Mornings With Merrimans

Silly SamFriday was one of those mornings at our house. Caroline couldn’t find shorts, Sam wanted me to play balloon-bounce with him, the dog was in the kitchen stealing bagels every time I left the room, and Scott and I just wanted caffeine. But school needed notes about the field trip (yes, we could drive; we were both coming; we could carry three including our own; and we would buy popcorn for all seventy five or so would-be bowlers so Sam would have a snack), we had to put a cooler out for the co-op, and Caroline snacked on half the things we meant to send in her lunch. Read the rest

Use your words

This is how the advice sounds when I’m exasperated. It’s not fair at all, because one of the things about Asperger’s for my kids is that it makes the path from idea to vocal cord very cumbersome indeed, and one of those concepts that I have to explain regularly is, “The words in your heart don’t reach my ears if you don’t use your mouth.” But it’s been a “Use your words” kind of weekend around here, and so I give you the advice I all but shouted to my children earlier today. (Parenting fail.)

Thanks for letting me vent, Trifecta.… Read the rest

Of speaking and silence

CarolineWithSky“Caroline, help Lisa with her seatbelt.” I handed my daughter her classmate’s buckle.

Lisa said, “I got it,” in her nasal, robotic voice.

Caroline tilted her head and moved her mouth, but nothing came out. Her words had gone away again.

I climbed in up front and scanned the permission slip. “Crap, Scott which thing are we going to?”

Scott finished clicking in Sam. “Which what? Yogurt shop?”

“Yeah.”

“I thought you knew.”

“Well, I don’t, and the paperwork doesn’t say.”

“I’ll go in and ask.”

“The teachers are right there. Ask them.”

A minute later, with the right destination in hand, we started out of the lot.… Read the rest

My Children Have Asperger’s

My kids’ Christmas party was yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve been to their school since the Sandy Hook tragedy. In the lobby, one mother asked if the front desk could have a panic button installed, just in case. The secretary, whose son also attends the school, agreed it would be a good idea. I’m not typically given to worry about the grand scheme. You want small scale frets? I have them in plenty. Conspiracy theories? I’m your woman. But the big stuff doesn’t usually bother me.

This does.

My kids were with me on Friday, December 14. It was my birthday, and the opening night of the Nutcracker, in which they both performed.… Read the rest

Learning Curve

When Caroline was three, she hated swings and couldn’t dangle from monkey bars. She knew her colors, but she couldn’t recite them reliably. She loved the slide at the local park, but if she didn’t walk to the top by exactly the same route every time, she sat down and cried. She adored other children, but if a group of them came too close, she put her hands over her ears and cowered. And ‘too close’ was typically about a car’s length away.

In the bathroom, she never washed her hands without a fight. The preschool director used to accompany her and talk her gently through the process multiple times a day.… Read the rest

First Day

“How was your day?” I buckled Sam’s seatbelt then climbed back in front while Caroline hooked her own.

Caroline said, “It was AWESOME! I get to be in classroom B, and I’m only with one of the Katies, but it doesn’t matter because I get to go up to C and D for reading and math and spelling, and language, and writing, and I have the best seat ever in all the classrooms, and I’m right next to my one Katie in homeroom…”

When she paused to inhale, I jumped in. “Sam, how about you?”

“I like my teacher.”

The barrage from his sister’s side resumed.… Read the rest

Zombie Jesus

Short entries are supposed to be best, so I’ll keep this one to the point. This is a great Caroline tale. And today is the right day to retell it, for sure.

Scott is Christian. I’m agnostic. When we lived in Lexington, we went to Scott’s Presbyterian church and sent Caroline to preschool in a synagogue. Right across the hall from Caroline’s room, the temple held its bar/bah mitzavah classes, and there was overlap between the beginning of big-kid class and little-kid-pickup time. The big kids discussed important religious questions at length.

Keep this in mind.

The nursery at Scott’s church understood that although Caroline didn’t have a formal autism diagnosis at that point, there were social delays that made it difficult to move her up to the appropriate preschool Sunday School class.… Read the rest

Spectrum

Listen, we’ve only got a little while to get this wrong. After that, our kids can screw things up for themselves. I feel for the parents whose children may never be independent, for the ones who just don’t know. Scott and I are so lucky, because we do know. Our kids won’t just become independent adults, they’ll have college degrees to show for it. Even though we get things wrong right and left, our kids are turning out just fine.

Assuming that Sam gets that little monster temper under control, he’s going to be a good student. He’ll dance circles around his academic subjects, I’m certain.… Read the rest

Celebrate CALM Part One

I attended a mini-conference last week, and because I am me, I’ve been mulling it over ever since. It was one of these parenting seminars destined to be either spectacular or spectacularly dumb. I should assert here that my inner skeptic was expecting the latter.

A little background. I do not approve of parenting via the fluffy-cloud method.  Scott and I once paid some $400 for a parenting course that was ALL 1970s schmaltz.  The class text even used the phrase “hang-up”. Does it get more 1970s than “hang-up”? And yet, I loved that syrupy thing. Every annoying idea that irked me actually had practical applications that were anything but stupid.… Read the rest

Notes From The Road: Caroline

I don’t want to make Caroline into something she isn’t.  But she’s a pretty amazing little girl, and she has this talent that’s hard to describe. I’ve blogged previously about how her Aperger’s Syndrome seems to drive her outward where it drives a lot of kids inward.  It’s more than that, though. Caroline is so loving that she draws others out, as well.

She can make friends with anybody, on or off the autism spectrum, with no concerns for age, race,  gender, or skill level. A trip to the zoo where she doesn’t either meet a new friend or bump into an old one is a tragic day indeed.… Read the rest