Wednesday, October 31, 2007
T., a streetwise kid, didn't budge, but here's the surprising part...
Riley said, loudly, "Hey! She's my friend!"
Now, true, Riley didn't quite "get" the social implication that this girl could have flattened her, and might have if I wasn't standing there.
However....she did "get" the whole scenario. She understood an injustice was occuring, and attempted to stand up for her friend.
In the end, I evil-eyed the girl and she went away.
And we all lived happily ever after.
I have a really good evil-eye.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
CHICAGO - The country's leading pediatricians group is making its strongest push yet to have all children screened for autism twice by age 2, warning of symptoms such as babies who don't babble at 9 months and 1-year-olds who don't point to toys.
Many children are developing perfectly normally and regress after they are two years old.
The advice is meant to help both parents and doctors spot autism sooner. There is no cure for the disorder(there are many recovered children), but experts say that early therapy can lessen its severity.
Symptoms to watch for and the call for early screening come in two new reports. They are being released by the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday at its annual meeting in San Francisco and will appear in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics and on the group's Web site — http://www.aap.org/.
The reports list numerous warning signs, such as a 4-month-old not smiling at the sound of Mom or Dad's voice, or the loss of language or social skills at any age. My daughter smiled at 6 weeks old and kept smiling. She talked early and never lost her language.
Experts say one in 150 U.S. children have the troubling developmental disorder.
"Parents come into your office now saying 'I'm worried about autism.' Ten years ago, they didn't know what it was," ten years ago it was only one in 10,000 children said Dr. Chris Johnson of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. She co-authored the reports.
The academy's renewed effort reflects growing awareness since its first autism guidelines in 2001(hard not to be aware when it's now one in 84 boys). A 2006 policy statement urged autism screening for all children at their regular doctor visits at age 18 months and 24 months. Three different pediatricians and one neurodevelopmental specialist at a prestigious childhood medical center did not recognize symptoms in Riley and blew me off completely when she was three years old.
The authors caution that not all children who display a few of these symptoms are autistic and they said parents shouldn't overreact(typical insulting language used by physicians when they don't have an answer) to quirky behavior.
Just because a child likes to line up toy cars or has temper tantrums "doesn't mean you need to have concern, if they're also interacting socially and also pretending with toys and communicating well," (Riley lined up toys, tantrumed, and communicated well) said co-author Dr. Scott Myers, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician in Danville, Pa.
"With awareness comes concern when there doesn't always need to be," he said. "These resources will help educate the reader as to which things you really need to be concerned about." If the mother is concerned, the doctor damn well better be concerned. Bottom line.
Another educational tool, a Web site that debuted in mid-October, offers dozens of video clips of autistic kids contrasted with unaffected children's behavior. That Web site — http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_he_me/storytext/autism_screening/25002893/SIG=10u41jtkj/*http://www.autismspeaks.org/ — is sponsored by two nonprofit advocacy groups: Autism Speaks (The extremely wealthy "connected" founders of Autism Speaks basically sold their daughter down the river when she implicated vaccines as the cause of her child's autism on the Oprah Winfrey show) and First Signs. They hope the site will promote early diagnosis and treatment to help children with autism lead more normal lives.
The two new reports say children with suspected autism should start treatment even before a formal diagnosis. They also warn parents about the special diets (that have clearly helped sooooooooo many children) and alternative treatments (the things that have helped Riey most) endorsed by(brave) celebrities, saying there's no proof those work. Riley is proof.
No time for your God damned double blind placebo controlled studies. RILEY IS PROOF.
Recommended treatment should include at least 25 hours a week of intensive behavior-based therapy (which the average family cannot afford), including educational activities and speech therapy, according to the reports. They list several specific approaches that have been shown to help.
For very young children, therapy typically involves fun activities, such as bouncing balls back and forth or sharing toys to develop social skills; there is repeated praise for eye contact and other behavior autistic children often avoid.
Mary Grace Mauney, an 18-year-old high school senior from Lilburn, Ga., has a mild form of autism that wasn't diagnosed until she was 9(a failure of her doctors, perhaps understandable then, unconscionable now).
As a young girl, she didn't smile, spoke in a very formal manner and began to repeat the last word or syllable of her sentences. She was prone to intense tantrums, but only outside school you're lucky. There, she excelled and was in gifted classes. Yes, these children have many gifts.
"I took her to a therapist and they said she was just very sensitive and very intense and very creative," said her mother, Maureen, 54. Blew you off, huh mom?
Pediatricians should send such children for "early intervention as soon as you even think there's a problem," Johnson said.
Dr. Ruby Roy, a pediatrician with Loyola University Medical Center, who treats at least 20 autistic children, applauded the reports.
"This is a disorder that is often missed, especially when it's mild, and the mild kids are the ones ... who can be helped the most," Roy said.
Dr. Dirk Steinert, who treats children and adults at Columbia St. Mary's clinic in suburban Milwaukee, said the push for early autism screening is important — but that it's tough to squeeze it into a child's regular wellness checkup. Some pediatricians have tried scheduling a visit just to check for developmental problems, when children are 2 1/2. The problem is that insurance doesn't always cover these extra visits, Steinert said.
Insurance has covered very little on the path to Riley's recovery. Very little.
And that's all I'm sayin'.
Holidays, she'd self seclude in another room with her plate.
The clanking of all the silverware.
The lips smacking.
The people chewing.
It was too much for her.
It literally made her gag.
If we forced the issue, it would guarantee a major meltdown.
The holiday dinner, the family occasion, would be ruined.
When she was three, and her symptoms were at their worst, I wound up having panic attacks. Todd ended up in the hospital with a false heart attack on two occasions. Our family was in crises.
This past Saturday, the thought didn't even occur to us that she would not be able to eat at the restaurant. We just went in, like it was nothing.
I don't have panic attacks any more.
Todd doesn't have fake heart attacks.
I can't remember the last time she truly melted down, and it used to be a multiple daily occurrence.
Don't believe anyone who says there is nothing that can be done.
And if you're just hanging on,
please, partake of my hope.
I prepared it today, just for you.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
"That's a boys name."
To us, "Riley" was a girl's name. Or, it could go either way. But kids are so black/white. If they've heard it as a boy's name first, it's a boy's name in their minds. Not much different from adults, I guess.
I'd been wondering why she kept talking about going by her middle name, when she grows up, "Like you do Mommy."
And then I heard the "boys name" thing on the playground one too many times.
So, we had a little chat.
"Riley, do you know who thinks your name is beautiful for a girl? The first person we told your name to?"
Riley's eyes light up.
"And Grammy is very girlish, isn't she?"
Riley smiles and says, "Yeah." Imagining Todd's mom, with all her necklaces and rings and her house so fancy and beautiful. Her hair, clothes, and make-up just right.
"So don't you think she ought to know?"
Riley nods her head, slowly, letting it all sink in.
She smiles big and says, "Yeah."
"Sweetie, just because other kids don't know Riley can be a girl's name does not mean it isn't a pretty name. It just means they don't know something. You tell them Riley can also be a girl's name. Okay?"
Later that week, I hadn't caught the first part of the conversation, but my ears tuned in when I heard Riley from across the playground tell another child,
"It's also a girl's name."
The other girl shrugged, "Okay."
And so it is.
Friday, October 26, 2007
These teachings have touched me so profoundly, I don't really care what anyone thinks about me reading/listening to/or absorbing them. I am grateful for Esther Hicks, but for me it's more about the message than the messenger.
If you listen, you can find inspired word everywhere. It does not have a limited number of sources. The following video shows scenes that were edited out of the original film, The Secret. Watch if you feel moved to do so. And hit the button in the bottom corner to make the screen big. The images are gorgeous.
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
"You want to live like trailer trash?" she screamed.
As we passed, I leaned over and confided to my friend,
"We lived in a trailer a couple of times when I was a little kid."She looked at me, shocked, then smiled and said..."I did too. I never tell anyone that."
I wonder what shame the woman on the porch was needing to cover up? Or was it just ignorance? So many things fly out of our mouths un-thought out.
Another mother, while waiting outside Seth's school yesterday used "retarded" to refer to something stupid. She was a nice woman. She meant no harm. But she was ignorant. It's one in six these days with a developmental delay, dear.
When do you step in and say something? When do you let it slide? Is it my job to police the whole universe? Am I myself immune from making a similar ignorant slip?
When I was 19, I made a "you know they all look alike" comment to a black girl I had known since we were 12. I'd been referring to an Asian student, and I was sure she would know I didn't really mean it. That I was "cool." I'd known all of three black people my whole life up 'til then. I was trying to be funny.
It wasn't cool. It wasn't funny. It was ignorant. I've learned a lot since then.
I never saw that friend again, but the expression on her face, a combo of hurt and outrage has stayed with me. I cringe everytime I think of it and still have not forgiven myself, 20 years later. Sometimes I scoff at the idea that what I said mattered so much. No doubt she'd heard plenty of racist remarks growing up in an all white small town. But still, the thought of hurting her kills me.
Halle Barry recently made a racist remark on Jay Leno. I feel bad for any little Jewish girls who idolize her. I feel bad for Halle too. She's the one that will have to live with herself after what she said.
A wise person once told me "Never mistake for malice that which can be explained by ignorance or stupidity."
While it's true racial slurs are often steeped in malice; it is also true that malice is the result of ignorance, and fear.
I wish I could, but I can't go back and change what I said 20 years ago.
What I can do is raise my kids in a culturally diverse neighborhood.
What I can do is make an effort to know people outside my race.
I can move forward.
And be thankful for the learning.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Seth asks me this as I'm flying around the kitchen, getting them fed and ready for school. (You do know you're five, right buddy)?
What an opportunity!
But wait! I'm not ready. I hadn't planned for this question. Not today.
Dropping everything, we sit down on the kitchen floor. This boy with the innocent eyes, the perfectly round cheeks, the big heart.
Doing what I've been taught to do when I'm lost, I send out an invitation.
"Uh, Holy Spirit? Could you step in here please? Give me some words?"
"Well Seth. Your soul is the big part of you. What you see here," I pat his chest, and touch his head, "is just a small part of who you really are. You are a beautiful , important part of something much larger. The bigger Seth is never afraid, always peaceful, always knows what to do."
He smiles, imagining BIG SETH, then hunkers into me.
I tell him a story from A Course in Miracles. It says we are all like waves in a giant ocean thinking we're separate, when really we're part of the whole.
"Your soul is the part of you who knows who you really are."
He sits on my lap, allowing me to stroke his hair. He's wearing new "Cars" sneakers on his feet. I think I'm doing pretty good (yes I know it's supposed to be 'well,' but that ain't how we really talk).
Then he says, "Cause it said, 'Soul' on Let's Get it Started.
Todd's been letting them watch music videos on You Tube.
I had to play the video twice to even catch the world "soul," yet it's the one word he pulled out.
Go figure, a discussion on spirituality spurred by the Black Eyed Peas.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
When I Was a Boy, by Dar Williams
I won't forget when Peter Pan came to my house, took my hand I said I was a boy; I'm glad he didn't check.
I learned to fly, I learned to fight I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each other's lives out on the pirate's deck.
And I remember that night
When I'm leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me it's not safe,someone should help me
I need to find a nice man to walk me home.
When I was a boy, I scared the pants off of my mom,
Climbed what I could climb upon
And I don't know how I survived,
I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew.
And you can walk me home, but I was a boy, too.
I was a kid that you would like, just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw.
My neighbor came outside to say, "Get your shirt,"
I said "No way, it's the last time I'm not breaking any law."
And now I'm in this clothing store, and the signs say less is more
More that's tight means more to see, more for them, not more for me
That can't help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat.
When I was a boy,
See that picture?
That was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees
And I know things have gotta change,
They got pills to sell, they've got implants to put in,they've got implants to remove
But I am not forgetting...that I was a boy too.
And like the woods where I would creep, it's a secret I can keep
Except when I'm tired, 'cept when I'm being caught off guard
And I've had a lonesome awful day, the conversation finds its way
To catching fire-flies out in the backyard.
And I so tell the man I'm with about the other life I lived
And I say now you're top gun, I have lost and you have won
And he says, "Oh no, no, can't you see
When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked.
And I could always cry, now even when I'm alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too.
And you were just like me, and I was just like you.
Monday, October 22, 2007
- A very tomboyish woman covered in tattoos, walking with her girly-girl first grader who happens to be decked out in a cheer leading outfit for school.
- A frail elderly woman, staring me down at the intersection, daring me in my van not to let her cross(I loved you lady! I never would have hit you).
- A conga line of little girls making their way to the school yard singing, "chewy chewy, ow, ow" for apparently no good reason other than making themselves laugh.
- Riley, walking confidently into the elementary school.
-Seth with his cap backwards, running ahead of me into preschool.
- My house. Empty, but for me.
I mean, I can say no to her, but not when we're shopping for clothes.
She's never let me dress her all girly. Everything had the potential of being too itchy,too tight. No headbands. No hair bows. No barretts. It's always been lycra pants with elastic waists and cotton tagless shirts. That's it.
So we're at Burlington Coat Factory, buying her what else, a coat, (Cleveland's about to kick our butts, I can feel it), and she says,
"Mom, I want to look at clothes."
"Yeah." She says, strutting over to the girly-girl section.
"I want to find some things that are hip, and sassy, fashionable, stylish and cool." She flicks her head just so for the emphasis on "cool."
I do the Scooby Doo, "Glunk?" As she starts pulling clothes off the racks.
"I want this monkey outfit, this cat shirt, this, this, this, and this Hello Kitty umbrella.
"But you already have an umbrella, your Curious George one." I say.
"Mom, it's not pink, or very girlish."
She's right. Curious George is not appropriate for a girl as hip, sassy, fashionable, stylish and cool as Ms. Riley.
What was I thinking?
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
#1) On King of Queens, Doug and his father-in-law Arthur (Jerry Stiller) discovered if they got Carrie drunk, she was a lot "nicer" to live with. One night, they got Carrie really schnockered, and Doug started having second thoughts. Arthur tried to convince him to continue daily happy hour with the argument, "It's not a moral issue, it's a dosage issue!"
This is Todd's favorite sitcom line, ever. I think of it every time he comes home from the store with a bottle of wine amongst his purchases. Especially since he doesn't drink.
2) I've known this man for 12 years and have heard him say the "F" word exactly once. He does not swear, but for me, and with very little prompting, he'll do an imitation of Whitney Houston , in her best crack whore voice, saying,
"Kiss my ass"!
Now that's love.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
School gets out an hour early on Tuesdays.
School gets out an hour early on Tuesdays.
Did I mention school gets out an hour early on Tuesdays? Yesterday I didn't remember 'til it was already time to get the girl. I was about 10 minutes late.
It wouldn't be so bad, but the previous Tuesday was our first Tuesday at this new school, and I forgot that day too.
Riley wasn't upset either time, but I was. I hate looking like a flake. I hate inconviencing the aide that had to wait with her.
This morning, I rushed us all out the door, and forgot the backpacks. I had to drop her off, run home, then back to school, (which was going to make me late dropping Seth off at preschool).
In the car, I let out a huge, "Ugghhhh!" type of sigh.
Seth asked, "What's wrong?"
Trying to be a good example I told him,
"Mommy's frustrated about forgetting the backpacks, and being late."
Pouring it on thick, I feigned a smile and added, all sing-songy,
"But forgetting a backpack isn't the end of the world, right?"
Seth grinned, and said, "Mom, forgetting a Riley isn't the end of the world either."
This is just another example of how her school is getting it right. Riley isn't the weird girl, freaking out, crying or covering her ears because of the noise. She's the one everyone hopes will pick them, to have lunch with.
Yesterday morning, I stood outside the school with her. She doesn't file in with all the other second graders. It's too wild. We wait for a teacher or aide to come out and get her, but before the aide arrived, one of her little lunch buddies, a "typical," took her hand instead. They walked into school together, the aide watching from ten feet down the hall. The mom watching from ten steps outside the door.
Two little girls, holding hands as they file into school, like it's no big thing.
My heart is full.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I don't care who you are. Smoking is unsexy. You are being replaced with: No, not Jodi Foster,
(although....never mind). Chow Yun-Fat of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon fame. He's hot, and if he can fly through the air like that, imagine......?
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
It's about a "slow" man who wins the lottery, and his life in the aftermath. Everyone wants a piece of him.
It made me laugh.
It made me cry.
It made me think.
It made me happy when I saw it in a prominent position on the shelf at Barnes & Nobel yesterday.
"That's so cool!"
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
- If someone mentions the title of a blog post, I have to think hard to bring it up in my mind. By the next day I've usually moved on and can't remember what I wrote.
- I never, ever run out of things to blog about and I don't understand when people say they can't think of a thing to write.
- I am amazed that people read my blog.
- I threw the baby out with the bath water when I left the news business. I did love to write, just not news. Just not crazy deadlines. Just not fabrication.
- When I was a teen, I was working at a drug store, and one of the ladies I worked with said something funny, and I said, "I need to write that down" And she said, "Why?" and I said, "For my memoirs." And I didn't know what a memoir was, or why that word would slip out of my mouth. We looked at each other confused; me about the word memoir, her presumably about why I would think I would be important enough to write one. We both shrugged and let it go.
There you go Drama Mama, off the cuff.
I tag Carrie, Kari, Jerri, Shari, and do we have a Mary?
Nope no Marys.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Now I can write about it.
You know how we moved, and started Riley in a new school. And her teacher quit the first day? And then, we switched her to another school? And she started in second grade there last week, and it went sooooo well? You know how her new teacher is the perfect fit for her? How it is all finally going to be okay?
Riley's beautiful, young, vibrant teacher underwent emergency surgery Sunday night for an aortic aneurysm. She is currently in the ICU.
I spent the past couple of days questioning my belief system, because for someone who supposedly believes in a benevolent Universe; a loving God, I felt we were being messed with. I questioned my own worth. That irrational, childish feeling that everything is my fault, seeped in. Are my husband and my kids destined to have crappy lives because of a dark cloud that seems to follow me around? I felt kicked in the teeth. One step forward, 100 steps back. How many changes can this little girl (who does not do well with transitions) endure? I despise the whole victim mentality, but there I was, steeped in it.
So I didn't write about it.
Until I had a handle on it, I didn't want to make it bigger. I wrote about "baby talk on TV," and "shooting birds" and "shoving" instead. It helped. Tempting as it was, I didn't call one person to join me in my panic.
I got out my Abraham CD's.
I went for walks.
I took good care of myself.
I ate pumpkin cheesecake, and drank green tea.
Finally, now, I'm in a place where I am thankful for the opportunity this gave me to look at the fear that I'm somehow "less than." That I'm not worthy of a good life. I've taken it out and examined it for what it is, which is total bullshit.
The fact is, Riley came home from school the last three days happy, despite her teacher being out.
The third grade special ed teacher is good friends with Riley's ailing teacher. She was the first contact I made at this new school and I trust her. She hooked Riley up with a very seasoned aide (who has tons of experience with autism) and is hoping to be able to keep her in Riley's class until her teacher recovers. And miraculously, Riley's teacher IS expected to recover. Her aneurysm didn't rupture. Rupture is almost always fatal.
It is a benevolent Universe.
On this week's Abraham CD there was a question about autism. Abraham said something to the effect that it forces the issue of healing/spiritual growth through a kind of back door. "What you never would have done for yourself, you will do for your child."
My daughter and all that she brings, continuously shines a light on the places I still need to be healed, and though it doesn't feel like it at times, it is a blessing and I am so grateful to her.
No victims here. No curses either. No black clouds.
Both Riley and her teacher are okay.
I am too.
I have faith.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
"Seth." We don't shove, I admonished him.
Later, he told me what was going on.
The one he was shoving, and another little boy, had ganged up on him. They were calling him..."four."
Geesh. Had I known the magnitude of the insult, I wouldn't have stopped him.
That kid clearly had it coming.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
At break time, she went out on the playground with the other kids, took part in back and forth conversations, played a little girl hand clapping game (in the past these would cause a meltdown due to her motor delays; her body couldn't keep up) and even tried jumping rope.
This is a child who could hardly bear to even stand on a crowded playground holding a teacher's hand two years ago. A child who last year would only swing.
She asked her mother, mother, mother
for fifty cents, cents, cents....
Fifty cents? Fifty dollars? A hundred?
Whatever you want baby.
You make me so proud.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
He walked beside me, and did not want to be in the shopping cart, until we were checking out. At that point, I needed to put the bagged groceries in it, to carry them to the van. Still, he persisted, claiming he was too tired to walk all the way outside to the parking lot.
He whined, he pleaded, he clung to the cart. I kept walking, dragging him along. In the parking lot, he threw himself in front of the shopping cart, defying me to run over him. I peeled him off and walked around. He followed, screaming indignantly. When he saw we were approaching the van, and he was out of time, he lost it, throwing himself onto the dirty pavement, in child's pose, refusing to move.
It's sunny, in the 80's here today, and as I loaded the groceries into the van, I smiled at his ridiculousness.
"That pavement must be hot." I thought to myself.
After I got the groceries securely in the van, I turned and picked up my little man, smiling at the amount of energy he put into his tantrum despite the fact that he was too tired to walk. I buckled him in, kissed him and handed him his water. I turned on the theme to Hairspray and put on his favorite song (She's Got Cooties). I smiled all the way home.
Sorry little fella, it might have been a bad idea, but you got no game.
I learned from the best.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
"That doesn't look comfortable." I said.
We watched the cat. The cat watched us.
Riley talked to it in a sweet high voice, "Hello Kitty, hello baby."
The cat didn't move.
"Maybe it's Crystal." said Seth.
"It can't be Crystal, because Crystal died." said Riley.
After a while Seth sighed, cocked his head to the right and said, "Maybe she just took another body."
Monday, October 01, 2007
We were having a fine morning.
She and Seth were laughing at breakfast.
We had a plan.
The teacher would come outside and I'd hand her off. No mommy going in. No lengthy good-bye.
The teacher didn't come.
Riley got increasingly more nervous.
I asked someone to go in to get the teacher.
15 minutes went by and finally she came out.
I was at the wrong door. As soon as she said it, I remembered she'd said the other door.
By the time I left, Riley was really worked up. Screaming, begging me to take her home.
This is her first impression at the new school.
I just cannot keep track of everything I am supposed to keep track of, and I don't know how people do it, but I can't seem to and I suck.