The Other Side

Dear Sweetboy,

It’s hard to be a teenager. We get it. We used to be adolescents too. Shocking! We know.

Having a younger sibling can make navigating this teenage journey particularly challenging. Especially when they do annoying things that cause you to seek refuge in your room for some much needed alone time. And, it gets you nowhere when your sibling is literally holding up her iPod and blasting Adele’s “Hello”, from the other side of your door.

And singing along with All The Feeling.

And every decibel available to her voice box.

Here’s the thing – you’re good at turning her annoyance into a game. We see you making her laugh so she no longer wants to pester you. You don’t realize it, but we notice you beginning to take challenging situations and turn them positive. (See? Singing “You Gotta Think Positive” worked!) You will need this skill every single day, the older you get.

You’re already making choices as a teen that give us reason to believe you will be one amazing adult. And that makes dad and I hopeful for your future.

We know the world is telling you that you need to charge down the hill now that you’re on the other side of childhood.

But, hey… don’t do that.

Give yourself time to grow up. Slow your roll every chance you get. One thing leads to another more often than you can even imagine. We don’t want you to get going so fast that it takes a crash to slow you down.

Rolling along will expose you to Evil. So, when you bump into Evil, because you will, remember to cling fiercely to any joy you can. That’s the antidote to Evil.

Fight for your joy, Sweetboy.

And be cautiously optimistic.

We desperately want to keep you from becoming jaded about the joy to be found in life because there is so much joy to be found, son. Despite everything going on in the world that we could stay angry and disheartened about, and despite the bad things that happen to us and around us, joy is still out there waiting to be found.

If.

If you’ll just do you and be kind.

Stay in your own lane, but be willing to reach across the lines and help anyone who has fallen down in the lane next to you. Do this as often as possible. It helps build bridges.

And relationships.

And joy.

Be kind even when it doesn’t make sense to the watching world. Eventually, this too will build bridges and relationships. And joy.

And when life seems out of control, or people seem out of their minds, or both? Shout out to God.  He is always there, ready to help. His ultimate goal for you, son, is to make you more like Him and help you find and spread joy while you are here on this earth.

Find the joy and chase it, Sweetboy.

It’s there.

On the other side of childhood.

Yes indeedy.

Love,

Mom & Dad

 

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Bliss Gets a Bad Rap

Productivity was at an all time high around here, yesterday afternoon.

Why?

Because, Sweetgirl had a playdate directly after school.

You’ve just not heard silence so golden as the silence we experience when our resident chatterbox isn’t chattering.

Blessed.

Silence.

Sweetboy desperately needed to get his haircut before we fly down to see The Nana and Ahab this weekend. His awesomely awesome fauxhawk isn’t going to maintain itself!  We knew sissy was going to be gone a few days beforehand, so we hatched a plan to spring him from school an hour early and get the haircut taken care of.

The poor child’s nose has been running, as if in a marathon, for the last few days. Being the fabulous and fancy mama that I am, I offered to take him to Tarjay for an Icee after the haircut. I figured that would give me the excuse I needed to go back and get the two things I actually went into that dratted store for, the other day. Because, Target!

Driving to and from each errand, with no little sister to interrupt our conversation with her own thoughts on what brother should do/think/feel/say, Sweetboy opened right up.

Like a can of worms.

We discussed the upcoming Geography Bee at school, this week (He’s excited. And nervous. But mostly excited. However, he doesn’t want to “actually make it all the way to nationals in another country, because I’m not ready for that yet!” At which point, we had to have a conversation about all the levels he’d have to master before making it that far. And, of course, how “nationals” doesn’t actually entail leaving your particular nation. Fun stuff, people.)

From there, we moved to halitosis. Riveting, I tell you. I was reminded that, although he loves me dearly, I really do need to brush my teeth in the morning. I kept my comments about his own dragon breath, in the morning, to myself. He then proceeded to expound on the pros and cons of cinnamon versus mint toothpaste. (One, he informed me, tastes better in the morning, and one better at night.) He covered using his fluoride rinse in the morning versus the evening.  (Have your eyes glazed over, yet?)

He ended the stream of chatter with a solid exclamation about how he can. not. wait. to get down to Florida so that he can finally, FINALLY, wear shorts again! “Mama, you did pack only my shorts, right? Which shorts did you pack? Can we buy a new pair of shorts down there? Can I wear shorts to the airport? Do you think Nana will buy me some Florida shorts?” (Still trying to figure out what those are….)

I was dizzy from hearing the word “shorts” so many times in one hot minute of conversation. Thankfully, we arrived at home.

He almost skipped into the house, he was so content.

And, happy.

fauxhawk_missindeedy

I can’t express to you how much joy fills my heart when this child feels content. And happy. This eleven-year-old, who fights his dark thoughts so valiantly. This child, who worries about whether his hands need to be washed again, moments after washing them vigorously, every. single. time. This guy, with an intense need and desire to hop his troubles away…

When he feels happiness?

Well, the word bliss gets a bad rap, because in this instance, it aptly describes my state. And, clearly, from the joy emanating from his own face, his, too.

It would seem that a mental health afternoon was exactly what this kiddo needed.

And, you know what?

His mama did too.

Yes indeedy.

To Be Just Like Brother

Autism Spectrum Disorder touches each family it enters into in unexpected ways.

It touches ours with exercise equipment.

The particular and peculiar ways that a child will exhibit their self-stimulatory behaviors (stims) is as unique as a fingerprint. We’ve been through a couple of different sets of fingerprints in this house.

First, there was the swing. Next, was the mini-trampoline. Oh, how we loved that trampoline! Until little sister threw up on it.

And now, it’s a yoga ball.

Each of these pieces of exercise equipment has provided the deep joint-muscle interaction that Sweetboy’s body desperately needs. Each bounce signals to his brain that his body is getting the input it needs and that his world is orderly.

I’m no scientist. And, in fact, math is something that I have to remind myself is a necessary evil. But, when I see my Sweetboy feeling all jumbled up by a day that’s doing him in, and then I watch him bounce it all away on that ball for 10 minutes and come back ready to cope? That’s an amazing process to watch.

At the moment, that child of mine has turned our home into a literal Bounce House.

Three years worth of hopping has been replaced, mercifully, by bouncing on his yoga ball.

We couldn’t be gladder!

This past year, Specialists have been expressing concern for the potential of bone spurs on the heels and balls of his feet, with all of the hopping that he’s done these last few years.

The hopping was a form of stimming, for Sweetboy. When a child on The Spectrum stims, it’s often to help them regulate their outside world, bring order to feelings of chaos, and calm themselves down.

Sweetboy is no different. And, as you can imagine, summertime brings a special kind of unrest to this house. The lack of definitive schedule and the spur-of-the-moment ice cream runs, though they are fun, take their toll on his sense of stability.

And so, the child bounces on his ball.

A lot.

And do you know who’s watching every move?

Sweetgirl.

She observes all of his idiosyncrasies not as someone appalled, but as someone enthralled.

Enthralled by her brother’s constant movement.

Enamored of his ability to balance just so.

The bouncing has been a welcome change.

We certainly do hear less complaining of how much his “legs hurt”.

But the best part about this change?

Sweetgirl now has her own mini purple ball.

To be “just like brother”.

Dueling Yoga Balls

Dueling Yoga Balls

Yes indeedy!

Sunshine State of Mind

Family is pretty stinkin’ precious. We feel that in full measure tonight. We spent a blessed 2 weeks with The Nana and Captain Ahab and oodles of time with the cousin, too.  Our fourth of July celebration was subdued, but with family and close friends, so altogether lovely.  As we closed our vacation time out in  sunny Florida with the grandparentals, we started realizing that there would be a few things that we would be missing somethin’ fierce. These things put us all into a sunshine state of mind, and here they are, in no particular order:

1)  I’ll miss being able to go out into the yard and just grab a mango off of a tree.  Back to grocery store mangoes for me…

We had delicious mangoes almost every single morning or afternoon.

2) That Sweetgirl – she does NOT nap.  I mean… ever!  The motion of the ocean finally got to her, though.  Praise The Lord! And Amen.

Naps don’t get better than this. Right?

3) I get great pleasure out of seeing my Sweetboy do this; and he did a boatload of it:

The child – he surely does love his snorkel and mask.

And lastly,

4)  I realized two things after I planned and executed the following picture.

It’s been a great vacation when you’ve got a ring tan!

The first is that it makes me all kinds of happy to see a ring tan on my finger there.  (Hopefully, that’s obvious by my… you know, ‘planning and executing’ a picture of my tan-lined ring finger. And now that I’ve written that down, I do believe I might just need an intervention.)  And the second thing is that Sweet Moses! I have some unsightly man-looking hands.

I can’t win em’ all.  Indeed.

I sure hope y’all are  enjoying your summer so far!  Whatcha doin’?