Monday, December 6, 2010

Fragile

Oh yeah, there's a chip in the windshield too.
The Gallagher Express has pulled into Calamity Station.  Hopefully the stop-over won't be very long.  We have now amassed quite a list of items that are in need of repair. My sister-in-law Amy can attest that this is a necessary, though unwelcome, part of every deployment; at least one or ten things must break, quit working, or act in a generally unruly manner.  That's how you know you're in charge of EVERYTHING.....when you have to be in charge of getting EVERYTHING fixed.  A list of all things in some state of disrepair to date: one car door would not shut, one utility door off its track, one pressure cooker stopped pressurizing, two gates ceased to be useful in actually enclosing the backyard, every one of my fingernails split, one Honda Pilot Rear Entertainment System refused my daughter's pay-per-view payment option (coins fit rather easily into the DVD slot unfortunately), and one desk cabinet door split under the pressure of Sweet Girl's force field of motion.  And a partridge in a pear tree.  Seriously?  Does everything have to break at once?

These are all great annoyances, but they can all be fixed.  And thanks to Papa and the landlord, several of them already are. But I do have my moments when I like to feel sorry for myself. *cue the pity party decorations and have the WAHmbulance on stand-by* In the midst of one of those funks, I started thinking about what else can break around here.  Conclusion:  there's a lot around here yet to break.  Thank you, Lord, that so far there aren't any physical injuries on the list (knock on wood etc).  However, the two perpetual motion machines under this roof are bound to strike again.  And the DDT triple threat of duct tape, bailing wire, and WD-40 will be back out.  Because everything breaks.   

Everything breaks.  And the hardest things to fix are the intangibles.  Dreams that we have for ourselves, and others, shatter.  Hearts break in so many pieces for so many different reasons.  Hopes that we hold close or yell from the rooftops are dashed.  Sometimes those doing the hope-dashing are strangers or acquaintances, but usually it's those we love the most.  And that makes a heart break again.  Unshakable faith is questioned.  People grow apart; easily.  Promises are broken as readily as they are made.  Relationships end and take a piece of us that we thought was all our own.  Everything breaks. It's just that some things are harder to fix than others. 

Sweet Girl was not yet two years old when she received her formal diagnosis.  At the meeting with the developmental pediatrician, I teared up when he told me what I already knew: Sweet Girl has autism.  I had told him our story.  I told him how Sweet Girl had slowly but surely drifted away from us until it was obvious she was no longer comfortable in her own skin.  I told him how her happy moments were fewer and farther between as she had gotten older.  I told him about her not sleeping.  I told him that she didn't use many words anymore.  I told him that I would sometimes have to hold her hard against me - so I hard I thought something might break - to get her to calm down during the times she got upset.  I told him everything that had gotten us to that day.  And all through that, I managed not to lose my composure. And then he looked at Sweet Girl and told me I was right. He told me what I already knew and I broke down.  He asked me why it upset me to hear that when it was clear I already knew what he was going to say.  I couldn't manage an answer but just grabbed Sean's hand and watched Sweet Girl pick up office supplies on the pediatrician's desk.  The reason I cried at the truth: his words made me break.  Sweet Girl's life was now officially harder than I wanted it to be for her.  Whatever tiny part of me was holding on the idea that things would magically get better for this beautiful girl, finally let go.  Something there was broken, not Sweet Girl's heart or spirit, but whatever it is that enables her to be present had malfunctioned.  Something invisible had a hold on my daughter that I couldn't stop.  Everything breaks.  And I wasn't sure I could fix this.

And I still don't know. This is not something duct tape, bailing wire, and WD-40 can fix.  (Though on the millionth time through her singing recitations of Wonder Pets, the duct tape does comes to mind.)  But I do know that about a year and a half later, Sweet Girl is happy.  If she achieves nothing else, I will be grateful that she is now very comfortable in her own skin.  She has done therapies, a special diet, supplements, and now school during that time.  They were not always good, but they've goten progressively better.  Now her happy moments far outnumber the unhappy.  She can communicate basic needs and wants.  She introduced herself to the dog today.  That was awesome and a wee bit funny.  She has a sense of self and has shown sympathy and empathy to others.  She is becoming social.  She is not like her neurotypical peers, so I know to many people she seems broken.  But I know where she started.  I know how much damage she (and the good Lord) have repaired.  She's a work in progress.  Honestly, who isn't?  Sweet Girl has come such a long way even though she still has a long way to go. But I have faith that Sweet Girl can emerge from whatever is left of the thing that had a such tight grip on her in that pediatrician's office.  I have faith in that because everything breaks.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We're not players. We just crush a lot.

Seeing as how the month of December has arrived, I can now declare November "The Month of Crushes" in Sweet Girl and Little Man's world.  All of our hearts were a little crushed sending Sean off at the beginning of the month, but in true short-attention-span style the Littles moved on when something shiny caught their collective eye.  I won't bore you with all the crushes happening around here but in true I'm-writing-this-blog-to-talk-about-my-kids style, I'll hit the highlights.

Little Man has a crush on everyone.  Yep, everyone.  He's a smiler.  He flashes his three teeth like they're orthodontic currency and he's balancing the budget.  He and I went to Walgreen's earlier this week to get some cold medicine.  We were there for 25 minutes because the cashier called two associates up from the back to talk to Little Man.  He smiled.  And then he smiled some more. He babbled and then tucked his head down on my shoulder, still looking at the ladies.  They would have had us in there all day but thankfully another customer walked up with their items.  And then Little Man smiled at that guy. And he wanted to talk to Little Man.  I wanted to go home and take my cold medicine.  I mean, yes, he's a charmer but he also gets heavy after awhile.  Give a mother a break. 

But Little Man is not the only one pouring on the charm lately.  It seems Sweet Girl has a crush at school.  That's right.  She's three years old and seems to have picked herself a boyfriend in her pre-k class.  Mr. Dreamy Eyelashes (name changed to protect his identity) is non-verbal and has motor planning issues, so he has a variety of cool things to help him get around.  This is a match made in heaven.  Sweet Girl won't be pressured to talk AND she can be in charge of some wheels.  There are many things I love about my daughter, but the fact that she sees advantages where others see deficits is high on the list.  All the students in Sweet Girl's class (including Sweet Girl) are there because of something they lack.  But in Sweet Girl's world they aren't any different from anyone else and in some cases they're better. Others may think a wheelchair is a hindrance, but she thinks it's pretty awesome.  Partially because she is in her own head so much and partially because she's a sweet girl, my Sweet Girl. 

Mr. Dreamy Eyelashes has become number one on Sweet Girl's Greatest Hits of school songs.  If she starts singing a song from school that involves any of the students' names, Mr. Dreamy Eyelashes is the first to get used.  And not because he's the only one she knows.  She knows everyone in her class.  Mrs. Sara told me that and I've seen it myself at drop-off.  It makes my heart happy when my formerly anti-social, withdrawn, anxiety-ridden Sweet Girl marches up to everyone at school saying "Hi! Hi, Mr. Dreamy Eyelashes (or insert appropriate name of student here)! Hi!"  We still need to work on her hand waving (currently it's a cross between hailing a cab and the Nazi salute) but her enthusiasm to see and interact with her peers (!!!!!!!)makes me smile so hard my cheeks squish my eyes closed, so that's not a big concern.  She may be more like her father than I previously thought.  And she may have a career as a WalMart greeter.

Little Man has also developed a crush on table food.  He would prefer to be done with that puree nonsense and would rather just have a turkey leg to gnaw on.  Chicken, turkey, gfcf pumpkin waffles, Cheerios, rice cakes, bring them on.  I cooked some ground turkey one night and was giving him some while also trying to get him to eat some pureed squash.  He likes squash but would have nothing to do with it until he ate all the turkey.  And then he wouldn't have anything to do with it until I gave him the empty bowl as proof that the turkey was, in fact, gone.  You can look out for his food blog, Little Man, Big Appetite, in the coming weeks.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention one other crush.  Sweet Girl has a crush on Papa.  And I could be mistaken, but I don't think this breaks Papa's heart.  The circus came to Newman for Thanksgiving and during those six days, and the weekend before that here in Clarksville, Papa's tickling ability got tested.  Papa put together a swing set and a trampoline and Sweet Girl all of a sudden had the urge to use tools.  And for a girl who doesn't say that much, "Where's Papa?" came out of her mouth an awful lot.  As a matter of fact, Papa was deemed the only acceptable swing-pusher at one point.  And I know I'm not mistaken when I say that didn't break my heart.  Sweet Girl certainly thinks Papa is pretty cool.  And a papa is not necessarily a bad person for a three year old to have a crush on.  I mean, he's no Mr. Dreamy Eyelashes, but he'll do.