Today is just not my day. Somehow my email was hacked, and I sent out a virus to every single person in my address book regarding male enhancement products. Gee, sorry about that friends, family, former neurologist lacking a sense of humor & Governor Dayton. This discovery came before coffee this morning, which is never a good thing . . .
Worse, (much worse indeed) my Grandma is in the hospital, and I feel like a giant jerk. The Norman side of our extended family (40+) had our annual holiday gathering in the WI Dells (water park capital of the world) last weekend, and my Cousin Dave’s new baby infected nearly ½ of our group with a nasty flu. All week, the phone has been ringing with news of a new person puking. My role within our extended family has evolved into one of mild humor infused with a pinch of cynicism & inappropriateness. Well, maybe more than a pinch of inappropriateness. So, when Dave called feeling guilt about said baby’s role in this nastiness, I suggested that even though Grandma had made it to 90 like a champion, that perhaps Dave’s baby (her own great-grandchild) would finally be the one to take her out. Hey – making Dave feel like crap is my job, and I take that role seriously. (Remember, I have 2 kids with autism – apple doesn’t fall far – no judgment!)
The fact that Grandma really did require hospitalization shook me, however. The woman is healthy as a horse, had 7 kids, lived on a farm, never needed Prozac, and is kind of my hero (and a regular reader of this blog, so excuse me while I suck up as best I can), Grandma – love you man! So, I really didn’t imagine that would ever happen – ever. Again – today is not my day (nor Grandma’s for that matter).
In general, I’m struggling with balance. I’ve wanted to write for a few weeks now, but life has gotten in the way, and in many ways that’s ok. Holiday break was filled with moments of greatness, and challenges that while not unique, are not so fun. This being the first year that Elliott did not have therapy going on, nor school, was something I had been thinking about, and even dreading in some ways, for weeks. Yeah, there I go again sounding really jerky, but I’m being honest. If I don’t do my job preparing for each segment of the day, plan ahead of time, structure our time, and build in plenty to do, it can be beyond challenging for my buddy E. Trying to make all that work with someone who needs that much structure & has extremely limited leisure skills, along with 2 other kids who crave downtime is not always easy. It’s not hard to do here and there, but it’s the constancy of it all that makes it overwhelming if that makes any sense.
That said, we made the best of it, and to be honest, I would not change it one bit. Not even the ugly moments – (E took all Tom’s change and deposited it as his own at the bank). We’ve struggled previously with stealing money from Mom & Dad, along with charging thousands of $ on our credit cards (some credit card customer service people are so not amused by that!), and have come a long way. E fessed up right away, and had to learn some difficult lessons, but we think they hit home, and that’s what made the ugly stuff worth it.
The moments of greatness, however, were unexpected and rocked our world. We all went to the movie “We Bought a Zoo” and actually, for only the 2nd time ever, everyone did great at the movie! I mean people sat still, paid attention, didn’t try using the bathroom as an escape 73 times, didn’t yell out repeatedly “when is this going to be done” 10 minutes into the movie, and genuinely enjoyed the plot. At one point, E leaned over during a sad moment in the movie, with a tear running down his face, and said, “Mom, that hurts me – not hurts my body, but hurts on the inside”. Well, that sort of made my whole 2011 and then some. In that short, somewhat awkward phrase, was empathy, proof that he was following a plot line meaning that he was paying attention to the movie, and sharing with another person his feelings. Each one of these things alone is monumental in the world of autism, but combined, well, it is a 10 second experience that opens a million windows of possibility for Elliott and our family. It was indeed, a tiny moment of time that I will never forget, and will often try to remember when he wants to talk with me about how cash registers work rather than friends.
And so today, as I struggle with the realization that I am indeed, a big jerk regarding the whole Grandma situation, and that I am sending out hundreds of male enhancement emails, I will instead choose to remember that little 10 second moment in the movie theater that makes just about anything possible. It’s all about hope, right?