So this is how our insane day ended... the beginning was slightly better.
We were up at the crack of dawn to get Jake ready to play basketball with the neighbors. He left, I fell back asleep and all is well. He bounded back in the house about 90 minutes later proclaiming, "I was on fire mommy I made 70 baskets!"
Great. Not a bad way to start the day. Moments later we were in the car, bikes loaded and water bottles filled for another biking adventure.
We headed to VA in hopes of touring an historic little town and getting lunch, however once we got there I realized the only way in was a busy highway with no sidewalks.
So we ventured into a new neighborhood. It was still being built, tractors and bulldozers were everywhere. We were riding on gravel, which I hate, so at the first sign of a paved pathway we were on it.
Rolling up and down these beautiful little pathway was awesome. "I don't ever want to ride in the woods again!" Jake proclaimed. This was way too fun and nice.
We continued on this blissful path about 2 miles then...
"Wait Jake, STOP."
"What's that up ahead?"
"Ummm it looks like a golf cart mommy."
"Jake turn your bike around the pedal as fast as you can!"
We were out of there. Trying to outrun the golf cart guy, who was apparently the manager of this course which was about 3/4's done being built.
Jake is asking questions while pedaling like a bat-out-of-hell now, I'm just like "ride really fast we need to get off this golf course!"
Whew, we escaped until the very end when another golf cart approached me. Before the guy could speak, I said, "clearly we're lost... we're done here!"
Heading back home involved riding and getting beeped at by a lot of traffic. So we detoured off to a trail and logged about 5 more miles through the trees.
This was all well and good until this lady passed Jake, rode right in front of him and then decided to stop in the middle of the trail. Yep. You guessed. Jake rear-ended the chick who was clearly clueless to any riding rules. She stopped right in the middle of the trail.
Thankfully, no one was hurt, Jake was just rattled. I explained to him that no matter what the person in front of you does, even on a highway, that if you rear-end someone, you are at fault. Police would give you a ticket.
"Then I have to wear a brankel acelet?"
We pretty much decided this day was too insane and we'd both be safer at home. We grabbed a burger and headed home.
While driving home, a chipmunk decided to complete his suicide mission by exiting his tree onto the roof of my car while we were doing about 35mph. He landed about 5" behind our open sun roof and lodged under my luggage rack. At the time of the death-defying stunt, it was so loud, we thought it was an acorn or branch that fell off of a tree.
When we got home, I looked on top of the car to look for a scratch and saw the tiny carnage. Poor little guy that I was afraid to touch. (that's for Sheryse) So I got a neighbor to remove it for me.
The following is the list of questions I've been answering all afternoon.
"Is his mommy crying?"
"Did his spirit already go up?"
"Did you see his spirit?"
"Is he now a flying chipmunk angel that talks?"
"Is there a separate chipmunk heaven?"
"Can I still talk to mom when we're still dead?"
I do believe this defines a Whack-a-doodle day!
Time for a beer!
I don't know if it's more of my fear or his. Jake didn't seem to be bothered to play alone, in fact he still loves parallel play. But recently, he's been seeking out friendship.
We tread lightly, never knowing if it's going to last. Never knowing if his heart will be broken. Friendships with other kids is so new for us, even at 11 years old.
Peers, in the past, have only fueled wild frustration for Jake. His track record with kids from his old school wasn't great. So our very social kiddo started building walls. He didn't want to play with kids, at all, only adults. Trust was gone.
Since moving to our new school, he's been able to form bonds with other kids. He's more trusting, tolerant and totally excited to have friends.
We had our second successful visit with our new friend S today. As conversation flowed, yes I said flowed, between all of us, we discovered many more commonalities in the two boys.
Likes, dislikes, and obsessions all in common. Love of the outdoors, the need to move CONSTANTLY, amazing singing voices and extraordinary memory.
We said our goodbyes after devouring lunch and I almost had to peel Jake off the ceiling of the car. He was dead tired, but legs keep wiggling, his hands flipping and he did not stop talking about this budding relationship.
Never thought I'd hear, "Mom, I have and new friend and I love him! I like to have a friend."
My heart is smiling!
So this summer we've ventured into the world of biking, mostly on the road and paved trails, but biking and great exercise nonetheless is so fun for both of us. My feet don't hurt from running on the road and Jake gets a thrill from watching his speedometer on his handle bars! "I'm going as fast as a car mom!"
One huge anxiety producer for an already anxiety-riddled Super Hero are those dudes that stealthily sneak up behind us on the Capital Crescent trail and say, "On Your Left," in barely audible low-voices, breath-filled panting.
Every time they come up behind Jake, he startles and swerves and I stop breathing. I'm totally waiting for him to cut into some biker going 45 mph on the trail, heels and wheels will be flying.
So I'm pretty sure I've terrorized him to the importance of staying over to the right and going in a straight line. I cannot take the panic in my heart when he swerves around walkers and joggers leaving 2" to spare. I follow behind apologizing to all he skims too close to.
In an effort to avoid all the pedestrians and super-fast bikers, we recently ventured into the woods. Just us, the roots, the rocks, nature and our screams.
I ride first so I can warn him of really big bumps and roots, while listening for his squeals and singing coming behind me. When it's quiet I worry. When the songs stop, my pedals freeze. I need to hear his singing behind me.
This weekend, we tried a new trail and there happened to be a running race going on at the same time. Crap. I tried to go against the flow of the runners so we'd see each other coming, but what's that saying, the best laid plans...
I instructed Jake that if he sees a runner ahead of us that we need to pass, it's now his turn to say "On Your Left" and then go around actually on the left. Since he still gets his right and left confused sometimes, there is nothing easy about this.
So while we're singing away through the woods a runner is up ahead. She is facing us, as in coming towards us. So I approach first and don't say anything. The runner had moved to the left (facing me) to allow my wheels to stay in the single-wheel trail. I inhaled, she commented on that tricky turn, all fine.
Whew, I made it without getting stuck in that rut or hitting that sharp rock, pretty soon I hear in a screeching, desperate tone, "ON YOUR LEFT! AAAAHHHHH!! MOMMY I'M OK!" He was actually on the guys left, he was still facing him!
I chuckled to myself and kept on riding. No harm, no foul. Next, coming around the bend are three more bikers coming towards us. They are grown-ups and have nice bikes and are in total control of themselves -- unlike us.
I swerved right into the long grasses to pass them on their lefts... then heard it again. Sounding more frantic, more piercing and almost angry, "ON. YOUR. LEFT! ON. . YOUR.. LEFT.. ON... YOUR... LEFT. AAAHHHH WHOA!" He yelled at every biker coming at us -- one after another about 20 feet behind one another.
I actually had to stop because I was laughing so hard. These three men were gracious and laughed as well, thankfully kept going. Now that I stopped riding, I realized my forearms are tingly and itchy from this, our longest yet through the woods. Soon the sound of rubber brake pads squeaking against the metal tire frames right behind me.
"Mommy, I'm doing really good telling everyone you're (I'm) on their leftest! Right?"
"Yes, buddy, you're doing a super great job!"
I'm so proud of this new accomplishment for us and look forward to riding with a fun mountain biking group. Hopefully, they'll be accepting of our singing, screaming and partying on two wheels through the woods.
So that's the million dollar question!
Is it the one we all wait to hear or dread will happen?
Clearly, it came tonight from my super hero in the midst of a big anxiety inducing storm outside. He was going to bed, feeling reassured, safe and satisfied.
He yelled down the stairs, "Mommy, can I just live with you forever? I had a really good lunch!"
Without a second of thought, my heart skipped a beat and i blurted....
Wait... second thought. What's the right answer to that question.
We work our knuckles to the bone and brain to the brink trying to prepare these kiddos for independence. Real independence. And I just said yes, stay under my wing forever.
Don't take risks.
Stay safe where you are.
I guess that was probably the wrong answer, but what would you say?
I needed him to feel reassured at that moment; that I'll always be there for him, during any type of storm, yet so ache for the day he might possibly have some independence from us.
Thank goodness, he only turns 11 next week. Let's table that question for a while. My heart and head can't handle the argument!
I just need to take a quick minute to tell you about a new world that just opened up for Jake. You may have heard of it, Minecraft.
I've been hearing rumblings of it from neighbors and friends along with grumbling parents speaking of addiction yet amazing opportunities for creativity from this video game.
Yeah, I know, video game. The potential for our kids to get sucked even further into cyber-land and out-of reality is great, but Minecraft is different.
Our same-age neighbor came over to show Jake how to work it on his iPad. Kindle in hand, M plopped down on the couch about 2 inches from Jake. Usually way too close, this time not a problem.
Then he started telling Jake what to do. Usually a deal breaker, this time also not a problem. I explained to M that Jake can get started but then gets stuck. Pretty soon, they're working side-by-side very quietly.
All I hear is my ground beef browning.
Then I hear, "Hey Jake, wanna build a world together?"
"What? Build a world?"
"Yea, come into my world."
Anyone else hearing the amazing layers of this conversation? I almost buckled over my frying pan! Gasping for deep breaths.
Ick... ground beef.
Turn on the stove fan so they don't hear my sniffles.
"Hey M, can you help me make a library with a bedroom for when we get tired reading?"
"Sure, I'll come over by you."
"Where are you?"
"I'm here... is that you?"
In their "world" the two conversing like totally typical pre-teens that they are.
"Oh you want animals outside? Ok... uh oh... the pigs got out of the fence and the billy goats!"
"Catch them or they will come into my library to eat the books!"
What I witnessed this afternoon brought tears to my eyes. The patience of the neighbor and the desire for Jake to be one of the dudes.
Conversation, team work, and cooperation.
Who said video games are all bad?
Still riding high, from our Minecraft miracles!
I don't often do this, but if I am a real human parent of a special needs child, I doubt, question and hurt like everyone else. It's an effort some days to focus on the positives, but I will not live my life from a place of anger and fear.
Most of my recent funk has to do with my own insecurities and questioning decisions we've made recently and has nothing to do with my awesome kid on the spectrum.
We've recently decided, maybe crazily, to write a book. We've decided on a title, I've decided on a format and was very excited. But I'm finding myself feeling embarrassed when I tell people that Jake and I are embarking on this project.
Part of me feels guilty for having a kid that is very verbal and in touch with his feelings. The other part feels like, "who the hell wants to hear from me and my kid anyway?"
Could it be I was just expecting different reactions ? I fully believe Jake and I can offer insight into the autism brain for parents and professionals, but hate being at these doubting crossroads. Kicking myself for even announcing our project. More thought and meditation needed.
Last time we moved furniture around the house, it took Jake about 4 months to recover. There were temper fits, demands of 'no more change' and slight regressions. So here we are again, remodeling the house and there goes our super hero down a familiar slippery slope.
After 7 years of having the largest room in our house be a "Jake gymnasium" we've made the decision, as a family, to change it back into a grown-up family room. New carpet, new TV and new pictures.
If you are a kid who struggles with change, that's three really BIG changes. Today we were cleaning out that room, hauling stuff upstairs, downstairs and out to garbage cans. Jake was helping, but I could see his anxiety rising with every step he took.
Pretty soon, he was digging out stuffed animals again. He put them in the car (that's where he used to play with them). He started jumping much more on the trampoline. At bedtime, he requested I read two books to him for the first time in many, many months. His questions are literally non-stop. "What's going to go there?"
"Where is the TV going to be?"
"Can I move my computer desk?"
So as we embark upon this change, no matter how quickly we can get it done, we have to remember to keep his needs in the front of our minds. He's already regressed in three areas, we don't want him to slide right out of his safety zone.
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