July 15, 2011

Sibling Issues

One thing I've always loved about my kids is that they are a team. I've tried very hard to foster that. I think it's a significant part of my job as a mom to make sure the kids know they have each other, now and always. They lift each other up, back each other up, because that's what siblings do.

A few years ago, when Peabo was maybe 9 and his sister not quite 6, they showed me they got it. Peabo was playing his first season of basketball, which he loved. And loves. He was sitting on the bench in maybe the 3rd period, watching the game, when he spotted a gaggle of very tall middle school girls in a part of the gym where people are Not Supposed to Go. So, being the rule follower that he is, he got up from the bench (did I mention he picks and chooses his rules?) and followed them in there to tell them to leave. I didn't notice this. I was watching the game. But my diva did. She went in after her brother. Good thing, too. Peabo asked the big girls to leave. They told him no. He asked them again, because that's what he does. In fact, he insisted. They said no. One of them pushed him. And then my teeny little diva, still in Kindergarten, planted herself in front of those big scary girls and said, at the top of her lungs (and she's got really big lungs), "Don't you touch my brother! He's a GOOD. GUY."

At which point an entire gym full of grown-ups turned to look, rescued my kids, reprimanded the tween-to-teens, and went back to the game.

That's having your back, is what that is. That's what sisters do, right? I mean, my sisters do. Both of 'em. My brother, too. It's the awesomeness of siblinghood.

And I think my kids have forgotten that.

These days, Peabo is heading headlong into puberty, and I think it's changing the chemical mix that defines who he is and how he responds to his world. Some of his behaviors are suddenly things he can manage. And some are ones it seems he no longer can.

And, despite being more than three years his junior, I think his sister is in much the same boat, with puberty on the not-so-distant horizon. Which means that now, suddenly, her brother embarrasses her.

So she watches him like a hawk. Did he brush his teeth? Wash his hands? Is he chewing with his mouth open? Talking when it's full? Is he drumming or singing or singsonging? Is he dancing at the table? Is he repeating his favorite phrase ad nauseum? Which is, oddly enough, "OBAMA!" ... which just recently supplanted "WAFFLES!" ... I really don't know why.

But she hovers, waiting to catch him. Which she often does. And then she's on him like white on rice. Only it's a snide, nasty, and even physical kind of rice. Or, um, white.

Bad metaphor.

The redhead isn't much better right now. He's figured out that Peabo doesn't always listen, or that he can't. ADHD can do that to a kid. So when the readhead really wants his brother to hear what he's saying, which is usually when he's mad, and often when he's not, he doesn't just say it. He screams it. Very very loudly.

It's like Peabo's siblings are angry with him 24x7. And they have no hesitation to let him know it. They're not exactly nice about it either.

And it hurts. It hurts him, and it hurts me too.

They love him. I know they do. And I have a lot of faith that they will come back to that, and to being a team. I'm trying everything I can think of to foster that. But right now, it's not working. And while I'm blaming pending puberty for the changing dynamic, it could just be the way they're handling Peabo's kind of special right now. I've always believed having Asperger's in the family is a good thing for all of us. We learn patience, tolerance, and a new way to look at ourselves and the world. We see difference in a different way. But this is their home. And maybe they sometimes need a little less difference, and a little more same.

I've started a new thing, because the old tricks aren't working. If one of my kids says something mean to another, we all shout "Rabbit!" and then the culprit goes back and starts over, only this time she has to come up with something nice to say. Got everyone laughing last night over dinner and thinking of things they like about each other.

This morning, though, it was back to the screaming and the cranky not getting along.

Can I get a "rabbit," too?

July 13, 2011


This is where you can tell I am so not a designer. Because I've been playing with my page, and it's still really ugly. I want to turn my little blog over to my sister (the older of my two sisters ... the one who creates artsy stuff on a somewhat regular basis, even if it's not web stuff) and make her make it pretty, because I've been trying and failing since I started this thing.

But hey, that picture in the background? I took it. And it's actually kinda pretty, albeit kinda hard to see. It's a picture of Paradise, on Mt. Rainier, of a little clump of flowers in the mist there. And I like it. But it doesn't exactly match my theme now, does it? I should snap a shot of a garden full of rosemary, is what I should do. I did try the elbows in the background (you can still see the elbow shot, by the profile). But that big it just looked freaky weird.

If you've got a visual eye, make a suggestion! I'm all ears. Or, in this case, thumbs. Because you can't build a web page with your ears.

July 4, 2011

Inner Peace

Next Tuesday, my Peabo starts his Extended School Year program. For most kids, this would be summer school, and it would be full of extra math and reading and other academic gobbledygook. For Peabo and the kids who go to school with him, though, Extended School Year means summer camp. It's outdoors. There's swimming and canoing and trips to the bowling alley. It's fun, loads of fun, because it's all about the social skills.

And that's exactly what these kids need.

For those who don't know, Peabo attends a terrific school that is just right for him because it focuses on kids with Asperger's. It gives them the social, language and fine motor skills they need, along with constant behavioral feedback, and even homework assignments meant to help them fit in - like "wear deodorant" or "shower every day" (when you realize that most of these kids are middle school-aged boys, that assignment makes total sense). And they are working slowly toward mainstreaming, because this private school is set smack dab in the middle of a public school, so the kids attend at least a handful of classes each day with their neurotypical peers.

I love this school.

I love it for many reasons, but the biggest is that now, Peabo has friends. Real ones. Friends he can call and chat with. Friends he can play video games with and have inside jokes with and even small tiffs with.

Last week, Peabo came up with the great idea of getting the gang together before they meet up again at camp. He wanted to have a party at my house, which I am not up for at this point, as I'm still recovering from my 56-day odyssey. So I said, hey, why not get everyone together at the movies?

Which he did. He arranged the whole thing. He called his friends and agreed on a movie and a day. He talked to parents, and handed them off to me when he needed to. He arranged a ride for one friend, set up a meeting place for the others, and made sure his siblings and the one more who joined us were occupied with each other so he and his friends could hang.

All that left me, my increasingly awesome new au pair (seriously - she rocks), and one other mom shepherding 8 kids - 6 of them on the spectrum - through the mall.

It was chaos. As we wandered through the Food Court, and the book store, and then up to the theater, you could see me and Mom 2 doing constant head counts and then calling, "wait, wait, we've lost one" (usually it was my redhead, who has of late decided that listening and staying in sight are overrated skills that he needn't be bothered with). It was friends talking over one another, laughing too loud, talking Manga and music and battling each other on their DSi's. And battling in real life, too: We went to see Kung Fu Panda 2, and if you're a tweenager who's just seen a kung fu movie, you're going to come out of it believing in your soul that you're the Dragon Warrior and your companions are the Furious Five.

It was awesome.

I spent years fighting to get this for my kid. This exact thing. An afternoon at the mall with his friends, getting goofy and eating too much popcorn.

Today, I watched my diva and my redhead, so accustomed to their brother's kind of normal, accept and enjoy his fabulously quirky friends as just that and nothing more - his friends. And I spent time with other parents who just get it, innately, because they live this life, too.

The movie is all about Inner Peace and how you achieve it (and then kick the ass of the mortal enemy you did not even know you had).

This is my inner peace. This day, and the days like this to come.

And yeah, I liked the movie, too.