Getting To the Other Side

I can raise my hands in the air like I just don’t care. Mostly because I’ve learned, after 40 some years of life that it doesn’t matter much what the person next to me thinks about me. In fact, I’m a firm believer in the adage that what others think of me is none of my business.

We’re trying desperately to get Sweetboy to own that mindset, too. The one of not caring what others think of him.

Recently I pulled on my Smart Mama pants and told him how one of the most comforting verses to me, in all of the Bible, is where we are told that people look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

He was only mildly comforted.

It did, however, distract him. And so, he started perseverating on his looks.

Oh joy.

“But, mama, people are looking at me and seeing my stupid autism!”

Sigh.

I reminded this Sweetboy of mine that it’s okay to detest his Autism. I detest pollen. And allergies. And horses. And clowns.

But, I also (while desperately trying to keep those Smart Mama pants hiked up) reminded him that detesting what is not good should drive us toward what is.

He wasn’t buying what I was selling.

Tempted to hang my head in parenting defeat, I was reminded that although we like to focus on the positive around here, sometimes… sometimes, we have to shine light on the negative to reveal it for what it is.

And, in this case, I recognized some of the hurtful comments from his classmates as Fear.

Seconds away from feeling a parental failure, I remembered that we struggle through the trials so that we can see the mind-blowing beauty on the other side. God’s great reveal, really, is how incredibly beautiful something can look from the other side.

The other side of awful-ugly.

Like, hurtful-ugly comments from preteens whose cheeks you’d like to squeeze clean off their faces. In love, of course.

So, I pulled up those pants and secured them with the belt of Truth. Particularly, 1 Samuel 18. We read through that whole chapter together. We uncovered some treasures.

The truth in this passage was that Jonathan, Saul’s son, found a friend in David, the soon-to-be-king that Jonathan’s father detested. I’m speculating here, out of the ugliness of Saul’s hatred for David came a beautiful realization for Jonathan.

You see, during those dark times, Saul was certainly not pleasant to be around. And, I’m guessing that Jonathan quickly realized, to his relief, that he was not alone. That David, too, suffered the wrath of Saul.

As I shared this story, afresh, with my Sweetboy, I saw light begin to spread through his eyes.

I then relayed that infamous incident during my fifth grade year where I was the recipient of cruel comments because I was the only one who hadn’t shaved my legs yet. The cutting remarks nicked worse than any razor blade ever would.

But, I found a friend, that year. We commiserated during gym about being the only two girls, surely, in the history of ever, whose cruel parents kept them from fitting in.

Miraculously, just as God likes it, grace washed over Sweetboy’s face as he realized that he and his two best buddies had each other. That he wasn’t the only one to be at the receiving end of spew from Jealousy.

“I’m glad I have a possie, mama. They get me.”

Yes indeedy, child.

He realized that he isn’t the only one.

Neither are you.

Nor am I.

And that, friends, is a beautiful truth on the other side.

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An Open Letter to the Author of “12 Reasons Why Peanut Free Schools Are Not Okay”

Hi Mama,

I wanted to reach out to you regarding your blog post, “12 Reasons Why Peanut Free Schools Are Not Okay.”.

Brava! Seriously, Nicolette, I want to thank you for sharing your different perspectives on peanut allergies and attempting to “walk full circle” around this sensitive issue. As the parent of children both with a severe peanut allergy and without, and as the sister of a sibling who had needs of his own, I applaud your desire to point out how the typical kiddos’ needs sometimes get lost in the shuffle. They surely do. And, wow, do I ever know it!

Are you still reading? I hope so. Because now, I’m going to offer you just a couple of different perspectives. This is not a bashing. I promise. You’ve had enough of that.

Regarding point #7, you had me at utilizing alternative methods for educating your child because, as any parent of a child who is immunocompromised will tell you, yes! That is necessary. Their childrens’ bodies cannot handle the influx of germs that are constantly circulating within a school building. They must seek alternative education sources and venues for this very reason. Is it hard? Oh yes it is. Is it their life? Yes indeedy.

But, you lost me at meeting a “basic set bar of expectations”. I’m wondering if you envision a society where the folks who can’t meet a basic set bar of expectations are required to live, work, and play in areas that don’t infringe in any way on those who can. Will my child, with autism, who is most times able to meet that bar, but not always, be allowed to interact with those who’ve met the bar? Or, should he be educated at home. And, once he becomes an adult, maybe he should just work from his home, or mine (whichever – we’re cool with however that plays out) so that his needs don’t infringe on the needs of those working diligently, you know, at the bar.  Because, of course, our children are equal.

If my son becomes a brilliant scientist (from my lips to God’s ears!) who is able to research a cure for cancer because of his experiences and perspectives, but can’t be near peanuts while he’s researching, he will take the necessary precautions. Because, here’s another place we agree, it’s ultimately going to be his responsibility to take the precautions necessary to guard his life.

Here’s the thing, though – any adult he is working with is probably going to take precautions as well. Because, respect for differences manifests itself through kindness and consideration. We don’t take breaks for those kinds of character traits.

Another perspective I’d ask you to consider is when my son, who is peanut allergic, attends school with sweet Sally. I’m talking about this precious child, that you mentioned, who just lost her sweet mother to cancer. And, Sally does indeed need to eat peanut butter each day to help her soothe her grief over her mama’s recent death. So, because I care about all children, I encourage my child to leave the table where all of the other children are sitting and go sit at the peanut free table. And, he does.

He’s told by their teacher, of course, that he can ask a friend to sit with him. But, at the tender age of 9,10,11… no one wants to sit with him because, well … I’m sure you are totally aware of the social interaction dynamics of pre-adolescents. So he sits there. Alone. And, that’s okay. That’s his cross to bear. Not sweet Sally’s.

But then, there are a group of Sally’s, or Sals, who have parents who have voiced their own perspective about why “these kids” even need to be at school with their typical children. They get agitated that they can’t bring in candy for holidays and cupcakes for birthdays. It is so frustrating that they vent about it. At home, of course. But, Sal and Sally hear all of this venting and begin to live out what they hear at home, as children sometimes do. And one day, they jokingly smear peanut butter across the back of my son’s shirt as he is eating, at the peanut-free table, because they think it’s funny. And, well, he shouldn’t even be at school anyway.

“My child would never!”, you are thinking. Right? I mean, I would too! But, the reality is that lots of our children do.

Unless…

Unless we stress the importance of not taking a break from kindness and consideration. Not because we want to maximize the importance of some over all. But because that’s what respecting differences is all about. I move over to make room for you because it’s the right thing to do.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I respect you. You are a human with different perspectives than me. And I hope that you never stop writing what you think – because then we shut down dialogue, altogether. I don’t want our society to become an us versus them society. And, I’m pretty confident that you don’t either.

So, I’ll wrap up my letter to you by asking you to never stop walking full circle around these issues. And, please, never stop listening when others point out that you didn’t quite close that circle up.

Sincerely,
Missy (Another Mama)

Pollen and Passwords

There’s a fun little meme floating around The Internets comparing a microscopic piece of pollen to an exact replica of The Death Star in Star Wars. Behold, it depicts truth!

Because, when you wake up wanting to claw your eyes out,  and then go to bed wishing your head would just hurry up and explode…pollen.

If yellow dust coats every outdoor surface that you’ve spent an entire weekend washing down… pollen.

If a spider and a horse mated… pollen.

Maybe not on the last one, but few things are more despicable to me than… pollen. And the allergies they induce.

I could move to Antarctica, but that would set my plans to move back down to Florida waaaay back.

Oh pollen, I detest thee!

And passwords, you too!

Can we just have a show of hands for those of us who have created ultra high security passwords and then never remembered them again?

Because, passwords.

Sweetman keeps telling me that something called Last Pass will save me.

But, I’d have to remember that password.

It’s a never-ending story.

Think of a great password. Check.

Remember great password in dire circumstances. Uncheck.

If only I could!

I need to live in world without pollen. Which would work out great because Sweetman would like to live in a world without bees. See how well we go together?

Maybe we could rig up a system where the only passwords used or needed were by bees. To transport pollen.

And they could only do it if they could remember their passwords.

Yes indeedy.

*Allergy meds may have been consumed prior to this writing.*

*No actual bees were harmed during this writing.*

*Neither was any pollen.*

*Unfortunately!*

*I did have to remember a password, though.*

*Wonders, will they never cease!*

One In A Million

You may remember we had back-to-back episodes of Strep Throat in this house last month.  Well, it’s the gift that keeps on giving…

What started as a strange little rash on the backs of my legs two weeks before Christmas has spread like wildfire all over my body. Not. Even. Kidding. And I would have lived with it…happily. And stayed covered head to toe in clothes that would not only guard against these single digit temperatures we’ve been experiencing up here in the Northeast, but also hidden the effects of some of the leftover Christmas cookies I may or may not have consumed recently.

But, once I discovered they were making their way upwards and started to see them in my hairline, I put my foot down.  You do NOT mess with a girl’s hair!

Amen?

Now, when my general practitioner initially took a look at this little rash those four weeks ago, she had no idea what it could be.  “Maybe an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin? Why don’t you stop using it and let’s see what happens over the next 2 weeks.”, was her suggestion.

She then kindly sat down on the bench next to me to thumb through her manual of Every Horrendous Rash Ever. I became more woozy with each turn of the page as she kept murmuring things like, “Hmmm, certainly not that.” and “DEFINITELY not that!”.  I may have gagged a few times and danged near passed out, but she was not to be deterred. “We” looked through far too many pages of that blasted manual of ailments. Ailments, I’ll have you know, that I may need CIA level brainwashing techniques to ever remove from my mind. (I don’t know if the CIA does that sort of thing, but if they do and any of y’all “know someone”, please, help a girl out! )

So, back to the doctor I went. But this time, I was rerouted to my dermatologist. Now, I love my dermatologist.  He reminds me of Mr. Magoo and he always has a mischievous twinkle in his eye.  Plus, he’s seen me naked and never batted an eye.

Anyhoo, he saw me and instantly lit up with a huge smile and shook my hands warmly as he asked me to what he owed the pleasure of seeing me again so soon. I threw off that glamorous johnny quicker than a woman on fire and pointed to my head. “Look at this! This rash is creeping up into my hairline! You’ve got to help me get rid of this rash, Dr. G.!”  Now, I think the nurse might have snickered a bit at the fact that I didn’t mind standing practically buck-nekid while I feverishly pointed to my hair, but I didn’t give two hoots.

“Hmmm…”, he said all calm-like. He then asked me exactly 2 questions before solving this mystery.

“You just got over a couple of bouts with strep throat?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have a history of psoriasis in your family?”

“Yes.”

“Guess what you have?”, he asked as if he was dying for me to know the answer and just couldn’t wait to tell me.

“A rash?”, I gamely replied.

“Better!  A STREP RASH!”, he excitedly said.

Me?  Not so excited.

I am apparently “one in a million” people who get an All Over Body Rash from Strep throat. Yes indeedy.

It turns out that I’m allergic to Strep Throat.

Perfect.

“Look! Look right here!”, he pointed to HIS manual of Every Horrendous Rash Ever (what IS IT about me that makes doctors think I’m up for seeing that business???).

Strep_Missindeedy

My poor Sweetman doesn’t know whether it will make me happier to love on me or to not touch me all. My Sweetboy is “too worried that I’ll catch it, mama!”, to let me love on him.

But, as usual, God got the last laugh in this situation because Sweetgirl? The one who I could use just an ever-so-teensy break from? She’s all over me.

Like a rash.

Awkward Encounters and Perfume

It is never appropriate to sniff your neighbor Let’s take that as a public service announcement.

Except when…

I used to love a perfume with a hideous bottle.  Let’s just say it rhymed with Ron Saul Faulty-ay.  When Sweetman and I were dating,  Ron Saul and I had to break up. It was a tragic.  I loved how Ron made me smell.

Unfortunately, however, Sweetman couldn’t bear this other man being in my life!  Or on me.

Literally.  His body couldn’t bear it. He would get a monster migraine, along with all the nausea one could never want, for each and every date that I arrived at with all my perfumed self.

We came to realize that it was, indeed, my perfume that made him so ill.  Actually, “we” didn’t come to realize a dern thing.  It’s just that Sweetman finally got comfortable enough, and he liked me enough to stick it out until he could get comfortable enough, to tell me that my perfume made him sick.  That’s Real Romance, right there, folks.

I have not worn perfume in 16 years, 1 month, and 5 days.  Or something like that.  Not that I’m counting.

It should come as no surprise, then, that when my neighbor stopped by the other day, smelling beautifully reminiscent of my old flame, Ron Saul, we had an awkward encounter.  It started off just fine and dandy.

“Hi Neighbor. How are you?  Fine Spring we’re having.”

“Why, yes, it’s nice to see the grass again, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is! My, but you smell good! What perfume is that?”

“Ron Saul Faulty-ay.”

“OH. MY. GOSH! GetoverheresoIcansmellyou!”

That took some explaining.

Yes, indeedy.

Oh, perfume, I miss you so... My neighbor wishes I didn't miss you quite so much.

Oh, perfume, I miss you so… My neighbor wishes I didn’t miss you quite so much.

The Cat in the Window (That is Not a Cat)

My daughter.

She thinks she is a cat.

Why do I think this?

Let’s review the evidence.

Exhibit A:

lying in the sunny spot

And, Exhibit B:girl_cat_in_windowExhibit C:

sunshine_sweetie_blog

And finally, Exhibit D:

hide_and_seek_counting

Do you see what I mean?  She likes to lay anywhere she can find a warm patch of sunshine filtering into the house.  She likes to hang out in the windowsills.  And, she likes to look towards the great outdoors.  She even gets friends in on the act.

Is this normal?

I think this might be a problem, because, God endowed me with a cat allergy.

I have noticed my eyes tearing up a lot lately, around her.

But, I thought it was because, the child! She knows how to test a mama’s patience.  Oh, yes indeedy!

She’s only Almost Five.  She’ll grow out of this, right?

Do any, or have any, of your children ever had a strange love for windows and sunshine? Or anything else?

 

The Most Magical Place on Earth

I was mostly mainly a “believer” before; that Walt Disney World was The Most Magical Place on Earth. But, in all seriousness? It was. And still is. God surely endowed Walt Disney with brilliance and foresight, because his ability to inspire the imagination and thrill the senses was without equal. In the words of Sweetman, “I’m ready to go back!” (And this from the one who heard each “cha-ching” as if it was an approaching rattlesnake!)

 

Disney_World_Missindeedy

 

I want to start by saying that the new Art of Animation Hotel is fantastic. That is where we stayed, and in the Nemo Suites, to be exact. It was delightful. On every level. The food choices for the kids were pretty great, overall (especially with one uber-picky eater in the bunch and the other one with a nut allergy!). And the Sweetkids enjoyed the splashpad and zero-entry pool (and hourly pool activities) so much so, that we had to carve out a little time each day to “chillax” there. It was a tough job people, but someone had to do it.

 

Sweetboy would tell you that the New Fantasyland was his Absolute Favorite place to be (beside Space Mountain, of course!). We all rode the new Barnstormer ride, well… a “few” times. It is a delightfully short roller coaster that the whole family was able to go on. Even Sweetman! It was a Christmas miracle, y’all. Just sayin’.

 

Sweetgirl would tell you that the New Fantasyland was her Absolute Favorite, as it had the new Under the Sea (or, “Ariel Ride” as she would call it) and the new Enchanted Tales with Belle adventure. Although, the Akershus Hall “Dinner with the Princesses”, in Norway, at Epcot, would rank right up there, too. (This has to be one of the best kept Princess Dinner secrets of Disney World!) It was an incredibly interactive dinner; and the personalized attention that each Princess gave each child was just a joy to watch. Truly. It made me want to be a Princess. For 45 whole minutes! True story.

 

And Sweetman and I simply must, as the parents of a child with a nut allergy, give a huge shout-out to The Palace Restaurant, in the Magic Kingdom. We had lunch there one afternoon. Besides the fact that Sweetman asked the chef for the recipe to “the best meatloaf he’s ever had, ever!”, the level of care and concern they took to provide options for our nut-allergic Sweetboy were stellar. And the chef made numerous visits out to us to check and see how things were going. (And, I’m certain it wasn’t because he was asked for the meatloaf recipe. Really!) Fabulous. Just fabulous. We were so grateful.

 

And here are some pictures to give you a little idea of the fun that was had by all.

 

Disney_Collage_Blog

 

All “being fleeced by The Mouse” joking aside, Walt Disney World really is the most magical place on earth. Oh, yes indeedy! And we’re already plotting a return. Before 2020! I know. Right?