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Change…

Change is hard. It usually involves having to do something differently than you have been accustomed to; like trying to eat healthy after a long holiday season filled with gluttony.

For most people on the spectrum, change can be quite difficult.  I used to think it was my son’s kryptonite. But, as he’s matured, and with proper prompting he has done better with new situations. Even last minute surprises are not as problematic as when he was a toddler and we were first figuring out how to deal with his outbursts.

Now, instead of lashing out at unexpected variations in his day, I see him turning internally and spending more time alone. I think this is a typical pre-teen reaction to transformations. And I think it’s good he is trying to process. Yet, I recall Jenna dealing with “teenage things” and asking me questions or turning to her social circle to figure out the world. Ryan doesn’t do this. He doesn’t ask me the types of questions Jenna did, like: “Why won’t she talk to me, I don’t know what I did wrong?” Or: “Why did she move away, she was my best friend?”

Ryan is more a big picture guy. The things that affect how he moves through his day matter most. Like, losing his therapist that had been with him since he was four. Nothing bad happened to her (thankfully), she just moved on to a new job. But this change is big. I would consider it big for anyone who had worked side by side with someone for eight years, but for Ryan is could potentially be catastrophic. His whole apple cart could turn over. Luckily she coordinated her departure to coincide with the holiday break from school; so he had a good transition period. And we prompted him like crazy that she wouldn’t be there when he went back.

Not to say he didn’t grieve for the loss of her, but he didn’t ever ask me why she left or inquire when she would come back, like Jenna may have asked. Maybe I didn’t give him the chance because I was so afraid of what the change would do to him that I kept talking about it. Maybe he didn’t have the time to worry because I continually reassured him it would be okay. Either way, I did notice him spending a lot more time in his room.

During that same school break, also came his orthodontic braces. For any kid having a metal bracket attached on each tooth is no picnic. There are many sensations in your mouth at once: the thickness of the brackets and how they tear at your cheeks and the tightness the metal causes on all of your teeth just to name a few. Coincidentally, Jenna was getting hers off the exact same day Ryan’s came on—the irony of that was not lost on any of us. But, I anticipated she would be a good visual to show the final result. Plus I thought I needed to tell him something tangible that the braces would do, so I told him we needed to make his teeth strong so he could continue to eat his favorite snack. He did great while getting the braces on: sat nicely and stayed calm–I was so proud. It wasn’t until later that evening when I realized how long he had been in his room alone when he came to me and said. “Okay mom, I’m ready for my new teeth.” As if the braces could work that fast.

Every time he tried to eat he practically cried from the pain. Ryan is a tough kid, so for him to say something hurts, it must be really bad. Needless to say, he didn’t want to eat much. And I heard the phrase “You have to take these braces off” a lot. He spent more time alone in his room those first few days. Processing: I assumed. Then, it was time to go back to school and he pepped up. I hoped he had found his way to deal with the braces. Ryan is one of the very few kids who wants to go back to school. He loves the routine, the schedules and the predictability. Even minus his life-long friend, he went back willingly. Even with the new braces inserted in his face, he was ready to roll.

Well, that’s enough change for now—I thought. Of course it wasn’t. We received notice that his school is closing. Let those words sink in for a minute. His school is closing at the end of the year.

For those of you who read my book, there is a considerable amount of time I discuss finding a school for Ryan when the public school was no longer an option for us. There are only so many schools in our immediate area and the continual ‘no’s’ I received were just one painful slap in the face after another. So the thought of finding another place that could fit all our needs, is to say the least, daunting.

More change… Will he handle it? Can he handle it?

He has heard us say the school is closing, but I don’t think he gets the finality of it. I don’t think I get it yet either. And I’m not ready to prime him for this change. Again.

So, what we do now is: pray; keep our fingers crossed; throw coins in a fountain; blow on dandelions; and send all the positive “vibes” we can to people in charge of Ryan’s school to keep it going…somehow.

I can keep the faith, and make wishes—that is what got me this far. But, sometimes I just really hate change.

 

 

 

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Pre-Pub Purgatory

Something about the changing of summer to fall causes me to reflect on the year and often my life as a whole. Maybe it’s the quiet of the house with the ankle biters at school, the temperature changes, or just a realization of time passing. But this is the season I find myself getting the most nostalgic. I get almost antsy for the next season and phase of my life.

For the past ten years or so, this time period usually reflects on what grade my kids are in and what developmental milestones they are making. Prior to that, my thoughts would have wandered back to my own time in school. I am one of those weird people who actually liked school, studying and reading; moving forward in some scholarly pursuit. I loved the fall because it meant school.

Since September creeped onto my calendar, I have been feeling restless, and more anxious than usual this time of year.   After again looking at the calendar today, I realized it’s the doldrums I’m in right now: the in-between-ness of waiting. Waiting for the day my book finally comes out.

There is a lot the publisher and our community of writers has prepared me for in this writing journey, but I don’t recall much mention of this time. The pre-publication purgatory I am trapped in. I am not one to want to rush time; it already goes too fast and I am usually wishing to slow it down.   However, November 10, 2015 seems like it is a century away.

Sure, I’m busy with everyday life, raising two kids, work, and of course all the final marketing details that go into publicizing a book. But waiting for the actual day when my story is available (for anyone interested to read) is about to drive me mad.

Maybe it’s the no longer writing it that’s making the waiting seem longer. When you spend years, many years, writing and editing your own words, it becomes like a child you have created. Just like the last weeks of pregnancy, I was delirious waiting to see my baby. Right now, my “baby” is sitting in a computer in a warehouse on east coast about to be printed and bound. It’s in its final gestation trimester, and it feels like I can see each second on the clock.

There is nothing more I’m allowed to add to the book, the publisher has given me my final proof—and it’s done. Yet I cant’ help feeling like there was more I could have written about my family’s journey with autism. Certainly there were more anecdotes to be told and more victories to share. But if I wanted my story published I had to stop writing and start…waiting.

Like I washed up on a deserted island, I feel I wasn’t properly prepared for this time. I knew how hard the writing and editing was. I lived it long enough that no explanation was necessary. I was slightly surprised in all the steps required to properly market a book, yet felt I had prepared accordingly (and still am walking that part of the journey). I won’t lie, the review process still proves to be shocking and humbling, but again, I felt I have skidded by with that one too. It’s this time. Now. Eight weeks, and six days. One thousand four hundred eighty eight hours left until 11/10/15.

My husband, Dan, and I did not found out the sex of either of our children. After the first child, I came up with three reasons why we didn’t find out: actually three jobs for the man during the pregnancy/birth.

1) Plant the seed (the most important job)

2) Announce the sex when the baby is finally born (a very exciting moment for my husband)

3) Cut the chord (that took some coercing, but he did it.)

The way I saw it, if you take one of those jobs you would eliminate 33.33% of their work. It was kind of my obligation to keep Dan properly employed in future ventures. And I also found out after baby #1, how the ‘not knowing’ kept me going in the long days of the last trimester. Not knowing just their sex, but what they would look like, or what they would be like. Actually that was the real torture.

If I could get through that waiting, especially on bed rest with Ryan, I can keep my chin up and get through this waiting. After all, I already know what my book/baby looks like and what it is like…

I think what I just realized writing this: is it’s time to make another baby, I mean book. Relax, Dan. I meant book.

Maybe the pre-pub waiting period won’t be as bad the second time around.

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Its happening…

“Look class, LeeAndra got an A+ on her report on the bumble bee!” My third grade teacher exclaimed.  The entire class unabashedly turned to me, as children will do.  I looked out the sea of blinking eyes and felt like I was on stage.  Like I had just received a great award.  In a way, I had.  The first thought that popped into my head was, “Wow, that was easy.  I should be a writer.” It was a flippant remark by an elementary child, but the simplicity of the thought stuck with me.  From then on, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would answer: a writer.

I kept that bumble report for many years as a reminder to keep going after what I wanted, not that writing was easy, but it was just that simple.  Follow your dreams.  Hone in on a talent or passion and keep crafting it.   Ellen DeGeneres said that if you keep at something long enough someone will either pay you do it or pay you not to do it.

I guess I’m finally grown up, because I can officially say, I’m a legitimate writer.   Last month, I signed my name on the dotted line and will officially have my words published as a real book.  The story you have all been following in these blog posts will be available to read in November.  (Now you might understand my prolonged absence from the blog–I am in heavy editing mode.  Deadlines are a bitch!)

I can’t thank all of you enough for following along, commenting and supporting me in telling this story.  I will keep update the progress of the publication as things happen.  But, be ready for November–and never give up on your dreams.

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This too is temporary

Most parents don’t want to dwell on their children’s deficits.  We want to focus on their strengths and celebrate their victories.  I believe this to be true whether our children are typical or unique.  But in the realm of autism or any special need, sometimes you have to put your cheer leading hat aside and truly acknowledge where your child’s weak points are.  It is a necessary evil if you are going to help them improve.  Being brutally honest is not my strong point, but one I have to turn to more than I like.   I was always taught to focus on the positive of every situation or person.  I strive for this daily and although I’m not perfect, I do believe it is one of my strong points.

To my own fault, I have to fight hard to see the negatives in Ryan or Jenna.  It’s like my positive blinders are made of Teflon. Like my heart won’t let me see them in anything but a glow of perfection.  Because they are perfect to me.  But, when a situation arises and I force myself to come face to face with a shortcoming, it hits me hard.  To admit to myself either one of them can’t do something or won’t be able to for a long time, literally breaks my heart.

I know I am not alone in these feelings.  I  need to remind myself of that, but there are moments in juggling the life of an autistic child, I feel desperately alone.  Even though Dan is an amazing partner, and I have a fantastic support system; it’s just my nature to take things so deeply.  To a dark place where hurt lives and makes me feel so heavy.  I try not to visit that place often, but sometimes I can’t avoid it.  Not when it comes to my kids.  Perhaps it’s because they were once physically part of me that they remain hard wired to my heart.

I will come out of it.  I will put my positive hat back on, and get my boxing gloves out.  But just for a day, I will allow my heart to be heavy and grieve a little for the things my sweet boy isn’t able to do…for now.    I know we will work to change these things.  We always find a way to bring him up, and he always finds a way to surprise us with what he can do.

I will never give up on either of my children and even when I have to face a blip on their map of life, they are still perfect to me.

As a wise man once told me as I was crying upon his departure, “This too is temporary”.

 

 

 

 

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The Benefit

This a new section I’m adding to the story…it’s only part of it…wondering if I should put it in or not…comments??

***

Our first, “Autism Awareness” month was coming upon us. Ryan had been in therapy for almost 10 months and changed remarkably. We felt so blessed to witness this transformation in our boy and felt a sense of obligation to do something to show our support of this disorder and the month set aside for it. I felt compelled to do what my mother always taught me: give back. I didn’t want to just write a check and send it off. I want to have a “hands-on” experience and give myself another outlet to reach out to our community. So, we decided a small benefit to raise money would probably be the best.

Plopped down in our new “lounge Dan I started brainstorming on how to accomplish a benefit.  I’d never run one on my own.

First: where would the proceeds go? I had asked Dr. Hunter where she thought donations best be spent and she suggested a research facility in Northern California dedicated solely to studying the brain.  I showed Dan the website and he agreed. What better way to make a difference than to find a way to stop the disorder?

We  sat for hours and threw out locations, themes, ideas, and people to invite. How would we get the word out? How would we get items for the raffle? What kind of donations? We decided old fashioned word of mouth was going to be our best bet.

“I’ll call the office tomorrow and see if they will let me have the benefit there.” I told Dan as I sat with my clipboard and pages of notes. “I don’t think it will be a problem.” And we called it a night.

How do you sum up a benefit in one page when there is so much to tell?

After many drafts I came up with a one page flyer.  Ryan became a central theme–because after all, that’s what this was about.  Plus, I felt I had to make it real, about a real person: not just a cause that no one could relate to.  Seeing my sweet boy and reading about him being afflicted with this disorder, had to turn some heads…I hoped.   I found a great picture of him and fired off numerous copies.

I wasn’t nervous to get out and pound on doors. It’s funny how when you truly believe in something how easy it is to ask for help. My plan was to start at home and hit the whole shopping center.

I breezed into our local coffee house and asked if I could hang up a flyer for the benefit. I happen to get the manager and she looked at the flyer and then at me tenderly.

“Can we make a donation to the event? Like a coffee basket?” she asked.

“Uh…yes…wow, yes, of course.” I said the shock all over my face.

She smiled back. “We can also provide coffee for the night of the event if you like?”

If I like? What?… I stood there trying not to let the tears fall from my welling eyes.

“I don’t know what to say…I was just hoping to hang up the flyer…you have far surpassed my expectations.” And then it was over, tears coming down. I barely mumbled out “Thank You.”

She patted my hand sweetly and said, “Let me get an order form and we’ll get this all written up.”

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#53

*

“Horse! Horse! Wook , Mommy, Horse!” Ryan yells from the back seat. His face pushed up close to the window…hands spread wide.  We pass a few stalls of horses on the long drive.  I’m thrilled he’s excited because it’s not often he gets this passionate about something.  But sometimes even with the picture schedule; I don’t think he really gets what I tell (and show) him we will be doing.  I made a new piece for his schedule with picture of him on a horse and next to it the words: “ride a horse”.   Per Dr. Hunter’s group, I now make his schedule with pictures and words, so when he gets better at reading we can take off the pictures.  I love the idea of him actually reading a schedule.  I am a calendar freak, always have been, so I appreciate making his daily schedule.  I have to do it for myself.  And I know how much it keeps him organized and knowing what to expect.

“Yes, bud, I know.  You are going to ride a horse today.” I say for the fourth of fifth time today, as I pull in to the dirt parking lot.  I think we are still a way from just words on his schedule or words to remind him.  No mater, he’s happy to be here right now and I am too.

This isn’t just horse lessons, its ‘therapeutic riding’.  I thought we should try it as he loves horses and maybe we can find something he can be involved in.  Therapeutic riding isn’t a new concept, and I had looked into when he was first diagnosed, but most of the places weren’t close by.  When I was looking to have a horse riding birthday party a few months ago for Ryan, the Riding  House Therapy Group came up in my internet search.  They didn’t do parties, but I liked that they were nearby.  When we saw how much he enjoyed his birthday, I decided to give it a try.   I liked that they served all disabilities as well as autism.

He opens his door and starts to jump out before I can turn the engine off.

“Hold on Ry, you have to wait for me.” I practically scream.  I quickly pull the keys out and swing wide my door to block him.  I grab his arm and then reach in for my purse as he is struggling to get away from me.  He is straining his neck around the door to see the riding ring with a horse, rider and three assistants.  Wow three people to one rider.  That seemed like a lot, but I can see the rider has a physical handicap.  I’m pretty sure, it’s for safety.

I grab his hand and walk down the gravel way to the small area with picnic tables and cabinets.  We are spotted by a lady in a straw hat.  She smiles broadly at us.

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#50

 

*

The building where ‘church school’ is held is a short distance across a parking lot from the main church.  We walk over as a class. I stay toward the back to make sure the class is all together.  Ryan is holding my hand and grasping Thomas closely in his other.  He is being good so far, but I have trepidation on how he will do inside the church.  He hasn’t spent much time in there as we usually go to the “crying room” during mass.  It’s just easier for us and the fellow parishioners.  I look at him clutching Thomas and silently chastise myself  for letting him have it before class.  But I had to get him here, I argue with my inner behavioralist.   I have to find some stronger reinforcers. It amazes me how much the therapists have invaded the very way I think.  Checking my watch, in hopes it took half the class time to get over here, I am disappointed that it’s only been seven minutes.  Crap. It’s going to be a long night…again.

We arrive at the church and Miss Sally, the head of Religious Education at our church is sitting in her mobility scooter, waiting for us.  She welcomes us with her usual cheer and all the kids are looking at her.  Her scooter is fascinating to all the kids, even Ryan.  She is very conscious of keeping it turned off while speaking to the kids as inevitably some child,most likely mine, will hit the gas and run over who ever is in front of her.  I am not sure why she is in the mobility scooter and don’t have the heart to ask.

“Hello boys and girls! You all ready to learn some interesting things tonight?”  She says in her kid-friendly voice.

There are a few ‘yes’ and ‘no’s’ said softly.  She ignores the ‘no’s’ and starts to explain the rules.  Already Ryan is off touching the stain glass windows.  I walk over to him to start guiding him back to the class.

“We will each get the holy water, do you all know how to do that?” She asks.  Just then Ryan spots the fount and decides he will demonstrate.  Apparently his Thomas train needed the blessing, because it goes in the water.  All the way in.  I think I’m going to swallow my tongue I’m so appalled.  The children see this behind Mrs. Sally’s back and begin to laugh.  I know better than to scream at him and lunge toward him quickly.  I pull out his arm that is now soaked halfway up the sleeve.  Even Mrs. Sally thinks this is slightly funny, but she tries to disguise her smile.

“Thomas all wet.” Ryan says holding up his dripping hand towards me.  His beautiful almond shaped eyes are showing his delight in giving Thomas a bath.

“Yes, he is.” I whisper, wanting to crawl under the nearby table.

“Okay, Ryan, thanks for showing us how! And, to you too, Thomas for being a good assistant.” She laughs. “Mrs. Amy, you want to line them up so they each get a turn.” Mrs. Sally turns and winks at me.  I mouth “sorry” and she waves her hand in dismissal.  She wheels away quickly to the entrance of the sanctuary.  My heart is pounding and I’m beginning to sweat.

“Please God, help me get through this without any other sacrileges.” I say under my breath.  Maybe being in His house will make that prayer more powerful.

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#49

“Mommy, are you coming, it’s getting hot in the car?” Jenna is peering in from the front door with her sweet angel face.  I sigh and shrug my shoulders.  I sit down on the steps and try to conjure what would make him want to go to a place where he isn’t interested in the topic, he doesn’t like the singing, and has asked the class to “please stop singing”, and doesn’t have any real friends there.  At least at elementary school he has all the little girls who try to help him.  Here they look at him like he’s from another country.  One snide boy actually asked me what was wrong with him.  At seven years old, he cut me to the core.

I hear Jenna sigh as she comes in and sits down next to me mimicking my posture of defeat.  We sit for a second in silence.

“Mommy, why doesn’t Ry Ry like church? She asks innocently.

I think for a long minute.  I usually try to answer her questions with a hint of intelligence and forethought.  She’s hasn’t asked too many questions about him in her life.  I chalk that up to blind tolerance of a sibling.  You are kind of stuck with them so why ask why…

“Well, honey, his CCD, uh Church School class is not…very…uh…fun for him.” Nice job with the forethought.

“Mine is. We have so much fun.” She says earnestly.  I look into her light blue, anxious eyes.  I know she means it.  She does love being in almost any social situation.  She delighted in preschool, and any mommy and me class I took her to. It’s completely opposite with Ryan.

“I know, honey…but church makes sense to you-right?” I ask hoping to really start a meaningful dialogue. She turns her head like a dog would when they hear something funny. “I mean, you go there and see your friends, you color and then they teach you something about Jesus-right?” She nods at this. And I try to slow down speaking so I can say the right thing.

“Well, to Ryan its loud and he doesn’t like to color.  And to him learning about Jesus doesn’t mean much.  You can understand that Jesus is Gods son.  But that’s hard to explain to him…does that make sense?” I implore.

She shrugs her shoulders and says honestly. “I guess.”

I don’t think it really does make sense to her, but we need to get going and I have to accept that was enough of a “learning minute” for now. I hear Ryan upstairs and try again.

“Ry, come down, please.” I say up the stairs.  “I have Thomas here and he wants you to come with us.”

I hear him slide along the wall a little and peek out the landing.  “Thomas?” he says with a question in his voice.

“Yes!” I say in most excited voice.  “Let’s go! He wants to see your friends at church.” I smile like an idiot at him nodding my head. The ‘assumptive close’ we called that in sales.  He keeps peering down at me like he wants to come and begins to lightly kick his foot on the banister.

“We’ll go to McDonalds after…okay?” I say, trying not to sound like I’m begging.

He doesn’t answer but he starts to walk slowly down the stairs.  Good enough for me! I grab Jenna’s hand and walk to the door to keep him moving that way.  I hand him Thomas and we walk out.  I’m already tired and we haven’t even gotten there yet.

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#48

*

“Let’s go guys. It’s time for Church School.” I yell up the stairs as I stuff my binder for into my bag.

“Noooo…I dunt wan go!” Ryan yells out from his room.

Jenna skips out of her room down the hall with a big smile.  She has always liked going to Church.  I am often amazed at how good she is—good to her core.

“Okay mommy, I’m ready for church.” She smiles at me and I smile back briefly.

“Okay, go wait by the car we will be there soon.” I turn back to the stairs and try again.  “Please Ryan, it’s time to go.  I have your m’s…” Silence.   “If you are good, we will go to McDonalds after church school.” I say in my best encouraging voice.

“Noooo!” He yells again.  I sigh and try to think of another tactic.

‘Church school’ is a simple name we created for Ryan rather than calling it CCD: letters that don’t really mean anything.  I had to look it up when Dan couldn’t remember what it stood for: Catholic Catechist Discernment.  Which is just a fancy way of saying: learning about being a catholic and then deciding to be one.

I check my bag of tricks to make sure it’s all ready.  I have made a portable schedule and taken pictures of every part of the church, and the teacher.  I have m & m’s, oreos, a train, a ball, and a slinky.  I have been trying to modify the typical first year catholic program for him.  It’s not been easy trying to make it systematic and fun at the same time.  All the activities involve things he could care less about, coloring, cutting, gluing and then there’s the God thing.  Explaining God to an autistic kid is tough, heck explaining to an adult is just as hard.

We started the year okay, but have gotten progressively worse.   He now realizes there is no actual gain for him.  Autistic children are very driven by what makes them happy, and this doesn’t make him happy, therefore he doesn’t want any part of it.  The picture schedule doesn’t help as much as it should, my bribes no longer work, and earning stickers for candy isn’t working either.   I dread Wednesday’s now because I know how draining it is.  I end up chasing him almost the whole class and by the end of the hour and half…one of us is screaming or crying, or both.

This is an area I don’t want Dr. Hunter’s group to help with.  I have some sense of pride that I can do this.  I took the class to be a CCD teacher and I’m going to do it.  But, I realize more and more I’m not really a teacher.  The other kids are great and I try to help “teach” the class, but Ryan is what takes all my attention.   I feel bad for Amy, the real teacher.  She is actually a teacher by trade so this comes second hand to her.  I think she thought she was going to get some help with me this year.  Boy did she place her bets wrong.

I spend so much time explaining to 8 year-olds things about Ryan they don’t really care to know but I think helps.

“He likes to hide under tables, isn’t he silly?”  I say in a funny voice to one of the girls who is kneeling down looking at Ryan with a puzzled look on her face.

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#47

I know they won’t approve it, and in my mind our journey with the school district has ended.  I feel bittersweet.  I don’t want to separate my kids now that I have had them at the same place; I don’t want two school schedules, two drop off times, two pickup times, two different holiday breaks.

But I also can’t bear to have Ryan go through another school year with doubts about the aide and their training  even though we write in the IEP the aide must have training, we know it us just semantics “training” can be a one-day seminar to them.

I am relieved to be free of the monthly meetings that accomplish nothing.  We openly discuss his issues, shortcomings and offer behavior plans that are never looked at.  When we go back to the next meeting nothing has been done to “fix” his issues.  Whatever progress he’s made has happened at home with us and Dr. Hunter’s therapists.

I am glad to be free of the fear they could change his aide at any moment.  The language is clear in the IEP they have the right to change.  And they have.  It was like a revolving door for a period of two weeks.  The aide assigned to us had some personal family issues.  And instead of putting herself out for two weeks, she called in everyday, leaving the district little room to provide the same aide.  It wasn’t their fault and I did sort of feel badly for them scrambling each day.  But I did not appreciate the repercussions it had on Ryan.  It was the beginning of his downward spiral.  A beginning to what made us consider ending his career at public school.

The clincher for me was after the Thanksgiving break.  I put their backpacks in the closet as usual for the weekend.  And as it was a long weekend it was in there awhile.  I hadn’t realized how visually significant that was to Ryan.  When I got the backpacks out on Sunday he started to cry.  And in his “broken” verbiage he pleaded to me.

“No school…no school. Backpack in closet. Backpack in closet.” He wailed.

In his short life, he had never tried to persuade me so vehemently with words.  There were many times he used his fists or legs to show disproval, but this was really communicating with me.  I felt my heart rip in two at the dichotomy of this: my baby was conveying his feelings so well! My baby is begging me to not take him to school…

“Well, that’s it. What do you think?” Dan says bringing me out of my thoughts. He leans back in the chair and stretches his arms over his head.

I sit silent still rummaging through my thoughts.  I don’t have the energy to sum up all I’ve been thinking so I just shrug and think for a few seconds.

“I guess it’s what I expected.  Just glad it’s out there.  It feels like we’ve been lying to them or something.” I confess to him.

“Yup, we put them on notice and now we just go forward with what we planned.” Dan nods as if confirming his own words.  Then he stands up. Well, I gotta get going.  I’ll see you later.” He leans down and kisses me and walks out.

Yes, what we planned.  We. What WE want…yes, it feels good to be back in control.  I smile a broad smile with satisfaction.

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