Archive for October 2012
Pudding was off school last week. She doesn’t like being off school. In fact, she loves being AT school, which is pretty awesome most of the time.
But not so awesome last week when she wasn’t there. She is very anxious that we are going to stop her going to school, so she doesn’t trust that break will only be temporary.
She wanted to see her friends, and her teachers, and seemed to be under the impression that the more she asked about them, the faster time would pass. Which is weird, because it seemed to work the opposite for me.
“You’ll go back to school on Monday,” went my litany. Over and over I said it. I didn’t even think abotu what I was saying, I just repeated myself over and over. My own echolalia.
What you might think I’d have made certain of….what any sensible or rational person would do….and absolutely what every spectrummy mummy must do is, you know, have her facts straight.
So, still thinking that it was Back to School Day, we went through the motions of getting ready. And even though she didn’t want to get dressed, she would, because it was for school. And even though she didn’t want to stop playing with her brother (I know!), she would, because it was for school.
We even went outside early so there was absolutely, positively no chance of missing that school bus. What did it matter that I hadn’t dried my hair, put on make-up or retrieved that contact lens that had slipped behind my eyeball. There’d be loads of time after I got her on the bus.
“I want to go to school.” She reminded me after 5 minutes.
I really did. The bus wasn’t technically late yet. No need to panic. I don’t know where the other kids are who normally get on the bus.
“I want to go on the bus.”
Ten minutes turned into fifteen, and it was definitely time to panic. I needed to get back inside to check, but I was a coward. I tried suggesting that she went to the bathroom.
“No. I want to go to school. Only to school.”
Finally Spectrummy Daddy comes out, having checked and found that school doesn’t go back until Wednesday. He’ll take Cubby, I’ll take Pudding to her therapy centre. I’m already late for work, but I know that if I don’t explain things to Pudding, it will be worse.
But I’m a coward. I run upstairs where it is already too late to fix that hair or find that contact lens or well, forget about make-up.
So Spectrummy Daddy tells her for me. But, you know, she accepts it. There is no meltdown. No tears. No refusing to go to the therapy centre. All the things I knew would happen just…didn’t.
So I was wrong about school, and I was wrong about Pudding’s reaction. I might think that I know her, but I’m just starting to see what she is about…and I can’t wait to know the rest.
I woke up to the news today that Ann Coulter had used the R-word in an insult to The President following last night’s debate. I went to bed last night with a migraine, but today I’ve woken up feeling worse. I’m tired of hate speech. I’m tired of waking up to a world with that word in it. There is no place for it- not in politics, and not in our personal lives.
A fellow autism parent blogger has started up a link for a post denouncing Ann Coulter’s slur, and some parents have posted photos to show exactly who is being insulted by the R-word. Both of my children have developmental delays; and both are beautiful, smart, funny, complex and worthy human beings. I liberally use photos of them in my blog, but I never will in association with something as derogatory as the R-word. That word doesn’t apply to them; it doesn’t apply to any of us.
I’m dismayed by a pundit using that word, but I’m just as angry about the number of people retweeting her comment, or defending such an offensive slur. If you use that word, if you defend the use of that word; you are hurting me and my family. And if you are going to start doing that, believe me, I have a number of choice words for you…and not one of them nearly as hateful as this one.
I decided to take the kids out for an early dinner. Today is one of those perfect Jozi spring days. The Jacarandas are blossoming, but they’re not quite at their vibrant peak yet. On a Friday afternoon sitting outdoors at a cafe in Sandton, you could be in Europe, only with better weather. This is an unexpected treat for us all. I was supposed to be having dental treatment, but the water was out- sometimes water and power outages are the only sign that this is still a developing country. Developing being the right word, for all its economic slump, there is a lot of construction going on here, and sometimes the wrong pipe gets hit.
I sipped at my capuccino with cream, and enjoyed the moment of perfection, knowing it couldn’t last for long.
Pudding was content. She’d had the Halloween Parade at school, which she’d loved. She ordered herself a bacon and avocado sandwich and apple juice by herself. Yes, it is the same thing she always ordered, but I’m pretty sure it is exactly what she feels like eating. She isn’t just doing okay, she is doing really, really well lately. She seems more comfortable in her own skin than I’ve ever seen. The wind picked up and she turned her face to it, enjoying the caress to her skin.
Cubby was out of sorts. I knew he hadn’t napped, and was too hungry and too tired to know what was wrong. Normally very expressive, he was down to grunts and shouts. He couldn’t decide what to eat, even if he wanted to eat. A siren in the distance hurt his ears. He was in and out of his chair. Putting his hands in his drink and smearing it over the table. Then he began playing with his spit when the drink was confiscated. Finally he turned to tormenting his sister for entertainment. The wind picked up, and he shrieked in pain as it whipped at his skin.
Watching the two of them was a study in contrasts. Pudding, at peace; Cubby intent on disturbing it. This was her two or three years ago. This disorder and chaos. Feeling something was wrong, and not knowing how to put it right. How far she has come.
Then I let my mind wander further back. I remember holding infant Pudding. Apart from when she was nursing, (which I naturally did a LOT) she was screaming. Arching her back, red-faced, furious at me for not fixing what was wrong. And I’d go through everything I thought I knew about babies, wondering what I must have missed to make her thrash around like this. She pulled at my hair in her rage. The screaming made my head throb, and I wanted to run away from this tiny creature who put all her trust in me. And though I wanted to shout and scream, I pulled her in closer, and kissed her downy head, and held her until we breathed together, just rocking and kissing, until the screaming was done.
I picked up Cubby and cradled him. He resisted at first- pushed away, then caved in. His floppy body curled into mine and I kissed his face. “I’m a baby.” He said, like he does so often. I didn’t correct him this time. I kissed his fingers and his arms. He twirled his hands through my hair, just like his sister always had. I kiss the soft nape, and when I close my eyes, I forget where I am, or when I am. It doesn’t matter- I am mothering instinctively.
Three year-olds can only be held for so long, so I release him, and he dances for a while- trying to catch the eye of the waiting staff. I turn back to Pudding, with her wry, contented smile. I see what’s catching her eye: some paper teapots attached to the ceiling are fluttering in the breeze. “Dancing teapots”, I say out loud. “Dancing teapots”, she echoes. We watch them together, and her hand creeps up into my hair, but in comfort, not in rage.
In that moment of calm, I feel all the many joys she has brought me. All the dancing tea cups that I would otherwise have missed. I know, if I have to, I can do it all over again. Even if I still feel more rookie than veteran. We’ll grow, and develop, and get there together.
Cubby got sick yesterday. He started with diarrhea, went to lost appetite, and finished up at fever. We had a stay-at-home day making the most of our new GIANT beanbag (only it isn’t beans and the kids adore the sensory experience) thing. So there was too much TV and movies, with a little bit of drawing and writing practice, but mostly a comfortable day at home.
Then comes nightfall, and the illness kicked up a notch, as they are wont to do. He was sick all over our bed, and the diarrhea became worse. The fever got higher today. It would abate when we gave him medicine, but then pick up again as it wore off. The highest it got was 102.7. In the week, we’d have been straight to the clinic, but at the weekend it gets trickier. He didn’t appear dehydrated, but the diarrhea was more frequent, and he was definitely more miserable.
In the late afternoon, I changed his diaper and found blood and mucous. Oops, should have done a warning earlier in this post, shouldn’t I? I really hope you’re not reading this over breakfast. Sorry. Anyway, with that, the four of us were winging it to the ER/Casualty whatever you want to call it. Last time I went there was with Pudding, and it had been a pretty bad experience. Spectrummy Daddy pointed out the peanuts(!) scattered on the floor, and I wasn’t hoping for much better on this occasion.
But this time it was better. They did chide me for only having a GP and not a pediatrician. But I just took it, without pointing out that our GP knows more about allergies and anaphylaxis than anyone in that nut-infested clinic, and that we did have a pediatrician based in this very hospital, but he died and you didn’t tell us and when we called for an appointment the replacement had too many patients so we had to go elsewhere. To the GP.
I also didn’t, having learned my lesson the last time, try to tell them about Cubby’s sensory issues, or his hyperactivity, how he could have ADHD, or he might have a dash of Asperger’s. I kept mum, if you will. This was much better. He was just a three year-old having a very bad weekend, and we were just his average family looking for some help. They found us a room quickly, and the doctor came not much longer after that.
The doctor examined Cubby, who only resisted slightly (progress!). He decided Cubby was not dehydrated, and the bloody stools were a result of too much diarrhea, probably caused by an infection. He wrote a prescription, and we were free to go.
Not much of a story, eh? Well, for me the big story here is what I’m not mentioning. Have you noticed I haven’t spoken of Pudding? Pudding, who can’t stand to be cooped up in the house for two days, coped. And Pudding, who hates the hospital, came along without a peep. And Pudding, who used to crawl all over the floor and put everything she found in her mouth, sat in her chair and didn’t even notice the peanuts on the floor. Pudding, who finds waiting rooms too much, waited. Pudding, who finds the examination room a sensory nightmare, sat in her chair and drew Hello Kitty.
So, while it wasn’t the best weekend, it shows the leaps and bounds our girl has been making lately. Not just in things she can can now do, but also in the things she no longer does. Today could have been a hundred times worse. Today I saw how things are getting better. Now we only need to hope the same for poor Cubby.