Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Problems!

The kids started back to school this week - Cyd in high school, and the twins in junior high. It has been kind of hectic, to say the least, as we have reviewed, read, and/or signed lists of school supplies, class disclosures, permission slips, bus schedules, and so on. Cyd has had a hard time trying to decide which pictures to take to show her teachers. Bretten has had to figure out how to get her violin to third period out in the armory, after her second period Spanish class that is upstairs and clear on the other side of the building, since she doesn't have time to visit her locker in between. And Mychael has had to figure out how to see the board in her algebra class, since she is so tiny and, thanks to the teacher's seating chart, has ended up sitting behind a much-bigger eighth grader (one with an afro, no less).

As I talked with each girl over the past few days about these "problems," I found myself thinking about my own days in junior high and high school. Remember when your biggest problem was finding something "cool" to wear? Or whether that cute boy in 4th period would actually talk to you today or not? Back then, it was the absolute end of the world if your best jeans were in the laundry, or if Cute Boy didn't even look at you that day! I compare those problems to the ones I have on my plate today - things like, "When will this @#$! divorce ever be final?" "Will I ever find someone I trust enough and care about sufficiently, to marry again?" "And if I do, what if, 20 years from now, he turns out to be as big of a jerk as the first one?" "Will my house ever sell?" "How am I going to get all the crap and clutter out of my house in time for my yard sale?" "How am I going to get the kids through this first holiday season without their dad?"

Those kinds of "heavier" concerns made it especially nice to set them aside for a little bit, and concentrate on possible solutions for my girls' issues. Those school-girl issues seem so light in comparison!! However, in the process, I also realized that 20-25 years from now, my girls will look at the problems of choosing pictures, getting classroom materials to the right place at the right time, and seeing around large afros as being relatively minor problems, too. On the one hand, that's kind of sad because one of the reasons those formerly major issues become minor, is because you now have larger issues to compare them to! However, I also think the human brain is designed to forget trauma. Otherwise, who would ever be pregnant more than once, or get back on a bicycle after a particularly nasty fall, or make peace with someone after an argument?

Whatever the reason for big issues shrinking with the passage of time, I can only hope that it will eventually apply to my current problems, too - I want to look back at them and realize that they really weren't as big as I think they are now. It just better not take 20-25 more years for that to happen - I am not that patient!

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Will Make Faces For Food"

Most of my stories/moments so far have been about things that happened a while ago - sometimes a long while ago! However, just because Cydanie is older, doesn't mean she doesn't still come up with the occasional funny moment anymore.

Case in point: last week was hectic as I had relatives visiting from the east coast, the twins had "Cub Camp" in preparation for starting 7th grade (today!), and I have a big trial going on at work. Well, in order to get everyone where they needed to go last Thursday, I dropped Bretten and Mychael off at Cub Camp and left Cydanie home alone for a couple of hours. The plan was that my mom would pick Cyd up on her way to get the twins from the junior high, and then take all three of them down to Kim's place for the rest of the day. As I was going out the door, I was giving Cyd a bunch of last minute instructions: "If someone comes to the door, don't open it unless you know the person!" "No cooking on the stove or oven - microwave only!" "Don't forget to bring Bretty's stuff!" "Call Grandma if you need anything!" "Remember to put the dog in the laundry room before you leave!" and so on.

Well, I got home that evening and was quizzing Cyd on her day. "Did you remember to put the dog in the laundry room when you left?" I asked her.
"Yeah. And, I just gave her some food, too."
"You did, huh? Good job!"
"Yeah, she told me she was hungry, so I feed her."
At this point I am secretly smiling, but I maintain a straight face as I say, "She told you she was hungry?"
" did she do that?"
"Well, she made a face at me. So, I feed her."

Cracked me up! She gets very offended if you laugh at her, though, even when she's done something cute, so I had to struggle to keep the giggle in as I pictured our dog, a slightly chubby Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Sarah, making faces at Cyd in exchange for weight-control formula Purina One.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Learning and growing...

I was reading the blog of my dear friend (and cousin), Mindi, today (here's a link: She was writing about her little boy's attempts to wipe his own bum after pooping in the potty (he's not even 4 yet), and it reminded me of this story from my own experiences:

When one of my twins, Mychael, started talking at about 18 months old, she never stopped. She sort of "skipped over" the one- and two-word phrases and jumped right into full sentences. So, one evening shortly after she started talking - she couldn't have been much more than two - I had her in the bathtub with her sister. I had filled the tub up to roughly their armpits, scrubbed them all and washed their hair, etc., and was ready to get them out. I got Bretten out first, wrapped her in a towel, and sent her on to her dad. I hadn't let the water out of the tub yet because I didn't want Mychael to get cold while she was waiting for me to finish with her sister. Mykie, however, anticipating that she would soon get out, stood up in the tub, anyway. She was kind of crouched down with her hands still in the water, when suddenly she straightened, turned to me, and with a look of wonder on her face, said, "Hey!! I've got a HOLE in my bum!"

I don't miss all the work of those earlier days, but I do miss witnessing that constant joy of discovery on little people's faces. Every day would bring something new! As my girls get older, they are still learning, of course (I used to have a boss who said "learning is growing, and if you're not growing, you're dying." I think he was right!) but apparently they get used to it or something because they don't get as excited by their new discoveries as they once did. Now they just have their noses attached to computer screens or buried in cell phones as their thumbs text away. Next I guess it's probably school dances and boyfriends. I can't wait to tell the "hole in my bum" story then....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Looking at life a little differently....

So, most of you reading this know that my oldest daughter was born with autism. She is considered high-functioning, so often times you almost forget that she is any different from anyone else. However, every once in awhile things come along that remind me, that how she sees the world is very different from how I do!

As an example, we were at the grocery store on Friday night (yes, I know - its pathetic but that's my big weekend night out. Woo hoo!). I asked my other daughter, Bretten, whether or not we needed any eggs because a) I knew she and Mychael had been eating scrambled eggs for breakfast fairly often, and b) I also knew that she and Cydanie had been baking lately, and finally, c) Cyd informed me earlier that she intended to make cookies - all of which would indicate that our household consumption of eggs was on the rise! Bretten assured me, however, that we had plenty of eggs. I was being a typical grumbly parent and said, jokingly, "OK, but if we end up running out of eggs, I'm sending you to the store to go get more. AND, I'm making you walk!"

Bretten, pre-teen that she is, just rolled her eyes at me. Cydanie, on the other hand, said, "Why would you want to make her walk to the store, Mom?"
"So that I don't have to drive her," I replied.
"Why don't you want to drive her?"
"Because I don't want to waste the gas it would take to bring her all the way back to the grocery store just to get eggs," I said.
Then Cydanie gave me one of her priceless looks that seemed to say that she thought I was just about the silliest person on the planet, and said, "Well, you could just get some eggs at the gas station, you know!"

Yes, I know. She's absolutely right, I could just go get some eggs at the gas station....

Which reminds me of one other example of Cyd's unique outlook on the world. One time, about three years or so ago (I think Cyd was in the 7th or 8th grade at the time), we were on our way home and drove by a small pasture on the corner. In this pasture was a horse, I think of the "paint" type - a white body with large black splotches on it, kind of like a Holstein cow. The route was one we use fairly frequently, so I didn't think much of it one way or the other. But Cydanie said to me, "Mom, is that a horse or a cow?"

I marvel at how her brain works and how the world must seem to her. I looked at the horse, saw it was the outline of the horse, and without even thinking about it, assumed it was horse. Cydanie saw the outline of the horse, but with the coloring of a cow, and deliberated on how to weight that information - is the outline of the figure more telling, or the way the figure is filled in? Sometimes I think it would be absolutely fascinating to walk in her footsteps for a day, and look at life a little differently....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I always thought it would be kind of fun to have a blog, and yet, now that I actually do, I can't think of what to write about! I mean, I feel like my very first post should be momentous, somehow, but unfortunately, all I can come up with right now is - well, this!