Yesterday was Charlie's birthday & the photo above is one of his presents :) We moved into this house 13 1/2 years ago & he has wanted curtains in the dining room since then... There were curtains that came with the house, but they weren't very nice & we took them down soon after we moved in (I think I have since used them to strain plant dye liquid- waste not, want not...). It's a western exposure & I have loved the light coming through these windows in the afternoons for all these years, but Charlie has felt that, with the neighbour's house just yards from those same windows (this is the city...), it would be nice to have some privacy. For quite a few years he waited patiently for me to weave curtains for the windows, the extended wait being due to my deciding to hand-spin the cotton for the curtains' weft... on handspindles, of course (rather than the faster method of using a wheel). I even drew up the weaving draft for the curtains, so I could calculate the amount of thread I needed to spin. But as I got closer to finishing the spinningn part of the project & it became more real, I started thinking about how curtains would affect the light coming from the windows. Over the past few months I decided to scrap the curtains (& weave a whole mess of dishtowels someday from the handspun cotton instead) in favour of ...something ...not requiring new hardware to be installed into the 80-year-old gumwood, or covering up that very same gumwood, & that would let light in & yet give us privacy. Charlie was agreable with just about anything that would give us privacy. Last fall I found myself wrestling with trying to hang a beautiful piece of handmade paper in my 3rd-floor sewing room window & hit upon a system that has worked beautifully. Just a few weeks ago I was messing about with handmade mulberry paper & happened to hold it up to the dining room windows... & the solution was obvious. I gathered everything I would need (mulberry paper, paper cutter, cardstock for a template, double-stick squares) & decided to surprise Charlie on his birthday with the new "window treatment". He really likes it, especially now that he's seen it in the daytime as well as evening, with the sunlight making the coloured papers glow. I find that the room seems warmer & is more interesting visually, but in a subtle way. Either way... I finally did it!
The window project was interspersed with activities with Brendan, as he was off again on Tuesday due to the weather being so cold. We mainly worked our butts off on the story Brendan was writing (with dabs of help from me, plus me typing it) for dad's birthday & we finished a whole chapter more than we'd have done if he was at school. We also went through & "illustrated" the story by changing fonts for certain words, to emphasise them. It's really striking & was a lot of fun to do. The whole process was very intense & makes me look forward to having voice-recognition software so that he can do more without needing me to type it all. We ended-up with 15 pages of text, which I put in a portfolio with a clear cover & had Brendan sign before wrapping it. Charlie really liked it & read it out loud to us off & on throughout the evening & before bedtime. Brendan & I kept getting the giggles anticipating the funny bits- there's a lot of noses getting swelled & shrunk & bitten by supposedly inanimate objects (the story is about wizards at school, sort of HP but using Adventure Quest characters & Brendan's fertile imagination). One of the characters is blind & also, after providing loads of information at one point, mentions that his mom refers to his mode of giving such information as "listing"- definitely an aspie :) It is really interesting to see the things that Brendan finds interesting & important enough to incorporate into his storytelling.
While I worked on the windows Brendan played Adventure Quest, which has been pretty easy to cope with for the past few weeks now... but he did hit a wall yesterday & had a spectacular meltdown after things didn't go the way he wanted them to. I was taken by surprise & for a while wasn't sure how to help him move to a better place, emotionally. I finally settled on a combination of hovering/comforting & leaving him alone but staying close by in case he needed me, & he was able to accept the offer of a snack & movie after about 15 minutes of crying, raging frustration. We watched the 3rd InuYasha movie again, which is our favourite & that took up practically up to dinner time. Charlie came home & we had dinner, birthday cake, & present-opening. By bedtime we realised that Brendan's sniffles during the day had become a full-blown cold/virus of some sort. I really hoped it wasn't anything serious because not only had he been off school for 2 days, but the class play is this Saturday & he needs to be in school to rehearse.
I woke up about 3:00 this morning to hear voices from Brendan's room. He'd woken up because of his runny nose & sneezing & couldn't get back to sleep, so Charlie gave him some sudafed & tylenol & let him read for a while, to see if he could fall asleep again. I fell back to sleep & found out much later that Charlie had gone back in around 4:00 & stayed with him for nearly an hour until he fell asleep... The first thing I did when I went in to get him for school was check for a fever, but he felt fine, so we got up & at 'em. School was open & Brendan actually seemed glad to be going back. We decided we'd pick him up after lunch, since the rest of the afternoon would be phys. ed. & he didn't need to be running around with a cold, but when Charlie came home from taking him to school he said that that Brendan's class was spending the day at the theatre where the play will be, so phys. ed. was cancelled & Brendan had begged Charlie not to pick him up early (perhaps a first in his school career :).
Before Brendan & Charlie left for school they gave me birthday cards because today was my day- 49 years old :) Brendan had picked one out that had lots of rabbits & the punch line had to do with "grey hares" proliferating, tee hee. I asked him how he understood the significance of the "grey hares" thing (not something I was particularly aware of as a 10-year-old) & he told me that he must be a "sophisticated 10-year-old". I laughed & responded that this may be true, but sometimes he acted like a "sophisticated 2-year-old", which made him fall on the floor in mock surprise, giggling.
Charlie had the whole day off (he works half the day approx. 2 or more Wednesdays a month) & so we did a couple errands & went out for japanese for lunch. It was still too cold to be out for very long. He & Brendan stopped at the library on the way home from school & got a few movies, including "Duck Soup" & "Arsenic & Old Lace", which they had watched part of at school as a preparation for working on the class play. After we had a snack & I opened my birthday prezzies (Brendan gave me a box of fudge- yum!- & one present from Charlie was a swiss army pen- with a light, nail file & even scissors! It's something I've wanted for years but never thought to get for myself :). Then they watched "Arsenic & Old Lace", which was a good thing because Brendan was kind of hyper from his exciting day at school, lack of sleep. I drifted in & out of the tv room, sometimes watching & knitting & sometimes doing chores. Carey Grant is a hoot in that film, but the crazy hoodlum brother spooked me, so I left them to the movie & worked on coming up with valentine present ideas for Brendan's teachers. I settled-on making little origami baskets to hold chocolates (to be purchased tomorrow, I hope). Brendan can help me with the tags & putting it all together.
He held it together pretty well during dinner, but the day really started to catch up with him afterward, so he convinced dad to forego bathtime & he hopped into bed about an hour early & was asleep in about 5 minutes. Charlie has informed me that he won't be up late either, since he was up quite a bit last night, too. We chatted for a bit before he went up to bed & he had me laughing so hard I was crying, describing the brief bit of play rehearsal he'd seen this afternoon. It is going to be a hoot, whether or not they intend it ot be :)
This morning while we were doing errands I mentioned to Charlie that I think we need to get an appointment for us to see Brendan's psychologist again soon. I was reading an excellent post by Zilari that really helped me understand why I've been butting heads so much with Brendan lately. In her post, Zilari talks about her childhood difficulties with spoken communication & the expectations put upon her for communication, & also the assumptions made about her by the adults in her life because of her variable communication skills. While reading this post I had the odd experience of not only seeing myself in those with the unreasonable expectations, but also seeing myself as the child of whom too much was being expected... it was very unsettling & made me feel as though a new layer of "gunk" had been uncovered from my past. I have often found that where my past, abuse-realted stuff intesects with the present, I often have blind spots where I can't figure out how to cope well. I have spent a lot of my adult life recovering from the childhood abuse & intentionally learning new, healthier ways of thinking & behaving. I have spent a lot of time really looking at how parents behave with their children in order to be find other ways of behaving than the ones that were modeled for me by my parents. With Charlie's help I think I've put together a lot of positive ways to respond to Brendan, but Zilari's post has made me realise that I've found an new area of interaction with Brendan where I don't have any good models to follow. So, I plan to call Dr. M tomorrow to get an appointment so I can get some ideas from him. And, I'll bring it up next week when I see my therapist, since I don't need to have my "stuff" interfering with my relationship with my kid. No way...
Onward, then, into my 50th year... :) (hooray!)