Sunday, October 30, 2011

Goody Bags by Martha Whogivesacrap

Halloween. It truly is my FAVORITE time of the year. From the weather to the decorations to the fall specific food- it truly ranks number 1 on my list of holidays- even Christmas.  (St. Patty's Day is the exception and then only because I can drink green beer and Jamisons ALL DAY and it is socially acceptable- WIN)

This is the time of year when the class parties begin. I like to go to the kiddos class parties- I like to help with refreshments and games and see the costumes, and watch the kids have a great time. It's the damn goody bags I LOATHE. I hate the goody bag more than anything.  When Teenzilla was in elementary school- I went ALL out- adorable bags, unique candy and toys- all tied up with ribbons and fancy tags- letting everyone know how awesome I was!  Her first year of middle school I was heartbroken that I no longer was going to be able to make adorable gifts for all of her friends. Crazy, right?

Enter the Boy. Being autistic he really could care less about the class party.  Other than the candy, he really didn't care about the games, food, and fun. It stressed him out. And when he was in the autistic class it was VERY low key. So after kindergarten, my goody bag skills went down the tubes. With so many allergies, special diets and food sensitivities, the variety of treats went way down. So I would bake (buy) something for the party and goody bags got things like pencils, bubbles, stickers and tattoos. And the Boy didn't really care- he didn't want to help put them together, and until about 3rd grade- passing them out wasn't too big a thrill either.

This year- he is mainstreamed back at our local school, and I decided I needed to be the Room Mom.  I am sharing the honors with 2 other moms- which is fine by me- and when I found out I got Halloween I was ecstatic.  So I planned the whole party- a breakfast with some fun games and they will pass out treats at the end of the day.

 Of course I got some other moms asking "Why breakfast?" To which I replied- "I have done a Halloween breakfast for 4 class Halloween parties with my older daughter and it works out great! Here is a list of stuff I need you guys to bring"  

Then I got the mom who said "I'll bring Jello" to which I wanted to reply- "Did I ask for fucking Jello?"  But I smiled my best Stepford wife smile and said- "That would be great"

Back to the damn treat bags. Since I do EVERYTHING last minute- I just put them together today. My original idea was brown bags that I would hot glue orange and black ribbons to and fill them with white chocolate covered pretzel rods decorated like ghosts, Halloween fruit snacks, and some non-peanut, non-dairy treat.  My original idea did not happen.
THIS is what happened.

So with all the excitement of Halloween, trick or treat and candy- I don't think the kids will give a damn what is in the goody bag. I also have a nifty spooky tree craft. a zombie tag game and a mummy wrap game using toilet paper planned. I can't wait for the first parent to ask me if Zombie tag isn't too violent for the kids, and if the toilet paper is hypoallergenic.  I will be sure to bring my Mommy Cup to the party.

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's a blog- not an open invitation to tell me how effed up I am

There are a bajillion blogs out there. There are blogs about kids, booze, food, technology, families....the list goes on and on and on and on ad infinitum. I personally read several blogs religiously. Moms Who Drink and Swear,  Dad v. Autism  ( my hubby ♥), Life With Penis PeopleMary Tyler MomCounting CaballerosShit Your Mother Never Told YouApples and AutobotsLittle White Lion, ....are just a VERY small sampling of what I personally read. I keep up on the autism blogs, of which there are many, and mine of course is a hodge podge of autism, parenting, friends, daily life, blah, blah, blah.  Hell, I even wrote about wishing I had done more Kegels for shit's sake....

I may not agree with every single thing I read - even on my favorites- but I do not make it my personal mission to send anybody a private message telling them how fucked up they are, to decry their character or morals, or to just spew hate.   And I really do NOT get people that do.  Bloggers are opening themselves up, creating stuff that matters to them- and hoping it will matter to others as well. Whether it's political, whimsical, informative or funny, it is ALL a matter of opinion- and that leaves us vulnerable. We hope to inspire, but we also open ourselves up to criticism, both constructive and unfortunately destructive. 

I am not holding a gun to YOUR head right now. I am not forcing you to read this. You CHOSE to read my somewhat intelligible rantings. My writing is not filled with subliminal messages {{{read this blog or else you will break out in boils and develop syphilis}}  forcing the average person to read.  And while I welcome feedback, similar stories, and disagreement (done in an intelligent manner) I will not give credence to sad people who think they have to say horrible awful things to build themselves up.  

For instance- in my blog Must love dogs. Well Screw That! I wrote about our misfortunes with owning dogs. I received so many venomous, hate filled nasty comments- it just blew me away. I laughed a lot of it off- each to his own right? But people were actually calling my parenting skills into question- really? Don't even go there! Here is one example:

I have to say that I am appalled by the way you have treated those poor defenceless animals. And I'm even more appalled that you seem to think that the way you have behaved is acceptable. You left your family pet with a humane society and do not even care about whether or not it's still alive? And you are about to do it again? I am ashamed to belong to the same species as you. I'm almost surprised that you didn't give up your son when it turned out he was autistic, just in case he turned out to be too much work for you! I really hope that when you become old and senile and start shitting yourself that your children dump you in a nursing home. Because they will have learned from you that getting rid of something that has become an inconvience is perfectly ok.

This one really pissed me off. But then- I took a deep breath and decided it was absolutely pointless and ridiculous to get pissed off, much less argue with someone like this ( even though I DID have some choice things to say!)  This person had an opinion- and even though they were unable to present their opinion in a matter that didn't try to bring me down, it was still their OPINION...and unfortunately, any asshole can have one of those. 

When out perusing the blogosphere- remember that a million different personalities have millions upon millions of opinions and write about them.NOBODY  is forcing anyone to read or agree with ANYTHING.  You may not like or agree with them all. But it is not license to be nasty, bitchy, hateful or even threatening to the writer.  Haters: Try writing your own blog- put yourself out there and see what happens.  

So the moral of the story is- read my blog, have an opinion, share a comment, similar story, helpful advice or even criticism- I can take it! Just remember- I am putting myself out there- both for my own enjoyment and because I hope that something I say may resonate with someone else and dare I say help someone out. But more than that- I may be the one getting help or advice. I am an autism mom - I can use all the help I can get.


Saturday, October 15, 2011


What happened to children being taught to have respect for other people? Respect means treating others the way we would want to be treated. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. It’s perhaps the most important thing we can teach our children. Respect impacts every relationship and interaction we have in life. One of a child’s most basic emotional needs is to be treated with respect. Where do they learn it? From us.  

I shake my head in disbelief and complete disappointment in parents these days, who are ignoring their responsibility to be tough but loving, teaching and training their children in matters of respect towards their parents and other authority figures. 

I am seeing this more and more as Teenzilla gets older. I was shocked at the way a fellow teammate of hers spoke to me- literally telling me "If you have a problem take it up with my mom" I swear- if she would have been mine she would have been picking her fucking teeth up off the ground. How does a parent allow a child to talk to OTHER ADULTS this way?  

I guess I am lucky. I have a teen girl who can be a total jerk sometimes- but she is respectful of other adults- even if she doesn't like them, or agree with them. I feel like I have taught her something very important. I model the same behavior. We can trash talk later- but when that adult is in front of you- you damn well better smile and fake it.  You call adults "Mr, Mrs. or Coach" you DO NOT call them by their first names unless invited to do so- and even then I insist that my kids RESPECTFULLY address them as such. 

I am "Ms. Dawn" to a whole lot of kids- I taught them in preschool and that is who I have always been to them. But I have noticed as they get older- more of them refer to me as "Mrs. Barnsdale" and that is just fine.  Teenzilla's closest friends still call me "Ms. Dawn" and I am ok with that. I am also a coach. And regardless of what team I am coaching, I expect ALL of the players to call me Coach Dawn- I refuse to answer if they don't.  

I am a laid back person. I play around with the kids, joke and be silly too. But I make it clear where the line is- and make it clear if it is crossed. I may be "The Cool Mom" but I am still a mom, not a friend.  And I am getting old now- so these nasty, rude, disrespectful, out of control kids that think they can speak to me like I am one of them are in for a rude awakening and so are their parents.  I can respectfully tell them to get their spawn under control, and pretty much tell them to fuck off in such a way that they don't even realize it. 

I wish I could say I feel sorry for these parents as their kids get older and the attitudes get worse, but I don't. There is a difference between a brat and a disrespectful little shit. Brats want attention, disrespectful little shits are a product of their upbringing- a good majority anyway. There are always those kids that just can't be reached no matter how good the parenting is.  But that doesn't give parents a right to stop trying. Unfortunately too many will give up- and the kids are the ones that ultimately pay the price. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

He said - She said ( but she was right!)

Today I will feature  my first guest blogger- the one and only, Dad v Autism. OK, OK....I am pretty partial to him- I do sleep with him every night ( and I do mean SLEEP- just ask him!) but he truly is an amazing writer, a terrific, hands on dad and an amazing person.  Enjoy!

Dad v. The Differences
I am very honored that my wife, the Cheerleader, has asked me to write something for her blog.  She is much smarter than me and looks a thousand times better in a bathing suit than I ever will.  She is an incredible advocate for Noah and she’s an awesome mom in general…and I happen to be pretty attracted to her too.
And, don’t tell her I said this, but as much as people think I’m kind of a smart guy…she’s smarter than I am.  She won’t admit it…but that’s just another aspect of why she’s smarter than me.

I’m not a good mom…and it’s not just plumbing differences.  It’s all about the differences in attitudes that we have.  It’s about the differences of what I see and what she sees.  I think it’s a fundamental difference between a large percentage of men and women.

She thinks about the children.  I think about the family. It sounds the same, but it is fundamentally different. 
The difference is in big picture vs the reality of the now.  It’s about dealing with the individuals in our family vs the family unit as a whole.  It’s long term vs short term too.  She worries about the children’s needs as individuals more than I do.  I worry about the needs of the family moving forward more than she does.  She is more empathic and I am more analytical.

The children run to her when they are hurt or upset, because she is more comforting, more understanding…most of the time they are running to her because of something I said…

I can look at a set of numbers and plan out the next twenty years of our life…she can look at those same numbers and ask, “But what about food?  Do you plan on having Christmas this year?”
Sometimes I think her views are short sighted.  She thinks my views are impractical because they do not deal adequately with the problems of today.

There are pros and cons to both of our views and neither view is more valid or important than the other.  In point of fact, both views are complimentary to each other.  They fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.
In respect to money, we have tried my way and it has turned out to be an abject failure.  When we tried it her way, things weren’t a whole lot better.

Now we need to try it OUR way.  We need to collaborate with each other.  We need to compliment each other’s strengths and hide our weaknesses.  We need extol each other’s accomplishments and achievements and we need to comfort each other when we make mistakes.

I know we can do this.  Why?  Because we’ve raised our kids and we’re proud of them…and money doesn’t talk back nearly as much as they do.

Debt is a plague in this country.  It is a soul devouring juggernaut that the media pushes on the public with unrelenting zeal.  We are constantly told that we NEED a new car, 90 days is the same as cash, and the world can be yours with zero money down.

The truth is you don’t NEED the new car, 90 days is NOT the same as cash and the only thing zero down gets you is a world of debt, pain and suffering.

The Cheerleader and I are going to get out of this together.  We are going to compliment each other’s strengths and cover for each other’s weaknesses.  We are a team through thick and thin and, the way things have been going lately, even more thin…hopefully someday soon we can get back to the “thick.”

And you can too.  How do I know this?  Because most of my readers are parents just like the Cheerleader and I and there’s nothing in the world that brings them more pride than their children.  Why?  Because we’ve done a damn good job raising them and they are so much more trouble than money…

I thought I would look better in her costume- glad I went with the Doctor
So good luck to you…and if you’ve got a sec, wish us good luck too.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Autism SUCKS

I am tired.

I am tired of the tantrums

I am tired of the screaming

I am tired of the yelling

I am tired of basing everything from menus to family trips around it

I am tired of being sick with worry every damn day he goes to school- most especially now that he is mainstreamed.

I am tired of the mood swings

I am tired of having to medicate him to sleep

I am tired of having to medicate him to be able to focus

I am tired of having conversations strictly in movie/TV speak

I hate the OCD

I hate getting so angry I want to just slap the shit out of him, knowing full well it won't help. 

I hate the developmental delay that causes him to act like a younger child. 

Today was a gorgeous October day. Sundays are our free days- with nothing to do, no games, no practice- just blissful NOTHING. So of course I want to do SOMETHING! Today I wanted to go to the Apple Orchard, pick apples and pumpkins and just hang out with my family.   

We talked about it yesterday after the disaster of a football game (that is a different blog for another day) and today I was running around getting ready and told him several times it was getting ready to be time to go.  When it came down to it- he lost it. There was something on TV he just HAD to watch. This is a common occurrence in our house.  Way too common. I shoulder the blame - I let him watch too much- I know. 

So our trip out as a family- the fun day we were supposed to be having started off with Noah crying, me telling him to stop it or else, and then me eventually yelling too, and that just escalates things and makes the negative behavior increase. 

The dramatic highs and lows in autism are really starting to make me CRAZY. I used to be able to say to myself 'if it makes ME feel this way, imagine how it makes HIM feel". Well, that is some cold comfort right now.  Although I am thankful he is so high functioning, and that he speaks, and uses the toilet by himself (although at 9 years old he still has "accidents") I can't help but be frustrated by the behaviors he still exhibits. 

He is a good kid, a sweet kid, a loving kid. He is my world, he and his brother and sister- my kids rule my universe.

But this autism shit can suck it. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Life Lessons from Teenzilla

Awww.....look at her
When most people hear the word "teenager" they shudder and look over their shoulder.  It is a scary time to be a parent- and I am on round 2. The first round was a boy- and it was no joy ride that's for sure.

This round it's my daughter...who I have lovingly nicknamed Teenzilla.   She is my "Mini Me" in every aspect. From her too loud, rough sounding voice to her love of Journey songs - she is what every mom wants- a replica of themselves- without the flaws we have of course. She has inherited her dad's dry sense of humor and off the cuff smart assery, which makes her an absolute riot.

When she was little- I dressed her in frilly dresses, bows and Mary Janes.  I never took her anywhere that she wasn't perfectly adorable, perfect hair never a dirty face. Oh, except when her dad got her ready and then she was a disaster- but I always had an emergency hairbrush and I could work miracles on "Daddy hair".

Through elementary school I tried to point her in the direction I wanted her to go.  She was a Brownie, a Girl Scout,played soccer and basketball  and then when she was old enough I got her in to cheer.... my crowning achievement.  Following in her mom's footsteps- a cheerleader!! My 30 something overweight ass could relive my glory days through my adorable little Pee-Wee cheerleader! Oh, and I did- and have continued to do so for the last 4 years.

She was (and is!) effortlessly smart- great grades, teachers loved her, lots of friends....everything I wanted my daughter to be. Of course it was also everything I wanted my oldest son to be as well- and not only did he veer off the beaten path- he just made roads of his own. Mind you- I am proud of his accomplishments- but truth be told- Teenzilla was my "second chance", my way of not making the same mistakes as a parent that I felt I made with my oldest- sick and wrong I know...but hey- there are plenty worse jackasses out there.

Now my adorable girl child is turning into her own woman. Yes, woman. She grew several inches, sprouted boobs and LOUD opinions. Middle school cliques formed all around her and she could give two shits. She had her very small group of friends - which worries me sometimes- from Miss Popular to Miss Understood in the course of 2 years- where was all my hard working going to?

Born to cheer?
She is fearless, outspoken, and will stick up for friends and mere acquaintances  if they are being picked on or treated at all unfairly in her eyes.  She is a great sister to  the Boy, loves to bake, loves all forms of music, from the Beatles to Green Day and everything in between.  She is sassy, sweet and just flat out amazing.

My one regret? She HATES cheerleading- and what makes that worse is she is so damn good at it!! But- I am the cheerleader and my glory days are wayyyyyy behind me. And frankly- the more I am around the group of teenage girls that make up her cheer squad- I really can't blame her for not wanting any part of them. What a bunch of hormonal bitches they are!

I am proud of who she is becoming. It may not be the exact path I had set out for her- but she has taken my ideas and added her own and I think she is going to be just fine.

The lessons she is teaching me are invaluable... and if she had continued on my road to what I though she needed to be- well- she wouldn't be the utterly unique individual she is today- and we would both be unhappy.

Last night as we belted out a very off tune version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" I was again reminded of how lucky and GRATEFUL I am that she is who she is.  And that my "Teenzilla" will still hug and kiss me as she heads out the door to school, or to hang out with friends. Damn- if you are that lucky- then you are lucky enough.