Monday, June 29, 2009

mysterious boy and social pressure

Two separate stories here:

Elliott was never a cuddly one, not until about two months ago. Now, when he wakes up in the morning or after a nap, one of my most favorite things is that he put his full weight into my body and just clings onto me and rests his head against my chest. After over two years of not cuddling with me, he will just lie there for several minutes until he lifts his head and runs away to play or find snacks in the pantry. Lately, he's been a momma's boy, clinging to my skirt as I walk around the house, demanding that I see every toy he finds. He says a version of "Look what I got," and finally shows interest in picture books and he wants me to see everything he has found. Which I have to say, feels amazing, even if it's difficult to go to the bathroom when he is trying to wrestle his way into my lap. I still worry about him, often at night, before I fall asleep, the time when all of my anxiety bursts through my brain. I was telling Ryan that the most difficult thing right now is that he doesn't talk, and sometimes I feel like I don't really know him yet because he can't communicate with us and oftentimes, we can't communicate with him. He's getting there, every day, every week, but it's a painstaking process. I can't wait to hear what he has to say.

On an unrelated note:

Benjamin has been very interested in Hello Kitty. He has a Hello Kitty watch, backpack, and photo album (thanks, Jill!). Yesterday, he was wearing his pink Hello Kitty watch, and as we were getting ready to leave for the park, he said, "Mom, can you take off my watch? Everyone thinks it's for girls." He wasn't sad, he was just matter-of-fact. And I took it off of his wrist for him. I knew this was bound to happen, that it's probably a good thing to happen before he starts kindergarten and kids make fun of him, but there is something just a little heartbreaking about it. He was completely confident in his interests--wide-ranging as they are--but that now he is aware that others will find fault with him for this. Here is a kid who loves pink mermaids, but who wants to be Scooby this Halloween and Batman next Halloween, who takes baby clothes out of my hand, assessing them before I give them to a friend who is about to have a baby, nods his head in approval, and says, "These are so cute, Mom." I love that he is such a unique boy with a giant, beautiful heart, and I just never want him to feel bad about himself.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

velma's secret desire

Benjamin is nursing an obsession with Scooby Doo that is threatening my sanity. He carries "the gang" with him everywhere he goes, cautiously buckling them into his booster seat with himself, carefully covering them with his blanket at bed time, propping them up next to him when he eats. He wants to watch Scooby Doo all day long--it is the first thing he asks me about in the morning, he talks about it all day, and he talks about it at bed time. When he isn't watching Scooby, he wants to play Scooby with the action figures. I reluctantly agreed today, and he eagerly gave me Velma and Scooby--he would play Daphne, Freddy (as he calls him), and Shaggy. "Let's solve a mystery," he exclaimed. So we solved a mystery--the "bad guy" was a dog puppet. After the gang attacked the puppet, Ben said, "Let's see who it really is," and whisked the puppet off of my hand and put my hand in jail. Then, he said we needed to give Velma a birthday party. He had Freddy make her a strawberry cake, her favorite, and then she made a wish and blew out the candles. Curious, I asked him what Velma had wished for, and he got a very shy, serious look on his face, held Velma face to face with Freddy, and had Velma say, "Freddy, I want you to love me." After hours of watching Scooby, Ben has picked up on an Velma's unspoken desire and finally given it a voice.

Monday, June 15, 2009

back from ohio...

Had a great time visiting my relatives in Cleveland, but I missed Ryan and the boys so much. My grandma used to kind of have a mean streak but now she is in her nineties and has become very pleasant, very likely because she doesn't remember what she was bitter about. I'm not sure about her long-term memory, but I know for sure that she has no short-term memory. She asked me whether or not I had kids about five times in five minutes. I painted her fingernails the brightest shade of red and all the other ladies in the home were jealous. My grandma can barely talk anymore, but she actually seems happier than I've ever seen her in her life. My relatives out there were very kind and I enjoyed getting to know them as an adult. I returned late on Sunday night to find Ben watching Scooby upstairs. "I have the whole gang," he said, showing me the toys Ryan bought him. He refers to them as "the gang" because they do so on the show, and he sounds as though he is from the 70s. Ryan let him stay up to see me, and though he's not the sort of kid that runs into your arms, I knew he was happy to see me. After about five minutes, he looked at me and finally realized he missed me and hugged me. In the morning, he was so happy I was there. Elliott didn't seem to react any differently this morning, but the poor little guy had a very bad ear infection today and I had to take him into urgent care tonight. Elliott always seems to have a tough time. It really isn't fair. On the way home from urgent care, we went through all of the animal sounds, which he repeated in his way. "We're home," I said, as we pulled into the drive. "Ooooome," he repeated. He is trying. I'm convinced he will get there. Ryan and the boys had a lot of fun this weekend--he took them to Oak Glen and Forest Falls. Ryan had his first day of summer school today and he is tired, but I'm glad I get to be home with him again, even if we still haven't been able to even relax together.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

some days are harder than others

We got the diagnosis from the Kaiser diagnostic team on Thursday that Elliott has autism spectrum disorder. This confirms what the neurologist from Kaiser and developmental specialist from the Inland Regional Center have told us. I like to think I'm very in control and so I took the Kaiser diagnosis in stride; I didn't feel bad about it at all. I felt like, okay, we will continue to work on this and everything will be okay. (The back of my mind screamed, what if it isn't okay? but I tried to ignore this.) The teachers from IRC began to work with him this week (3 hours per day, every weekday), something I've been fighting for for the past five months. But suddenly this afternoon, I started to feel really sad. Elliott has had a difficult week--he isn't sleeping well and Disneyland threw him off of his routine. He screams. And screams. And it's not as bad as it was before the diet change, but it's still a hell of a lot of screaming and sometimes it just gets under my skin. Everyone always says that this age is so much fun, but for Ryan and me, this age fills us with anxiety and fear and stress and heartbreak and frustration. This is punctuated with fun, but it is difficult to have fun when you don't know if everything will be okay. I don't know why both of our kids have had such a hard time. And I know it could be worse. I know they could have cancer or missing limbs or terminal illnesses. But it's still really hard right now. I feel bad asking anyone, even family, to babysit him. I'm scared that no one really likes being around him--or us--and sometimes I just feel extremely isolated. I know I will pick myself up tomorrow. It's just been a long day.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


We survived our 2nd family vacation! Elliott was so much better than he was last year--he didn't run in front of a stroller once, and the first night he slept until 7 in the morning. This morning, he woke up at 4am. 4 A.M. It was horrible. He kept sitting on my head and fake sneezing. Everyone thinks that is really cute, but it isn't when he's done it 30 times before the sun has risen and each time I have to wipe his nose. At around 5, I put him back to sleep and he woke up again at 6, so at least we got an extra hour. The boys did really well. Ben was very excited to see Mickey again, and he got to swim in the pool at the hotel for 2 hours yesterday. Aunt Jilly hung out with us the second day and we had a lot of fun (minus a corn dog incident!). When I was a kid, our family vacations tended to be stressful, and I think we pulled this off without any of that. It's cool right now because the kids don't have any expectations--we go on a few rides, we relax, we play at the Toon Town playground, we go back to the hotel. In fact, we had to talk Ben into going back to Disneyland yesterday evening. He wanted to stay on his "magic bed" (the sofa bed in our hotel room). All in all, vacation accomplished.