Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Fade Back

Around and around we went in the gym of Gabe's old school.
Skipping around in a circle, smiling at Gabe and cheering "Yeah!"
"This is so much fun!" Are you having fun too?" Gabe smiles back at me.
The music changes and we all start galloping.
I swear I hear the song "Just the two of us" begin, playing faintly in the background. This IS so much fun! Gabe and I. What a pair.
That's when I got the cue.
"Fade back."
"Let's see how he does on his own," his therapist says gently.
So soon?
Are you sure?
I step back, regain my breath. The older they get, the harder it is to keep up.
Looking over in his direction, I see that they are all now tiptoeing, pausing to put their fingers up to their mouth, "Shhhhh." Gabe giggles. This is his favorite part of the song.
And there he is...on his own.
Without me.
What happened?
Where did all the time go?
I'm not ready.
I really am not.
I know I should be.
I know I have to do this.
But he was 2 years old just yesterday!

Trust is a huge issue with me. Who will watch and make sure he is getting all that he needs if I am not there to guide, nurture and cheer? Does that statement sound arrogant? The assumption that only I could provide exactly what my son needs. I know in my mind that it is false, but my heart sways me a whole other direction most of the time.
I sadly and painfully let go of Boo this year when she started Kindergarten. Leaving her at preschool out of my sight was traumatic enough for me, so I was at least prepared somewhat mentally for the transition this year. Her severe allergy to peanuts just compounded my anxiety. I have days when I wonder if she will be coming home that day or will this be the last time I say goodbye? Sounds overly dramatic, but having an allergy that causes anaphylactic shock, puts the possibility of death at your doorstep everyday. You hope that the adults around her notice the warning signs, because those same signs can mask themselves to appear less threatening like the flu, and time determines the difference between life and death. She is still too young to give herself the shot. I do not know if she would anyway. Boo is petrified of her Epi Pen.It hurts. Boo and shots do not mix.

Either way, I know I would still be as neurotic and anxiety ridden with or without allergies or a diagnosis. That's just who I am. I have been "working on it" my whole life.

So, I stood back once again and watched Gabe. I have been doing that a lot lately. Sometimes restraining my hands by placing them in my pockets or under my legs when I sit. I curl my lips in, so as not to say anything when Gabe is asked a question by someone he doesn't know. I repeat in my head generalize, generalize. If I am there to always repeat the question he will never answer for anyone else. That is the hardest habit to break for me. It's so much easier if I create the first footing to the bridge of communication for him, so that's what I tell myself, eventhough I know it is not true.

Fade back.
I thought this is what you did during their teenage years, but then isn't that really when they need you most? When transition is no longer referring to letting go of blankets and pacifiers, but about serious life choices that could forever change the course of your child's life. Is fading back a road that other parents are already on? Our path seems so underdeveloped in some areas, with potholes and gravel, while other parts are as smooth as a new subdivisions entrance. I'm never sure whether I will need the SUV on a given day or will our compact get us to where we need to go safely without adversely affecting our alignment.

We received another birthday invitation today. Our neighbor's little boy is turning 4 years old. I had a hard time swallowing when I saw the number 4 right above Scooby Doo's grin. Four? Already? Gabe is 6 months younger than him. Gabe will be four soon. He'll also be 25 someday, but the number four means so many more things to me right now. Milestones that bring worry. The largest being, sending Gabe to school, very possibly a public one. The most terrifying test of all for me. The time where I will really be fading back. Where mommy's do not hold their child's hand throughout the day, protect from bullies and provide clear understanding of the wants and needs for their child.

I am, in effect, Gabe's public relations agent.
It's time for me to move out of the way.
I'm hogging the red carpet.
It's time for me to fade back.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Finally, Some Winter Fun

This is Gabe outside! In snowpants! Wearing gloves! And a Hat! And Boots! Can not forget THE BOOTS! But, only after we told him he could not watch TV later that afternoon if he did not get bundled up and go sledding. See the smile after a few times down the hill on his sled?

"Weeeeeeee! I want swed! (sled)!" -Gabe
We invited our neighbors over to sled the next day. One of their boys is Gabe's age. Gabe is so much bigger than him. I'm beginning to wonder how tall Gabe will end up being.

The ice under the snow made it really fast! Boo liked it when I put a spin on her sled.

SD and I had to literally catch the kids at the bottom of our hill or they would go into our woods.
Boo was really sad when our nature walk in our woods led to ice and water and we had to turn back. She was so excited to use her binoculars to spot animals and look for tracks. We have seen deer back in the trees and occasionally in our yard. It was too hard to find a good footing. Gabe kept pulling me along saying, "Come on mommy!" I was afraid we would break through the ice and fall in.

Hope you have had some good snow too!
Stay tuned for our winter 2007 snowperson.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

To Coriander

Lay down
Your sweet and weary head
Night is falling
You have come to journey's end
Sleep now
And dream of the ones who came before
They are calling
From across a distant shore
Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see
All of your fears will pass away
Safe in my arms
You're only sleeping
What can you see On the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea
A pale moon rises
The ships have come to carry you home
And all will turn To silver glass
A light on the water
All Souls pass
Hope fades Into the world of night
Through shadows falling
Out of memory and time
Don't say We have come now to the end
White shores are calling
You and I will meet again
And you'll be here in my arms
Just sleeping
And all will turn To silver glass
A light on the water
Grey ships pass Into the West

-Annie Lennox (from the song Into The West)

Goodbye, my sweet buddy. Goodbye.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The New Drug On The Street

Here at our house we are dealing with Noggin Crack. We have begun a very painful detox. Drastic measures had to be taken, but we are all pulling through it together. Some of us more than others. Oobi, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and "the all powerful" The Wonder Pets will now be viewed much less frequently. We were all caught off guard by Noggin's great programming. All of it wonderfully entertaining and new, so much so, that the toys stayed neglected, songs unsung, games unchallenged and pictures uncolored.

Noggin has affected Gabe the most. In the last week, he has begun to continuously sing the same songs, along with some of the verbage leading up to and after the occurance of the song within the episode. Which, as I have posted in the past, has lead to growth in his language, but recently the scripting has turned to perseverating with dialogue between characters being repeated over and over with dancing exactly like the characters in the opening credits. Charlie and Lola has been scripted and reenacted down to the slightest movement and giggle (There is Disney Smack). Gabe likes to imitate Lola the most.

As some of you know, Noggin starts at 6am and ends at 6pm. We also have Tivo and Gabe is aware of all our technological devices and their capabilities. I would say that one average Gabe watched about 1 1/2 hours in the morning (he gets up around 6:30 and leaves with me to drop off Boo at school) during that time we are showering, packing, dressing, eating, etc. He watched about an hour in the afternoon for quiet time and then an hour when Boo came home from school before dinner. That's about 3 1/2 hours! No wonder he was so strung out. What's funny is we were so busy going here and there, ABA everyday, preschool, gymnastics, playdates. It was the short hours we spent stopping off at home, before heading out again, that Noggin became a great way (crutch or my crack) of pausing to grab lunch, make phone calls or throw in a load of laundry. We all depended on it in one way or another.

So, today I began the detoxing processing. At preschool, Gabe turned to me when I asked what he'd like to do next, play with puzzles or cars, and responded with, "Watch T.V.?"
The Crack has gotta go!
When we got home, I turned off the power strip to the T.V. in the playroom and the Tivo in the Familyroom. I grabbed my Caribbean Jazz CD and started making us lunch. I could hear Gabe in the other room pushing the button to the T.V.
"Not working!" click, click of the button.
"Not working Mommy!"
I just ignored him and waited. If I even mentioned the T.V. and why it wasn't working, I do not think I would have given him the opportunity to figure out for himself what to do when the TV isn't on.
My God!
What do you do without the TV?
I know. Does he?
He came into the kitchen and immediately smiled upon hearing the music. I started dancing and he smiled some more.
Over lunch, we laughed and rubbed our tummies, celebrating the new chips, Ruffles.
"I want a BIG chip!" Gabe says with excitement.
We cleared the table and went into the playroom to *gasp* play and do Gabe's daily ABA programs.
It was so much fun! After almost two hours, I leave Gabe to play ,while I got a drink. Upon coming back I hear, "Watch TV?"
If Gabe does good during his ABA Programs he is allowed to watch a Noggin program.
So, I set the timer. I told Gabe when it goes off after The Backyardigans, that is the end of TV until Boo comes home. Then, she gets to choose one program to watch after that, TV is turned off until tomorrow. He handled it pretty well. There was only one loud, "No!" with a quick whimper. SD asked if he wanted to play Troll (A game he invented) and then all was well.

Now, there is a part of me that wants to go cold turkey. No TV. Only good can come from no TV. I've never heard of anyone suffering from not having viewed TV. But, we are just going to work on limiting it to 2 hours a day. One hour in the morning, and two half hours in the afternoon.
Wish us luck.

Just Say No To Noggin Crack

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Things That Come In Three

My husband is a strong believer of famous people always dying in groups of three. What's funny is that he seems to always be right on mark. I'd call it coincidence if it had happened only a few times, but as circumstance would have it, it comes to fruition every time. Recently it was James Brown, Gerald Ford and finally Saddam Hussein. Our weekend also came with a strange equation that amounted to three.

The first being the strange, but very irritating phone call SD (Super Daddy) picked up at work on Friday. It was by pure chance that he even answered his phone, because calls rarely ever go directly to him, because he is a teacher. It was a parent claiming that she heard from this person's neighbor's son's cousin who went to the party store and over heard from the person buying smack on the corner....Ok, that's an exaggeration, but the way I heard it from SD, she lost her credibility the minute she opened her mouth. Anyway, to make a long,with nails on the chalkboard, story short, she accused SD of pocketing funds from a trip that he puts together for his students. If you know SD, you're already saying," What the @!!!% " This parent insisted that she had seen his W4 and stated the company from which this bonus was given. The name she gave as being on the W4 was not even SD's name and he has never worked for the company that supposedly gave him a bonus. SD was not in a good mood when he came home from work.

Happy Friday!

So, I thought, we could take the kids to play at McDonald's, have dinner and try to unwind. I really dislike fastfood more than you know, but 3 out of four would be getting something out of this trip, I didn't mind the sacrifice. Gabe got wheat free French fries from BK down the street and we were good to go.

It wasn't too crowded and the ages for good play friends had potential. Boo was short on the girl friends, but managed to find a boy to act silly with. Gabe hooked up with a boy who may have been about four who had a sister (twins?) There was giggling, laughter, running and big smiles. I think a big fear for most parents is whether their children will be liked. I worry for both of my children. Not, because they aren't likeable, because I adore and think both are fantastically wonderful, caring, hilarious, and spectacular in their own right. But, you wonder how the rest of the world will perceive them without wearing "mommy glasses".
After coming down the slide, Gabe runs up behind the boy he was playing with and next thing I see is Gabe being clobbered by that same child. Then, Gabe starts pushing back. I immediately yell, "Hey!" "No hitting!" They both stop and we call Gabe over. The other boy's mom never looks up from her book. She was right across from them.
I am furious, but assume it has ended and cross my fingers that Gabe does not go near that boy again. I watch nervously as Gabe climbs back into the play structure. "Rocky Balboa", the offending boy, comes running up behind him, passes him while climbing up and gives a good kick at Gabe's face, intentionally.

Before I know it, my chair squeaks over the greasy floor, I'm up and running, blood pumping through my veins. I could feel my face puff up like the Incredible Hulk. "You stop hitting my son!" I say loud enough for the drive through to hear, pointing my finger at the little monster.
Mom comes over lifts up the boy and I state again, in case she missed it while reading her book, "Your son keeps hitting my son!"
"Well, that's because he was pushing him," she retorts back.
I respond with a mix of anger and sarcasm,"He... Was.... Hitting... Him!" "He's only three!" I feel like I should be wearing a tank top, braless, on a Jerry Springer Stage.
Gabe comes down and starts eating his fries. He looks aware of what happened, but not as aware as my Boo was. We hardly ever yell in our house, so when SD and I raise our voice, it is a big deal. I am amazed at my reaction. Amazed that I have this instinct to squash anyone or anything that may harm my children. I am like a wild momma bear protecting her cubs. Kinda freaky in a way. I think I need to corral my emotions a little and bring it down a notch from Springer to Oprah.
10 minutes later and I wishing that our run of bad luck would end sometime soon, mom comes over with "the boy" and has him apologize. I also have Gabe apologize for pushing. I tell her I appreciate what she did and she smiles and says she is only the babysitter.

Happy Friday .....Again!

Gabe only had a little compliance issue with his tutor Saturday morning, which was totally expected since this is only her second time over our house. I thought, "Whew!" If this is the third thing, well, we made it! This was where I did my happy dance and began to plan the wonderful possibilities for the rest of our weekend. We could turn it around. We still had time. I looked over to where my cat came walking through the kitchen and saw that he was limping. He is an indoor cat, 14 years old, in very good health. So, I thought, maybe he fell off of something. I immediately call our vet, get the last appointment. I wondered how they would put a cast on my little buddy. Could it be arthritis? Osteoporosis? A disjointed hip?
At the vets, they get him on the examination table right away. They observe which leg it was and begin to feel the bones in that leg. My face begins to get hot, the room spins and I feel like laying face first on the cold linoleum before I have the chance to pass out. Instead, I wash out his carrier just to keep from not looking at what they are doing. They decide they need an X-ray.

The X-ray reveals nothing about his leg. All his bones look fine. In fact, perfectly fine. Huh. Then she pulls up the next slide that shows the rest of his body from the side. She says that organs appear white and the lungs black because they are filled with air. Everything looks right to me. What should I be seeing, that I don't?
The lungs had confetti like specks all over them. I thought it was veins, they were tumors. Maybe 20 or more all over his lungs. My beloved pet was dying of Cancer and it had probably spread to his leg.

Happy Saturday.

What was even more....I can't even find the word....was that as I walked out of the examining room with my buddy in his carrier, the receptionist and another worker there were talking about Aspergers and Autism from the "I know someone, who knows someone" tense.
I wanted to shout, "Can you give me one God Damn thing to deal with at a time God? Can ya? Can ya? huh?"
The next day I wondered if God was trying to show me something. Was my cat a metaphor for Gabe's inability to tell me when something was wrong, that he maybe really ill and I would never know? I had dreamed this past week, before all this happened, that Boo died from a tumor. I woke up at 2am that morning afraid to go back to sleep. What did it mean? SD and I joke all the time about me thinking I have a tumor. Oh, I have a bad headache, must be a tumor. But, as I get older, I'm making more connections in life. I see and understand more of life's lessons. I just wish I could pick and choose the lessons I want to learn.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Letters brought to you by the Bathroom

While washing his hands this morning, Gabe starts spelling......D...a...n...? then it gets softer and softer. The noise of the water only enables me to try to unsuccessfully read his lips for some clue. But no luck.

"Dinosaurs?" I guess.
"No," Gabe smiles.
Then he it repeats again...."D...A...N....I......M....A...L...S", giggle, giggle.

Ohhhhhh. OH!
Did he just spell a word????

I know it is probably recited from a commercial, but then he maybe beginning to piece together how words and letters work together. He has known his letters and sounds for over six months now.Am I making more out of this than I should? Who cares, I say! What a great way to begin my day!

I love commercials!

Saturday, January 06, 2007


There are moments that moms and dads everywhere look forward to the minute their child is born. Most of these lists read the same, first step, first words, first day at school, all milestones of growing from a baby to a young boy or girl. For us we have been fortunate to be able to celebrate many of these milestones with both of our children. Gabe has surprised us on countless occasions with just how far he really has come. His language is more spontaneous, he is less impulsive, fantastic eye contact, beautiful smile, and is truly an engaging little boy. But, beyond that, there are small wishes that I still have. One of them came true tonight.

I have spoken about Gabe having been non-verbal/ non communicate at the age of 2. I remember, soon after putting the pieces together that Gabe was Autistic, crying on my neighbors front lawn, trying to explain what Autism was and believing that my son, who I love so deeply, would probably never call me mommy. My neighbor hugged me, probably having no idea what to say, and I feeling like my world had just caved in. That became my first wish. My small wish was for him to call me mommy just once. And it happened a few weeks after starting the intensive ABA program over a year and a half ago. While sitting at the kitchen table one evening, Gabe walked up to me, looked at me and said, "Mommy", then walked away. It happened so quick that I sat there stunned, mesmerized by the print on his shirt as he walked away from me. I then turned and stared at SD (Super Daddy) and said "Did you hear that?" "Did he just call me mommy?" I felt my eyes get blurry and wet, I began to cry. My first wish had come true.

My second wish happened tonight. SD typically puts the kids up to bed, wrestles with them,then reads them each a few stories and tucks them in so I can get laundry done, lunches made and pick up the house a little so everyone can mess it up again tomorrow. Before heading up to bed, each gets their individual medicine (mostly for allergies) then PJ's are put on and kisses and hugs are given to me before WWF begins in Gabe's room with loud giggles and thumps on the bed. Boo gives me numerous, sweet kisses and a great big hug. Tonight, I hear Gabe running up the stairs, so excited to wrestle with SD, forgetting my kisses.
" Gabe, come give me a kiss!"
Laughing, I hear his little foot steps come down the stairs, he rounds the corner with a big smile on his face.
"SMMMMMMAAAH!" He smacks his lips on mine.
"I love you Gabe," I squeeze a big squeeze not wanting to let go, but I eventually do.
"I love you!" he says to me with a big smile in return and runs away.

I have waited 3 1/2 years to hear those three words.

I love you.

My second wish has come true.

Sometimes the smallest wishes, the ones that get tucked behind the speech hopes, stepped on by the allergy fears and forgotten the minute public school is mentioned, are the wishes that are the best of all.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

My Motto for the Year

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

-Marianne Williamson

That is my motto for this new year. That is my motto for doing ABA Therapy,celebrating Gabe's sense of humor, for returning to the Stay at Home Mom Club, and my motto for instilling a pride and a sense of moral strength to my daughter and son.

So, this is what is on Gabe's plate for 2007...

-Two days a week at a speech based preschool (6hrs weekly)
-1 class a week of Gymnastics (1 hr weekly)
-1 class a week attending a regular preschool with peers (3 hrs weekly)
-3 opportunities (outside of preschool and classes) for playdates (3+ hrs weekly)
-10 hours a week of ABA (7 hours me, 2 hrs SD, 2 hrs. ABA Therapist)
-2 meetings a month with ABA Therapist /Psychologist)(2 hrs + monthly)
-2 opportunities for playdates/crafttime per month at ABA school (4hrs+ monthly)
- 2 speech sessions a week with Dr. Karen (1 hr weekly)
- Fine motor/ craft projects (1 1/2 hrs weekly)
- Storytime at the Library (possibly) 1x per week 1/2 hour

His schedule is packed! We are going to have so much fun :o) Our major focus will be to work on enabling Gabe to strengthen his skills with socializing with others. He is doing great with his ABA programs that focus primarily with intraverbals, fluency and beginning math, like counting. He has such a strong foundation for having friends. He wants friends and he is the type of person that will always enjoy having close friends. So, together we will build friendships, him and I. We're getting on the friendship wagon (some of us again) and Gabe and I will learn to go beyond what we know, what is comfortable, to the uncomfortable
and we will bloom.