Friday, June 27, 2008

Just another day at camp for the six year olds

So I ask Sam what he did at camp today and he says "Oh, we did some stuff with cubism" and then starts to prattle on about Pablo Picasso.

Connecticut boy

On that beach, it's cold and windy and dark. Snuggled next to you under one sleeping bag, your best friend on the other side of me, trying to be quiet while you touch me without kissing, reprising our afternoon in the back of a VW bus zooming on Rt. 50. It's cold and it's hot, it's scary and it's safe, I can't believe it's you, here with me, wanting me, after all those letters written at your hotel job and read in my bedroom 300 miles away. If I knew then what I know now, I would take you back to that beach alone, kiss you intensely, open myself under the moon light, damn the wind.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blooming friends

Chel is coming to visit for a WEEK, which means I will get to have dinner with her and the gang on Saturday AND spend at least one more time with her, possibly at the
4th of July pool cook-out!

Eve is coming from SF next week, haven't seen her in so so long and have been thinking about her a lot lately.

Making plans to see several long lost pals--drinks with Sonia, awaiting T's response for dinner plans, and get to see the lovely Mr. Parker sometime soon.

Malik's birthday party is Sunday at the beach!!

Owen's party in a few weeks is Pirate Olympics which will for sure be entertaining!

My volunteer training will be soon and then I will be a-cuddling cats at the SPCA on the regular.

And I think I'm finally going to get a digital camera.

I may pass out from all this excitement!!!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Roller coaster

Monday, first day back to work after vacation, first day of summer camp.

I am so proud of Sam as he talks to adults who greet him at camp and introduces himself to a boy he met last summer. I stay while we wait for teacher assignments and he spends most of the time across the room with the other kids, all independent-like.

Then FLIP! upside down...he gets unnerved by the newness and freaks hour of screaming and kicking and hitting and flailing. None of the super distraction techniques by these top clinical professionals work....the boy is the poster child for stubbornness. He is not easily fooled.

And after an hour of this torture, a jar of "fidgets"---gross eye-popping frogs, spiky fish and the like---turns it around again. He happily plays with Lewis, the boy toting a Wallace & Grommit DVD who informed me LATER I WILL HAVE CAKE! I kiss Sam on the cheek and tell him I'm going to work. I catch myself holding my breath until he says "OK, bye!"

Never a dull moment.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Heart broken

I arranged my Christmas around you. We spent the night at my mom's, I took you to see your friend Leslie in the morning, then to my family's traditional breakfast. I couldn't take you to my dad's family event due to the racism, so I drove the opposite direction to your sister's house so you could see your nieces and nephews. Then later I picked you up again for our dinner at Hannah's. We spent a romantic night together, reading each other Nikki Giovanni poems before turning out the lights. A busy day, and a sweet one because I was with you.

A week or so later, we are hanging out at Aaron's and you are on the phone with her. She asks you how your Christmas was. Not even noticing I am in the room, you say "it was alright, but it would have been better if I was with you."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Give 'em hell

low blood sugar

you weren’t small
you were determined and angry and
entitled, you
couldn’t wait
that first taste was artificial
but you sucked it in, impressing the nurse
by drinking ounce after ounce

you did wait
for the real thing, just not
starving while you waited
til 11 p.m., taking it with a Demoral chaser

you were never a pushover, tell it
like it is, scream it
even if you don’t need to kick
back against the doppler
what you want

Monday, June 16, 2008

I saw that one!

trying to remember who all i've seen in concert...

diana ross, B52s, tracy chapman, hoodoo gurus, U2, lou reed, feelies, stray cats, tori amos, suzanne vega, richard thompson, elvis costello, the who, live, pj harvey, REM, james taylor, bonnie raitt, crosby stills & nash, peter gabriel, outkast, lauryn hill, mary chapin carpenter, emmylou harris, three dog night, america, johnny clegg, sinead o'coner, alanis morrisette, sonic youth, beastie boys, bruce springsteen, pink floyd, joan jett, indigo girls, nellie mckay, disappear fear, eric clapton, robert cray, prince

i'll think of more later

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A really hard day

It was supposed to be a celebratory day: kindergarten closing (not "graduation", thank goodness), then lunch at Red Robin, and an afternoon at the pool.

It's not really a surprise that end of the school year, even when uneventful and lovely, is a difficult transition for any kid, but especially for a 6 year old with Asperger's, like Sam. He has been a real bear for the past few weeks, throwing mega-fits and tossing around bad attitudes left and right.

This morning was no exception. Getting ready turned into an epic whine-fest because he didn't like his choice of dressy clothing, citing "everyone will think I'm ugly" among other cringe-inducing comments. The three of us did get on the road on time, and the entry into school was noneventful.

We had a few hours to kill, so E and I had some breakfast and then went to the park to watch squirrels. (Well, I was there to watch squirrels. E was there to comment on how obsessed I am with squirrels and dogs and birds.) This part of the day was nice, even though E was starting to feel ill from some new meds he is taking.

The kindergarten ceremony was beautiful, so much so that I spent most of it wiping away tears. The theme was "Forever Friends" and the kids sang songs and read a poem. Our boy got awards for good effort, good conduct (!!) and a cherished 3rd place running prize, for a little man not very coordinated or athletic, who is usually the slowest runner.

Lunch plans were changed a bit because E was too sick to go, but Sam and I went anyway. When the restaurant was out of crayons, he burst into tears. When he accidentally let his balloon go outside, more tears. When I got a replacement balloon, that helped, but he still sadly moaned about never seeing his "Balloony" again.

I asked Sam if he was up to a quick mall trip to pick up my new glasses. He wisely declined but accepted my offer of a trip to the library. We parked on the wrong side of the garage, which meant walking around for a bit--no big deal, except Sam was tearfully terrified about the danger of passing cars.

On the way home, he asked me a question I didn't understand, and when I attempted to clarify what he meant, he told me I "have no brain"--twice. Did I mention I had a mild headache all morning that was beginning to intensify? We walked into the house on the edge of a fit, both of us angry and frustrated. The next hour was a long ordeal, involving repeated time-out attempts, much screaming and door-slamming, accusations that it "was all Mommy's fault", and having to resort to using "baskets" (a holding technique we were taught by the behavioral psychologist for when he is too out of control to safely do time-outs, and which we rarely have to use) several times. It ended with him finally calming a bit, and with someone else well over 6 years old crying in the bedroom.

Ultimately I was able to talk him out of going to the pool, since honestly I don't think either of us could take it. We read books and I took a brief nap and he watched TV. Later we ate wasabi potato chips together while watching Franklin Stays Up.

Soon the newly minted first grader will go to bed. I'm glad this day is almost over.

Monday, June 09, 2008

History of School: Up to Grade 7

Ages ago, my friend Jackie and her friend Tom had some interesting conversations going about gifted children. As someone tagged early on as gifted, and as the mom to a child who professionals have "warned" me is gifted, I thought I would put in my two cents as well, and started a review of my schooling career. I never finished the post, so that I would resurrect it.

Here is History of School: Up to Grade 7

My early elementary school years (until 4th grade) were in a good county public school. I always did very well in school and I liked it a lot, I think primarily because I was (and am) a social person--the academics were not the main point for me. The schooling wasn't hard but it wasn't boring either. I didn't "stick out" as a gifted kid, except when any standardized testing happened. I remember bringing home my Iowa test scores which apparently were stunningly high. I think this is when my parents "got" that I was actually truly smart, and they weren't making it up. I had been reading since age 4, when my paternal grandmother (a former teacher) taught me very quickly with old Dick & Jane books, but my dad read early too, so it was never thought to be a big deal.

(Side note: My father's family is HIGHLY competitive. He held the title in his family of Smartest Person, which he stole from his own mother, until his younger brother scored a perfect score on the math section of the SAT. I then captured the title from Uncle John, only to be surpassed by my brillant and gorgeous cousin Julia (John's daughter) when, a few years back, she got a perfect score on the Massachusetts State academic test.)

In 4th grade, when I went to live with my maternal grandparents full time, I transferred to a city public school in a depressed working-class area. This is where they really did not know what to do with me. I was ahead of every kid in the school. I spent part of my day initially with the 6th graders, which frankly was terrifying, as their extracurricular activities included smoking and having sex and beating each other up. Not to mention they were all really tall! They barely tolerated me. I begged my grandmother to get me out of the 6th grade class, and after many consultations with the principal and teachers, they instead put me in a Gifted and Talented classroom for part of every day. This I liked, as the teacher was wonderful and the kids were less scary. Our work in the GATE program was more focused on creativity and critical thought--we did news writing projects, studied and wrote poetry, etc. My teacher was instrumental in convincing me to attend my next school, where I started in 7th grade. She also sparked my confidence to get into theater work, which I did over the next several years, studying at MD Center for the Arts camps and Center Stage Conservatory--never ceasing to amaze my family that I could go up cold on a stage and audition for a roomful of adults. Even with the GATE class, I still had to do math separately from my class, using SRA materials to teach myself several-grades ahead math with two other kids (a skill that came handy in college, when I got the flu and had to teach myself two weeks' worth of stats with just the copies of my teacher's transparencies from class).

In 7th grade I moved onto a city-wide public junior high school with an excellent reputation. I wasn't psyched to go there, but to please Mrs. Camp, both my friend Kenya and I agreed to try it for one quarter. The sections (12 in all) were sorted by "smarts"--smartest in 701, next smartest in 702, etc. (Isn't that a terribly intimidating and polarizing system??) Kenya's older sister Noelle went to the school and LOVED it; she was very proud to have been in 708. So when the assignments came in the mail, Noelle and Kenya were beside themselves with pride because Kenya had been assigned to 705. They called me to ask what section I was in and--unaware of the heirarchy--I opened my envelope and casually reported I was in 701. I thought Noelle was going to die on the phone. You may as well have said that my homeroom teacher was Rick Springfield. (Previous close encounter with this school: in the summer before 6th grade, while I was at theater camp, someone from the school system contacted my mom--they wanted me to be one of about 6 students city-wide to pilot starting at the city-wide segment of the school in 6th grade instead of 7th. I didn't go because I was panicked and tearful at the thought of leaving my comfort zone a year early. Only several years later did I learn from my mom that they actually wanted ME to be the SINGLE PILOTED CHILD to go directly into 7th grade--skipping 6th altogether. Good thing she didn't tell me--I would have lost my little anxious mind!)

To be continued....

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Sam version=real world version

Sharps= sharks
regot= forgot
pattering= pattern
lemon-ems= M&Ms
last morning= yesterday


He's not quite four years old, still wearing diapers. He plays alone, drawn away from the pool to the sidewalk next to the lawn, where the parents of all those other kids congregate. The parents who play in the big pool with their kids and their friends's kids, who give out quarters and dollars for snack bar popcorn and candy and ice pops, who unpack fresh strawberries picked that morning or bags of pretzels or jugs of ice water. The parents who say no and warn of time outs and won't let them into the big pool without a grownup. The parents who slather their kids with sunscreen and know when they're so tired they need to go home, who say I love you as naturally as they breathe the chlorine-scented air.

He is caught parent-less in front of all those parents and kids, escorted by the pool manager around looking for a parent, and finally to a person paid for the surrogate role, a person who says get your ass in here on the way to the bathroom when it's pointed out that he is past due for a diaper change. There will be no snuggling with Mommy and complaining about a mean babysitter, no favorite stories and bedtime rituals with a tired but doting Dad, just a brief "good night" from a person who really doesn't care much, doing the bare minimum to keep this little boy alive and sheltered and fed, all for a paycheck.

He's really all alone.

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