show details Feb 14 (2 days ago)

And what happens when you meet someone who is so much like you? Are you bound to be their friend?

Obligation through similarity?

Today is Valentine’s Day. I’m pretty lame about this holiday. I am the Ebenezer Scrooge of Valentine’s Day. Which is kind of a drag for my kids – who still believe strongly in love…and candy…and the value of festivity regardless of it’s source.

Next year, I promised them that we would have a party. With decorations and heart shaped cupcakes. I might try to muster something over the course of the day. The sun is out. I am buoyed by the simple lack of clouds.

The boy – whose neurology makes him tend toward rigidity and hypervigilance – has some pretty significant issues with his sister lately. The girl is far more socially savvy that he is and he fails at times to grasp how negative his rules are. He hurts her feelings. She feels unloved. He is confused.

Yet, he knew exactly which two toys she had admired at the Ingles special valentines section and he (with assistance from his grandfather) was sure to get them for her. He presented them proudly.

They both sat on my lap – gigantic though they’ve become and we talked about love for a few minutes and I thanked Leo for the fact that he loves giving presents to people and told him that, in addition to the large heart-shaped box of chocolates, he had also given me Valentine’s Day.
“I thought it was just so companies could make people buy stuff.” I dumbly explained.
“No. It’s about love. The companies make stuff so people can give eachother presents.”


I stand corrected and look forward to celebrating love today.
——Original Message——
From: Me
To: Me
ReplyTo: Me
Subject: The Seismograph
Sent: Feb 14, 2010 7:59 AM

show details 4:51 PM (17 hours ago)

This is a poem, entitled: If there are cars driving past my house, why is school cancelled?

Really, I woke up early and hopeful. Tired, but determined. It was/is Monday. And though it was/is all damp chill, the day would go forward as planned…the morning, as I considered it from my vantage point under a blanket in front of the warmly functioning pellet stove…well, it was a thing to be thought of warily. The children had not done their homework, I had not found that paperwork that needed to be dropped off, the paper masking the children’s paint on the walls had slid to the floor in a big-crinkle heap…I had no pretzels of the small variety, nor two boxes of raisins – both of which I needed to provide to the boy’s class for a classroom celebration of last week’s 100th day of school…the party had been postponed due to delays and early releases and cancellations. The night before/last night I had shoved nine tiny boxes of raisins into a 1/2 empty box of Ritz crackers. The two remaining tubes of non-pretzels looked crumby-edged through their old wax paper colored plastic wrapper. I hope this would suffice if offered with ingratiating apologies. It seems I am having to resort to ingratiation a lot this winter.
The children planned to go to work with me. We were all excited. And then the neighbor girl showed up. The sweet, earnest, eager-to-please neighbor girl. She is six, and delights my daughter, who is 5 1/2…and when she comes over there is certain trouble on the horizon. The boy, stung somehow by a confused jealousy of some sort, retreats into his room, sullenly building lego ships in the dark cave under his loft bed. He crackles with suppressed…I don’t know rage, sadness…frustration…envy. I don’t know and now does he…it is a difficult situation, a perfectly lovely neighbor child the source of so much strong and confused emotion. The boy interprets any negative emotion as “mad” – whether it be sadness, exasperation, frustration, confusion – you can see the briefest glimpses of bewildered hurt or lost spacing-out-returns and then a series of almost audible synaptic clicking occurs and the boy is mad. Not just mad, but enraged. The lines between emotion and reaction and reaction to emotion are drawn in a tight spiral. And it all ends in rage. Panicked, sickening, exhausting rage.

It was a long morning, my father waving jazz hands of exasperation after the boy bolted screaming from the truck and I was trying to go back to work.
(My father, the boy and I all do this – this flapping and flicking of the hands. We don’t talk about Autism or Asperger’s though the diagnosis papers are right in a file under my desk.)

And this is why I am most upset by all the oft-uncessary school closures: the boy is less mad when he knows what will happen…and lately it seems that noone can tell him.

To feel powerless in your ability to frame the human experience in a way your kid can understand…

I feel blessed that it isn’t harder, that both my kids are at least 1/2 cued-in some remarkable ways. The girl is a born artist and has a natural inclination to be curious. When she rode the carousel at age two, she didn’t look at the lacquered horse she rode or the crowd going round in circles. No, she held on tight and looked at the place where the rod met the pinion and watched how the horse was lifted. Entranced, paying attention. She is deeply attached to our animal family and insists on sleeping with a cat every night. The cats are happy to oblige.

The boy can crunch numbers and find patterns and absorb details like nobody’s business. He is remarkably skilled on a skateboard. His freeze-frame vision and understanding of physics has launched his tough kid body into a sort of grace when he’s on the board. He is a natural and I thank the folly of nature and nurture for giving him this gift, because, let’s face it: subculture is the kindest culture to those who don’t blend easily.
I fully support the boy in his attempts to do a 180 ollie…even if it tears this old house down. With the pavement icy and slushy and icy again, we’ve seen a lot of skateboarding in the house.

Would a better mother disallow things like cat sleeping and skateboarding? Would she send the raging boy to a “time out” zone?

I tend to err on the side of positive behavior support (which is kind of hard to find info. for if you are interested in using positive behavior support outside of the academic setting)(I try to be creative) – the basic philosophy recognizes that negative behavior is complex and that giving opportunities for good behavior (and the beneficial natural consequences that arise from it) can be a far friendlier and reinforcing paradigm than discipline-oriented regimes.

The lack of structure that has resulted from the removal of a primary setting (school) has really thrown us all for a loop.

We are all flapping our hands, even the neurotypicals.

I drew this today, walking the museum floor. It made me feel calm. Degas-esque.

——Original Message——
From: Me
To: Me
ReplyTo: Me
Subject: 2 hour delay
Sent: Feb 15, 2010 6:58 AM

This is a poem, entitled 2 Hour Delay

What is falling is rain alone
Not Snow
Not Ice
Not fire nor fishes
or loaves or coins

And this would be just a regular

If not for the unecessary
2 Hour Delay

Our schedule is wrecked, mangled, a twisted heap of laundry and wrinkled homework incomplete
A snarl in the hair of my insufficiently schooled children

And work – I remember a regular day…when classes weren’t x’ed off the board
Red dry erase – “CXL”

How does that spell “cancelled” –

These are the same leaf, but they look like different leaves.

this is the same coffee, but it looks like different coffee.

Is there really anything to say?

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