Monday, February 29, 2016

Maybe I'm An A-Hole, But I'll Pass On The Pity Date

Do not hate me for this one, guys.

It would seem that "Prom-posals" are the new thing. It's when one teen asks another to prom, but makes it an event. Balloon bouquets, flash-mobs, celeb cameos, flower arrangements- some of these put my actual marriage proposal to shame, much less my awkward heywannagotoprom conversation I had with the guy I was dating my senior year.

It just occurred to me that I should dig up one of my prom pictures. {shudder}

Anyway, back to proms. These extravagant invites have become the stuff of YouTube videos everywhere and, even thought I think the way these have become over-the-top is kind of insane, I'm totally along for the ride. Roses in math class? A flock of minstrels from the glee club to serenade a prom hopeful? I will watch the shit out of that. I think the romanticism is sweet.

At some point, I start to think about PJ as a prom-goer. Right now, while he's in kindergarten, it's hard to know if that's in the cards for him. I have certainly pictured him a thousand times- he'll be taller than me and blonde, wearing a tux with a bow tie that matches his date's dress (do people still do that?). He'll offer her a corsage that he picked out and I'll take eleventy-billion pictures. For now, though, PJ is a six year old boy with Autism, and the prom seems farther away that just the ten more years he needs to age.

Lately, the prom-posal videos have expanded, and I see the headlines as they go viral: Track Standout Asks Special-Needs Boy To Prom; Teen Surprises Special-Needs Student With Promposal. They are as sweet as the others, with the asker going all out to make the moment one to remember. There are parts of this that I love. I love that these teens want to make sure that their special-needs classmates are included in this dressy right-of-passage, and I love that they go above and beyond to make sure that the asking is something they will never forget. There have been a few of these videos that have brought me to tears.

Still, as the mother of a child with special needs, I am not sure about how I feel about this. When I picture PJ going to the prom, in his tux and matching bow tie, I think about who his date will be. Maybe it will be a friend. Maybe it will be the girl (or boy, who knows!) with whom he's had his first kiss. Maybe he won't be interested in prom.

When and if he does go, and no matter what his "labels" are at the time, I want PJ to go to prom with someone who values him. I want his prom experience to be with someone who feels that he is worth their time as an equal. I don't know that I want someone to ask him just because nobody else will. I don't want PJ to be somebody's good deed. I don't want a future headline to say "Teen Standout Asks Special Needs Boy To Prom." PJ is already a standout.

I talked to my husband about this, and he thought I was being a bit unreasonable. He felt that I wasn't being fair to the teens doing the asking. I get what he was saying, and I don't think that these kids are being anything but selfless and generous. I love that they are making sure that the prom experience is one that is inclusive to all of their classmates. I love that they are reaching out to a student who may not have the change to be in the receiving end of a flashy prom-posal.

I just don't know that I want my son to be a pity date.

I know I sound like an asshole. And truthfully, I just want PJ to be happy. If the hot girl at school offering him a prom-posal makes him happy some day, than that's amazing. Perhaps PJ and this girl are truly friends, or are truly attracted to each other. And perhaps none of that will even matter to PJ. It's too far away to tell. But I read one of the many pieces about just such a scenario, a cute young cheerleader asking a boy with Autism to the prom. She talked about how she had already been to two proms, about how she wasn't just going to half-ass the experience for him, and how she was going to make him look good. I read that and it just didn't taste right.

Mind you, this is coming from someone who had zero fucks to give about prom when I was in high school. I went with a guy I was casually dating and my mother had to threaten me until I finally agreed to wear heels with my dress. If that type of attitude is hereditary, than this thinking may be for naught. But if it's not, if the prom means something to PJ someday, than I hope it means more to his date than pity.


Take me for what I am!

Who I was meant to be!

And if you give a damn,
Take me baby, Or leave me!
-Take Me Or Leave Me, Rent- Original Broadway Soundtrack

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Announcements! Announcements!

The past few weeks have been kind of complicated. It's been a busy time for my little family, and things have been emotional, exciting, busy and amazing. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but I am really, really happy to share some of the ups!

I am absolutely thrilled to share that I will be joining the North Jersey cast of the Listen To Your Mother Show. Listen To Your Mother is a live, spoken word show, showcasing readings of essays written about the amazing experience of motherhood from the perspective of parents, children, siblings and friends. This show has been a writing goal of mine for a while. The first year I heard about it, I chickened out of auditioning. The second, I didn't make the cast. So when I got a phone call from one of the directors, I was expecting another kind rejection. Instead, I found myself jumping up and down in my friend Amy's kitchen while I made squeeing noises! I could not feel more lucky, more blessed, or more in awe that I will get to share in this amazing experience. I have had so many past cast members tell me what a game changer this was and I can barely wait to begin! 

Listen To Your Mother will be live at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on Saturday, May 5th 2016. You can purchase tickets to the show from the SOPAC Box Office HERE

The second fun bit of news is that I will be joining the Shop Rite Pot Luck Blog as a regular contributor! I am a bit intimidated by this, being that I am not exactly a "foodie." Up until a few years ago, I was barely capable of cooking edible food. In fact, I am eating dry Life cereal from the box as I type this. But this project will allow me to spread my wings as a writer and as a cook, so I am very excited to get started! My first post should be available before the end of the month and I will share all of my Shop Rite adventures! In the meantime, I would encourage you to stop by and check out the Pot Luck Blog, which features tons of recipes and tips from a very talented pool of writers and foodies! 

I was lucky enough to be featured last week as one of the funniest parents of the week on Today Parent! I have been obsessed with the Today Show for my entire life and so this was, essentially, just like sitting between Hoda and Kathie Lee. Except not at all, but whatever! I was really excited to see my little post on their round up! There are some damn funny folks out there, and I love to read the roundup every Friday and laugh my head off! This comes in second only to the time my tweet was on Honey Boo-Boo because, obviously. 

And lastly, this will be the first year that I will declare my earnings from writing on our tax forms. It is for a laughably small amount, but it's enough that it's illegal not to declare it. This means that I can officially say "I am a writer and here is the teeny amount of money I made to prove it! Suck on that, Uncle Sam!" And then Uncle Sam will say "Whatever, bitch. Thanks for this pitiful contribution you made to the country." And I'll be all "BUT I'M A WRITER!"

Yup. That is pretty much how it would go. 

I'm sure I will want to write about some of the more difficult and/or maddening things that have been going on, but today it's all pure happy news and no matter what, it's the happy stuff that matters the most. It's okay to feel blessed, capable and happy every now and then, and I am just trying to drink it all in! 

"What's the buzz, tell me what's happening!"
     -Jesus Christ, Superstar- Original Broadway Soundtrack


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hopeful Reincarnation

Please stop by Caitlyn Chrystler Dodge and check out my post on keeping your car kid-safe! Everything from car seat installation, proper seat belt use, and putting down your phone can make your vehicle as safe as possible for your little passengers! 
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{stream of consciousness}

It's Sunday. It's the official first day of a new week, although Monday is generally where the action is. Sunday feels like the day before you give birth; you nest and prepare and think about the future and rest. Monday? Well, that's the day you're shoved into the cold, bright world to sink or swim.

Monday has always been something of a day of hopeful reincarnation for me. It's the day I try to reinvent myself. I suppose I could start a new habit on a random Wednesday, but Monday seems so fresh and new start-y somehow. New parenting technique? We'll get started on Monday. Finally going to start meal planning? First dinner served on Monday. Going to start a healthy diet? Cookies on Saturday, lettuce commence on Monday.

Snort. "Lettuce" commence. See what I did there?

I have all of these grand plans for Mondays. Sometimes they stick but, most of the time, they fall flat on their face. Last Monday was supposed to be my return to sticking to Weight Watchers. Sunday night, I figured out what I should eat for breakfast and planned to go to yoga class. Monday morning, I got PJ off to school, did some writing, and headed off to get my Zen on at yoga. Yoga was difficult because I am a clod, but I made it through and headed home where I promptly ate ALL OF THE THING because I forgot to eat breakfast and was starving. It's one of my worst habits, but instead of just dusting off and trying again that very day, I didn't really think about it until Sunday night.

The past few weeks have been crazy and complicated, in both good ways and bad, and I find myself here, on this Sunday, ready for a rebirth. I'm emboldened by my coffee and sitting here writing about it and it seems like the perfect time to write a list and get this shit done. But how to I get this stuff to stick? Some of the planning is great! Write goals, keep track of things, and make sure that my plans are attainable. What am I doing wrong? Expecting things to change overnight, giving up when I slip up, and thinking that Mondays are the only days to start traveling a new path.

This has been a time of revolutions for me. It must be because I'm approaching 40, or because I have finally reached high enough levels of coffee in my system to get my brain working as optimally as possible. Who knows? But, this is something that needs fixing, and I actually think it has as much to do with my follow through as it does when I start. So, perhaps, I'll pick one thing to work on at a time instead of thinking I can be reborn when Monday rolls around. And I'll make my changes start happening the second I think of them instead of waiting until Monday. And if I fall down, I can start again the very next moment. I'll just remember that there is room for rebirth in every day.

Imagine your life,
 and all of the changes...
It's all happening! 
-It's All Happening, Bring It On Original Broadway Soundtrack

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Brief, Easy Moments

I'm guest posting at Reedman Toll Chevrolet this week! Check out the latest in my Road Tripping series and consider taking a drive to Shawnee Mountain in the Poconos!  
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Raising little people is hard.

Don't get me wrong, it is the best job I have ever had, but holy moly. It is hard. Making sure he eats and sleeps, the right things and enough. Keeping his body safe. Trying to help him grow into a kind person. Teaching him to tie his shoes and look both ways and keep his hands to himself and Jesus, dude! Please be gentle with the cat! Being the decision-maker is difficult enough when picking a book or a restaurant. When you are making decisions about another human, another human who is your flesh and your blood and your heart? Hooooo, boy.

Still, every now and then, the stars align and the decisions are easy. On a day that therapy was cancelled, we found ourselves out front. A moment on the swing, on a warm day, lead to a family walk around the neighborhood. A no-brainer- when the weather is still nice and the sun stays up a little later, saying yes to a walk is easy. We strolled around our neighborhood and walked along the busy avenue, making an impromptu pit stop at Wawa to get a coffee for me and a peanut-butter cup for PJ. He's a man of few words, on the whole, but it's something that PJ still talks about months later; the time we went for a walk to Wawa after we played on the swing.


There are a million lessons to take away from this. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Family time is the most important time. Everyone loves Wawa.

Seriously. For those of you who do not know from Wawa, my heart breaks for you.

The main point, I think, is this: So much of PJ's time is taken up with therapy, school, doctor/clinic visits, and structured activities. Autism makes them mandatory. They have to be done, and for the most part, he enjoys all of those things. We see a tremendous amount of growth as a result of all of the hard work he does. But, it's just that- hard work, and if I really reflect on the time we spend, there are not nearly enough impromptu walks to Wawa to create some kind of balance. The time scale is tipped solidly in favor of anything but non-scheduled time. When we get a magic moment that allows us to put the necessary aside, it's easy to suddenly jump up and head to the park or sit down at the table to color. But is there a way to purposefully make space for nothing when there is always something?

It's something that is worth trying to figure out. PJ is always at his best when he has room to just be. He's less likely to become overwhelmed trying to transition from one thing to another when there are fewer time constraints or pressures. As dumb as it sounds, it's time to plan for no plans.


Slow down, you move to fast.
You got to make the moment last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones
Looking for fun and feelin' groovy...
The 59th Street Bridge Song- Simon and Garfunkel