Monday, September 29, 2014

Sometimes I think they are trying to kill me

This weekend, we took my son to New Hampshire for his belated birthday present. He wanted  to go mining, and we took him here.
that was 6 miles up a mountain by the way

We have never been to NH, and I will just start off by saying it is a beautifully magnificent breathtaking place. Breathtaking might be the operative word for me as I have exercised more in these last 2 days than I have all damn year.

We spent a lovely sunny day at the mine, which was at the top of a gorgeous mountain. Usually when my husband and son go on their adventures, I don't go. I was feeling extra feisty this trip though and I tagged along on everything. It was actually a lot of fun.

The next day, we went here.
that was just a small smattering of the stairs I would be going up and down

My first thought was 'wow, it's really pretty here' and my second thought was 'holy shit, I am going to die walking up those steps'. It was a trail throughout this amazing gorge, with caves you could go through (or not go through as in my case). I was thrilled to see my anxious child crawling on his stomach through these tiny little tight spaces. We had a blast and thankfully I did not die. I was also really glad I went along. That was something I was glad I did not miss.

So we were 2 for 2. Day 3 involved a trip to some obscure rock shop that my son somehow found out about. We drove over an hour to get there and included in this days festivities were a trip to a place called "Moat Mountain" where according to my rockhounding child, there was smoky quartz in them there hills ripe for the picking. The rock shop was able to give us directions and we were told that there was a 1 mile hike up a mountain bike trail to get to the mining spot. Already I started feeling trepidation. I probably should have listening to my gut instinct then and there, but honestly, I was still riding that buzz of 2 great days.

We finally arrived at the spot. It was just a little side of the road thing, with a few cars. We saw some dude on a bike and asked him if it was a hard trail. Well, apparently in NH, a 'hard trail' must be climbing mount everest, because this guy said it was easy. Ok, so we go. Buckets and hammers and waters in hand. Did I mention that I had my skechers go walks on and I was carrying all my crap in a knock off louis vuitton never full? I even brought a library book with me because I figured I would find a nice boulder to park my butt on and relax while the boys found me sparkly gems.

We embarked on our journey. At this point it was fairly late in the day. The trail started off just fine. We even got to see this:
beavers were here
We were so excited. How cool is that? So we continued on till we came to that proverbial and literal fork in the road. I am sorry NH but your park signs are jacked. Fix them. We thought we were going on the right trail. It was a series of hills, where you had to use things like rocks and tree roots to hoist yourself up. Going up was not as bad as going down, oddly enough. By the fourth hill, coming down, I lost my footing and my ankle let go and my foot twisted underneath itself and I wound up on my ass. I dusted myself off, got up and told myself, not entirely convinced, that I was in fact, ok. I figured we were almost there. It should only take a good 15 -20 minutes to walk .9 of a mile. So I soldiered on, pretty much impressed at myself. I am not a hiker and this was way way way out of my comfort zone.
Yeah, it still looked pretty to me at that point.

At about the 45 minute mark, we started to realize that things were not going the way they should. There was no mining area in sight and this up and down hill business was getting really old.  We were not sure if the trail would go in a circle, and we were not sure if we should keep going or turn around. It was like we had so much invested in this stupid hike, we did not want to just turn around. I was secretly hoping I would just go up one more hill and see the my car waiting for me. We debated what to do, and we decided to give it a few more minutes. We, meaning not me decided that. I wanted to leave. We finally got to a point where we faced the reality that we were not going to be finding the mine and that we had no idea if this dumb ass trail was going in a circle. Turning back was our option. My husband decided that he was going to find some smoky quartz dammit. Come hell or high water. So, I planted myself on a mossy spot and sat there listening to them hack away at rocks they most certainly should not have been hacking away at. While sitting there, ignoring the throbbing pain in my foot, I imagined all kinds of lovely scenarios. most of them involving getting eaten by a bear. It was starting to get less sunny and I kept calling to my husband to go. "In a second" he kept saying. Then, my son started crying that he had to go to the bathroom. Numero Dos. So, in a firmer voice, I called "WE ARE LEAVING NOW". Me, not being much of a hiker, was starting to get a slight panic attack. My foot was hurting and my son was having a bathroom emergency. And my biggest fear was it getting dark before we could get back to the car, and maybe we were in some endless loop and we would never find the car and we would be forced to eat wild berries and leaves and huddle in a pile to keep warm and eventually wither away and die with no one ever even knowing where the hell we were.
I tried to focus on just walking. Putting one mangled foot in front of the other and trudging up and down the path. My poor son was whimpering and my husband kept yelling at him to go take a dump in the woods. I in turn yelled at him to stop saying that and to just pick up the damn pace. Eventually we came back to the sweet,sweet beaver dam which signaled the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel for us. It was something we recognized, that was a good sign. Then up in the distance, 4 long eternal miles later, we saw the stupid evil jerk face, asshole sign that pointed us in the wrong direction.

I was never, and I mean never so happy to see my car. My husband at this point, I think is slightly disappointed in his wife and child's waning sense of adventure, but I felt zero guilt about that. We zoomed back down the mountain, and found the nearest gas station for my son. By that point, my foot was unwalkable. I think I willed myself not to feel as much pain as I was really in, so that I could get myself out of there. I got back to the cabin, iced it and took an aspirin and today, I am waiting on the results of my foot X-ray. It's probably a sprain, but I am seriously convinced that my husband and son are trying to run me ragged with their shenanigans. Next time, I am going to make a detour to the nearest spa. They can go do whatever they want.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apple Whine

look, an apple butt
Ah fall, the crisp air, the smell of fireplaces burning, pumpkin spice everything. Apple picking. Oh yeah, that. My husband wants to go apple picking upstate this year. In the past, we have gone out on the north fork of Long Island. The apples were meh, but the apple cider donuts were really tasty and we would end our trip with a visit to the notoriously overrated Lobster Roll restaurant and declare the fall season officially in full swing.
Only last year, we did not go apple picking. I was ok with that. Why didn't we go? Well, first of all, my son has zero interest in apple picking. We tried to make it fun and interesting, in spite of that. The last year we went, he was particularly difficult. He wanted a woolly bear caterpillar, like the one he found the year before. The one he oddly named "Gary". We tried to find a woolly bear caterpillar but there were none. He was disinterested and pretty much made it impossible to enjoy the day, and coupled with the unusually copious amounts of yellow jackets, it was not fun.
That day, we tried to salvage what was left of it and as we left the orchard with our overpriced, unattractive, names I have never heard of apples, I mentioned how I was looking forward to enjoying a nice glass ofLong Island wine at the Lobster Roll restaurant with my meal.
My 9 year old son sitting, of course, in the back seat chimed in. "I'd like a glass of wine with my meal", he said, matter of factly. After 9 years on this planet, I am fairly certain we have discussed that alcohol is a grown up drink only to be enjoyed in moderation (and never while operating a vehicle).  Of course, I gave him my 'wine is for grown up's honey' spiel. My husband and I shared a glance, with a little smirk that said 'he is so funny'. That quickly morphed into 'Good God, make him stop' as he continued to carry on about how he wanted a glass of wine. Why couldn't he have a glass of wine with his lunch, especially since I was having one, he yelled. He sounded like a passionate lawyer. Like he took this to a level of it being disturbing.
He pretty much made it clear that he had zero idea why a 9 year old could not drink an alcoholic beverage with his chicken fingers at lunch.
At that point, we drove past the Lobster Roll, my desire for my overpriced lunch long gone. We drove home in silence, of course after my husband gave my son the 'see what you did to mom' speech as I sat there , plotting how I was going to run away from the two of them.

That day, we realized that as parents, in spite of our best of intentions and love, we had created a monster. Our only child, at 9 years old felt he was our equal. He felt like a 3rd partner in the relationship, with his vote counting just as much, if not more than ours. Things had to change. I am not entirely proud to admit that it was not something that happened overnight, and it's something we still struggle with. The nature of my son's issues also make it a little more complicated, however, instituting boundaries, consequences and rules, with a lot of 'because I said so's' thrown in, it has gotten better.

So, as we plan out our latest apple picking adventure, we are cautiously optimistic. My son won't go apple picking unless we throw in some rock hounding (his latest passion). We already know that apples are going to play sloppy seconds to rocks. As long as he does not insist on a scotch in a dirty glass at lunch though, I will consider it a success.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Question of the day

"Mom, are sock monkeys boys or girls?"
"I don't know"
"Well they have to be something. Maybe they are transgendered ?"

I have  to add, today, a day later ,that this question was prompted by a commercial that had a sock monkey in it. I think after he said it, I shrugged and said, 'maybe' and went back to whatever I was doing. That said, as I was falling asleep that night this conversation popped into my head and I kind of  waffled between, 'ha, that was cute and Oh shit,  I probably should have talked to him about what his understanding of that term and found out where he learned it. Once again, lackluster mom in the hizzhouse. At any rate, my alarms did not go off because it was said without judgement, more of a matter of fact statement.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Just no

This just made me feel like a super awful pet mom.

Someone really loves this goldfish.

The Universe has decided that it's hilarious

Tonight was open house for my son's school. It's his first year in middle school so we were very excited. This year, my son is in 2 self contained classes, which meet for 2 periods a day, and then 2 inclusion classes and he has Art and Health as well. The self contained classes are small, only about 6 kids in the class. This is my son's first time in a self contained class as he has been in only inclusion from kindergarten on. Not that it matters in regards to what I am about to write. At any rate, he loves this teacher, and he really likes the kids in the class. He has been talking about one boy in particular, and he has told me all about this boy and I am just so thrilled that he is finding people he can connect with. His friend, has invited him to join the chess club with him and my son agreed. That was huge news in our house, not only was he choosing a club, it was chess , which was something new and not having anything to do with gems and minerals. He was doing something because someone else asked him and he wanted to hang out with someone and try it. Thrilled. That is me.

Anyhoo, as the parents filed in, I pretty much knew which parent belonged to what kid. Except for my son's new friend. And at that point, his father walked in. Who was his father, you ask? You are asking because I am saying, "You are never in a zillion years going to guess who this kid's dad is". Go on, ask. Ok, I will tell you. This man just happened to be the principal of the school from the interview of doom. Oh yes, that interview. The one where I made a complete and utter fool out of my self. He was in each and every class (with the exception of art and science) and sat just to the left of me each time. When I saw him walk in, I said to myself, 'fuck no, please, really?????'. I texted my husband who was sitting behind me and told him who it was. He said 'screw him'. I of course just wanted to run over to him, tug on his sport jacket and say " I swear to you I am not really like that, please believe me. Pleassseeeeeeeeeeeeeee believe me." It took every ounce of restraint I had not to desperately and somewhat ironically try and convince him that I really am a reasonably intelligent functioning adult. He did not seem to even recognize me, but I am sure at some point the light bulb will go off and he will say to himself , 'oh yes, I know where  I know her from, she is that dingbat woman incapable of putting a string of words together to form a coherent sentence. Ha ha, loser'.

It would be one thing if that was the only contact I will have from him. I won't. My son has already informed me that he has invited his son  to come over next weekend and he has given him our phone number. Yes, universe, I get it, you have a sick sense of humor. Thanks. Thanks a lot.

It's so strange, but after that rotten interview, I kept thinking , if only I could run into one of them at the supermarket or something, I could somehow convince them that I was not a sorry fool. I know that job was not meant to be, but I could somehow erase that bad impression I left. Undo what cannot be undone. Maybe the universe decided to teach me a lesson that what you want, might not always be what you really want. Maybe the universe needs to get punched in the throat.

Oh Spikes

Spikes is at it again. I have never had a pet that is always appearing to have one foot at death's door. I don't know if it's just our bearded dragon or if that is the way it goes with these creatures but it's damn stressful.
After our last fiasco with spikes and his oozy sores on the side of his face, we were elated to see them healing and him returning back to his usual almost dead self. After a few weeks of no pooping, we gave him his bath, which seemed to do the trick. Yesterday, I noticed that his beard was black. It happens in adult male bearded dragons, when they are pissed off and/or stressed. Well, his beard is still black. Last night, I really truly thought we were going to lose him. He was not really moving and barely holding on to his log. He could not lift his head up.
He looks so unlively. I even sat with him, and put my face up to his face in his tank. I imagined it to be my own little pet hospice, I would help usher him into his next life. "It's ok Spikes", I telepathically communicated to him, "you can let go if you want, it's ok". He stared back, although it was impossible for me to gauge just what he was thinking. My son was understandably upset. My husband , always one to assign blame was peppering me with questions about what I was feeding him. That did not go over well.
I went to bed with a heavy heart, and also with the dread that I would discover spikes tits up in his tank in the morning. The logistics of that was not something I wanted to deal with. I asked my husband just what are we supposed to do with him, should he pass to the other side. He shrugged. I just did not want to be the one to have to deal with dead spikes.

We discussed taking him back to the vet. Honestly, and I know this might sound awful, but I just cannot afford another 200 dollar trip to the doctor, in which she can tell me that she does not know what is wrong with him and that he might possibly die. I already ascertained that. I also don't think a stressful car ride would help him at all. If he is pissed and or stressed right now, a car ride would just set him over the edge.

So, I google. I google some more. How many different permutations of "my bearded dragon is sick" can one come up with? A lot more than you think. I am trying to come up with explanations for this behavior. It could be the weather, it could be that the fly that was trapped in there by mistake the other day drove him insane, it could be an impacted intestine, it could be nothing, it could be the end.

I think after this, I am done with pets. I can barely deal with keeping the human I created alive and happy. And he lets me know on the daily what he needs and what hurts him. Which reminds me, I must go see if our beta fish is alive.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Bad manicures, and silver linings and gratitude.

Last Monday I got my nails done. Among my many neurosis and self defeating behaviors, biting my nails is at the top of the long list. So, in order to keep that demon at bay, I get manis. Feeling extra smug at the length of my lovely talons, I asked the lady to cut them. Apparently that was the beginning of my demise. She was a little over zealous, cut too much and possibly nicked the skin.

One week later, a thumb that looks as though it has been inflated like a balloon and feels like someone is repeatedly banging it with a hammer. It has woken me up the last two nights. If a thumb could scream, mine would be doing so at full blast right now. Sometimes I feel like my doctor internally rolls her eyes when I show up there. She is really nice and kind and a good listener, but I am just kind of filled with disgust over myself and my litany of odd problems. Once I convinced myself I had finger cancer because I had a weird lump on my index finger. I had an X-ray of my finger. Inconclusive, and I am still here with my finger. Once, one of hairs (from my head!) got stuck in my mouth and wrapped itself around one of my taste buds. It was there for a good 3 days or so and it hurt like you could not believe. I had to call up my dentist and tell them I needed help, but I was too mortified to tell them why. Luckily it dislodged itself before I had to go there and tell them I had no freaking idea why my hair was trying to kill me.

It turns out I have an infection in my finger. I feel so bad because all along I have been taking my thumb for granted. I had no idea how much I used it til now. Even typing this is excruciating. I am willing to suffer for my art though, I will carry on. I might not be able to make dinner though. I am going to warn my husband now that he might be foraging tonight.

It also turns out that I have now accomplished what I once thought impossible. I have reached my insurance co pay deductible. It is so high, and I think the joke is now on my insurance company, because I might actually be one of the first people to have that happen. I feel like I should go have some elective surgery or something, just to make it worth my while. I went to pick up my prescriptions today and there was no charge. Nothing makes me happier than free xanax.

If someone were to tag me in that gratitude thingy going around on Facebook, I would say I am thankful for:

My thumbs

Free pharmaceuticals

hair free taste buds

Not having finger cancer.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I realized today that as much as I want to go back to work, I am not ready to not be home for my son. I realize this is a huge luxury, me being able to make that decision. A huge luxury. I also realize it is a a big sacrifice as well.

I had the chance to go on a job interview for a great job. It was not a permanent position, just a leave replacement but it was a great opportunity. The only time they had open for the interview was at 1:40. Which would not allow me to be home for my son's bus, returning home from his very first day at Middle School. Never mind the fact that I had no idea what I would do with him if I actually got the job as I would have had to leave my house at 6:20 in the morning to make it there on time. Or what I would do with him when he got off the bus and I was not home for another hour.

I know people do it, and I know that if for some reason I absolutely had to do it, I would. I also know that at the moment I had to tell them , no, I am sorry, I can't make that, was both a very difficult thing and a very easy thing to say. I realized today, that I just can't do it yet.

Before I had my son, I had a great job. I was a tenured teacher, with ten years in. I had a year maternity leave. I was able to get another year of maternity leave as well. By this time however, it was apparent that my son needed a lot of help and that my work was going to be taking place in my own home. I had to resign. I was OK with it at the time. I figured I would just go get another job when he was older. Who knew how the future would unfold. Who knew?

It was not even a decision I made, it was just that I knew I needed to stay home. 20 hours of in home therapy each week, along with various physical therapy and occupational therapy appointments pretty much became a full time career. Getting my son to talk became my life's all consuming passion.

I guess I thought things would simmer down and I could make some space in my life for a career. While my son started talking and doing all the stuff I was terrified he never would do, the work is not finished. I know plenty of parents of children with disabilities manage to do so, somehow I feel like less of a person for admitting that I can't. Childcare is a whole different ball of wax when you have a kid on the spectrum. We don't really have that village that it takes. Today, as I listened to this school secretary describe the job I knew I was going to turn down, I felt a sense of panic. I could not leave, just yet.

I'd like to think that when I am really ready, the universe will smile down on me and gift me with the perfect job of my dreams. My son is my everything, but there are financial matters that must also be attended to. We are not what I would call 'financially sound' and at almost 50 years of age, my husband and I still struggle. We live in a less than perfect fixer upper tiny house that is bursting at the seams with just the three of us. We have very little saved up for retirement. We need a new car. The list goes on.

But today, I realized none of that mattered right now.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Deep Thoughts Staring Down the Barrel of the Teenage Years

My 11 year old son told me the other day, very matter of factly, that he was not going to college. I asked him what his plans were and he said he was going to follow his passion, which was rock collecting. I told him that most people do that kind of thing as a hobby, and it might be hard to make a living doing that. He asked me if I would force him to go to college. I explained that at that point in his life, I would not be able to force him to do anything, but if he was not going to college, he would need to find a way to support himself. He then asked me if people who work at walmart make a lot of money.
"No, no they don't" was my reply. Then he asked me about McDonald's. "No" , I replied again, "you won't make enough to live on if you work there.

He then asked me about a family friend's son, if he went to college. This friend, is developmentally disabled, and lives in a group home. "No, he did not go to college", I said. "Why?" my son asked. I took pause, as I have been doing a lot as of late, due to the prickly nature of my son's questioning. I explained that it takes him a little longer to learn things and that college would have been really difficult for him to understand and he would not have been able to keep up. I said though, he had a job and he had people helping him so that he could live with his friends in a group home. 
My son has suddenly become aware that he is not the same as the other kids. I kind of feared the day that this would come as I was not sure how I would even explain his diagnosis to him, when honestly, it did not seem to make much sense to me. Pdd-nos is such a vague term. I never really myself understood just what that would mean. It has been kind of amazing to see him mature and develop this self awareness. It makes me sad, yet at the same time, it's like an awakening in him, that ability to think in terms of himself in relation to the world. He point blank came out and said "Do I have special needs?". I stared at him blankly. Again, that pause. Um, Um, Uh....., "Well, Do I?". I took a deep breath. "Yes, you have special needs". " Well , what are they?", he so rightly asked. Again, my brain seemed to stop working. Like when the cable tv just seems to freeze and the people on the screen just stand there in stunned silence.

I told him that in school, he sometimes needs a little more time to work on things, and that sometimes he gets frustrated when he does not understand things right  away and gets upset. I said that he needs a little help staying focused on things, that sometimes he does not always pay attention. I should add that my son agreed with me. I realize that is lame and vague. But this is hard on me. These are things I have struggled with since those days we got that punch in the gut diagnosis. I am not always sure myself, just exactly what his special needs are. I know he has a hard time making friends. I know that he likes to talk about rocks incessantly and sometimes other kids don't want to hear it. I know he wishes that his friends would just do what he wants all the time and that he can't read their social cues to know when they are kidding and when they are serious.  I know he likes things the way he likes them and has no interest in the way anyone else likes them.

After he kind of took that in, his new question involved all the other special needs people he knew. He rattled off a list of the other kids that have been with him in his inclusion class since kindergarten. "Do they have special needs too?" , he asked. I said that they did and that most people need a little extra help every now and again. He seemed to be relieved to know that he was not the only special needs person in existence.

I was advised at one point by an overzealous school psychologist that I had to tell my son he had autism, sooner than later. I did not want to. Not because I am in denial. That ship sailed a long time ago. I am just not sure I can define autism in terms that he can understand. It's a lofty concept for a grownup, let alone an 11 year old hypochondriac who will think it's some kind of incurable disease. I can just imagine his reaction, "will it go away? how did I get it? Can I die from it? Does it hurt". This is a child who has inherited my ability to turn a hangnail into terminal cancer. 

I don't think I need to give him a finite definition of who he is or isn't, or what syndrome  he has or has not. I think, for him, it's important that he knows his strengths and he knows the things that he struggles with. 

As we embark on the new adventure that is called Middle School, I need to remember that he is far more intuitive and sensitive than I had ever thought. I need to take a giant step back and try and see things in the larger sense. I need to give him way more credit than I have been giving him.