Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The "D" Word

*Warning: long post.

I am just like every other mom. I have dreams for my kids. I want the best for my boys. Yes, I poke fun at their antics and use monikers like "madness" and "mayhem." And it's all in good fun, because honestly you gotta have a sense of humor to survive parenthood. Essentially, its about my little dudes, what's best for them and what will help them feel successful.

When Madness started to have some behavior problems at school last year, I went to the mattresses for him. I marched in to school, met with his teacher and Vice Principal, and had a little chat. That turned in to a big chat. That ended in the Vice Principal suggesting we have Madness tested, which the school psychologist could and would administer. Cool. No biggie.

So, the tests - revealed a high I.Q. (Raise your hand if you are surprised.), coupled with an inability to focus, easily distracted and some other stuff that will bore you. Recommendation: monitor his behavior closely, use positive reinforcement to achieve desired outcomes and revisit these issues later on if needed. That was second grade. Who stresses over second grade?

When Madness's behavior problems at school escalated this year, I went to the mattresses for him. Again. I marched in to school, met with the crew, and had a chat. A hard chat. A chat that would change everything. The Vice Principal requested we have Madness tested by a specialist for ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder).

So, the tests. A lengthy process. Meeting with a Developmental Pediatrician who specializes in ASD and neurological developmental disorders in children. Assessments. Evaluations. Questionnaires. Family histories. Detailed account of my prenatal health with Madness. And Madness, sitting beside me looking as adorable and brilliant as ever.

[An insert: When the behavior problems at school started and then escalated, behavior problems at home mirrored that pattern. Our peaceful home became very UN-peaceful. Madness acted angry all the time, had horrible outbursts and mega-meltdowns, and the rest of us three tried valiantly to maintain our cool and deal. We also tried desperately hard to make it seem like all was well with our home - to the rest of the world, family, friends, etc.]

Then, the "D" word. (Or as doctors like to call it, a diagnosis.) Last week, Madness was diagnosed with ASD: high functioning with an extremely high intellect, and some other stuff with scientific names that may bore you.

I am shocked, but not entirely surprised. He has always been my quirky-cute, thick-Harry-Potter-glasses-wearing little boy. He has always been a wee bit strange. He has always made very adult comments or observations that seemed far too wise or old for his age. He has always displayed some very strange behaviors and repetitive movements. And I have always loved him for every bit of it. I just never put it all together.

Madness is still the same sweet boy he was before the "D" word. He is still the same quirky, cute, too-smart-for-his-parents, nerdy, computer-loving, exasperated with his brother, strangely wise, caring, curious little dude he always was. Only now, we are learning how to help him manage the not so fun parts of his behavior, the meltdowns, hysterics, problems at school, focus issues and all the rest of it.

We are still processing this as a family, as parents and as a couple. We are NOT ready for a bombardment of helpful advice, special diets or snake oil. We are open to recommendations of books, support groups, or online resources.

I've glossed over some of the gory details. Honestly, we are all on a need-to-know basis. And some things just don't need to be known. (Especially since Madness may read this 10 years from now, and I doubt he'll thank me for airing all his laundry.) Yes, this is quite enough for today.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Padawan And Mini Me

Photo: Jedi & Padawan
I had a painful epiphany recently. I have created a monster...a monster mini-me. My boys were playing in the living room together, a rare thing. This is what I overhear.

Madness: Stop saying firmilar. It's FA-miliar. Or similar. It is NOT firmilar.

Mayhem: Oh, okay.

Madness: Yeah, well now you know.

Minutes Later...

Mayhem: Eenie, minie, monn...

Madness: It's not "eenie, minie, monn." It's "eenie, meenie, minie, monn..."

Mayhem: (a hint of disgust) Fine.

Madness: If you are going to use it in an attack you must say it correctly.

Mayhem. Thanks. Now can I see my sword for a second?

Unspoken: that I might remove your head from your body for being such a know-it-all grammar Natzi.

Truth hurts. I am a know-it-all grammar Natzi. Otherwise, my young padawan would not be one. As the mother, so the child. It's uncomfortable to face the realization that my male mini-version of my self is truly a mirror image.

Can the training be undone? Should it be? Or should I move forward from this moment, correcting my own harsh obsessive-compulsive tendency to correct other people's pronunciations and verb tense usage, in hopes that Madness will follow in my footsteps down this path too?

Tell me it's not too late! There must be a way to lead him from the temptation of correcting everyone's poor adverb placement and dangling participle habits. Maybe we should grow matching braids and yank on them whenever one of us acts like a member of the dark side of grammatically correct snobs.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Beards and Stuff

Conversation this morning with Madness.

Madness: Did you know that Daddy, Uncle Scott and Papa Dale ALL have the same beard?

Me: Not possible.

Madness: It's true!

Me: They would have to share a face. It would defy the currently held laws of physics.

Madness: Oh, you know what I mean. They all look exactly alike. All the beards I mean.

Me: Um, yes.

Madness: Well, they are all really hairy. And I have really hairy legs. Go ahead, feel them.

Me: Are you trying to grow a beard? (An attempt to avoid touching the hairy legs.)

Madness: NO!...Not yet.

Me: I see. You come by your hairy legs naturally. Daddy, Uncle Scott, Uncle Justin and Uncle A.J. all have really hairy legs. Like Sasquatch hairy. You are destined for hairiness my friend.

Madness: Oh sheesh. Well, someday I will grow a beard. Just. Like. Dad's. Hey, how hairy are your legs?

Me: Alrighty then. What do you want for breakfast?

My conclusion: Madness wants a beard. But he doesn't want to be hairy. Hmm. I wonder if he knows he is related to Sasquatch? (Sorry, babe. But you know I am not referring to me.)
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