Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Parenting Peace Found in Unexpected Places

My husband is on a 10 day business trip.  If I don't keep our son, TsukiMoon active and interested, he starts to act out.  It's not good for either of us.  A terrible spiral starts where we begin to feed on each other.

That is as awful as it sounds.  It tears me up on the inside and breaks me down as a person.  I hate it.  It has taken me a bit to understand the cure but we must, MUST; get out, call people, set play dates, and go to events around town.  If I work these strategies peace and love are maintained.

The only other cure if I don't find enjoyment out of the house is the screen.  It's not an option for me but TsukiMoon would loves it.  Endless YouTube videos to research his latest interest is at the top of the list of "great things."  He quests ceaselessly for the next video that gives information about the latest interest.   It's not all bad, but hours and hours are too much.

We went to a thing at the school called Math Circles.  It started late in the evening, 7pm, but it is worth a spun up kid will go to bed a little later if it means we like each other.  As always it is a struggle to get him out the door.  There were lots of: "I don't want to go.  Do we have to?  I don't want to go."  In a unpleasantly whinny voice.

I got him in the car, cooing, "Yes, Yes I know, your mom is curious.  It's a terrible thing for you isn't it?"

This is the first.  I am sensitive to anything that feels like "pushing my kid."  For me to accept the diagnosis of autism meant that I had to let go of any "what ifs?"  To just accept him.  To leave the house to go to an academic event seemed to be skating along on "what could be,"  but luckily most of my high school and college math has been forgotten so it was just about fun in learning.

Math Circles is a education outreach by mathematicians to share their love of math with kids.  The kids can be taught mathematically complicated concepts that they might not get in school, but which are accessible to their age.

Last night we learned Fibonacci's number in a hands on way.  Parents and kids alike learned how to tackle a math proof, something I haven't done in years.  It was good that I couldn't help my son because it allowed us to learn side-by-side.  He saw his mom struggle but enjoy the process.  I hope it was a "roll-model" moment, showing it's ok to be uncomfortable while I work towards an answer.

We left 10 minutes to the end because the little guy was done.  The goal was to keep the whole event fun, it was easy to walk out.  TsukiMoon asked me what did I like about Math Circles.  "I don't get to use math proofs in my daily life so it was fun to play around and figure one out."

He responded with, "yeah I had fun but it would be better if wasn't about math."  The cool demeanor was different when his dad called. TsukiMoon told him what a great time he had.  He said he got to see his friends (just a quick break to reflect on just that moment "friends," he feels he has friends!) and to play around.  He was excited to share.

Like I state in most posts, life for TsukiMoon to learn is really about time.  He might catch on to things more slowly then his neuro-typical peers but he does get there.  Besides it's not like he isn't learning other things while taking in what his peers know too.  He's smart and will get there, wherever "there" is.  The most important thing is that he is happy and we are happy together.  Especially when I don't have back-up.

Monday, September 28, 2015

"Your Son is So Spoiled"

All families are messy.  In our case it is our extended generations that dumbfound us with awful behavior.  That was brought up this weekend when my parents visited my dad's cousin and her husband, we'll call them Jen and Harry.

I like these cousins, especially Harry.  Both my husband and I do.  They are unapologetically smart and have strong opinions.  I might not agree with everything they say but it is a thoughtful discussion; science based and analytical.  We always make sure to visit them when we are in the area.

Recently, the last 15 years ;-) Jen has become increasingly antagonistic towards my mother.  I don't know why, but because of her and others in my father's family, my mother won't attend family events anymore.  She is happy to send my dad and get all the family news from him.

This weekend my folks were invited to visit Jen and Harry to see their new house.  Jen (not in front of my dad) lit into my mother about me and my son, TsukiMoon.  "Is your daughter still not working?"  "I'm worried about TsukiMoon, he is very spoiled." She hasn't seen him in 3 years.  "Why is TsukiMoon is public school instead of his private school?"  Probing for scandal.  Then a bunch other stuff oriented at my mom.

My mom understandably wanted to download after the visit.  My mother, who must be on the spectrum, has very few friends who would have been more appropriate to share with but she doesn't.  Even if the more grown-up thing to do is not triangulate Jen's comments to me, I am glad to know the sentiment exists.  I wouldn't want to expose my son to her judgement anymore.

After I got off the phone with my mom I needed talk.  So much swirling around my mind; anger, fear, alienation.  My husband, Mr. TsukiMoon was on in 3rd world on a business trip-- couldn't contact him.  I sat with the feelings and worked it out.

I see the memes about parents of autistic children being judged as bad parents and their children as spoiled on Twitter, Instagram that end with an attitude of, well, basically, "fuck you and your judgement."  This affect is probably felt by all parents of these type of kids.

We have been the object of side-ways glances for our choices as parents when we are out with our son.  We experienced general dislike of other parents for our son.  I remember in an "Age 3" preschool class a parent saying, "That's no surprise, we are talking about TsukiMoon."  The pain was acute.  I walked around the corner to cry.  My relatives have never said anything.  We live thousands of miles from my family which is probably why it hasn't come up earlier.

Jen's cracks had an impact.  I do have shame of not working, even though I know my work has a direct impact on our son's ability in everything.  I know that our son comes across to people as spoiled when he is having a meltdown.  That we jump through many, many hoops to pave the road in front of him, picking our battles carefully.

People don't see how much how many life skills we have to walk our son through.  We always anticipate his adult life, we teach him skills that are not even on the radar of other parents.  We worry about his ability to keep his area clean, himself, whether he can feed himself as an adult.  No one see this work, this anxiety.

There is a saying, "Acceptance is the solution to all my problems."  What I am accepting with Jen's remarks is that people I wish were part of my family are just not.  They are not safe for me or my son.  Any expectations have to be let go.  It leaves me with the feeling that the inner-circle of what I call family is terrible small; my husband, son, and parents.

I guess this is where, "Family of Choice," comes in.  I do have a couple of select friends who support me.  This incident with Jen has helped to bring clear vision the importance of growing relationships with the people are trustworthy.  My family of choice.