April 29, 2010

One Step Back

You know that saying, "two steps forward, one step back"? Well, I shoulda known this was coming. I mean we've taken a lot of great steps forward in managing this whole single-parent family life thing. Which means we were overdue for a step back.

So we took one.

Yesterday, I woke up with all three kids in my bed. My Aspie was restless. My diva had nightmares. My little guy - well, he climbs in every night, 'cause he knows I'm too tired to move him back to his own bed. But yesterday morning he just wouldn't leave.

And the three of them, they were a mess. Lots of needling and bickering and that really annoying, two-syllable "Mo-om!" Kids grabbing at me and crying a blue streak at the slightest hint of separation. My little guy, a potty user for half his life now - well, he missed. And I caught my diva with her thumb firmly in her mouth. She hasn't sucked her thumb in months.

Big step back.

And here's why.

If you've been around the past few weeks, you know my Aspie just started a new school. Great new school. Actual friends - seriously, he's got friends, and they are just like him, and they are awesome. But it's a transition. Transitions are rough. The school is still learning him, he is still learning them, we're all still learning each other.

This week, we learned a lot.

Late in what was a very good day at school, the staff sat down with the kids and shared the news that a student at my son's old school had died. The boys talked. They seemed okay. And everyone went home.

My Aspie was not okay.

He's also not so good at identifying and articulating his emotions. He was confused and coping. So he tantrummed. He screamed and he cried. He got disrespectful and disobedient and a whole slew of other nasty dis-es. I wasn't there for most of them, because it was Not My Night. The kids were, mostly, with their dad. Not that I helped while I was there - kid management has always been a source of - well, let's just call it debate - between me and the ex. But I do know there was a fair amount of angry all around, and a lot of dad-style discipline, which tends to be rather, uh, louder than the mom stuff.

It was not a good night. So we took a step back.

But you know what's cool? And maybe it's the rose-colored glasses talking. But all this, it's an aberration. It's not normal. And it used to be. It used to be normal. It used to be every day with the nightmares and the thumbsucking and the clinging to mommy. A year ago, this was our life.

It's not anymore.

Today our world went right back to the new normal. I woke up with only one kid in my bed, and he dashed off as soon as he heard his favorite brother playing on his DS downstairs. The kids spent the morning laughing and hugging and left the house smiling. No missed potties. Not a single sucked thumb.

And so, we step forward again. Because these days, forward is where we live.

April 25, 2010

Prime Numbers

This week, I celebrated my birthday.

This is, believe it or not, a good thing. It's a good thing because I am oddly superstitious about prime-number ages, and before last Monday I was stuck at 43.

I'm not 43 anymore. I get to be 44 now. For a whole year, I get not one but two beautifully even digits and a whole slew of deeply gorgeous factors. I like factors. Factors mean no more primes.

Yes, I know this is vaguely math geeky. Sue me.

The bad thing about my birthday is that I spent several hours of it on an airplane. I hate airplanes. Because, while I may be a semi-credible math geek, I don't believe in physics, and I don't buy that there is an actual science that makes flight possible. Don't bother trying to convince me otherwise; smarter folks than you have failed. And yes, that includes my dad (who is a terrible flyer despite his very firm belief in physics).

But worse, getting on that plane meant I spent most of my birthday on the front end of a four-day business trip that took me away from my kids.

Now, there are some prime numbers I like. I like the number three, for example, because I have three bright, fabulous, amazingly wonderful kids. So three is good.

And I like the number 11. My Aspie is 11. That's not why I like it, though. I like it because it's got double digits and it looks like it should have factors. Yes, I know it doesn't. Still, as primes go, that's one of the coolest. (The other cool prime is two. An even prime? How awesome is that!)

And I like the number seven. I didn't used to like it. See, I was seven when my parents got divorced. Who knows, that may even be where my weird anti-prime age thing started.

But my amazing au pair has changed my mind. Because my amazing au pair is our seventh au pair. And while we've had several truly terrific au pairs (and one or two we don't talk about so much) ... well, this au pair, she really is amazing.

On my birthday, she let my three early birds wake her up at 6:45 a.m. She's 19 (oh, look, another prime!), and at 19, 6:45 a.m. is ridiculously early. But she's amazing, right? So she got up at that insane hour and helped the kids make breakfast and decorate a pretty tray and bring it all up to my room. I got to do nothing but wake up to my redhead's charming face planted squarely over mine, shouting "Mom! Don't. Get. Out. Of. BED!"

I didn't. I stayed in bed and enjoyed a homemade card from the diva, big hugs from everyone, a yummy Belgian bread pudding, scrambled eggs, and a tall glass of orange juice.

Although, I didn't get to enjoy the orange juice. At least, I didn't get to drink it. Because somehow it wound up in my lap. And all over my bedsheets. And my blanket. And my quilt.

You'd think a non-morning person like myself would have lost it, getting an orange juice shower that early in the day. Nope. Not me. I laughed and gave a big hug to my redhead, whose feet had done the damage. 'Cause all those prime numbers had put a great big smile on my face that even airplanes and orange juice could not erase. Thank you, prime numbers.

We'll see how I feel when 47 comes along.

April 13, 2010

I'm a Glogger!

Or is it gublogger?

However you shorten it, I'm pleased as punch that my friend Shannon over at Meltdown Free Disney invited me to guest blog on her dime. My post is called Rosemary, And Time, and it's about the tricks and strategies I use to manage vacations that satisfy all four of us and our different needs - well, five when you include the awesome au pair.  

If you're one of my regulars, trek on over there and see how Shannon is helping all families experience the Disney magic, stay on budget, and create positive memories. She knows her stuff, and I gotta tell you, it's wonderful, thoughtful, creative stuff. I learn something new from her in every post. In fact, she inspired one of my own posts - Groundhog's Day - with a conversation about why winter really sucks when you're on the spectrum.

And if you're visiting from MFD, welcome! Take a look around, have fun. There's always room for one more.

April 7, 2010

Making Friends

I've been afraid to put this in writing. I didn't post it on Facebook. I didn't put it in the blog. Thought I might jinx it, I guess.

I didn't jinx it.

Yesterday, my beautiful, wonderful, totally stressed out Aspie started over.

About a month ago, give or take, I got a call from the middle school (yes, we love middle school). He'd been struggling. He was frustrated and getting more so by the day. He was spending less and less time in class and more and more on suspension. He wasn't eating his lunch or his snacks. His grades, straight A's at the beginning of the year, were sinking like a stone. He stopped working. The kids he thought of as his friends started dropping away.

And he noticed. He noticed all of it.

So the school called. Or rather the district called. They wanted to consider an alternative placement for my son. A different kind of school. A school that welcomed kids on the high-functioning end of the spectrum. Very small classes. A protected environment. Heavy emphasis on social skills. But set smack dab in the middle of a strong public middle school, with full access to the great academics my bright kid needs to feel challenged and engaged.

Best. IEP. Meeting. Ever.

Because he got in.

I cried. I made three other people cry. I have fought for this exact thing for three straight years. I fought for new evaluations. I got statements from every professional I could find. I hired an advocate. And I still failed.

Until now. Until they called me.

And when I told him about it for the first time, expecting a tantrum or at least a bit of confused self-doubt, what I got surprised me. What I got was a great big giant sigh of relief from a kid who was sufficiently self-aware to know he needed more help than he was getting. He was happy. Nervous as a cat. But happy and excited and ready to move on.

So yesterday, he started over. Yesterday, he took his first-ever ride on a school bus and traveled to a whole other town. He came home with an empty lunchbox, a passion for Yu-Gi-Oh, and a great big smile.

It won't be all sunshine and roses. Transitions kinda suck, you know. But this transition, it's the good kind. And we're ready, more than ready, to make it.

You go, kid.

April 3, 2010

The Rose-Colored Life

You know what happens when you live a rose-colored life? Sometimes you get stressed out. Ridiculously so, to the point of total wigginess. And you're so busy being chipper and looking at the bright side that you don't even notice.

And then suddenly you're breaking into the big bag o' Nerds Jelly Beans that the Easter Bunny's been storing on top of your fridge. Nerds Jelly Beans, by the way, contain no chocolate, which makes that particular behavior highly aberrant. The cheerful sound of your children singing along with that horrible Justin Bieber song sends you zooming off to testy land. And the rhythmic crunch-crunch chewing noises on the new Kit-Kat commercial drive you beyond the brink of insanity.

Why anyone would think bad manners sell chocolate is beyond me.

I want a vacation. And a margarita. And a back rub, 'cause I spent 8 hours driving on Wednesday and everything still hurts. I want to be 20 lbs lighter (40 wouldn't hurt) and able to run long distances without throwing out my hip. I want money to grow on trees. I want to sleep at night. I want to win the lottery and buy me and all my single-parent friends a house and a hybrid, and then pay someone to clean them both. I want the new season of Glee to start tomorrow. I want to be a teacher. I want to write a book, without working very hard at it. And I want it to be a bestseller. I want about 800 people to suddenly decide my blog is crack and they can't get enough of it, and then maybe someone will pay me to write it. I want my kids to grow up healthy and happy and fairly well adjusted. I want them to be good and caring people who think their mother walks on water.

And I really, really, really want the whole world to chew with their mouths closed.

Mostly I'd just like my rose-colored glasses back, please. Life works better when I have them on.