Well, it doesn’t seem like I have permission to post my short story yet, so here’s a Halloween post. Do you do Halloween? My pastor friend hates this holiday with a passion; he says it’s evil and ghoulish. I, on the other hand, am of the opinion that Halloween is what you make it. It’s all up to you. My favorite costumes are the homemade ones.
My all-time favorite costume was invented by I12 (with a little help from his mother) three years ago. I don’t have a picture, but here’s what he did. We had an old Scary Alien costume that consisted of a cape and a rubber brain, with eyes attached to it, that you were supposed to put on your head. I12 and I took the brain and cut the eyes off; put the brain on top of his head; wrapped an Ace bandage around the head; added splotches of blue face paint to the bandage; and finally, as a nice finishing touch, I12 stuck a glue stick under the bandage. He went as an overradiated accident victim who fell out of his car and hit his head on a nuclear power plant and his brain came out and now it is glowing. It was a huge success. Kids were stopping I12 on the street and asking him, in awed voices, “And who the heck are you?” Of course, by the time I12 finished his speech, the kids were usually gone.
In case you are wondering, our priest has always been telling us that we can dress up for Halloween, as long as we avoid the following costumes:
- Devil - Witches - Anything bloody - Anything related to death.
I did well for the first few years. My kids were GI Joes, then scary aliens, and finally a scary alien and an accident victim. Then I made a major slip-up and let them get these:
And that is what K10 is going to be tonight. He’s going trick-or-treating with his best friend’s family. (At school, there are no masks allowed, so he just puts on the cape and goes as a crazy monk.) (He used the same cape to dress up as Christopher Columbus for his Wax Museum project last year. Very convenient!)
I12 is not going. Halloween has lost its attraction for him a few years ago.
On a few occasions, I had to dress up as well. Here are Mr. Goldie and myself as a medieval knight and his middle-aged medieval princess:
Once in my old job, we had to wear costumes to work. Yes, that’s right, we had to. There was a contest, and each department had to pick a theme. So, our IT department went into the meeting room, shut the door, and sat down in a futile attempt to decide what we were going to be. If I remember it right, my suggestion was to wear whatever clothes we already had at home, this way we wouldn’t have to spend any extra money. But I was rudely interrupted by our new network administrator. She was quite a character. I had never seen anyone so bossy. We actually had several candidates interviewing for the job, but this girl won Mr. Big over by telling him the important facts of her life:
- She was 25 - She had ten years experience as network admin - All ten years of her experience entailed working for her Mom’s home-based business - And she had seventeen computers at home (as an aside, I think I12 is getting very close to having the same number of computers in his room – it’s hard to tell as he has taken them all apart. But I digress.)
A few weeks after Halloween, the girl was fired after she took down the email server, causing Mr. Big and Mr. Crush to work all weekend through to get it back up. But I digress again, so back to our meeting. Our network admin very strongly suggested that we all dressed up as the Halloween ghouls.
“What’s Halloween ghouls,” asked the puzzled immigrant two-thirds of the IT department.
“Monsters, witches, that kind of thing,” Network Admin instructed us.
“Um, I can’t go as a witch,” I volunteered meekly.
“That’s easy!” Network Admin assured me. “You buy yourself a black pointy hat…”
“No, you don’t understand. I’m not allowed to dress up as a witch, for religious reasons.”
Here’s how inexperienced Mr. Big was in office policies – at that point, he actually proceeded to give me a lecture on team spirit and how I could not let the team down. Here’s how inexperienced I was – instead of telling him to go play with himself in traffic, I listened and tried to meet him halfway.
“How ‘bout a black cat? I can come in as a black cat.”
“No, black cat is no good. You have to be a witch.”
But I decided to draw the line at black cats.
“I can come in as a black cat, or I can take that day off. You choose.”
Network Admin piped up helpfully, “Or she can be a sacrificial virgin.”
Everyone roared with laughter, except for Mr. Crush, who was for some reason dying of embarrassment.
Long story short, I came in as a black cat. When our HR manager heard of my plight, she went out and bought me a set of cat ears and tail. The store only had those in Dalmatian, so my final costume was “a black cat that sat on white paint.” It was a huge success, but the prize went to the marketing department, who dressed up as construction workers. (That was exactly what I had been suggesting all along! Sheesh.)
Speaking of prizes, we finally found out why Network Admin had insisted so much on us dressing as Halloween ghouls. Turned out, she had a prize-winning monster costume at home.
Here’s the picture of our department, all dressed up… I’m the one with the whiskers. The Network Admin is the only girl not wearing any costume or face paint… hee hee.
I really owe everyone this post, it's two weeks overdue.
The Tony Attwood Seminar: Quotable Quotes
I jotted down some notes during the seminar, here are my favorite parts, in no particular order. (I tried to get direct quotes, but that's an impossible task as you realize.) I have added a few of my own comments as well.
It was a good seminar. I walked out of it convinced that: my son has Aspergers; I had it as a child and may still have residual elements; and it is actually a good thing, if we learn how to adjust it to the society we live in!
So, here they are... the quotable quotes...
The diagnostic criteria are still a work in progress. The existing criteria are 15 years behind clinical data and research. The DSM criteria do not reflect the original descriptions of Hans Asperger, or the clinical and empirical knowledge.
In half the cases, AS is hereditary.
These kids are a law unto themselves. They will only follow the school rules if these rules are logical. They want to be treated like adults and do not have respect for authority.
Adults with AS may need professional assistance/guidance if they are promoted to management.
In a conversation, children with AS are more interested in truth than people's feelings. To them, the point of a conversation is to obtain information or teach you something.
They have a pathological fear of making a mistake. Some activities are refused for that reason, i.e. for fear of making a mistake.
Dr. Attwood called special interests "a silver lining to the difficulties" of a person with AS. These people have very few pleasures in life. Socializing is not pleasurable to them as it is to neurotypical people. Their special interests may be the greatest pleasure in their life.
More on special interests - most of the technological achievements we are now enjoying were made possible by people with AS, and at the price of social interaction. "If the world was left to you socialites, we would still be in caves talking to each other" - Temple Grandin.
Motor clumsiness - major problem in school. Timing problems make it impossible for these kids to play ball games/team sports, which are, as we all know, the be all and end all in the school hierarchy. Kids with AS can, however, become agile and proficient through solitary practice (solitary sports like swimming, golf; endurance sports such as marathon). This has struck a chord with me. I have always been horrible at team sports. I did participate in solitary sports as a kid - I sucked at sprinting, but was pretty good at swimming, skiing, ball throwing. I still cannot play ball games because of my timing issues. I do bowl and I am pretty good at it. My younger son K10, although neurotypical, also has timing issues and is not good at team sports, but he is in a swimming class and is a very good swimmer. I hope to see him on a swim team one day. I12, however, has bailed out of sports altogether which I find very sad. He loved track when he was younger, but was told to wait until 7th grade to get on the track team. Now he is in 7th grade and wouldn't hear of it. He just got tired of waiting.
Making Friends: typical kids know by intuition how to socialize and be friends. Kids with AS have to learn that. If they do succeed, it is by extreme intelligence.
They need solitude and need to be on their own. This is relaxing to them. None of their difficulties are exposed when they are alone; solitude is a great stress-reliever for them, whereas being in a group is stressful; they prefer to learn in solitude.
Dr. Attwood gave an interesting example regarding social cues. He asks his young patients this question: suppose you come home from school, your mother is in the kitchen. As you walk in, she turns around and you see that she is crying, tears streaming down her face. What would you do? Kids with AS gave responses like "talk to her about dinosaurs", "bring her tissues", "leave her alone, she'll get over it quicker" (that's because they themselves would like to be left alone when they're sad).
Socializing in school/on the playground. Dr. Attwood gave us several really serious messages for the adults and neurotypical kids, especially the popular, socially advanced kids.
One, on a playground, there are two groups: the good guys and the bad guys. The good guys only accept those who are as good socially as they are themselves. But the bad guys always have an open door. So a child with social deficiencies may end up hanging with the bad guys. (yep, we've been there with I12 - see this post)
Two. Statistics show that 85% of students do not engage in bullying on either side. But out of the other 15%, half are bullies and the other half is being bullied mercilessly, often resulting in physical damage, depression, suicide. The bullies don't have it easy, either - kids that engage in bullying during school years are more likely to develop alcohol and criminal problems in the future, so they also need rescuing. What Dr. Attwood said here is that the moral majority, the kids with socially high status need to step in and tell the bully to stop. The bully will only listen to the kids with the socially high status. (Yes, I have already told this to K10, since he and his friends seem pretty high up there).
Three. Kids with AS are more likely to have gender identity issues, and here's why. Boys with AS are often rejected by boys, because they cannot play team sports. So some of them end up becoming friends with girls, fitting into their circle, and to a point adopting their interests. Which in turn causes their peers to call them gay.
Girls with AS are often rejected by girls, because they are not cliquish, they don't like to gossip, and they also don't like feminine clothing because to them, it is uncomfortable. They may prefer boys' clothing. So some of these girls end up becoming friends with the boys and fitting into their circle. Which in turn again leads to their peers calling them gay. Just because a girl plays with the boys, or a boy with the girls, does not automatically mean these kids are gay or transgender.Heck, most of my friends growing up were boys (nerdy boys, but still!) and I am straight as an arrow.
I do not want to make this post too long, so I will continue with the Quotable Quotes in the next Digest.
Starbucks coffee cups will soon be emblazoned with a religious quotation from Rick Warren, the best-selling author and pastor, which includes the line, "You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense."
Apparently, this has led a number of people to boycott Starbucks, which I agree is pretty stupid. Personally I don’t care what is written on my cup. Of course, I need to add that I don’t buy Starbucks. Nor do I drink coffee *evil grin* I had to give it up, along with black tea, because it gives me horrible migraines… which is truly sad.
I couldn’t, however, help looking at this piece of news from a different angle. Is it just me or is Pastor Warren being just a little bit of a sellout? I’ve been keeping tabs on the Purpose Driven industry for a while now, and Mr. Warren’s marketing methods remind me a lot of Bill Gates. Except it isn’t software that he is marketing… it’s Christianity.
How far can you go with Christian marketing? Does it work? If it attracts a large number of people, but at the same time makes roughly the same number of people recoil in disgust, can we still say it works? How would your friends and family, the society at large, and you personally, feel if any other world religion – Islam, Paganism, Atheism – was being pushed down people’s throats marketed to people in the same manner? If you have a large Christian-marketing industry and profit from it, can you use it to tell people what they must do with their income? (My favorite quote from Pastor Rick goes something like this: “Your retirement account is not important.” Well, duh! Of course our retirement accounts are not important to Mr. Warren, CEO, PDL Inc. His is!)
Yes, I have read the PDL and attended a discussion group. Everyone except me liked the book a lot. I tried to like it too, but eventually gave up. My original rant about the PDL can be found here. Aw, what the hey, I’ll quote it, so you don’t have to wander through an old post.
I’m not sure why I didn’t like the book. Everyone else around me loved it – and that includes people I deeply respect and look up to. When I mentioned it to a woman in our church, she didn’t believe what I was saying, literally – I had to repeat it several times: “I didn’t like the book” – “What, PDL?” – “Yes, PDL” – “You didn’t like it?” – “No, I didn’t”. I sure did feel like an odd person out!
I honestly tried to make myself like the PDL, but I have to break down and confess – no matter how hard I tried, it irritated me to no end! I cannot even put my finger on what irritated me, except of course that the book is written in this dead-serious tone. It takes itself too seriously. And no, jokes like “Christians are like snowflakes, when they get together, they can stop traffic” do not count, because, um, they are not funny. That, and the requirements that we volunteer only in church, donate only to church, be friends only with believers, talk to unbelievers only to convert them… did I miss anything? Oh, and the unexplicable resentment the author seems to have towards secular jobs and retirement funds. What’s that all about? Does he see them as some sort of competition? I don't want to sound disrespectful, but that's exactly how it sounds!
I have never before seen a book that said all the right things - mind you, I agree with 90% of what PDL says, - and said them in such an incredibly annoying, irritating way. At least that’s the way I felt about the book and there’s no way I can get around it.
It's a very hectic day here, so it isn't easy for me to produce a profound post. So I decided to ask you a question (yes, my dear readers, that means all five of you!)
What was the worst kids' movie that you've been dragged into seeing when your children were little? This popped into my head last weekend, when I went to see Wallace and Gromit with K10 (good picture, by the way. Go see it.) We got there early enough to see the trailer for Chicken Little, and, oh my goodness, this stuff looks like it was produced by a permanently brain-dead person. And some poor parents will probably have to see it. Makes me want to take up a collection for the unfortunate guys.
For me, the worst movie I had to sit through with my kids was Pokemon 2000, hands-down. Hard to compete with that one. For some reason, back in 2000, both my kids really wanted to see it. I was very poorly informed about Pokemon at that time, so I couldn't even follow whatever subject line there was. Two hours of pure torture!
By the way, I've always wondered - how do the Pokemon procreate? I've never seen them, you know, doing the deed (which is a pity; that would've made the show a lot more enjoyable.) I had plenty of time to think of this, because, like I said, both kids went through a massive Pokemon phase. We watched the show, bought the beanie babies, read the books, collected the cards, you know... the works.
For K10's seventh birthday, I bought him an enormous gift set of Pokemon cards. Sure enough, there was a Charizard inside. For those of you whose kids belong to a different generation (you lucky bastards), Charizard is the highest card in Pokemon and it beats pretty much everything else, and K10 had wanted it forever.
He must have jumped three feet in the air when he saw it! I swear to you guys, he was kissing the card and petting it and going, "I will take good care of you. Yes I will, yes I will!"
A few weeks later, to everyone's amazement, K10 gave the card to his brother's friend, Tim the school bully. Apparently they'd made a deal, wherein K10 was to give Tim the card, and Tim , in return, was to stop bullying K10 on the playground. (In case you're wondering, this happened in our house, and K10 was the one who made the offer.) Let me just say that Tim's end of the deal never happened, and K10 still holds the grudge. So, Tim, if you're reading this, please give K10 his Charizard back. It is a collector's item, you know. At least, that's what K10 thinks.
So, what's your story? I'm eager to hear about all the crappy movies I've been lucky to have missed.
Where would I be without my Mr. Big stories, especially when I cannot think of anything else to post? Here’s another one.
Mr. Big wanted very much to win my friendship, and help me succeed in a foreign country. To that end, he showered me with gifts. This was the most memorable of them. I was sitting in the office one morning, when Mr. Big came in, carrying a hair scrunchie.
“Here, Goldie, this is for you.”
“Why, thank you!” I put the scrunchie on my desk.
“Aren’t you gonna wear it?”
“Maybe later. Thanks.”
“I was at a gas station today, and I thought I’d get it for you.”
“Why, that was very thoughtful.”
“Oh, that’s nothing really. See, I was standing outside pumping gas, and I saw it lying on the ground, and right away, I thought of you.”
Oh my. How could I find words to express my gratitude? Wait, I found them.
“Eeek! Blech! Gross! Why’d you do that? You don’t know who was wearing this thing! Excuse me, I’ve got to go wash my hands.”
Mr. Big stared in disbelief. He couldn’t see where he had done any wrong.
On a different occasion, someone brought chocolate chip cookies to the office. Mr. Big got all excited, because those were his best friend, Mr. Crush’s favorite. Sadly, it was late in the afternoon and Mr. Crush was already gone for the day. So Mr. Big took the biggest cookie, carried it to Mr. Crush’s office, and strategically placed it on top of Mr. Crush’s work papers.
Next morning, he couldn’t for the life of him understand why his friend was so mad.
So what about you? Did you ever get any interesting presents? Or were you maybe a giver of any? Pray tell.
As you may or may not be aware, all books and websites on chinchilla care recommend that you hide any electric cords before giving your chinnie a free run of a room. The reason for that is that chinchillas chew through things, and with cords or cables, this could result in unfortunate incidents, such as shown in "Nation Lampoon's Christmas".
After letting Nicky out a couple of times, we noticed that he did not, indeed, try chewing on the cords. We congratulated ourselves on having a well-trained chinchilla, and got into the habit of letting him out in every room of the house. He'd hop across rooms and hide behind furniture and enjoy his walks immensely.
Five minutes ago, I made an awful discovery while cleaning my office. I found out why my phone has suddenly stopped working. That's right, the little furball bit the phone cable in half.
I'm getting worried. Now that Nicky has tasted the phone cable and liked it, he may get addicted. Everybody knows that phone cable is a gateway drug. From there, he can move on to bigger, more serious stuff. He will keep increasing the dosage, until eventually he will cut off the power in the entire street.
Also, who knows if he doesn't decide to take it a step further and taste human flesh? Halloween is approaching. Beware of a man-eating, cable-cutting chinchilla.
Well, here's where we stand now with this whole thing.
After reading everyone's comments and my friends' emails and giving it much thought, I have come up with a Word document. I was so proud of myself when I finished typing this:
I12's Church Attendance Plan October 2005
I. Create a word file and give it to me when done. In the Word file, answer the following questions: 1. What do you believe?
Creation of the Universe
Who or what maintains the Universe?
Is there a God?
What are His relationships to the Universe?
What are His relationships to people?
Does He have any rules for people to follow?
What rules, if any?
Is there life after death?
What is life after death like?
Is it in any way determined by life on earth?
Which of the following world religions do you feel closer to? (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Don’t Know, Other - describe)
PS. Webster defines God as "any of the various beings conceived of as supernatural, immortal, and having power over people and nature"
II. Read the books:
C.S. Lewis, "The Screwtape Letters"
C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity"
The four Gospels (this counts as one book and you have to read all four)
Val Grieve, "Your Verdict" *
If you wish to read an additional book on world religions, let me know and I will get you one.
III. For each book, either have a discussion with me (total time 1 hour for each book, can be taken in 15-minute increments) or type a 1-page report to prove that you have read the book.
IV. Have a meeting with Father (our priest's name) to thank him for his work in the 8 years that you have been member of this church, explain why you want to quit, and listen to what he has to say to you. (He probably won't give you anymore than 1 hr of his time.)
V. Then you can quit if you still want to.
As you can see, I did it all by the book - I spelled everything out and broke it down into small tasks. Last night, I handed this list to I12 with the words, "Do one through four and you can go."
Thirty minutes later, I12 hands me his answers to #1.
Be careful of what you ask for...
You just may get it.
Here they are.
1. What do you believe?
Creation of the Universe - Big Bang (pulsar-like theory).
Who or what maintains the Universe? - It does that by itself.
Is there a God? - Yes/No/Depends on how you define Him.
What are His relationships to the Universe? - I define God as what made the Universe.
What are His relationships to people? - He can't think. He is an object. No one believes in what's correct yet.
Does He have any rules for people to follow? - He can't make any.
What rules, if any? - None.
Is there life after death? -Yes.
What is life after death like? - Exactly like this one**.
Is it in any way determined by life on earth? - Yes, since it's going to be exactly like this one.
Which of the following world religions do you feel closer to? (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Atheism, Agnosticism, Don’t Know, Other - describe) - Atheism.
I told him to get on with the reading list... but, WOW.
I did ask him, "How did you go from seven years of Sunday School to, er, this?" He said, "Sunday School didn't do it for me."
So here's a lesson for all of you to take away here. This doesn't really only pertain to matters of faith. I think this applies to anything you want to teach your kids.
First of all, give it to them like it is. Don't make an adapted version so kids can understand. Don't wait until they grow up to give them the unabridged version. Kids today develop fast and teen years will come faster than you think and they will have it all figured out by then... on their own terms. Oh, and most likely, they won't listen to you when they're that age. At least I12 still seems to have some respect for me and my opinions *knock on wood*
Don't be like I was. Don't assume that other adults know it better than you do because they were born and raised in this culture, and you were not, and it would therefore be better if you just leave it to them to give your child answers. I did that with Sunday school and I am kicking myself in the head now.
And last but not least. If there is some information that you feel you really need to pass on to your kids, then pass it on to all of your kids, not just the ones that would listen. K10 has always had an enormous interest in all things church-related, so I talked to him more about these things than I did to I12. As a result, K10 now has some pretty decent theological base, whereas I12 has nothing. Half of our services are in Greek, and the other half apparently went right over his head. He never asked questions, so I never gave him my answers***.
All that said, I don't worry too much. I12 is a smart kid, and I think that he will eventually outgrow his current model of the world and start looking for a new one. I wish him good luck in his spiritual journey, even though it probably isn't high on his list of priorities right now.
* - even though I ordered this book almost two weeks ago, it hasn't been shipped to me yet, but please don't tell I12... this'll be our little secret.
** - I12 believes that, over time, the Universe will collapse, and some time after that, there will be a second (?) Big Bang and the Universe will be re-created. We will then all reappear in this new Universe again, as the exact same combination of particles. Apparently this is an infinite loop.
*** - of course, as we all know, the ultimate correct answer is: "Forty-two". I12 has no idea. He didn't read that far.
Last weekend (after the party was over, of course), Mr. Goldie decided to try a new bowling-ball-cleaning technique a friend had taught him. (Yes, we're both league bowlers. Mr. Goldie is pretty good. I used to be good, but now I suck due to sudden loss of interest). What you do is, you set your oven to 250 degrees, put the bowling ball in, and let it sit there for about five minutes. Apparently it gets out all the oil the ball has accumulated over years of rolling down the oily lanes.
So Mr. Goldie proceeds to clean a 16-pound ball... and then another... and then another. In the meantime, K10 is lying on the couch, sick as a dog, watching TV and paying no attention to his father. Or so we thought until he said:
"Dad, please tell me you're not putting your balls in the oven."
Cathy has recommended some fiction to me. Which is good, because my brain is just about fried from reading "Different Minds"! I checked them all out and am reading two of them at this moment.
Haze - very easy reading, interesting kids' book. I think it would be good reading for classmates/siblings of kids with AS. I will have K10 read this book.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - very interesting, but tough. I had to stop and take breaks because some parts of the book are seriously freaking me out. I guess I'm lucky, because my son is a lot higher-functional than the main character. That said, a lot of chapters (on math, the life, the universe, and everything) sounds exactly as though they were written by I12, as well as things like "I stood there for 4 minutes and 28 seconds"... this is I12 all over! hehe
The Speed of Dark - just got it from the library yesterday and took a quick peek. Cathy is right, it does raise an interesting question - how far do we want to go in changing our Aspies? I12 says he doesn't need to be changed as he's fine just the way he is. On the other hand, as a reformed Aspie myself, I have to say that the more social skills I acquired, the more I was able to enjoy life and the more successful I became at work. Tough question. I'm looking forward to reading this book.
This one is non-fiction:
Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism, by Temple Grandin and Kate Duffy - not much use for my particular situation yet, but will be very helpful for people with ASDs graduating high school or college and starting their careers. The book even explains how to deal with office politics! It also lists all suggested careers and talks about each one in detail. Good read for those that need it. Of course, right now, my son thinks that he will be a freelance programmer, so it's kind of hard to convince him that he needs survival skills for working in an office.
Success Story - From One of the Readers
I have received a comment from a mother of a teenage boy with AS who has been reading this blog (the mother of course, not the boy). She shared some of what they did to improve their son's social skills, and I think they are doing a great job. She has allowed me to post her advice on this blog. Here it is.
My son is 14 and in the 9th grade, he was diagnosed with Asperger's in the 5th grade.
Social skills - I realize experts will tell you many things about social skills, but a few things we have done in our home are:
1. If he is going to encounter something new I walk him through the situation and what may happen, we may try different situations. For his first dance we talked about how to approach a girl to dance and how to be polite, after all our hard work he spend all night working the concession stand because he was not ready to dance, but at least he went and had fun. 2. HE is AWARE that he acts differently than other kids so he has learned to watch and learn in new situations. 3. He has been lucky he has been with the same kids since kindergarten and they just think he is strange, and he hangs with kids who are also strange which helps him not stick out so much. (Computer geeks, nerds, non-jocks) 4. We have had him in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts since the 1st grade, and this has allowed him to form a relationship with a small group of boys in a supervised setting. (He earned his Eagle Scout in April 2005) We agreed he could quit scouts but he has to join a club or group at school. (one of his choice). 5. We live in a community of 8,000, this past summer we encouraged him to get a job, he washes dishes at a local restaurant a few hours a week, this way he does not have to interact with the public, but does have to interact with the other employees. He actually enjoyed it and continues to work weekends once school started.
We have found if he is not encouraged to tackle new social situations he will sit in the house and read and play computer games, hence the rule that he has to be involved in a group at school.
The past 3 years we have seen many advancements in his social skills. He has learned to go to his teachers and request help or ask questions when he doesn't understand. He will actually tell other kids some form of hello when he sees them in town, and on occasion he will actually start a conversation or say hello first. He knows his limitations and when I encouraged him to get a job bagging grocery's he is the one that told me it would be to stressful because he would have to talk to people all day. That if he was going to get a job it was going to be one that was not stressful.
Whew, I’m back, how’s everybody been? I’m good, though tired.
Let me tell you first of all that the Tony Attwood seminar was out of this world! I have acquired so much useful information and met interesting people. Dr. Attwood is one of the best speakers I’ve seen so far (and I have seen a few really good ones). Was I taking notes? – you betcha, as I have promised I12’s guidance counselor I would make her a copy. I will put together the most interesting bits and pieces for one of my Digests. Bottom line, if he will be speaking in your town, go see him.
Yesterday, we had a birthday party for K10. For the past three years, I’ve been doing these parties in the same format:
1. Kids come over (some years, we had fourteen kids. Yesterday we only had eight). 2. I entertain the kids, feed them pizza, cake, etc. 3. Kids whose parents don’t trust me with their lives, leave. Kids whose parents do trust me with their lives, as well as our friends’ kids, stay. More of our friends come over and help me set the big table in the dining room. 4. We celebrate with our friends, while the kids are in the basement tearing the place apart. (Literally. Last year, they managed to rip a 100-pound punching bag out of the ceiling. This year, they just scared the chinchilla out of his little mind. No other damage was done).
Starting next year, I will be dropping parts 1 and 2, and will call it the Fall Party rather than K10’s birthday party. Because I just don’t see a reason why 11-year-olds should have an all-out, all-class-invited birthday party… do you?
K10 told me before the party, “You take care of the food, and I’ll take care of the entertainment”. Sounds good, right? You would assume that ten-year-olds would be capable of behaving well and having organized fun, correct? Especially if last year, there were fourteen nine-year-olds in the house and they were on their best behavior, and this year, there’s only eight of them and they are a year older, and therefore, more mature? Right?
Wrong. Half the kids were out of control, and the other half were bored out of their minds. As it inevitably happens at parties and play dates, by the time they all settled down and started playing well with each other, it was time to go. One of the kids was picked up by his aunt. It was his first time at our house. Five minutes later, as I’m chatting with my friends and chopping salads for our party, the aunt calls me on the phone and she’s irate.
“My nephew tells me that at your party, he got beaten up by somebody named Jimmy. He is NOT happy, his mother is NOT happy, and I am NOT happy. What happened?”
“Um, I dunno… they were playing?”
I am super confused, and here is why.
1. Jimmy is a kid brother of one of K10’s (and the victim's) friends. 2. Jimmy is seven. 3. Jimmy is extremely small and scrawny, probably half the size of the poor victim. 4. Jimmy is super cute. 5. Although I did see Jimmy running after the victim throwing little punches in the victim’s knee area, I didn’t sense that the victim was suffering.
Why didn’t I tell the aunt who Jimmy was? It’s the peculiar mental condition that I have. Each time I see an adult interfering in the kids’ business, I start seeing red and I get this brain freeze. Of course, now that I’ve cooled down, I understand that the aunt didn’t have enough information to go on. She probably still thinks Jimmy is a two-hundred-pound bully that tackled her little defenseless nephew.
Meantime, the aunt goes on.
“I need you to reprimand these kids.”
“Okay, I will talk to my son, but I’m not sure what I can do to other people’s kids, seeing as I’m not their mother.”
“Oh no, your son didn’t do anything!” (Pause as I heave a sigh of relief.)
“Um, I’m confused. How can I do anything to somebody else’s children?”
“If you can please just talk to them?”
“Okay, I will. Thanksbye.”
I hang up the phone, and after saying a few choice words normally used by ten-year-old boys rather than their mothers, walk over to the kids and motion to Jimmy’s older brother Dave to come over.
“Dave, this is serious. I just got a call from Ned’s aunt and she was very upset. Ned told her that he got beaten up by Jimmy.” (Dave snickers; I try not to.) “She wants me to reprimand you guys for letting this happen.”
“What’s reprimand?” wonders Dave.
“I don’t know, but I’m not gonna do it. I have one thing to say, though… don’t tease Ned like that anymore. Some people are just more sensitive than the others. He didn’t like it; don’t do it.”
All the while in the back of my mind, I was thanking Ned’s aunt for giving me something to blog about. That's how sick I am.
That said, I can totally envision a situation where I would step in and interfere on my kids’ behalf. This kind of situation would probably involve illegal behavior or serious bodily damage.
What about you? Where do you draw the line? When do you think you as a parent should step in, and when do you leave the kids to fend for themselves? Go ahead and share.
By the way, those of you who have been reading this blog long enough probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that, the day before his birthday party, K10 ate something that gave him massive diarrhea right on the day of the party, when it was too late to cancel. He stayed on a water-and-toast diet all morning, and when the guests came, he just put on a happy face and entertained, sneaking into the bathroom every fifteen minutes. Oh well. Like I said, why would I be surprised? After all, the same thing happened to his brother on his birthday!
I will be at an all-day conference on Thursday, getting ready for the party on Friday, and partying on Saturday. I will see you all on Sunday. If you have a cure for hangovers, please feel free to post in on your blogs by then. I might be very interested.
Here are some neat Newgrounds flashes for you to look at while I'm gone. These are good... pure genuis, I tell you. Make sure your sound is on, but beware... these songs are catchy! I've been humming one of them for three days now... arrgh!
K10’s birthday is really tomorrow (on the 13th), but I am leaving for my Tony Attwood conference first thing tomorrow morning, so I’m putting this up tonight. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On a cold and windy day… On Friday the 13th… Two weeks before Halloween… a baby was born.
And that baby was my second son! Happy birthday, K!
When we first came into the country in 1997, the flight was horrible. I mean, the flight itself was actually very comfortable, but flying with a fifteen-month-old doesn’t rank high on my list of life’s pleasures. When we landed, I said to Mr. Goldie, “I’m not flying with the kids anymore until ‘K’ turns ten!”
To me, when I said these words, they were an equivalent of “never again”. It was just inconceivable to me that one day, this baby would turn into a ten-year-old. It was something out of a SciFi book.
Believe it or not, that day has come. My youngest son turns ten today. I guess I will have to call him K10 on this blog for the next year. Which is fine with me. Not having to call him K9, I mean. If there’s one thing I could do without, it’s a certain kind of Google searches leading to this blog. Let me just tell you that some people apparently like doggies way, way too much.
But I digress.
K10 is, by far, the least socially challenged person in our family. He knows exactly the way things work between people. He didn’t learn that from us, because we have no clue ourselves. It’s just in his blood. He may not know it, but many times I have come to him for advice.
It takes me all I’ve got to keep from turning into K10’s best friend (because everybody says I’m not supposed to be). We’ve been close since he was born. I have to confess, for the first year or two, it wasn’t by choice. Sometimes, you really want to plunk your baby in a crib, or plunk your toddler in front of some toys, and go have a cup of tea, read a book, or even *gasp!* take a nap. When your baby or toddler is constantly sick, that just isn’t an option. So, K10 was glued to me for most of his formative years. As a result, we understand each other very well, share a lot of memories, and have a lot of common interests. K10 is fun… most of the time, anyway!
He is also one of the few people his brother talks to. The first few years were hard, but then they really hit it off. They spent a lot of time playing together. For a while, both were sure that they were twins, and I could not convince them otherwise. Each time one of them learned something, he shared it with his brother.
Which explains K10’s unusually deep knowledge of relations between sexes. The poor little guy was treated to a “how babies are made” lecture from his big brother when he was barely five years old.
I am very proud of K10. He survived six or seven hospitalizations, three surgeries, two broken arms, four years of elementary school, Grandma and Grandpa trying to treat him like a baby, and despite all that, he’s still a happy, contented person and a good friend. He has a love of learning, and insists that everyone be treated fairly. These are the qualities I’ve wanted my children to have.
Mamacita wrote about a senior citizens class in her college, and how she helped them improve their computer skills. A few stories sprang to mind. Keep in mind, we are a family of programmers, so we don’t usually let our computers go completely to seed. (Because we are a family of programmers, each of us has a computer. It just somehow worked out this way). Well, except for K9, who didn’t inherit the programming gene. he tends to download all kinds of crap, and then when said crap takes over his computer, he doesn’t know what to do with it. Still, sometimes even the best of us screw up. Here are a few examples.
Example One. When I12 got his first computer (I think he was nine or ten at the time), he happily used it for a few weeks. Then one day, I come into his room and see the tower, monitor, etc. sitting on the floor in a corner. “This computer is bad. It doesn’t work anymore,” explained I12. Turned out, the little genius decided that he needed to free up some space on his hard drive. He blew away a lot of things, including: most of Program Files directory; the entire Windows directory; and everything in C:\ root. The smart child then proceeded to empty the recycle bin. Mr. Goldie saved the day by reinstalling Windows from scratch.
Example Two. Last year, two weeks after I opened a brand-new yahoo email account, K9 came across an offer for a free Nintendo DS. He nagged and whined until I gave in and agreed to fill out an application. In what was possibly a blonde moment, I gave my new yahoo account as my email address. Oh well, at least I gave them my work mailing address. I was then told that, to get a free DS, I had to accept six offers from the sponsors. You probably know what those were – half of the offers involved buying stuff I didn’t need, and the other half required that I give my Social Security number. I canceled when I was halfway through. Minutes later, my new account started getting junk mail. To this day, I get hundreds of spam mail every day. They don’t really bother me, plus they serve as a reminder not to sign up for any more free stuff.
Example Three. A year or two ago, when I was bored, I took a free IQ test. First off, I was informed that I could get detailed results for only fifteen bucks. Excuse me, but I am smarter than that – your test results said so. Last week, I get an email from them: “this is about our free IQ test you took two years ago. Because your test results are so high, we will send you your detailed results for free”. I click on the link, and sure enough it says: “we will send you the FREE information as soon as you review this offer from our sponsors”. Excuse me, but NO. I wonder if they send this email out to everyone – “you scored 80 on our IQ test last year, your test results are unusually high compared to most of the population (insert Bush joke of your choice here), so we will send you…” and so on and so on. I actually think this was very smart marketing!
So, what about you? Do you have computer stories to tell?
In other news, Michele has touched upon an eternal dilemma - drivers vs. cyclists. This should be an all-out food fight interesting exchange. I have already posted my rant, but I’ll stay tuned.
Over at Blogging Baby, Jen wrote about telling her son that he has Aspergers. It seems like she did a good job. Can't say the same about myself - apparently I got something wrong, because now I12 is going around saying, "I don't have any feelings, that's because I have this disorder".
Guess I'll have to find some easy reading materials about AS and give them to my son.
Serious Question about Church!
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming with an urgent question.
This past Sunday, I12 announced to us that he was quitting church, like, right now. He actually got up at eight, took a shower, got dressed, and then, standing in the garage in his dress pants and dress shoes, he suddenly goes, "I don't want to go. I'm quitting". Can anybody say "perfect timing"?
Oh, this didn't come as a surprise to me, no way. He'd been begging to quit for a few years now. Only we had agreed that he'd do it when he turns fourteen. Another part of our deal was that, on his thirteenth birthday, I would give him a list of books to read, and he cannot quit until he's done.
We had a deal, dangit. And now he says he cannot take it anymore and he's bailing.
I12 is incredibly logical. If he cannot prove something by means of pure logical reasoning, he's not going to believe it. On a lot of levels, this is a good thing. This means that, when he's a teenager, he's not going to do anything stupid just because "everybody's doing it" or "it just feels right". (Pause as Goldie vigorously knocks on wood).
The flip side of this is that I have to provide solid logical foundation of everything I want him to do with his life. Don't even get me started on "school is a waste of time, and getting good grades is pointless". Or, how about these two real-life examples from church.
Example one, six months ago. I12, K9 and I come in for confession. I12 goes first, and the priest asks him (I assume this is the usual conversation-starter in this case): "Do you have anything to confess?"
I12 replies, "No." End of confession.
Example two, 1998. I12 is in kindergarten in Sunday School, and it is the annual St. Nicholas's Day party for the kids. The entire Sunday School (we are talking two hundred kids here), plus the parents, plus the younger siblings, are gathered in the church's rec center. St. Nicholas comes up on stage and gives a speech ("Dear children, so glad to see you all, my name is St. Nicholas, I lived in fourth century AD and liked giving gifts to the poor..." etc, etc). Throughout the whole fifteen-minute speech, the five-year-old I12 is holding his hand up. Fortunately, no one called on him.
On the way home after church, I asked I12: "So, what were you going to ask St. Nicholas?"
I12 (I5, to be correct) looked surprised.
"I didn't want to ask him anything. I wanted to say something. I wanted to say, Listen everybody! This is not Saint Nicholas! This is a guy dressed up in a Saint Nicholas suit".
I rest my case. By the way, I never told I12 Santa wasn't real. He figured it out on his own before I even got a chance.
But, back to our original subject.
I never expected I12 to become a flaming believer. (Yes, I said "flaming believer", and yes, I did it on purpose. Flaming believers, you know who you are, although I doubt that you're reading this blog.) But I wanted him to have what I didn't have when I was his age - a knowledge base. What I really like about my particular brand of Christianity is that it has an awful lot to offer in terms of knowledge. Orthodox theology can get as complicated as you want it to be. When you grow, it grows with you.
I knew that, sometime during his teenage years, I12 was going to leave. But a part of me hoped that he would, eventually, come back again. To do that, he needed to have enough knowledge to at least realize that our faith is bigger than his Sunday School lessons or the "kids" sermons. In fact, and I told him that yesterday, doubting your faith is completely normal. This means that, up to this point, you have been receiving information about your faith on a certain level, and you have now outgrown this level and are ready to move up to the next one. (No, I didn't come up with this stuff on my own, I'm not that smart - this is Fr. Anthony Bloom).
And I'm running out of time to transfer this knowledge to him.
In a desperate attempt to pass at least some of it to him on his way out, I have shrunk my reading list by 9/10. Forget the thirteenth birthday, the reading starts now. I set the books on his desk yesterday. They are:
C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity" C.S. Lewis, "The Screwtape Letters" The four Gospels
I have also ordered a book by Val Grieve, called "Your Verdict on the Empty Tomb of Jesus". This book helped me a lot in my day. Because the truth is, I came to Christianity on pure logical reasoning myself. That is probably why I find it so hard to understand why what worked for me does not work for I12.
Here's what my reasoning was, feel free to check it for logical flaws.
1) No matter whether we state that God exists of he doesn't, it is an act of faith in both cases. So I might as well pick an option that is more appealing to me and put my faith in that option. 2) At this point, I chose to believe that God exists, because the world is so complicated, it had to be created by a rational being, et cetera, et cetera. I12 actually stays with me up to this point. Here's where I lose him. 3) If God exists, has created mankind, and is maintaining life on Earth as we know it, then He has to have certain expectations for us, and expect us to interact with Him in a certain way. 4) What followed was a brief analysis of world religions that was rudely interrupted by my friend the pastor, who saw a vulnerable soul and pounced with his Four Spiritual Laws booklet. Anyway, Christianity made a lot of sense to me, so I put my faith in that. I was twenty-two years old at the time. Worked for me. Does not work for my twelve-year-old. Go figure.
I think I12's AS gets in the way, as he is very very literal, and he takes his doubts seriously. And of course, I cannot tell him with one hundred percent confidence that what he's about to quit is The Only Way, because, hey, I have doubts of my own. I just chose to take my chances with Christianity. I cannot prove it to I12. Heck, I cannot prove it to myself. I won't find out for sure until I die.
And, of course, I really wonder what part of his decision to quit is intellectual honesty (i.e. he cannot pretend to believe if he doesn't) and what part is the realization that, instead of going to church on Sundays, he can stay at home and sleep in and post on the forum.
I had an interesting conversation the other day. I was asked if I had seen “Gone with the Wind”, and I said, quote, “read the book, never got to see the movie”. The person looked at me with a mix of pity and contempt and replied:
“Not many Americans could say that. “Read the book, never got to see the movie!” Here in America, this movie is classic!”
Oh, is it, really? Well, last I checked, so was the book. Here in America.
It’s amazing how in people’s minds, a movie version of a book somehow trumps the book itself. I don’t understand that. Although, wait, I think I do. The way I see it, when you’re reading a book, you are forced to use your imagination. You have to come up with your own vision of what the characters or the scenery looks like. The movie, on the other hand, presents it all to you in an easily digestible form. You don’t have to strain your brain too much. That is not to say that I never watch movies at all. But, if it is a book hitting the big screen, then, one, I want to make sure I’ve read the book first, and, two, I am not going to perceive the movie as anything other than the producer’s personal vision of the events in the book. Basically, to me, it is on the same level with illustrations. Nothing more, nothing less.
My friend the pastor once forgot this rule, and went to see the first picture of the LOTR trilogy before reading the book. Later, he wrote to me referring to LOTR as a bunch of gore, monstrosity, and senseless violence. I didn’t know what to think as there is obviously a lot of Christian allegory in the trilogy, so I assumed that my pastor friend, of all people, would like it. I had no idea what he was talking about. Finally, I asked him if he had read the book, and he said no. He actually did read it later, and only then did it begin to dawn on him what LOTR really was all about. I, on the other hand, saw all three movies and found them a rather good, incredibly spectacular, fairly-close-to-the-text (although there were quite a few deviations) interpretation of the actual trilogy. It never occurred to me to view these movies as a thing in themselves, when they are in fact nothing but an illustration to the book.
Last week, I came across an interesting post on Internet Monk's site, where he wonders whether the movie version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe that is scheduled to come out this Christmas, will ruin the book for its viewers. (Of course, with The Chronicles of Narnia, there’s also the whole Christian marketing thing factoring into the equation – the issue that the Monk is also addressing). Check it out, it is a good read. The comments are just as good as the post.
Here are some excerpts:
We've already been through this, in some measure, with The Lord of the Rings. Did the films present the books well? I say yes, but I also want to immediately say that the greatness of the film's visual artistry cannot, in any way, be compared to the universe Tolkien created in the novels. If all future generations know is the movies, they have been cheated.
I am afraid future generations are likely to be cheated by films that will be excellent, but which cannot put the magic on the screen, no more than the magic of Harry Potter can be portrayed in the excellent films made from those stories.
If what we have reduces the readers of Narnia books to watchers of Narnia movies, we will all be cheated, no matter how good the films are (and I expect them to be very good.)
I hope I'm wrong, and that after the Aslan stuffies are off the shelf, Peter's sword has gone out of stock at Toys 'R Us, and the Wardrobe is no longer available at Target, the Narnia books will survive and be read more than ever. I hope that after Narnia youth rallies and Narnia church growth emphasis and Narnia sermon series, we will have more people reading Lewis than ever.
Lewis never intended the Narnia books to be evangelistic tracts. It will be a perversion of the stories of the allegorical elements are forced to the front and rammed down the consciousness of unbelievers. Lewis was an apologist with a gently and respectful touch. Narnia lives as Narnia, and it lives as Christ's Kingdom. You can see both, or you can see either. Whatever you see will be a rich and wonderful experience...if you see them through Lewis's prose.
Can these wonderful touches be translated to the movies? I am skeptical. I hope for the best. I will be satisfied if we simply do little harm.
Thank you, Michael, now you got me worried!
So, what do you guys think? Can a movie version of a book kill the book by taking over and posing as the book itself? Can it complement the book? What’s with people watching the movies but not reading the books those movies originated from, and being proud of it? Is this an American thing? (I sure hope not). Will you go see the LWW when it comes out? Oh, and happy Monday!
I will be updating this as I go. I will also be adding blogs to the sidebar. However, I understand that, due to the nature of the subject, some of the blogs contain personal information that you may or may not wish to share with the world. If you do not wish me to link you, please drop me an email and I will remove your blog from the list. Thank you.
Happy Friday, everybody, here’s another one of my Mr. Big stories.
Mr. Big was a very outgoing man, and had many female friends. He liked to take them out to the movies, parks, and other fun places. Some of these female friends were always up for it, like myself, for instance. Others had problems at home that prevented them from going places with Mr. Big. Anna was one of the latter. Anna had a jealous husband. So Mr. Big came up with a really cool plan. When he and Anna wanted to go see a movie or something, then Anna would bring her husband along, and Mr. Big would bring me along. This way, it would totally look like Anna was with her husband, and Mr. Big was with me. No reason for jealousy. Perfect.
This is where a big difference between me and Anna comes in. Anna was extremely cultured, and loved opera singing. I, on the other hand, consider most opera singing a cruel and unusual punishment that should be illegal in all fifty states. Death penalty I can understand, but opera, in my opinion, is pushing things too far. Sure enough, the first place Mr. Big and Anna wanted to go was to see an opera. Sadly, I had already made plans with my kids for that day, and absolutely refused to change them, making Mr. Big very upset. He was saying something about me needing improvement in the cultural department.
Just a few weeks later, an opportunity arose for me to make it up to Anna and Mr. Big. Better yet, it was a free concert. An award-winning singer from Europe was coming to town for just one evening to present the 13-century music of a certain Mediterranean country. This is as much as I can tell you on this blog. It’s a small world, you know.
Because I am a very busy girl, I had plans on that day, too, and here’s what these plans were – a late-afternoon job interview at a place fifty miles away from our work and twenty miles away from my home. We figured that I would be able to make it to the interview and back just in time for the concert. Plus, I would already be dressed up. How convenient.
So, I got off work at three, drove fifty miles, had a very stressful interview, and drove back home. As soon as I walked in the door, Mr. Big arrived to pick me up. Hungry and tired, I got into his car, and off to the concert we went. Anna and her husband were already there. The four of us took our seats and stared expectantly at the stage.
The famous singer turned out to be a middle-aged woman with a first name exactly the same as my older son’s. I found this really unusual, as it is a pretty widespread international male name. Since I call my son I12 on this blog, I’ll just have to call her I45.
So, I45 started singing, and couldn’t stop for two hours. There was a lot of screaming and squealing beautiful singing in a language unknown to all four of us. I thought that it would never end. Keeping my eyes open for the entire concert required an inhuman effort.
During the breaks, Mr. Big would lean to my ear and ask questions like: “So, do you like it?” Mostly, I just stared back at him, too exhausted to talk. Mr. Big, on the other hand, seemed to be greatly enjoying the concert, and was obviously disappointed with my lack of appreciation for I45’s singing.
Finally, it was over. We thanked Anna and her husband for our wonderful concert experience, said good-bye to them, and got into Mr. Big’s car.
“So, how was it?” inquired Mr. Big.
“Terrible! Awful! I drove a hundred miles today! I haven’t eaten since lunch. I’m tired. That thing almost killed me.
“Wait, did you like it?”
“I? No, of course not!” surprised me Mr. Big. “Now let’s go buy you dinner. You earned it.”
Mr. Big never took me to cultural events again. I guess he realized that I was hopeless. I, too, realized something that day.
Thirteenth-century music can be a lethal weapon. If you ever need to use it, use it wisely. Someone may get hurt.
It is so funny watching K9 play with Nicky the chinchilla. The problem with Nicky is, he doesn't really want to play with people. Oh, don't get me wrong, he likes people. He likes it when they're in the same room, going about their business and letting him go about his. Once in a while, if he's in a good mood, he'll let you scratch him behind the ears. That's the kind of guy our Nicky is. Whereas K9 wants to play with his pet all the time. (What he really wanted was a dog.)
Which leads to scenes like this one.
I come into the living room and see K9 standing in the middle, and Nicky tearing around the room at a crazy speed, obviously trying to get away from K9.
"Nicky Smoky X..(our last name)!" says K9 in a very strict voice. "I am really disappointed in you!"
As K9 was petting Nicky today (Nicky was squirming the whole time, trying to get out), he said:
"It is easy to see that God created chinchillas, they're so adorable."
"True," I agreed, "but I guess He could've made them a little more friendly."
Well I looked at my yesterday's digest and that thing is HUGE! From now on, I will be breaking it down into smaller chunks, because I know each of you has, like, fifty more blogs to visit and you cannot stay too long... sorry, it just spinned out of control I guess!
Holley, you are my hero and you know it.
On the same note... just talked to the school and got some really good feedback about I12 *knock on wood* Here's what the teachers have come up with, they're giving him small jobs in class (not sure what kind exactly, but I'm guessing it's to count stuff, to collect stuff) and that has been working out very well, so for those of you who need it, you can have your teachers try the same thing with your kids.
Here's a whole new, inventive way to raise money for the Katrina victims. The way it works is, you take a picture of your boobs (you may want to crop out your face), make sure it follows the guidelines, send it in, and it goes into the gallery. To view the gallery, you have to donate at least $5 to one of the charities supported by the site. More details here.
There will be no beauty standards or any kind of rating... we old ladies are welcome to participate... man boobs are welcome too!
This is freakin awesome... I'm off to post it everywhere I can. C-ya!
Sometime soon, I'm going to add a new section to my sidebar and put all the links in there. I also want to create a TOC for this Digest (if it lasts long enough).
Harry Potter books... oops. See my previous post. I blame it all on... you know who you are!
Quote of the Day
"Attwood (1998) described the thinking associated with AS as "different potentially highly original, often misunderstood, but not defective" (p.126). More recently, Temple Grandin has suggested that if we got rid of the genes that caused autism, we'd also be getting rid of many of the gifted and talented people like Einstein. She goes on to suggest that the really social people are not the ones who make new discoveries; they are too busy socializing (Attwood and Grandin 2000)".
"Different Minds", p. 223
Question of the Day – "Why do you want to change me?" Figured I'd start asking questions, because a lot of people coming to this blog have a lot more experience with AS than I do and it wouldn't hurt me to ask for their advice!
Last week, when I was telling I12 about the Locally Famous Therapist and how I'm going to try and sign him up, he asked, "Mom, why do you want to change me?"
I had no idea what to say to this.
"I don't want to change you, I12. I just want you to have work skills and social skills. Look at you, you have no friends."
"So? I'm happy about it. I don't want any friends anyway."
"Okay, but what about your work skills? Just look at your grades!"
"So? I'd get all As if I wanted to. But I don't want to, because they don't count towards my GPA yet. So getting all As right now would be a useless waste of time."
"You think you can start getting all As tomorrow if you wanted to, but you can't. Because you don't have work skills. You don't know how to organize your work. And you need to have communication skills. You need to know how to put things in writing so other people understand what you're saying."
"That's where you're wrong, Mom. I can do all these things. I just don't want to. Or else they're not important."
What would you say? My son thinks that I am trying to change him into something he's not, against his will. He claims he's happy just the way he is. Any ideas?
Eventually I told him, "I want people to see you for what you really are, and you are not helping."
"What am I?"
"Smart. Funny. Interesting," I told him.
Right now, they just see a strange kid with horrible handwriting that never talks to anybody. I want them to see what I see when I look at I12. But I think that would require some social skills classes and some therapy for him. Am I right? What would you say if you were asked this question?
My next question: selective memory.
How to Get Your Kid Diagnosed When Everything Is Working Against You (ZeroBoss will help)
In the last installment, I wrote about how I decided to get I12 tested for AS. When his school called me saying that they were too wondering if he had it, I decided it was time to act. I joined a mailing list for our local chapter of Autism Society, and asked for referrals. Very soon I had a name (yes it was the Locally Famous Therapist). She had great reviews; she was ten minutes away from our home; and she took my insurance! I called the office; they asked me if my son had a diagnosis; I said no; they gave me a phone number to schedule a neuro-psychological assessment. I called the number and made an appointment.
All of this took about three days. Now for the difficult part. I had to call my insurance and find out if they would cover the assessment. They told me they would, but they needed a referral. Oops. My insurance is an HMO. I called I12's pediatrician. He'd had her for a little over a year and she is a very nice person, but, as I was about to find out, it is very hard to get a referral from her.
I was told that I had to come in for an appointment with my son. I took I12 out of school. We came in. The doctor was asking a lot of questions and I pretty much ended up telling her I12's whole life story. This took about an hour, and I said a lot more than I had ever wanted this doctor to know about I12's past.
Then she told me that I didn't know what I was doing, she didn't like the way I was going about it, I12 did not need a neuro-psych appointment, and concluded by handing me a phone number of the therapist I was to visit instead. Oh, well. I didn't have the two thousand dollars for the neuro-psych, so I had to call and cancel it. I also had to remove I12 from the Locally Famous Therapist's waiting list.
When I went to see the new therapist, I brought with me a Word document where, on four pages, I described the problems I12 had been having since he was born. I started with:
"The reason why I am in your office today is that my son's school has advised that I get psychological help for my son. My son's name is I12, he was born on **** and he goes to **** Middle School. I agree with the school that there is very likely something wrong with I12 that needs to be assessed, as it is affecting his life. The school is concerned because his grades have dropped and he has no friends. I am concerned because I believe he has high potential and I want him to realize that potential in his life, however, at this point, the psychological problems that he possibly has seem to be preventing him from living up to his full potential. Also, in his elementary school, the teachers did not understand him and made some pretty serious accusations regarding him and his family. I don't want that to happen again. Ideally, I'd like a full assessment done on I12 so we can determine what it is he has and then act accordingly, as well as notify the school so they don't have to make anymore guesses. Or maybe he just needs to be in a different school or skip a grade (? - I'm grabbing at straws here) and we don't know it. I'm hoping that you and I can work together towards that goal."
And I concluded with:
"I12 is in 6th grade now. He's changing a lot and going through some intense growth spurts; his voice has changed. He talks in a mechanical voice with no expression at all. He avoids looking people in the eye or making physical contact. He hardly comes out of his room and hardly ever talks to us. Sometimes when he's in the mood, he talks to me about general issues in the world, etc. This is a positive change from before, because when he was younger, he used to just talk at me about whatever interested him (programming or computer games or electronics), not caring whether I was interested or whether I even understood anything. From my standpoint, he's become more compliant and even his hygiene habits have started to improve. IOW as a parent, I see an improvement from the previous years. He doesn't however have any friends at all, not even online and that bothers me. He used to post on a forum, but a month or two ago, he stopped because he started playing an online RPG, and he hasn't gone back to the forum. (Update - He's on a new forum now. Yay for Newgrounds BBS, home of the nerds and geeks and social misfits! - and yes, I am also a registered member, otherwise why would I be saying this?) Another thing that bothers me is, he doesn't see the point in language arts, social studies, and other humanities, and it is very hard to convince him to make an effort in these disciplines. He thinks it's a waste of time. He refuses to do any sports (again, waste of time). He is very good at logic and, if he decides on something, it is impossible to convince him otherwise. For a while I suspected that he may have Aspergers, because he doesn't understand people and doesn't know how to connect to them. Whatever he has, I want to find out what it is and how I can help."
The new therapist turned out to be very good (yes I asked around before coming to see him). He took the time to read the document, and assured me that they would assess I12. He then handed me over to one of his associates, Dr.2005, whom we continued to see for the rest of the year. That was in February. To this day, Dr.2005 has not read, or even tried to read, this document that I had put together for him. To me, this speaks volumes. Although, I have to say that I like Dr.2005. He must be very good with teenage kids; he's very smart, logical, and well-read. (Hey, we may still have to go back to him if my insurance fails to cover the LFT!) But with I12... well. Dr.2005 tried to talk to I12, reasoning with him. Problem was, whatever he was saying, I12 did not listen, because, well, he doesn’t know how. Dr.2005 gave I12 a daily schedule, listing things like "Reading", "Dinner with family", and "Exercise", and asked him to check off the things he'd done on time. Two weeks later, I12 brought the schedule back, with two kinds of entries in each column: "I forgot" and "I forogt". ("But why didn't Goldie remind her kid to do all these tasks?" - trust me, I did, about two dozen times a day. He "forogt" anyway).
At our initial meeting, Dr.2005 agreed that he would test I12. Somehow at our later visits, he stopped bringing that up. Three months went by, and I was about to give up, when suddenly, help arrived from Jen. I had written a story for Blogging for Books. The story made the top seven, so I got a lot of hits and comments. But what Jen also did was email me, asking if, by any chance, I12 had AS. I replied, "I strongly suspect that he does, but I'm afraid I will never find out - the doctor just wouldn't test him, no matter how I try." Jen gave me a few helpful tips on how to proceed. The timing was perfect - we had to see Dr.2005 the next day.
I asked Dr.2005 if I could talk to him in private.
I started by asking how I12 was doing; what, in Dr.2005's opinion, was wrong with I12; and whether he had ever considered having I12 tested.
Dr.2005 was not happy.
"What, do you want a slap a label on him?"
I looked him straight into the eyes, gave him my sweetest smile, and said, "Yes, please!"
Dr.2005 was puzzled. I continued:
"I'd like to tell you about the strangest thing that happened to me this week. You see, I posted a story on my website, about I12's early years. And all of a sudden, I get this email from a person asking me if my son has Aspergers."
That somehow changed everything. Suddenly, Dr.2005 was all in favor of testing I12. Thank you, Jen!
In June, Dr.2005 had I12 tested. He was going to call me with the results, but in reality, I had to wait two months and then give him a call. But I don't hold that against him, because he did write a report and give the diagnosis. The report says PDD-NOS, because one symptom is missing - I12, it says, does not have any special interests that would occupy most of his time. I do not think I agree with that, but I think we can discuss this later with whomever I12 continues to see. The important part is, we got the diagnosis we needed. Need I tell you that I called the LFT (you know... Locally Famous Therapist) as soon as I came home, to get back on the waiting list. And yesterday, I managed to schedule an appointment with her for early December. There are some insurance problems, though, so please keep your fingers crossed.
In the next installment (scratches head)... well, I could tell you why I think I12 does have special interests. Yes, I'll talk about that. Thank you for staying with me so far.
Yes, I’m slacking off and I know it. What can I do when it’s 80 degrees outside?
Over the weekend, I was planning on reading my “Different Minds” book, but I didn’t even open it. I blame Holley. She finally convinced me to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon. I am in the middle of the second book right now (I know, I know… pathetic). My friend has all six and I will be borrowing from her.
What can I say? The books are definitely interesting and, as far as I can tell, pretty well written. But, I can see where all the controversy over the first book was coming from. You know, the one where for the first year or two, the Christian community was strongly against the books, especially (I think) the first one.
You know that magic, fortune-telling, etc. are considered to be a serious sin in Christianity, because, briefly put, this is bypassing God. I definitely agree with that, but that doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy a good fantasy book, as long as I don’t get all serious about it.
In my system of classification, all people, books, movies, etc. fall into two categories: those that take themselves too seriously, and those that don’t. I think that (in the first book at least) JKR has been taking this whole wizarding thing too seriously. I mean, take for example Terry Pratchett, of whose works I am a big fan. His books are full of witches and wizards. But look at how he portrays them. They are funny. They don’t look and sound like university professors.
To be completely honest, Pratchett’s wizards remind me of programmers. Think about it.
In the olden days, according to Pratchett, wizards were the few select, extremely gifted people, who could perform highly creative magic and do things no one else could. Much like your Fortran programmer in the 80’s.
These days, however, wizards are mostly old overweight guys who like free food, corporate meetings, and buzzwords. Their favorite pastime is sitting around doing nothing. The younger, ambitious wizards still try to do magic, but they are strongly cautioned against doing so. I don’t think I even need to comment on that one. I love Pratchett’s wizards. I work with them. They pay my salary. I don’t feel the same warm and fuzzy attraction for JKR’s wizards. Not at all. They’re too serious about their stuff. They mean it.
Another thing is, Pratchett’s wizards are so far removed from our world, there’s no way they can be measured in our system’s terms. They don’t say things like “Dear lord” (this is something I read in the second HP book). They don’t celebrate Christmas, for crying out loud! Whereas the wizards in the first HP book, had a huge Christmas celebration with a banquet, gifts and decorations. Of course, they never mentioned what Christmas was actually about… but I still found it funny. If you have read all six books, please put my mind at peace and tell me there won’t be any Easter egg hunts taking place at Hogwarts. Or, if there is, let me know. I just may die laughing if I come across one without warning.
That aside, the books are really good, better than I expected! I’m trying to convince K9 to read them. I know I12 won’t, so I don’t even bother trying. Speaking of I12, he just finished The Light Fantastic and is starting on Interesting Times. The rate he’s going, I may need to buy more Pratchett books, as this is the only author I12 agrees to read.
How was your weekend? Mine was blissfully uneventful. In fact, the highlight of it was when K9 and I took a walk to a neighborhood Walmart, and while K9 was in there looking at video games, the fire alarm went off. They evacuated the building, three fire trucks came, K9 and I spent quite some time sitting on the curb watching the fire trucks. Like I have already mentioned, I was on call, so I couldn’t really go anywhere looking for adventures. I had to stay close to home.
I got an appointment for I12 with the Locally Famous Therapist! Can you believe that? I’ve been trying to get that appointment since February. First time I called, we didn’t have the Dx, so we had to get off the waiting list until I finally got I12 tested and got the test results back. Once back on the list, the way it works, you call the office on the first of the month, or, if it falls on a weekend, on the first Monday of the month. The first four callers get it. I put the office on my speed dial and started dialing at 7:55. On the fiftieth try, I got it. (Just kidding! I didn’t really dial 50 times! Okay, maybe 45, but definitely not 50!)
I am so happy. I12, on the other hand, does not share my enthusiasm. I will tell you more about it in my next Aspie Digest that I still have to write.
The kids brought their first progress reports home. K9 was so excited; this is his first year getting actual grades, not just cryptic abbreviations like “ME” or “NI”. He got all A’s. Boy, how happy he was. I12’s report was… how do I put it… slightly different. Each time somebody asks me, I tell them that K9 got all A’s, and I12 got one B. Makes the person go “Awww, good for you!” Naturally, I withhold some of the information. Can you guess what it is?