The F Bomb

swearingI used to be a lot more shy than I am now, and a lot less inclined to swear, when I was younger.

Then, I let some crappy people into my life. Now, I swear like a trucker.

It’s cathartic for me- I swear to vent my feelings, so that I don’t have to explain to a judge why I killed so-and-so. I’ll admit, sometimes I swear to get a reaction, too.

It isn’t as though it reflects a poor intellect on my part, either. Not to be vain, but I like to think that I am at least as smart as I am smart-assed. Technically, I could say the same stuff in a much less vulgar way, but frankly it wouldn’t be as inherently satisfying.

My thought is that swearing is fine, but you don’t do it until you know what the words mean and when you should NOT use them.

My partner and I do actually try to curb our use of the choice words, whenever we’re with our kids, but we don’t cut them out altogether. We simply explain that those particular words are “Mommy and Daddy words”, and hope for the best. After all, the F bomb and other words like it are an intrinsic part of what makes up our sarcastic, vulgar, smart-assed personalities. Without them, we just wouldn’t be the same people.

The problem is that not only are kids (especially A.S.D kiddos, apparently) like sponges, but they are also like broken records- they will latch onto something and, despite being warned not to, they will repeat that thing ad nauseam. My kids have done this to the point where their Dad and I are on the verge of being driven crazy by it.

My particular problem is that I find it hard to be stern with my kids when they say a word they shouldn’t, because I’m usually too busy laughing.

Case in point:

Jill had just abandoned her Magnadoodle, after writing the alphabet on it, and sat down to colour at the kids’ table. Jack, even though he actually has his own Magnadoodle, immediately pounced on the opportunity to play with two of them simultaneously. The look on his face was sheer joy.

Jill: “Jack, don’t erase my freaking letters!”

Me, wanting to use this as a teaching opportunity: “It’s O.K to say ‘freaking’, honey. ‘Freaking’ is a good word.”

Jill, while colouring: “’Freaking’ is O.K. I can say ‘freaking’. I can’t say ‘fucking’.”

It took me several minutes to stop laughing, before I could tell Jill not to use that word.

My kids’ future teachers are going to love us parents. I have a feeling there are going to be plenty of Parent-Teacher Interviews.

I can see it now:

Their dad and I will be sitting in front of the teacher’s desk, in a couple of chairs that are way too small to fit our asses, looking as contrite as we can possibly manage. Some teachers just have a way of making the parents feel like they’re also in need of disciplining, at those little meetings.

The teacher will say something like: “Your daughter has been using the F word in class lately.”

Me: “Aw, crap.”

Teacher: “Do you know where she might have learned that word?”

Me, shrugging and smiling innocently: “I don’t have a fucking clue where she could have picked that up. Do you, honey?”

The Dad: “Fucked if I know.”

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I Know What Causes Autism

This, exactly. 🙂

Carrie Cariello

Last week I was surfing the Internet and came across a headline proclaiming autism and circumcision are linked. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed out loud.

In no certain order, I have read the following explanations for autism over the years:

Autism is caused by mercury.

Autism is caused by lead.

Autism begins with poor maternal bonding.

Certain pesticides may trigger autism.

Plastics.

Gluten aggravates autism spectrum disorder.

People with autism should eat more strawberries.

Too much automotive exhaust is a leading cause of autism.

Chemicals found on non-stick cookware may trigger autism.

The one about maternal bonding is sort of painful for me. The truth is, I did have a hard time bonding with infant Jack. The little guy shrieked and whined and cried for a solid year. He started sleeping through the night at six weeks, and stopped at three months.

I was exhausted, and Joe and I were…

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The Art of Having Good Manners

rude-behavior1When I was growing up, manners were everything. If you didn’t mind your P’s and Q’s, you didn’t get what you were asking for, and it was as simple as that. More than just saying please and thank you when it was appropriate, we were expected to excuse ourselves when it was called for, and say “bless you” or at least “gesundheit” whenever someone sneezed, and what have you.

My partner came from a similar household, so we do our best to instill good manners in our children- especially when we are bombarded daily with a distinct lack of courtesy: kids who demand or take something without saying please and thank you, people who let doors shut in others’ faces, and so on. It makes me wonder what the parents were doing while those kids were busy growing up.

Now, I’m not perfect. My partner is not perfect, and neither are my kids. We all slip up now and again, but at least the effort is there. I can honestly say that, at age 5, Jill has a firm concept of what good manners are. Whether she always uses them… well… that remains to be seen.

One thing she never lets pass is the opportunity to say “bless you” when someone sneezes. I would even go as far as to say she is practically militant about it.

Although she has said “bless you” to a sneeze since we first taught her to many moons ago, a little while back she must have come to some decision to take it up a notch.

On the evening in question, my partner was lounging on the couch while working on his laptop. I was in the kitchen gathering up the dishes to put in the dishwasher. I had literally just put the kids through their bedtime ritual not moments before, so they were playing out all their leftover energy in their room. I could hear them talking and giggling and jumping on the bed.

My partner sneezed.

Out of the kids’ bedroom, there came Jill’s tiny voice: “Bless you!”

I don’t think their dad heard it. Not even a moment passed before Jill got a little more assertive.

“I SAID BLESS YOU!” she screamed.

I yelled back that Daddy said “thanks”, even though I know he hadn’t heard her at all.

After that evening, she started being almost obnoxious in her courtesy, when it came to sneezes. She let it be known that she expected a “thank you” when she gave her blessing after someone sneezed, only she didn’t really give them a chance to answer before launching her inner diva at them.

Lately, Jill has taken it up another notch.

About a week ago, we were in a similar sort of position. I had just put the kids down for the night, and was putting away some dishes while their Daddy worked on his laptop.

He happened to sneeze a few times (how dare he?).

Out of the bedroom, there came that tiny little voice again: “Bless you!”

And then, not seconds later: “I SAID BLESS YOU!”

My partner heard it this time, and said “thank you”, but I don’t think Jill caught it because it wasn’t a few more moments before I heard: “Did you say thank you?”

We both burst out laughing. If it weren’t for that fact, we would’ve answered her before she screamed: “SAY THANK YOU!”

I think her next step may be to come out of the bedroom and get right in the poor sneezer’s face. You know, before my daughter, I never would have thought simple courtesy could be aggressive.

The Bedtime Ritual

5f98828d2d81f27b0478d9828f7a372aMy kids are creatures of habit.

Well, perhaps it’s more accurate to say they are creatures of routine.

Jack and Jill can be flexible, when it comes to what goes on during their day, don’t get me wrong. They roll with the punches, as it were. As my partner and I have come to discover, however, there just some things that you don’t mess with.

Ever.

Not even if the house were on fire, and getting out alive meant Jill couldn’t wash her hands after going potty (because then you would have a house fire AND a screaming meltdown on your hands).

Not even if the richest person in the world offered you obscene amounts of money, but collecting it meant you had to pick it up at the doors of Walmart without actually going in to shop.

You just don’t mess with that kind of thing.

Here’s the deal, though: you can change a routine by adding to it, without any incident. If you take any part of it away… well… heaven forbid. I’m sure taking items away from a set routine is a popular activity for masochistic A.S.D parents.

I, however, am not a masochist.

With that being said, as I reflect on some of the weirder routines my kids have, I suppose I am probably a glutton for punishment.

For instance, the rational part of me knows not to add anything new to the bedtime ritual. After all, once something new is said or done, it can never be taken away, ever, until the end of your life as you know it. In fact, it’s this particularly idiotic trait of mine that has led to the bedtime ritual being the way it is. I shudder at the thought of an onlooker witnessing this nightly show.

Imagine, if you will, a small bedroom, crowded with furniture and toys. Imagine two small kids who are expert climbers and mischief makers. Imagine a little boy who has his own bed, but refuses to sleep in it because he likes to be near his sister.

There is a mom who, exhausted from the day, shuffles the kids into a darkened bedroom lit only by a night light, because the little boy’s compulsive fascination with flicking switches has led to the dad duct-taping the damn light switch in the “off” position.

Mom checks the room for hidden dangers because, if there is one, her kids will surely find it. It’s certainly part of Murphy’s Law and, well… Murphy’s Law is what masquerades as this particular Mom’s luck.

After a thorough look, she picks up certain stuffed animals as the kids hop up onto the bed: three little horses (Crystal, Tazzy and Jasper, after the ones Jill rides at therapy), a brown bunny, a Hello Kitty doll, Sick Bear- a giant teddy bear that is as big as Jill- a small black teddy bear, and a sock monkey doll.

The kids stand on the bed, waiting eagerly for their turn. Jill is first, and it goes like this:

Me: “Wipe your face.”

Slobbery kisses and a tight hug follow.  I’m pretty sure Jill thinks the words “wipe your face” are followed by an unspoken “on Mommy’s face”.

Crystal, the white horse, starts off this part of the routine.

Me: “Where does Crystal go?”

Jill: “On my left arm!”

I put the white horse down on her left arm.

Me: “Where does Tazzie go?”

Jill: “On my right arm!”

I put the brown horse down on her right arm.

Me: “Where does Jasper go?”

Jill: “On my left arm!”

I put the brown horse with the white mane and tail on her left arm.

Me: “Where does Bunny go?”

Jill: “On my right arm!”

I put Bunny next to Tazzie.

Me: “Where does Hello Kitty go?”

Jill: “On my chest!”

Hello Kitty goes smack in the middle of it all.

Me: “Where does Sick Bear go?”

Jill (with squeals and giggles): “On my face!!!”

Then, I count to three, yell “Bonzai!” and drop the giant teddy bear on her face. All you can see is a pile of stuffed animals, not unlike the one in the picture above (except, you know, inside) topped with the over-sized Sick Bear, with only two little feet sticking out at the end.

Jack’s part in this bit is thankfully simpler. With him, it’s a matter of counting to three before dropping the black teddy bear and the sock monkey on him, followed by covering everyone and everything with a blanket.

This is not the point at which I leave; no, no, no.

Because at some point in the past I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, I now wish them goodnight this way:

“I love you both. Don’t climb on the shelves. Don’t climb on the furniture. Don’t turn on the light. Don’t open the closet. Sleep well!”

Finally (blessedly), I get to leave the room.

One day I’ll get the clue: if the routine is perfect, don’t mess with it.

You Said What, Now?

your-e-cards-miltonious-101Being an autism parent, no matter where your kid falls on the spectrum, is not an easy ride.  When you factor in other people’s offerings or responses, the result can be frustrating or even heartbreaking.

I’ve come to believe that, when it comes to any sort of disability, there are four kinds of people out there:

1/ People who either have a disability, or are related to someone who does.

2/ People who may not be either of the above, but are knowledgeable and understanding anyway.

3/ People who have no direct experience, who are ignorant but well-meaning.

4/ People who are just plain assholes.

In my 5 1/2 years of being a special needs parent, I’ve encountered all three of the other types of people out there.  If I know that they aren’t trying to be jerks, I do my best to be polite.  Sometimes, though…  I really wish I had the balls to say what I’m thinking, out loud.

Since I’m not that sort of person in real life, I figured I’d put together a list- a list of the worst things I hear as an autism parent, including how I usually respond and what I would really like to say.

Fair warning: my attitude’s showing.

1. “All kids do that”, or “All kids have weird fears.”

How I Respond:

“I guess so, to some degree.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Really?  Are your kids afraid of dandelions?  Do your kids cover their ears, or slap their head when they’re upset? Do your kids break into screaming and crying fits when you brush their hair gently?”

2. “That’s funny, they don’t look Autistic”, or “I never would have known!”

How I Respond:

“You really have to spend some time with them to notice.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Funny you should say that, because you don’t look like an idiot.”

3. “It could be worse”

How I Respond:

“Yeah, I guess so.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“I know there are kids who are lower functioning. I know there are parents with more than two special needs kids. I know there are kids in wheelchairs. I know there are fucking starving kids in fucking Africa. I’m expressing frustration, and what you’re doing is the opposite of helping.”

4. “He/she’ll outgrow it.”

How I Respond:

“You don’t outgrow Autism, you just learn how to thrive in spite of it.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Do you have any idea how much therapy and extra teaching will go into turning my kids into fully functioning, independent adults? They don’t outgrow it- we just teach them how to work around it.”

5. “He/ She’s so cute. It’s a shame about the Autism.”

How I Respond:

“Why is it a shame?”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Why is it a shame? My kids are pretty awesome little people, if you give them a chance. They’ve just got a different way of expressing it.”

6. “They’re just trying to get attention.”

How I Respond:

“I know what ‘trying to get attention’ looks like, thanks.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Really? Because I thought that all the inconsolable screaming, crying, ear-hitting was a meltdown. My kid is having a sensory-overload meltdown, you ass. They aren’t ‘trying to get attention’.”

7. “Don’t Autistic people have special talents, or something?”

How I Respond:

“Sometimes they can appear to be talented in one particular area, like anyone else.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Sure. My daughter can fly, and my son can shoot fireballs out of his eyes.”

8. “I don’t know how you handle it/ I couldn’t deal with that.”

How I Respond:

“It’s stressful, but we just keep pushing forward.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“How do you know? Have you tried it?”

9. “Like Rain Man?”

How I Respond:

“Um… no.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“You know, I enjoyed that movie. It really did a lot to raise awareness for people with Autism and other learning and sensory disorders. The problem is, now everybody thinks all Autistic people are like the fellow on Rain Man. Seriously, crack open a book, or at least Google it.”

10. “Everyone’s a little Autistic”, or “She/he’s just being a kid.”

How I Respond:

“Seriously?”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Oh, well that makes it O.K then. By the way, thanks for undermining our struggle.”

11. “Let them stay with me for a while- I bet I can fix them.”

How I Respond:

“Thanks, but we’re handling it.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Is there someplace you can go to fix your attitude?”

12. “There’s a word for that kind of behaviour: brat.”

How I Respond:

“My kids aren’t being brats, they’re just having a bad day.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“There’s a word for your kind of behaviour: asshole.”

13. “It’s nothing a good spanking won’t fix.”

How I Respond:

“You can’t beat the Autism out of a child, you jerk.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“I’m guessing your parents didn’t succeed in spanking the asshole out of you.”

14. “So he/she’s a retard?”

How I Respond:

“No, he/she is Autistic. Please don’t use that ugly word when referring to my children.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“That’s funny, I didn’t think my kids were even related to you.”

15. “He/she’s one of God’s special little children.”

How I Respond:

“I guess so.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Why? Why should my kids be considered any different from any other kid? Sure, they’re special to me, but they shouldn’t be put on a pedestal or set apart from other children.”

16. “I hear it comes from the Dad.”

How I Respond:

“Well, that’s one theory.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Well, that’s one theory…out of literally hundreds.”

17. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

How I Want to Respond:

“Thanks, but we’ve got a handle on it.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Why are you sorry? My kids are awesome.”

18. “You must really have your hands full.”

How I  Respond:

“You bet!”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Doesn’t any parent?”

19. “He/she can’t be Autistic, because he/she speaks.”

How I Respond:

“Yes they can. Not all people with Autism are non-verbal.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Oh. Well, I guess she’ll just have to stop talking, so that everyone will believe me when I tell them.”

20. “You won’t even be able to notice they are Autistic, when they are older.”

How I Respond:

“One can only hope.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Do you know how many hours of therapy and specialized teaching they have already gone through? Do you know how many hours they will have to go through between now and adulthood, just to be able to function normally, like everyone else?”

21. “Everyone is Autistic these days.”

How I Respond:

“Um… I guess so.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“The reason it seems like everyone is Autistic these days is because it’s being researched and diagnosed better. We have better tools and tests, and are able to properly diagnose those people who, only a generation ago, might have been considered a dreamer, anti-social, or severely mentally disabled.”

22. “God only gives you what you can handle.”

How I Respond:

“I guess so.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“I really wish God would see fit to send a babysitter my way every so often, so my partner and I can take a break from what God thinks we can handle.”

23. “Did you get him/her vaccinated as a baby? I heard that vaccines can cause Autism.”

How I Respond:

“Yes I have, and that’s only one theory as to what causes Autism.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“There isn’t enough conclusive evidence to support that theory, actually. Frankly, even if it were true, I’d rather have kids with Autism than kids who die preventable deaths because they weren’t vaccinated properly.”

24. “Does he/she ever sit still or stop talking?”

How I Respond:

“Sometimes, but they are naturally very busy and chatty.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Do you ever stop being an ass?”

25. “What end of the spectrum is he/she on?”

How I Respond:

“They are high-functioning.”

What I’d Really Like to Say:

“Why does that matter? Will it make you treat them differently?”

 

Well, there you have it: the things that make the Momma Bear in me come out.