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Okay, this post is not going to be for the more delicate amongst you. I will completely absolve you if you skip this one. I’m talking about potty-training, and truth be told, I’d like to skip the whole ordeal too, but it seems to be part and parcel of parenting.
And you know this isn’t the first time I’ve sunk so low: try googling “pretzel potty” and see whose blog is the number one hit. Yes, I make my family so proud!
So, not to be too specific, earlier this week Cubby did something on the potty that he had never done before. Full disclosure, he did something on the floor near the potty, but it was close enough, and we celebrated, cleaned up, and celebrated some more.
Unlike his big sister, who is queen of positive reinforcement and seemed to potty train herself, Cubby is much more reluctant. We were therefore delighted to take this next step. Cubby likes himself some social praise, so I set to telling his teacher, our neighbors, grandparents on Skype etc. If our paths haven’t crossed in the last week, be glad. Be very glad.
So yesterday, he tells me he wants to go again. Yay! I tell him we have to upstairs to get him on the potty, because <you-know-what> goes in the potty.
“No, Mummy, I don’t think that’s right.”
I think my head did that cartoon-swivel thing. “<You-know-what> goes in the potty, not in your pants,” has been part of our echolaic background brainwashing since before he was born. Pudding has said it approximately 17 times a day for the last three years. She lives by that mantra. He grew up to that soundtrack and adopted it for his own (in word, though not in deed). It was even one of his first sentences!
There were many ways to handle this, and of course I chose the absolute worst- trying to outsmart him.
Me: Oh yeah, so where does it go then?
Cubby: In the diaper……that’s what they’re for, Mummy.
Wow. Yes. Now the big question is, how am I ever going to come up with a strategy for a kid who is already smarter than me? I need help, if I’m ever to get him from can’t to the can.
A marriage has to deal with many challenges. Couples who live an expat life away from their support systems have larger difficulties to face. And special needs parents? I’m sure you’ve read the scary statistics by now. These things, however, pale into comparison with the largest threat to my marriage: flat pack furniture. All the problems converge in one messy Sunday afternoon. And the worst of it is, it is usually my fault. Just don’t tell the husband that.
I hate flat pack furniture. Yet somehow, wherever in the world we live, I’ll suddenly find a need for, say, a desk. The next thing I know, we’re flat packing. In an ideal world, of course, we’d be buying expensive hand-crafted well-made furniture. But here we are, lining the pockets of Swedish stockholders. Somehow, I forget what a threat this stuff is, and I go ahead and purchase it. If I thought about it, I’d recognize that the computer/TV/clothes can go on the floor, and that would be a whole lot easier.
So, yes, my fault. We needed something to put the TV on. While our house is furnished by the US Government (thank you, Uncle Sam) they didn’t provide something for the TV, and we didn’t bring one. We found one we could afford, forgetting the fact that we pay the price in other ways. After getting Cubby to take a nap, and providing a tactile activity to occupy Pudding, Spectrummy Daddy got to work…and there is our first problem.
You see, in our marriage, we don’t go it alone. We share our problems or difficulties and find a way to work through them together. But flat pack furniture comes into the house, and the husband goes all Rambo. He makes it clear he is working alone. Sigh. I busy myself as I hear a fair amount of groaning and cursing. At some point, he will go to get an electric drill, and this is when I transform into the unhelpful nagging wife. There shouldn’t be any need for a drill, I think. I’ll go and pester him to find out what is going on.
I’ll find Rambo at the scene of a massacre. There are dowels, screws, and those things that I don’t know the name of, but are the bane of my furniture fixing life. Bits of wood everywhere. At this point, Rambo has given up on the instructions. He has given up on the suggested tools, and is looking for something like “wood nails” or “drill bits.” Eek. I decide he needs help.
Here is problem #2. There is a decidedly male/female division as to the notion of helping. For him, it would be bringing a cool beverage and keeping everyone (including me) far away. Instead, I like to say things like, “This just doesn’t look right” and, “You shouldn’t have done that.” There will be more swearing. I’ll go to the discarded instruction manual and try to make sense of it. The problem is, I’m just not a visual thinker. In order to flog these things to as many gullible souls as the flat pack empire stretches, they use pictures instead of words. Worse than that, they are 3D. I don’t do dimensions.
Eventually, I’ll decide to just do whatever I’m told. We’ll try to put a piece on, and it will jut out, or just not line up. Rambo will kick at something, and I’ll be glad we don’t have a pet. We’ll take the whole thing apart and start again. One of us will question the decision to go through this again, and wonder whose fault it is this time. I’ll keep quiet about the fact that it is my fault, even though we both know my silence speaks volumes.
Cubby wakes up from his nap. Not content to just add his own whines and shrieks to the mix, he has to find the most annoying toy we own, and
bring it right there next to Rambo’s exploding head. This time it was a game I call The Very Annoying Caterpillar. I bought it because it game with tongs for practicing fine motor skills, but both kids just like to press the button to make the stupid thing dance to the most irritating carnival muzak, and place the little balls in every corner of every room in the house. And outdoors too, for good measure. If I attempt to turn the thing off, or take it away, he will add screaming to the cacophony.
I’ll go to make dinner, pretending not to notice the sigh of relief as I leave the room. I must leave him with sound advice, however, because upon my return the construction is going much better. Eventually the whole thing will be finished, and I’ll stifle the urge to ask about the leftover screws, preferring to let the worry of them fester in my too-full brain. Rambo will leave, and a mild-mannered diplomat will take his place. An unsupervised Pudding has made her way into the games cupboard, and emptied it off its contents. Because it is all too fresh, I’ll think twice before voicing my desire to have a piece of furniture to store that stuff properly.
In the end, we have a new TV stand. And a marriage still in tact. Which is just as well, because I wouldn’t want any of this furniture in the divorce settlement.
I’m frequently amused (and often horrified) by the internet searches that bring people here. Today I thought I’d share some of them with you.
Apparently Google has become self-aware, and gets a kick out of sending people to the wrong place, like with these:
cleaning the house blog tips carpets – You want tips? Don’t have carpets. Or kids. We have both, and we’re screwed. Sorry.
social mummy – I’m a blogger with spectrummy kids, exactly how social do you think I am?
valentine’s day – No.
social story – parents going on holiday – You mean without the kids? This can happen? Tell me how, then I’ll write a social story for it. Gladly!
mummy’s curse bouncy castle – Sounds interesting.
on a dark halloween day mummy came in our huse – Okay, so there are lots of searchers for “mummy” around Halloween who were disappointed, but I’m still curious about what this person wanted.
my teenager is saying i want pudding – Can’t have her.
mummy is talking to mummy’s mummy in the motherland – There are few things I’d like to do more than talk to my mummy in the motherland. Way to make me homesick, googler.
Then there are times when the bog searches are weirdly accurate:
asperger bashful – I don’t know if you’re saying that Aspies can be bashful, or that Bashful has Asperger’s, or what…but you’re in the right place, my friend.
rituals my cup of tea how important is a cup of tea in the morning? cup of tea and a biscuit – I am queen of the tea bloggers! Is Tea Blogging a thing? By the way, I’m taking “Tea Party” back.
beady eye blog – You have them too?
life in the foreign service special needs children – Yes.
mama bears shoes – Yes, but were they comfy?
paper cuts and autism – If you mean figuratively…
blue fountain white house – Ooh yes, right place. Still don’t know why though.
autism rapunzel – Vindicated! I’m not the only one who sees it. Disney, the world is ready for a spectrummy main character. Or at least myself and another random internet user.
mummy culture shock – Yep, I’m the bewildered woman you’re looking for.
aspergers trickery – Yes, right? Not just mine, then.
christmas syndrome homesickness – I just self-diagnosed. Now if only I could fly back to Blighty every year to treat it.
pudding autism bolivia – Right here is why I’m glad we don’t use our real names. Perhaps there is some other reason for this uncanny search, but it makes me want to take out a restraining order.
paersonal space invaders – Right here.
santadaddy – Look no further.
starbucks coffee karma – You suffer from it too? You must know my husband.
mummys pudding – Yes, she is.
love distance blog – I think I prefer this to Allergies, Asperger’s and Adventures Abroad. My new tagline in an economic three words!
Today is October 31st, which is Halloween, which is a big deal in the spectrummy community, for better or for worse. (In our house, Halloween is adored by Pudding, but we’ll see how her more defensive brother deals with it this year). But today is also the last day of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I started out the month not paying so much attention. My mind, as always, is in a million places with bidding, and managing Pudding’s needs, and trying to figure out what is going on with Cubby. I bought some products that had the pink ribbon on them, checked my boobs in the shower (they’re fine, thank you for asking) and didn’t consider it much more than that.
Someone who reads and comments on this blog, unfortunately, was not so lucky. At the beginning of this month, I emailed Jen to see if she wanted to go for a coffee. We’d been reading and commenting on the others’ blogs, and we live so close to each other, it seemed silly not to meet up. We tentatively arranged to meet the week Spectrummy Daddy was away, but before we finalized our plans, I logged on and read this post she’d written. And though I hadn’t yet met this new friend, I was in tears by the end of it.
We still haven’t met up for that coffee. When you’re diagnosed with two kinds of cancer while your husband is serving a tour in Iraq, life gets in the way. I’ve been left to follow Jen’s story at a distance, as she bravely shares her experience with the rest of us. She is writing some amazing things, like what we shouldn’t say to someone newly diagnosed with cancer, and exploring all the raw emotion brought about by having her life turned upside down within the space of a few weeks.
At some point soon I’m hoping to tell Jen how amazing she is to write through her pain, how normal it is to have these feelings, and how fortunate I feel to have her as a friend, even if I haven’t met her yet.
One in eight of all women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, please check yourself, and remind the women in your lives to do the same.
I was thinking that if you asked me what my mood was at the moment- downbeat funk is the way to describe it. Then I realized I like that expression, and it would be a great name for a band, if I had inherited my dad’s musical talent. It is that kind of low, where even if someone does something nice for me, I somehow manage to turn it around, and become a killjoy. There really isn’t much hope, until the holding pattern that our lives are in right now allows us to move on. I tell you though, we are strapped in and ready to take off.
One of my bloggy friends nominated my blog to receive this award:
That was really nice of her. I love reading her blog, she is smart and witty and it gives me insight into the mysterious workings of the Aspie brain. I’m then supposed to nominate 7 other blogs I read, and then tell you in my blog 7 things about myself. Now I’m stuck, because I’m in a downbeat funk and I just don’t feel like playing! If I don’t though, I’ll 1) hurt people’s feelings and 2) violate a blogging convention. The thought of doing either of those puts me in a worse mood. Everybody else followed suit, and I’m left like the odd one out, maintaining internet silence, and wondering once again why I sometimes refuse to cooperate? So I suppose I should just play along. Shouldn’t I? It would certainly consume less energy than what I’m about to write.
I don’t mean to be such a misery, I feel the same way about those email forward things, or those things on Facebook that command action of me. You know, those “you’re-a-true-friend-now-send-this-back-to-me-and-20-other-friends-or-I’ll-think-you-don’t-care” type of things. I NEVER do those. Not ever. You could be my very best friend, or someone I haven’t seen in almost 20 years, or never met at all, and my reaction is the same. There must be a lot of people who think I don’t care, but the reverse is true. I get excited to hear from somebody, only to discover it is a generic forward. Am I the only one? Can’t you just send me a personal message? Can’t I tell you that I like you in my way, and not be obliged to do it on your terms? There are ones where I’m dictated to click “like” if I love my mother, or husband, or kids. It makes me want to scream! If the only way my family know that I love them is through clicking a “like” button, I’m doing something seriously wrong. We used to have chain letters when I was a child, and I never did those either. Now with the internet, these things have gone viral, and I refuse to participate. I will do things on my own terms or not at all! If I had more time and energy, I’d mount a campaign against these things, they enrage me so very much.
Wow, the rage. Of course, this isn’t really about the blogging award. This is about going through a period of time where lots of things are out of my control, and my little blog, my sanctuary, is where I get to have things on my terms. So, I’ll tell you this:
I don’t read many other blogs than the ones on my blogroll, which I do need to update to reflect a couple of the newer ones I’ve started to read lately. Those are the blogs I recommend, I refuse to say if I like some more than others, as on different days they touch me in different ways. So I won’t give you 7 blogs to read, just read my blogroll if you choose to do so. Or don’t, I won’t make you!
I also won’t tell you 7 things about myself here. In fact, this misanthropic post probably reveals more about me than 7 factoids could tell you.
I also won’t give anyone else this award, or forward an email, or make you click “like” on something.
I will comment on your blog if I like what you wrote. I will add you to my blogroll (sooner or later) if I like your work.
I will also try really, really hard to get out of my downbeat funk, so that I can respond with the grace that a thoughtful gesture deserves, but I’m not making any promises at the moment.