Category Archives: family

Ode to my sons

IM from my son Friday:

Screenshot_20171008-151751

Never mind the heart pounding I experienced considering the damage his ignorance could inflict on my beloved washer,

Never mind that (as I was later to discover) he had loaded the machine with his socks, only his socks and not one other item sharing the hamper with his socks,

Never mind that he went from brazen challenger to quitter in one sentence,

Never mind that, at 12 years of age, Sarcastic Willy Wonka is his chosen avatar…

Never mind.

None of that matters because,

My son knows we have a washing machine and he knows what it is for!

Mommy win.

And it got me thinking. I don’t take time often enough to thank my boys for all the joy they bring me.

So, without further ado (too late)

Here it is:

 

Ode to my sons, a thank you

 

A computer breaks, an engine won’t start,

You come to me and it warms my heart.

Your wreckage arrives,  as there’s “nothing mom can’t do!”

And so I do, and do, and do and do and do.

IMG_20171007_1120277

I love you but if everyone could stop breaking things, that’d be great.

 

I like to be outside, this you know,

So without complaint we go, go, go!

But when life ties us down and we’re unable to roam,

You bring the lovely outdoors right into our home!

Seriously. There’s dirt everywhere. I’m freaking Cinderella, cleaning, cleaning…

 

I strive to be fit, to keep up with you,

Your energy, speed, our active milieu!

And you, my sweet darlings, help me on my way,

By making me run stairs a dozen times a day!

The next time I have to walk up and down stairs just to tell a kid  his food is cooked someone is losing an eye…

 

I love you, my cherubs, more than is possible to tell,

But there is one thing I love almost as well.

So thank you, for you and your fantastic freak show,

And flooding me with reasons to drink more Merlot!

Cabernet, Pinot Noir, sometimes even a nice Riesling…I’m not picky…

 

I love you boys. Never change.

Except, shower – do that. And wear clean underwear… maybe get a job one day…. 

 

Hunting, what really happened

My boys went hunting last weekend and, because I wanted to aid in the successful stuffing of our freezer for the winter (without having to actually do anything), I decided to help them pack.

My job was food. As I wish to see them happy, I asked what they wanted.

They said:

“Shredded beef, roast beef, turkey, ham…”

“Hamburgers, hot dogs…”

“Steak…”

“That’s it? You aren’t forgetting anything”

“Oh right. And cheese. Thanks Mom”

“What are you going to eat for breakfast?”

“Can we have Poptarts?”

I have not been so happy to not be on a camping trip in a while. Think about it. The lot of them in an 11 x 12 foot camper on a diet of protein and sugar.

good times
good times

Anyway, I packed what they asked for and, because I love them, included condiments, a loaf of bread, and a selection from the popular food groups “chips” and “dips”.

I’m just caring like that.

(I also tossed in some food from the lesser known – more nutrient dense and life sustaining – groups, but that was only so I could unpack those same foods, untouched, a few days later.)

(I’m just ridiculous like that.)

Then, I sent them on their merry way and for the next 72 hours wallowed in the misery of my empty home pining for their return…

Kidding.

I sent them on their merry way and for the next 72 hours I did whatever the hell I felt like.

(I won’t go into wild details but suffice it to say Wine and Pinterest were involved.)

(It was awesome)

And then it was over. Waaaaaay too soon. My beloved family returned a day early.

Rained out, they said and wet they were.

But…funny thing…

I cooked vegetarian that night and, for the first time ever, guess what was missing.

Complaints and leftovers.

Win.

For those wondering, the weekend wasn’t a total bust. They came back with a grouse.

And ate it. Wrapped in bacon.

 

Chaos Theory

arrows

My fourth child would have been a time traveler.

If I’d had him.

No, I’m pretty certain this is a valid assumption. You see, my other three children are polar opposites. That’s right, three opposites. Three points of a triangle. Pick an example any example, apply it to my children and this is what you get:

arrow

I am mother to:

An omnivore

An herbivore

And a carb-ivor (He only eats carbs. It’s a thing)

Also:

A son who could not lie to save his life

A son who weighs his options at every venture

And a son who does wrong simply because it’s there

Oh and don’t forget my:

Son who loves flying machines

Son who love wheeled machines

and their brother, the guy who gets motion sick on a slide.

arrow

The logical fourth dynamic of this paradigm is time.

Ergo, my unborn fourth child, the temporal pilgrim.

It’s algebra.

Sometimes I’m sorry we never had baby Z.

(What else do you name a child with extra dimensional powers? Bob?)

I’m sorry because I believe Zee might have been quite a handy guy to have around.

I’d probably never lose my phone. Or if I did, I’d never know it because Zee would just bounce back in time and tell me where I set it down. I’d also not have to worry about a shopping list with Zee at my side. He’d bounce into the future and let me know what we were going to be out of, what would break next week, when to expect a growth spurt…

Maybe, just maybe Zee might even make his way back to the day we decided to start our family and say…

“Hey Mom look! Wine!”

Ah Zee, my son.

He’s my favorite.    

 

 

Fun with art

 

When you’ve had a long day holding up the fountain and looking stoic for tourists…this buds for you.

Share?
Now there’s an idea.   

 

I spent a good deal of last year trying (and failing) to get my son into humorous statue posing. 

Because it amuses me.

Because I’m 8. 

He appreciates the concept and is, for the most part, willing but we get stonewalled by creative differences.

He’s conservative, and I’m ridiculous. That’s the gist anyway.

Take yesterday, for example. We crossed paths with a raging metal bull statue that screamed for comedic intervention,

and we left him wanting.

Me: stand by his rump and act like he just farted.

Son: I should ride him. 

Me: No really, scrunch up your face like you’ve never smelt anything so bad.

Son: Or I could just ride him. 

Me: Trust me, this will be good, make like you’ll be sick.

Son: Yeah, I’m gonna just ride him.

Me: when did you get old?

20170604_183532

He won. He usually does. But tell me my idea wasn’t gold. Look at that stance! That bull looks in pain. 

Oh well. Sometimes he throws me a bone. He did approve this shot.

Why is stone nose picking so amusing?
Why is stone nose picking so amusing?

 

So I’m not throwing the towel in yet. 

 

 

Space Time and Teenagers

sloth

Last night I had my least favorite recurring dream, the missed flight dream.

Are you familiar with this nightmare? You’re supposed to take a trip but you’re running hopelessly late. In mine I’m miles from the airport, have not packed, have not even dressed and my airplane is leaving in 30 minutes. Every single time.

I hate every moment and still, it keeps coming back to me.

Yesterday, I finally realized why.

I have this dream because I have sloths.

SONS! I mean, I have sons.

I have three wonderful sons whose range of speed goes something like this:

Slow

Slower

Impossibly Slower than That

and

Not Moving at All.

 

My everyday existence is a miss-flight-mare, no matter what is on our agenda.

Me: “The movie starts in a half an hour.”

Son speed: turtle.

Me: “If we leave now, we can go to the game store before it closes.”

Son speed: turtle with a broken leg.

Me: “There is a man outside giving away tickets to Disneyland for anyone who can get to him in 5 minutes.”

Son speed: turtle with a broken leg riding on the back of a dead snail.

Yes these are teenagers, yes they have boundless energy, yes it makes no sense, and yes I am not exaggerating.

Yesterday I told my son (still in bed and pajamas even though I’d spent the last 2 hours telling him to get ready) that we were leaving in 10 minutes. When I checked on him five minutes later the only advancement he had made was to take his shirt off.

When I asked him if he was ready know what he said?

“Almost”

Almost?

“In what universe?” I cried. “By what stretch of the imagination are you “almost” ready to go? A blind fish on tranquilizers could get out of this house faster than you!”

Kidding. I didn’t say any of that.

Telling a teen to hurry is like honking at someone because you want their parking spot.

You think it will speed things, the opposite happens.

Anyway he was moving, we hadn’t hit full stop yet. And besides it is far more important that he understands no matter what, I love wine…

HIM! I mean, No matter what I love him…

Stop laughing Wine. That was totally believable! Hey I had that dream again, are you free later?

 

 

 

Wiser words

20170429_155118

I’ve noticed a lot of internet advice on what NOT to say to a parent of an autistic child lately.

A LOT.

And, while helpful, it seems a bit snarky. It’s as though the authors want you to know how to behave but also want the world to know that you, at first, behaved badly.

I don’t really like it and, for my part, want everyone to know that I understand and I’m not offended. Autism doesn’t fit in a box and humans aren’t wired to respond to unquantified information. At best we stare. At worse we open our mouths and sing a song of ignorance.

Neither situation is ideal.  

But, it’s not compassion that’s lacking it’s training. People just need to be told what to say. What is acceptable?  

Never fear, I am here. I have assembled for the world today an arsenal of suitable responses for that moment when a parent tells you their child is autistic.

Level one. The beginner.

It’s your first time. It’s OK. Breath. You can get through this. Just remember DO NOT look sad.

Too much to ask for? Can’t control your gloom? Don’t worry, there’s a fix. Turn that pathetic attitude on you! Pity yourself for not being a member of the spectrum club and moan:

Wow. I just met you and your life already sounds way more interesting than mine.

First timers that are natural optimists might try:

You know what I love about autism? The jumping! It’s mesmerizing. The focus and power… it seriously should be an Olympic sport.

Level two. Intermediate:

Step up your game and learn the difference between Neurodiverse and Neurotypical. Then, use your words. How about:

It’s so exciting to live in this era of neurodiversity. I can’t wait to see where it takes us because I’m positive it’s going to be amazing.

Or (because self-pity can go a long way) say:

My house is full of boring neurotypicals (pout face). I hope you can carry this conversation because I got nothing to offer.

Level three. The enlightened:

You’ve been around the block. Your way isn’t the highway and you are totally OK with that. You know that the craziest thing you ever saw couldn’t have been by the simple fact that you are still alive.

Go for a smile with: 

OMG. (dramatic face) THANK you for talking to me. Everyone else at this party is lame!

Or:

Of course you have a child on the spectrum. Autism is common in families of unusually high intelligence. Everybody knows that.

See? Easy. You are welcome. Not convinced? Still afraid you are going to trip over your tongue? No worries. I’ve got just the phrase for you. The moment a parent tells you their child is autistic, look them earnestly in the face and say:

I am paying for all your drinks this evening.

I guarantee this will go over well but if you are doubtful, call me. We can practice all night.

 

 

 

 

1m6khg

 

Guess Cryogenics is not just for dead billionaires anymore. That’s right scientist now believe that a stint in a Cryogenic chamber enhances the body’s ability to heal.

Amazing. What will they think of next?    

Well, if anyone’s looking for ideas, I’ve got one… how about cryogenics as a treatment for puberty?

Wait, hear me out.

While adolescence is a necessary stage in development it is also painful, tremulous, frustrating, embarrassing, and sometime dangerous. What if, instead of forcing our young adults to endure it, we simply let them sleep it off in a Cryo-chamber?

This wouldn’t be just a long nap, mind you. The subjects would be connected to a virtual world. As they snoozed the cerebral cortex would be engaged in a continuous stream of realities designed for optimum experience and growth.

Think about it, all the angst, error, words that should have never been spoken, actions that should never have take place that are integral to maturing, minus any long term damage because it’s all make believe.

Consider it: sleep and video games molded into one painless coming of age process. What could be more perfect?

Yes, I know what you are thinking – I am a genius.

But I can’t take all the credit for this dream. I live with free roaming adolescents and necessity is the mother of invention.

Yes I am a parent of teens and it’s become quite clear that I am really bad at it.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a list of the horrible things I did in this week alone:

 

I did not inform a certain someone that it was Thursday, and it had been Thursday ALL day already.

Someone (not me but that’s no excuse) ate all the eggs.

One adolescent put his socks on faster than another while I stood by and did NOTHING.

(This is actually my fault through a myriad of dressing scenarios – shirts, jackets, shoes… At first I found it confusing but since have seen the errors of my ways and completely accept responsibility)

I had the audacity to propose a trip to the beach.

Then later (clearly having NOT learned my lesson) I wildly suggested we go out for dinner.

And finally, (I’m a little embarrassed to admit this terribly low point in my parenting journey, but here it is all the same…)

I looked my son square in the face and said:

 “It is time to make pizza”.

 (Oh. The. Humanity.)

 

I need a super puberty busting cryogenic chamber STAT.

My kids need it.

Society needs it.

There must be a cryogenic scientist out there living with teens who understand and would look into this.

Please?

I’ll be waiting.

 

 

 

It’s a good day to dry

20161107_150325

Laundry is my nemesis. Believe me I wish it weren’t but the truth is there is nothing on earth I spend more time and effort battling.

My struggle began early. Growing up in a large family laundry wasn’t a chore it was an entity. That was not a pile of dirty clothes on the floor it was our communal bastard child. Pay him a moderate amount of attention and he stayed quietly in his room. Do not and welcome mayhem. Stink Jr. controlled our house, rubbing his sweaty existence in everyone’s face.

Laundry is not to be ignored.

And, for me, it isn’t. I think about it more than my children. This does not mean, however, that I want to do it. Does anyone? No, we just want it done.

Or better yet – gone and no one, I think, wants this more than me.

I think clothes should be disposable. Tell me you disagree. You have no idea how many times I’ve wished humans had body hair as thick and concealing as the rest of the animals (and that it was fashionable) so that we could get away with wearing less. I will not disclose the number of days I will reuse the same towel but I promise, if I did, you would be shocked. I have spent a great deal of my adult life believing that if you bathe at night, you can sleep in the same pajamas on the same set of sheets – indefinitely.

I will spend a small fortune in electricity if it means less time spent generating clean clothes.

Truth. When a conversation turns to green, unplugging the world and living in zero waste harmony with nature I smile and nod, but inside I am screaming:  

“FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, WHAT ABOUT THE LAUNDRY?!”

Yes, I want to save the rain forest and oceans and leave a healthy planet legacy for my children,

As long as I can use paper towels and a clothes dryer.

72956706

“I never thought I’d be a woman who talked about the wash.” A friend lamented once. Yeah well I never thought I’d be a woman who plotted against laundry like it was Al Quaeda.  

Yet here I am.

 

Getting it out there

68839402

Though marriage and kids were never a certainty for me, one thing was: if I did go that route I would be as open as possible with my children. My family would talk about everything. Our house would be a temple of discussion and my children would not for one second think that any subject was taboo.

Then, reality. I married a quiet man who gave me three quiet boys. Faster than you can say bob-is-your-uncle (not that anyone in my house was ever saying that or anything else for that matter) my dream evaporated. Instead of a house of congress, ours was a monastery (sans the singing) and instead of stimulating banter, our days were filled with hours and hours of mom-ologue.

Well, I pacified myself, it worked for Hamlet.

(I forgot, of course, that Hamlet’s audience paid to hear him babble on.)

“Mom, stop talking” wasn’t any of my son’s first words but it was definitely in the top ten. Once it hit the airwaves it became a popular tune too, losing favor only when my offspring figured out they had Olympic sized tuning-out skills.  

Still, I was undaunted believing it my parental duty to pave the path between us with sensitive subject matter. Over and over and over again.

If only I’d remembered about puberty.

Welcome back to hormone hour on adolescent radio! Up next, “Mom you’re so embarrassing.” by The Tween’s, “Talk to the hand” by Attitude City and everybody’s favorite “Watch me slam the door” by Bob Rocker and the Parents Are Lame singers!

OK, OK, I was a teenager once. I know how important privacy is. I was hip to their desire that I shut-my-pie-hole and I would give them space. But there was still stuff they needed to learn and it was still my job to make sure they learnt it.

So I downloaded one of “those” books (you know the kind I’m talking about) and, in a modern day equivalent to wrapping it in a brown paper bag, I discretely delivered it to their online devices.

Later, in darkness, I waited.

“Hey.” I whispered, starting at my shoes, the sky, the inside of my eyelid, anywhere but at my son because the only way to talk to a teen is with ambiguity.

Conversation? What conversation? I’m just standing here…breathing loudly… To the casual onlooker this wasn’t a mother and son talk this was a drug deal – far safer territory.

I spat out what I’d done adding quickly, “If you read it I promise to never bring up this subject again.” Then I held my breath.

 “Alright.” He replied.

Was that sarcasm? Did I see an eye roll? Was it possible we were good? Since I’d just sworn to never bring it up with him again, would I ever know?

“Mom stop.” He said, turning to leave. “I said I’d read it, let it go. And quit talking to yourself. It’s embarrassing.”

Only time will tell, but I’m calling it a win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minding my head

20160430_105310 

Yes, this is why we camp. It’s good for the head. Though they probably meant something else here…

 

When it comes to camping the way I see it there are two ways a trip can go down: 1 as a restorative retreat and 2 as a surprising misadventure.

Type 1 weekends leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. This is good, very good.

Type 2, on the other hand, send you home a little shaken and a lot wiser (what does not kill me makes me stronger) but with one heck of a great story. And that, in it’s own way, is kind of good too. 

Can  you guess which type of outdoor experience this family is a magnet for? Here’s a clue: 

 

Good times for sure but not exactly relaxing and certainly events I always thought we could do with less of.

In fact, some summers I found myself thinking that a lot.

And out loud. 

Well, it took a massive move but it looks as though I’ve gotten my wish. Last weekend we went camping and it was completely *gasp* uneventful. It was even restful. In fact I think I would go as far as to call it peaceful. This trip was a quintessential type 1 outing. Possibly our first type 1 ever.

 

Everything went according to plan, the weather cooperated and all activities were tame and safe.

There was not one heart stopping moment the entire weekend.

Unless of course we count the night we went out for dinner. At a fancy little restaurant in the town nearest our campsite we discovered that our son, who trips over his tongue ordering fast food, turns into a foodie Cyrano de Bergerac if the restaurant has linen napkins and a maitre d’.

The chicken appetizer, if you please, and the special is intriguing would you tell me more about it?

I may ask him to order for me next time. Oh and yes, you read that correctly, we went out for dinner. Every night. I told you it was relaxing. 

And therein lies the problem, my weekend was very… nice.

Wild accidents are funny, shenanigans make good press. What am I to share with you this week? A contented sigh?

I’m sorry. Give me time. I’m sure all this normalcy is just a phase we’re going through… it will pass. Chaos will return…   

Until then….ahhhhh…