Friday, February 24, 2012

Your Kid Makes Fun of My Kid

It's been forever since I posted, but something has been on my mind, and, well, this is the place I decided to put it.

My oldest child will turn 12 later this week. I find this hard to believe because I'm pretty sure I just had him a few weeks ago. He is honestly a great kid: smart, funny, loving, genuine. He is also unlike any other 12 yr old I know.

My son has never been on a sleepover.
My son has been invited to one birthday party in the past 3 years.
My son has never gotten a social phone call.
My son hasn't been asked to go anywhere with a friend in over 2 years.
My son cannot tell me the last names of anyone in his class - or the first names of many.
If he forgets his homework, I have no one to call.
My son cries when he has to leave the house.
My son cries when he has to go to school.
My son got kicked in the genitals at school last week.
My son wants to have a birthday party, but I am afraid no one will come.
And, here's the part you may not believe.... Your son makes fun of my son.

I know you think your child is a good kid. I know you are raising him to be nice to others and understand that some people are different. That's all very good. But I know your son makes fun of mine, because I've seen him do it. It's subtle, but there. He whispers to other kids and points in his direction. He derides him for not knowing anything about sports or girls. He rolls his eyes at him and gives the other boys a nudge. He calls him a nerd - or worse.

I'm sure you taught your child not to stare at people in wheelchairs. I'm positive your child would never tease a child with Down Syndrome or limited vision, for example. But, because my child's disability is not so visible, it's like it doesn't count. It makes him fair game. He's just weird, nerdy, different. Actually, he's a kid with Asperger's. And, while it may be hard to see, it's very real. It will never go away, but it will get easier to deal with as he gets older, I hope.

But, you see, it shouldn't matter that he has an actual disability. Because he has the right, as does everyone else, to be as weird as he wants to without having your kid tease him. He should not be left alone because he has Asperger's, he should be left alone because he's just a kid. A goofy, prepubescent boy - not so much weirder than the rest of them. And, as parents, we need to remind our kids that laughing at someone, teasing them, excluding them - all of that diminishes them as people. It makes us less human. It makes life harder for everyone.

Last week, when he came home with a bruise on his groin after being kicked on the playground, he told me what happened. He had gotten in an argument with another kid. It started when my son sat on a bench near this boy - and the boy slid all the way down to the other end after making some kind of gagging sound. D asked him what his problem was and called the kid stupid. The kid had some choice words for D and ended up kicking him. I'm sure there was more to it, but none of it merited a kick that had him crying on the playground and unable to get on the bus home. As we talked about it, I told his little brother this: Bullying doesn't affect just the kid getting picked on. It affects a whole family. He saw the tears in my eyes. He heard his brother crying. He promised me that he would never do such a thing. He promised me that he would reach out to kids who seem lonely. I believe him. He gets it.

Please, don't misunderstand. I don't think your kid is a monster. I think he's just goofy and confused and trying to fit in, like most kids. He just needs to try to see things from the other side. He needs to know that picking on someone else will never make him feel better about himself. He needs YOU to teach him that. If laughing and pointing is ok, then kicking and punching aren't so far away.... Instead, wouldn't it be great to be the one that stood up for someone?

Like you, I did not give birth to an angel. I know this. Raising my son is frought with unique and complicated challenges, but I know I have it easy compared to some. My son will very likely grow into a smart and talented adult, but I have to help him get through middle school first. I just don't think it should be so hard.

And now to plan a birthday party and hope for the best....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm Talking, and I Can't Shut Up!

I talk a lot. I know this. And, if I didn't know already, enough people have told me that I should take the hint. The thing is, I just can't shut up.

Talking is a defense mechanism for me. I always talk the most in an uncomfortable situation. My goal is to make people laugh. Once that's accomplished, I feel so much better. If no one laughs, I just keep going. Sometimes, even when I'm doing it, in my head I think "STFU!" - but it just gets worse. And then, I just know that, when I leave, the people whose ears I just assaulted are talking amongst themselves about me! "That crazy woman who never shuts up."

I think there are a few reasons for this. I am the youngest of 4 kids, and we all fall into the stereotypical birth order thing. When I was little, I can remember sitting at the dinner table and feeling frustrated that no one was listening to me. They even used to play this "game," including my parents, where they interrupted me every time I tried to say something. Everyone else probably forgot about that. Not me. At my dinner table, all the kids get a turn, and they are NOT allowed to interrupt one another, even if their stories get a little nonsensical. That's how much I remember that "game."

The other reason I talk so much is that I have the world's loneliest job. My days are filled with toddler talk. As a social person by nature, it is amazing that I can spend the whole day without speaking to another grown up until my husband comes home. Most days, the only people I interact with are the grocery checker or, if I am very lucky, my 76 yr old next door neighbor. I tell everyone that the UPS man drops my packages and runs now because he doesn't have time for me. I have had long conversations with my cleaning lady as well as the man who cuts my grass. My husband is "treated" to a constant stream of chatter when he gets home, which thrills him, I'm sure. My best friend is much quieter than I am, which hopefully means she doesn't mind my ramblings too much.

My mother was also a talker. We were good for each other like that. I remember how hurt she was the time she overheard the receptionist at a doctor's office say, "That crazy lady is on the phone." She called me, close to tears, and asked me if people thought she really was a crazy lady. The feeling she had then is exactly how I feel now. In the past couple of weeks, I have had more than one person make some kind of comment about how I talk so much - the passive aggressive way of telling me to STFU, I'm guessing. Those comments always bother me and make me even more self-conscious. I really TRY not to talk so much. Honest.

I've been thinking about this a lot, lately. Why can't I shut up? So I decided that all this talking, blogging, Facebooking - maybe it's my way to keep from being invisible - keeping connected to the world when I rarely leave my house some weeks. Maybe it's my way of finally being heard at the dinner table.

So, bear with me. I promise not to bore you to tears if you promise to let me tell you a funny story now and then.....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Instant Karma's Gonna Get You.....

So, last night I was thinking that it was about time I got outside and got my fat middle aged butt some exercise. I get up fairly early anyway, so maybe I could take the dog for a walk before Toad leaves the house. It's not hot, so the threat of sweat is minimal. The neighborhood is safe, and there are lots of dog walkers out early.

Then I remembered that those dog walkers all carry around these little plastic bags. Sometimes, when I drive down the street, they give me the obligatory neighborhood wave with little baggie in hand - sort of a "dog poop salute" if you will. It seriously lessens the warm fuzzy feeling from the wave when it's done with a handful of dooky.

"I want to walk, but there is NO way I want to get that up close and personal with my dog's doings," I thought to myself. After all, these other walkers have little yippy dogs - probably much like cleaning a cat box. I have a Golden Retriever. That's more like mucking a horse stall - with a Wal-Mart bag..... I was pondering this quandry as I drifted off to sleep, wondering if my dog poop gag reflex was going to keep me from ever walking my beast.

And then, Karma. I was awakened by a bright light and a lumbering man exclaiming, "Well, THAT'S not good." Thankfully the man was Toad, who was up at 4 am to get ready for work. However, what he saw was my undoing. Dog poop. Everywhere. On the carpet. In my bedroom. At 4 freaking a.m.

I cursed loudly and repeatedly. Then I got out my Wal-Mart bag and got to work, one breath away from losing whatever was left of dinner.... Toad says of the dog, "Do you think he's sick?" "Yes," I say. "And I hope it's fatal." Cruel, I know, but it was a LOT of dog dooky. I decided I was done just in time to start waking the hellions up for school. Yippee.....

So, now the carpet needs to be cleaned; the dog should probably go to the vet; and I know I need a full sized garbage bag if I ever want to do my own neighborhood "Dog Poop Salute."

Ain't Karma a bitch?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So Much More Than Just a Game

It's game day here in New Orleans. I realize that it's game day other places, too. I don't care about them. Our game days are special - especially this year. We are the home of the New Orleans Saints, perhaps the most maligned team in the entire NFL. And, today, we are undefeated, an indication that hell may very well be freezing over.

I was never a huge sports fan growing up. My dad could watch football anytime, anywhere. Sometimes I'd even catch him watching high school football when he couldn't find anything else. In my opinion, many a Thanksgiving was ruined by the blaring of some stupid game in the background. But the Saints were different.

Here in NOLA, we don't care about your hockey team, or your baseball team. We don't care who wins the World Series, and we don't really care about those guys who drive around in circles for hours on end. We care about basketball a bit more than we used to. That's been a sore spot ever since the Jazz ran off to Utah under cover of night all those years ago. Really, the Utah Jazz? There's a phrase that never has made much sense. But then the Hornets came to town and Chris Paul and David West and we thought we might could love us some basketball. This year, however, the Hornets may as well be playing in Timbuktu, because it's all about the Black and Gold.

The Saints started out playing in Tulane Stadium, and I remember going to those games with my Daddy. I must have been about 5 or 6 - small enough to ride in on his shoulders. I'd sit on the wooden bleachers and watch him have a few beers with his friends, trying to figure out when to cheer. I remember watching the Superdome being built - it was the biggest thing I'd ever seen at the time. I remember going there to see the Saints play for the first time. In high school my family had Saints season tickets and Tulane tickets. That meant we went to the Dome twice each weekend. We watched Tulane lose on Saturday, and then watched the Saints lose on Sunday. Those were the days of the people with bags over their heads, the 'Aints. Traitors, every last one of them!

But, you see, in New Orleans, we are a stubborn people. We are used to being a bit disappointed and still managing to smile. Katrina came. The levees broke. The Superdome became a symbol of something awful and tragic. Our Saints had to play in Baton Rouge and San Antonio. The players themselves had lost so much, and yet they still played - and lost. And, at the same time, people around the country had the audacity to suggest we were whiners because our city had been virtually washed away. Some even said we shouldn't rebuild at all - as though ours was a place that should just be shuffled off to anywhere else....

And then, something amazing happened. While we all worked on putting our lives back together, the Dome was being put back together again. And so was our team. And when that day came, when we all watched the Saints, the new and improved Saints, come into that Dome and kick Atlanta's butt - there wasn't a dry eye in town. It was about so much more than football.

We have a winning team. A group of overpaid men in tights who get the crud knocked out of them every weekend, and keep coming back for more. Players who make the news for good reasons, who believe in this town and actually do the right thing. They are fighters - just like the people who cheer them on every weekend. Many thought they were done - too wounded or washed up, not good enough. And many thought the same about this town. And they were wrong on both counts.

We have invested in this team - all of our heart and soul. We have been trying to show the rest of you that we are for real. We deserve respect. We are strong and resilient. We are proud to be from here. It is who we are. New Orleans is as much a part of us as we are a part of it. It means so much to this city - with its corrupt politicians, buffoon of a mayor, abandoned houses and pothole-filled streets - to have something we are proud of. Laugh at us for living below sea level, for getting nervous every time it rains, for being dependent on levees to keep us dry, for our ridiculous crime rate. But, if only for this season, respect us for our team and for all of us who have always BELIEVED.

It is, indeed, so much more than just a game.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Where the Hell Have You Been, Young Lady?

OK, I'm giving it another shot. I like my blog. It's fun to write, and I hope it's fun to read. But, you'll have to pardon me when I don't check in for long periods of time. I can't let blogging interfere with my Facebooking, and, well, I'm supposed to be parenting, too. I'm sure there was something else I needed to do tonight, but Farmville made me forget it.

Anyway, not much has changed lately. I made it through the whole summer with the family intact, which at times did not seem such a certainty. Big D is surviving 4th grade gifted in NEW school even though I'm pretty sure he has never turned in a single assignment that my hands haven't touched at some point. Dubya actually won an award for exceptional behavior, but I didn't quite believe him until I saw it published in the paper with his picture and his name spelled right. His teacher also insisted that he get tested for gifted classes, which makes me wonder where his hidden twin hides when they get home. And, P3 is just, well, she's 2. She talks more, but I am still the only one who understands her most of the time. She's learning how to use the potty just well enough that I put her in big girl panties. Of course, she then promptly pees on the floor. I love potty training.

So, anyway, I'll try and write more often if you promise to read and leave me a comment now and then. I'd like to think my husband isn't the only one reading this - because, if that's the case, I can just walk in the other room and tell him everything. It would be faster, and he'd probably pay just as much attention either way!

Happy thoughts!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Big D's 7 Things.....

It is actually not really fair to give him 7 things. While there are a TON of things about him that drive me crazy, he is also REALLY sensitive and won't see the humor in this one bit if he reads it - which he will - because he's nosy.

Well, there are the first two:

You're too sensitive.

You're REALLY nosy.

Actually, to get a list of the 7 Things That Annoy Me About Big D, follow these instructions.

Go to Wikipedia - look up Asperger's Syndrome - read the symptoms - there's my list.

Big D has a very slight touch of Asperger's, which makes me feel a huge amount of sympathy for the moms of kids with full blown Asperger's. In D's case, AS means he takes everything literally, likes to monologue on his favorite subjects at great length, is currently obsessed with Guitar Hero, is a little uncoordinated, WILL NOT be interrupted, refuses to eat a huge variety of foods because of their texture, talks like a 30 year old, has the handwriting of a kindergartner, has trouble reading social cues and basically wears a sign on his forehead that says "make fun of me" to all the "friendly" kids at school.

On the plus side - he reads constantly - and almost 5 grades above level, is oblivious to the fact that he's a little quirky, is wicked smart, fun to be around, can actually talk to me about a variety of subjects many adults have a hard time with, has a beautiful singing voice, is full of love for his family, and could very well change the world one day.

He is terrible at baseball, but loves to play. This makes it interesting. Like when an over eager dad said, "Does he need some extra practice in the oufield? I don't think he's ever played before." I am pretty sure he didn't expect me to say matter of factly, "Oh no, he's played before - he's just not very good." And, as long as he doesn't care if the kid on the ballfield called him a retard, I'll try not to care either (although I do reserve the right to trip the next kid who does.) In D's literal world, trying to make him feel stupid is so ridiculous, it's not even insulting. As in, "Well, Mom, I'll just tell him that since I am in gifted classes and test 2 standard deviations above the norm, there is certainly no way I am a retard." Yeah, babe, that oughta shut him right up. And let's not even get into the discussion I had to have about use of the word retard at all. I just love elementary school!

He is innocence and wisdom rolled into one. He is undefinable. He is shy one moment and confident the next. He is well-known at school for reasons both good and bad. He is at times my greatest joy and my most difficult puzzle.

So, that's my D in a nutshell. My oldest child, full of heart and love and quirks. And, while he does, indeed, make me crazy sometimes, I confess I wouldn't have him any other way.

And I promise not to let him read this until he's older.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The 7 Things I Hate About You..... Dubya's Turn

So, in the interest of fairness, I now present Dubya's version of the 7 things.... quirks, habits, annoyances, idiosyncrasies....

  1. You change your clothes more often than Kate Moss during Fashion Week. It's not the fashion, so much. It's an itchy tag here, a sleeve too long there.... You make me need to buy stock in Tide.
  2. You were born in 2003, which means you began to talk sometime in 2004. That's at least 5 years of hearing your voice - non-stop. You absolutely never stop talking. There should be a Guinness World Book entry for this, but I don't think there is.
  3. All that talking? It's done at a decibel level that could rival a Metallica concert. When you try, you can break glass with that voice. When you're not trying, you're still loud. One day you will understand why I spend so much time playing the "Whisper Game."
  4. You rarely spend an entire night in your own bed, which is probably the only reason you and your brother have managed to share a room this long. You always crawl in with Dad and me. And then you shove your icicle feet under various parts of me to warm them up. Talk about a rude awakening!
  5. The icy feet belie the real you. Sleeping next to you is like sleeping under a moving electric blanket. Lately, I've been waking up in a sweat. I thought it was early menopause, but then I realized you were next to me each time. Of course, it might help if you did not wrap yourself around me in a full body nocturnal hug.
  6. I am not allowed to throw anything away, especially anything your hands have touched. You actually dig through the trash to make sure no masterpiece has slipped through. My fridge is often covered with crumpled up Dubya artwork that you have rescued after it "accidentally" got in the trash. By the same token, I can only throw broken or old toys away when you are not home. The sound of clanking plastic alerts you to a possible infraction on my part. You are positively apoplectic at the thought of our impending garage sale.
  7. And, lastly, you love to sing, but I am pretty sure you are tone deaf. You also love to dance, but I'm pretty sure you have your father's sense of rhythm, which means none at all. This is not particularly annoying, except when you try to play the drums on Guitar Hero. I am always reaching over with my hand and hitting a drum to the beat so that y'all don't get booed off the stage. I mean, I'm sure you're mine, but this trait definitely did not come from my side of the family.

Phew! I feel better. You are my crazy, funny child. My biggest challenge in many ways, and my sweetest reward. You have an incredible future ahead of you, Sweet Boy - but it's definitely not on American Idol! Love you, Mom