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Friday, July 30, 2010

benevolent dictatorship

I am the oppressed masses in the Bear's (and occasionally the Gig's) dictatorship.

The laws of this dictatorship are many, varied, and ever-changing.  They are phoenix-like in their ability to rise from the ashes of my attempts to overthrow them.  They are like a hydra - cut of one head, and two more grow.  (The laws, not my children.  I have never even attempted to lop off a child's head, I promise!)

If you could all just bear with me, I'd like to share some of the Bear's laws with you. 

  1. Mummy, you work for me.  Never forget that.  If I want you, you must, repeat must, be at my beck and call.  Instantly.  No selfish unpacking of the dishwasher, or making of beds.  I'm in charge here, Mummy, and I call the shots.
  2. Climbing is fun, Mummy, and I, Pu Yi Last Emperor, have a God-given right to climb wheresover and whensoever I choose.  If that's onto the kitchen bench, so be it.
  3. Water is fun.  Running water is more fun.  I may, at any time, turn on any tap I like.  I do not have to tell you about this.  In fact, it's an awful lot more fun if I don't.  The sensation of running water can and will be reproduced by the judicious or otherwise tipping out of any and all beverages.  I'm aware that I may dehydrate if I don't drink said beverages, but that is not my concern.  You are the mother; this worry is yours alone.
  4. Daytime sleeps are the preserve of the weak and feeble.  I will retire to my cot during the day for the sole purpose of playing with my toy phone, reading a couple of books, throwing said phone and books out of my cot when I've had enough (3 minutes will usually suffice), rocking the cot until you are sure it will fall over, screaming and doing a poo.  When you get me up, I will be cranky through lack of sleep.  Again, Mummy, not my concern. 
  5. Sitting at the table is boring and pointless.  In my dictatorship, food is to be eaten either a) whilst on the move, or, and preferably b) from someone else's - ie your, Mummy - plate.
  6. The TV should always be on.  I will ask for Bob, because it's the only one I can say, but you should be aware that Bob can also mean Tweenies, Wiggles or RazzleDazzle.  Bob can also, and I do think this is self-explanatory, mean the text-bar on Fox Sport News.  You will know immediately which programme I want to watch.  You are, after all, the Mummy.
  7. Books are ok, but they are to be read my way.  I shall hold your pointer finger tightly, touch each object in the picture, and you shall tell me what it is.  If it is a banana, I may tell you what it is.  But don't count on it.
  8. Toys are for throwing.  Enough said.
  9. Unless they are for sliding down the TV screen.
  10. Your arms are always to be free for carrying me.  I won't want to be carried, of course, but I must know that, should I wish it, your arms are free.
  11. I will behave perfectly for my therapists.  For you, Mummy, not so much.
  12. My right shoe must always be put on first, or I think my feet might fall off.  Or the sky might fall in.  Or something, but it's important, Mummy, so make sure you remember.
  13. When taking the Gig to school, we must always go the same way, even if the road is closed for 8 weeks due to roadworks.  Ignore this law at your peril: my scream is even more shrill in the car.
  14. Running is my preferred method of transport.  And I run fast, and I have no sense of danger.  Just be aware of this, Mummy.
  15. Holding hands is outlawed.  Don't even try it.  It is my right to lie down in the middle of the road should any and all hand-holding be attempted.
  16. Kissing is tolerated, but my preferred way of communicating affection is to press my forehead very hard against yours.  It may hurt you, but I like it, and I'm the dictator here.
  17. You may not hug Daddy or the Gig.  At all, ever.
  18. Last (for now), but most important of all, you will love me so much that you feel like your heart will break from it.
So there you have the laws under which I live; the Bear's, anyway.  The Gig's I'll save for another day.

These laws may be harsh and draconian, but you know what?  The Dictator is so very, very worth it.

PS, sorry about the lack of photos recently, but there's a gremlin in my pictures folder, and I don't know how to get it out.  I tried showing it "Bright lights!  Bright lights!" but it didn't work.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Update on the Bear

The Bear is having Speech Therapy as we speak.  His lovely therapist took one look at me this morning and said "Would you like me to take him by myself and you can have half an hour to yourself?"  ("Um, yes!")  That would have to be the best offer I've had all month!  He had a hissy fit when I left the room, and has had another couple of tantrums, and come out of the room a couple of times, but it's not going too badly, I don't think.

So how is he going, in general?

His speech is very slowly coming along.  He still greatly prefers to use non-verbal communication, such as taking my hand and leading me to what he wants, but is slowly starting to use a few words.  I feel that he has not only a speech delay but also a speech impairment *, meaning that the words he does use spontaneously are quite difficult to understand.  Funnily enough, his echolalic words are much easier to understand, but I guess that could be because I've just either said or heard them, so I know what he's saying.

He understands some signs, but is only using one, and that one only sparingly.  It's the sign for "GO!", and it's a fun one, because it often means that the "Wait" is over and it's his turn on the slide. 

The Bear's behaviour is, shall we say, trying right now.  One of his stims is taking off screw caps, which means that if he can get his hands on anything at all, it's usually all over the floor in about three seconds.  He is also still climbing onto the kitchen bench at any opportunity, usually to try and get the phone, but if there's anything else up there he'll explore that too.  He has started hitting again, when he's frustrated, and I've noticed that he's starting to bite his own hands a fair bit.  Scratching is still very much part of his repertoire as well.  Another new trick is to tip all of his toys out on the floor, then walk away.  There is no desire whatsoever to play with anything; it's all about the noise.  He also likes to brush anything that's on a surface onto the floor.

Right, well, I've had my whinge, so here's some of the good stuff.  He has started talking on a pretend phone.  He says, "Eh-oo, Bobba, ya-ya-ba-ba, Byeeeee!", which translates as "Hello, Bob the Builder, (mysterious builder-speak), Bye".  It's the same scenario every time, which I understand is typical of ASD kids, but it's a fantastic start.

And yesterday at his special needs playgroup, Twinkle Twinkle came on.  He gave an enormous smile, then started running around the room in a giant circle, singing along (perfectly in tune...I think we may have a bit of a musician on our hands), and clapped madly at the end.  It was a magic moment, and I really wished I'd had my video camera (except that I don't own one!) with me.

Anyway, speech is nearly over, and I can hear him screaming, so I'm off for now!

*His speech therapist has just told me that he does have elements of verbal dyspraxia as well as PDD-NOS.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a love/hate relationship

I've been hanging out on facebook a bit lately, ever since some bright spark discovered that it's 20 years since we all left school.  So old school friends are popping up everywhere.  So are the old school enemies, suddenly wanting to "friend" me.  Also, the old school "I really don't remember you - are you sure we went to school together?" people.

I'm not sure how I feel about it.  Some of these girls (it was an all-girls school) were quite mean to me, or quite mean to my friends.  One girl in particular was very funny.  Side-splittingly funny.  But always at someone's expense.  And now, twenty years later, I don't find it so funny.  But she's my fb friend. 

I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.  I don't want to offend anyone by ignoring friendship requests.  But it does seem hypocritical to "friend" people that I barely remember, and didn't necessarily like anyway. 

I'm looking forward to our 20 year reunion, but really only so that the girls I'm still friends with (very close friends, in most cases) can all be in the same place at the same time.  It's been too long since that happened.

Don't get me wrong, fb has put me back in touch with two people that I'd completely lost touch with - one from school and one from piano lessons (actually, not to split hairs, but they're both from piano lessons).  I'm delighted that these friends have come back into my life, and very grateful for the chance to reconnect with them.  But I can't reconnect with everyone.  For one thing, I don't have time.  Friendship is more than "liking" someone's status update. 

I love the Internet.  I've made many Internet friends, and I treasure these friendships.  I have an online mother's group, and although we're all a bit slack these days about checking our fb page, I read their blogs, those who have them, including my buddy The Missus.  (You may remember her from Good News/Bad News - hey Missus, we need to get that going again!)  I'm also part of an online book club.  It's my sanity-saver, my reminder that I have a brain, and a group of real friends.  And I've made some lovely friends through blogging, too.  So I'm in no way suspicious of on-line friendships.  But fb just isn't the same.  I'm getting tired of the voyeurism, peeking into the lives of people I have, otherwise, nothing to do with.  I'm tired of wondering who will read my updates, and how they might respond.

I'm not going cold turkey on fb.  Not just yet, anyway.  It's a handy way to touch base with people I really care about, and a handy place to make plans and share news.  But I am going to stop commenting on updates of people that I barely know.  I'm not going to check out their photos, just to see if they've put on weight since school, or how cute their kids are (gorgeous, always!). 

I'm going to concentrate on my real (whether IRL real or Internet real) friends.  You know who you are :-).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

looking after myself

Today, I did something just for myself.

The Bear was driving me crazy.  His latest escapade was getting through the child-proof lid of a bottle of anti-histamine.  Luckily he didn't drink any, but still.  I know that ASD kids often have fine motor skill issues, so I've been trying to focus on the positive - ie that his fine motor skills are excellent.  But still.

So when his lovely speech therapist rang to cancel due to illness, I was momentarily distraught.  I'd been counting on that time to fill our morning.  What on earth was I going to do now??

That's when it hit me.  Daycare, known to us as Kindy.  I made a frantic call to the Director, who fitted him in with no problem.  Three hours of Mummy time.  I stopped off at the shops and bought a pair of jeans which will have to be returned because I was over-optimistic about the size of my thighs, then came home, played on the computer for a bit, read a magazine and had a cup of tea.  I have done some washing, but only because I felt like it.

I feel like a new woman.  I feel like I can make it throught the rest of the day.  I feel excited that I'll be picking the Bear up in 15 minutes.  What do I NOT feel?  Guilty.  This was my time, and I'm worth it!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

i just called to say i love you

Just a very quick update, but there's more to come later.

Last week, I saw the Bear doing something that looked a lot like pretend play.  Then I convinced myself that it couldn't possibly be.  But this morning, he did it again, in front of me and Pacino. 

 He held out the palm of his hand, jabbed at it with the pointer finger of his other hand, making little "beep"noises at the same time, then held his hand up to his ear and said "Ye-yo"!!!

I can't begin to tell you how exciting that was, and how happy and hopeful it made us.

Anyway, must run - school lunches and breakfasts to make, and I suspect that the Bear has climbed onto the bench and is playing with the answering machine.  Supervision much?

Monday, July 12, 2010

raindrops on roses...

It's a cold and foggy Monday morning, and my children slept in.  The Bear woke at 7.05am, and the Gig at 7.30am.  A sleep-in is an extremely rare thing in my house, so I made the most of it...sort of.  Pacino had to go to work (why, oh why, can the Bear never sleep in like this on weekends?) so I got up and had a cup of tea with him, then went back to bed for half an hour before the Bear woke.  It felt so decadent to lie in bed at that hour on a Monday morning!

Which leads nicely into today's topic.  More of the little things in life that make a day special, or keep you going, or give you a laugh when you most need it. So here, in no particular order, are ten little things that have brightened my day lately.

  1. Taking the Gig clothes shopping so that she can spend her very hard-earned cash, and, what's more, liking what she chose!
  2. Buying a new handbag (purse) that has everything I need in a bag, including lots of little inside pockets that I'm still exploring.  Rearranging a new bag has to be one of life's greatest pleasures!
  3. Reading a book that I would never have picked up if not for my on-line book club, and loving it.  (It's The City and the City, by China Mieville, if you're interested)
  4. Listening to the Bear sing a scale in almost perfect pitch.  Not bad for a nearly  three year old!
  5. Walking into the kitchen to do the dishes and realising that the Gig has done them already, and very well too!
  6. Savouring a glass of lovely port with Pacino at the end of a long day.
  7. Sneaking away from my children to blog Waiting till my children are happily amusing themselves and popping into the study to blog.
  8. Watching Dr Who and fantasising that if I shout "Raggedy Man, I remember you!" the Dr will appear.  (Not working thus far, sad to say.)
  9. Having the Gig ask to have a friend over - she's been anti-social all holidays, so I was thrilled to oblige.
  10.  This boy, in this hat.

Monday, July 5, 2010

i'm bad, i'm bad, you know it, i'm bad

It would appear that last time I was here, I made all sorts of rash promises about being a better blogger, not leaving all my lovely readers in the dark, committing to the blog, and so on.  Promises, promises.  I guess I am just über-slack.  (But proud that, twenty years later, I remembered to use an umlaut on the u in über.  Frau Finlayson, what was that C all about?)

So what's been happening on board my ship of fools lately?

Well, in no particular order, we bought a new car.  It's a white wagon.  Where has my cool gone?  I love it and its capacious boot (trunk) which has ample room for my stroller, the dogs, and some luggage.

Because we are now a two car family, Pacino (and for Pacino, read ME!!) had to organise a park in the city.  Holy Guacamole Batman, the City Council must be ski-ing in Aspen on what they charge to park a car!  However, we found one that won't require us to sell one of our children in order to pay for it, so it's all good.

The Gig is on school holidays.  Yay for not making school lunches.  Yay for not waking a sleeping pre-adolescent!  Yay for not having that sick, sinking feeling in my stomach as I wait in the car wondering how her day was, and if the mean girls were mean today.

Oh, and the Gig is nearly eleven.  I know what you're thinking.  How on earth, you're wondering, could Millie possibly have an eleven year old daughter?  She's far too young, freshfaced and hip to be old enough for that!  What?  You weren't thinking that at all? 

As for my little Bear, he's doing really well.  He is getting a new word roughly once a fortnight, and appears to be keeping them so far.  He has developed a massive case of Echolalia (repeating random words and noises with no sense of their meaning), which can be, depending on the circumstances and my mood, very funny, very depressing or very annoying.  I try to focus on the fact that it's really very encouraging, as the mere forming of the words shows that the capacity for speech, in whatever form, is there.

He has also developed a few new ASD traits.  This is probably the real reason I haven't been blogging lately.  I just haven't felt ready to talk about it yet, but haven't been able to think of anything else to blog about.  He has started hand-flapping, and also a funny little face-flicking thing that's very hard to describe, and his new obsession is unscrewing jars.  Nothing, nothing, I tell you, is safe from his exploration.  I seem to spend my days now running along behind him trying to clear the path of his destruction.  And he's not a destructive child.  He doesn't break things on purpose; it's more that he literally can't rest until he's explored what he needs to explore.  I am beyond exhausted.

We are waiting desperately for the call to say he has a place at the ASD specific centre.  I can't wait; he really needs it.  I do too, for what it's worth.

Anyway, that's what we've been doing lately.  I'll try to be a better bloggy-girl from now on (but a word of warning - I'll be away towards the end of this week visiting my sister who is about to abandon me move to England with her family. 

Right, I have a whole lot of blog reading to catch up on - I'm looking forward to finding out what's been going on in your lives.  See you later!