What I Read: I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames by Jeni Decker

I was perusing the local bookstore, looking for something to read while I am on a break from classes until April 8th. (Please don’t be like John and point out that I have both a Kindle and a Nook Color–I know, and I like them, but they cannot replace physical books for me.)  I actually was looking in the sociology section, hoping to find some tome on kick-ass females in the business world, just enough to motivate me for the hell I am about to endure as I am about to triple up the few undergrad courses I need before starting MBA hell. And I saw this book. I didn’t even read the subtitle. I’ll admit that the cover art intrigued me. And it found its way into my hands. And I bought it. My initial thought was, ” this woman has two kids like Evan? What a friggin’ saint!” So I bought this book and several others, and headed to the checkout.

I certainly didn’t expect to devour it in one night. The chapters are quick little stories in themselves, written in a real, humorous voice. This made it easy to read in bursts. Zachy eating dinner? Read a quick chapter. Evan working on homework? Read another. The kids in bed? Finish off the whole thing.

This book is special to me. So special that I found myself geeking out and writing an email to the author. To which I got a response in one day. Not from an assistant, but from her, which is most decidedly cool of her.

What is so special about this book? Well, other than a few minor changes, I could’ve been reading about my own life. Though Zach is not autistic, with the nonverbal-ness and developmental issues we have had as of late, he reminds me of her youngest son, while the oldest is much like Evan: starts out quirky and just a little odd, ending up with a diagnosis–high-functioning autism.

Here’s the thing: I can write little snippets from my life and you can shake your head along with me, laugh with me, cry with me, whatever. Until you have lived in this house, there will always be stuff I just cannot explain. Stuff you would not believe. Like why it is just as important to keep a supply of disposable latex gloves beside the toilet as it is to keep the toilet paper stocked. Why you have to be very careful of the words you choose, as theywillbe remembered and come back to bite you in the tuckus. As a matter of fact, as I was typing this, my oldest angel came out of his room, demanding ice cream at one in the morning, as his room is not the perfect temperature and cold ice cream will somehow help his system reach equilibrium. Mind you, it is 1 AM, and he is not getting ice cream, and I had to convince him of a scientific reason for not having ice cream at 1 AM to get him to go back to bed. Despite the fact that he is bleary-eyed and zombie-like from the melatonin we have to give to him to get him to sleep in the first place.Thatis my life, folks. And it seems to be Ms. Decker’s as well. If she knew me, she would not tell me that my child just needs a good “ass-whoopin'” or that he is simply just spoiled. She would understand.

And while the theme of this book is autism and what it is like to parent autistic children, it does not read like an autism book. And while you can sense a sort of sadness, it doesn’t read like a woe-is-me sobfest, either. She writes of her experiences in a voice that is comical, with the celebratory sense of appreciating the gifts and differences of each child, of getting to the root of what makes them tick and parenting them as best she can. And if I were an autistic boy, I would want Jeni Decker to be my mom.

I needed this book. In the same week as the Wal-Mart incident, of venting to a coworker I can trust and hearing her tell me that it seems I just need to “bust Evan’s ass”, after having the convo with Evan as to why he cannot go to Grandpa’s this summer (seems Grandpa is also of the ass-busting opinion from his safe perch 4 hours away, and as a result, will not give him any meds thanks to his hippie girlfriend). After all of this, I was feeling very lonely. As if nobody gets it. Evan is an awesome kid. I feel privileged to be a part of his life. But parenting him is one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced.

So if you are interested in autism, know someone with autism, know someone who knows someone with autism, or even if you just like a good story, you should read this book.

I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames: My Insane Life Raising Two Boys with Autism by Jeni Decker.

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Big Blubbery Sobs

So I always have some music playing, and I was actually listening to someone else’s playlist on Spotify and heard this song.

And I had to stop and catch my breath between the big blubbery sobbing I was doing.

Zach is going to be two. Evan will be elevenin September. In a couple years from that, he will be a teenager. God, it has gone so fast. Neck-breakingly, heart-breakingly fast.

My babies. oh, my babies.

No, I Do Not Need the Police

My own personal Hell. Really.


It all started wih Lego KidsFest. Fuckin’ Lego Fest, my ass.

I have been bribing the Medium Male in the house for months. I already told you how he has this rationale that he can simply pass all of his subjects simply by showing up for tests without doing homework. He just scores that well on his tests. So his therapist and I concocted this plan. Somehow, someway, I had to get Evan interested in doing homework. We had to find what motivates him and exploit the shit out of it. She helped me come up with the token system. For each day Evan came home and did homework without meltdowns, he could earn up to two tokens. I actually agreed to give him $5 for every token he earned to be spent in the store inside of Lego Fest. Because they were coming from the actual company, I knew they would have some seriously cool stuff that he can’t find in Toys’R’Us or Wal-Mart, and that he would want said stuff. Come hell or high water, I was going to motivate this kid to do homework. His therapist actually calculated and he had the potential to earn up to $560 to spend on fucking Legos. She kind of looked at me as if I were the one needing therapy, but whatevs. I am that desperate to end the fucking homework drama. Plus, in the back of my mind, I never thought for a second that this shit would work.

We made a big production of the token system. We went to the store that night and picked out a special jar. I let him pick out what we were going to use as tokens, and he picked those glass beads you use in floral arrangements. We bought a calendar for him to use to count down and track his progress. We even made a label for the jar on the computer. Well, Evan did. He called it the “Evan Did A Good Job Jar”. Except it really says “Evan Did Good Job Jar”. And I held to my word. He earned…….wait for it…….$45. Forty-fucking-five out five hundred and sixty. See, I told you. And then he got desperate, and we caught him shoveling handfuls of tokens into the jar one night, as if I was dumb enough to not keep track of how much money I would have to ultimately spend. So he had $45. If you know anything about Legos, you cannot buy shit for $45.

Two nights before the big event, I had to get some groceries. We all went to the store. Evan wanted his $45. No way. I know how this works. I’ve been to this show before and I know how it ends. I give him the $45 and tell him that’s it, not to cry at Lego Fest because I am not giving him anymore money if he spends it now. It doesn’t work because he will have a meltdown, and in order to prevent the calling of social services, I eventually give in. He gets what he wants. But this time, I am resolute. I am NOT DOING IT!

I get my groceries while trying to keep Zachy calm, as it is a little late for him and he’s fussy. We “Oh, Oh, OHYEAH” our way through the store with a nonverbal toddler who is on the verge of his own meltdown around every corner because he wants something and there are so  many things to want that we cannot tell what it is. I get to the checkout and for some reason, my bill is about $150 more than I thought I had spent. I paid it, but was seriously perplexed. I spend about $250 in groceries every two weeks, unless it’s diaper-buying week and then it is around $300. Since there were no cases of Pampers or wipes in the cart, why was my bill $408.63?????

So we get to the car, and I am doing my usual of glancing in each bag before loading it in the car. I try to keep the cold stuff easily recognizable because, with my two kids, you may not get an entire trunkful unloaded at once and have to pick your priorities. And as I am doing this, I start seeing the most random……shit.

An economy pack of toothbrushes–ten fucking toothbrushes.

Those Rubbery bath squirter toys for babies.

A couple of paperback books. One was a Harlequin romance-type, which, hey, is really not my style.

A toy truck.

A bath loofah.

Women’s El-Cheapo body spray that has nothing on the Versace shit I use–I’m a high-class bitch, y’all.

The list goes on, but I see what happened. We gather as much of it as we can find as we are loading the groceries, and John heads back into the store with the receipt to explain what happened and get my money back. We managed to recover $95 of it. Which is when it happens. Evan melts down. And I mean MELTS DOWN!

He locks me out of the car. He starts screaming and flailing arms and legs, elbows and knobby knees. Thankfully Zach wasn’t in the car, as John had sensed what was going to happen and took him back in the store with him. So Evan is kicking up HELL, smashed a dozen eggs with his fists on purpose, was punching the glass and kicking my seats as hard as he could. (Incidentally, thank you to Dodge for making a car that doesn’t easily destruct on the inside–the designer must have a kid with issues!) He gets out, gets back in just so he can slam the doors. He gets out and runs, totally barefooted through the parking lot, yelling that I am abusive and he is going to walk home. He must not have liked the dark or the feeling of his bare feet on concrete, so he runs back and gets back in. tries to lock me out again. 3 sets of people…..THREE….stop me to see if I need help. All I can do at this point is hold up my cell and my little remote car-unlocker thingy to signify that I can get in my car and am just choosing not to at the moment, as I suck the living hell out of a Marlboro Ultralight. (yeah, I know I shouldn’t smoke, but as an RT, my foolish decision was at least an educated one, and now is not the time to deprive me of that damned cigarette. I wasn’tinthe car smoking it.) As many more people asked me if I needed them to call the police for me. other than that, everyone else was just staring in the direction of my car as the screams carried across the parking lot.

No, I do not need you to call the police for me. I need you to turn your head while I fuck this kid up. I don’t want to be on the news tomorrow: “Health Care Professional Beats Child in Wal-Mart Parking Lot”. No, not really. I would never do that. But God, how I wanted to at that moment. And I could be angry that they didn’t see that this was not just a run-of-the-mill tantrum and be angry that they thought that this was a proper suggestion. In truth, I had thought the same thing. After 15 minutes of this, I was checking my pocket to make sure my phone was outside of the car in case I had to call the police. And by the way, where the fuck was John? Wal-Mart people, you seriously need to do something about the wait time in your lines.

Do you know what it is like to think you may have to call the police to protect you from your own ten-year-old kid? To protect him from himself?

Well, let me tell you, if I can. Because this is me and we all know I am going to tell you. It is pretty sucky. In the time the thought is going through your mind, what you feel is a barrage of emotions. Regret that you ever procreated, mixed with fierce love and desperation that there has got to be something you can do to fix your kid. Sheer loathing for your own life mixed with gratitude that it is you who has to do this because another parent would have probably killed him by now. Angst. Utter and complete angst. Reluctance, as in, can I really start this ball rolling? Fear. For him, for you, for the innocent person he would hurt if they got in his path at that moment. Knowing it will probably do him some good, but unable to handle it yourself. Embarrassment that it is possible that you did something wrong and maybe it is your fault, and what fucking parent needs law enforcement to step in? And so you keep a death grip on your phone, knowing it is there, and maybe if you wait it out one more minute, one more second, the fit will be over and he will just be your baby again. But if he doesn’t, the phone is still there, right in your hand. Just in case. Just in case.

The turmoil stopped. We went home. Evan, acting as if nothing had ever happened, asked if he could get on the computer to play a game. All I could do was look at him through tired eyes and tell him no, that he had to get a bath and go to bed. To which his response was to do just that without fight.

As we unloaded the groceries, we found even more of his stuff. Women’s deodorant. Toddler toothpaste. Kitchen sponges.

John actually cracked up when he found the last item. A trial-size pack of Tampax Pearl tampons. Regular.

Hey, Evan. I’ve had two kids. At least next time, get the Supers.

How Legos Pissed Me Off

I wrote a post bitching about this experience, so when I posted it, what I wrote disappeared and just the photos remained, so you are going to get an abridged version of Lego KidsFest.

$70 for my family to get in. Fine. But Evan didn’t get to do much because the lines were so long and the tickets were only good for 4-hour sessions. Ours were for 8:30 AM the morning after a work night for me. So I was tired. And crabby. And I could’ve stomached it a little better if it had been children in those lines. But they were all adults. Some of the rudest adults I have ever met. One almost knocked over Zachy’s stroller. There was lots of cursing, and not on my part. At a kids’ event. I actually heard someone shout, “Suck my D###!”, at one point. And for the most part, all of the kids were fine. My only gripe there was the big kids romping around the Duplo area, which was intended to be a safe place for toddlers. But again, this went back to the adults, who should’ve gotten the big kids out of there. And so I was getting angry. So we left after only two hours, lest I lose my cool and cut a bitch.

The statues were cool. Some of the activities would’ve been cool if Evan would’ve actually got to do them. So here are the photos I got.

Kinda like his room.

And for Zachy, a huge pile of Duplo bricks.

Captain Jack Sparrow, savvy?

Hello, SpongeBob!

One of the few things the kid got to do.

The coolest of the statues--a life-size Lightening McQueen

Just parked the car

We Do Not Beat Our Children, Schedules are Meant for Rearranging, and More Discoveries

We’re all about discoveries here in the Bitchypants household. Here are a few new ones.

We are finding the need to defend ourselves as parents. Not that anyone has accused me of anything. But still. Zach is into, well, EVERYFUCKINGTHING. He climbs up, crawls over and under, dives off of any surface he can find. And more and more, he is getting the little bumps and bruises of toddlerhood. And when you go out in public and your baby has a big bruise, you feel like you have to tell the story of how to everyone. He climbed up on a rolling toy…..he dove off of the arm of the sofa….he slipped and fell. This last one was a little harder to expalin. John was getting him out of bed in the morning and Zach was doing his usual game of “Catch me, Bitch” when John reached for him and Zachy head-butted John’s hand. Only John’s finger made contact with a little toddler eye. Yeah. Zachy go his first black eye. Insert big frowny face here. The evidence:

See! Even in the photo, he is climbing on a toy, reaching onto my desk. Seriously, kid!

Schedules are meant to be rearranged. Fo’ reals, yo! But here is the most awesome picture of the past week:

See that? No conditions there. Just my admission packet. For my MBA program. I am officially in. No ” You should be fine.” No “conditional admission”. Just……in. IN. IN!!!

So I made an appointment to schedule my classes for October and the shit got tricky. I only have three courses left to take of my first-year MBA program. What they call the foundation courses. And those are offered in intensive half-semesters. I finish the BSBA in September, so I could start the second half of the MBA session in October. Except none of my classes are offered then. They’re all offerred in August. They were going to make an exception and let me start while simultaneously finishing my last month of my BSBA, but ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???? I have a job. And kids. And I do not have a death wish. Especially considering that my first semester of the MBA will be full of financial accounting, macroecon, microecon, and one of the 700-level courses. No. So the solution? This summer, while John is off of his classes, I am going to triple my BSBA courses so I will finish August 15th and can start the MBA the following week. So I learned that where there is a will, there truly is a way.

Evan is a Con Artist. Seriously.

All of this time, we have been fighting him over homework. He made a confession to his therapist. Since he gets perfect test scores, he can pass without completing his homework, so in his mind, why should he do it? So on the nights when he fights and has meltdowns, we try and try before finally giving up and sending a note to his teacher. The next day, she keeps him in at recess to do what he didn’t do the night before. But it got to be too much. And so she changed it up. Now, he gets a zero like everybody else. And the result? He’s doing his homework. And scoring even higher on tests.

The proof is in his science test from this past week. My kid has been conning us all. Little booger.

Zachy started speech and is making strides every day. And he is getting it. Proof? Yesterday in the car, John missed his exit on the interstate, and responded with a “DAMN!!!” And from the backseat, crystal clear, we hear this baby voice say, “Damn!” The other day Zachy was playing outside and he was getting close to the infamous snake sighting of 2010. And I exclaimed, “Zachy, no, SNAKES!” To which he exclaimed, “SAKES!!!!” N left out intentionally. We say “Bus”, “WalMart”, “Evan” or “Bubby”, “Eat”, “SpongeBob”. He signs for “more”, “please”, “help”, “all done”, “eat”, and “drink”.  And e has the  cutest, throaty baby voice that melts my heart. I realized this is the first time I am really hearing it.

I was thinking about the next month or so when I realized that I never requested off for Zach’s second birthday. I was assuming it would fall on Saturday this year since it was  Friday last year. But it is Sunday. It’s Mother’s Day. His second birthday. The 13th. Mom’s birthday used to fall on Mother’s Day sometimes, too. And I hate Mother’s Day. And this year, we really can celebrate. Npw more than ever, I think Mom sent Zach to me. And P.S.–how in the hell is he already going to be turning TWO????

I think that about sums it up. For now. I’m sure there will be more as drama unfolds. We always have some of that.

Sprung

Somehow winter came and went. No real snow. We had a few flurries, but that’s it. And somehow, we have skipped over spring. I’m pissed because I just bought Zach a wardrobe of cute sweaters and thin long-sleeved shirts for when the weather is cool but not cold. But we skipped that stage. No, we went straight to summer. It is supposed to over 80 degrees for 4 of the seven days this week. Shit.

I hate summer. Sorry. I do. A) I’m a fatty. I hate wearing shorts. I like layers and roomy hoodies and sweaters. I have short legs, so capris look awful. I work best in a hoodie, jeans and gym shoes. B) I’m allergic to grass and trees, bees, wasps, and just about everything else that comes out with sunshine. C) Back to being a fatty. Animal fat melts in heat. Turns to mush, then oil. Humans are, essentially, animals, are we not? I swear my fat cells melt and try to come out of my pores in fucking summer. I swear it.

But regardless, it’s here. Shit. So I am doing my best to put on a smiley face and be a good, fun mom. We have taken the boys out whenever possible. Zach is really fun this year, since he is old enough to run and play on his own. He really enjoys the park now, though pulling him away when it is time to go home is more of a challenge. So here are some photos from one of our first really nice days.