Tag Archives: kids

Trick or Treat?

Trick or treat………..smell my feet?  Question of the day………………..better question………………..carve a pumpkin OR build an ark?  What on earth am I pondering today?  “What is the best Halloween trick you have ever pulled?”

Weellll, my answer is somewhat pathetic.  Perhaps a little goody two shoes….buutttt, I can honestly say, with some remorse, that I don’t recall ever pulling one.  Dear Ol Dad didn’t go for that stuff, and being the rule follower I am, I didn’t like to go against, what he didn’t go for.  Plus, I wasn’t allowed out to randomly roam at night.

Possibly the only trick I have pulled at Halloween is to eat my Boys candy (hey………don’t judge……….you know you would do it to).  Or send it in to work with The Captain and tell them they must’ve eaten more than they remember.  I think these aren’t really tricks as much as a parenting right of passage.

Anywhoooo…………….my point………………I’m innocent.  How am I to be rewarded?  HURRICANE SANDY!!   Yes, I just did the higher math and realized the DC area is about to get hit right about the time, my Little Goblin, Johnny has planned to don his much anticipated Optimus Prime (3D) costume and hit the neighborhood.  For a boy that does not eat candy, he begins planning for this night about November.

Johnny was just appalled when he saw Santa Claus decorations.  He informed me the Grim Reaper isn’t going to like Santa.  In his literal world you do not mess with routine.   You don’t NOT have pancakes on Saturday, you don’t go to church on Saturday, you NEVER sleep past 6 a.m. and you MOST DEFINITLY do not rain out HALLOWEEN!

So……………….you think Hurricane Sandy is going to be ugly……………..weeelllll, just wait till SHE meets HURRICANE JOHNNY.  Take THAT Sandy…………………oh yeah and………………..Trick or Treat!

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Things that make you go……………..

Master of the Mind

You know the saying……………..Things that make you go, HMMMMM.  So do I…………..in a real up close and personal way.  

One thing that made me go, HMMMMM.  The above photo.  Just look at him, cool as a cucumber, chillin like a villain, hangin like a tie………well…………..you get the idea.  Just moments ago, I caught Johnny in the act of doing virtually nothing.  It is like he has a switch and he just turned it off.  Because believe me, this is not a accurate  depiction of the Johnny we all know and love.  Weeellll, maybe it is, because I should have learned by now, the only laws of nature that Johnny follows are……………..Johnny’s.

Johnny starts his routine at the crack of dawn.  This routine generally involves starting the day with a heaping bowl of cereal and a random string of consciousness that defies all laws of caffeine consumption.  That is, good luck on keeping up.

For example, this morning………………..I was trying to get (with all boys in tow) to my glamorous substitute teaching job.  Johnny was not quite on board with all things real this morning.  Finally, frustrated I plead………….Johnny, reality please, reality.  To which he replies…………”Sooo, Mom, do you think all that exposure to Toxic Waste has finally made me crazy.  My response…………(nothing).  To which he replies…………”seriously, it could happen.”

Enough of that…………..I move past the Toxic Waste argument and focus on the ensemble he has selected for school.  Now, THAT was an eye opener……….Black shorts, white fruit of the loom t-shirt and white socks pulled up to his calves.  When I strongly recommended (okay, insisted he change) I learned something new about his school.  Apparently, (according to Johnny) there do not happen to be any “fashion critics” at his school.”

Because I had to get to school, I resisted the urge to repeatedly bang my head on my kitchen counter.

Fast forward to our evening…………………..Family night at the Book Fair.  I’m a sucker for books and The Brothers know it.  But I do have my limits.  For instance, I have to consider how many times in a 5 minute period I want to hear Johnny repeat the book word for word.  Imagine my hesitancy when he picked up Mysteries of the Strange and Unexplained.  Upon looking at one page he proudly proclaimed, “See, I knew aliens were real.”  Ooops, Big Mistake, book is going back, thought I.”  Always fast on his feet, he back peddles.  “No, No, I mean everyone knows Aliens are just real people born with a defect,  who like to go around playing practical jokes on people.  Guess all those UFO chasers……….the jokes on you.

Johnny peruses the book further.  OOoohhhh, the luck, A YETTI!!!  “Just wait till I scare Little Brother with this.  THAT’S IT, NO WAY, GIVE ME THE BOOK!!

No, Mommy, no.  I will just tell Little Brother that it isn’t a YETTI.  I will tell him that it is a Big White Gorilla, that got stuck in THE ARTIC!!

Soooo………….I’d like to confess to you, Dear Reader, I have officially, unofficially, officially lost my mind and I purchased this literary gem.  

I sat in my room listening to the read aloud of this literary masterpiece and considered my buyers remorse.  Taking the high road I decided to go with out of earshot, off my nerves.  In comes Johnny’s requested presence.  With all the Mommy niceness I can muster I kindly ask him to close my door.  His reply………………………………YETTI!

Things that make you go…………………………….DRINK PLEASE.

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Tis the Season

Goblins and witches and scares, oh my!

I don’t want no STINKIN candy!

Halloween…………that time of year at our house when Johnny likes to online shop.  See, he LOVES picking out just the right costume, usually of the SuperHero variety; however, he is scared to DEATH of the costume stores and any store that eerily displays its ghoulish spirit.  Just ask the CVS shoppers last week.  Yes, he was the boy running around, hand over ears, yelling, “scary guys, scary guys.”  Too bad for that innocent alternative looking guy with orange hair and lots of piercings.  Honestly, Johnny was not referring to you.

He also loves trick or treating, but HATES candy.  You got it, people in this house are being pretty accommodating to Ol’ Johnny this time of year.  This year I think I will make it interesting and auction off his candy to the highest bidder.  Hmmmm, what currency should I accept.  Naaahhhh, even I’m not that mean.  Word on the street (at my house) is that as Mommy’s go, I am pretty darn mean but even I can throw a dog a bone.  Possibly, a small hint to Johnny, and let the games begin.  Imagine the lego collection he would amass.

Halloween has never been a holiday that I got too excited about.  Oh sure, back in the day (Go Big E) I had some fun with it.  I mean when else in your life would you dress up in a box and hit every dive bar in sight.  Talk about risk, if that bartender over-serves you, looking ridiculous in a box isn’t your only problem.  Chances are lying inebriated on the ground in said box costume is not going to be a good look.  Thank goodness for college before social media.

As for my favorite costume…………..don’t really have one.  Bravest………….possibly the Christmas package get-up.  Yeah, green tights on large thighs and short box…………..full of courage or lack of pride……….hhmmmm, you be the judge.   Oh, let’s not forget the permed hair.  Now………..cast your vote!

As for you, Dear Reader, I hope your Halloween is ghoulish and your treats plentiful.  If not……………….contact Johnny……………..I’m sure he will be taking applications for his candy for legos program.  Apply soon, the good stuff goes fast.  I mean, I paid my dues, I get first dibs.

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In Rear View – On that note

A dear friend and neighbor of mine from our California days once told me, “You answer the phone like the house is on fire and you walk around like  you are waiting on the other shoe to drop.”  My response, “Have you met me????…………it usually does!”  The shoe drops that is………amazingly, I ‘ve escaped fire.

 I don’t like to point fingers buuuuuuttttttttt….. Johnny  taught me after his first solo mall escalator ride at the age of TWO to always remain on HIGH ALERT.   Recently, I guess I must have  let my guard down.  How I know??  It has not happened in several years but HE did it, HE escaped.  This use to be a pretty regular occurence.  Aforementioned neighbor once called to ask me what Johnny was doing.  I said, “upstairs, watching t.v.”  “WRRROONNNGGGG!!! “, she said, he somehow got in my house and I found him in my guest room watching T.V.  Don’t Judge, he’s pulled this magic act on some of the most seasoned Grandma’s around.  And no……..senility had nothing to do with it.

Johnny is in a new school this year and there is NO bus available for him.  Not a bad thing.  Turns out he likes me walking him to school.  What else did I learn????  That Johnny does not like to be kept waiting…….HOW did I learn this…………when I drove to pick him up from school and passed a boy who looked amazingly like him…………….WHAT?????……….IT WAS HIM!!!  Soooo………..we returned to school………and they learned a lesson…………..DO NOT leave Johnny to his own devices……….AND his Mommy really only has a certain amount of  patience.  Losing track of my Johnny EXCEEDS my limit.  I think they took notes.

Some NOTES I took recently…………..When Johnny tells you that he thinks the toilet is overflowing………..DO NOT get distracted when everyone leaves for school………….THEY eventually come home from school AND THEY eventually FLUSH  the toilet.  Sooooo….turns out he The Captain is right, Bad News does not get better over time.  Dear Readers, make a NOTE of this.

While I am on the subject of **it flowing………….it never ceases to amaze me that THE BROTHERS can find anything to entertain themselves that has to do with bodily functions.  I felt so smug today when I saw the Little Brother playing a logic game on the computer.  What a seeker of knowledge, thought I.  Proudly, I ask………….”Little Brother, what is the goal of the puzzle?”  (I OF ALL people should know not to ask a question you don’t already know the answer to…kind of like in court)  Little Brother (equally proud) responds…………”to connect all the pipes to the toilet so the poop will go in it……..I ASKED.  Prime example why ignorance is bliss…………..NOTED.

The Big Brother, should have been taking notes the past 13 years……………cause it might help him answer some of his own questions……………like when we come home from school and the plumber leaves the dishwasher pulled out with water flowing onto the kitchen floor and fails to return the kitchen to working order……..YES, Big Brother, that might possibly mean there will be no mashed potatoes for dinner.

Oh yeah and a note I hope he took and filed away for his future………….DO NOT repeatedly ring the doorbell for your mother to hurry up to take you to baseball…………..it only makes her lock the door and move slower.   And note this…………………. I don’t care that you are bigger than me, I still am THE WINNER!!!!!  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  But……….I love you like crazy so YOU got that going for you.

Johnny……….this note is for you………..when above mentioned plumbing catastrophes are happening and maybe just maybe Mommy is doing a little bit of yelling…………it does not calm Mommy down to tell her she might be a little tense and recommend a massage.  Proper time and place, Johnny…….proper time and place.

The past couple of weeks have been like one of those really bad tests in school……………..you know,  when you swear that the teacher made it up only to hear……………….you should’ve taken better notes…………….Never said I was a quick study……NOTED!!

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In Rear View – All Secure??!!

As I sat down to write my “Rear View” and I am drawing a blank.  If I was saavvy enough, (or not so lazy), I would wire The Brothers up with microphones and call it, “Life with Johnny – Live.”  That way you wouldn’t have to miss a moment.  Also, you might start to feel my fatigue and start bringing me meals.  Now that’s what I’m talkin about.   Or you would figure out I am a card short of a full house and someone might bring me a comfy special jacket to wear.  Naaahhhh, and miss all my life has to offer, NEVER,  okay…………….wellll, maybe.

The highlight of the week was Daddy’s (The Captain) promotion.  After 20 plus years of service in the Navy, he pinned on Captain.  It was a proud and touching moment for all of us.  Weellll, except Johnny……………. who was disappointed when he learned Daddy was “only a Captain” and “NOT an Admiral.”  We will tell Daddy to work harder, Johnny.  Here is Johnny after learning “the news.”

What??  He's not an Admiral!

Trying to contain his excitement!

The ceremony was in a really, really cool building that required “special” permission to enter.  Memo to Johnny…………… security is not amused when you play tug of war with your I.D. card.  MOST people just hand it over.  Johnny is NOT most people.  He, is, AFTER ALL, Johnny for a reason.

Another distraction, the building had a bowling alley.  Before I knew what was happening (a familiar theme) Johnny and The Little Brother were in search of an 8 pound ball and bumper guards.  No fun to be at a Daddy’s ceremony (in a really cool place)  if there is bowling just an elevator ride away.  Thank goodness there were cookies or they might have grabbed a cab…………..or a limo.

Since being trapped at a ceremony wasn’t enough fun for him, we followed up with a full day at Big Brother’s baseball game.  Big Brother playing baseball is the gift that just keeps giving…………..Johnny a fit.  And since last weeks game involved 2 extra hours in the parking lot after the game due to a flat tire, he was not full of warm fuzzies to return to the scene of the crime.  Insult to injury…………………..NO snack bar.  NACHOS are generally the only reason he makes it through.  Now Mommy had to pack a cooler AND a big brown grocery sack like we couldn’t be away from our pantry for more than an hour.  Good thing I got numb to being stared at a LONG TIME AGO!!

Here is Johnny enjoying yet another one of his Brother’s baseball games……………………GO TEAM!.  Weeelllllll, that is what he is thinking……………….I’m positive………………….you be the Judge……..

Go Team!!!

Johnny does like to use his time at these events to ponder lifes questions.  And they are better answered bellowed at your brother in the dug out like this………………………….

“HEY, BIG BROTHER, DOES YOUR SCOUT TROOP TAKE A TRANQUILIZER GUN CAMPING FOR WHEN YOU ARE ATTACKED BY BEARS???”

Don’t think he did the batter any favors.

Along for all the fun this weekend was The Grandma and Grandpa.  Johnny was excited to have them and didn’t want them to leave.  Or as he said, “Grandma, why don’t you stick around till Halloween so Grandpa can dress up like Jabba the Hut?”  Touching………………….huh?

Johnny and I drove Grandma and Grandpa to the airport today.  Johnny asked, “HEY! why don’t we go on a plane anymore?!”

Me – Weeeelllll, because it costs A LOT of money!

Grandma – Johnny, you just tell me when you want to come and we will put you on a plane.

Johnny – Said nothing, but EYES got really, really big.

I don’t know if those eyes were in disbelief that he might have scored an airplane trip……………………… OR he was already thinking all the fun he was going to have with securityIf this happens……………..stay tuned to your National News.

Cause that’s how Johnny “rolls”. ……………..regardless of the view point.………..or security.

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I’m Fine…….and you?

Fifth Grade

Ready to Rule the School.

Autism.  I have not written much about this side of Johnny.   Although not readily apparent to those who meet him, it is there.  I do not like to think of Autism as who he is but it is part of him, it is one thing that makes him so unique and not merely a statistic.  A friend once said his diagnosis should be quirky.  Johnny is his OWN man.  He has his own drummer, for sure.  If you have had the pleasure of meeting him, you know what I mean.

Due in large part to early intervention and absolutely wonderful, compassionate, caring teachers, WITH an incredible sense of humor, Johnny  is very high functioning.  People that just meet us have stated, “he seems fine to me, how Autistic is he?”  To which I like to answer, “Just enough.”  Just enough to keep life interesting and everyone on their toes.  But I also want to add…………… if you only knew.  If you only knew how far he has come.  You are able to ask that question because of the long path we have walked.

Johnny started school this week.  A new year in a new school.  He is in Fifth grade now and I have to take a moment to count how many schools he has attended.  Johnny started school (pretty much full time) when he was three.  His first school bus ride was in diapers.  He was fine but I think I cried like a baby in diapers.  It just did not seem right to put this Little Guy, in diapers, on a bus.  He  rode the “special” bus.  Anyone who has put their child on this bus knows the fear and heartache.  It was not an easy decision.  But as decisions go, it has ultimately been one of the best decisions we ever made.

I just took my moment and calculated………. EIGHT………… he has now attend EIGHT schools.   A funny thing with Autism and other Spectrum Disorders is that routine and schedules are generally a “really big deal” for these kiddos.  Knowing what to expect can keep his anxiety at a low ceiling instead of a through the roof  level, which can be heart breaking to watch.  However, not all schools are equipped with Autism programs, which has made it necessary for Johnny to attend a new school each year for a few years.  This was mostly the case when he was of the pre-school age.  Add to that we are a Military Family and the numbers go up.

Sending him off this year to Fifth Grade in a new school was nerve-wracking………… for Mommy…………. he seemed fine.  His biggest concern………………when was lunch?………….and did I remember his lunch money?  Why was I nervous?  Weeellllll, let me count the ways.  Like I said, this is school Number Eight.  

Fifth grade triggered something in me.   As I was walking him to school it struck me, WOW!!! FIFTH GRADE, IN THE “REGULAR” CLASSROOM!  I remember when I didn’t think this would ever be his reality.  I couldn’t imagine him functioning in the “regular” classroom.

We have come a LONG, LONG WAY  from the pre-school days of pacing and running circles around while constantly humming to soothe himself.   Lunch time used to mean sitting in a semi-circle with a teacher at a table to eat and learn to tolerate new foods.  Going to any assembly required headphones to block out all of the noise and extra stimulation, if we could get him there at all.  On good days he would go into the “regular” classroom with an aide.  The preferred activity at recess was sitting alone in the sandbox.  Notes home read like this……….”Johnny is wearing a pair of “borrowed” socks.  His got wet because we found him standing in the toilet.  Please talk to him about this.”  NOT even making that up.  There are many similar notes.  I kept the “communication” notebooks from every class.  Actually, they are somewhat amusing.  I remember then we had to laugh or we definitely would have cried.  Proud to announce, that is the LAST time he stood in the toilet at school.  He’s moved on to other behaviors, like making sure the teacher sticks to her schedule, literally.

As the parent of a child with Autism (no matter where on the spectrum) you constantly worry about their future and ability to be independent.  I spent A LOT of time on this worry.  One of his first Pre-school teachers said it best, “Johnny is going to be fine.  He might not be a salesman, he might be the guy content to work quietly by himself but HE is going to be JUST FINE.”  It was Mommy that needed the work………..I think.

In those pre-school and early elementary years so much seemed so overwhelming.  And I’m not talking about for Johnny!  Learning to manage all these behaviors, emotions and needs was all-encompassing.  Like for all children.  We had several years where it seemed that we would have a perpetual toddler.   Part of me wanted to think, who cares, let him wear headphones and sit alone in the sandbox, he’s content.  Who cares if he plays with Thomas the Train in high school.  He’s happy.   But……………..we knew for his success and independence in life he (and we) were going to have to experience a lot of uncomfortable moments (again, like everyone).  AND we most certainly have.  There were a lot of tears of frustration in those days (Johnny and Mommy).  It was not if Mama ain’t happy, it was if Johnny ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  Actually, it is still a little like that.

Fast forward to Fifth Grade…………….No bus………..we walked to school, WITH no complaining, thank you very much.   Johnny  isn’t big on physical exertion.  He took notebooks in his backpack, NOT diapers.  No lectures were given on playing in the toilet, just reminders about turning in our lunch money and medical forms.  He was walking into the “regular” classroom with some assistance from an aid.  His back pack was plain black, NOT Thomas the Train (which I kind of miss).  HE was telling ME his plan for doing his homework right after school.  I wasn’t having to show him a picture schedule of what he was going to do.  Instead of a bus aide walking him to the school door or Mommy holding his hand, he walked solo on the path………. turned around, “Bye Mom, see ya.”  And I heard that Pre-School teacher’s voice in my head, he’s fine, he is going to be JUST Fine.

As for me…………… weeellll, Mommy is getting better EVERY YEAR!

I’m OK, Mommy, and You?

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Space Please

Me and The Big Brother. Note Mommy’s tight grip.

For the last Monday of this month I am participating in Perfect Moment Monday with Lori at Write Mind Open Heart.  This is a time to take a look back at your last month and “reflect” on those moments, big, small, ordinary or EXTRAordinary and on “second-thought” what made that moment “perfect”.

Personally, this, at first, felt much like a “challenge”.  With life circumstances that can seem insurmountable and consume all of my thoughts and energy, it can be difficult to focus on here and now, let alone taking note of the joy therein.

My oldest son (The Big Brother) just turned 13.  As first born,  I used to refer to him as my demo child.  His birth order burden was that I wasn’t sure which “theory” of child rearing I wanted to use, so……….. I tried a little bit of everything.  This was confusing to me and  I can only imagine the havoc it wreaked on my him.

Turns out while I have been “learning” how to be a Mom,   he has been “learning” how to be a kid.   As a result, our “learning curve” has been steep.  You could safely say we have (and had) different expectations.

I remember going to his/my first Mother’s Day “tea” at his  pre-school.  I expected that we would sit together and share a special Mommy and Me moment.  He thought he would sit by his new class buddy and “have fun”.  As a result, I think we both shed some tears.  Why wasn’t he attached to my ankle, “like those other kids?”  He was thinking, “why do I have to sit with HER, can’t I sit with my buddy?”

That same year, while I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t “just sit and listen” like the other kids at story time, he couldn’t figure out why all those kids WOULD just SIT AND LISTEN.  He is still like that AND I have still wasted a lot of energy trying to change this.  He’s a people person, he has been trying to tell me that for years.  See, I don’t always listen either.  I did not hear what he wasn’t saying.   I don’t always “get it.”

Due to Daddy’s Deployment, he went to “summer pre-school” that year.  The one time in his life he has been able to celebrate his birthday at school.  I remember he was excited.  He wanted me to come in to school.  That made ME excited.  I went to school that day, brought in a birthday treat and “retreated” to the back of the room, to give him his “space.”  See…….he seemed to want me there, but at a distance.  This is still true, and something that it took me a long time to “learn” and I still don’t always “hear” him on this.

The class was sitting in a circle, singing “Happy Birthday”  as I watched I remember he couldn’t contain himself any longer, he jumped up (I refrained from telling him to “sit down””) and ran across the room to me, he didn’t say a word, just gave me the biggest hug, a kiss on the cheek, and ran back to his seat.  That day we both “got it”, we met in the middle.  That is still one of my happiest Mommy memories.

If I had listened closer, I probably would’ve heard him tell me, back off, Mom, I am an independent person.  I don’t need or want to be “like everyone else.”  As long as he knew where I was, he did not need to be by my side.  Actually, he didn’t always need to know where I was either.   Never had separation anxiety.  I used to joke that was because he was “shopping” a new family.

Now that he is a “teenager”,  I don’t know how we got here.  The time seems to have gone at warp speed and will only speed up.  Now, I think I’m the one with separation anxiety.  As he is trying harder for more freedom, I seem to be trying to keep him closer.  We definitely have different expectations on this one.  If he didn’t want to “just sit and listen” then, he definitely doesn’t want to now.

This Sunday, I was sitting in church, frustrated that the boys were HOW OLD? and still couldn’t “just sit and listen”.  I was spending more time staring them down, then praying.  I was especially frustrated with my first born.  Still, all this time, same argument…..sit still, listen. “You know better,” …..same song, last verse, same as the first.   Now, though, after 13 years he has had ABOUT ENOUGH of that lecture and I know it.  I have to!  Sooo, in defeat, I gave up.  I quietly retreated to my “piece” of the pew and wondered how many years I had before my boy would “like” me again.  What happened to my “Little Boy”.  Thinking, “I will never have that time back.”  Was he still “shopping” a new family.

This thought was lingering in my head when to my great surprise, I felt an arm go around me, give me a big squeeze and then he lay his head on my shoulder.  I grabbed his hand and we sat that way for a moment.  I was taken back to that 4th birthday in pre-school and I think this time my boy “got it.”  He heard what I did not say, and he gave me “my moment.”  Maybe, finally, we are both learning to “sit and listen.”

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