I’ve been gone for awhile, huh? I had a really lousy reason: Nora and Cricket came to visit in June, like good and generous dudes, and the visit went well—and I was miserable the whole time and feel guilty about how much I failed to enjoy contact with the little dude. I still feel guilty. I can tell that the visit went well because Nora planned for us to spend most of their time here apart and then just kept suggesting that we see each other more and more. And everybody was friendly and respectful! And we went to a movie! And Cricket continues to grow into a clone of my husband, which is kind of weird, but does make for a cute kid with an offbeat sense of humor.
So for me, the visit going well and me more or less hating it the whole time meant that I need to take a step back. I couldn’t, though, not really; the contact is (for me) about the three boys, and even if it weren’t, I have obligations to Cricket. So I kept up the skype dates and tried to pretend to be a decent person, and then when we moved to Queen City I asked Mister Book to take over all of that stuff. But Nora refused to respond to his messages or emails until she finally messaged me about a Skype date and I asked her to talk to the Mister—“He’s handling the adoption stuff for us right now.” Awkward, yeah, although I did end up sending her a follow-up message after she mentioned to the Mister that I seem pretty burned out; I said “My last message probably sounded a little terse: sorry about that. I’m pretty burned out on adoption stuff right now, as you’ve probably guessed—but it’s about all contact being sad and stressful, and not about you guys as people or your conduct. You’ve been nothing but great, and I really appreciate it. And now that it’s possible for Mister Book to run things for awhile, I am really ready to let him take a turn. Being burned out won’t keep me from living up to my obligations to Cricket.” So not ideal, but I am stil trying to do what I should. In that Skype date arranged between Nora and Mister Book, Cricket (after a longer-than-usual Skype gap) seemed desperately glad to see us. I’m sticking around.
At one point you were talking about writing romance novels, what ever happened with that?
Well, I’ve been slowly writing, but not submitting anything; my top secret plan is to submit the night before we move so that I won’t be able to freak out about it. Too much else to freak out about at that point! But yeah, working on two manuscripts, very different in tone and hopefully readable. Time will tell. Thanks for asking.
Joey got out of the house on Saturday and was attempting to cross a busy street when someone stopped him; I noticed he was gone before fifteen minutes were up, and then Kit and I searched the neighbors’ yards while my mother got in her car and drove around the neighborhood. We’d been bringing in groceries, my mother and I, and we both saw Joey go inside—neither of us saw him slip back out again. I was putting groceries away when I realized that I hadn’t seen him in ten minutes, didn’t find him, told my mom, and we went into full-on freak out. The people who stopped him called the police after finding that Joey couldn’t answer any of their questions, and the officer followed my mother home, asked me what had happened, and seemed satisfied by my explanation. Joey spent the whole afternoon being mad at me for ruining his adventure.
Joey is probably never going to really understand why he shouldn’t just leave the house and go adventuring whenever he likes; he knows that he isn’t supposed to, but that isn’t something he really cares about right now. He also isn’t supposed to lick the furniture, and let me tell you how that one is working out these days. -_- I ordered a medical alert bracelet for him, one made for kids that says “I HAVE AUTISM. MY MOM’S #” and then, you know, the number; a friend of mine says that she has dog tags laced into her kid’s shoelaces, and while Joey doesn’t have any shoes with laces, as soon as he goes up a size I am putting that into place. When we have our own place, we’re putting deadbolts at the tops of outside doors. It scares the crap out of me to worry that I might always always have to worry about Joey getting out—as a twenty-year-old whom no one will know needs help, for example. And I know that I can’t look at four-year-old Joey and guess what he’ll be doing as an adult. But I get scared for him, and for my own future ways of failing him.
We’re going to the Midwest. It’s official. At the end of July, we pack up and go. Less official, but: I suspect that Nora and Cricket are not going to be visiting in June after all. A month out, I think Nora’d be checking in about dates and looking to buy plane tickets. So while she hasn’t said anything, I’m pretty comfortable assuming that she couldn’t get off work.
I’m anxious about the actual process of moving, but feeling pretty good about ending up in the Midwest. We will be further away from my parents, but they have the time, money, and inclination to visit their grandbuddies. We will be in driving distance of Kate and my brother. We’ll be very close to my aging mother-in-law. We’ll be farther from Cricket, but I don’t think that will affect our level of contact. And we’ll be all together as Books, which is just the greatest thing.
Kit is turning three in a month, which is hard to believe—he’s still my tiny dude! But he’s old enough now that he asks for Daddy often, and while Skype is great, it just ain’t enough. And of course Mister Book and I miss each other a lot. Joey is harder to read, but I believe that he misses his dad, and that he’ll start getting close to him again once we’re all living together.
Also related to Kit turning three in a month: I am now comfortable saying that he doesn’t have autism. I guess he still has a few weeks in which he could regress, but he continues to be sociable and very verbal and a person of great passion and intensity. He recently discovered cake, after having refused to try it on every past birthday, and now he’s really ready for his party. He’s also figured out that presents happen when someone gives you something you want, and he has started cheerfully asking for the things that he wants. This is probably completely normal, but our normal is shaped around Joey, who just doesn’t ever ask for something he doesn’t regularly get: “Milk,” say, or “Go outside.” Kit wants trains from his books, and to “be super,” and to fly (not the same thing), and while Joey might want these things, he does not express those kinds of wishes.
I hope you felt well and loved for Mother’s Day.
We still don’t know where we’re going to be at the end of the summer. I keep waiting for certainty before writing about it, but the California job possibility moves so slowly that that could easily be another couple of months. But odds are good that we end up in the Midwest.
I’m tired. Kit has started to fill up our mornings with his own social calendar, which for some reason I did not expect, so now mornings are spend doing Kit stuff and afternoons are spend doing Joey stuff and evenings are spent cleaning up and then lying down. Sometimes I play a videogame with my brother. Joey has been waking up in the middle of the night; so have I.
I’ve been trying to decide what we should do about assisting Joey in communicating; I thought that maybe we’d get him an Ipad for his birthday so that he could use Proloquo2go, but then I looked at the price of Ipads and good Lord. There are some apparently good communication aps for Android, so maybe we’ll get him a Kindle. There’s time yet to decide. I talked to his teacher today about transitioning to next year, and she is going to look into what’s available in terms of services where we will most likely end up. I hadn’t realized that there would necessarily be some federally mandated services for a kid too old for Early Intervention and too young for kindergarten—I was hugely relieved to learn that there are.
Kit is talking up a storm these days. His language has rubbed off on Joey, just a smidge—Joey picked up “You help me?” from Kit, and that is a pretty excellent start. If he doesn’t pick up the endless chatter about “Thomas Chickens” [Thomas the Tank Engine], that is okay.
I’ve been in a blue mood for a while now. Some of it, I think, is toddler stuff; I am mostly happy with the way that I am parenting Kit, and I’m able to stay gentle and calm. But it wears on a body to have someone screaming in her face so often, and with such crazy demands. He is incredibly charming, and funny, and most of the hours in the day are good—sure, he demands “tummy bears” (gummy bears) for breakfast (unsuccessfully), and refuses to eat supper under any circumstances, but he’s working on that autonomy thing. I have a harder time accepting that hitting me is part of his process, and he is having a hard time accepting that putting him in time out for hitting is going to be part of mine. But we’re working it out.
Mister Book is making one last attempt to get a transfer out to California—if it is unsuccessful, we Books will be relocating to the Midwest at the end of July. When I think about the move, I get panicky and overwhelmed pretty quickly, but I am looking forward to the part where I get to live with my husband again. And having a coparent present would be pretty great; I suspect that I would be less ground down by the toddler stuff if I could occasionally pass said toddler off to my partner. But packing everything up and then dragging two small boys across the country . . . thinking about it makes me just want to lie facedown on the ground. We’ll manage, I know. Baby steps. And even for the move, we are not alone; Mister Book probably won’t be able to come out to help us move, but he can get things ready on that end, and my parents will I’m sure be eager to help us get out of their house (in a loving and positive way, but, well—you know).
I neither dread nor look forward to being back in the Midwest; I started dying my hair an electric red recently, and I guess I’ll probably stop doing that as moving day approaches. I’m going to be weird enough, as the liberal vegetarian lady with the odd sense of humor—I don’t want to make it any harder on the boys than it needs to be to make friends and get along. I worry the most about Joey, and don’t look forward to fighting with a school district about the services to which he is entitled, but I know that will be part of our process. Joey has been so sweet and happy these last couple of months; he’s the reason we’re still in California, of course, but we will make things work wherever we go.
On Christmas Eve, I received a form in the mail letting me know that the state will pay to institutionalize Joey. As I write this, he is lying on the futon, listening to his mp3 player and singing (wordlessly, tunelessly) along to the Frozen soundtrack. He’s four years old now, and the way that the system views him is changing.
Mister Book and I long ago concluded that Joey would likely not be one of the children to “recover” from autism; now that he is four, the state is coming to the same conclusion. His hours of behavioral therapy (ABA) are being cut, and while the cuts are not dramatic, his ABA supervisor has explained that they will probably continue to be cut every three or six months.
Joey has moved on from the mp3 player, and is playing with one of those Fisher-Price cash registers—it’s mid-morning, and he’s hanging out in a diaper, resisting any suggestion that maybe it’s time to put on some clothes. Kit was recently potty trained, and while both boys went through the same training routine, Joey just wasn’t able to do it. He doesn’t have the body awareness necessary. Joey has another week off from school, and while I’m trying to keep him somewhat busy (he is Captain Cabin Fever), he has been extraordinarily sweet and even-tempered for his break so far. I’ve been carrying him in the Ergo, and the Mister and I have decided that we’ve got to set some money aside for a preschool Kinderpack—one of the only carriers that can accommodate a kid Joey’s size—because boywearing is so good for his mood and stress levels. Can I say boywearing? Babywearing just doesn’t seem like the right word when I’m strapping a four-year-old to my back. The Ergo is holding up admirably, but it’s really not meant for bigger kids, so the strap cuts into my stomach . . . and when Joey climbs down, it is clear that his butt is asleep.
I can’t move past that mail; Joey is a really excellent little dude, and it’s jarring to get an official announcement that he is now big enough and disabled enough that the state will institutionalize him if I wish. Joey’s Regional Center worker has already checked a box saying “No thank you, we have made other arrangements (in-home care),”; maybe she has some sense of how upsetting it can be to get this offer. I might have filled in that blank with something less official-sounding, like “Please don’t take my baby.”