Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Happy (belated) Birthday, Brendan!

Yesterday was not only April Fool's Day, but also Brendan's 12th birthday! It was a school day, but he was
ok with the wait for the end of the school day for birthday fun :) He had requested fruit trays with dip for the school celebration & they were a big hit (the teachers said that the kids appreciated the fruit more than cake or cookies :). When asked how old he was, Brendan chose to make up a math problem to tell them (a school tradition) & even used negative numbers in the equation! (The latest subject in 6th grade math... :) Since Charlie wouldn't be home from work until dinner time he had suggested that Brendan open one gift after school, so I had him open the japanese-language version of the newest Pokemon movie (it hasn't been released in english yet) that I'd found online &, as I'd hoped, he wanted to watch it right away. So I made popcorn & we headed upstairs, where we have Brendan's computer set for region 2 dvds, & had a great time watching it. It's just as visually gorgeous as the other recent Pokemon movies, & there was a great anti-war message, too. We did our usual shout-out of words & phrases we understood, & it really wasn't terribly hard to follow the plot or dialogue at all.

After the movie I showed Brendan the thank-you card I'd printed on the computer, a picture from one of his fencing lessons, specifically for the gift from his fencing teacher of a hand-built foil just for Brendan! He gave it to him on Monday after having him try it our for his lesson. Brendan was pretty floored, to be given a fencing foil of his own, & really excited when he recovered from the surprise :) His teacher told him that he found Brendan's enthusiasm for fencing, at such a young age, very inspiring, & wanted him to have a foil of his own to really get used to. Lucky kid! (Really proud mom, too :)

Another birthday surprise, that arrived in the mail, was a card, sent overnight mail, from Tomoko in Minnesota! She'd had some car misfortune & wasn't able to get a card out in time, so she sent it overnight so it would get here on his birthday (which I found very touching!). Grammie joined us for dinner, too, so she could be in on the birthday fun.

As mentioned in previous posts, Brendan's anxiety has been running higher for the past few months, & he was definitely on higher-anxiety mode anticipating his birthday. Since we really didn't want him to be miserable about his birthday, we asked him to make a list of some legos he really wanted (nothing too expensive!) & told him that he'd definitely get these sets for his birthday. He's been really into the Star Wars legos & has been working hard to earn & save allowance money to buy sets bit by bit, so he was really excited by this plan. That nipped the anxiety right in the bud, too- whew! Just to make things more interesting, I hid the legos & gave him clues for finding them (they were much too easy- next year he's going to have to work harder! :) He even translated my hiragana handwriting (which is notoriously bad...) & understood the clue I'd written in japanese. We told him that he would not be able to make all of the sets before bedtime (he had homework to do, too) & he was ok with just making one... go Brendan!!

As you can see by the above photo, legos weren't the only Star Wars items he got... Charlie got Brendan a lightsabre of his own at the same time that he'd gotten mine, so now Brendan & I have matching sabres! He was soooo excited. So, my sabre is now safe (he's been playing with it a lot...) although the living room furniture won't be until the weather warms up & he can practise outside... :)

And, just a year to go before he's a teenager... amazing...

In honour of his birthday, here's a Brendan story that I've been wanting to share for a while:
A couple of weeks ago we visited the anime store to pick up some new manga. They had some new pokemon plushies, some with light-up cheeks (kawaii!) & Brendan managed to talk me into getting one (not terribly hard- I'm a cute freak, too :). I love how he treats all of them as though they were real friends... Well, when we got out to the car, he pulled the tab from the battery &... the cheeks didn't light up. I sighed & prepared to go back into the store to try & exchange it, but Brendan told me that he didn't want to give it up. "It's ok, Mom, I like this one the way he is. I don't want to take him back." I was a little surprised, & a little relieved... In the car on the way home I mentioned to Brendan that not many kids would be satisfied with a plushie that didn't do what was advertised. He said that he was worried about what would happen to it if he took it back, that no-one would love it. I told him that maybe he's better at loving things no matter how well they work because he knows what it's like to be different. He smiled...

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At 11:12 PM, Blogger Club 166 said...

Wow. What a great story. Brendan's a sweet kid.

Buddy Boy is the same about his stuffed animals. He recently got a small "Balto" sleddog, and chastised me when I picked it up the wrong way, because it would hurt Balto if I did it like that.


At 2:45 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Thanks, Joe :) Brendan is also very careful of his plushie guys & we get the same response as Buddy gives you if we're not careful enough while handling them...

At 1:28 AM, Blogger kristina said...

Happy happy birthday to Brendan!

That last story----a big lump in my throat right now. And a smile.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Thanks for the bday wishes, Kristina :)

At 4:17 AM, Blogger FinnyB said...

I do the same thing with all my plushies (and my My Little Ponies) that Brendan did with that Pokemon. In fact, my favourite plushies and MLPs are generally the ones other people seem to consider "defective," oddly enough. I also tend to worry that other people wouldn't care for the plushies or MLPs as well if they're not perfect. But perfect doesn't matter to me.

(My favourite plushie is Flickablankie, a unicorn who is just as old as I am--she'll be twenty-seven this June, just like me. Her eyes were removed by our dogs when I was eleven or twelve, her once-white fur is now flat and grey, the flocking on her hooves is long-gone, and her horn was long ago unwound into a carrying handle, as she comes with me pretty much everywhere. She helps keep me calm and grounded, and is my best friend.)

Oh, yes, and I do wish Brendan a (also rather belated) happy birthday. And him getting his own fencing foil is just so cool! I admire him for doing the fencing (reminds me of how I was with martial arts, when I was physically capable of doing so and had a sensei who was willing to work with my Aspie-ness and physical perticularities; I no longer can practice my art, but I did make it to high green belt--almost halfway to black--and won several trophies for katas in tournaments before I had to stop). He is very cool, and so are you.

(And sorry about the long babble! Didn't mean to go on for so long, but mention of plushies tends to do that for me. I have several Turtwig plushies, including one that says his name, and a Bunbury--not his real name, but I can never remember it, so I've named him Bunbury after a made-up character in one of my favourite plays, Oscar Wilde's The Importance of being Earnest--and want to get the plushie of Turtwig's upgrade that I just saw today.)

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Casdok said...

Belated happy birthday!
Lovely story.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Thanks, casdok :)

And Finny... Thanks for your lovely babble! I really enjoyed what you shared about your plushies & martial arts experiences. Brendan's Rufus plushie/best friend is definitely getting fragile- I have a special spool of light grey silk thread that is just for Rufus repairs, since it exactly matches the colour of his once-pink plush & makes the stitching invisible. Brendan has a Turtwig, too! I love Buneary (& your Wilde name for it :), but he prefers Pachirise (which is the plushie in the story)- I don't know the english name. We don't know many of the newest Pokemon's names in english, since most all of our newest pokemon & books are from Japan. I prefer Buneary's japanese name anyway- Mimiroru, which means "ear-roll" in translation. Brendan also calls Turtwig by his japanese name, "Naitoru", & the monkey one is "Hikozaru" ("fire-monkey-child"). Brendan's fave by far is Pochama- he has 3 of them!

At 10:47 PM, Blogger FinnyB said...

I keep looking for the right colours of thread for Flickablankie repairs (I'd need a golden-ish colour and a light grey, since her hooves and horn are golden--they used to be yellow--and the rest of her has turned grey over the years), but I haven't found any yet. Next time I'm in the Michael's up here (I've only been once since I moved to Canada), I'm going to have to investigate their thread selection.

I really enjoyed reading back in your blog about Brendan and Rufus--Rufus is adorable!

Buneary! That's his "real" name! Thanks! (He'll always be "Bunbury" to me, though--and my husband has even started calling him Bunbury, even though he can remember Buneary!) Mimiroru and Naitoru...I like those names. (I love Japanese, though I never managed to learn it, despite trying--I simply couldn't remember the hiragana or katakana, much less any of the kanji, and my instructor's impatience, while understandable since she had a whole class to teach, didn't help [and neither did the fact that I'm a self-diagnosed Aspie--don't have the money or insurance to pursue an official diagnosis yet, though I plan on doing so when I can--and thus the way I learn conflicted with the way she taught]. I also absolutely loved reading about your family's adventures in Japan last year--I'd love to go to Japan someday, as would my husband.)

At 2:10 AM, Blogger AnneC said...

That is a wonderful story about Brendan and the plushie! I am not at all surprised, and it's definitely that kind of thing that makes me wonder how anyone can claim that autistic people "lack empathy". I'm actually writing a blog entry on empathy and how it is often misinterpreted and confused with things like "typical social responsiveness", and I may end up quoting this entry.

And that's too awesome that Brendan's getting into fencing! I always wanted to do that as a kid but never ended up actually doing so, unless you count when my brother and I would "fence" with curtain rods (something our parents didn't exactly approve of!)

At 10:04 PM, Blogger Lisa/Jedi said...

Hey Finny- I probably wouldn't be managing japanese very well if I weren't getting one-on-one instruction, plus having the advantage of learning it along with Brendan, so we can speak to each other & reinforce our learning really helps :) I thought I would never get the kana, but I have them well enough to read (after nearly 3 years of study), but the big frustration is when I go to write it & can't remember what some of the letters look like... sigh. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about Rufus & Japan!

Anne- I have some theories about empathy myself... I'll go look at what you've written to see what you're thinking :) Brendan is a very empathetic person- he cares very much about his family, friends, all animals, & his plushies (of course!). I believe that what appear to be lapses in empathy really are times when he's on overload or has so many thoughts in his head that he can't focus outward. I know I have issues with this, too, but I seem to fake it well enough (most of the time...).

At 10:47 PM, Blogger AnneC said...

I believe that what appear to be lapses in empathy really are times when he's on overload or has so many thoughts in his head that he can't focus outward.

Yes, that's definitely how it is for me as well. I find it hard to keep track of a lot of variables at once, whether they come from internal or external sources. If I am bombarded with noise or other sensory input, or if someone asks me a question (or worse, a lot of them) when I am already stressed, I am likely to be "abrupt" at best and meltdown-y at worst. :/ But that doesn't mean I don't care about others, or that I will not help them and offer compassion whenever I am able.

I'm glad you brought up the "so many thoughts in the head" thing too -- this is something I think my parents understand now, but when I was growing up I remember being constantly surprised at being thought of as rude/aloof/dismissive of others when I was really just preoccupied with something.

At 11:01 PM, Blogger FinnyB said...

I probably wouldn't be managing japanese very well if I weren't getting one-on-one instruction, plus having the advantage of learning it along with Brendan, so we can speak to each other & reinforce our learning really helps :) I thought I would never get the kana, but I have them well enough to read (after nearly 3 years of study), but the big frustration is when I go to write it & can't remember what some of the letters look like... sigh. I'm glad you enjoyed reading about Rufus & Japan!

I do think that I would do better with one-on-one teaching, or if someone was willing to teach both myself and my husband (so that we could practice together and such like you and Brendan). Unfortunately, I don't know of anyone/any place around Calgary to do that. Besides, if we can ever manage to, I think we're going to try and learn Gaelic, as both of us have Scottish and Irish backgrounds (along with French for him and English and German for me).

Trying to write and not being able to remember what stuff looks like would be most annoying, I do think.

And I have very much enjoyed reading about Rufus and Japan. I've very much enjoyed and been interested in everything you've written. (I love reading, and will read just about anything--I remember, when I was a kid, being so annoyed because cereal boxes never had enough words on them, ingredients included, to get me through breakfast!)


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