2013 Quirky Year-in-Review

Where did a year go? I’m still trying to come to grips with it being December, and here we are at the end of it. How can it be time for reflections and resolutions already?

I will be making some sort of resolution about writing more this next year. According to a nifty WordPress report, in 2013, Stay Quirky, My Friends was viewed 7,200 times by readers in 41 countries. I know that is a miniscule amount of traffic in the blogging world, but it still feels like a lot to little ol’ me. I’m just thrilled to have carved out a space to write about my parenting adventures and that some of you care enough to read about them sometimes! I hope to add more to this in 2014.

To close out the year properly, I thought I’d share some of the highlights of Stay Quirky from 2013 – pulled from the blog as well as Stay Quirky’s Facebook page (launched in March 2013), with a handful of my own parenting-related Facebook status updates thrown in the mix. I’ve written and learned quite a bit about parenting my kid this year. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

20130604-100007.jpgAs this boy looks toward my child with unmasked awe and curiosity, his friend looks down, shaking his head. In this moment, I see a clear illustration of the variations of “acceptance” that my son will face his entire life.

Both kids understand that my son is different.

One sees that truth as a negative.

The other sees it as an opportunity.

I recognize immediately which version my words and actions are promoting today. I have just been schooled by a five-year-old with an unused squirt gun.

~What’s Your Name, 5-31-13

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Just Once
Photo courtesy of Takahiro Watanabe http://www.twphotography.me

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The glee of my son’s standard mantra of “Pretzel-at-Target” turned sour the moment we walked in to find they’ve replaced the snack bar with a (expletive deleted) Starbucks. Those baristas better learn how to make a soft pretzel to go with my Grande (expletive deleted) latte.  ~ FB status, 10-30-13

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Laugh_Stella_OvertheHedge

I am thinking that my kid has maybe even fallen asleep because his reaction to the movie up to this point has been zero – but at the instant the cat yells for his new girlfriend …my son bursts out in a spontaneous and uncontrollable fit of giggles. STELLA!!! HaHAHahaha!! I can see the genuine look of shock on his face, and it seems clear to me that his laughter is a gut reaction to hearing that old, familiar joke in this unexpected context….. an exaggerated scream from an animated cat, and suddenly we are sharing an inside joke.

~Stella!, 3-11-13

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Tonight, my son and I went to a party held by our local Autism Society chapter at a public pool that was reserved just for our families. The pool was filled with autistic people of all ages expressing their joy of water with hoots and full-body shimmies and all variety of quirks. They were joined by their families and loved ones who could offer a smile or a nod of understanding to each other, quick exchanges devoid of the need to explain or excuse or apologize, before joining in on the fun. Everyone was allowed to just, simply, be. There were no castles or fireworks, but I am willing to bet that, for an hour or so this evening, that pool was the happiest place on earth. ~ Stay Quirky FB page, 6-15-13

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Trouble

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Skill Area:  COMMUNICATION

Annual Goal:  When presented with negative teenage attitude and general pissiness from my offspring, I will apply a variety of strategies to respond with Zen-like calmness as measured by a 60% reduction in sarcastic comebacks, heavy sighs and throwing hands up in exasperation.

Present Level / Baseline: Matches attitude with Attitude.

~ 2013 IEP (For Me), 1-1-13

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IMG_0316

I have always marveled at my son’s ability to pull enjoyment out of the smallest most insignificant-looking pile of nothing. He has always loved this activity of simply tumbling objects together; it soothes him somehow…. I don’t quite know how my son extracts such joy from these interactions with little objects. I am not sure whether it is the visual of the items cascading out of his hands; or the sounds they make tumbling against each other; or some combination of those sensations. Clearly, something about this simple activity is soothing – or more: something about this is fun.

~ It’s the Little Things, #AutismPositivity2013, 4-30-13

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I just completed an online survey for a study on how parents are handling puberty and sexuality education for their teens with autism. My responses might be slightly inaccurate – none of the questions offered the options of A) deny its happening, B) cry while looking over his baby book, or C) run screaming into the night. ~FB status, 1-3-13

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They have taught me that it is not enough to model acceptance and speak positively about my son to his teachers, peers, and family; to be a caring advocate, I must offer genuine praise and encouragement to my child directly – and much more often than typical parents should – because he battles everyday to squeeze into a world in which he doesn’t quite fit, and he needs the comfort and safety of a home life that unconditionally molds to his shape.

~Listening, 4-18-13

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My first Wordless Wednesday post…and still my favorite:

Rare Sightings, 2-27-13

Whales

Wordless_Desert Snow

Wordless_vacuum

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When we finish a “nonsense” phrase that we’ve heard so often, even though we don’t always understand what it means, he gives us a knowing grin. When we throw a familiar word or song lyric out to him at some random time, he volleys back with another, and we are having a conversation.

Soundscape 2013 Cloud PicI have no idea what we’re talking about, but these are still some of the best conversations I’ve ever had.

~ Soundscape – Nov. 2013, 11-25-13

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I read each page, hearing the words in my son’s voice.  The book is a collection of brief poetic letters in English and Japanese from a boy to his mom, recounting shared memories, imploring patience, expressing fears and joys, and attesting to the bond between a mother and her special child.

I close the book and set it down.  I can’t cry here.  Don’t cry here.  I concentrate on anything in the shop except this little book that is saying too much with its sparse words.

~Jiritsu, 8-16-13 – now featured in the December 2013 issue of Pentimento magazine.

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The neglect of my proper duties is brutally apparent in my son’s gleeful response to discovering, upon entering the kitchen this morning, that mom went to the grocery store last night. I swear, I DO feed this kid. ~ FB status, 6-8-13

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I admit that it is often hard to hold a vision of a rich and full independent life in the midst of the day-to-day, as my son’s progress inches forward.  There are days when I struggle to heed my own pleas that we must presume competence; days when my son and I are just not on the same page.  But that difficulty is not a reflection of his ability or his future prognosis; it is on me to find a way to connect and to help him realize his potential.

I will never give up believing.  He needs teachers and therapists who also believe.

~ The End Game, 11-20-13

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speed-sign

He very often hears the complaint: “It shouldn’t take you a half an hour to put your pants on. Let’s GO!” – and yet, he faces panicked parental cries when he begins with unfettered alacrity to strip off his wet swimsuit at the public pool.

~Speed Trap, 3-27-13

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One of the best pieces of advice I received as a newbie autism parent was from a been-there-done-that parent of an ASD teenager. She said “It’s a reason, not an excuse” – meaning that my son’s autism might be the Reason we found it challenging to go to the grocery store or rearrange his room or change the schedule, but it was not an Excuse not to ever go out, or make changes, or live life. This was enlightening for me, because instead of getting pulled down by all of the things that appeared out of his reach, it challenged me to look for creative accommodations and solutions; to show him that he has the support to interact with the world in a way that works for him. ~ Stay Quirky FB page, 8-4-13

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This morning, after I tell my son that no, he can’t have cupcakes for breakfast, I hear him say: (ala Mr. Incredible/Bob Parr’s boss) “I’m not happy, Bob. Not. Happy.”
Perfectly applied script, kid…n
o, you still don’t get cupcakes. ~Stay Quirky FB page, 9-7-13

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On to 2014! Here’s hoping I haven’t run out of things to write about. See you in the New Year, and thanks, again, for reading.

Stay Quirky, my friends.

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2 comments

  1. A Quiet Week · January 24, 2014

    What a lovely trip through your world! I especially relate to “Soundscape.” Tyoma and I both have Tourette’s and echolalia is a part of our experience. On a given day you will here odd phrases from commercials (We are Farmer’s! Bum ba-bum bump a dump dum dum! ) or random weirdness (Born in the U.S. Sleigh!!! Inconsequence-Consequence!!! Dodecahedron Podcast!). I cherish every shared moment of word fun. I’m glad you do too! ❤

    Lori D.

    • stayquirkymyfriends · February 20, 2014

      I somehow missed responding to you – thank you for visiting and sharing a bit of your soundscape too! Happy to know that the fun with echolalia happens in your world too. 🙂

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