Monthly Archives: July 2014

Moving from the Kids’ Table!!

Remember the kids' table?!

Remember the kids’ table?!

The other day in yoga, it felt like my shoulders might be finally opening up after almost 4 years of doing the practise (yes… I am persistent!)  Could this be coincidence?  Certainly there’s something to be said about doing something more or less consistently – it’s going to kick in at some point.  As Left Brain* says – “even the blind squirrel finds the nut once in a while”….  Now before you wonder whether or not he’s still alive after uttering something so incredibly “sensitive” – there is some truth to it.  But I think there’s something deeper here…  (Yes – you are about to get a glimpse into some of my DEEP THOUGHTS – she said in a thundering, low voice….)

My boys have finally finished high school.  Holy crap!  That time flew by!  As other parents of teenagers know, there is an undercurrent of stress, anxiety and worry during this time – it’s all Drugs, Sex & Rock ‘n Roll!!!  It was a lot more fun when we went through it, wasn’t it?  And our kids aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel – even though I was advised once to admit to NOTHING that I might have done (I’m lucky to be alive, frankly….)  As a parent, it’s NO FUN AT ALL!!!!  Brian and I basically curtailed most of our social outings the last 2 years our older son was in high school.  We had to be around to see what was going on – and as an aside – the more you know your kids’ friends, the better (or worse) you’ll feel about how they’re spending their time while out of sight!

It’s also such a huge, scary and exciting time in their lives – they are trying to figure out where and if they want to continue their education – and I wanted to make sure that they had options to do what they wanted to do.  This is not the time to be asleep at the wheel….

So maybe – that new found flexibility in my shoulders is a result of the burden that has been lifted.  We’ve made it through the first 2 legs of a relay race – grade and high school.  There’s at least 2 more legs in the relay – finishing university/college and then dealing with either further education (which seems likely in this economy) or employment in the real world!

I guess you could say – I feel like I’ve graduated from the kids’ table.  I’ve made my way to the adults’ table – and it feels pretty good!  Of course, to get to that table, I also have to prepare, shop, cook and clean up the mess at that table – but it’s all good….

* Left Brain (Brian) says I should include an explanation of this reference – I’ve attached a short YouTube video of Jeanne Robertson, a southern humorist (who is hilarious – honest!!)

Top 10 Survival Tips

If you can survive it here, you can survive it anywhere!!!

If you can survive it here, you can survive it anywhere!!!

My grandfather used to say that travel was a “damned expensive way to be inconvenienced…”  No truer words were ever spoken, but travel can be enjoyable.  The list below is a reference for myself – and if it helps some of you… then great!

1.  ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS – If you think you’re going to go, go, go…. stop, stop, stop and think!!!  The extra stimuli, strange surroundings, new people are all overwhelming and hard for an autistic person to deal with on a daily basis, but especially in a new and strange place.  On our trip, I scheduled one event per day – if we managed more than that, BONUS!!

2.  ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B – I can’t state this enough!  It’s part of that Adaptible & Flexible thing – and that’s YOU being flexible – not expecting your child to be!  In a perfect world, it would be great to just go to an event without an “event” – but not always possible – so have a backup plan…

3.  FIND ‘HENRY-FRIENDLY’ RESTAURANTS – This is a double-edged sword however.  Make sure you like the restaurant as well – because you will likely be eating there multiple times!  One night when Henry suggested McDonald’s, I asked him if we could “try” the Italian restaurant a block down.  When making my reservation, I warned them that only plain spaghetti would do – and hopefully, that wouldn’t offend the delicate sensibilities of the genius at work in the kitchen….  We ate there 3 times – fortunately, it was excellent….

4.  MAINTAIN YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR – I CAN’T STATE THIS ENOUGH (HENCE THE CAPITALS!)

5.  HAVE AN ITINERARY – Two reasons; 1.  It calmed Henry to know what we were doing from day to day; and 2.  If I had missed anything, he could offer suggestions.  I also scheduled one free day in case we wanted to do something again.  But just a tip on San Francisco – I had loosely thought that we would ride the cable cars on Saturday….  bad idea….  the lineup for the cable car was over an hour long – should have done this during the week….

6.  BE EARLY FOR EVERYTHING!!! – Now I don’t know if this is a particular autistic thing, or an OCD thing of Henry’s, but he’s NEVER late!!!  I’d rather be early and waiting around, rather than cutting it close, and both of us whirling into an anxious spin!!!

7.  PACK SNACKS – Because of Henry’s particular food issues, it would have been helpful to have some crackers and bananas in the backpack, just in case.  This would have circumvented some seriously “hangry” moments.

8.  BOOK A HOTEL WITH A POOL – This is a great thing when you have those ‘dead’ times – it also completely tires out your kid…  So, Henry toddles off to the pool one late afternoon, while I proceed to the outdoor courtyard with a book and a cheeky glass of Pinot.  He’s having a grand old time until another guest has the audacity (!!!) to also come in to use the pool!  Since the other guests were not deterred by “The Old Stinkeye” treatment, he came back to our room….  Still, mission accomplished!

9.  KITCHENETTE – Or better yet, a condo.  When the kids were younger, a condo was non-negotiable.  Relying on restaurants for all meals is a drag – and let’s face it – we’re not talking gourmet tastes here…  Being able to make plain pasta, have some staples and stuff for sandwiches for me for our outings would have been extremely helpful!

10.  BRING PROPHYLACTICS – Bahahahahaha!!!  (See Adaptible & Flexible???  Part 3….)  Perhaps not – certainly this is in my future before he departs for college.  More of a life lesson, n’est pa??

In the end, the only important thing, is that we both have fabulous memories from this trip, and seeing a huge grin on his face was worth any amount of inconvenience….

Look at that smile!!

Look at that smile!!

 

Adaptable & Flexible??? Part 3…

So – it’s Thursday and I feel that we’re in a pretty good routine now.  We have located an Italian restaurant nearby that doesn’t mind bringing plain (and I mean plain) pasta for Henry (as well as 3 Cokes/meal….)  We know where the McDonald’s is (where blessedly there is a fabulous bakery/sandwich place that uses authentic sourdough bread – for me, of course!!) – there is a Fivebucks in the lobby for me…  a little market across the street for snackies and bananas (our reliable fallback) – and a very interesting trip to the CVS the other day!!!!  Let me explain…..

We were on our way back from another outing, when I ducked into the pharm for some supplies – seeing the grocery aisle, I quickly and astutely thought, “Staples for Henry…”  We grab a basket, fill it with cereal, bananas, Oreos, granola bars (for me), and pop.  Whilst looking for eyedrops, Henry comes across the prophylactic aisle.  Now, as much as I like to be prepared for anything….

Girl Guide... Cub Scouts... whatever - always prepared!

Girl Guide… Cub Scouts… whatever – always prepared!

I really don’t see the need for this trip….  And he was drawn to the Optic Blue – do they glow in the dark or what?  Upon reflection, this could come in handy….  but not today.  When he points out that he’s leaving for college in the fall and will need them (maybe), I tell him I’ll load him up on whatever colour he wants!!!

So – back to the food….

World famous pancakes!

World famous pancakes!

Today we stood in line for this place – he was dubious, but totally worth it!  Next post will be Survival Guide for Eating in a Foreign City While on Vacation with Henry….  (maybe I’ll work on that title….)

Adaptable & Flexible??? Part 2…

I’ve never been to San Francisco, so like Henry, was really excited about this trip.  There is so much to see and do and it’s a great walking city – one of the things that Henry is very good at…. with me trailing behind him…. (I have reminded him that his legs are at least a foot longer than mine, but to no avail!  I’m old and lazy, apparently…)

So we land and pick up our luggage in a short time.  I lead Henry outside to grab a limo – I figure the setup is like Toronto’s – limos in a line like cabs to take you in comfort where you want to go. All of the drivers are holding signs – amazingly, none of them say, “Christie, where would you like to go?”  So we walk down to the line of yellow cabs, with Henry trailing behind, saying, “You have no idea what you’re doing, do you?”  Well, kind of….sort of….

At hotel and unpacked – Henry is a good roommate – he likes things put away and NEVER loses anything!!!  Brian and I think he’s got his first nickel ratholed away!!!  At this point, he’s starving.  Right!  Off we go to the Embarcadero.  There is a huge refurbished building with a market in it – there’s beautiful cheese shops, organic hippie stuff, delis with delicious looking salads, gluten free bakeries (no go there!), but nothing for the chicken nugget/pizza man…. (I’m reminded of the GREAT CHICKEN NUGGET CAPER – see earlier blog, Food, Glorious Food!!)  At this point, I’m thinking just a croissant to hold him over – we find a bakery with lovely macaroons in every colour, but NO croissants!  What the hell?!!!  We’re now desperate…  He’s got the same look on his face he used to get as a little guy when he was frustrated….

Xmas03 3

Eureka!!  We find a hamburger joint as we’re leaving…  We order chicken fingers with fries (they’re hand dipped and real chicken – not sure whether he’ll like them or not – they’re back up…) and a hamburger, plain.  Oh – and a glass of rose for me…  It finally comes, he’s eaten half the hamburger, puts it down and it falls ON THE FLOOR!!!!  Oh my freaking God!  I’m halfway between wanting to laugh and scream – he’s got a look on his face like he’s about to cry…  I immediately spring into action…. SUPER MOM!!!! to the rescue.  Tell him to eat “my” fries and chicken fingers, while I go and order another hamburger…. (oh – and another rose…. I never said I was perfect….)

Perhaps an outfit for a Friday night??!!

Perhaps an outfit for a Friday night??!!

 

Adaptable & Flexible???

Geared up for our trip!!

Geared up for our trip!!

It is June 30th, and Henry and I are going on his “GRAD TRIP”!!!!  His brother went on a trip with a bunch of his friends to a music festival in Nashville, Tenn.  So, we thought that Henry should be given the same opportunity….  I asked him where he’d like to go… “Paris,” he answered.  “Great idea,” said I….  “But no… Where else?”   “London, England,” he said.  Again, with a laugh, I answered, “No…. How about somewhere in North America?”  Keeping in mind economy and the fact that Left Brain has not been to Paris….  I think that the next time I go, I’d like to be there in a more romantic capacity….  Perhaps next year for our 25th anniversary??  So, after much thought, he came up with San Francisco.  The next trial balloon he floated was perhaps going with a couple of friends?  Uh…. no.

So here we are at the airport, with an hour to spare before boarding.  It has gone smoothly and he is calm.  Henry, like me, likes to be early for everything….  He comes by this OCD characteristic honestly – it’s not just his anxiety or autism….

Not so calm now....

Not so calm now….

This is when they have started to call the flight…  I’ve explained to him the order of sequence of people getting on the flight…  Notice the line of people to the left of Henry!  He says he’s paranoid that we’re going to miss our flight (even though we’re 30 feet from the departure gate!)  I’m calm….  I tell him, “We’re good – don’t worry.”

We get on the flight and we’re settled.  Then we don’t take off for an additional 45 minutes because of some mechanical issue, and I can see his anxiety starting to ramp up.  Once we’re aloft, the pilot tells us that there’s some unsettled weather over the midwest and there might be some “chop”.  Fabulous!  I can deal, but he’s holding my hand like we’re going down on the Titanic….

Then comes the whole ordering of lunch.  Now – let’s face it….  Airline food isn’t exactly gourmet (not that that’s the standard my son is used to – more like Pizza Pizza on a daily basis…)  But I’m hoping that the bland pizza that they have might pass muster….  I knew that food was going to be an issue on this trip.  Many friends spent time giving me restaurant recommendations for this trip.  I listened politely, but knew that I would have to find out where the McDonald’s was, or a Pizza Hut….  So, tragedy of tragedies, the pizza does not “look” like his regular pizza – the pepperoni slices are too big – he’s put off.  It’s also too hot for him to pick up…  So I’m sawing it into little pieces, and encouraging him to take a bite, because most of the pizza we’re going to see this week will not look like Pizza Pizza’s….  One bite, and he’s done…  Good God….

Air Canada's pizza does not look like this....

Air Canada’s pizza does not look like this….