Thanks to the keen observations of a stellar teacher, it was suggested that I might contact your mom and organize a playdate with you and our Kate.
I was nervous, of course. Though Kate is pretty great, (she'll tell you that herself on occasion) there are some social challenges associated with her autism that make play pretty difficult for her, at times. You don't seem to have noticed, or you don't seem to mind and for that I adore you.
I've been sitting upstairs listening to you play:
Kate: Did you don't like Jimmy Fallon?
T: Umm, I think I do.
Kate: I got my tight pants on.
T: You do?
Kate: I fink I'm a mermaid in a video before.
T: Do you want to play mermaids, Kate?
Kate: Are you a mermaid, too?
T: I will be for you.
Kate: Okay, I bemember dat now. What kind of temperature water do you like?
Kate: No, you like warm.
T: Oh yeah.
My heart is bursting. Not because Miss Kate doesn't have friends but because you accept her as we do and love her just the way she is. There are no strange looks or pauses. Little T, you don't look to me for help understanding your friend. You just go with it and play like any little one should.
You're a lesson for the rest of us in understanding and acceptance little T, and Kate and the rest of us are lucky to have you.
I didn't mean to be short with you. It's not my style. I save all that shit for my husband. I was just feeling some serious pressure. I don't even know if 'pressure' is the right word. 'Anger' might be a better word. Yes, let's go with 'anger'. Okay, I was feeling some serious Anger. Not because my particular spot in line at the grocery store was moving at an excruciating pace, though it was, or because I was running late, or even because my free time this week consisted of getting those goddamn groceries but because as soon as I get a moment to think, these days, I get pissed. Like, for example, while I wait in line at the grocery store to spend half my income, I get angry. While it's true, anger is not a foreign concept for me, as I spend a little more time on the dark side than some, it wasn't fair to take it out on you. I'm sure my mood was written all over my face, but you didn't seem to notice. I guess, you thought that I'd love a chance to chat with you in line that day. Maybe you were in a particularly good mood because your day promised some instagram-worthy fun or a nap or a celebration where there'd be cake. It strikes me funny to imagine myself initiating a conversation with a stranger at the grocery store. I'd have to be on some serious medication to feel pleasant enough to make small talk when it wasn't required, but for some reason, you saw fit and I punished you for it. Sorry about that.
So, because it's not your fault that teaching has become a near impossible and a somewhat dangerous task, and autism has become the fifth member of our family, and Red Sox tickets have never been further from our reach, I owe you an apology for my rude dismissal of your statement.
"I'm sorry. And, yes, $9 for grapes is atrocious!"
The Cranky Mom in Line Ahead of You on No-Tax Saturday
Our girls are very excited for Easter. They are counting down the days, which is a little harder for Kate because Time is such an abstract concept. The calendar helps and she knows it will be very soon.
The Easter bunny will hide eggs just like in any other home, and the girls will run around collecting them with bright eyes and excitement at the race. The difference is, Kate won't eat them, or any other Easter treat that comes her way, because her food aversion is too much. Not only could she not eat a food that was NOT on her list, which has diminished in recent months, she will likely not be able to eat much at all on a day where there is so much excitement and so much unpredictability.
She eats AERO bars, you know. How random is that? For some reason, that chocolate is okay. It has been since she was very little and it's a food that has never dropped off her list of few foods. Walking through the grocery store today, I browsed the aisles where the Easter Bunny might shop and found myself feeling sad that none of these sweet treats would appeal to our Kate. There are worse problems I know. How silly of me to get emotional in the candy aisle at the grocery store, today. So what, her palette is limited, she doesn't seem to mind. This little girl will wake up and be thrilled to collect eggs with her sister and see what the Easter Bunny brought her but I still felt that bit of sadness that comes along when you least expect it. I wish she could enjoy these things with us. I wish autism didn't always have to get in her way. It reminded me of Halloween. A night she adores, as she runs around collecting bag after bag of treats she will never eat. I feel selfish for allowing myself to be sad because my little girl won't/can't eat the sweet treats.
I bought her an AERO bar, just in case that Bunny forgets and I'll place it on the chair where the Rabbit always leaves her a new book and some Easter shoes. It looked pitiful in my bag next to the very decorative and gourmet treats I bought for her sister but it is what she likes and what will make her happy, and it should make me happy, too.
Most of my writing can be neatly classified under the genre of confessional narrative. This means I am more apt to share a photo of my most recent line of credit statement, the details of an argument Alex and I had over laundry, or my greatest fears if it means the reader will more easily understand our story.
There are a couple of reasons I continue to overshare our lives on this blog. Firstly, I aim to teach people about Kate and the many facets of her autism and the autisms (the plural is intended) of others. Secondly, it feels good to purge thoughts that might otherwise further scramble my brain and lastly, I get to connect with people like you. You, the reader, who either live a version of our life or have enjoyed learning about us with your glimpse into it.
The confessional part might be a bit much for some. That's okay, though. In a world where we add filters to pictures of our pets, and delete four hundred iPhone shots in favor of the one that curates us best (I'm guilty, too), it can be unnerving to read, amongst the happiness, that this parenting thing or this marriage thing or this 'working for a living' thing can be really fucking hard.
Sometimes, I talk about things that make people uncomfortable. I especially like the dark stuff, the hard stuff. I like to explore it in-depth. I like to get in and try it on and make sure I understand every facet of what hurts. And, I like to, within reason, share it with you.
If I'm to believe social media, the majority of people have it all figured out. You love your spouses more each day and your kids happily bounce from one character-building activity to another. You love coffee, a lot, you build furniture from old pallets and you're generally pleased with life. But, I don't believe you and I suppose some of the things I share here are a reaction against that notion. Not that I don't want you to be happy, but surely there have been bumps along the way.
We marginalize each other by pretending everything is fine. And we make the dark parts scarier when we think we are doing it all alone.
We are consistently falling short because the standards are so high and we have allowed it to be this way for too long.
So, it is with best intentions that I share the good, the bad and the ugly parts of our family.
Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go build a coffee table from re-purposed barn wood before I make homemade pastries.
And if you believe that...
Happy Mail to:
27 Wellington Row
Saint John, NB
Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)