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Gift from Hil Part 2 - 2014-12-30
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There was A LOT of turkey. - 2014-12-04
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12:40 p.m. - 2014-10-15
Max, Wolf, and the goats

So 'Parenthood' continues to awe and inspire and punch me in my gut. I'm still early into season 2 and I'd appreciate it muchly if no one leaves any spoilers. During a recently viewed episode Max was unloading eggs from their cartons, he needed egg cartons for school. Amid the morning chaos of trying to get out the door for work/school both parents tell Max to get a bowl for the eggs and of course he ignores them. The eggs roll off the counter and smash on the floor and again Max's parents beg him go around the mess and of course Max tromps right through it. Max and his eggy feet march off to the front door while he bellows for his parents to hurry up, he (Max) MUST get the egg cartons to school! The obliviousness, the ignoring, the mess and extra work, man, do I know that story. Not so much Wolf, though he was a champion egg smasher back in the day and decimated at least 8 or 9 dozen a week. He'd crack them into the crisper drawers of the fridge or directly onto the kitchen floor. The eggs- the shells, the jolly noise they made when cracked, the delicious mess to smooch around in once broken onto the floor, oy, impossible for my egg smashing kid to resist. But the obliviousness of the mess, the wearying clean up, that's wholly the ex. If there was a way to screw up and make things harder/more expensive/messier/more frustrating, wow, my ex-husband gravitated to it and could be relied upon to make anything from packing the car to cooking dinner to moving house a ZILLION times more difficult!

Another thing about Max and his parents, Adam and Kristine are experts in the Aspie dance- it's the clever footwork necessary to keep the kid reasonably on track. The shortcuts, the bluffs, the outright lies you tell your kid to prevent the meltdowns and tantrums and to (God help us) keep from setting some new precedent the kid will latch onto that will make your life an utter hell until you can break him of it. With Aspies there are no one-off situations, no exceptions for treats, no "Meh, let him do it just this once." Never. I learned this the hard way and denying my kid (and myself) most of the simple pleasures of childhood broke my heart. But with Wolf to do a thing meant to do it ALWAYS and FOREVER. Not helpful things like putting his shoes away or brushing his teeth, bwahahaha, wouldn't that have been nice? However if I put him on the mechanical horsie outside of Shoprite once because, hey, who doesn't like to let their kid have fun on the horsie? This meant I had to put him on the horsie EVERY SINGLE TIME WE WENT TO SHOPRITE or face the consequences. Wailing, kicking, screaming, biting, furious attempts to break away and get on the damn horse no matter what. It meant getting stared at again while I wrestled my writhing, foaming child into his car-seat and tried to buckle him in while he clawed at my face and kicked and flailed all the while shrieking at full volume, "HORSIE! BABY GOES ON THE HORSIE!!!!" And not just once or twice, mind you, we're talking months, possibly years of this shit. All because I was dopey enough to put my toddler on the horsie once.

On the road between here and Podunkville there's a small petting zoo. Okay, it's a fenced enclosure with five goats and some farm birds. There used to be a dairy that sold ice cream there and the deal was you stopped, got a cone, and let your kid pat the goats. (The goats were experts at making off with the kid's cone, they're no stoopnagels those goats.) Mike, Alex, and I all knew the deal so we never said anything about the goats. When we were renovating this house we'd pass by the goats sometimes eight or nine times a day as we went between here and the old house. One time a friend was in the car with us and she started to ask Wolf if he liked the goats and I nearly drove off the road. I shook my head so hard my lips were flapping, waving mad negating hand signals, rolling my eyes BEGGING her to shut the fuck up, I started singing "I'm a Yankee-doodle dandy!" in my loudest voice. My friend, of course, thought I'd gone insane, but we got past the goats before she did any lasting damage. A few minutes later we got to the house and after setting Wolf loose to climb onto the tire swing to have his sixteen required pushes and spins, I quietly explained to my mystified friend that she couldn't ever mention the goats. If Wolf found out about the goats we'd have to stop and see the goats EVERY SINGLE TIME. Forever, or at least until he went through puberty and lost interest in petting goats. Imagine having to stop to see the goats eight times a day. Or listen to the shrieks and try from the driver's seat to stop your kid from dislocating both of his shoulders trying to break loose from his car-seat to get to the goats. Imagine going through that 30, 40 times a week for months on end. Yeah.

So when Max and his father and grandfather were at the grocery and Max tries to put a whole armload of potato chip bags into the cart and Adam tells Max it's ONE bag of chips and Grandpa Zeek 'helpfully' says, "Ahh, let him get chips for everybody." I saw Adam's pained face, the furious look he cut his dimwitted father, and the deep breath he took before beginning the arduous process of reining in Max's inevitable potato chip spree and/or tantrum. No setting precedents ever. You proscribe any and everything that will set your kid off unless allowed to do it exactly the same way forever after. So no, you don't get to pet the goats or stay up past bedtime 'just this once' or have three helpings of mashed potatoes and no peas 'because it's Thanksgiving'. Life is locked down, rigid, and to make it as painless as possible for all involved, it's pretty goddamn joyless. That's the harsh truth behind parenting the autistic.

Oh, and the ride into town? No goats, but at a certain point along the road you can see the tall clock tower of the Presbyterian church and Wolf would say, "I can see that tower from my bus!" And I had to say, "You can? That's really cool." Wolf said this during every daylight trip on Rt 207 for FOUR YEARS. Four. That particular call and response was fairly innocuous whereas the goat thing would have been a nightmare and complete time suck. You choose your battles, you know?

Feh, slogging down Memory Lane, ~LA

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