“Will you be my friend?” and Other Scary Things

The other day, my son hit a major milestone, though it might not be marked in most kids’ baby books: he made a friend at the mall play area.

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The Kindermusik Connection

IMG_20180221_100527.jpgIt took my son a long time to learn how to sing.

I don’t mean it took him a long time to get good at it–I don’t know any four-year-olds who are good at singing, though I’m sure a quick trip to YouTube would find a fair few of them–I mean, he didn’t understand the concept. Continue reading

A Boy and His Pineapple

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What are your kids’ favorite toys? My kids keep surprising me–especially the boy–with the toys they attach to. My son’s two favorite things right now are his stuffed pineapple (from IKEA) and a Barbie grocery store conveyor belt. My daughter is especially fond of race cars and anything related to Paw Patrol, but she has a much broader taste in toys and is often found playing with doll houses, toy food, blocks, trains, puzzles, dominoes, and basically whatever she can get her little mitts on.

Sometimes I wonder if my son’s odd fascinations are symptoms of his ASD, or if he’s just a little oddball. He’s a huge collector of Hot Wheels and likes to line them up into parking lots (a behavior his sister has copied and so our house is a Hot Wheels minefield), which is definitely typical ASD behavior, but the pineapple–well, whatever it is, that’s my boy. He’s adorable. And he loves that pineapple so, so much.

The Day After Christmas and Other Letdowns

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I’m always a little sad when I go to bed on Christmas Eve. Christmas is a melancholy holiday, really–bittersweet at the very least. There’s something about all the anticipation, the expectations, the tradition–and then it abruptly ends. Suddenly, the holiday season is over. The snow turns to slush, the feast turns to self-induced famine as our New Year’s diets kick in. Continue reading

Disneyland with an Autistic Preschooler: Six Tips

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During our Thanksgiving vacation, we took the kids to Disneyland. We’d long been worried about it since the boy… well, he has a hard time with new things. As you know, he’s on the ASD (autism) spectrum, and though he’s fairly high functioning in many ways, he has real problems with rigid thinking and inability to understand social norms. Plus, with his communication delays, it’s harder for him to “use his words” than the average preschooler.

However, over the past year, he’s really bloomed. He’s a lot more flexible than he used to be, a lot more verbal, and he’s tall enough to ride every ride in the park. Since Disneyland is one of his daddy’s and my favorite places, and it’s only a short drive from my parents’ house, we decided to take the plunge.

It was a little bumpy, but overall, we had a blast.

So I thought I’d share with you a few lessons I learned over the course of the day; I hope they’re helpful.

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Blood Draw

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My son is accustomed to losing blood.

Every three to six months, at least, his doctor orders him into a laboratory where two vials’ worth are extracted from his tiny veins and sent in for testing. He is a medical anomaly; they still don’t know exactly what causes his symptoms.

He’s been doing this for more than three years. That’s three quarters of his life. That’s a lot of vials of blood.

At first, it was impossible. The veins were so small they had to use a special light to find them, and call in the best nurse at the best children’s hospital and even then they missed a few times.

Each time, I’ve held him. Held him down. Held him back. One hand on each wrist and my legs wrapped around his, every muscle tensed against me. He’s cried. I’ve cried. We’ve both felt bruised afterward. Continue reading

Me and Mrs. Jones

bridget-jones

On the dedication page of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding makes a point of thanking her mother for not being like Bridget’s. As a writer, that makes me chuckle. It feels like a defensive move, like she’s saying Please Mum don’t be angry she’s not like you even if she does talk just like you do and have your fashion sense, this isn’t what I really think of you…

That little snippet, which most readers probably pass over on their way to page one, really got me thinking about Mrs. Jones, especially because I’ve read Bridget Jones’s Diary at least once before and have seen the movie countless times (including once this week, to remind myself of the similarities and differences between movie and book). I love Gemma Jones’s portrayal in the movie, though naturally she and her story line are quite a bit simpler in the movie than they are in the book. In the book, Mrs. Jones’s plot arc reaches great heights of absurdity and involves a lot more sex and deception. A novel from her perspective would actually be hilarious, I think. But then, I’m always drawn to the less sympathetic characters in any fiction. And maybe it’s funnier when we have to fill in the blanks of what Mrs. Jones has been up to with her various lovers and her newfound TV celebrity and her incarceration for real estate fraud. Because, given the format of the diary as novel, we only get to see what Bridget thinks about anything, and we only get to know what she knows. I think that’s the magic of the format: unlike the movie, the real revelation of the novel is not (for me, anyway) that Mark Darcy has feelings for her or that she’s grown up in any way, but when she starts to hear what other people think of her. Their opinions of her are in stark contrast to what she thinks of herself, and it makes you wonder what it would be like to see her from the outside–a perspective that the movie later provides.

But back to Mrs. Jones. Continue reading