Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pockets of Pond Water

The boy was feeling fine by the time he went to bed last night, but he still had a mini-melt down to end the evening. It may have been the day of being home, but feeling not completely himself all day and then a burst of energy and then poof! A firecracker-flash over nothing really, but something that sets him a bit on edge when well and a quick bright burn and flash to anger when not. I think because I told him I wasn't going to be home too on Saturday and he wasn't ready to let that be a change in his life.

I spent the day today with thespians in Olympia listening and listening to students, writing and writing about what I saw students perform, and talking and talking to other theatre peeps I see so seldom as we are scattered across the city doing various projects always. It was restful, draining, and encouraging at the same time.

When I got home there was a surprise in a young man that was our boy's first ABA tutor was visiting us unexpected as he was just up in Edmonds for the day. As he spoke about where we began working with my son after his autism diagnosis I was flooded with the feelings of those very muddy waters of where it all officially began. I also saw a much more confident and amazing young man standing before me that is now working as a special education preschool teacher---inspired he says by our son and the work he did with him when he was 3. I'm so proud of my son and his progress in life and this young man's journey---his calling and taking up the challenge and that it suits him well. He loves it.

He left after a nice visit and my dear husband went to lie down for a nap. So my son and I settled into a routine. The radio blaring our local NPR station and us taking turns on a game on the computer---at some point the world just stopped for a moment and gave me a pocket of quiet to settle into as my little boy climbed into my lap and said, "Mama, you went to Olympia today."
ME: Yes, I did. Did you miss me?
BOY: Hmmmm...(his thinking sound just like it is written it sounds) I think I did miss you.
ME: You think you did? Don't you know if you missed me?
He took his hands and cupped them on either side of my face and looked right at me for just a moment and said, "I did miss you from the moment I got up today. I missed my Mama." Then he turned away from me and settled his body into the pocket on my lap and leaned in for a kiss. You see he knows if he leans in like that he'll receive one. I gave him a kiss and he got up and excitedly ran around the room in response. This was more of a victory romp that he does hundreds of times a day, but this is his extra special "something extra special has happened” romp that celebrates with his body dancing as he does this sound that comes from a happy hum inside him. He does this in a happy bouncy run making a circuit of our living room and kitchen and back to where I am on the couch.

And then the room rushed back in with all the noise and complications of artistic lives and autism and each other. A few years ago I never thought I could have this much conversation with him and now yes, he is articulate even in some ways and in some moments, but for finding more footing in his understanding and our understanding him, sure we've got a ways to go.

My going somewhere even for the day is getting harder in some ways and I miss those more flexible moments where it didn't matter if I was there or not so I just took off to "do my thing", but truly I wouldn't trade that false freedom for this moment of connection---a connection that seems to get stronger. A moment that feels more defined and the waters are muddy, but it has all settled to the bottom for this very moment and if I don’t move or breath I can see where I’m standing. I see my feet sinking down in this squishy, gooey mud where I feel very stuck. So stuck, will I get out? No, I can wiggle my toes and the water is still clear. I can swim here. I know it.

Our lives are a bunch of unimagined moments. I never thought I'd be where I am or what I'd be doing except in that little girl that loved words somehow got here and somehow plays with words for a living. My son has always loved words even when he spoke very few of them he still loved them more than anything. He had a set of refrigerator magnets that were the alphabet and he'd spend hours arranging them into words. We had sets of them everywhere in the house, the car, and on any metal surface as it was the way we communicated and he played. We played or tried to by playing with words. He was barely two and a half and that is all he wanted to do. So of course he talks and wants to communicate. Why couldn't I see this coming?

This is a pocket I will put things into and keep. I will take them out in the quiet moments and reflect on what they are and then celebrate that we have them, they have value, and I never know what wonderful thing will plop down into my pocket again someday. On a day, when I've given out and perhaps even given in or felt pushed away---I'll see the journey dancing in my living room. I know the joy of a kiss after a day away. And I will listen, write, and talk playing with the words we have---letting go of imagining what could be or can be or should be or might be. This is my extra special moment today.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Feeling fleeced about the snow...

2012 outside our window
Nearly everything related to snow today was a bit surreal in my neck of the woods (or perhaps in the weeds?).  My son went from having a pretty bad day yesterday to all sweetness and light because it was snowing finally. I know those of you in the Midwest, East, and even my Southern friends can’t conceive of this winter without snow, but last year we had one day and this year so far we’d only had one day. Many people around here, myself included, have been longing for a good snow after seeing all the many pictures relatives and friends have posted for us to see. We were predicted an inch of snow yesterday and we got I think two whopping inches last night.
A hush descend upon our neighborhood as soon as it began snowing. It was so eerie and beautiful as only snow can be at night. After we gathered a little accumulation it lit up outside nearly as bright as day with the reflected lights. It was magical with that light and the crystal-like glitter gloss that blanketed the super fluffy northwestern snow. I couldn't sleep because I wanted to just sit looking out the window at the wonder and soak in that lyrical hush.
My son in real snow 2012
However, as soon as we got up and our son heard the forecast, the quiet was shattered with screams followed by huge crocodile tears. Through the sobs we discovered this all had to do with that he couldn't appreciate the beautiful snow that was all around us, because on the forecast it said that hour by hour it would warm up to the point that by mid-morning while we were slotted to be in church it would be melting or melted. We somehow got through the morning messy child outbursts and safely to church for our early morning music call (late). And he was nearly out of steam for round #1 by the time I walked him into Sunday school.
When I took him to his Sunday school class another little boy that I don't know very well got nearly nose to nose and eye to eye with me to tell me with an impassioned explanation in an excited almost whisper of "how to make the perfect snowball". I thought this little boy's bounce over to me was a one-time thing, but I think I'm a good listener in such situations because he came back several times in that ten minutes to tell me his many morning adventures with his perfect snowball. He was cute, but needs to learn about personal space which reminded me of my son to tell the truth. (Hmm...perhaps they could become friends and then it wouldn't be an issue?)
Walking up our hill 2012
Church was refreshing and I didn't think about snow until I went to go get my son who now also no longer distracted turned his focus back to the now rapidly melting snow. We tried many tactics to try to get our son to leave church, but he became fixated on kicking the snow just at the base of the outside church main steps. No, telling him he could kick the snow at home or anywhere else just produced much screaming and crying. Many other tactics were applied, but I hand it to my creative husband for coming up with the winner that got our fitful fussy child to the car. After nearly an hour and half of this he struck upon the bargain with him that if he got in the car and came home with us as soon as we got home we would fill a gallon zip lock with all the snow we could and put it in the freezer. Martin confessed when we were underway that I can thank Bill Cosby for that bit of inspiration. (Thanks Bill!)
We also took turns holding his hand on the way home so he could be brave in what you would think were scenes of war he was witnessing on the way home, but it was merely large swaths of bare wet sidewalks and slushy streets. And if you've never driven with the radio up tuned to Moth radio stories and your son melting down screaming, "drive faster---it's melting there won't be any left!" It is bracing.
We returned home just as round #2 meltdown (forgive the pun) was dwindling. We rushed in the house as promised scooping up precious heavy, wet, sloppy stuff that resembled snow and shoved it in the freezer. His plan is to dump it out of the bag in the shade on March 21---the first day of spring because spring is when it can melt---it will no longer be winter. We should have just flown to one of our snowy relatives for the winter and he would be so very happy because we would be where it is supposed to snow in winter.
Today he kept telling me we have to sell our house and move to somewhere that is snows in the winter. He so wants all the elements to do what they are “supposed” to do just like everything else in his life. When the rain pours in spring, the sun is hot in summer, and the leaves fall in autumn my son is deliriously happy, but all the winter pictures don’t show cold----I mean they do and they do it by showing snow. It is the one thing that makes him grumpier than any other weather “change of plan”.
I do get this to an extent in that there are things we are told from a very young age to count on and weather is one of those things. The seasons and what they do and how they are represented is ground into our beings from early on in our lives. When those things don’t line up, it must be to some people very unsettling as it makes them question what is constant if not the seasons and what should be seasonal weather? So, I do in some ways understand his deep sorrow over the snow melting and being here so briefly when it is in the middle of our winter.
I took all of this as an opportunity to talk about change and transitions. What is expected? Does the world end if the unexpected happens? Now, he said at his most dramatic point of the day that if the snow melted he would die and it sounds funny, but utterly heartbreaking amidst earnest sobs and a need crying from somewhere deep. 
I simply met his gaze saying, “The snow is melting, but it will come again and again and again.”
He retorted, “When Mama? No, it won’t. It’s melting.”
Capturing the melting during the storm
Taking his hand again,”And that’s ok.” A panicked look met mine, “But remember what Papa said, it is part of a cycle that it melts, evaporates, goes up into the sky to form clouds, and comes back down sometimes as rain and when cold enough as snow.”
His attempt at trying to sled 2012
“But…but…but in winter it must snow!” he wails, “God didn’t listen to me, I want snow!” I admit I burst out laughing when he said this as it echoes my own childish wanting to make God do what I want at times. Regaining my footing, “No honey, we can ask but God, but I think when it comes to weather there is a bigger reason he brings what he does then a little boy that wants snow because it is winter---but feel free to ask and see what he says.” I think because they were studying Gideon today in Sunday school this weirdly satisfied him at the moment and he went down to just whimpers about the snow. It is a challenge now for him now to ask for the thing he wants most snow in winter. It made me think that God sometimes wants us to ask and ask and ask to keep the dialogue with us going. He gives us the unexpected in seasons of our lives where we think we know exactly what is coming and we can ask for what we expect, but we need to be ready for perhaps an unseasonal turn of events. It made me think that even when we get a taste of what we want or think we most want it is not that God teases us if it melts all too quickly, but perhaps we needed the moisture more than the pretty and fun snow. The moisture will feed what grows. Ok, now I'm stretching this a bit, but I was so feeling my young Gideon's pain with him and musing over this life lesson that was trying to burst forth from this moment.
He's not so sure he wants another run.
Somehow we rebounded a bit and got through the rest of the day as he read weather predictions to me and told me there was an earthquake today by the Olympic Mountains. (Did any of you know that?) He teaches me all kinds of things I would otherwise miss on most days. Night fell and exhausted he fell into what I hope is a peacefilled slumber. We said our first, I'm sure, of many prayers requesting snow as his ferver for it has been renewed.
If the Arctic Blast hits the Northwest we all will know why. As soon as it came it is nearly all gone out there tonight. The noisy sirens and traffic sounds returning along with sloppy slick rain sliding through our neighborhood. Nothing much to keep me awake tonight. Perhaps I’ll dream of sliding on a diamond carpeted hillside in the French Alps along with my son and husband or snow just outside my window.