It’s Official – I’m a Pageant Mom

So update on the pageant: Nicky participated! It may have helped that I said there would be a cookie feast for everyone who sings. It could also be because, even though he doesn’t sing, he’s had preparation and is fine to stand there.

He was the cutest little sheep. And I liked that he didn’t sing, made it humorous and entertaining. After the pageant they had the reception which was basically a cookie feast as I described. I even gave Nicky some punch but he said it was “too hot”. I took a sip, I think it was the bubbliness of the soda. Which I get – it’s why I don’t drink soda. They had Santa there and Nicky even sat on his lap and didn’t cry! In fact, as he was being helped on to Santa’s lap he already started to tell him what he wanted for Christmas (a puzzle like mommy’s). All-in-all it was a very good day.

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To be or not to be

About a month ago I received an ominous email from Nicky’s preschool teacher requesting a meeting between her, the preschool director and me. My anxiety kicked in immediately, it was about 9 o’clock at night and the butterflies went crazy and something invisible squeezed my heart. I’ve always been the rule follower, doing my best to do things exactly as I’m expected to do. So this meeting, doubtless about something my son had done, left me feeling like I failed in some way. And its ambiguity was worse. Something wasn’t done right and they weren’t even going to give me a heads up so I could prepare myself.

Even when I got a little more detail (they’ve noticed some red flags, one being his anger) the following week my mind was filled with worse case scenarios.

The morning of my meeting, I was getting Nicky ready for school and he was fighting with me as I tried to get him dressed. He grabbed my arm and bit me! I don’t really remember my exact reaction but I know there was some crying in there. I took him to school and waited for my meeting.

The director and his teacher sat with me in a room and they went through behavioral issues they’ve noticed and a few “red flags” they’ve also noticed. They never did say what the “red flags” indicated but I’m assuming being on the autism spectrum. They mentioned his anger and difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next and asked me if I noticed any of this at home. I don’t know if it’s because I actually had to say something or if that bite from the morning was still at the front of my mind but I told them I have noticed the anger and wondered if it was normal and then I just started crying. I had spent all morning telling myself not to cry and I made it through most of the meeting not doing it and then there I was. Because they were telling me that my son’s behavior isn’t typical and I don’t know if it upset me just at face value–my son isn’t normal; or if it upset me because I felt like it was my fault, I had somehow failed my son, or even that I failed to notice the red flags myself before this meeting.

My nephew has autism, very high functioning, but I looked for all the little telltale signs he displayed from birth through 3 years, I read every email and article on babycenter about early warning signs and if I noticed one or two I comforted myself with the fact that he didn’t have the minimum number they stated before you should worry. But it’s been at the back of my mind for his whole short life.

They wanted me to have him evaluated by the county and so I arranged for that to happen. The week of the evaluation things had been good, he hadn’t been fighting me about going to school, I couldn’t remember the last time I snapped at him. We ended up meeting with four ladies (I was under the impression it would be one person but it made sense to have the others there, speech and behavioral people). I sat at a small table and talked to them while Nicky played with a graduate student. So while we talked, these women also observed. Nicky was at the top of his game that morning, he seems to like girls who are between 13 and 22 so I think the graduate student was his kind of girl. He made eye contact with her, played calmly, told her stories, etc. so the women said they didn’t think he had any cognitive issues but they would like to observe him at school for the behavioral issues they weren’t able to observe.

When we went to leave, I realized how scared I was to tell him we had to go and to have him meltdown when honestly, that would have been the best place for it. These women are there to help but all I could think about was how embarrassing and difficult it would be if he melted down and whether they would observe and say, “well your approach is all wrong, no wonder your child behaves that way.” Because they just said the issue wasn’t anything cognitive so that must mean I’m doing something wrong, right?

They set up a time to observe him at school and afterwards called me to move forward with some testing. First they’ll test his hearing, and in January they’ll do the real testing. The lady said he’s a real puzzle so she wants to test to ensure he doesn’t fall through the cracks – which makes sense. But it’s still hard. And I really don’t know which I’d prefer, for this to be a phase he’s going through or for there to be an issue. Because if it’s an issue/disability it lasts a lifetime; if it’s a phase it’s probably because I’m doing something wrong.

The Christmas pageant is today and the other day the preschool director said Nicky may just sit with me during the pageant (I guess that will be decided at some point today) because he doesn’t seem to want to participate. And I know this is stupid or shallow or something but I’ve been looking forward to this all year- but I know what a disaster it will be because my kid isn’t the type to actually sing and follow directions in front of an audience and I always have these expectations that we’ll have these cute experiences, normal experiences, and I’m always sad when they don’t work out.

And then that gets the pity party started because I wonder if that’s the rest of my life. Will I always hope for these seemingly normal experiences only to be disappointed when they don’t happen?

I don’t mean to have the pity parties, but I’m trying to process and to figure out how I feel because really I only know that I’m sad and scared and I couldn’t definitely tell you why. And I think the worst part is waiting, waiting to know if there is or isn’t something. Waiting to know how I should proceed with how I teach and interact with him.

And another thing, because it’s on my mind…his teacher always brings him to the car at pick up after school and on some days she says he’s “overstimulated”, because he’s crying and doesn’t want to go home. I get really bothered by that – it’s like a super nice way to say, “there’s something wrong with your kid”. At least that’s how I take it. He’s my kid, I expect him to not want to go to school and then a few hours later to not want to leave, I know how he gets. You don’t have to explain to me why he’s upset. It just–it makes me angry. And I know I shouldn’t be because his teacher is the sweetest person but there’s a little voice in the back of mind that thinks, “they don’t want him here”. And I know that’s not true, I’ve seen them with him and I know they love him, but it pops up just the same.

Anyway, I just needed to vent because I don’t have any answers or any solutions or an action plan and I won’t until at least January and it’s driving me crazy. The worst is – what if there’s nothing and they got me all worked up over nothing?

Tricks, Treats and Cheeseburgers

Just in time for Thanksgiving – our Halloween story.

I have always loved Halloween but ever since getting married it hasn’t been the same. There are no Halloween parties to dress up for, no dances, etc. so all that remained was passing out candy. What a weird thing Halloween is! You send your kids out to beg the neighbors for free candy. I’m not the type of person who can gush over a store-bought princess costume, or any costume for that matter because even if I really like it I feel like I’m being fake. So I can’t open the door and say in a higher-than-normal-for-me pitch, “oh what a cute princess/dinosaur/storm-trooper/witch you are!” For me, passing out candy is like working a customer service job without any training. They knock on the door and I open it and wait…because aren’t they supposed to say “trick or treat” and then I gush and pass out candy? They came to me, shouldn’t they start the convo/process? And then I think to myself, “Jessica-they’re just kids.” And then I give them candy and end up saying “thank you” even though they didn’t do anything for me. Also- I always feel like I’m giving out an inadequate amount of candy and I want to say, “sorry it’s not much” but they’re going to a bunch of house so I need to get over that. Anyway – that’s the way it’s been for four years or so.

But this year, Nicky helped me pass out candy and it was probably the most fun I’ve ever had passing out candy. I even let him stay up until 8 o’clock because he was having so much fun. And unlike how I felt myself, I offered on-the-job training to him. His first trick-or-treater was a young girl from down the street who had given him candy when we were their first trick-or-treater. I told Nicky to put the candy in her pumpkin just like she did for him. So he reached into her pumpkin and took candy out! I grabbed it from him and put it back in and added a big handful of our candy to hers. But after a few more people he got the hang of it. We went to sit on the porch at one point and hang out until more people came, he yelled into the darkness, “Hey! I want to give you candy!” And when he would see flashlights approach our driveway he would shake with excitement and say, “here they come!”

As for his first trick-or-treating experience. He didn’t seem so sure about what to do at first but he understood immediately that people were putting candy into his pumpkin. Once he fully understood the process he’d run ahead of me to the next house and ring the doorbell. And it nearly broke my heart when he’d ring a doorbell and no one was home. We had three houses in a row where no one was there and as we walked up the driveway of the fourth house, Nicky saw the owner of the home set up a chair and sit down in front of his porch with a bowl of candy and he said, “maybe he’s home!” Which made me laugh.

This year Nicky was a cheeseburger. He announced on Monday morning that he wanted to be a carrot, which quickly changed to a hot dog. I started to look up costumes on Pinterest and asked if he wanted ketchup and a bun and he declared he did not want either. Then he didn’t want to be a hot dog, he wanted to be a cheeseburger. I said, “are you sure you’re not just hungry?” But cheeseburger it was. We had our friend, Miss Sierra, staying with us for the week and she made his costume that same day.

I once said he was a hamburger and he yelled, “No! I’m a cheeseburger!” So…don’t make that mistake.

Izzy ended up wearing Nicky’s monkey costume – that he wore when he was five months old. She’s 17 months and the legs were a bit high water on her but other than that fit fine and she loved being in it. When I took off the monkey foot she whined and held out her bare foot for me to put it back on.

I’ve got the Halloween spirit back…I may even dress up next year.

5-month old Nicky (left), 17-month-old Izzy (right)

5-mo

Gray’s Anatomy

After reading some parenting articles that popped into my inbox via BabyCenter and WhatToExpect, I decided to use the proper words for body parts rather than cutesy nicknames that will save me from some embarrassment.

So when Nicky points at his particulars and asks me what it is I tell him it’s his penis (I feel dirty just writing it). He repeats the word after me like he’s been doing with new words for a while now.

I live in constant fear of him yelling it out in the middle of church.

It’s been over a week since the last time he asked. So this morning as I’m getting Nicky dressed he points at my waist and says, “mommy’s penis” I explain that only boys have them (so I’d appreciate he not tell people I have one).” Then, because this kid really knows how to hurt me he says, “mommy’s mustache.”

….

So I tell him that when a woman has a mustache we don’t say anything about it.

I don’t have one btw.

After getting dressed he wants to play with play dough. I pull out all the green play dough and start to roll it into a cylinder which yesterday, he was calling “capeeshes”. So I thought I was making a big capeesh for him and he yells out, “a big penis!”

Capeeshes

And now he’s asking me to make the play dough into a big penis.

When did my life get so inappropriate?

Homemade Play Dough

This stuff is so easy to make!

Throw the following ingredients into a saucepan:

  • 1 Cup flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/3 CUP salt
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 tbsp oil

Stir over medium heat until it gets thicker. Then add whichever food coloring you want. Continue stirring until the play dough pulls away from the pan. Set on wax paper to cool.

The whole process takes less than ten minutes.

I have to say, it’s pretty fun to play with it while it’s still warm.

I originally made some two years ago in my overzealousness to make things for Nicky. It took a little longer before he was really interested, point being though, that play dough is still going strong. The only reason I made more was because he’s mixed together the colors and even some brand name play dough his aunt gave him. It’s U-G-L-Y.

No say me no

When my niece was little she used to say, “no say me no” which I think was her saying, “don’t tell me no”. I still use her phrase 12 years later. Nicky, has learned the word, “no” and it has made life a little more difficult and certain made every decision take longer. The video you are about to see is real, it’s not a re-enactment, these are not actors. This is a Wednesday morning and what every morning would be like if I actually let my toddler pick out what he wanted to wear instead of limiting his options to two shirts.

By the way – he ended up going with the “friend” shirt:

Fall into this update – see what I did there?

A lot has happened since my last post. At the beginning of October, I was released from my calling with the Young Women. For those of you unfamiliar with how callings work at my church, everything is volunteer. We receive a call from a member of the bishopric and then we serve for a number a years and then we are released. The Bishopric prays about who should fill what callings. A relief society president could become a primary teacher – it’s all based on inspiration and revelation.

I served with the young women for three and half years. We knew the release was coming, just not exactly the when. I got a heads up two weeks before and I didn’t take it well – LOTS of crying. But it was nice knowing in advance so I could just enjoy the time I had left with the girls. This basically sums up my feelings.

The Sunday I was released I was the one teaching- I gave a lesson of Gratitude…which I thought fitting, since I was sad but also very grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know the girls and be a part of their lives.

The next Sunday, I was asked to teach Relief Society the following week. I was beyond stressed. When I first left singles ward I thought being a relief society teacher would be a pretty sweet calling. But after years with the youth I was nervous about teaching adults again. I didn’t have much of an outline, just taught from a conference talk – no other guideline. It was awful! I asked a question and got absolutely NO response. I moved on and I was most of the way done with what I had prepared with 20-25 minutes left!! Luckily I asked a question that seemed to get people talking (or they finally took pity on me) and we only ended a few minutes early. The next week I got a calling to be a Relief Society teacher the second and fourth Sundays…so there’s that. They are changing the curriculum in January to be more the way the youth program is so I guess they thought I’d be a good fit since I already have experience with that. Oh and the YW President was called as the 1st counselor and so she’s still my “boss”- which helps me be more comfortable right off the bat.

Also at the beginning of October, my oldest nephew came for a weeklong visit, followed by a one day visit from his parents. So I was spending a lot of time in the West End with my family there.

Stormy/Nicky (Its easier just to use their real names) started “preschool”. It’s one day a week and they basically just play. But social skills are learning too and I already see a big improvement. Every couple of weeks I get to help out in the classroom and that’s more fun than I thought it would be.

Gertie/Izzy will be 6 months old next week! I can’t believe how fast time has gone. She’s at a really fun stage. Super cute, smiles all the time, and so curious about everything! She reaches for objects and is rolling over. We’ll be starting solids in the next week or so.

Chewy/Matt and I are in a weight loss competition with each other. Not really, but we are both losing weight and I’m very competitive. At first I wasn’t because I had so much extra, you know, having just had a baby. But over the last month or so I’ve really closed the gap. I still weigh more than my husband…but I’m only a few pounds away from him and my pre pregnancy weight.

Let’s see- what else. I’m still writing whenever I can and meeting with my writing group. I still take family photos and continue to work on my photography skills. Oh – and I’m making Nicky a new quiet book. We’re trying to be better about keeping him in the chapel during sacrament meeting – so I thought making a new quiet book might make it fun/easier. I’ll take pics when I’m done. So far it’s not too bad, as long as I don’t compare my work with my Pinterest inspirations of course.

That’s it for now. Here are some photos for making it all the way to the end!