Tag Archives: teenagers

Ode to The Other One

My handsome oldest son!

My handsome oldest son!

A couple of weeks ago, #1 Son turned 21.  21!!!  How did that happen?!  My birthday is 2 days after his – I’ve been telling him his whole life that he was the absolute best birthday present I ever got in my life.  By the way, we do not actually call him #1 – that would infer a Second-in-Command status that is presently the job position of Left Brain…  On this momentous occasion, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about what it’s like for The Other One.

There is obviously a whole lot that can be written on this subject (see earlier post, https://mypuzzledlife.com/2015/01/11/recommended-reading-part-2/).  John was perhaps the easiest baby ever born – he was happy, placid, easy-going and slept through the night at 3 weeks old.  We used to dine out in restaurants often with the baby seat beside us with no worry about disrupting other diners (obviously, not so with Henry…)  He had a quiet watchfulness about him – as if he was observing everything around him before making any judgements – he’s very much like Left Brain in this sense.  He was the little guy that everyone invited over for playdates.  I never had to worry about him in new situations – he went with the flow.  In fact, when I found myself pregnant again before John’s first birthday, there was no panic – we had this parenting thing figured out!!  It was easy!! (Let me take some time here while I laugh hysterically at our innocent naiveté!!!!!)

When our life exploded with the arrival of Henry, he again, went with the flow.  He was very sweet with his little brother, often making him smile and laugh.  I have a video of John making faces at Henry, with his little brother breaking out in belly laughs – the camera is shaking because I was laughing so hard.  And he would do this over, and over, and over again.  He shared everything, without hesitation.  I remember at the time, there being a lot of discussion about easing the transition when a new child comes into the house – about smoothing over any jealousy the older sibling might have.  I have never seen that emotion from my older son – not to this day.  Irritation sometimes (and well deserved)… but never jealousy at the time I have had to spend looking after Henry’s needs.

There were things that we didn’t do because it would have been too much – ski weekends, family movie outings, family vacations sometimes, family dinners to restaurants.  The most notable family rite of passage that we skipped, was the trip to Disneyland.  As I’ve said before, I think the #1 rule of having a child with special needs, is this;  ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN B.  Sometimes the creation of a Plan B is too much work – there – I said it.  But John never complained.  He saw his friends doing things that we weren’t doing – and he never complained.  As I said, occasionally, there was irritation.  Around the time that teenagers start caring more about what their friends think than you, he said he was embarrassed to have friends over because Henry “did things”.  “I understand,” I said.  “Do you know how many times he’s embarrassed me in public?”  I didn’t tell him that he was lucky because he didn’t have the same problems that his brother had, or that life was easier for him in so many ways than his brother. I acknowledged his feelings – John felt validated by that and accepted it.

As my intelligent, good-looking, funny, introspective, popular and easy-going son has matured, I am continually impressed by the man he is becoming.  He is actually a lot like Left Brain, version 2.0.  It’s no wonder I love and like him so much.  I am amazed, as every parent is, at the wonderful combination that our DNA has produced!  He knows that at some point, he will have to be responsible for his younger brother (hopefully, this won’t be necessary – but the story hasn’t ended yet and we don’t know…)  He accepts it without resentment.

So, The Other One does not have a typical sibling relationship.  There have been times when #1 Son has received the short end of the stick.  But we are so proud of this unique young man.  So, my darling boy, Happy 21st Birthday and congratulations on being who you are.

What is my Deal?

This week I’ve been feeling kind of low…  I injured my back in yoga this week, and as Left Brain keeps reminding me, “You are turning 53 and we are getting older and you have to expect this kind of thing once in a while…”  Whoa, whoa, whoa….  First of all, I’m turning 52 next week, NOT 53….  He has to be reminded once in a while that he did indeed marry a trophy babe – he is waaay older than me – he’s turning 56 this year….  And after making that comment, he was pleasantly surprised by the response time of the EMS team…  But back to the injury…  I am pissed that I’ve been waylaid for the week, but the blues I’ve been feeling are a little more than that.

So, I tried to figure it out this afternoon – while I cranked the tunes to continue painting the basement TV room – which is basically only used by Son # 1 – Left Brain likes to call it the room where our son has sex in (!!!!)  OK – ew…  Even if I do acknowledge that in the far reaches of my mind, I don’t need it pointed out to me!  I’m repainting because I have to look at this room on my way by to the laundry room!  And I might use it occasionally, because Left Brain and I do not always agree on the Netflix selection for the evening – which he maintains has saved our marriage since the kids left in the fall….  But I digress…  Back to the tunes – I had Supertramp going (I didn’t realize as a teenager how deep some of those lyrics are!), Phantom of the Opera (because what’s a work session without some show tunes?), and finally, ELO (Electric Light Orchestra for those out there who were born after 1975…).  By the way, I challenge anyone not to “air drum” at the beginning of Evil Woman – listen to it again – you can’t do it!!

1977 - the era of the music...  I'm wearing my railroad overalls - cool, man!

1977 – the era of the music… I’m wearing my railroad overalls – cool, man!

But while I was working and singing away, my subconscious was figuring out this latest problem.  Why have I been so bummed out?  While I was out in the car doing errands this morning, I called both of the boys (relax – I have Bluetooth…)  And then it hit me.  I’m missing them all over again.  It’s like September again…  I feel like I’m experiencing the Empty Nest all over again.  I thought I had re-adjusted – but I guess not.  Anyways, just figuring this out made me feel better – and belting out all those old tunes!

Peace in the Universe (Part 2)…

So, I didn’t really think there was going to be a second instalment to this story, but there is!  After our uber-successful shopping expedition, I went on the hunt for more of these fabulous undergarments!  And so, last Saturday, I made my way to the Shwa to deliver the goods.

Saxx Success!!

Saxx Success!!

Of course, no visit would be complete without the accompanying

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The little rotter met me downstairs at the car, took the bag of underwear (plus his gloves, scarf, and too smallish winter jacket), and the box of pizza.  A big hug curb side and off he went.  That was the visit….  However, he did have a smile on his face…

Please Don’t Make Me Go…..

I am prepared to bust a commonly held myth today….  Not all women like to shop.  There!  I said it!  In fact, some of us dread it….  Especially when they have to shop for and with their very particular, sensory challenged sons.

So – let’s set the scene.  I tell Henry last week that I will have time to shop with him on Monday for his new bedding for his dorm room, and maybe a couple of new shirts (he doesn’t seem to grasp yet that he won’t have someone doing his laundry twice a week come September…)  I let him know we’ll be going when I return from yoga in the morning – not at 1:30 or 2 p.m. when he rolls out of bed (quite the summer schedule – but let’s not go into that right now…)  So – I go to yoga to try and get into the right frame of mind and stretch out my muscles – try, if you will, to get my shoulders down from around my ears!  I’m trying to breathe into one of my last poses, which after 3 1/2 freaking years of practising, I still can’t do without assistance!!!!  (“Ohm – serenity now,” she thinks as she’s grunting into this pose….)

Marichyasana A (pron. marry-ches-se-na) - and that's not me!

Marichyasana A (pron. marry-ches-se-na) – and that’s not me!

So I get home, get ready and get Henry in the car.  I feel relaxed!  I’m ready for this!  I’m pumped!  We’re going to have some quality mother/son time….  I look over at him — he’s got a huge frown on his face.  Great!  This is going to be the usual torture….  Can’t I just have an outing where we cheerfully pick something out, pay for it, and go home?  Even better with him saying, “Wow Mom!  Thanks!  Really appreciate you taking the time and effort to get me something that I’ll like!”  Nirvana!!  Something to shoot for?

Anyways – that’s not what happened.  At this time of year, finding flannel sheets is damn near impossible….  But that’s what feels nice against his skin….  Christ!  I find a clearance table with amazingly, flannel duvet covers!  Unfortunately, most of them are Christmas themed – I also don’t want him to look like a dork in his dorm….  We find something appropriate – but no go on the sheets.  I want pillow protectors, but all they have are waterproof – does that mean they will make that crinkly sound every time you move your head?  That’s not going to fly!  Jesus!  Can’t anything be easy?!  We try to pay and the little zippy-thing that takes your card isn’t working…  The sales lady has to re-enter everything again on the other side….

We schlep everything to the car and come back to look at shirts.  We start to peruse….  He’s says he’s NOT buying anything that HE DOESN’T LIKE!!!!  (He thinks he’s being discreet….  he’s not….)  We pass the underwear department – “How are you fixed for underwear Henry?”  “I’M FINE!!!!”  You see where this is going….

On the way home, I’m silent.  I’m so pissed off I’m afraid if I say anything, I’ll start shrieking uncontrollably….  I park…  We start talking….  It’s always the same….  When he’s feeling anxious or stressed, he lashes out at me (while I’m trying to do something for him incidentally…)  Knowing this doesn’t help when it’s happening.  It sucks.  My shoulders are somewhere around the crown of my head – I don’t have the energy for more yoga….

News flash….  As I was writing this last paragraph, Henry came into my office, hugged me and told me he was sorry….

May I Help You?

That was my opening line….  “GO F–K YOURSELF!!!  AND F–K YOUR MOTHER TOO!!!”  OK… so this is not going to be a productive discussion….

Let me explain.  About a week ago, a Homeless Dude started sleeping on a bench outside the bank, which is at the corner of our street.  A couple of days ago, said Homeless Dude started exploring the neighbourhood – and decided inexplicably to target our house.  We live in a very distinctive looking house, in a large city, just off a main street which is on the subway line.  Very convenient for us and our kids to get around – and Homeless Dudes….  So, on this particular day, I heard a “ruckus” (that’s code for a guy yelling obscenities) in my driveway, whereupon the above “conversation” took place.  Upon realizing that nothing was going to be gained by engaging in conversation, I went back into the house and proceeded to lock it down.  As I watched and listened, he paced around the front of the house, yelled that he “did too live in this house, you f–king b–ch” and generally did not give me a sense of well being….  I called the police.

“What does he look like?”, the dispatcher asked.

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“Kind of like Santa Claus, except he’s wearing a red and white hockey jersey, dark pants and a baseball cap – and he’s extremely angry and yelling obscenities,” I say.  But he’s a dirty, nasty, belligerent Santa – like Dan Ackroyd in Trading Places!!!  (I don’t supply this helpful information to the dispatcher….)

The police came and I assume took him to a homeless shelter somewhere downtown.  But in the meantime, I tell Henry not to go out because this guy is wandering around outside our house.  No need to impress Henry with this info – his eyes are as big as saucers, and he’s pacing upstairs in his room.

Fast forward to Saturday night…. 9:45 p.m.  Homeless Dude is back and pacing outside our house again – in the middle of the street so that cars have to slow down.  Some of the drivers try to talk to him and are greeted with the same kind of scintillating conversation that I encountered on our initial meeting….  I warn our older son, who is due home from work soon to be watchful when he gets home.  Henry is pacing again – and completely pissed off – his pizza schedule has been disrupted!  Homeless Dude wanders off after yelling at the front of our house for awhile.

I’m jerked out of sleep at 2:45 a.m.  I think there is someone in our room!!!  I grab Brian’s chest hairs and yank!  (He was already awake… now he’s really awake…)  Nobody’s in our room, but Homeless Dude is standing under our bedroom window in our backyard, rambling and yelling obscenities at the top of his lungs.  I call the police again – Henry is pacing upstairs (he’s on the third floor)….  After I hang up the phone, I talk to Henry, who’s crouched and looking at me through the stair railing.

I guess the point of all this is that besides the obvious problem of these poor, disenfranchised people having nowhere to go; Henry was terrified – and we were here with him to reassure him. He’s leaving to live on his own in two weeks (granted he’s in a dorm room)…  But he was totally freaked out – how is he going to deal with the weird, wacky shit that happens from day to day on his own?  All I can think of is that scene in “Big”, where Tom Hanks spends his first night alone in New York City in some seedy hotel room, and he starts to cry and wants his Mom…..

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!!)