September 28, 2010

Oh, What a Night

Okay, I give. It's after 1:00 a.m. and it's just been a freaky, surreal kind of evening. And it's Monday. Just Monday.

This morning, my au pair was sick. So I told her to sleep in, and I took the kids to school. Which meant I worked late. Which meant dinner was late. Which is kinda where this started.

I came down from work to find my amazing and, mind you, still sick au pair playing Monopoly with my younger kids, and my Aspie waiting on a phone call from his girlfriend. (Yes, he has a girlfriend. Which is really his business until he says otherwise, so no, I'm not blogging about it. And no, we haven't gotten to the surreal bit.)

So I made dinner. I made a simple, easy dinner of hamburgers (with lots of yummies mixed into the meat) and steamed green beans and Wacky Mac. This is a favorite meal of all the kids generally, and my Aspie in particular, because he loves protein and he loves bread and isn't that the very definition of a burger?

Except that when we all went to sit down at the table, he started screaming. And it wasn't a tantrum. He was in pain. His tummy hurt. His head hurt. His everything hurt. And it must have hurt a lot. Because this kid is hyposensitive to pain, and while he may over-react a bit when he knows he's been injured - as in "Hey I can't feel that but it's bleeding so it must hurt like hell and, by the way, OW!!!" - that internal pain stuff? The stuff he can't see? It's got to be pretty bad for him to notice.

Plus all the color had suddenly drained from his face. 

So I spent dinner in the bathroom holding my poor guy's head over the toilet. And hey, y'all, this is my first post about vomit since last November. Ten months without vomit? That's a blog record, you know.

I got my Aspie up to bed, came back to the table and found my au pair falling asleep in her food. So I sent her to bed, too. The poor thing. Because she's been sick since last Thursday and just isn't getting better.

That's not the surreal part, either. I'm used to the sick and yuckies. It's fall, school's in. This is par for the course.

The surreal part came at midnight, when I was decompressing and avoiding the dishes, because that's what I do at midnight. And I was cleaning the bathroom, because, well, you know. Vomit.

And that's when somebody knocked at my door.

After midnight.

There was knocking after midnight.

I am a single mom alone in a house with a sick 19-year-old au pair and three young children. I did what any normal woman would do in the circumstances. I freaked the heck out. I jumped up like a crazy woman, heart pounding, and looked for a weapon (because, you know those criminals, they always knock so politely). I turned on about 87 lights. That's in addition to the 13 lights I already had on.

And that, as it turns out, is why the fella knocked in the first place. He was a police officer, trying to find the owner of a Jeep parked in the middle of the street with its lights on, and figuring the owner would be in the only house on the block where people were actually awake.

Apparently not.

From now on I'm going to enjoy my post-vomit insomnia in the dark.

P.S. On the vomiting ... I'm kinda worried it's my kid's meds. He didn't eat all day today, and that might just be an upset tummy. But he's on risperdal and ritalin, and while he's been on that combo for more than a year now, the risperdal sometimes causes heat stroke with vomiting. It's not hot right now ... but the ritalin means sometimes he doesn't eat, and today he skipped his lunch and his after-school snack, and dinner was delayed, and that poor kid got sick anyway with nothing in his tummy. For the second time in two weeks. Given that he just went back on the ritalin with the start of school, it's got me wondering about the meds. So if anyone reading has any thoughts, well, I'd love to hear.

September 17, 2010

Lucky Me

Tuesday morning was a school holiday in this part of the world because it was the day of our primary elections. (Please hold while I blush ... Yes, I should have voted, but it's the primaries, people. And besides, I forgot.)

Usually my morning starts with my eager nearly-12-year-old bursting into my room to request a new app for his iPod Touch, which he won on a $2 investment in a Stacker game at the bowling alley on a school field trip. Last $2 I ever give that kid. Though I will say, he's learned the hard way that if he wakes me up by shoving his iPod two inches from my nose and demanding downloadable stuff, the answer is a monolithic, 24-hour, applies to all things in the universe variety of NO.

That's not a good no.

Tuesday morning, though, was quiet. Kids on holiday, still in their pajamas. Au pair up and at 'em and feeding them breakfast. Me, stumbling down the stairs, fumbling for coffee, and snarling out the occasional, deeply insincere "Good morning."

I am not a morning person.

I crawled into the dining room to join my kids for breakfast and plopped myself into a chair. My Aspie grinned and said, "Mom! Aren't you lucky? I didn't wake you up!"

My five year old piped up. "And isn't she lucky I did??"

Yes, dear. I'm lucky. I'm very, very lucky.

I'm lucky because he did wake me up. Just as he does every morning, by curling up beside me and sticking his finger in my bellybutton. Do I miss the extra sleep? Oh, you betcha. Still lucky, though.

I'm lucky because his finger is just the right size that when he sticks it in my bellybutton it creates a little bit of suction and makes a funny popping feeling when he pulls it out. Not sure what that says about my tummy, though I'm certain I don't want to know.

I'm lucky that he's invented 53 different ways to hug me. My favorite is the 10-hug, where he hugs me 10 times without stopping. His favorite is the tackle hug. (That one's self-explanatory.)

I'm lucky that his sister lets me brush her hair, which she didn't used to do, and only does now because I totally guilted her into it.

I'm lucky that my kids respond well to guilt.

I'm lucky, too, that they all eat their cauliflower. And I didn't once use guilt. Nope, I bribed them. The use of bribes is much better parenting.

And I'm lucky to have my au pair, because she makes me coffee and has her mom send her stroopwafels and then shares them with me, and because she's just that amazing.

I'm also lucky that my Aspie is so brilliant at Stacker. Because the music settles him and lets him shut out the world when he needs to. Because the whole appverse is amazing. And because now he can listen to Weird Al Yankovich all he wants, and I don't hear a thing.

He's been trying to win his sister her own iPod. He's been just one row off pretty much every single time he's played. Trust me, he will win again.

So will I. Hard to lose with this much luck floating around.

September 8, 2010

Knitting in the Margins

This is the time of year when I start to fantasize about yarn. It's an illness I think. And it's not like I'm a great knitter. I'm not. I'm a knitter who spends most of her time making a living, running three kids to soccer, cooking, cleaning, doing yard work, cleaning up cat vomit and, from time to time, blogging. The knitting fits into the margins. And the stuff you do in the margins is not the stuff you get good at.

But I like yarn. I like the feel of needles sliding back and forth, and the joy of having something to show for it. And I like the fact that knitting keeps me focused during conference calls. I have a lot of conference calls. And I like making things. Time is hands-down my most precious commodity. If I take the time to make you something, well, let's just say I must really, really like you.

There's something about this time of year, too. The kids are back at school. The temps have finally dropped out of the 90s. We can open the windows back up, breathe a little, and know that summer is over.

Which means it's time to think about Christmas.

No, really. It is. For those of us who dream of a handmade Christmas and lots of little gifts of time, it is.

Not that I should be doing anything of the kind. I still haven't finished last year's Christmas gifts. There's a plastic baggie next to my rocking chair, stuffed with a bright blue crocheted scarf and three out of four hot pink crocheted flowers. They are waiting for the fourth flower and a little stitching to finish them off. They didn't quite make it under last year's tree.

On the rocking chair is the nearly finished afghan I started knitting for my parents for Christmas 2008. I tried to give it to them last summer, when my dad turned 70 and their marriage turned 30. They saw it. They oohed. They aahed. They noticed the needles still in it. They gave it back.

And now it's all comfy, cozy and still needled up on my rocking chair.

In the chest of drawers next to my bed, I have a needlepoint canvas in the shape of a stocking, with the distinctive and half-finished half-circle of a piney Christmas wreath laid against a cream-colored background. I designed it myself for my daughter, for her first Christmas. I started it before she was born.

She's 8 now. And this year marks her ninth Christmas.


That stocking is sitting on top of a stack of orange and magenta cotton I bought to knit her a sweater. It's a little tiny stack of yarn. But then, it was supposed to be a little tiny sweater. She was going to wear it home from the hospital when she was born.

She didn't, of course. It's kinda hard to wear unknit cotton yarn. 

But I dream. I dream of knitting. I dream because it's Christmas. Or close to it. Well, closer.

I want to make one of these. Because I think my five-year-old frog squisher deserves one. And for my daughter, this one. Because she misses our dog.

I hope the kids still like them when they're 20. Because that's about when these will be finished.

September 4, 2010

Gullible Much?

The night I wrote my last post, about how my Kindergartener didn't know where the bathrooms were at school but his good friend Invisible Man did and just wasn't telling, I did what any good mother would do. I fired an email off to the teacher and said, "Hey, somewhere along the line, my little guy missed the whole bathroom talk. Can you give him a refresh?"

That proved to be unnecessary.

The next morning, over breakfast, I tried to coach the redhead to ask his teacher to show him the bathrooms. Then my amazing au pair chimed in, reminding him that he'd been to the bathrooms in school with her, many many times ... and that's when I caught it. The little glimmer in his baby blues, the nearly smirk that flashed across his face ...

He was joking.

The teacher confirmed it later that day. She asked him where the bathroom was, and he pointed right to it. My kid knows exactly where to go. The whole thing was an elaborate hoax designed to pull the wool over his mother's eyes.

He got me. Yes, he got me, and it cracked him up.

I'm gullible. I admit it. But this, I think, is more than that. This is a bone-deep gullibility born of nearly 12 years parenting an Aspie. I mean, I can tell when my kids are lying. Every mom has a built-in radar for truth. I know when they haven't brushed their teeth or washed their hands, when they skipped out early on the homework or watched a show I don't allow. That's easy.

This is different. This is humor. It's not really lying - it's fibbing, with purpose.

And that, it seems, flies right over my head.

My oldest can't tell jokes. He doesn't get them. Too much nuance and non-verbal involved in the whole joke thing. He's smart as hell, has a laugh that lights up a room and appreciates a good pratfall when he sees one. But he's got a literal brain. He hears what he hears one way, straight up. Puns and pranks and verbal sleight of hand are just not in his vocabulary.

Which means they're not in mine. At least, not in my parenting vocabulary.

Then along comes my five year old. He's been making jokes since before he could talk. He's the kid who, when he was learning to walk, would weave like a drunkard through the living room going, "Whoooooaaaa! Whoooooaaaaa!" and then fall down - on purpose - because it would get a laugh from every adult in the room.

He knew exactly what he was doing. Because my redhead not only has a sense of humor, but it's wicked and it's clever and he makes regular use of it.

I have no earthly idea what to do with that. Except be proud of him. The kid's got mad skills. And wait for the next time. Because he's going to get me again.

September 3, 2010

The Invisible Man

My redhead has a new friend. His name is The Invisible Man, and he comes everywhere with us. Usually he sits in the back seat of my minivan between the redhead and his big brother. They strap him in with a seat belt because he can't buckle his own. He's engaged to be married to Junia, my diva's long-time imaginary friend. Which tells you a little something about The Invisible Man that you may not have figured out yet.

He's not real.

He does, however, go to school. It seems he wants to learn to read.

This afternoon, as my redhead and I tickled our way through his big brother's soccer practice, my redhead announced, "I think I might have peed my pants a little."

I was surprised. "Didn't you go to the bathroom at school?"

"No. They don't have bathrooms at school."

"I'm sure they do, peanut. Every school has bathrooms."

"Not mine."

"Are you sure?"

He put his puzzled face on. "Maybe I don't know where it is."

"Did you ask your teacher?"

"No. 'Cause The Invisible Man knows where it is."

"Oh." Time for my own puzzled face.

"But he's not telling. It's a secret."

Ah. Well that makes more sense, then.

I think it's time to send a discreet note to the teacher. Because it's really not fair if she's only showing the imaginary people where the bathrooms are.