I Think my Husband has Autism

A few months ago, my five year old son was diagnosed with autism. Which didn’t come as a surprise. He acted differently from other children. And, yeah, I know, I’m not supposed to compare my child to others. Apples and Oranges, that sort of thing. But, Liam’s quarks and behavior went beyond and to extremes. He didn’t have tantrums, he had full on meltdowns. We were calling them meltdowns before I realized that was actually a real thing, not something we made up.

A few years ago, when Liam was small, probably about two maybe three, there was a  billboard on a major road outside of town that said something to the effect, “If they wont make eye contact, they may have autism.” Now, I’m paraphrasing because I  don’t remember the actual wording. I have a good memory, not a photographic memory, which I’m now hearing isn’t a real thing anyway, but, I digress. The more I thought about the billboard, the more I wondered about Liam. I realized that he really didn’t look at me, not full on, and not at appropriate times. Appropriate times meaning, he didn’t look at me when I spoke to him. And then the behavior reports started coming from his daycare. They started low and then they started to grow…

First it was little things, like Liam hit another student. By the end of the school year, last year, he was in trouble for fist fighting, throwing chairs, and scratching teachers. At one point, they had to evacuate his pre-school room! He was four.

In a moment of weakness, I thought to myself, “This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!” I felt jipped, which is a horrible feeling to have about your son. Then I felt like an awful, terrible person for even having thought these things, because I love that boy so DAMN much! For every odd quirk and every meltdown that he has, there is so much more to him. He is not autism, he has autism. I’ve never thought about him in terms of autism, I’ve always (even after I’ve learned it’s name) thought of him as a little boy, whom I have to learn to help and understand.

It was around this time that I started realizing his daddy shared some of his quarks. Phillip was quick to temper and visibly had trouble coping with it. He lined things up and labeled EVERYTHING. When I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. He used a label maker, like the ones that they use to make name tags in retail stores. There are labels on every one of our handheld telephones. Printed on all the units is our last name and the number of hertz that the phone uses/has, I don’t even know. “My phone has 123 hertz!” said no one ever.

Phillip can’t stand clutter, and this is where he diverts from Liam. Liam loves clutter, but Liam’s clutter is organized. Liam creates what we have dubbed nests. He takes every comforter and pillow in the house and organizes to his satisfaction. And woe to the person that has to tear down the nest; Hell hath no fury like Liam when his nests are being disassembled.

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Nesting in action.

Oh, and Phillip doesn’t get a clue, because he’s standing here talking to me, droning on about work, and I’ve been done with this conversation for 20 minutes now. No offense, Phillip, but go to bed!

At any rate, the long and the short of the story is that they have many quarks in common and many of which coincide with autism. Quarks that I never noticed until Liam came along. That being said, Phillip and I have been married for almost nine years now. In having to learn how to be Liam’s mommy, because being Liam’s mommy isn’t always easy. I’ve had to field meltdowns in the middle of the grocery store where we both sat on the floor for 10-20 minutes to decompress while people walked by wondering what the hell is wrong with us. But I forgot at some point, that I’m not just Liam’s mommy, but also Phillip’s wife. I put our marriage on the back burner.

I had to learn to look at Phillip like I look at Liam, rather than being critical of him, I’ve had to learn to understand him, to understand his point of view. I know I’ve not been the most pleasant person these last few years, and to be frankly honest I was probably down right mean to him, and for that I apologize with all my heart. He was patient with me and we are getting there, we’re working toward a common goal, happiness. So, I’ve learned that when he drones on to me about work that I actually need to listen because this is how he communicates. Yes, It’s boring as mud to listen to him talk about cell phone towers, but it’s important to him and I have to realize that our marriage is two sided.

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Look, Mommy it’s a Door!

When I started taking education classes in college, my teachers stressed the importance of children’s doodles. I believe they called it pre-writing. I was totally bummed when I wasn’t able to entice Liam to write/color/doodle. He wouldn’t color in a coloring book. In my head, I knew that not every child was a writer, nor were they all readers. I would deny it vehemently if an education professional questioned me about my beliefs, “Of course, sir or madam, all children are readers and writers. Their potential just hasn’t been unlocked yet.”

Liam has started “writing” and I couldn’t be happier. After he is done he asks me to help him by drawing aspects that he deems that he is unable to draw and needs to complete the drawing.

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I drew the details, he drew the “machine” (box)

 

The other day he drew a door on the ground with a stick. He  carved out a rectangle with a cross in the middle and announced, “look mommy a door!” I immediately recognized the “door” from the movie “Monster’s, Inc.” That is an amazing hurtle for him because I’ve heard that it’s difficult to encourage autistic children to write and read. Liam loves to do both, but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get him to use a crayon. So when he does draw/color/write, I encourage it with all my might!

No Pig’s Blood for me, Thanks

Sixteen years ago, I met a gangly, awkward, know-it-all boy. I would like to say it was love at first sight, but it wasn’t. In fact, I thought this boy was an asshole. He was the orchestra director’s son and was “second in command” of the theatre. So the boy thought he was in charge of upholding the rules and regulations on the set.

My Junior year of high school and I decided I needed some extra curricular activities to for my college application and I needed to get out of the house. Plus, I wanted to “play with the lights” in a school productions and I asked the art teacher if I could be on the crew. She talked to the orchestra director who promptly said, “Yes” because they desperately needed crew.

One of my friends, Marissa, hung out with the theatre people after school; she may have been on crew or in the orchestra, but I honestly don’t remember if she was or not. I think she had a crush on this weird, heavy set, and overly confident guy who was in the show, who happened to be the orchestra director’s other son. I hung out with her and the Victor during rehearsals.

During rehearsals for “All in the Family,” Marissa, some other crew members, and I would partake in high school antics such as exploring the boys restrooms while unsupervised. The gangly boy, which I found out later his name was Phillip, was always following us around trying to enforce the rules and one such rule was no crew on the couch on the stage. Of course you know, at every opportunity we would lounge on that damn couch and called Phillip Major Asshole behind his back. We weren’t going to listen to THE MAN.

Phillip oddly had no personally to speak of. He lacked social skills and tact. So when we were working on the play “Cinderella,” it came as a complete surprise when he asked me to go to the ball. Playing along I said, “Sure! Let’s go to the ball.” The stage was set for the ballroom scene. He countered, “No, I’m really asking you out on a date.”

At this point in my schooling, I had been asked out exactly one other time, my sophomore year. A guy, whom I absolutely cannot remember his name now, in study hall was trying to get me to go to prom with him and some friends. One of the friends even offered to let me wear her prom dress that she had from the previous year. I was sure prom would end with me standing in the middle of the dance floor wearing pig’s blood like in the movie Carrie. So I fielded his offers until prom was over.

To this day, I still don’t know why I said agreed to go out with Phillip that first time. But unlike the guy in study hall, I wasn’t afraid of being covered in pig’s blood. Despite being “Major Asshole,” I was totally smitten with him, probably because he showed interest in me. I was and am super shy, at least until you get to know me then you can’t shut me up.

 

 

 

Rex Manning is Litter Trained

I was born in 1983, which is going to make some of you feel old, and some of you feel young, and some of you will say, “Hell, yeah!” When I was the ripe old age of 14, a movie called Empire Records was released to pay respect to the small record stores. A relic which is near extinction now, sort of like Blockbuster. Gems such as, “I don’t feel that I need to explain my art to you, Warren,” “We mustn’t dwell… no, not today. We CAN’T. Not on Rex Manning day,” and “[into television camera] Damn the man. Save the Empire” became vernacular, well, at least in my circles.

About three months ago, I had just stepped out of my truck when Mom came to the door and hollered, “Is that Toby?” I looked up and saw a black blur running across mom’s yard. Confused, I explained that it couldn’t be because I hadn’t brought Toby with me. Toby is my Australian Shepherd, half Labrador Retriever mix that I’ve have for almost nine years. He’s my first child. I asked her to whistle for the dog, for I cannot whistle. The dog came without a moments hesitation smelling like the third cesspool of hell. I have never in my life smelled anything so foul, before or since.

My mom and I had debated on what to do with him. On one hand if we let him loose there was the very real chance he’d get hit by a car or a train. My mom lived next to a very busy thoroughfare as well as the train tracks. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to turn him loose to turn into street patê, so we called the dog warden. The warden’s office explained that he was done for the day and that we could either turn the dog loose or hold onto him until tomorrow, which also posed a problem. My mom works out of her house and it wasn’t feasible to leave him there. We had taken an old belt and fashioned a leash out of it because I didn’t happen to have one of Toby’s leases at the moment. I gave the dog a bath in the water hose (thankfully it was warm that day) and ran home to get an old tie out that we had used when Toby was a puppy, but the dog barked and barked. I had started calling the dog Rex Manning to give me something to call him. Both Rex Manning the human and Rex Manning the dog were kinda obnoxious and contemptible. After I named him, my mom knew it was a done deal, he was mine.

I realize that he had an owner so before I could claim him for my own I had to make an effort to look for them. He was an awesome dog that someone had taken great care of so I knew they had to be missing him. I took pictures of him and plastered Rex all over Facebook in hopes that someone would recognize him, then took him home to introduce him to the infamous Toby. The next day, my son and I took him to the Humane Society Animal Friends to see if he was chipped, which he wasn’t. I registered him as lost with the Humane Society and they took his picture for reference. We waited and waited and waited. The few leads that I had to finding Rex Manning’s owners had came up empty. Several people inquired about him, but none gave me the necessary information that I had omitted intentionally for identification purposes and one person went as far to ask if I was going to give him away because they wanted him. My goal was to find his owner, not to find a new owner for him. Needless to say that we still have him.

In the title I mentioned that Rex Manning is litter trained. I went downstairs this morning to get some clothes out of the laundry and feed the cats. While feeding the cats Rex began sniffling around the cat litter pans. I thought to myself, “Ah hell he’s gonna eat cat shit.” I had heard of dogs doing that before and knowing Rex’s history and nasty fetish, I wouldn’t have put it past him. Instead of eating it, he hikes up his leg and perfectly arcs the pee so that it lands in the cat litter pan! I laughed so hard it startled poor Rex. Apparently he wasn’t done urinating, came over to see what I was laughing so hard about, and promptly finishes peeing a warm dribble on my foot. Serves me right for laughing at him. I’m not sure if he was marking his territory or this was a trick that he had learned from his previous owners. Peeing in the cat pan, not on my foot. At any rate, now, I’m wondering to myself where I can buy a ginormous dog litter pan.

Is That Corner Remotely Square?

Like I said before, my grandpa was a notoriously do-it-yourselfer. He was insanely smart about some thing, but like myself he knew just enough to be dangerous. We went to the re-store store (if you don’t have one in your area, your missing out) to pick up the tile. Mom settled on a pretty robin’s egg, complete with speckles, blue terra-cotta tile. Then we ran over to Lowes to purchase the accoutrements to finish the projects.

While we were in the store, we bought a tile cutter the helpful clerk says all the professionals buy. It works on all types of tile, but one. Three guesses and the first two don’t count as to what type of tile we had in the  back of the car. That right! The one type that the cutter wouldn’t work on. We practiced on some tile that happened to be in the basement. After we, including my five-year old son, decided we were expert tile cutters we moved on to the real thing only to find that it didn’t cut it so much as break it into smaller pieces.

Did that dissuade Lucy and Ethel? Hell no! It gave us an excuse to buy a wet saw! Where did we set it up? Right  in the middle of the kitchen table. Now as I mentioned before, the tile was some variation of terra-cotta with a blue glaze. The box said it was “earth product” which made me think of cheese product. Which made me wonder what it actually was made of and whether it would give me cancer

I set the saw up according to the directions in the box and promptly got an impromptu shower and well as an ugly grinding noise coming from the machine. Fearing for the safety of my fingers, I turned off the saw took it back apart, made sure everything was tight, and closed it back up.

I start slapping the mud/glue stuff on the wall and setting the tile. so far so good. I move my way up the wall, using the level ever few tile to make sure everything is straight. (I have more tools than some guys. My mom’s friend in Kansas quoted Helen Reddy saying, “I are woman hear me roar!” about us.) When I got the corners of the bathroom the tile had to be progressively cut wider and wider. (I’ll post pictures later) The side where the faucets were matched up the wall around the window but the back of the shower matched up with nothing. Mom and I came to the conclusion that the bathtub curved up in the back and now there is at least a 1/4 inch discrepancy in the corner. SMH. Face palm.

On a side note: the saw as I was cutting the tile it sprayed the rust colored water all over the kitchen and all over myself. I was wearing a Fitbit as I was cutting and at one point the Fitbit shifted. I looked like I had just came back from the Caribbean. I don’t tan and I had a faux tan. I might start grinding up terra-cotta tile, mix it with water and sell it as a fake tanner to Donald Trump and others.

On a secondary side note: the saw sprayed a fine shower of water straight back from the saw itself and for the most part I blocked the spray. Occasionally it seemed that I moved just enough for it to hit the refrigerator behind me, making it look like I had explosive diarrhea.

On a tertiary side note: I did not have explosive diarrhea.

 

 

 

The Window

The first of our Lucy escapades was when we purchased the window. We did another one a few months back and inevitable we bought the wrong size on the first try. It was WAY small. When I went back to Lowes to exchange the window, they didn’t have any that were comparable. In other words, I drug the original to the store to exchange it for another and came back home with the same window.

I built up the frame for the window. To watch my mom and I hoist this thing into it’s final resting place was like watching a couple of ants trying to lift a whole pastrami sandwich. It felt a little like cirque du sole, but not as graceful. I was hanging off of the ladder, one leg hooked around for support, while counter balancing the window in my arms. Mom was balancing it from the bathtub. of course you know the first six times, the damn thing didn’t fit. I’d have to make adjustments and then start the acrobatics all over again.

Flying Feathers

There is an episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy and Ethel take on reupholstering the Mertzes Furniture. Of course you know, nothing seems to go right. At one point Lucy cuts into Fred’s beloved recliner and piles the chair guts on a table only to have someone accidently turn on a fan and send the feathers flying all over the apartment to the amusement of the live studio audience. That sums up my mom and I.

Last week we took on the BATHROOM. Da da da dummmmmmmm. Let me back up…. 53 years ago. My Grandma and Grandpa bought the house the my mom lives in now. They purchased the house just before my mom was born. Before that they lived in an apartment in the civil war era mansion down the street and around the corner.

My grandpa was an AVID do-it-yourselfer and if he couldn’t do it, he knew a guy, who knew a guy, who knew a guy (you get where I’m going with this?) that could get the job done.

After my grandparents passed away my mom inherited the house… with all of it’s, well, lets call them eccentricities. Anyone else would call them flaws, we call them character.

Fast forward to the present, or rather last month. Mom decided that she wanted to replace the bathroom window because it was rotting out of its frame. This was an “if you give a mouse a cookie” situation. If the window came out we’d HAVE to replace the nasty, yellowed laminate. If we removed the laminate, part of the green drywall would have to go, then the molded fiberglass underneath, etc., etc., etc. (Once again, do you get where I’m going with this?) The project compounded costs, work, and antics… We hashed out the details until… we talked our self into the project and absolutley had to begin… and OHHHHH this was just the beginning….