A little kindness. Please.

I was going to write this week about my youngest son’s last two weeks. He has had a rough time of it..getting into trouble at school. I asked him what he thought might be the source of all this turmoil…he suggested his race. I countered his jerkish behavior.

And then Paris happened.

It seems that I will be writing about racism after all.

We do deal with some racism in this family. When we go out to eat, my African daughter is asked if she would like a separate check, if she and my son’s leftovers are going in a different bag. I understand this…sort of. They are darker…we are whiter.

I have friends that swear they aren’t racist, and yet make racist comments when we go out to very mixed clubs, joking that all they saw were “teeth” on the way back from the bathroom. These friends would swear that they are not racist–they have close friends that are African American!

I was dismayed to see a comment by a friend on Facebook today that said something along the lines of how this friend went out to dinner this weekend and saw a Muslim person and now feels they must worry.

Stop.

I have many close Muslim friends. I have never felt unsafe in their presence. I have felt love, acceptance, kindness–qualities I look for in a friend.

I knew when the attacks happened that people would have a knee jerk reaction and blame a religion, and not radical jihadists. The people that did this were assholes.

They want us to react with hate and fear. If we do this, then we also become assholes.

Can we stop being racists? Can we stop the xenophobia? Can we stop judging people by their religion? By their sexual orientation? By their anything??

Can we instead choose kindness and love, compromise and acceptance?

Let’s fight darkness with light.

Let’s stop the assholes.

Peace people.

 

 

 

Scary Stuff…(Happy Halloween…)

Dear gentle readers, I was going to write to you about my vacation with my children to Orlando.

Instead, I feel the need to tell the tale of this very scary Halloween…

I took my autistic son, dressed as the Joker (of course) up to the elementary school in our neighborhood for the Halloween party tonight. The weather here in Michigan is crappy–rainy, cold, windy….trick or treating is not good. The party is the one thing that makes up for it, pretty much every year.

I arrived at the party and my son began gorging on donuts and cider. My younger son strolled in with the neighbors. All was good in the hood.

Or so I thought.

The photographer approached us and my son asked him what he was dressed as. He replied that it was a winged suit. What it was, in fact, was a base jumping suit–hand-made with plastic tarp.

He proceeded to inform me that he actually sold these suits on a website for much cheaper than a “real” suit “as let’s face it–the end result is the same.”

Ummmmm

I said oh, you mean that they are jumping to their death???

He replied yes, and this was a much cheaper alternative.

Holy shit! (y’all!!)

I suggested to him that he have a link to life insurance on his website….as a potential kick back. He said didn’t think that base jumpers could be insured…perhaps mortuary services?? I said that he might be on to something….

It’s not ghosts that I’m afraid of.

It’s weirdos like this.

Weirdos that want to profit off death, and are employed around young children.

None of the other parents picked up on this creepy dude’s creepiness. AWESOME.

I wanted to scream “there is a man in a hockey mask–and he is taking your kid’s picture!!”

The potential creepazoid was cleverly disguised as an everyday photographer.

Well played, freak. Well played.

I’m totally using this in my act.

Happy Hauntings.

Milestones and moving day

Yesterday I dropped my 19-year-old daughter off at college. She is beginning her freshman year. I was filled with mixed emotions, as I imagine many parents are at this milestone..but then again, I don’t imagine many parents have traveled the same journey that we have, over the last 5 years.

I may have mentioned before that it has been a bumpy ride.

When we brought her home from Africa…she was emotionally extremely young for her age. Both she and my son had only learned to eat with a spoon–it’s all they had been exposed to. I let that go for a couple of days…and then put only a fork and knife at their places at the table.

She was pissed.

She demanded her spoon.

I refused. I told her she had to learn to use the fork and knife, that she would be going to school in a couple of weeks, and that she would be expected to use them there. I knew that at 14… at 14 if she only used a spoon at school, well the teasing would be just cruel. So I was firm. She thought I was cruel. She begged my husband to cut up her food. He cut some up for a day…until I made him stop.

She would pout, and purse her lips and say NO!! and look away. She would throw herself on the floor and have tantrums.

She was 14. I was going through chemo.

At one point she looked at me, during one of our more heated “conversations,” and said “Well I guess you’re going to have to get used to me living here in my house now with my rules” or some such shit like that. You can probably predict what I thought–oh hell no you did not say that to me–I am sick as hell with chemo–I fought for SIX years to bring you here, and you treat me like THIS?? AND THIS IS MY DAMN HOUSE!!!!

But I took a breath…and said that this was MY house, and that we lived there TOGETHER and as such we would learn to live TOGETHER…

We are still trying to figure that out.

It would be a lot easier if she would let me in. At least a little bit.

She has come a long long long way since those early days on the kitchen floor, pouting (and for the record, when she did that, I stepped over her, and told her when she was done with her tantrum to come find me so we could discuss her complaint…). She is obstinate. This worries me.

A lot of things with her worry me.

I moved her in to her dorm room yesterday and helped set her up. We got her books… I did a final scan of the room, and carried out the boxes. I hugged her good-bye, wished her luck and said I would see her later. And I turned and walked away.

She needs to miss me now.

She needs to know that she actually does love me…that I am not this person she has created in her mind.

For five years she has been trying to build a wall between us. For five years I have been trying like hell to tear it down.

I spent last night worrying what she was doing, her first night alone…had I taught her enough….had I done the right thing letting her go…

She did not text me–she texted my husband earlier in the evening.

Eventually she will see, through all of her anger, pain, sorrow….through all of her bullshit…I have always been here.  Even as she pushed, punched, kicked me away…I still held on. Even if by a thread.

And that even now,  I still do.

Even as I let go…just a little bit.

Windows (or stairway) to Heaven…

I’m conflicted when it comes to matters of faith.

Please do not feel free to write and lecture me on this. It’s my journey, not yours.

I was raised basically agnostic/atheist by my crazy ass parents…who suddenly became “Christians” when I started dating a Jewish man..(there is a stand up routine here, I assure you..).

I want my children to have some sort of  faith, some sort of spiritual guidance…some sort of comfort in their darkest hours…something to fall back on. I know what the feeling of NO SECURITY does to a child/adult/person…and I want them to feel like there is something more. Until they can figure it out on their own.

My oldest daughter is fairly agnostic. I’m ok with that.  I’m not sure what my 19-year-old daughter believes…she’s at that age where she doesn’t know herself fully yet… My autistic son says the Hebrew Shema every night..

This leaves my youngest son. Not long ago we were driving and I remarked that the clouds and sun were making “windows to heaven” pattern (it’s entirely possible I’m calling this the wrong thing DUE TO MY LACK OF RELIGIOUS UPBRINGING. SIGH.) He was instantly all over this. Where?? he demanded loudly. I pointed it out…he saw the sunlight streaming down. He wanted to know what I meant. I explained that some people thought that when the sky looked like that, it meant that the doors or windows to heaven were open and you could look up or the souls there could look down.

Now whenever we see this heavenly formation, my son wants me to speed up, to get directly under, so he can peer up.  He wants to look up…and see who is up there.

So sweet.

I don’t have the heart to say what I think…that heaven isn’t this giant ass cloud in the sky….that I’m with Twain on this.

I let him have this. Why not.

He has too many nightmares from his time in Africa…too many memories… too much stuff already. He hung a dream catcher over his bed in an attempt to stop the bad dreams. It hasn’t worked-yet.

He will be twelve years old this week.

I worry that he isn’t reading enough. I worry that he will soon be a black male teenager in America. Don’t lecture me about race–I might have said the same things you would say…until I had African children. I worry about this and that–I worry all the time.

I don’t want him to worry like this.

So let him have his “windows to heaven.” Let him have some peace.

Let me worry for him. Let me take away his nightmares. Finally.

Peace and love.

It’s love, baby

You may be aware that my oldest daughter is a teacher and lives in another state (sniff). When she graduated from college, she was all like, peace out girl scout, I’m moving south to the sun.

She recently moved in with a friend to conserve costs, and sent me her new address today (so I could send her a book she needs for grad school…). Anyway, the street she now lives on contains the word “HIDDEN.”

I promptly texted her back and was all OMG are you in a hidden meadow??? HOW WILL I FIND YOU???

Her response (to her loving mother..) You’re fucking retarded.

I pointed out that she wasn’t supposed to swear at me. And I said that she should get her book this Friday although I REMAINED VERY CONCERNED THAT SHE WAS HIDDEN FROM VIEW.

Her response–You’re retarded.

I asked how will I find you if I ever come to visit you? Will I need a tracking dog?? ARE YOU IN THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM?????

And then I said this is why I shouldn’t text after drinking. One glass…ok a glass and a half of wine…and it was complete chaos.

She replied that I was dumb.

This is how I know that she loves me. We can have this kind of conversation.

I miss her face, her tattoos, and her (now) dark purple hair.

Our children are always our children, no matter their age. And I suppose I will always tease my kids…and get sarcasm in return. It’s our family language. It’s our love language.

And that’s cool with me.

Traverse, part two (or, Another person I wanted to collect…wait, that sounds creepy..)

I have to add another post about our trip to Traverse City. As many of you may know, two of my children are adopted from Sierra Leone. That’s in Africa…just in case you didn’t know.

That means they are black–just to be clear.

We went to lunch one day at a local eatery, called Don’s Drive In.  It’s painted bright pink, and inside the booth’s are sparkly red and silver–reminiscent of the 1950’s. They serve a pretty good burger and steak fries, and home-made shakes. The kids love this place. The children’s meals are served in paper pink Cadillac cars. What could be better???

The very cute young waitress, wearing a bright pink dress and white apron, approached our table and began chatting with us. She brought back our drinks and then asked where the kids were from, nodding her head towards my daughter and youngest son. It took me a half second to realize what she meant–my first answer was Detroit?? because, duh–I sometimes forget they aren’t really “from me..” I answered from Sierra Leone–Africa.

She said that she had been a foster child and was also adopted. She gave a big smile and walked back to look for our food. My youngest son, age 11 (he will be 12 in August) looked up and asked how she knew they were adopted. My daughter and I nearly fell on the floor laughing. Because, really. Two really white parents and giant 18-year-old autistic brother and then them.

When she came back to the table I told her, with a smile, that my son wondered how she knew they were adopted. She looked at him, and said that as an adopted child, you develop a sense as you get older and can just tell when another person is also adopted. And that being adopted is really cool, because you know you are really loved and that you are special.

She brought our food to our table and I asked her how old she was when she was adopted. She said she was put in foster care at age 5 and adopted at 12. I explained that we had to wait for six long years to bring the kids home, and they were 7 and 14 when we got them–and that they had been here almost five years now.

She was super nice and friendly and cute as a bug. I just wanted to squeeze her and bring her home with us. But I have a feeling her family would miss her.

She is a foster care success story.

I want to thank her for sharing her story and for telling my son that he was special. The family that raised her–the people who impacted her–BRAVO for doing such a great job. She seems to be a great girl.

I hope someday my own children can pay it forward in the same way.

You just never know who you’re going to meet.

The universe works that way. No chance meetings.

So keep yourself open to them.

Peace people. I hope you enjoy meeting me.

Traveling to Traverse (or, I wanted to be sedated…)

I have just arrived back home from a short vacation up to Traverse City, Michigan with my family. For those of you that don’t know where that is or what it looks like there…well…let me give you some visual aids here.. IMG_1457IMG_1460It is a beautiful part of the country. That’s Lake Michigan out there…

Every year when we travel up here for my husband’s conference, we stay at the same hotel, that has a water slide in the pool area. This year the conference was held at a different hotel, in the downtown district. Silly me, with all the distractions in my life…I failed to think about how this change would affect my autistic son. Ooops.

We got into the car and I began driving the first leg of the 3.5 hour trip. My son asked where we were staying…trapped in rush hour traffic and distracted, I told him the truth…he immediately began a tantrum that would last into the next day. He began hitting the seats, yelling, and asking every 30 seconds if we could go to the original hotel.

Within twenty minutes I wanted to bang my head against the window. We medicated him with his emergency sedation med, hidden in a Reese’s cup…he calmed a bit. My youngest son, bored, asked how much urine an average person pee’s in a day…

By the time we reached Traverse, my nerves were completely shot. My son’s continual asking about the original hotel had worn me down.

The next day we convinced him to go to an indoor water park. We all went and had a blast. My son is fearless..he went down every single water slide, no matter how scary it looked. He even insisted on going down this bright orange super scary tube…you step inside this chute, the kid closes a door…the bottom falls out and you plunge down, presumably to your watery death.

I was very anxious when he climbed into the chute…I kept repeating to him to hold his nose and keep his arms tight to his body and legs still. The door closed and the bottom dropped. The young (asshole) kid running the chute, said “OH! I’ve never seen anybody do THAT before.” I asked frantically, “WHAT???” He said he had never seen anybody pull their legs up when the floor dropped. My heart fell and I ran to the rail and looked over, convinced my son had bilateral femur fractures. The (asshole) kid was next to me, also looked down, shrugged and said, “Ah, he’s fine. Who’s next?”

Next up was my youngest son…who went in the tube and immediately began screaming…AH AH AH… We all started laughing…People in line, the (asshole) kid running the chute…my son’s eyes were wild…finally the (asshole) kid pushed the button and the platform dropped and my second son fell from sight…

Now it was my turn…my heart was just pounding…I went in…the young couple behind me were staring at me, mocking me…assholes….so I tried to act cocky…but then I started to get super nervous…and I started to swear…OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SH and then the bottom dropped out and down I flew, in the dark, water trying to go up my nose, which I tried vainly to squeeze….

The good news is the force of all those water slides completely cleaned out all my ladyparts. I’m just saying. And my bikini bottom’s were turned into a thong at every landing. AWESOME.

My son was finally happy. The kids had a great time.

But.

My son has said that next year we had better stay at the original hotel.

Ok then.

I got the message.