Archive for the ‘Spectrummy Daddy’ Category
Spectrummy Daddy wrote this post for his personal blog, and I thought it belonged over here too…
Since the people reading this are probably friends of mine, I don’t have to tell you the my lovely daughter has Autism. We’ve been very open about it, and luckily for us she is high functioning. However, my daughter also has issues when it comes to loud noises. On Saturday at a birthday party the magician popped balloons and she freaked out. If there is a huge commotion she will become paralyzed with fear. It’s one of the most heart-breaking things you’ll ever see. This very tall 4 year old just crumbles into a pile and screams. Because she also has Sensory Processing issues, she covers her eyes as well to try and make the noise stop. It’s almost like she’s seeing sounds.
On a similar note, as most of you know, I listen to a lot of music. Usually it’s pumping pretty loudly and it switches my brain off which allows me to stay calm as I suffer ocassionally from anxiety. Different reactions to the same loud noise. My lovely daughter does love music too, but usually when it’s not too loud and when she can sing very loudly, if not always on key.
The reason I’ve told you all this is because I’ve noticed something that maybe my daughter has correct. Last night when I was sitting in my children’s room waiting for them to go to sleep, I had my music on. It was tuned low so it wouldn’t disturb them, and I started to notice something. Songs I had heard numerous times before sounded different. There were added parts that made the sound richer and more full. “Take Five” by Dave Brubek, only one of the greatest jazz songs ever recorded, sounded even better than usual as I could hear all the parts clearly and see how they all fit together. “Panic Switch” by Silversun Pickups has a stick part from the drummer in the break I had never really heard fully before. It’s pretty intricate.
It was amazing, and it made me think that maybe too loud is an issue for me too. Maybe it’s an issue with everyone. Maybe we have everything so loud we can’t listen to nuance. Perhaps the problem with society is that we all have sensory issues, but we can chose to ignore them and we do. Sadly my daughter can’t, so we’ll have to figure out how to turn the sound down on the world for her. Maybe we all can do that, and listen to the intricate parts of life, and see how we all fit together.
Guest post by Spectrummy Daddy
Spectrummy Mummy likes to joke that I have permanent foot-in-mouth disease. It seems that I have a knack of making comments at exactly the wrong time, and usually I don’t even realize I’ve done it. I’ve decided to tell you one of those times, and how it has now paid me back.
The day before we discovered Pudding was on the way, my longest-serving friend, Chandler (not his real name), and his wife, Joanie (or hers), were in town visiting Spectrummy Mummy and I before we left for Luxembourg. Now, to understand something, Chandler and I think a lot alike. We used to get in trouble all the time in classes we had together. In fact, in one class, the teacher was so sick of it, he moved Chandler to the other side of the room, and we still got in trouble because we’d exchange a look and just laugh. With this in mind, picture the 4 of us as we’ve just gone to a Caribou Coffee after a cold time in front of the White House taking photos.
Joanie and Spectrummy Mummy went to find a table while Chandler and I went for coffee. Chandler likes his coffee a lot. We order, wait to get our coffees, and head to find our lovely wives. As we sit down, and with Chandler’s love of coffee in mind, I ask him a simple question: “You’re not going to be one of those parents that let their kids drink coffee, are you?”
Joanie and SM look at me aghast, and Chandler just looks confused at their horror. To both of us, it seemed like a perfectly normal question. All of this took place in exactly 2 seconds, as I glanced to SM’s right. There sits a little 4-year-old drinking coffee, and his father has just heard what I said. I quickly add: “Cause that would be awesome,” hoping this will assuage the gentleman. He looks at me, and says kindheartedly, “Well, you’ve got to teach them to drink the good stuff early, right?” SM and Joanie are just embarrassed, and Chandler is still trying to figure out what was going on. I vowed right then and there two things: 1) I would always look around when making judgmental pronouncements, and 2) I would never be that guy whose kid drinks coffee at coffee shops.
As Spectrummy Mummy’s post the other day showed, my kids are intimately familiar with the symbol for Starbucks, and they like to talk about “getting a coffee.” They don’t drink coffee, but it sure looks like they do when they have milk in a Starbucks cup. Maybe that kid long ago was just drinking milk, and I was being a pretentious jerk. All I know is that we get those looks of disdain when my kids talk about getting coffee, and I always think back to that day. I think about the looks I get from other parents when my kids act up, and I remember I was a bit judgmental as well. I also remember the look of understanding from the father, and I try very hard to be as cool as he was that day.
Today is my wonderful husband’s birthday. I could write about how every day he demonstrates the strength of unconditional love, but I can show you instead. And I’ll show you how he never stops trying to connect with our girl, even when it is hard going. I’d tell you that the world is a better place for every day he is on the planet, but you can see that for yourself. Read on for the first guest post he wrote, and please join me in wishing him a very happy birthday.
Hello, everyone. Spectrummy Mummy asked me if I would like to do a guest blog, and I reluctantly agreed. I’m kidding, I jumped at the chance. Please don’t go visit another blog, I promise Spectrummy Mummy will return tomorrow.
When she asked me what I was going to blog, I had to think about it for a bit. Do I talk about one of the greatest days of my life, when I became a father? (And the German nurse in the delivery room that still makes us laugh. Great story. Really.) Or, do I talk about how I cried when my pudding said “I love you Daddy” after she was diagnosed, because I was afraid she’d lose the ability to say it later on? I wasn’t as well informed then as I am now. She still says I love you daddy. And then I realized what I wanted to talk about.
A daddy’s link to his little girl is always strong. Usually there is something that is special between the two of them. Ours was actually two things: weekend breakfasts and ice cream. I come from a southern family that likes to eat. We can all cook, and we like to eat good food. Our love of ice cream and breakfast, particularly American biscuits, is passed down from generations like a good family history. Proving that she was my daughter, pudding took to both of these items with zeal. Every weekend I would ask pudding “What do you want for breakfast?” She would always reply, “Biscuits and honey. Bees make honey.” I would smile, and make buttermilk biscuits for her. We’d smile at each other, and I’d get a kiss from her with a thank you. When we were out, if she was good, she was always promised ice cream. It was always a treat from daddy for her. “Pudding, what kind of ice cream do you want?” “Strawberry with sprinkles” was the inevitable reply. It was the pink ice cream, you see. It was Pudding and daddy’s special thing, and something we bonded over.
When Pudding kept waking in the middle of the night screaming, we knew there was a problem. When we took her to Dr. P, she suggested that perhaps we should take her to an allergist, just to rule that out as a cause. When we received the results, my heart sank. There it was: milk, oats, wheat, and all the others. There’s your ice cream and your biscuits gone. There was weekend breakfasts, ice cream treats, and the bonding I had with my little girl. How was I going to connect to her now? It was like starting over again 3 years later.
However, Spectrummy Mummy came to my aid when she caught me crying. (That is also passed down in my family from generation to generation.) With the wisdom of Solomon and the looks of a young Grace Kelly, she explained that this could be viewed as a good thing. While we had previously connected by eating, a potentially unhealthy and dangerous activity if overindulged, we could now find something else to connect with. So, three years after I first became a dad, I started over with my daughter.
Now, we swim together, and she does dog-pile on daddy. When I get home, she asks to be put on daddy’s shoulders. We have a variety of things we do to help with her vestibular issues. Things like whip-saw where I throw her over my shoulders and spin around. And, I am proud to say, she can point at my t-shirt with the Justice League of America on it and correctly point out Green Lantern, Batman, Aquaman and Superman. She also likes playing with the DVD player (to my consternation) and with mummy’s iPod, just like her daddy. Maybe one day she’ll be able to eat ice cream and biscuits again. Right now, I’ll settle for fruit sorbet and gluten-free pancakes and hearing my daughter laugh when I tickle her, and holding her tight when she asks for a squeeze.
One of the hardest things we’ve had to deal with as parents has been the separation anxiety of our kids. Pudding had some terrible times when we would leave, and Cubby’s is much worse. Mummy can’t even leave to go take a shower without him screaming out for her. It’s a bit off-putting to be honest, and we always make sure that when we have date-night that the kids are asleep before we leave the house. There is no need to subject our babysitter to that kind of torment. (Plus, it keeps people volunteering.) When Pudding asks for Mummy to put her to bed, I have to deal with the screams and temper tantrums that come from Cubby not getting his mummy. He will calm down, but not before rattling the windows with his histrionics. And when I have to put Pudding to bed, I get a lot of the same thing.
The thing is, I know how hard my wife works, and she is always there for the kids when they need her. When Cubby falls down and hurts himself, she’s the one that picks him back up. When Pudding needs a glass of milk, Mummy does that too. That probably has a lot to do with it. As Pudding says, “Daddy has to go to work.” However, I have to admit, it’s very terrible sometimes being the one left out. I always fancied myself as a Superhero, trying to do best for my kids, and that they would appreciate me for it, and want me to be there to comfort and hold them. Maybe it’s because they’re still small, but I don’t see that happening yet. It does break my heart when in the middle of the night Pudding cries out and I go only for her to say over and over again: “I want mummy.” Or when I put Cubby to bed have him cry, “I want mummy-cuddle.” Instead of Batman, I feel more like Aquaman. A character that’ll do in a pinch, but not the guy you want to carry the story for long.
I shouldn’t complain. I still get hugs and kisses from my kids, we play and rough house together, and I know they love me. It’s just sometimes I wish they’d come to me for help and support instead of bothering their mother, who really needs a break. I’m sure it’ll happen. Until then I keep hoping that when Cubby and Pudding have an issue that needs solving, I’ll look to the sky and see the bat-signal waiting for me. And you better believe I’ll get there as fast as I can. Hopefully in the Bat-mobile.
Spectrummy Mummy thought I did a decent job with my last post, and didn’t scare off too many of her readers, so she said I could do it again. I thought I’d do one on something we can all understand: Pressure.
You see, all parents have pressure that they deal with in bringing up their kids. Are they eating enough? Are they sleeping enough? Are they wearing warm enough clothing? Why are they sniffling so much? And should that be that color green? These are things all parents think about, and worry about, constantly. The pressure of knowing you have the life of a helpless child in your hands. Honestly, we threw a birthday party for Pudding when she turned one not only to celebrate her birth, but to celebrate that she was healthy and we hadn’t done anything too stupid yet. Then, the pressure gets greater. Are they walking on time? Have they started speaking on time? Is it appropriate language? Should they be playing properly with other kids by now? How soon should they know their numbers, letters, shapes and colors? It’s all so terribly hard. And it just keeps getting harder when they start school.
Now Spectrummy Daddy, I know there is a point somewhere in this diatribe. Can you skip to the end? Sure thing. If you’re reading this, you’re probably feeling this pressure, and much more. Being the parent of a special needs child (whether on the autism spectrum or other special needs) is always going to be filled with more pressure. You see, we have so much more we have to deal with, and naturally that pressure is going to build up inside. What if we can’t afford all of the proper treatments that my child needs? What if money starts to be a problem? Am I doing enough for my child and my family? And then if you go out to dinner with the family, what happens if there is a melt-down? What do we need to do to keep the kids occupied? That’s something that Spectrummy Mummy and I deal with when we go out with Pudding and Cubby all the time. We also realize how easy we have it. Pressure of this kind can break you, and it can wear you down. I’ve seen it with the best of them, and I know it’s happened to me.
Remember, kind reader, that you need some time for you. Don’t feel guilty about leaving the kids with the sitter so that you can get out. If you’re married, go on a date with your spouse. See a movie, and get out of the house once in a while. Everyone needs to re-charge their batteries, and you’re no exception. Hopefully you’ll be a bit happier, and a little more healthy as well.
One last thing on pressure. It’s not always a bad thing. Pressure changes coal to diamonds. Pressure cookers allow food to be prepared faster. “Pressure Drop” by The Specials and “Under Pressure” by Queen are great songs. Pressure from a hug helps to calm my little Pudding sometimes, and pressure is what helps us make advances in understanding autism, how it works, and how we can better prepare our children for the world outside without losing what makes them unique.