The last few days have been like living in a kaleidoscope- I'm left with images of events, encounters, experiences that have not been fully processed yet. I am a process person, so this is not the way I like to live life- maybe because I don't feel as though I've lived it until I've been able to process. And if it's been busy for me... I'm trying to imagine how it must be for B (although he held-up very well, mainly because he had both parents to bounce off, most of the time). Luckily, the weekend wasn't bad busy, just unusually full of activities. Saturday morning we started right off after breakfast making valentines for school. The hand-making of valentines has become an important event for me, & it was one of the first craft activities B & I successfully shared, which has added to it's significance for me... for him, well, the hardest part for him is signing them so it doesn't really matter of they're store-bought or not. :) This year we made them from origami flowers, using the simple asagao (morning glory) pattern, & when he got tired of folding, I took over doing that & he signed & embellished. We had to make a fair number because the valentines project at school this year is making valentines for hospitalised children. B was not in the best state of mind by the time I declared us done (we wisely made the teacher valentines first), but was able to pull it together for Japanese lesson. He worked pretty well with us for maybe 20 minutes then managed to divert the lesson onto a discussion of the latest volume of Hikaru no Go. To be honest, I don't mind when B does this when he's gotten fed-up with the lesson. It's a lot better than having him melt-down & we usually end-up learning things about Japanese culture or talking about things we'll encounter when we go to Japan next year. I am often amazed by what a good sport Tomoko is about her lessons being derailed this way. The C came home (he worked Saturday morning) at just the right time & got some lunch for B while Tomoko & I finished the lesson. I promised that I would go over the parts B missed with him, & it sometimes really works out best when we do this. Then I can give the lesson my undivided attention & really get the point of grammer we're learning. This extra practise with B during the week helps to nail it home in my head, too. I'll say it again, though, we're very lucky to have found Tomoko!!
The after-lunch activity was a play-date with a school friend- the first time this friend has come over. His mom stayed, which I really enjoy, since we get to visit too. The whole play-date thing has never been easy for B or for me. I don't feel comfortable leaving him the first time we go over to a family's house so I stay, too. This has led to our finding some great & enduring friends, & also to discover that the folks who don't appreciate this habit of mine (I always mention it beforhand) are usually not people B's comfortable going back to visit anyway. Interesting... but anyway, I really like it when I find another mom who stays to visit with me :)
After the playdate, C & B did their own thing while I took some breathing space & did some sewing. I discovered that B is out-growing his boxer shorts (yet again), so grabbed this little time to finish a project I'd been working on for me before staring on the new size of boxers- I usually make 9 pairs since he needs extra to leave at school. After dinner C & I tag-teamed playing the new lego game B has been creating with our help. I am beginning to face the fact that I have a serious hang-up about board games & I wish I understood it! I loved the design phase of putting the game together, but now that we're actually playing it & testing the rules I am not having much fun :( This is bumming me out because it's taking the joy out of the process with B... we are lucky that C loves board games & will play with B for hours. I am more of a card game/dominoes type & will happily play those with the guys. I do need to figure out how to get past this aversion, though. B is obsessed with finishing the game so it can be played with friends & begs to work on it every day after homework is over. Maybe if I put a time limit on it, then we move on to other things... I'll have to try that today...
Sunday- church (no choir today so we could get there later) & Sunday School. My senior high class Sunday School is very small- only 4 kids enrolled & 1 of those was at a conference this weekend, so it was a great surprise to have everyone else show up plus one visitor & potential new member. The Board of our church has asked the youth to get involved in long-range planning by giving feedback on various issues relating to RE & youth participation in the church. In the process of discussing this we discovered that the kids don't feel a strong UU identity or a sense of the history of our denomination, or at least not strong enough for them to explain what it is that makes them want to be part of the church (other than their parents bringing them :) or that they could use to explain to friends why they like coming to church (which they do). I gave them a bit of an overview of how our denomination came into being & why I personally find church important in my life, & promised more info next week. We decided that it would be good for them to be able to write their reasons for coming to church on the walls (our room is famous for it's graffiti) when they've had a chance to research & discuss it all. I really enjoyed this process with them. I think that this is what being a teenager is all about anyway- figuring out who you are becoming- so any way that I can assist makes me feel like I'm doing my "job" as friend, advisor, & teacher. But it was intense!! I was so tired during lunch that I felt like taking a nap, but there wasn't time. Yesterday was also my mother's birthday & we invited mom, cousin & her husband to dinner to celebrate. So, I took about half an hour to finish my sewing project from Saturday (& I'm wearing it right now!) which refreshed me enough to start cooking. And baking. And cooking :) C kept B occupied & made the salad, so when folks arrived I could sit & chat. Our cousin's husband is a dean at the music school in our town & talk naturally turned to the wonderful lessons that they offer to the larger community... B was actually enrolled in their early leaning programme from the time he was 2 years old but the year he began kindergarten he also began PT, OT, & visual perceptual therapies & it was just too intense for us to keep taking him to music lessons as well... Sometimes I really do feel like we're swimming upstream in our desire to keep B's life as unprogrammed as possible. Our society strongly values constant activities for kids- keep 'em busy! Don't even give them time to think!! So many of the people we know spend their lives driving their kids from one lesson/game/playdate to another. B's needs are very concrete, though. He overloads very easily & does not do well in structured environments. He can cope with summer camp sessions because it's structured more like school & there's time to get used to things. Anyway, trying to explain B's needs to well-meaning family who see an obviously talented kid going fallow is not easy... We are fortunate that B's music teacher at school loves to challenge him with extra projects because there's no way we could add music lessons to his life right now. He took a couple years of piano on a low-key basis with the former music director at our church. They worked together at home & sometimes focused on composing songs or playing drums or whatever B was into, rather than piano, but they were a good experience for B. We also had the primary-level music teacher at school work with B after school for a while, too, but his interest lapsed. There's a part of me that really wants B to play an instrument or be in a choir or something!! But I've had too much experience with trying to force him to do something & having him take against it fiercely as a result... I just have to respect his rhythms & trust that his abilities will shine through when/if he does go back to music lessons, & this is what I explained to well-meaning family. I also mentioned that we take Japanese lessons, which are a wonderful excercise for his "ear", too. ("See, we're not total slackers!" I thought... :)
Grammie seemed to enjoy her birthday dinner & company very much. One of the kaleidoscope images from last night that sticks in my mind is of her wearing the "autism awareness" wristband I gave her last fall... It's such a joy that my mom has come so far in her ability to cope with B's "labels" that she can wear it. When B was first diagnosed I didn't tell her- it would have been too devistating. Over time, when she couldn't help but notice that B behaved differently, I told her bit by bit. I know she was overwhelmed, but all I could do was model acceptance of who B was & it finally rubbed-off. When the OCD hit & B couldn't be touched by anyone but me it was horrible for Grammie, who loves hugging & kissing her grandsons. But she learned to be respectful of B's boundaries & eventually reaped the rewards of her patience when he could finally hug her again. Since Grampie passed-away nearly 4 years ago, Grammie has had an open invitation to dinner with us every Friday night. This has brought us all even closer together & I see my mom having even more acceptance of, & pride in, her "different" grandson. C told me last evening after B was in bed that Grammie had helped B through a particualrly ticcy moment that evening, distracting him in a loving way all her own. It's not only comforting to see this but validating- that she can learn from us what works well for him, & that she, too, can feel capable of helping him when he needs it.
This morning was back to school. We created a new tool for the "toolkit" at breakfast, to help with the intrusive OCD thoughts & we were both keen to tell Cherie about it so she could remind B to use it during the day. It involves imagining Rusagi (creatures created by B) singing in Timeheart (a concept created by Diane Duane in her Young Wizard series) to help heal rifts in time & space. They sing in their own language & the song he sang was so sweet! It certainly helped the breakfast-time thoughts. After B was well-planted at school I taught Cherie how to make asagao, helped Paula out with a project, talked with both B's OT & speech therapist, & consulted with 2 people on knitting projects. When I got home I continued the process of putting the house back together after having had a dinner-party, plus the laundry... but was particularly struck by how quiet it was in the house, & peaceful. How I finally felt like writing again, in the midst of all the morning's chores. I really enjoy feeling fully engaged with life & wouldn't have changed any of our weekend activities for the world- particularly as we seem to have survived them, but I guess I'm someone who really needs to live life slowly to fully enjoy it.
This week isn't quite so crazy, with most of the birthdays out of the way (got to get Roos' prezzie in the mail, though!) & Valentines Day preparations nearly ready. But it will be another full one & I'm just going to have to find the quiet time, somehow. Time to examine my life & reflect on the images that stick out of the kaleidescope whirl.