Archive for the ‘ADD’ Category


April 1st: Rainbow of RosesMy Sweet Girl loves blue. Of course, she also likes green, pink, and purple, but she says she loves blue the best.

Last year she started to notice that her elementary school was taking part in encouraging the students ahead of time to wear blue and “light it up blue” for April 2nd in order to show solidarity and celebrate Autism. They teach the children about Autism and why it’s important to be accepting of differences, and how autistic children and teens and adults might think differently but are still just the same as everyone else. They show the children the positives, but also teach the children that there can be difficulties, challenges, obstacles, that might be hard for them to understand if they aren’t autistic themselves, and it’s very important to know that they don’t have to be afraid. They shouldn’t bully children that show autistic behaviors, but should be friends with them and protect them. They don’t have to accept being bullied themselves by anyone, and if they see a child that they think might have disabilities such as happens with Autism, they should speak up.

Now, this isn’t what my Sweet Girl told me. She came home and told me that the whole school dresses up on April 2nd in her favorite color, blue, especially and specifically to celebrate her.  As a 6th grader she plans to wear blue tomorrow to celebrate herself.

I learned that this is what the elementary students are being taught by a neighbor’s daughter this morning because she was so excited to tell me about having learned about Autism in school to prepare for tomorrow. She’s excited to learn more, and she’s even more excited that she can share positive experiences with classmates because she’s at our house nearly every day. I remember how sad she was when she heard that there are people who would want to cure Autism and prevent people from being born with it. She immediately said, “But then there wouldn’t be awesome people like G!”

This morning my neighbor girl also told me how much she enjoys Sweet Girl and there are lots of things she loves that Sweet Girl does. Her very favorite thing is when I hold up my hand to give a high five, and Sweet Girl goes to give me a fist bump instead… but when I hold up my hand to give her a fist bump she puts up her own hand to give me a high five. She loves Sweet Girl’s sense of humor; she loves seeing how Sweet Girl can start her morning routine with the worst of moods and then change it around by helping me bake muffins or smelling coffee and giggling that giggle that Sweet Girl does.

Those are the things she wants to share. We’ve turned our little 9 year old neighbor into an advocate and ally already. ;-)  She plans to wear blue head to toe in honor of Sweet Girl.

This does present a dilemma in my own mind because these girls really don’t connect lighting themselves up blue with the damage done by Autism $peaks. How do I tell these children that they shouldn’t because it’s offensive to those of us who know what it’s connected to? That if they come across an autistic individual who would be offended knowing the significance as a self-advocate, it could cause a trigger effect for that person that could last hours or days? How do I justify taking away their excitement to learn more positive things and their desire to educate and not just make people aware but ACCEPTING?

These kids get it, you know… that it’s about accepting now and not just awareness. After all I think that there are probably only 12 people left in the developed world that have never heard of Autism. As a nation, we’re definitely aware. The problem is that as a nation, we’re not educated and we’re definitely not accepting. We can’t even accept disabilities as a whole let alone Autism. We have a self-proclaimed Autism support agency, Autism $peaks, who takes donations and doesn’t put them towards services but towards research that would try to find cures and prevention. We have parents who try to murder their disabled children, and apologists for them who “understand what they’re going through” hoping courts will be lenient and demanding others not judge them. We have comedians making vicious fun of disabled people. We have musicians writing offensive song lyrics against autistic people. We have every day people using the word autistic as a slur and an insult just as they use stupid, moron, idiot, and dumb (all ableist language).

These kids are getting it. This is why I support mainstream education rather than separating the students that have disabilities from the non-disabled students. It’s not just about educating them and telling them in a Do As I Say, Not As I Do situation. It’s about seeing each other as equals because heads up, they are, and treating them as such because guess what, they are. It’s about learning that being different doesn’t mean less, and it doesn’t mean segregation. It shows all of the children, including the children with disabilities, that we ALL have challenges and obstacles and we all need different kinds of help.

It teaches more than tolerance, more than awareness… it teaches acceptance. A quiet, natural acceptance.

A major issue with what April as Autism Awareness Month means is that for the teen and adult self-advocates that are aware and educated about the intricacies of the history of how society treats disabled individuals; that have been through traumatic experiences as they’ve grown up for various reasons at the hands of their parents, peers, education, therapies; how society specifically currently views Autism as a whole; and last but not least the intense spotlight that this “awareness month” puts on Autistic individuals is this:

It’s not the right kind of attention for many Autistics.  It’s anxiety inducing.

Donations often go to agencies that are not supportive of Autism at all, nor of Autism Services (Autism $peaks I’m looking at you).

It’s a huge burden to bear to be the face of Autism for an entire month.

It’s a huge burden to bear to be expected to educate people for an entire month.

It’s a huge burden to bear to have to argue with parents who have not accepted their child’s neuro-diversity even if their child is in their  40’s or 50’s.

It’s a huge burden to bear to be expected to “overcome” their disabilities or show them off for others.

It’s an even worse burden to have to defend being Autistic in a world that still wants to cure you and insists that it needs to prevent Autism in others. Autistics around the world feel that if their parents wished they weren’t Autistic, that if they could stamp it out, then they’re also wishing they were stamped out. There is no distinction between their person-hood and their autism.

It’s not fair when parents use this month to spotlight how much they hate Autism, causing Autistics around the world to feel that they are hated. If you hate Autism, they feel you must hate them as well. That’s a reasonable feeling. There is no distinction between their person-hood and their autism.

I can’t say that I disagree.

That’s an awful lot to bear. That’s why at only 12 years old, I’m really not sure that I want to take the joy out of my daughter’s eyes when she sees her classmates wearing blue because her interpretation is that it’s all in her personal honor. It’s Sweet Girl Day tomorrow. I know she’ll ask me to wear blue for her, just as she did last year. I sigh as I write this because I know the social implications, but for my daughter? I’ll do anything. Maybe I’ll wear a multi-colored something.

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I would love it if as a mom and ally, I didn’t have to defend Autism. Little babies and children don’t need to be protected from Autism at all costs.  I would love it if society didn’t treat Autism in that way.  I hope that my Sweet Girl never has to defend Autism. She should never have to defend her very existence. I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with her a couple of weeks ago that I drafted, and am finally sharing.

My Sweet Girl recently found out that there are people who think Autism is Very Bad and want to cure it, prevent it, stop it, and that they spread misinformation about it. When she heard a doctor and someone else who was supposed to be some expert talk about the MMR vaccine and Measles, the pros and cons, the arguing and veiled insults, she shot her head up as soon as the woman (not the doctor) brought Autism into it. She said something negative about preventing ASD, curing ASD, blaming the MMR and epidemic rates, and the usual propaganda prattle. The Doctor thankfully had his head on straight and refuted the claims this loon was making.

The look of confusion on Sweet Girl’s face would have been amusing under any other circumstance, but I knew by the quickening of her breath that she had some understanding of what that woman said, and it wasn’t something I was ready for because I worried that it wasn’t something she was ready for.

And so I was cursing the Today Show for ramming the measles/vaccine/autism discussion during school-preparation time.

“Why did they say that? What did they just say?”

“There are some people who think Autism is caused by traumas, errr, injuries to the brain. There are some people who think that vaccines cause an injury that makes Autism, and that vaccines can cause other injuries so they don’t trust vaccines. People are getting the Measles right now because a lot of people stopped giving their children shots. They think Measles is safer than the shots.”

“That is stupid, shots are medicine. You need medicine. Shots stop sick before you get sick.” ::dirty look:: “I don’t like needles.”

“I don’t like getting shots either.”

“I do not want to take away my Autism,” she said, pronounced like AWT-izm.

And then the hard part.

“Why do people want to stop my Autism? Then I would not be here,” and there was an edge of hurt in her voice mingled with disbelief.

“I don’t know the answer to that, honey, except that maybe those people just don’t understand Autism or how to look for the talents instead of the stuff in Autism that makes things hard for you and other people like you.”

“Yes, it is hard. I need my Autism. I love being… what is the word? I love being Autism?”

Tears started to well up.

“The word is ‘autistic’ sweetie. Do you love being Autistic?”

“Mmmm hmm.”

“Are you happy?”

“Mmmm HMMMM!”

“That makes me happy. I love you and your Autism.”

 

With a nod she walked away. As you can see, my daughter is kind of amazing. Just like her sisters. In her own words, at only 12 years old she let me know in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t want a cure. She thinks the idea of being injured is stupid (we’re working on reducing the ableist language like stupid and idiot, sorry it slipped in). She’s shocked at the idea that anyone would want to change who she is or prevent more people like her from being born.

She’s delighted when she finds out that other classmates or other peers are like her. There’s a sudden new understanding and behavior shift with them when she finds out, and they’re just happy to “be.” She has a compassion for difficult behaviors when she knows that they might have autism or something similar.

As I said, she’s kind of amazing.

We’ve been honest and open with her about Autism from the beginning when we realized it helped her to know. It helped her form questions when she had them. Since she’s known for so long, since she was 4 1/2 or so, she’s never “not known” that she’s Autistic. I trust her instincts.

She knows that there’s a reason she thinks differently, works things through differently, does things at a different pace, has different talents, approaches things differently, has certain obstacles and challenges that are really difficult and upsetting, but because we accept every single part of her she accepts every single part too. Behaviors that she actively dislikes, or knows that need to change because they could be dangerous because we’ve talked it out, she works hard on. She asks questions and she watches. She tries. She does a lot of watching and experimenting. She doesn’t fear herself, and I don’t fear her. If something seems impossible, we see if there’s an accommodation to make it easier. We adjust. We accept.

I don’t feel sad for her. I don’t want anyone to feel sad for her. I don’t want anyone to think that she’s miserable or suffering. She’s not “suffering with Autism.” She’s autistic, and she’s not suffering. She’s growing into a young woman. Would anyone say she’s with femaleness? And suffering with femaleness? Or she’s suffering with blondness? She’s not. The autism is as much a part of her as her talents to make crafts, draw, paint, write stories, sing, connect with babies and toddlers and animals.

I know she’s going to have opportunities and she’s going to find her own way. I’ll encourage her talents and continue to encourage self-advocacy and education about her own disabilities. I’ll protect her and teach her, guide her, answer her questions, and hope that I’m doing this the right way while I try to learn more about her every day. She loves to learn about herself. She looks at me with impatience, though, when I ask questions to try to learn more about what’s inside her thoughts processes.

“You ask too many questions.”

Yes, honey, and it will never stop.

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A very important concept in fighting for Disability Rights is moving away from the Medical Model and towards the Social Model. Acceptance over a cure. Creating Universal Accessibility ideals that are helpful for everyone so that no one may be excluded.

To make it easier to understand I’ll give visuals:

This staircase is lovely, with a ramp built into it as an integral part of the architectural design.

The ramp is built into the architecture as art rather than an afterthought at Robson Square in Vancouver by Arthur Erickson

Robson Square in Vancouver by Arthur Erickson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This design below eliminates the staircase altogether in the form a beautiful circular, winding red ramp that everyone uses at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, California. It’s difficult to see from the photo below, but the doors are also wide and airy, and it’s reported that most visitors find this layout to be very warm and inviting.

Circular Ramp Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, Calif; example of Universal Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greendale Villa near Disney World is known to be disability-friendly and uses Universal Design in its architecture. They even use it in their swimming pools.

Accessible Universal Swimming Pool at Greendale Villa in Fla.

Accessible Universal Swimming Pool at Greendale Villa in Fla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The examples I gave are easy to understand because you can see them. They’re also easy to understand because they’re inclusive for people that have visible physical disabilities for people that use wheelchairs; parents using strollers or are holding a wobbly toddler by the hand; aging individuals or others who need a walker or a cane; people that have a cast on their leg and use crutches; a postal delivery person carrying or wheeling heavy packages; a student lugging around heavy books or an enormous art project; a caterer making a delicate delivery. The fact of the matter is that stairs are clumsy and difficult to navigate.

When it comes to the disabilities that you can’t see, the Universal Design within the Social Model is still not only an ideal, but a necessity. We’re not demanding that the world change to give disabled individuals “special treatment.” We’re hoping that the world will understand that a level playing field is the goal. We’re hoping that by showing care in being inclusive to all, people might start to figure out that disabled individuals are valuable and have as much to offer and contribute as anyone else does.

I see resistance to these ideas because I think some people believe that acceptance of disabilities means giving up, not trying, not caring, being willing to somehow not be enough of something. Human maybe? Even though disabled people are fully People, fully Human, no matter the disability. But for many people, the Social Model means that those who have disabilities have the audacity be disabled; to not hide the disabilities adequately enough to appear to have no disability at all or, worse, to not have overcome the disability or disabilities. The problem with resisting the Social Model is that the Social Model benefits EVERYONE. That’s how inclusion works. Funny, that.

Imagine these ramps that are inclusive of everyone as communication barriers that have been broken down for people that have mental health disabilities, developmental learning disorders, cognitive function disorders, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities, impaired vision, impaired hearing… and all of the other invisible disabilities that so many people forget about when it comes to universal designs.

It can be as simple as recognizing that there are multiple ways of communicating. Even a newborn baby can communicate through facial expressions, body language, different types of cries, different vocalizations, eye contact, and even how fast or slow they’re breathing. Someone that is classified as non-speaking and “incapable” of speech is still always capable of communicating.

So if you have someone that’s Autistic or has a speech delay and their parents have been told they’ll “never” speak because they seemingly aren’t verbal since they haven’t  (yet) communicated verbally, what do you think the assumption tends to be?

“My child can’t communicate and never will, and therefore they must be intellectually disabled.”

That sounds so dire, doesn’t it? I would bet my left butt cheek that their child uses body language, facial expressions, other sounds, or possibly even sign language of some sort to attempt to communicate. Pointing, shaking the head, refusal of performing a request and performing a different behavior instead… that’s all communication. It doesn’t mean that the child doesn’t understand what’s being said or asked; it simply means they need another way to communicate.

Hear this well: non-verbal learning disorders and delays don’t mean someone has an intellectual disability, or that they’re incompetent. While neurological disorders and other disabilities such as Autism and Non-verbal Learning Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder and Cognitive Delays can co-occur, they are mutually exclusive of each other.

This means that you need to assume that your child or any other disabled individual you come across should be presumed to be competent. Presume they can hear you and understand you, and maybe even read. Maybe learn to use cards with images on them. Offer a computer keyboard or a tablet. See if your loved one enjoys drawing, painting, or a craft. Art is also communication. So is music. So is math. Everything someone does or doesn’t do is communication of some sort.

Disability does not make one less. It’s not something to be ashamed of. As someone with disabilities I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say that disabilities are fun and everyone should join me and have them. I’m not going to say that the challenges aren’t incredibly difficult, and that some obstacles don’t really seem impossible to ever overcome. I’m not going to say that it isn’t discouraging at times. Being disabled often sucks, but it doesn’t mean I’m miserable.

And that’s something else.

One big assumption about individuals that have disabilities that needs to disappear forever is that “being disabled means being miserable and life isn’t worth living.” That statement is a myth and it’s offensive. It’s why I found it heartbreaking, tragic, and ridiculous when people decided that Robin Williams’ suicide was understandable when they discovered it was so he wouldn’t have to progress with his disability rather than because it was part of his lifelong depression and, thus, “selfish” of him to commit suicide.

Life is more than worth living when one has one or more disabilities and it’s no one’s place to put value on someone’s life, to measure their worth or right to live or whether someone’s life is a tragedy based on the single fact that they have disabilities or make assumptions on someone’s suffering levels. Life is still worth being part of society, part of family and friends, and having society recognize that individuals who are disabled have just as much to contribute and deserve to earn a living wage, with voices and opinions that are strong.

Part of making society acceptable, part of the Social Model needs to be dispelling myths and incorrect stereotypes about disabilities in general, and disability-specific. For instance, individuals who are autistic are not “suffering with Autism” and nor are they emotionless. They are autistic. Very often, in my personal observations, it seems that autistic individuals are more sensitive to emotions and they most definitely aren’t suffering due to their Autism. The suffering occurs from the treatment of others who may be abusive and less understanding, less accepting, and being in environments that are not disability friendly. For instance, lights that are too bright and music that’s too loud in a store that can already be disconcerting makes the experience nearly impossible for some. It’s an assault on the senses.

There are movie theaters that now offer sensory friendly screenings of movies. They will advertise a specific movie with the times, locations, and accommodations being made: raised lights; reduced level of sound for the movie; allowing wandering during the showing within the theater itself; allowing talking; providing ESL interpreters; allowing carers such as PCA’s to accompany without having to pay additional fees.  Universal acceptance, Social Model.

Assimilating universal designs into our society is an acceptance that everyone of any ability is valuable and worthy of having access to anything and everything. It’s a recognition that everyone’s needs are different. It’s difficult when much of society isn’t just afraid of acknowledging disabilities, but disgusted by them. There is a lot of fear of being seen as different, as Other, because once someone sees you as disabled, you’re also seen as weak and incompetent. There are a lot of people who try to take advantage of that perceived weakness, and there are those who use their physical intimidation to put themselves in a powerful position and misuse it. It’s called bullying.

For me to accept my disabilities relating to Fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety is not giving in or giving up. It’s not accepting a suffocating, negative label. It gives me a name for the obstacles I have to cope with, and a starting point to learn. It means that while I accept my disabilities I can still do my best to help myself feel better. I may have some cognitive issues and massive physical pain that would bring down a horse, but I am not weak nor incompetent. I have strong opinions. I’m a self-advocate and I advocate for my children and others. It’s not easy for me to accept my particular disability because it’s physically and mentally taxing. It’s scary to realize that it’s going to progressively get worse. That just makes me work even harder to take care of myself.

By the same token, by accepting my daughter’s Autism, I’m not throwing her to the wolves and giving up her, drowning her with alphabet soup letters and labels. Discipline doesn’t go out the window. Education doesn’t get tossed in the wind. I’m helping her along with her sisters learn about who they are, what they’re going through, and working out the process with them. We’re learning together how to identify their strengths, talents, interests so that they can learn how to best communicate and what their best learning methods are.

Along the way, we’ve figured out which clothing can trigger negative behaviors. We’ve learned which ingredients in particular foods and drinks to avoid. We’ve learned what weather changes can do to health. We’ve learned how to adjust our thinking, our language, our expectations. We’ve learned that these things change and are fluid and that being flexible as parents and caregivers is simply the best approach.

In doing so, I’m trying to make the world more accessible for her. I’m letting her be who she is without trying to change her. I’m not trying to make her “pass” for neuro-typical or, as those of us who are non-autistic are sometimes called by some people in the Autistic Self-Advocate Movement, Allistic. I’d like her to know that she can change her world. She does need to learn how the “Allistic” world works so that she can navigate it, but whether she ever appears to be like her non-autistic peers isn’t really on our radar.

Would you like to know why? Because I don’t want her to grow up believing that Autism is something she has to overcome or that she has to try to cover up in order to make other people feel more comfortable. She should never have to feel like she has to overcome herself or something that is such a major part of what makes her who she is at her core. Her pride in who she is should be empowering for her.

I see the discomfort people feel when they see my cane, see my pain, and they don’t know what to say. I see it in the faces of people who haven’t seen me in a long time and see me now, or those who just can’t get used to seeing me with the cane. That used to make me feel bad, and as if I had to apologize for it. Then I realized that I shouldn’t have to apologize for having a disability. The discomfort of others regarding my disability or them realizing my daughter has a disability isn’t my problem to work out. It’s up to them to figure out how to accept it and make it part of their reality. Maybe I’m not entirely comfortable with my own disabilities, and that’s okay because I’m learning and it’s a process. I go back and forth between accepting it and not… but as someone who is a do-er I tend to lean towards accepting and moving along so that I can find the new path.

It starts in the classrooms, and I’m hoping that these inclusive classrooms are encouraging children to bring their acceptance and generosity of spirit home to their families. If that happens, their parents bring it to work and it spreads.

We’ve learned that neurology is diverse and that they don’t need, or want, a cure. I’ve heard the words come from Sweet Girl’s mouth herself. She just wants to be accepted for who she is.She embraces her Autism and wants to be accepted. That’s all any of my girls want regardless of their neurology. They are not weak nor incompetent. They are not damaged.

We just need a pool that we can ease into rather than having to jump into all at once.

They Don’t Want an Autism Cure – The Daily Beast.

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Back in 2013, I posted this entry: Court Rulings DO NOT “Quietly Confirm” Autism-Vaccine Link | Ever So Gently.

The article referred to in it has been making the rounds yet again, so that particular entry deserves a comeback too.  I’m not going to devote a whole new pages-long entry about it, though.  I just hope that people realize that the supposed “court rulings” about the autism-vaccine link are complete rubbish and also have been debunked and didn’t come from a reputable source nor was the court reputable or even able to rule on it to begin with.

I just wish people who are so fearful of Autism would speak with or read blogs written by autistic self-advocates.  I’m not talking about non-autistic mommy bloggers of autistic children, youngsters or adults, but actual autistic individuals who are self-advocates.  Many communicate online with great effort or little effort even if in the physical world their social skills and verbal skills are challenged and perhaps have Non-verbal Learning Disorder or are non-verbal.

Non-verbal doesn’t mean unable to communicate effectively.  It means “communicates differently” than most people.  And what that means is that WE have to adjust our thinking.  Listen to the people who know even if the listening isn’t with your ears.  Don’t listen to the fraudulent rantings of people who have fear-based ideologies.

 

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WARNING: To teen or adult autistic individuals, I’d like to take care in warning you that this blog entry could be triggering to you.  I personally will not discuss ABA in detail because due to how our doctor referred us and who we were referred to, we chose not to pursue ABA therapies for our daughter.  That means I can’t speak to this from personal experience from a parenting standpoint nor on behalf of my daughter.  However, the link titled “ABA” will be discussing ABA therapies in some detail, so if you feel it will trigger trauma for you, please consider refraining from clicking the “ABA – Unstrange Mind link.

This link I’m about to share from Unstrange Mind by Sparrow Rose is probably one of the best and most comprehensive laymen’s explanations of why ABA therapy in its original intended form is, at best, misguided and at worst terribly abusive.  It also explains the difference between “different types of ABA” considering that in order to get an appropriately non-abusive therapy covered it must be classified as ABA for insurance purposes.

Most importantly, it explains to every loving, caring parent who takes their child to ABA and might fear that they’re being accused of abusing their child by allowing abuse through ABA what to look for in the therapist and the therapy their child is attending.  It talks about intent in bringing their children to ABA.

“ABA” | Unstrange Mind (click here).

This blog entry is a gift and ought to be read by every self-proclaimed Autism specialist, advocate, pediatrician, ABA therapist, teacher, special educator, parent, Autism advocacy agency, and anyone else whose lives might ever be touched by Autism or ABA.

This is so important.  When adult autistics speak, please listen.

 

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microwave dangerWe packed up the baby factory years ago.  My youngest is 9 years old going on 40.  I’m turning 40 next month.  Well… 30 with ten years experience.  Seeing babies and pregnant women often makes me want to have more of my own.  I miss the newborn and infant stages… all of the littleness stages.The practicality of it is obvious, I suppose, but the emotions of it aren’t gone so I need a new rundown of why it’s probably good that we’re done having babies.

  1. I’m not a spring chicken
  2. We can come and go from the house without having to pack up lots and lots of gear
  3. The children are mostly self-sufficient and independent
  4. I wouldn’t have to deal with morning sickness that lasts 24/7
  5. We don’t have to think up cutesy ways of telling people that “we” are pregnant
  6. We don’t have to decide if we want to wait or find out the sex of a baby and then answer endless questions about it
  7. I won’t have to hear old wives tales about how I’m carrying, eating, looking
  8. No more diaper changing or spit up unless I’m babysitting for someone else
  9. I won’t have to answer personal questions about pregnancy or jokes about how I got that way
  10. We don’t need to see people’s facial expressions when they hear name considerations that they dislike
  11. We don’t need to worry about agreeing on a name together for a brand new human
  12. We won’t have to rearrange bedrooms for a crib
  13. We won’t have to tip-toe around nap times or worry about getting a baby used to a noisy house
  14. We won’t have to answer questions on what style of parenting we’re going to use
  15. I won’t have to take 6 weeks maternity leave from work and then get so emotional that I have to quit my job to stay home because I just can’t leave my baby
  16. I can look at other pregnant women and feel a little jealous or envious, but the feeling passes
  17. I don’t have to argue for or against natural birth or epidurals or c-sections or hospital birth or home birth or magic wands
  18. I don’t have to share my opinion on “push presents”
  19. I can hold other babies and spend time with toddlers, but I get to go home with my own daughters
  20. I get to keep being the cool auntie to new babies
  21. I don’t have to worry about SIDS unless a newborn is sleeping over my house
  22. I baby-talk at the cats
  23. Toilet training is over
  24. We no longer watch Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer on endless loops
  25. I can no longer remember all of the names of each Wiggle
  26. I don’t have to worry about whether I have to defend breastfeeding or bottle feeding
  27. I don’t have to worry about whether I have to defend cloth diapering or disposable diapering
  28. Regarding 17, 18, 26 and 27… I don’t mind my brain to mouth filter quite as much as I used to in my old-ish age
  29. I really need the coffee and pregnancy would hinder that, and more children would increase my need for it
  30. I have a chronic pain disorder and let’s face it, pregnancy would exacerbate my Fibromyalgia
  31. Babies are expensive
  32. We would need all new baby gear and clothes
  33. We really need a new dishwasher
  34. And a new heater
  35. And a new hot water boiler
  36. We could also use some new windows
  37. Maybe some curtains too
  38. I’d also love a new living room set
  39. We also need to get the girls some new bedroom furniture
  40. And I really enjoy being able to get my hair done every few months
  41. We also enjoy buying groceries
  42. And affording coffee
  43. My memory is not what it used to be, and a new baby could end up on the middle school bus while my middle schooler is happily sleeping in a crib
  44. I need far more sleep than a newborn would give me
  45. Or a toddler for that matter
  46. I recently had a dream that I was still in high school and left my baby in the gymnasium because the bell rang and it was lunch time but when I went back the baby was gone
  47. My daughters are perfectly happy with our family dynamic
  48. My husband is perfectly happy with our family dynamic
  49. I’m pretty sure the cats are somewhat, sort of, maybe happy with our family dynamic
  50. My daughters are old enough to do chores and a new baby isn’t
  51. I threw away all of my old maternity clothes
  52. It would be really difficult pushing a stroller and using my cane at the same time
  53. Kitty litter is bad for pregnant women and babies
  54. The microwave oven at my work place… just saying
  55. I have already achieved perfection in the three daughters that I have

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Happy Friday [I forgot where I got this image, sorry... I just googled for Lemonade Happy Friday, although I know it's not lemonade ;-)  ]

Happy Friday [I forgot where I got this image, sorry… I just googled for “Lemonade Happy Friday” although I know it’s not lemonade ;-) ]

This morning, Sweet Girl had an apple for breakfast and while munching on that apple she sat on the couch with me and watched the Today Show with me… and she was just so happy.  Since she didn’t have to get up as the asscrack of dawn (aka 6:30) for extended school year bus, she got up at 7:30 with me.  Gracie had me all to herself and she took advantage of it, snuggled up next to me on the couch.

She talked my ear off.  Yes, yes she did.  Because there was no one except Daisy the cat to listen in and interrupt and tell her she was wrong, stupid, to stop talking, to interject with something or other behaving jealously…

She just had Mommy all to herself.

She talked mostly about getting her own android so that she can show me all of the talking she won’t do on it and all of the apps and texting she will do on it.

She wants my phone when I turn it in for an upgrade.

I had to explain that when I turn it in for an upgrade, it will be considered an Old Lady phone and so decrepit it will be useless.  I wait until my phones are useless, with the exception of my last phone when I gave it to my eldest so she could have one when she started middle school.

She tried her darnedest to convince me to get her a cell phone and why she deserves one over her little sister.  You’ll note by the length of the rest of our conversation that it’s about much, much more than the cell phone.  It’s about sisterly relationships.  She must have been ruminating on this for quite some time and trying to figure out how to introduce her problem with her little sister in a way that Mommy would finally Get It.

“But you will give me your phone.”

“No, honey, we talked about this.  A lot.  My phone will be broken when I upgrade.”

“I am old enough.  Anna is not old enough.  I am starting 6th grade.  Anna is not responsible.”

“I already let you use my phone when you want to at home.  What happens during the school day with cell phones?”

“Electronics are NOT ALLOWED.  I would get in trouble if I use electronics.  I would use a Chromebook.  I do not want to get in trouble.  Chromebooks are for school.”

“You’re right.”

“Yes, because it is against the rules to use your electronics in class.  The teacher will TAKE IT” quick swipe of her arms through the air “AWAY!!!”

“I think you’re right.”

“I know.  Do I get your phone when you get a new one?” with a squeal.

“Not yet.  It won’t happen for a while.”

She paused here, and her face darkened.

“What’s wrong, Sweet Girl?”

“Anna thinks she is the boss of me.  She thinks she can tell me what to do.  She thinks she knows everything.”

“Like what? Tell me.”

“She is always saying I will get hurt and, um, she yells and it hurts my ears.”

“Do you get hurt if you don’t listen to her?”

“I… sometimes.”

“Do you want to know a secret about Anna?”

PENSIVE FACE WITH FURROWED BROW… she’s preparing to hear something she doesn’t like.

“Your little sister loves you with her whole heart.  She loves you more than anyone else in the world.  That means that if she thinks you’re not safe she’s going to try to protect you.”

“Hmm.” nods

“And do you want to know why it seems like she thinks she knows more than you?”

“Hmm.” glances at me

“It’s because she remembers some things better than you do sometimes; she remembers how things work a little bit better or that doing something a certain way might get you hurt.  She doesn’t want that to happen.  Right?”

“Hmm.” scowls but nods

“What she wants is to take care of you.  She enjoys that.  She likes to know that you’re safe and happy.  She doesn’t think you’re a little baby or a little kid that she has to take care of.  She just wants to make sure that her big sister doesn’t get hurt and that she’s happy.  Does that make sense?”

“Hmm.”

“She doesn’t like to fight with you.  She hates to fight with you.  It hurts her feelings when you fight.”

“She thinks she is more grown up.  She is not more responsible, I am more responsible.  I am older.  I am going in a middle school.”

“You are definitely learning to be responsible.  You’ve been helping around the house a lot more lately.  You help me when we go shopping together.  You did a great job with the grocery list yesterday.”

“Yes, I did.”

“I think you’re both learning and growing up, and I think your little sister is trying to help you grow up so that you can do it together.”

“She is bossy.  She tells me what to do.”

“Well, do you think that maybe sometimes you tell her what to do too?”

PAUSE

“I think that she’s trying to show you how to do things safely, and you know how she likes things to be ‘just right’ but you know what else? She also wants to do things WITH you so that you’re not alone.”

“Yes.”

“And you know, she just thinks about things in a different way than you do.  Your little sister’s brain works a little differently than your does so she doesn’t always understand what you’re thinking.”

“Yes, yes.”

“It might sound bossy if she thinks that she has to talk more loudly so that you’ll pay attention.  Do you understand?”

“Hmm.”  BIG PAUSE “Juliana is bossy.”

“Well… um… but she’s your big sister and you’re supposed to think she’s bossy.  She’s a leader too.  And not for nothing, honey, but when Mommy and Daddy aren’t here, she’s the boss.”

“Mom, did you hide your Kindle?”

“No honey, it’s plugged in.  Did you want to read today?”

“I don’t know.”

 

 

Oh my gosh, I love this girl.  Dear God, I love my daughters.  Love, love, love.

 

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