for Dad.” (Trying to stuff down the frustrated voice is not working.)

Him: Sob gasp Sob Wail! Tears are flowing, he’s spinning in circles. “No, I can! I can! I can!”

Me: “No, you can’t. Just stop crying and find something else to do! Do you understand what I’m saying? It’s broken right now and you can’t fix it!!!”(Clearly frustrated now, no guessing there.)

Silence except for a few sniffles and occasional sob. Like a switch went off in his brain.
He calmly looks at me (well, at my chin since he can’t stand the eye contact for long).

Deep breath. Shakes the head real fast to shake off the tantrum.

Him: “I understand you perfectly! I just don’t know how to get you to understand me!”

Wow. Bam, right there on the forehead. Smack!

I’m trying little man, really I am. I understand you perfectly now.

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