I have so much to write about that; I just honestly don’t know where to begin.
I guess. I guess I could start with my 14yo officially being diagnosed with Autism lately. It came as no surprise, but having it be official opens up a world of resources he would benefit from.
It’s not even overwhelming. I’ve long since adapted my parenting of him to accommodate his autism. Even if he didn’t turn out to be autistic he had quirks that needed adapting to. So, I just did. Some trial and error. Some common sense. He’s actually a fairly easy kid to parent comparatively speaking. At least for me. We’re so much alike that I simply parent him like I would have wanted parenting.
This all further validates my assumption that I’m also autistic. He and I are so much a like in big and small ways. And all the traits that confirm his autism are things we share, so it’s reasonable to extrapolate that I’m also likely autistic. I’m not at this time looking for an official diagnosis, nor am I looking for resources. But it’s a huge comfort to be able to assume, “Oh! So that’s why I’m like that!”
I have more things to share as I find the words, but this is a start.
Haha. I have a 4th cat. Because apparently the only thing preventing me from sliding deep into crazy cat lady territory was my ex wife. lol
Meet Jaskier. A true bard. And Luke’s ESA.
Now everyone in the house has an ESA kitty except me*. That’s called foreshadowing.
* 4 cats, 4 humans. But Ash and Soot are bonded. Ash is a good boy and a great ESA to Sammy, but Soot, who was meant to be mine, has no interest in being anyone’s cat. Her loyalty is to Ash. Which is fine. She’s her own cat. She’s Ash’s cat. She’s fine. But that leaves me without an ESA. Foreshadowing, that.
So I want to talk about parenting a gifted kid. Because I don’t honestly know if I’m doing it right. Please know I’m doing my best and in good faith seek advice.
For the past like 3 or 4 years, my 13yo Lucas, who is autistic and has ADHD which he’s medicated for, has been in the gifted program. I almost didn’t let them put him in it because I know the horrors of being gifted, but I was assured he’d never be pulled out of class, he’d just be doing slightly different assignments. When questioned he didn’t even realize he was doing gifted program work, that’s how integrated it was. I was assured he was doing different things, even if he didn’t realize it. Ok. That’s great. I let him stay in the program all through intermediate school (4-6).
He’s always brought home good grades. I’ve never cared about grades. I care about effort, whatever that means for the individual child.
Then the pandemic hit and the end of last year and all of this year became online. I’m sure I don’t have to tell y’all that online school and ADHD don’t mix.
With a complete lack of structure, he’s putting my disinterest in grades to the test. I think he is trying his best but the executive dysfunction is a bitch and he just can’t get anything done except under complete duress that’s exhausting and traumatizing for everyone involved. And even then he was suddenly failing everything. Everything.
At some point, I’m not exactly sure when, but I was probably a really tired single mother in that moment, I just radically accepted that this year is a wash and he’s probably going to be repeating 7th grade.
I’m not even mad. I’m just tired.
And I haven’t stopped encouraging him to do the work. We talk about what it means to repeat a grade. We discuss these kids he’s grown up with leaving him behind. We discuss that it’s not too late to catch up. But honestly fam, as the autistic kid, he doesn’t really have any friends he wants to keep up with. (That part hurts my heart more than anything.)
But I’ve just radically accepted that this year being online was doomed to fail and instead of being angry at him, I’ve made failing ok. I know if he were in an actual classroom he’d be fine. But he’s not so I have to accept the consequences.
Is that the right thing to do? What would you want your parents to do in this situation? I’m asking in earnest!
Every response I received was filled with encouragement that I was doing the right thing by him. Overwhelmingly people told me how they wish their parents had taught them failing was ok and how to fail. Because you know what? Sometimes you fail in life.
Which got me reflecting on teenage me in high school. I was undiagnosed with ADHD and Autism, severely depressed, and blossoming into having Borderline Personality Disorder. My grades, my senior year especially were a mess! And while my mom didn’t yell or punish me, it was very clear I had disappointed her, and that hurt. Instead of being taught how to fail, I was taught that I needed to achieve a certain level to be acceptable.
Fast forward more than 10 years to when I started college. I had it in my head that failure wasn’t an option, only somehow I got the message that anything less than an A was a failure. Sure I graduated 6 years later with top Latin honors, but I also almost died repeatedly because I had stopped making my own blood. If I had been taught to fail or at least accept less than an A, I might have spent less time writing final papers while getting blood transfusions. The two should never mix.
I honestly thought swamps were only in the southern United States like Florida. However, a friend posted about a local swamp they went to and all the frogs they saw/heard and I was super excited. Within a week Iris, Lucas, Sammy, and I were at the swamp frog watching and hiking the trail. Then a couple of days later I went back with Robin. It was glorious. The frog songs lifted my spirits. The startled splashes as they hid from us were endless fun. We did see a few. And I got some photos. I also took photos of the flowers, greenery, and the swamp in general. I’m going to go ahead and dump them here. There are… a lot. I’d apologize but I wouldn’t mean it.
I’ve decided that once or twice a month, from now until forever, we’re going to explore Ohio. The fact that there was a swamp with frogs only 27 miles away and I didn’t know about it, is tragic. So I’m dedicating myself to exploring trails, reserves, and parks in Ohio that are outside my usual stomping ground.
Later this month we’re going to Clifton Gorge. It’s about an hour away, just to the east of Dayton. In August we’re going to take a day trip up to Lake Erie. Then in September and October, we’re going to explore a couple of caves at Hocking Hills. Next spring we’ll visit the waterfalls there.
I want to see Ohio. I love nature. I love hiking. I love bonding with my family. I can’t afford to pay admission for all of us to do things like Cedar Point. But the parks? Parks are free and amazing!
Lucas has always had a thing for birds. So when he mentioned wanting a bird feeder, I did my job.
We offer 3 suet cakes, a tray of mealworms, black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, and a regular seed mixture. Plus water.
It goes from mostly-completely full, to almost completely empty in about 24 hours.
So we diligently go out and refill it every day. This adds up cost-wise, but we are able to do so much bird watching and my Lucas is thrilled!
Rachel bought him a really nice pair of binoculars from a thrift store, and my dad cleaned them up real nice. I bought him a Bird’s of Ohio field guide so we can all identify what we see.
I’m buying bulk seed and mealworms from the Tractor Supply store, which is really the only way to buy seed. The suet cakes you can find anywhere for about $1.00-1.50 each. This adds up, but I can buy them here and there even just from the grocery store. The peanuts (raw and unsalted) disappear fast, but I can also buy those from the grocery store. Though I do want a source to buy them in bulk. It’s probably much cheaper that way. Anyway, we’re doing our best to manage the costs, as it is worth it. However, if anyone would like to kick some cash towards Lucas and his birds, here is my Paypal.
I’m going to be honest, this is Luke’s special interest, but most of us are enjoying it! As far as I’m concerned we’re going to maintain this year-round as long as we live here and probably at our next home too.
I don’t really have anything big and exciting to talk about.
I refuse to spend time discussing the mass hysteria that is Covid 19. Wash your hands. Stay home if sick. Don’t touch your face. Don’t shake hands with others. Minimize the touching of shared spaces. Consider voting blue no matter who since Trump fired the entire pandemic team in 2018. There, it’s discussed. Oh. I will say that so far my household is healthy. And the kids are out of school until at least April 6th. Now it’s discussed.
We’re slowly doing some spring cleaning around the house over the span of March. Hopefully more so now that the kids are home for three weeks.
This past weekend’s project was Sammy and Lucas trading rooms. Lucas had the biggest room in the house, outside of the master bedroom, and utilized about 50% of the provided space. Sammy, meanwhile, who still plays with toys desperately needed storage and thus most of her belongings were on the floor, and really she needed more room in general because even after I bought her storage, there was no place to put it in her room.
So they traded.
That was a lot of work. Two rooms were torn apart and reorganized. Plus, while we were at it, I had them both sort through all their clothes and donate shit that they were just never going to wear, or that didn’t fit. I’ve already hauled 1 load to goodwill and have another load to go since they are still sorting as I wash the 10 loads pulled out of the bottom of various closets. I also hauled a full load of garbage to the dumpsters behind the apartments in our neighborhood. There was just so much stuff beyond saving and it wouldn’t all fit in our bin.
There rooms are back in proper order now, so that has settled. I do have a storage closet in Sammy’s new room that I want to go through. But that can wait. It’s behind a shut door.
My lower back, however, is killing me. Thank goodness for CBD lotion and the tens unit my mom bought me. (School is on lockdown so Thomas and I don’t have access to the weight room. Which is a bummer, but understandable.)
Work is going well. I, unfortunately, missed a full day this past week due to an ear infection. I was put on the proper anti-biotics and by the time I returned to work, they had kicked in and I was feeling much better. Then I missed a few hours Friday because I went into anaphylactic shock. Apparently I’m allergic to seasoned fries from Popeye’s. I probably could have suffered through the rest of the workday, but things were very slow with barely any appointments, so I was encouraged to go home and double the Benadryl dose I’d already taken.