Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Need Back-Up

One thing I know for sure is that Peter has two "loves" in his life.  I would like to say that would be me and Sara or me and Mike, or maybe Mike and Sara, but really, none of us can equate to the love that Peter has for going to church and watching "Cops".  Yes, that is exactly what I just said...cops and church.  Seems like an oxymoron to me, but that is Peter..pure love, pure engagement into church and cops.
So, it was with bated breath that Peter and I sat down the other night to watch his favorite show.  Now me,   not a big fan of the TV show "Cops" had snuggled in further down the couch. Three blankets, several pillows, and I am all tucked in for the next hour.  Laptop statically placed on top of the blankets and pillows for  emails, surfing the net, whatever would keep my occupied during this hour long event while Peter and I were having some Saturday evening bonding.  Just him and I and a few ever present cops arresting various individuals on the telly.  Peter, had also ceremoniously prepared for this event, by strategically placing his gun, his  two pair handcuffs, and walkie talkies on the ottoman near his feet.  So there we sat, Peter, the paraphernalia, and the cops.  Really, close to any Norman Rockwell painting you could imagine. Close to nirvana I am thinking.
Perfectly happy to be catching up on email, and really thrilled to see Peter so entertained by this show, I was feeling quite smug about a nice quiet...okay, make that semi-quiet evening of the couch. It was only when the warmth of the blanket, that really cozy feeling had set in, when I overheard Peter frantically telling some Innocent person on the phone that we needed back-up. Just when I thought I might sneak in a quick snooze, I hear   "HURRY HURRY, We need back up".  Back up?  Back up for....?  His voice was raising and I am now pondering who he is calling. Peering from my side of the couch I am realizing that person is obviously, a very confused person as I could tell Peter was not getting his point across and loudly repeating his plea.  Moving slowly from that nice cushy haven of warmth I am contemplating my next move.  Should I make a diving leap for the phone, grab it and explain our imminent need for backup?  Or do I just let the person remained in a state of confusion.  I lurch, I grab, I explain.....you see we are watching this show about cops and you see they need back up and Peter would like back up, you understand???   Oh, you do...of course...
I return the phone to Peter who hears the words that back up will be here in a few minutes.  And he hangs up content. He  reorganizes his gun collection and quivers with excitement. Back up...is coming.  Life is good......Yes, life is good.  I quiver too, with that warm fuzzy feeling, the one only Peter seems to effect.  Can't remember when I called for back up, but back up can be oh so good! Can't remember when I got so excited about back up.  But we are all smiling, that happy smile!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Taste

As I continue my post operative vigil, I have decided to keep Peter busy tonight by taking him to the Taste of our City.  These popular events seem to be crossing the Midwest,  fairs where the tents line up and the vendors entice you with the idea of good eats.  So, Peter and I went off to our version of the "Taste".  I am feeling quite smug as I am thinking this is a great idea, entertaining for Peter, a mother and son bonding event, no car washing or cleaning involved....why I should go up for mother of the year.  We park and proceed to walk to those white capped tent, and I anticipate the variety of food available, an opportunity to try something new and exciting. I am just feeling so good about this I should be sitting at the back seat of a convertible, waving that wave...look at me..mother and son...isn't this cute.
We enter, along with the scores of other food seekers who are looking sideways in anticipation of their meal. No one really is looking forward or straight ahead, as the tents line the side of the walkway, and one must take in all the menu's before making a decision.  So with twisted necks, we began our bonding walk.  And as I am looking, anticipating my dinner of various ethnic groups, taco's, steak on a stick, no egg rolls.  I notice Peter picking up the pace.  Politely, I remind him to slow down, it's crowded, Peter, and those reminders become louder as he plows along, he of course looking straight ahead, and brushing against those with twisted necks.   Little did I know, he had been there earlier in the day, and obviously had scoped out his fare. My  idea of fine cuisine is fading fast as I pick up the pace.  Now, trying to dodge anyone leisurely enjoying this experience I tail Pete to his final destination. Weaving and winding, with many a near miss of walking bodies, panting and almost out of breath, we arrive at our tent.  Here we are, this will be our dining experience, we have made it, breathless, to the hot dog stand where Peter has already put in his order, and I deciding there is no option of fine dining, add mine.  And so we eat,with again an amazing record pace, but not without the conversation about the ice cream stand next to the hot dog stand.  So, we go over the need to eat the hot dog before the ice cream.  Eat the dog first, Peter which he dutifully consumes within minutes as I am once again, trying to keep up. Swallowing  off we head for Gelato...that magnificent form of ice cream that is next to highway robbery and needed to be eaten with this minuscule spoon before it becomes some form of liquid.  Of course, this wonderful delightful treat only lands on Peter's lap and he gives up.  I, thinking  of the eight dollars I just handed over for this tiny treat, scooped it back into the cup, now consume both his and mine...disregarding any calorie count at this point.Why, we cannot waste this divine form of ice cream, now can we?

My Norman Rockwell experience is near ending.  That "won't this be a wonderful evening" feeling is passing quickly as we have only spent twenty minutes finding, dining, and now what do we do???? Leaving....I am thinking leaving is a great idea.  I am done with the track meet, I am stuffed with ice cream and dogs...yep..time to go.  We walk to car, still at record pace, leisurely, enjoy the night is just not in Peter's vocabulary.  We find the car, still catching my breath, and Peter is just all smiles....he thinking this was just great.  Beautiful night!  And gives me that "whats next on the agenda look'.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

He's upstairs, he downstairs, he's all around stairs...Peter stop, it is only 5:30 AM, you had two wisdom teeth removed, one root canal, various tests, a boatload of anesthesia, are you not in pain, no suffering?  Don't you think you need to rest, lay on the couch.  I know I need to lay on the couch.  I have not had my coffee, I see the coffee pot out of the corner of my eye as I whizz by in an effort to keep up.  Peter, I am not short of breath as I am not used to this much exercise this early in the morning, especially with no coffee on board.

Most individuals who had surgery the day before would be on the couch, surrounded with ice bags. Not Peter, he fresh eyed and bushy tailed and now that surgery is done, he is ready to move on to his old tricks.  Why, my little piles have long disappeared, the large one loom, and he is off doing his thing or that would be things.  Outside, inside, up and down there is no stopping this young man.  A shower...why not....games...sure get all of them out.  The car wash....oh yes, that was on the list of bribes that escaped from my mouth yesterday.  Yes, Peter if you go in this room you can wash my car tomorrow...I promise!  Yes, Peter, I am good with my promise,  but is is 530 AM and it is raining with a bit of thunder and lightening.....later Peter...after coffee...Oh if I could just stop to fill that pot....life would be good!
Thinking he must be in pain, he must be uncomfortable I reach for the narcotic analgesic and give him a shot in juice.  Thinking I need him to be in pain, lay on the couch, sit for a minute.  But the pain killers do not work, I think he now has more energy.  Resigning myself that this will be a long day.....a very long day.  I eventually work my way to the coffee pot, make that coffee, gulp and  put on my game face, grab my sneakers and start the race.  I will survive.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Day I Could Do without.....

Have you ever had one of those days....those moments...those I do not want to be here moments. Or maybe more like....Okay God, I have enough on this plate...wait...life is not fair....c'mon give me a break moment. Oh wait, better yet...how would you like to be doing this moment. Yep...today...this morning...BIG I do not want to be here in my shoes moment.
Peter, had his annual, bi-annual surgery for his teeth cleaning. I do remember now, I skipped  this event last year reconciling that he really did not need to have this done,  which in reality was most likely, I do not need this, I do not  want to do it!
This year, I knew I could not go into denial, the surgery needed to be done.  The plan went into place. Last week the hospital called on a daily basis...the Operating Room head nurse, the Admission's office, anesthesia, security. They all know Pete well, so they had all their eggs in a basket, they had crossed their "T"s and dotted their "I's. No stoned left unturned, all tests in place, all drugs ordered, security on alert, they even were going to shut down part of the floor so Peter would not be intimidated. I gathered comfort in knowing that piece would be handled well.  However, my part, actually getting him there loomed like a huge daunting task.  How would I get him there?  Used the police in the past and that was not option, Wilson...no, I am thinking.  I will come up with a plan, and than the rest is in God's hands. 
The day approached, hush was the word on surgery. I made plans to stay an hour away so I could spend my time driving to the hospital so Peter could be distracted. Early in the morning, off we went for the hospital, pouring rain, and I am thinking good, I can drive really slow, waste more time. Only the unexpected happened, and Peter had major diarrhea. Thank you God for Truck Stops. After a rather large cleaning event, we moved onward, and once I reached the city limits,  I mentioned the "hospital' word, the agitation began, and did not stop. I continued to drive and ignore the loud verbal laments about not going,  and we eventually ended up at the back of the hospital.  The plan was to take Peter in the shortest way, avoiding the lobby, and get right to the dreaded surgical unit.  Meeting us at the  back door were two security guards with idea of swiftly whisking Peter to the floor. Not so swiftly, and with much convincing,  we made it the second floor  only to be met by Curtis  the security guard, who came in on his day off to meet Peter. And than the fun began!  Seeing Curtis must have reminded Peter of past experiences, so at this point, Peter announced his intention that he would not participate and the Mexican standoff began. This standoff  lasted one painfully long hour with 5 security guards, a plethora of nurses and I, of course, trying to convince Peter to at least go into the room. Peter, having nothing to do with that idea, closed down one wing of the hospital. My only prayer...God, do not let him escape! Curtis did a great job by standing in front of the elevator buttons.  It was only when the the anesthesiologist and crew captured him in the hallway, gave a quick sedative via  his arm did he relax...mmmm, I wonder why.  Becoming a bit catatonic, off he went  into the Operating Room.  Relief...the hardest part was over.
Thia is an experience I dread. A why cannot this be easier resounds in my soul. Feeling very sorry for Peter as he must be in dread, but also knowing this must be done. I never really  knowing if he will really make it into the hospital, and now, most grateful when it is done. The hospital staff did a phenomenal job and made an awful experience as good as it could be.  The amount of caring by those individuals was awesome!
It is done...we survived, not without a bit of trauma and drama, but we made it.  The day I have been dreading throughout the summer, arrived and now I can saunter to the cafeteria  for some breakfast. I sit, I eat,  I am thinking maybe  should we go eat at the hospital cafeteria everyday...would that help, maybe Peter would learn to love hospitals ...maybe a group outing....maybe someday he will outgrow this fear...maybe, there is always hope!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Talking to Me


A few days ago, I had a house full of painters, not quite sure why it takes so many painters to spread a coat of paint on an entry way, but they all showed up and made themselves quite at home during their short stay. Their presence was not only in the foyer, as they needed to rinse their plethora of brushes, they would saunter down the hallway, through the kitchen and find their way to the laundry room. It was during these short trips that they would suddenly appear in front of me, catching me unaware of another human being in my space, as after all, I am quite used to living in a quiet environment, and having no one to talk to but myself. As I am silently mouthing words, they would stop, as if I had something to say to them, but.....no, it just me and my own conversation in which I am quite involved. Previous to their visit, I would tell you that I do not talk to myself, that is definitely not something I do. However, by about the third episode of their surprised confrontation, their question of did you want something?, it became quite evident to me that, yes, I do carry on conversations with me...and only me.
Thinking, maybe I should be embarrassed, feel skirmish, consult a psychiatrist, I think of Peter. You know, the man of wisdom. the one who really knows. Not that long ago, I was riding with him in the car and he started to carry on a conversation. I immediately thought this conversation must involved me, so I start probing..."what Peter"....."what did you say"? He looks at me simply, honestly, with a "what is wrong with you look", and informs that he is just talking to himself. HELLO!! What don't you get about this. I am just having a conversation with me and you are not involved! And, I get the subtle message and say, "Oh, right"! Peter, of course, continues on with his own personal conversation until he is quite finished. Speaking that is, speaking and dialoging with himself and feeling quite comfortable about the conversation. I now proceed cautiously when he starts to speak as I do not want to interrupt this conversation, that there are just moments he is talking with himself, and he is just fine with that and if I have a problem with that....get over it!
So, looking at these painters bewildered looks, I decide to put a "lid on it" while they walk through my corridors. I also attempt to make myself aware of these one sided conversations and possibly, carry them on only in the bathroom. But really, who did set the standard on personal one way conversations. There is this part of me that fully believes that Peter has it right. Carrying on one's own conversation can at times be quite fulfilling, stress relieving, funny. So, maybe not when the painters are visiting, but I know, I will speaking again...to myself, and I will have Peter to thank for providing me with the opportunity to speak..without guilt, and know, I am still okay!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Driving the Cart



And, it got even better! When our golf game was rained out and the only way I could participate was to bring Peter, he joined in the fun! At first, Peter absolutely refused to get in the cart. Nope, he would walk. Understand, it is ninety degrees and the first hot humid day of summer, so I am remain quite hopeful that walking may not seem like so much fun soon. So he walked. Happy, never having been on a golf course, and most likely not having any understanding that this walking would be an all day event, he set out with vigor. Only to realize that walking was only fun for a short distance, when he decided to lean on the cart,just lean and take a rest. Leaning led to sitting in the cart and taking a short rest. And than, I felt this foot on mine, nonchalantly trying to push the gas petal...and within the hour, Peter was in the driver seat...my chauffeur. Hey Peter, would you like to drive, was answered with a big smile. Now, driving did not come without some near mishaps. This is a person who has never had a steering wheel, in hand. And, I am still suffering from shaken mother syndrome as whenever I said the word stop, we stopped with such vigor, right on the money...just slam those brakes and all centrifugal force brought us to a screeching stop. Peter, did give a new meaning to stop, yes, STOP, and stop we did!. Having never held a steeling wheel in his hand, he did the usual slice to the right and than the left all within seconds. And, I kept a quick hand on the wheel to point it in the right direction. The feeling of bumpers cars overtaking my mind, but only open grass to catch the experience. But the joy, the bliss, the accomplishment, the comfort I felt in knowing he was fully capable of handling this situation. Awesome! Could I ever have imagined that he would be capable of going with me on a golf course. That he could participate, sit quietly, and wait to drive to the next hole. Who is this person, this young man who is cooperating. Who is loving every minute of being? Oh yes, Peter...he just gave me another freebie, another gift that years ago would have been unimaginable. The pure excitement I experienced driving down fairway number nine...him laughing, I squealing, to the right, no, to the left...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Who is this person?


I have to admit, it was with trepidation when I picked up Peter for the four day weekend. How was I going to keep Peter busy for four days? Better stated, how I was going to keep Peter from keeping so busy in the house, that it would take me weeks to find my piles, sort through the laundry, you know the story. Even more concern, as I was hosting a dinner following a golfing event. But this weekend, Peter came with surprises. This young man, who in his earlier years, when I had friends over for dinner, would do just about anything to get them to leave. I being of the stronger will, usually outlasted him, but not before he turned on the music so loud no one could talk, started all known machinery during our dinner hour,including the dishwasher,the washer and dryer,and if all this did not gather attention, grabbed his CD player complete with headphones, and loudly, very loudly sang some song in his loudest, monotone voice, really, any activity that would draw attention and get them to leave....now, that would be Right Now. At times, shoes would go flying, doors slamming, and I just looked at my friends and said, "Oh, just ignore him, he be fine!" I am sure at times, these guest questioned my state of mind, but truly believing ignorance is bliss, we dined and chatted and Peter slammed, and washed, and flung. No Peter, they are not leaving! And after their departure, hours, maybe days would be spent in the clean-up. Of course, to me, an evening with friends is divine, even if it involves chaos.

But this time, with friends at the dinner table, he kept himself busy, not wishing to join us, but allowing us to enjoy the evening. He was helpful with the cleaning, but all within reason. Who is this person? This calm, well behaved young man? I did sit on the edge of my chair, kept one eye on him and the other on my guests. But he, maintained a sense of calm. Okay, not perfect...but enough to get through the evening, enjoy the conversation, and go to bed without a search for all missing piles. Who is this person? Who is occupying this body? I think I could get used to this! I think I will plan another party....one that includes Peter. I am thinking apron his size would fit nicely, so he can truly partake in the clean-up!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Good Morning


Why didn't I listen to that little voice stirring in my head, the one that told me to get up now, that would be RIGHT NOW as Peter just made his way down the stairs to start his daily events. Peering at the clock that Saturday morning, realizing it was only 5:45 I really, really wanted to add just a few more minutes of shut-eye on my first morning that I could actually "sleep in". So ignoring that voice, the one that was making a major attempt to warn me of impending doom, I chose to catch a few more winks, allowing Peter to have enough time to become involved all sorts of activities. It was only when my sense of smell detected something overheating, possibly burning that I shook off the need for sleep, and charged downstairs to determine the potential damage. Barefoot, I walked to the coffee pot and noticed that previously "Spic and span" cleaned floor, was now starting to feel a bit as if I was walking seaside. Not really believing that those wet sensations had any association with my feet, I walked again across the floor to catch the full meaning. Yep, some event had taken place on my floor, something that involved drops, large drops of water. Making the towel, my new found slippers, I mop as I walk to the coffee pot to make the much needed coffee to start the day.
That first jolt of coffee was all I need to realize there was a major party going on in this house. Why, every light in the entire downstairs is shining brightly, so much, I am thinking sunglasses. The television, no that that would be the one located in the family room and the tiny one is the kitchen are simultaneously blaring Peter's favorite church show, only not quite in unison, sounding as if there is an echo....an irritating loud echo at this early morning hour. Oh, wait, over the preacher's voice, I do believe I hear that washer and dryer buzzing away! Yep, they are loaded to the max, almost rocking and rolling under the strain of it's contents. Television shouting, washers spewing,lights shining, I move my towel slipper over to the stove,where Peter is preparing breakfast which included pancakes, waffles, cereal..why it is a breakfast buffet!
Grabbing my sunglasses, I gulp down my first cup of coffee, I finish mopping the floor, relieve the washing machine of it's contents, and put on my mental jogging suit, much needed to keep up with Peter. Good morning Peter, I say, why you would think it is noon, the amount he has accomplished in so little time and it is only 6:30 AM. He looks at me, with a wink and a smile and says "You know, I am just trying to help!. Yep, I know this, so with a smile and a wink....I join in the breakfast feast, take in another cup of Jo, and know, Ho Ho Ho. it will be a good day!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day


It is here, yes, the annual day to honor Mom's. One thing I know for sure, we all have a mother. So, today, we honor that person with calls, visits, or possibly, through remembering. But, somehow, Hallmark has made this a day to honor. In years past, quite past, I remember brunches, and corsages, and gifts. And along with good of that, the bad of evaluating the day, the gift, the experience. And than, I got smarter. Today, is now a day I expect nothing. I already have my gifts, they came wrapped as Sara, Mike, and Peter along time ago. I already knew a great mom, who is looking down from above. So, what ever comes my way on Mother's Day is a freebie, an extra, a surprise.
So, today, I here are some of my gifts. Today at church, Peter's junior high school teacher offered to bring Peter to church whenever I could not. The kind man at church who bought an extra rose, trailed Peter out the door, and trust me, you need to be fast to trail Peter after church, and told him to give this to his mom. How thoughtful, how kind! That was followed by a handful of smooched dandelions....in case the rose was not enough. Peter, as proud as one is when one gives dandelions as a gift!
And if that was not enough, Peter taking Mike and I to lunch. Of course, that had to be Red Robin as he is quite fixated on the place. And yes, there was a gift card that he had from his sister Sara, and a donation by Mike, but the rest of the meal was going to be paid by Peter....with his own charge card. This is a child when growing up, I had no idea what would be. I knew there would be no college, I knew there would be no technical schools, I just did not know what the future would hold. I only knew during those formative years, that I would go day by day, and when ask about the future from some well-meaning friend, I had no answer as I truly did not know, and I considered worrying about it a big waste of time. Remember, my mantra, when God closes a door, he opens a window. It was not in my hands. So, did I appear ignorant, or possibly a bit naive...maybe. It worked for me.
And today, here I sit twenty three years later....Peter taking me to lunch on Mother's Day. Peter, paying the bill with his money he earned at Lakeside Curative. Peter, signing his own credit card . Before you get to excited...that would be Peter signing his own credit card with help and tip and strongly advised to write as small as you can. Wow, I am thinking! Could I ever have imagined it.
Mother's Day, a day to count my blessings....a time to thank my children...for without them...I would not be a mother and that is a gift that just keeps on giving!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Did you know he smokes.....


Yes, it happened rather suddenly, unexpectedly, the day I noticed that Peter had taken up smoking. It was a Saturday morning, the kind where I like to start out slowly, get up, pour my coffee and stare obliviously at the television, or just into space, actually, space works fine for me as I am just staring, grasping the caffeine and acting as a complete non functioning human being for about thirty minutes. Sitting quietly until that first jolt of caffeine kicks in, and then it is all over. Up to that point, do not ask me any question of importance, as there will be no answer. Once caffeinated, the motor starts running. Peter, on the other hand, has been up for hours doing his thing. By this time he has done the Internet, and the Outernet, made piles, picked up piles, filled the washer and dryer to bulging, and put everything on the counter in the dishwasher, so he now is starting to become a bit edgy about life. Not sure why, probably could not smash ten more towels in the washer, or the dishwasher does not quite shut. So, he is pacing around my oblivion, when he mentions, no that is mutters, that he needs a smoke and off he goes into the garage. I, still in my stupor.....am thinking, did he say smoke?...No way, not even something I can comprehend. So, considering I am only half listening, I blow it off that he went out there to load items into the garbage...of course, items I will search for later. He returns, smelling just fine, and we continue our day. This incidence, this "I need a smoke", does not occur again until later in the day, when he starts revving up, mutters and lands in the garage. I still do not catch on...I am a slow learner after all, or maybe it is my fine art of denial. Off he goes, and I am thinking garbage can. It was not until he came home the following week, when I was informed by Mike that Peter was smoking in the garage. WHAT? NO WAY! ABSOLUTELY NO WAY! So, I sneak to the door, peer out, and there stands Peter with his imaginary cigarette "smoking" away. He has the drag perfected, he puffs, he stands there for the allotted smoke time, and even he disposes this unseen white stick into my flower pot. These actions come complete with several exclamations of "I cannot take this anymore", they are driving me nuts, and so on. And then, he walked in, passed me by, as if nothing happened, more relaxed, and ready to pick up his business. I have to admit at that moment I was still trying to replace my jaw that seem to have found it's way to the ground. Smoking??? Peter??? Okay, so it is only imaginary and knowing Peter, it will be replaced by another habit.
Turning from the door, I reflect...You know that Peter, sometimes he is right on the money! I have had those moments, those they are driving me nuts, I cannot handle this anymore moments......Mmmmmm......... maybe, imaginary smoking, stress relieving....mmmm......
So, if driving by you notice Peter and I waving our hands in the air, blowing, puffing, just wave and know that life is good!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Gift


Besides pure entertainment, the train ride also served the purpose of allowing Peter to spend his birthday money. Peter, who is a man of few means rarely makes any gift requests for any holiday which always sends me into a head scratching event of what should I buy this kid? Birthdays and Christmas routinely have been the time to replace the lost or damaged previously owned gifts that Peter conveniently disposes of when he deems these items are no longer functional. He actually was on his third pair of headphones in three weeks prior to his birthday, so I am thinking at least one of the pairs qualifies for a gift. Lets me off the hook of trying to decide what all to buy. Fortunately, Peter was blessed with dollars from gracious aunts, uncles, and friends who sent cards in the mail and add to Peter's thorough enjoyment of his birthday. Ching, ching! He now has dollars to spend.
In the town we have chosen to celebrate the day is a great little breakfast place, so pancakes are covered, and, better yet, an old fashion toy store. The one that carries those unique, yes, and often pricey items, that one cannot locate at the Target. So with full tummies, in we go to the toy store with the charge to Peter to spend his money. We look, we scour all the shelves, we go row by row, looking up and down for that special item, I suggest, I attempt to find anything train related, yet nothing is rocking Peter's boat. And yes, I must admit, I am becoming momentarily sweaty because we are coming close to the end of the store and our task is not complete, no birthday item in hand. Puzzles, Peter...No, I'm good. How about these nice books...good, mom. Connect four...no thanks. Oh darn, I am thinking we are going to leave empty handed when I see Peter on all fours, scrunched way way down on the floor and looking up onto a few items hanging by a hook. I hear a mutter, Yes, he is saying to himself, Yes! This will do. I am so excited that as I round the corner, I trip momentarily before I land on the floor and join in the scrunch. What has he found? What a joyous monumental occasion, for he has found something he wants, he picked out a gift on his own. I am just delighted!! So I peer, wondering what this could be?
And there we sit, on the floor, with his coveted gift....... A gun! Yes, that would be a hand pistol, AKA cap gun. Really, Peter a gun. A child who never could fathom the concept of cowboys and Indians...a gun. You sure Peter? Yep, this is what he wants and there is no going back. So we buy, and Peter continues to enjoy the day..why a train ride and a gun, could life get any better??? And I am wondering how many days will pass before I hear from his work counselors why he has a need for a gun and handcuffs in his book bag.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Birthday


Yesterday, Peter turned 23 years old. Twenty three years of my life with Peter Labanowsky...how time flies!. I wanted to do something special on his birthday, something he wanted to do, not me...so aboard we went on the Metra to Chicago. The Metra for Peter ranks close to Nirvana. Peter, was aware of this event about four days before the big day, so he was happy. Happy, happy, happy!! A huge smile evolved on his face when I mentioned the word train and stayed there for the next days. He danced, he wiggled, he rejoiced...a train ride. This was definitely a mood changing event and nothing..nada..was going to get in his way of savoring the moment, anticipating the ride.
The big day arrived, and off we went to the train station. Peter's overjoy to be riding on this commuter train was easily observed as he skipped, hopped, and spoke to all those he passed on the boarding platform. He found the conductor standing there and started firing the questions, Is this train going to Chicago, Is this going the right way, When can we get on? The sleepy eyed conductor managed to break a smile, opened the doors, and Peter plowed into the car, taking the first seat so he could watch the doors open and close.
Off we went, in our own little world, Peter sighing every few minutes with delight. Body shaking, hands wringing as the automated voice reminded us, "The doors are about to close". Lacking sleep, my intention was to take a quick cat nap while Peter engaged in the door experience, but his behavior was infectious. Cracking one eye open, I could see the smile, his arm touching mine, I could feel the quiver, and that is all it took to snap me out of sleep mood and immerse myself in the experience. Soon, I was joining in with my best conductor voice, simultaneously Peter and I let everyone in hearing distance know..."The next stop will be Lake Bluff". "Caution, the doors are about to close". The joy of him watching the doors open and close, the sheer delight, the laughter opened my eyes...when have I taken time in the last few days, weeks, months, just to slow down and experience life, nothing fancy, just take in the moment. When I I stopped to just laugh, that down in your stomach, that over all feel good laugh?. When I have stopped to appreciate the small things in life that go by unnoticed? Why, it has been awhile. Peter, in his own way just opened my eyes.
We continue down the tracks as the train fills to the brim with many Saturday morning travelers. Feeling a bit crushed, I make an executive decision to stop and have breakfast in a town on the way to Chicago. Peter does not mind, he has had a train fix and we will be returning shortly. So off we jumped and onto to breakfast. The sun warming our faces as we walk this happy walk and I think, "Thank you Peter for inviting me on the train ride. Thank you for the laughter, and reminding me of the small things in life that evokes such happiness. Thank you Peter for the free high!" The warm sunny day, this happy young man experiencing the start of his 23rd year. Yep, it was a good day!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

His Evil Twin Brother Pedro


Those little piles, the ones that disappear with a quick motor movement of the Peter's hand, well, when Peter brings home his evil twin brother "Pedro", that disappearing act takes on a new look. Oh, those little piles, they disappear alright, but not into a drawer or the garbage, no soon you may find them deep underneath the "rock collection".
For some odd reason, when Peter comes home for a night, that would be a stay of less than 24 hours, he has this need to pack his green duffel bag and book bag to more than capacity, bulging at the seams, ready to explode. Begging, asking, pleading, to please do not pack your bags as I have clothes for you, just does not deter him from what I call packing and bringing his rock collection. When I pick up Peter and while he bounds out of his house and into my car, I am the one left struggling, barely able to lift the duffel and the book bag, muttering about his need to bring home his all his earthly belongings for the duration of one night, as I am dragging these bags to the car. Knowing that these coveted items will only be quickly disperse throughout the first floor, I slowly lift and than plunge these two bags in the back seat, convinced I will soon need back surgery or at least bed rest. Wearily, I climb into the driver seat and we start our little weekend adventure. This adventure includes several stops, the grocery store, the hardware store, the drug store. Of course, this is done to ensure that I will have even more bags to carry into the house allowing more time for Pedro to do his things.
Finishing the errands, we arrive in the garage and Peter jumps from the car, and now of course is fully capable of carrying his rock collection inside. I, burying my body into the back seat of the car I grab as many bags as humanly possible as I know what is now occurring on my island, on top of my table, and across the family room floor. You see, that is when Pedro arrives,the evil twin brother is not into picking or cleaning, his job is to unload, unload all those items within less than 60 seconds and make sure that they are distributed evenly throughout the first floor. Within these seconds, the contents are strewn, five t-shirts, two pairs of pants, pair of socks, sandals...did I say sandals in January, an extra pair of shoes, one sweatshirt and one pair of pajamas have now found their new home on the family room floor. But that is only the beginning, as that book bag, that bulging book bag, the one ready to explode is begging Pedro to empty it's coffers and so, five or six coloring books, a box of puzzles, two large quart sized bags, of markers, a football, a teddy bear, several various awards gathered over the years, a harmonica, a sheriffs badge and not one, but two pairs of handcuffs, how those handcuffs keep multiplying remains a mystery. And all of this occurs before I have placed one foot inside the door. Upon my arrival, I see the Pedro's artwork, the piles, the belongings scattered throughout the first floor.Long ago, I gave the idea of putting these coveted belongings in one place and came to the realization that I would just learn to adjust, to walk around, to incorporate the items that are now piled high on my island and table top. There is this inner peace for Peter following the scattering event. If disrupted, I know Pedro will be visitng again soon. And those little piles, long gone and lost among the handcuffs and crayons, I do hope to be found when Pedro leaves. My kitchen that once appeared somewhat organized, lies in disarray. To be honest, if a burglar happened on the scene, he or she would leave convinced the house had already been hit.
So the night is spent with now large piles covering those underneath. Peter sends Pedro off, his job is done. Life is good, Peter has moved onto his computer, Pedro is gone, and I am thinking a glass of wine while I nest amongst the clothes and cuffs.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Silence is Golden


Everyday, or almost everyday, around 5ish I receive a telephone call from Peter. Thanks to caller ID, I know who is on the other end, so I generally start my conversation with a robust "Hi Peter" which is followed by silence. Thinking he did not hear my very enthusiastic greeting I repeat myself and add "are you there?" Of course, he is there and I quickly visualize that smile, that crunched up, eyes closed, lips upturned expression that has taken over not only his face, but his whole being. It is as if he is in Nirvana.
Now, I, not being accustomed to silence have this overwhelming need to fill the airways with my voice. I actually become a bit uncomfortable with these long pauses of empty airwaves. There is this need in me to have those filled, I just cannot stop myself. So while Peter is just soaking in the connection he has just made and is quite happy, I begin the chatter. 'Peter, what is new?"...nothing.."Peter, what did you do today?....idunknow...."Peter, did you have supper" "Peter, what did you eat for supper" Peter, what is everyone else doing?" "Peter"....I think you get the picture. My quickly fired off questions with the intent to spark a conversation is only answered in one maybe two syllable words which you may take your pick and are "idunknow, yes, no, or nothing". Of course, does that stop me from pursuing my need to have answers, my need to know. Nope! Of course, not! Why, I am the master of open ended question or so I think, so I start the dialogue again.
Why Peter, you know what you did at work today, I give hints, and yes I do finally with much coaxing get an answer which I already know will consist of Pledge, gloves or triggers. I also know that any further inquiry will only start the idunknow cycle again, so I move onto a dinner conversation or what are you doing tonight.
So this ten minute conversation to me evokes this feeling of work, of effort, of pulling the words or thoughts from Peter's brain to his tongue so that I can feel we have accomplished some sort of task or meaningful conversation.
Recently, the thought crossed my mind, and why it has taken me so long, so many conversations, so many years to understand this concept, I do not know as I really think I am an intuitive type person. My realization is that Peter, is absolutely fine with silence. Peter is just happy to be sitting on the phone with me. He does not need words to connect, he already made the connection at "Hi Peter". Why he is still scrunching and smiling, and wringing his hands, because he is just so happy to be. I on the other hand have this need to fill the space, that quiet.
Based on my new found realization, I have now resolved that when I pick up that phone, I will leave space, silent, no talking space. I will sit and take in the silence. Now, this is a monumental task for someone who has a need, a need to fill the quiet, a need to speak. But I am trying, fidgeting, feeling quite uncomfortable, but working really hard on the nonverbal part.
Silence...it is precious, the unspoken. The feeling of just being, enjoying the moment, the sounds and feelings that one absorbs during those unspoken moments. It is golden, and I do believe Peter has just reminded me of something very valuable. The peace, the lessons, the love that fills the silence.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Little Piles


Peter is not just extremely efficient with loading the dishwasher. Oh no! He has his eye on my little piles the minute he walks in the door. Now, I am the queen of little piles which in my mind are all stacked neatly across, around, and on top of my island in the kitchen. This is where I sort the bills, in one little pile, and the coupons, in another, and the magazines and catalogs, and pictures, and recipes, and charity obligations, and my to do list, and..you get the idea. It is all there, waiting to be addressed. And I know, it will be addressed someday, maybe, when needed. So, my little piles sit, waiting for someone to a least appear interested in their well-being. And to be honest, those who do get addressed, whose well-being is meaningful to me are the bills, the ones with the deadlines, the ones that charge an enormous, no that would be obnoxious late fee, now those little piles feel the touch of my hand on a fairly regular basis. The rest, well, those coupons when addressed are usually expired and the catalogs, well by summer those winter items are not quite as interesting. But, I love my little piles, and in this disorganized organization I firmly believe that I have control over my life and I will someday conquer them and have a purely clean and exquisite island.
Now, Peter, seeing these piles believes that when I am not looking it is his responsibility to fulfill my dream of a spotless counter top. However, he would never discuss this matter with me, no, it is his secret. So, Peter, in his normal Peter like behavior, carries on as if those little piles have no meaning to him at all. He never looks at them in my presence. Why, there are more important things to do, like the dishes or the laundry so why deal with little piles. He appears to not even notice these piles, until, of course, SHE leaves the rooms. Now, SHE, aka ME, occasionally has a need for a shower, so I leave. Now, did you know that I have the one and a half minute shower down to perfection. There is no wasting time on my part, just lather, rinse, and run. Run downstairs as fast as I can to ward off any well-meaning cleaning event that Peter will participate in while my presence in missing.
It is during that tiny time frame of my car wash shower that Peter seizes the moment. Peter, who was totally absorbed into You Tube or a song, is now into his role, his Mr. Clean, Mr. I gotta clean that island before she returns, swiftly, without a sound takes those little piles, the ones that have sat there undisturbed for weeks, and with a quick "Whosh", he eliminates them from sight and returns to You Tube as if nothing has occurred. I, on the other hand, running into the kitchen and still a bit drippy and not quite dry, notice I can now see the counter top which belongs to my island. Not only is it empty, but it sparkles. Mr. Clean always includes a free wash in his cleaning cycle.
Panic spreads throughout my body, where have they gone those precious little piles that laid undisturbed for weeks. I begin my search into the various drawers, garbage bins, recycle containers to find the lost articles. Retrieving some, and reconciling the lost of the others.
And so, the process will begin again soon, I will forget Peter's love to remove, his love of a spotless island, and I will again begin to build the piles. Will I learn, no, there must be something in this challenge that keeps giving. Maybe it is the opportunity to see the top of the counter, maybe it is my way of cleaning the counter? I do know that their will be piles and there will be elimination and somehow, through some miracle all the bills will get paid and those coupons...oh well!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The White Tornado


I can still see Mr. Clean, the "White Tornado" spinning around the house through the screen on my black and white television. There was something special about that man, and of all my childhood memories, he remains. Not quite sure why, but in a heartbeat, I can drum him up in my mind, that cross-armed man with the mermaid like body, only his tail was a tornado. Maybe through osmosis, or positive ""vibs", as I really did like Mr. Clean, Peter somehow managed to inherit some of his tornadic like cleaning skills. Maybe somewhere in that intricate set of DNA, he got the White Tornado gene, because Peter has certainly learned the fine art of white tornadoing.
Take the dishwasher for instance. The cleaning that goes on there is simply mind-blowing. If there in any indication that the dishwasher needs to be run, and that indication could be a lonely cereal dish, Peter starts with the dishwasher experience. He begins with the rinsing, and rinsing, did I say rinsing which makes one wonder do these dishes really need to be washed? Once the rinsing is done, which usually comes with a reminder that "Peter, those dishes are rinsed, than those dishes located closest to the sink are loaded. However, he has only just began. For really, Peter wants to include everything and anything in sight. He moves on to those items that are placed on the counter possibly for decor or some utilitarian kind of experience. Now Peter being a fair minded soul, does not discriminate between good china and bad, new or antique, Waterford or Kmart, no, he is really an equal opportunity kind of guy. If it is on the counter, it belongs in the dishwasher. And so, in go those items, loaded next to, close to, and on top of the cleanly rinsed dishes that really do not need to be in the dishwasher. Then, when one would think the dishwasher is near, no that would be way overloaded to capacity, he makes one last sweep and collects any remaining items within the vicinity and adds them to his menagerie of dishes. As in normal Peter fashion, with his keen sense of no one is watching, he starts that machine which will run at way over the limits capacity. Rocking and rolling, clinging and clattering, a sound one could assimilate to a finger running down a chalkboard. And so, the collectibles, the crystal, the cookie jar, the dog dish, the pots, the pans, are now best friends as they are getting a bath, hoping to survive the wash as they rub, crash, and clang hoping to make it through the experience without a dent. And Peter, stands, contemplating, what needs to be cleaned next. Why, I Mr. Clean Peter have just begun. I am only in the kitchen. His legs start moving, taking on a new whitish cone shaped look and off he goes to another room. I contemplating, do I stop the work of art created by this young man, do I unload before it is too late, as I am wondering what piece of glass I will need to replace following the washing experience, I think I best grab my sneakers and follow the storm.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Handcuffs


"You never know when you need a good pair of handcuffs"...yes, those words slipped from my mouth and into the ears of an innocent young staff member of the Therapeutic Recreational program that Peter attended when he was in high school. This young man, most likely about the same age of Peter was hired to help with the special needs children who attended the after school program. And fortunately or unfortunately, he was given the task of asking me, the mom ,why her son was carrying around a pair of handcuffs in his book bag. I still remember his approach, he quietly pulled me aside, and ask if he could speak to me, Mrs. Mom, about a concern we have about your son, Peter. I reeling in from a long day at work and ready to adventure into the evening with Peter, agreed, thinking in the back of my mind...okay now what...I hope he makes it short....I am really, really hungry, at bit on the crabby side, and now, you want to talk. Okay, I am thinking, spill the beans, let me know what hurdle I need to handle, and let's get on with it.
So there he stood in all his innocence, standing up to the call, quietly, almost in a whisper, he informed me that my son Peter was carrying around a pair of handcuffs in his book bag and do I think that really is a good idea?, he asked. I, the mother, the responsible adult, the caretaker, had no idea where or when these handcuffs showed up in his bag. I did not know who gave Peter these handcuffs, when he was the recipient of this gift, but I know this particular item had some meaning to Peter. I, the mother of this child, also knew that Peter had absolutely no small motor movement dexterity that would enable him ever to place this cuffs on anyone or even use them. So there, out of my mouth, with a smile on my face, I said to this innocent young teen, who is only trying to do his job..."You never know when you need a good pair of handcuffs!!" and I smiled, retrieved my son, and moved on for the day. And yes, the young staffer just stood there with a look of shock and amazement, eyes wide open, jaw dropping, never in his wildest dreams did he expect that answer coming from any mature adult who had a child with special needs.
Did I remove the cuffs..nope! Reflecting, it was probably a small stand in saying "Get a grip, he is not holding some S and M type event, he just likes these silver things that seem to have made a home in his book bag." And so, the handcuffs remained in his book bag for years, carrying them through graduation and into his work world, until this weekend when Peter told me he needed to leave the handcuffs home.."Ann said..." And so they lay, lonely in his kitchen drawer.
The curious thing about these cuffs is that Peter never lost them. Now we are talking about a person who loses everything! The black stocking hat, the one I paid the extra 20 dollars because it said "JUMP AROUND"..gone, in a day. The number of hats and mittens that have been lost and been replaced. The hundreds of dollars I have spent on buying the coveted Cd's that seem to disappear overnight. Just recently, I hunted down the last of "High School Musical Three" because Peter has lost the previous 4 or 5 or was that 6 copies of that particular movie. If Peter likes it, he loses it. But not these handcuffs! These items have remained his constant companion for years, until today. He told me he had to leave them home.."Ann said". So, there they lay, lonely in his kitchen drawer.
I must admit, I have grown accustomed to their presence, and no, I will not be throwing them out. They will stay in the drawer, a reminder of Peter, the part of Peter I do not understand, the part I can't explain. What attracted him to these things in the first place, and why, he never managed to lose them for years. I will never understand. However,....I am now thinking..... shadow box...hang them in his room...it just seems fitting after all!!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Season Two:There Was No Drama



Christmas, the season that seems to grow more hectic each year is now over, the New Year approaching, and I reflecting on the past days. Was it seamless, no, there is no seamless with Peter Labanowsky. Was it chaotic...momentarily yes. But this year, no phone calls to churches asking if they sing Silent Night on Christmas Eve. I gave that up last year when the realization came....unless I wanted to go to the synagogue, there would be Silent Night with candles at any church we would be attending. I developed a new game plan, ask when entering when the "song' will be sung, take the candles to make the appearance that we will be participating, and reassure Mike that we will be leaving as soon as the there is any evidence that the the lights will be dimmed and the candles lit. Of course, that means the I scoped out a door near the back of church where one will supposedly quietly escaped before the singing of the song.

And so we sat, quietly, unobtrusively, in the last of the rows. Me, Silent Night lingering in the back of my mind, yet absorbing the evening, the music, the message. Peter, enthusiastically participating in the the service, especially our "fav"...Gloria in Egg Shells Seas Dayo. Singing his heart out, he maintained a sense of serenity, a new phenomena. Sleeping through the sermon, he awoke just in time to realize it was time. Evidence that soon those overhead lights will be glowing less, and those candles will be be lit. Having rehearsed the method of quietly sneaking out, we left through the side door and made it outside without a hitch. No door slams, no special words, just out the door and outside. It was almost anti-climatic! No drama..no trauma...could this be? We did it. Is this the beginning...will next year be the year we might consider...staying....for.....
you know....SN...don't tell Mike......it may be a consideration!!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Setting of the Clocks


In a "normal", household one usually sets clocks during daylight saving time or if the power had gone out, but in our household, setting of the clocks is a rather regular occurrence. Peter, when you least expect it, will change the three clocks in the kitchen, that would be the one on the stove, the one on the radio, and the one on the microwave. These three clocks are the ones that I rely on to get me wherever I need to go and need to arrive on time. These clocks that I glance at frequently, when I have timed myself done to the minute, and know if I leave exactly at 700 AM, I will reach my destination with a few minutes to spare. I, never wanting to waste a minute of my time, prefer to arrive with no minutes to spare, and love that feeling of breezing in, with a sigh of relief, knowing I made...just made it on time. That has worked quite well for me these past years, and I must admit, I an usually never late, right on time, not too early, but usually never late.
However, add the love of Peter to change the clocks and that smug feeling of "I made it on time and I am in control" is only a fleeting memory. For Peter, in his own unassuming way, does not say, "Mom, today I am changing the clocks, so please do not pay any attention to the time", no, Peter quietly, quickly, without any notice, changes the time on the clock, not by much, maybe just 10 or 15 minutes, a small amount so it can and does go unnoticed as the day or days pass by. And then it happens, when least expected. I in my need to use all my daily minutes, calculated to the minute when I should leave my house, am relying on those very precious clocks to inform of the time I need to leave my house so that I will arrive to my meeting or classroom filled with students. The very important mechanisms that will get me to where I am going on time. Only, I did not notice that Mr. I Like to Change Clocks had put the time back 15 minutes. So, as I now am down to the last few seconds, still confident I will arrive on time, I land in the front seat of my car, turn it on, and than, and it is only then, I look at the clock in my car and I realize it is not 700 AM or 100 PM, it is actually 715 AM or 1:15 PM and now, that 15 minutes I need to arrive on time and appear as if I am in control....gone! The voice goes of in my head that sounds like this....PETER!! And I now frantically race to my destination. If you would ask me how many times this occurrence has taken place in my life, I would honestly say more times than I can remember. You see, Peter, does this when you have had just managed to forget the previous event. He changes those clocks with such efficiency and with no notice that one forgets this can occur.
Yesterday, I was done to the usual race and needed to get to a class so my students could take an exam, and yep, when I landed in my car was when I realized I was lacking the 15 precious minutes that I need to arrive on time. Racing across town, and cringing when I fly by the three police officers, I manage to skim into the classroom in a nick of time.Yes, I made it...by the skin of my teeth! Maintaining a demeanor of calmness, I begin explaining to my students, who are really wondering why their instructor is cutting it so close on the day of an exam,telling them the Peter story, secretly wondering if they are buying into this "excuse". Wondering, would I believe them with such a story? They laugh, and now they ask for the password to start the test. This week, for some reason, I chose the password "peter"....so , I tell them the password is peter...NO! That would be PETER!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bennies and Freebies




Today, I got one again. A freebie, a benny..right in the middle of day. This weekend Sara decided to join a 5K...why a 5K always sounds like part of a retirement plan, I do not know. But now she is running, pretty good for a non-runner. The Freebie came from Sara today who wrote this little blurb and then sent it to the local radio station which they decided to share via the airwaves. Here what the people of Minnesota heard:

Hey Morning Show!
Tomorrow will be my first 5K ever. I absolutely HATE running. When I
heard there was a 5K to raise money for Special Olympics I knew I had
to do it. So with the help of the couch to 5K program I've learned
not to hate it so much. My brother Peter is a Special Olympics
athlete and I know how much these group needs a little extra money.
There is nothing more inspiring than going to a Special Olympics event
and watch the joy in each athletes face as they participate in their
sports. For them winning has no meaning its the joy of being able to
just do what they are doing. Peter was unable to walk until he was 5
years old and today at 22 is one of the fastest out there during his
track and field events. So tomorrow I'll be running with Peter as my
inspiration because if he can run so can I!
Thanks again for putting this together and I'll see you in the morning!
Sara

Hey, need I say more...isn't that just best!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mr. Fix-It


I have this telephone set, I guess that is what I would call it. It has abase unit which contains an answering machine, and two handsets that I locate throughout the house, although when the phone rings, I usually end up finding the two handsets in the same place and always at the opposite end of the house. This incurs a frantic run either up or down the stairs to reach the phone or that would be phones in order to answer one of them before the answering machine turns on. Now, we do know that when one tries to talk with an answering machine running, you can hear yourself talking in that nasally voice or if you attempt to turn it off this loud , very loud annoying microphone takes over the conversation. Normally, there would be three phones in the same area, but the base unit has been broken for months. I, not wanting to replace the entire set, knowing it was outdated, read the instruction manual very thoroughly, and spent a good hour talking to my new friend in the Philippines and it was determined that this main telephone had reached the end of it's rope and needed to go to telephone heaven. The message that read "There is no link to the base unit" meant go buy another phone. Yes, I thought, someday I will buy a new one, but you see, I am still celebrating my new garage door purchase and...my new sump pump purchase so I decided that as long as the answering machine works, and the two handsets work there is no immediate need to run to Target in search of a replacement phone. So, for months I have been just fine with my two non centrally located phones.
I am sure by now you are wondering what this has to do with Peter. This is after all about Peter. Last weekend, while Peter was visiting and spending his time doing the laundry, getting in his quota of opening and closing the garage door using about a quarter of the spring life, washing my shower, and doing his usual Peter activities, I noticed he had called Sara AND he was talking on the main handset phone, the one that died months earlier, the one that had no link to the base unit. I looked at him and told him that phone did not work any more and he looked right back at me and calmly said, "Yes it does, I am talking to Sara". And there he stood, talking to Sara on a dead phone that now came back to life. I, not believing took the phone from him and sure enough...it worked. Occasionally over the past months, I have picked up that phone and tried to get it to work...but nope! Nada..nothing. No dial tone, nothing.Only that constant message reminding me there was no link to the base unit.

What Peter did to make that phone work, I will never know. But he did...free of charge. In need of a handy man? Possibly a garage door opener, the one that will stand at your door and push the button 99 times to check to see if you garage is working. Laundry anyone? Phone broken? Just call 1-800 PETER4U!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

LOST


After writing and reading the story about Peter's Sunday excursion around the Forest Park neighborhood, and his eventual return, my heart skipped a beat. Living through Peter's runaway events, his running through airports, and his total LOST experience was part of our life. It was what it was. Although, hours were sent explaining the whys of not losing one's family, our approach became a matter of attempting to be proactive. We put locks and hooks on doors where Peter could not reach...actually, if you walked through my house today, you would see the remnants of leftover locks, hooks, and reversed locks which had been installed in order to prevent a potential disastrous runaway. The family all put on a daily game face, we had a plan, a loosely developed plan of what we would do when we could not find Peter. Because of this extremely frequent occurrence, it appeared as if we were in some drill, a drill that had been conjured up over time by actually seeking out Peter. My voice, serving as the bell or siren, called out to Sara, Mike and the neighborhood children to start the search, as if programed, they stopped their play, whether it was soccer, or swinging on the play set, or maybe a friendly game of playing house in the backyard shed, whatever these children were engaged, they stopped, with no questions asked, and started of in the various directions in search of the lost child, of course, unbeknownst to him. He did not have any conception that he was lost and was in need of being found.

The changes a child with special needs has on one's family is profound. These changes sneak up with really such subtly that one doesn't even noticed. One is only reacting to the effect of the child in order to adjust, survive, or cope. We, as a family, did just that. We, changed our lifestyle, in order to meet the needs of Peter. It was a daily education and the book was written, the rules, the guidelines were posted as we went along. Most of the time, it was a guess. What did not work on the particular day, may work tomorrow, or maybe was never a good idea.

Peter's antics effected all of us. But, when it came to his Speedy Gonzalos moves, we devised our own way of coping. Reflecting, was it the best? Probably not, really, a good fence may have been the answer to solve the daily problem of running. At that time, that was not the answer. A fence in our neighborhood was unheard of that time, now, everyone has fences. A fence at that time was also cost prohibitive.

I know we tried the best we could. I know God gave us patience, good neighbors, and a large dose of overseeing...of course, He always was aware of Peter's wear abouts! I think of Peter, who on the major LOST day, when we found him acted as if he was being picked up by strangers, and Peter now, who hugs and appreciates his family. Peter, who now can go on trips and stays with his group. Who during his growing years learned to stay closer, that family is a "good thing".

Could someone have given us a book on how to raise this child...maybe? I can now look back and say I would not change a thing, there is a reason how this developed and formed. In the midst of the "battle", the growing, sure there were painful days and many tears, but I never lost Peter...not permanently, although, reading and reflecting I do believe...that was nothing short of a miracle!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Yes...."Idunnoknow"


I was right. When asking Peter about his trip, those three words which Peter has turned into a one syllable word flowed quickly from Peter's month. "Idunknow" . Peter,who did you room with? Idunknow" Really, Idunknow was the response for any question asked. But, as I was told, he had a great time! And, Mr. I was afraid of boats, took a historic boat tour, and did just fine. And, Peter, who when we took him to a movie theater would either bolt within the first few minutes of the movie or refuse to come in and take a seat, sat quietly and enjoyed the Broadway play!! As I was told...he was so good!

Funny, when I picked him up for church this morning, it was as if he had grown up a bit since last week when I had seen him. This week, he walked slowly into church, okay, so he still took way more snacks than requested, but than he placed all his items on the table and proceeded to find one our of neighbors, one he has not seen in a very long time, and go shake his hand and ask him how he was doing today! Excuse me, but is this the same Peter that last week was running into the place?

He stood, he listened, he was just so calm. I cannot help but think that trip was not only enjoyable, but a great learning experience. One that he got alot of bang for his buck! Fun and learning. A experience that at one time in his tiny life I would never have imagined! Now...if he would only stay at his workstation until the end of the day...life would be good!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Working Man

Recently, I attended Peter's annual job review at the curative workshop where he goes daily. A workshop where companies have individuals with special needs fill orders for them. I know at this particular workshop, Johnson Wax has been a very good sponsor. I must admit, I was a tad apprehensive as last year his review did not go so well. He was having a hard time staying on task, staying in the lines, and was really attracted to the time clock, so much that he would leave his piecework job and go punch everyone's cards, of course, that would be in the middle of the day! So last year at this time, Peter was managing to push people's patience buttons to the max, that would be people who already have an extra dose of love and patience. At that time, I went into overdrive and tried to come up with ways to help Peter. I walked him between the yellow lines and made him repeat "Stay within the lines, the lines are your friends". We discussed the purpose of time cards and how important it was to complete his job. I know there was bribery involved and I hoped and prayed he would eventually figure out his new role in life.

This year, I was told, he is still working on staying friends with the lines. But, after listening to his review, I was beaming. Over the past year, he has managed to stay on task and build triggers and put caps on triggers, all fairly demanding for someone who struggles with fine motor movement. Triggers, you see, are those things at the top of a spray bottle, that allows us, the customer to spray the windows, the toilets, whatever. This year, he increased his productivity thirty percent, and made six hundred dollars for the year, enough to pay for a special trip to Chicago. And, did I mention that they removed the time clock, so he lost the need to go and punch everyone's time card. Now that was a blessing! I am sure one of his autistic behaviors was drawing him to that clock, and that need to punch.

Remember those doors and windows I talked about earlier, well, if you asked me, this is a window of opportunity for Peter. A chance for him to move into the adult working world and feel good about himself. An opportunity to be independent, have somewhere to go everyday and spend time with others like him and than come home at the end of the day and relax...now there is a working man!

Still Beaming...


Yes, Peter has made me proud because he is trying very hard to do better at his job. But, today, again, I am just so excited! Today, Peter is leaving on his trip that he paid for with his own money from his job at the curative workshop. After putting all those triggers together, boxing Pledge, and trying very hard to stay within the yellow lines at work, Peter is going on vacation. Nope! Not with me. He, is going with his friends on a special bus to downtown Chicago and spending three days in the city. Peter will be rooming with Wilson, his buddy from his house and from his work and supervised by one of the managers, Ann. He gets to go sightseeing to Navy Pier, to the Aquarium and to a Broadway play. Now how cool is that!

I love taking Peter on vacation, but there is something very special about Peter doing his own thing. When he was growing up, I never knew what would take place after Peter finished high school. And like I said, I did not spend time worrying over fretting over that concern, but, I really never knew. People would asked...and I think I just smiled. I had no answer. I was going one day at a time, so there is no future planning in one day at a time. Sure, I conjured up thoughts and wheres, but that is about as far as it went. Could I have imagined this? Not this good! Could I have ever imagined that Peter would be living in a phenomenal group home with his friends from high school, having a job, a really nice job, happy, still growing, and also, so close to my house. I know in my wishful thinking, that wistful dream was never this good.

And now today, he leaves to go on a trip, not with me, with his friends to a big city. I am just so excited for him! I cannot wait until he can tell me all about it!! Okay, I must get real here. I know when I ask him what he did he will say "Idunnoknow". But, I know that in the "dunnoknow" he had a marvelous time! I can see the smile now! Way to go Peter, way to defy all odds and grow up and be an adult. Oh yes, and thanks for keeping the child in you. so the rest of your family can still play.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

One Sunday Afternoon

I still remember the day, it was a bright sunny Sunday afternoon when we went to visit the local relatives. We were picnicking, talking when my brother-in-law started giving line dancing lessons on the backyard patio. Always wanting to learn this type of dance, I joined in the fun. Peter, at the young age of maybe four or five, was entertaining himself by running out the back door circling the ranch style house to open the front door, run through the kitchen and again run out the back door. This form of entertainment was keeping Peter well occupied as the afternoon progressed, and I believing he was safe began to learn the fine art of line dancing. We danced and Peter circled through about every 30 - 45 seconds, slamming the doors and have big time fun as far as he was concerned.
Laughing and dancing away, I noticed that I had not seen Peter circle in the last few minutes, so I broke away to do a check, thinking he was most likely in a bathroom, had found another door, or joined the rest of the children in the basement. Looking in the bathrooms, closets, and any orifice that had a door, I could not find Peter, so I called on the kids and cousins to help me look and asked the dancers if they had seen Peter, Shortly, all twenty of us were searching the house again, and slowly spreading into the neighborhood. No Peter could be found. Where could he have gone?
Concern raising, we broke up into groups, some in cars, some on bikes, some walking, all of us going in different directions. We looked in yards, and at the nearby school with the wide array of playground equipment, we searched and searched. When we stopped and asked the local neighbors, some out washing their cars, others doing yard work, they also joined in search, giving up the their Sunday activities. We walked, we circled, we called, we checked any swimming pools, and the longer we could not find Peter, the more my heart was sinking. Could this be the time we would not find him, or would he be hurt when we did, did someone take him?
I still remember hearing sirens in a distance and thinking that this is where we would find Peter. Thinking he had escaped to a busy road several blocks away, I maintained a calm demeanor, quietly praying, and continuing the search. By this time, the police were involved, three or four cars, so as we were walking we would see them circling.
It seemed like an eternity, and it was well over an hour, maybe two when we got the word from the police department. The police had enlisted the help of young boys on bikes and when these boys noticed a little boy swinging away on a swing set located in a backyard, they went up to the door and asked the owner if they knew him. Nope, not their child, so they called the police.
Finding Peter, he was just sitting and swinging. Was he all excited to see..not really...he was swinging. Was he afraid? No, he showed no sign on any anxiety, no comprehension that he has caused any commotion. He was just swinging. Did he understand that by now about forty people were now involved in the search and as every second passed, the enormity of the situation was weighing heavily on our hearts. How he walked blocks and blocks away without being seen, how he did not get hit by a car on his way, why he stopped where he did...nothing short of a miracle. And there he sat, swinging, just swinging, almost bothered that we had stopped the motion and he had to come with us.
This was just one more day in the life of Peter Labanowsky. It was as if he walked with this invisible wall around him, a wall that protected him, this wall seemed to encompass Peter in many experiences, this one a bit more harrowing than the others.
We went home, Peter as if nothing was array. We counting our blessings and thinking how we can never, and I mean never leave him out of our site! Thinking maybe we should be the first in the neighborhood to put up that forbidden fence, everyone hugging Peter, and he wondering "what is the big deal?"

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?


Do you hear what I hear...well, right now that is the song I am hearing, it is Christmas in July at our house, and Peter has tuned into his favorite Christmas carols and yes, we are both singing along as if it were December 23rd. Windows open, neighbors listening, they can join in if the would like!
Actually, my plan was to tell you about my new purchase, but just as I sat down, Peter started blasting out the Christmas tunes, and of course, that included one round of Silent Night, can't do Christmas carols without Silent Night, unless of course, it is Christmas Eve and you are in a candle-lit church and than it's another story. But right now we are safely singing Silent Night in the middle of this sunny summer day. So, hum with me, pick your favorite as you read.
I finally did it. I had to fork over the money and buy a new garage door. Now buying a chocolate brown new garage door that closely resembles the old garage door is about as exciting to me as buying a new sump pump. Something that needs to be done, but personally, a new piece of furniture or dress would lift my spirits rather that a major investment into a garage door. But the old creaky, rusted and soon to be splintered garage door had to be replaced before it stayed permanently in one place. So, now I am the proud owner of this piece of equipment that serves to protect my car and keep the raccoons from entering during the night time hours.
Wondering if Peter would even notice the newly acquired door, I decided not to tell him about the new purchase. Why I thought he may not notice? That is an "oh duh, Diane". He was hardly out of the car when he squealed with delight that we have a new garage door. The incredibly large smile that covered his face, and the accompanied hand wringing reassured me that he was totally enthralled by the purchase. Why did I not save this purchase for Christmas, and give it to him as his present? What was I thinking? Maybe that is why he is playing Christmas songs...maybe it reminds him of Christmas? He spent time looking at the inside and than we needed to close it so he could see the outside. It was just so exciting. We have spent the rest of the day, leaving, but sitting patiently in front of the door so we could "Ooh and Aah" as it descends. You would think we were watching fireworks.
I now have a new appreciation for that door. Peter's love has made me cross over to the other side and I am beginning to see the beauty in the simple brown thing that goes up and down. Without Peter, it would have just been another irritating expense, but his absolute excitement over the door has made me appreciate the finer things in life!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dancing in the Rain

"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning, how to dance in the rain.."

Okay, so I recieved this in one of those emails that you get, the ones that a friends send out and than you are expected to send it along. I will admit, I am picky about what I send on, as not to fill another's mailbox with too many good things. But, when I read this one, I got that very warm feeling...oh, this is good feeling. I like this one.

Isn't is true? Does it not make sense? In life, save for a few, we get bumps along the way. Some of us seem to get bigger bumps than others, or maybe we are given bigger bumps because God knows we can handle it. I really do not know the answer to this one, but I do know there are the bumps of life. We could be bitter, we could give up, we could complain, and sometimes that happens, but in order to take control of these bumps, we need to face them head on with the trust and grace that we will be given only enough bumps that we can handle.

And that is why today, when I read that saying, I thought..how perfect..how fitting. It is the dance of life that gets us through the day. I really think Peter gave me that ability to dance, partlly because he literally loves to dance and sing. And in those down momements, he danced and made me dance along.

Peter is not here today, but I think I could use a little dancing. I think I need to haul out those CD's of his, and dance in my kitchen...sing out loud, remember all the good things I have in life, remember how well I am blessed. So what if I am doing a little YMCA by myself in the kitchen, I'm dancing!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thunderstorms


Peter hates thunderstorms, or maybe the correct word would be fears thunderstorms. The tiniest threat of a storm puts Peter on heightened alert and you will find him glued to the "Weather Channel" accompanied by a small amount of nervous pacing. Pacing close enough to the television and always aware of any upcoming storms that may appear red or pink on the screen. Now, if storms are appearing across the country, he will need constant reminders that this is taking place in Texas and Peter, you will need an airplane to get there, so you need not worry. Does he really understands? He professes he does, and continues his attention to the television waiting for the local update. During the day time hours, if he is aware of the storms, he will pull all the plugs to the televisions, washing machine, radio's, if it has a plug you will find it lying next to the item that is is attached. He will pull out flashlights, just in case the lights go off, and he will be prepared to go into the basement if alerted to an incoming storm. At night, he seems to be able to hear a storm, long before it approaches, and does not like to be alone. As if he was a toddler, he will come running into my room, attempt to fly over my body, and land next to me in my bed. He hasn't quite caught on that he is a larger person now, and going around the bed would provide more comfort on my part. Especially, because he never quite clear my body. The urgency he displays in an attempt to move into my bed is evident in the modified broad jump he attempts over me to land on the other side.
Recently, after a past thunderstorm, I pondered as to how he developed such a fear of the booms and the bangs. I am thinking I need to raise my hand and take credit for his hate of thunderstorms. Peter, the copy cat, I am sure is emulating my behavior from past storms. Yes, it is true, I do not like thunderstorms and when an individual points out that there is nothing like a good thunderstorm for sleeping, that statement goes beyond my comprehension. Sleeping, during a thunderstorm? How does that work? A thunderstorm, especially a loud and well lit one evokes me into promising God just about everything in order to ensure my safety. How did I come to this? Could it be growing up in tornado alley when if the sirens were going off, you spent no time in getting your anny fanny into some basement, because in those days of prehistorical radar, that siren indicated that tornado was impending, or already past. Could I have developed my strong distaste for storms because following any storm event in my small community where I grew up, my parents would take us all in a car ride to survey the damage and count our blessings that this time we did not get hit. Comforting experience which I think must have set me up believing the next tornado would be going down our street. Or was it the lightening strikes that sizzled in the outlet next to my bed that made me take storms so seriously?

But now for the payback. Peter as he sat by watching me absorbed all these behaviors and now, he probably does not even understand it, he has a fear of the angels bowling and the free light show. Possibly hypnosis would cure this fear, but no logical explanations, no you are safe, no let's enjoy this experience will change his hate of the storm.
It is what it is. I, on the other hand, have become more comfortable with them. Maybe he will pick that up...maybe not. But until that time, I will be rebooting the cable box, replugging, and explaining that really, the storm is in Oklahoma.......


Monday, July 19, 2010

Windows


Windows come in all shapes, sizes, and depending on your house's age, will vary from crank windows to those that lift up and down (I am sure there is a name for that). Being an 80's sort of house, we have those long, about 5 feet long, narrow crank type windows in many areas, of course, not the one over the kitchen sink. Nice, long windows that allow a nice breeze on a 72 degree day.
Naps, which young children take, also come in all shapes and sizes, depending on your child. Some children love naps and take two or three naps during the day while others take a relatively one sized long nap. During this nap time, the mother usually has her moment of peace and quiet, possibly watching a favorite television show, or reading a book. It is your choice, you get to choose how you want to spend that hour more or less of pre-arranged quiet time or nap that God built into children so you can maintain your sanity and than move onto the supper hour.
Peter, the child that seemed to be given an overdose of energy and spirit, after spending his pre-walking days sleeping for long periods, after learning to walk seemed to want to use all the daytime hours to motor. So after the age of two, he moved right into that shorter afternoon nap period. That time period was one I relished. A true moment to regroup, an opportunity to sit,clean, or stare aimlessly for the short period of time while he was re-charging for the next eight hours. Major peace and quiet in my mind.
Then, one day, that momentary, my one hour of free time changed. I, thinking Peter was resting well, and doing the usual peek into the door, just to make sure life was good, noticed a bed with no child. Realizing, he had not escaped the room, I quietly opened the door to locate the boy. Noticing he had not removed his body to the floor, I continued my visual search, heart skipping a beat to observe him standing OUTSIDE the window on approximately a four inch landing area below the window, the one where you crank it open, slide off the screen, climb over the window ledge, and somehow manage to position your body on the very tiny landing. My heart was no longer skipping, it was now in my feet as I tried to slowly calmly move to the window, so I would not scare him, and retrieve him. Understand, this bedroom window is on the second floor and situated over the driveway, not a good place to loose your footing and fall.
How he managed to do this, at his very young age, how long he was standing there, how he did not fall, I will never know except that something short of a miracle had just taken place. Peter, stood there quietly, holding onto the outside wall while I slowing grabbed him and brought him back into the bedroom. Again, no discussion was needed as the understanding of how absolutely dangerous this outdoor window standing is, not to mention I just lost another ten years off my life. No, we screwed all those upstairs screens so tight that no one could take them off. And nap time, took on a new meaning where I would plant myself outside his door with one ear tuned to any activity occurring in his bedroom which shortly turned into no nap time.
Remembering this whole event still sends my heart into a bit of a pace, thankful that nothing drastic occurred that day, but also realizing that this just was Peter, always quietly exploring a new venue without one ounce of care in the world that he could be in danger. Trusting that he would be found, would be safe, and life would just go on another day. So, innocent in his mind, a tad bit unnerving in my mind.