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Gift from Hil Part 2 - 2014-12-30
A Gift from Hil - 2014-12-28
There was A LOT of turkey. - 2014-12-04
Can we just jump to January please? - 2014-11-14
A (don't kick the) Bucket List - 2014-10-28

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3:18 p.m. - 2014-03-07
He did good!

Wolf has been nominated to join the National Tech Students Honor Society. This is the real deal. It's not some scam where you send in $45 and your kid is put on some bogus list of outstanding students. To join the NTSHS there is an essay and the kid needs written recommendations from at least three teachers. There's an interview too. If he's accepted there are scholarships available and it will be a leg-up on placement at cooking schools and possibly an extra toe in the door should Wolf want to intern for a muckety-muck chef. I'm not crazy about the idea of that last bit. I get all fierce and mama bear about the idea of my son being screamed at and otherwise verbally and possibly physically abused while working 80 hours a week for FREE just for the dubious 'honor' of having slaved for some dickhead like Tony Bourdain or Mario Batali. Honestly? I don't think Wolf is that nuts about becoming a professional chef. Culinary is more a means to an end to scoring a job in a field that's always hiring. I might be wrong here, but if Wolf were truly that gaga about clawing his way up the chef hierarchy and becoming a swanky restaurant/celebrity chef darling he'd be nudging me out of the way at the stove. He doesn't. He's a good sous chef, I can set him to chopping and stirring and he does a good job, but there's no "Mom! It needs more curry powder!" or "Wait! Why not add some lime juice?"

Whatever my son's culinary ambitions his nomination for the National Honor Society for Tech Students makes me button-busting proud. For my own self, of course, bragging rights and such. But mostly I am delighted for Wolf. This is proof he did right for himself. Back in the 7th grade he had made it a goal to get off the short bus, out of the special school, to stop being 'different' and go back to public school. As a regular person. He wanted to be okay. To prove to himself that he could do it. That he could master his demons, learn to work around and with his unusual wiring and be in charge of himself.

And my! Hasn't he succeeded spectacularly? Consistently on the merit honor role at his academic school. All requirements met to get a Regents diploma. Not a single detention, not even a warning slip. Now at culinary school he's doing so well he's been invited to join the ranks of the best of the best.

You know what this means? It means Wolf never gave up on himself. And that, far more than good grades and honors, is what has me all running tears and feeling like my heart is going to burst right out of my chest. HE decided he was worth the effort. Yeah, yeah, I've been here cheering and teaching and whatever, but without Wolf's belief in his own worth all my yammering would have gone nowhere.

Everybody works under some kind of burden. Some kind of handicap. Some physical thing like size or color. Being poor. Being from a stultifying small town or indifferent big city. Their sexuality or lack thereof. Heck, I know a few people who chafe because they're too average. Dead center of the bell curve, as 'just right' as Baby Bear's chair, and they hate it. Every single person has a weight on their back and stumbling blocks at their feet. Sadly though some people's weights and blocks are way bigger than most. And my kid's were/are HUGE.

In the popular media Autism, especially Asperger's, is presented as some delightful visit to the quirky side of life. As though Asperger's was just a case of Zooey Deschanel. All wearing funny outfits and blurting out a lot of goofy non sequiturs.

It's not.

Autism is hard. It's hard on the people around him. And it's harder still on the one who has it.

I've taken a lot of shit over the years for not accepting Wolf for 'who he is'. I've been told I'm a monster for my refusal to allow Wolf's autism to define him. That since I didn't (%*$!!) celebrate his 'uniqueness' I was being an asshole. And unloving to boot.

Yeah? Let me tell you something. My son was miserable when he was 'unique'. He was frantic to find a way out of his stormy tantrums, his spastic misbehavior, his inability to do even simple things like watch an entire TV show or tie his shoes without flinging them across the room in frustration. He hated being at the mercy of his compulsions. He hated it.

So I fought. I fought with him. And I fought for him. I kept at it until he got to a place where he could take over. When Wolf finally got a tiny toehold on the enormous challenge of self-mastery he started climbing and he's never looked back. Every class he sat through without making a ruckus. Every bus ride he made without starting a fight. Every worksheet he completed without drifting off into daydreams. They added up. When he was able to tell a joke at the lunch table and everyone laughed instead of looking at him like he was a crazy person. When he mastered his boogie board and could trust his hands and his body and his strength to break loose from the undertow. When he was able to use the washer and dryer and take care of his clothing and bedding all on his own. Every small victory gives him incentive to keep going.

And now here he is. Almost through his junior year. With an unblemished disciplinary record. With a few friends. With a solid B+ average. Wolf is a guy who believes himself able to handle what Life throws at him. A handsome young man with excellent manners and a smushy loving heart. And now he's been invited to join an exclusive club for people who are damn good at what they do.

Ain't it great? ~LA

9 Wanna talk about it!

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