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.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Love My Children


Okay, who does not love their children? Of course, there were those teenage years loving could potentially be a bit of a challenge. Or thoses days that you momentarily lose that loving feeling, but overall, I have great kids! So, when did this revelation take place, as if I should not have known this all along. On the Fourth of July, during the annual fireworks, I realized I needed to take a moment to recount my blessings. What happened that day that caused me to reflect on my family?
On the Fourth it does not take much to evoke all those warm and fuzzy feelings about family and fun. The picnics and parades are usually enough to conjure up some past memory of a happy time when the kids were young and life seemed oh so "Normal Rockwellish". But this year, standing on the boat dock watching Sara and Mike keep Peter in one place so I could enjoy the fireworks, was just as rewarding as watching the fireworks.
We were able to partake the firework watching on a sailboat, or if you did not fit, on the pier that surrounds all those lovely boats owned by those individuals who partake in water events such as sailing, jet skiing, and boating . Thinking this would be great opportunity to get close and personal to the fireworks, , we ventured down to the local yacht club to join in the others already stationed in or on the boat. This boat is owned by Nick's grandparents who recently moved it to the Kenosha harbor. Obviously, we all momentarily forgot that although Peter had formed a new found love for boats, that would big boats, easily accessible boats that one could hold a hand and skip across the water and land inside the boat. We somehow, forgot, or more likely, being new to this adventure did not realize that in order to get the our boat, we would need to work down the four foot wide pier that was now already covered with chairs, and people who already were imbibing, and dogs! Yes, dogs, tons of dogs, big ones, small ones, nice ones, and a few pit bullish looking dogs. How we would ever get Peter to walk the two blocks intertwined with dogs, people, and parties would take a minor miracle. I had given up the minute we were inside the locked door where Peter was had this great attachment to going to the bathroom in order to avoid the trip down the pier. However, Sara and Mike were all about taking on the task. of convincing Peter this was the best way to view the bright colored splashes or orange or pink or purple and OOOH and AWWW. I, on the other hand, was ready to jump ship to the small grassy oasis outside the yacht club.
Nope, Sara was fully convinced that she could handle this, and " please I can do it and you go ahead, mom". Of course, she had already gained Peter's respect that day as he had earlier decided that he was only listening to Sara and Mike, and somehow I had been demoted. Knowing, I was no longer first in command, I twisted through dogs and people to get to the boat. I must admit I did return a few times to to check on the progress and offer my willingness to move to the grass . However between Sara and Mike there was no going back. The amount of patience Sara displayed was awesome. On one of my returns I noticed her jumping up and down on the pier demonstrating to Peter that it would not break. Another time, discussing the benefits of this mode of fireworks watching. Forty five minutes later, and a boatload of patience, Peter finally made his way through the party goers and dogs to very tentatively agree to stand and only stand and watch the show. Just in time for the fireworks to start. Mike, during this time was adding his support and encouragement and after Peter arrived, took over the official duty of standing close enough to Peter during the entire display to ensure that if Peter took one step sideways he could grab the back of his shirt and prevent any unexpected swimming events. Mike, always on the lookout for the new misstep that could occur. You see, this incredibly nice man whose yacht was within five feet of us graciously played all those patriotic songs Peter loves, so Peter also took up pier dancing. Quite a trick when you only have about four feet of dance floor.
Sitting back admiring the fireworks, I admired the two of them taking on that task. A major undertaking on their part. event, whatever you would like to call it, one that makes a mother proud! The fireworks were spectactular, my kids awesome!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My New Homepage

Metra...the train that takes us to Chicago. The train Peter loves, the one that Peter enlists the help of Youtube to make it sound as if the Metra is landing in my family room. Yes, the Metra. Today when I logged onto my homepage which is usually just good old MSN is now the Metra homepage. Interesting....how can one who cannot read or write turn my boring MSN homepage into the Metra??? Please? I know I will need to ask Mike to change it back, because I will not know how to change my homepage, but obviously Peter had no problem locating Metra and than making it my new homepage. Actually, it is growing on me and maybe I will just keep it. Realistically, now that Peter has "figured this one out" he will always change my homepage to the Metra, or possibly a different one that will meet his needs. Yes, I think I will just out smart the boy and keep it on the Metra. Ha..will see where that goes?

Of course, on Peter's recent visit he also once again changed the answering machine to something like "Hi Mike, call me, I am waiting for you, call me back"....and, you know...I am taking a stand here. I am not changing that greeting. It is what it is...and oh well, so it does not meet the standard greeting criteria , I am thinking it works for me. Besides, even though I will change it back...you know, the minute he has that opportunity to change to make his own thing, he will.
So, today Peter is the winner in the Mexican standoff. I think I will succumb...I will let Peter rule the answering machine and the Internet....does it really matter anyway? The phone will ring, and those who really need to leave a message, they will. And the homepage...the Metra works for me. Life goes on, and really, I must admit, when I open my computer, I think of Peter, and the machine..yes, a divine reminder of his tricks! Have a nice day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Sonnet


So today for my creative writing class I needed to write a Sonnet. I know I do not have the rhythm quite down, but here is my sonnet:
A CHILD
The child that is a gift from our God
The beginning of smile, a wink or a nod
The hopes and the dreams that you wish will come true
That is the gift a child gives you

This gift that holds so many good things
These gifts that can make your heart truly sing
Can also bring tears, oh, it is so true
This gift, not so perfect, that came from you

A child when born fills your heart with joy
This child in the form of a girl or a boy
This form, when the mold did not come quite right
This child will still be lovely in your very own sight

Whatever the challenges that may lie ahead
There really is no reason to be sad or to dread
For as God gave this gift so precious and true
God will every day, be right there with you

For everything there is a reason, you may not see it now
But clearly, down the road, you mind will allow
To see the beautiful lessons that you will learn
From this child with whom you now will sojourn

From this child, the lessons will be awesome and great
You will learn more to love and less to hate
You will learn of great blessing, unknown before
You will thank God for the great gift you truly adore

The days will fly fast and before you are done
You will remember the task of this child of one
And thank them both, your God and your son
Because you are really the one who has won

You won patience and kindness and love all around
Your empathy for others is left unbound
And those lessons of love the you learned everyday
You only have two people to thank and to say

God gave me a challenge, He gave me a gift
I didn’t understand it, at first I was miffed
But my eyes are now open, I really do see
God knew all along what the best gift would be

This child, this special boy in the form of a son
Not so perfect, but loving, my heart he has won
And simply, he taught me the importance in life
Of counting my blessings and not all the strife

He taught me to laugh and to dance and to sing
He taught me to not care about everything
He taught me humility, and patience and such
And, if I have not said it, I love him so much

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wall-eyed

Wall-eyed. That is what I am when I am with Peter. It is the opposite of cross-eyed and means that instead of my eyes crossing, that are actually looking outward, in two different directions.
Having just spent the last 12 hours with Peter, I am now very wall-eyed, and attempting to cross my eyes to get them back in the right direction. How does one become wall-eyed..that would be Peter walleyed. Well, it started in the grocery store where Peter and I ventured shortly after I picked him up. I, knowing I would be accompanied by Peter had made a list. Now, I am not a list person, but knowing I would need to acutely aware of Peter and those items I needed to put in my cart, I, planning ahead, made a list. Thinking I was so smart, as I already knew we would not be visiting the Speedy Zone, been there, done that, and won't be repeating that act again went grocery shopping with a purpose. In and out, I am thinking. We were doing just fine, until Peter announced that we needed bagels. Really? Peter has never eaten a bagel in his life, and now the boy wants bagels? Not only did he announce he needed bagels, but he insisted that we find the bagels immediately. Did you know that the bagels are located at the opposite, farthest away, going from northeast to southwest in the store? And this is no White Hen we are visiting. I, however, pointed out to Peter that I needed to find the things on my list, before we went to the the North Pole to find the bagels. That did not sit really well with him, but he very hesitantly agreed, stating every fifteen seconds that we really needed the bagels. He was really trying hard to cooperate, but the agititaiton was increasing as I was frantically running down the various aisles to find my listed items. Afterall, I am thinking, this list is kind of cool and I really wanted to stay on task!
Finally, we get the bagel land, and things were a new calm. After studying every kind of bagel available for us shoppers, we decided that plain is the one for us. So, off we went to finish gathering the groceries on my list, when I ran into my friend, my friend who I have not seen for years, and of course, we really did want to catch up...you know, how are the kids, and are you still...and that is where I became very walleyed. As I tried very pleasantly to fill her in with the data and really intently looked at her with one eye while the other eye was watching Peter filling up the cart with items that I knew he would insist were quite necessary. I really did try keeping the conversation going, and shouted out a few "Peter, we really do not need that", which went unnoticed by Peter who was now adding tens of dollars on the bill with various kinds of juices and milks. Finally, when both eyes were really out of whack, and the panic looked was emerging onto my face, my friend realized that our catching up needed to take place at another time, and offering my apologies for not being able to converse, I rescued the cart and moved along.
As I was finishing fulfilling the list of necessities and making a few more quick stops, I noticed when I turned around, Peter had vanished. Walleyed..now where is he. Knowing he still has that loving feeling for automatic doors, I rushed to the front of the store and there is he stood, patiently watching the doors open and close, wringing his hands, and laughing in sheer delight over the whole affair.
At this point I decided my shopping experience had ended and whatever items were in that cart now belonged to me, and whatever was missing, well there was just no going back. So, I waited patiently in the long check out line, daring not to step over to Speedy as I knew that would only announce to Peter that I needed his help checking out, and unlike Silent Night...I am over that one!
The checking complete and Peter still focuing on the door experience, I let him know we could leave and yes, I have the bagels. So, out the store we went, Peter nicely holding onto the cart..the angelic person that he is and I unscrewing my eyes and refocusing for the next event... whatever that may be!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ravinia


Peter loves Ravinia. Attending a concert at Ravinia Park tops his list of "favs". And incredibly, overall he is well behaved, for the most part....
When I decided that Peter might enjoy Ravinia, and tired of finding Peter sitters, I devised a plan. Peter and I would take the train to the concert park where we would meet my friends. The picnic supplies, food, blanket, and table were left in the hands of those who chose to drive some type of van or SUV in order to accommodate all the supplies. These supplies almost fit into one of those metal grocery carts that you sometime see a person of another generation pulling behind them following a trip to the grocery store. Knowing I would need to keep a close eye on Peter, I announced I would send my "part' with the van, and bring only Peter and our chairs on the train. Why did Peter and I take the train, because for Peter there is no other mode of transportation that brings sheer joy than the Metra. And the Metra drops one off right at the entrance to Ravinia.
The train ride to Ravinia went smooth, as Peter was quite entertained by the train experience. Anxiously awaiting the announcement of our destination, Peter was ready to jump as soon as the doors opened, and, in anticipation had gathered our belongings. Following the major leap off the train, even though Peter had no idea of his final destination, he maintained a 10 foot lead, and I, ignorant of my behavior, shouted for him to stay with me. He, of course, had no intention of listening to my pleas, went through the entrance without the ticket, and I explaining briefly about my situation... and please just let me go through, I need to find my son, in this one acre park that is now filled with thousands of people, got into the park and continued my search for Peter.
Having located Peter who did finally stop as he did not have a clue as where to go, we headed to our home for the next four hours. That would be an extremely large blanket filled with a table, chairs, people, food, and the coveted candle. Need the candle at Ravinia to light the table after the food has been consumed, and the music begins.
So Peter, now thinking he is in Nirvana, sat quietly, ate everything ounce of food that was packed for him, and when the symphony commenced, Peter reminded all of us in the Home to please be quiet and listen to the music. So under the sky filled with stars, we laid on our backs or sat in our collapsible chairs, breathed in the fresh air, and calmly listened to some version of Mozart. Really is Nirvana, a little space in time to relax in a atmosphere of music, candlelit tables and friends.
Feeling quite comfortable with how the evening was progressing, I was so proud of Peter who sat like an angel throughout the event. Hours later, the concert was ending and we, the train goers needed to head out to catch the only train headed north to reach our destination. Actually, there are two trains located outside the park, one heading south and one, situated on the other side of the tracks heading north.
Somewhere in Nirvana I forgot about the part where Peter really loves trains and really was only sitting patiently waiting for the concert to end, so he could ride that train again. At the first sign of the last song, the erupting claps, and the pleads to do an encore, Peter decided it was time to leave, and off he went. I, trying to disassemble the chairs, grabbing the pieces, and attempted to catch up with Peter who was now lost in the mass of those trying to get to the parking lot first, so they would not be caught in the parking lot of a traffic jam later. Fighting the crowds, and weakly apologizing for my behavior I ran as fast as I could. My fear, Peter would get on the same train that we disembarked, the train that would be filled to the brim and heading south. How could I get to him to tell him it was on the other side?
Approaching the tracks and seeing no sign of Peter, I conjured thoughts of Peter on the wrong train, thinking how would I find him, do I call 911, do I jump on that train and look for him? Panic slowly creeping in to all parts of my body.
I made a quick decision to check the other sides of the tracks and maybe, just maybe, and I do not know how, Peter would be on the right side of the train. Maneuvering across the tracks, running through the small spot of woods, and up the hill, I breathlessly approached the platform, praying all the way that Peter would be there. And miraculously there he stood, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the train. I counting my blessings that it had not arrived, because I knew he would board one of the many cars and I again would be at a loss.
How Peter knew...I do not know. How this ending did not turn into some disastrous event, I do not know. Peter happily boarded the train without a care in the world, I had just lost another ten years off my life from the momentary panic that had set in. Talking to Peter....you know the story.
Did this event stop me from taking Peter to Ravinia. Nope! We just have one assigned to be glued to his hip post concert. It is their only job, they do not need to participate in any cleaning up of the momentary blanket home. Just stay close to Peter and follow him on the train, if necessary. It works!! And we can still enjoy a moment of Nirvana on a starry night.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Poem


This week for my Creative Writing class, we get to write a poem. Having never done this, I did not and still do not have a clue, I came up with this. So, here is my idea of a rhetorical poem....




A Special Gift
Writing about having a child with special needs,
There is so much to say, so much to tell
Do I start when he was born, the feelings of love?
The feeling of profound sadness when we thought he was blind
Do I tell the story of the many doctors?
Of those who built hope and those who destroyed?
Or the looks, the looks of those who could not comprehend,
Or those who knew and wanted to wrap their arms around the experience
Do I tell of the siblings, and their need to love and be loved
Or do I tell of the stories of those who promoted growth
Who sometimes understood themselves and sometimes judged?
Do I tell of the sadness of realizing that he would not develop a pincer grasp?
And who really thought that was all that important anyway?
Or that he would never read or grow quite tall or act much older than a six year old.
Possibly I should tell about the love, the unconditional love that belongs to any child
The lessons that he has taught me that one cannot learn from a book
The amount patience one acquires when given this special gift.
Or maybe I should tell of his siblings who have been given the gift of understanding like no others
It’s free, you know.
It came with the package.
So, I will tell of the great blessing that I received the day he was born. The one, I did not quite realize
The blessing that came so quietly into my world and still works wonders in my heart.
That gift, that package that has brought both joy and sadness,
But most of all a it’s love, it’s a free high.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Silent Night


Before the last of the Christmas decorations are stored, while those tiny white bulbs are still sited in my neighbor's yard, and while thoughts of Christmas still linger in my head, I will tell the tale of Silent Night. Now, in most families the mention of Silent Night conjures up happy thoughts of Christmas, a beautiful church filled with candles, a song sweetly sung. Not in the Labanowsky household. Those two simple words puts one in a heightened state of awareness and sends that prickly feeling up your spine that goes into to your head and alerts you to "Danger ahead". Why, it was only several months ago, that I was calling churches asking "Do you sing Silent Night on Christmas Eve". When we heard that the church we normally attend was singing Silent Night in the beginning of the service, it was unanimous....sure disaster. So, this year we chose the contemporary church with hopes we might "rock" to Silent Night". Upon entering the church, with new hopes for a good Christmas Eve experience, Mike noticed the candle in my hand...me, the eternal optimist that this would be the year we would do Silent Night, and he said.."Mom we are not doing this" which if interpreted meant..."Mom, what don't you get about Silent Night???" Once again, the heightened awareness began as we awaited the first sign of the lighting of the candles, we kept our belongings in hand, and mentally found the nearest exit. This year we were ready for a quick escape. Actually, the good news, this year we did get out rather smoothly!
So, what elicits the Flight or Fight feeling when one knows that Silent Night will be occurring. Well, it all began many years ago, when Peter would play his CD of Christmas songs well into July. We were the only family in the neighborhood, loudly playing Jingle Bells on the Fourth of July. You know, it is that Christmas year around feeling. Peter's favorite was Silent Night, and if it was dark, he would turn off all the lights and invite you to sing along. You would think that on Christmas Eve this was his favorite song, after all, he sang it everyday, and several times a day with the lights off.
Several years ago, maybe five..eight..I have lost count, on Christmas eve, we went to church, sang Silent Night, the service ended and as I was leaving and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Sara ran back into church and literally grab my arm, pleading for a quick exit. I found this rather strange, as Sara was always second in command and could change Peter's behavior rather easily if needed. So, listening to her pleas, I left, only to find Peter closing the big iron gate on the parishioners, and trust me, he was not wishing them a Merry Christmas....his words included ##**XX..words I will not write, but words he had emulated from another parent who set less than quality standards. We rushed him along, trying hard to quiet him down, Peter not willing to let go of his feelings was hurried into the car. At that point, we did not realize that was the beginning of the end to Silent Night and a quiet Christmas Eve service.
The following year, now quite believing that Silent Night would again cause such an uproar, I took him to the children's service. We discussed that at the end of the service the children would sing Silent Night. Peter reassured me he would be fine and he would sit quietly during the song. and than it happened. The candles were lit, he jumped up, swearing loudly, ran out of church and, yes slammed that heavy door as loud as he could during that song. That night, pouring my self a large glass of wine, we sat and discussed Silent Night and all he could say was that he just could not handled. And whatever he could not handled, unearthed some really bad behavior that brought Peter to tears mixed with anger, and a bit of door slamming.
Again, being the eternal optimist, and after all, another year had past, I truly believed this was the year Peter was over Silent Night. Life had settled down at my house, less trauma and drama, so I was totally convinced this was the year we would make it through Silent Night. I even incorporated the help of the ministers, one who actually came back to the church entrance, to give Peter reassuring looks and provide moral support . We made it through the first verse. Then came the second verse, and Peter decided he had enough! His goal now would be to turn UP the lights in the in the darkened candle-lit church. The pastor spent the next two verses dodging Peter and keeping his back on the light switch while I tried to convince Peter to leave. And we did...of course, with the heavy door slam and a large mental note to myself...give it up Diane.
So, if you asked Sara or Mike about Silent Night, you will receive a wide eyed look of terror that only belongs to one who lives with Peter Labanowsky. During this years service, the minister mentioned that we would be singing Silent Night, and all of us turned with that "Oh No, he said the word!!". Peter who was reverently bowing his head, looked up and said, Silent Night...stupid silent night....and we left. That was our cue, as if we had practiced our escape, we were out of there in seconds. Running as fast as we could before those lights were turned down and the candles were lit. Counting our blessings that would were no heavy oak doors to slam.
If anyone who knows of a Silent Nightless church on Christmas Eve...please let me know. My children will eternally be grateful!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Thanksgiving and other such cooking days


Thanksgiving is one of those special holidays in my mind. Rather simple, no major gift giving taking place, and the menu, as far as I am concerned....a no brainer. Your family wants the same thing every year....tradition, and if it is missing from the menu, their is a professed loss among the crowd as to where are the green beans this year. So, I, in order to maintain tradition, change nothing. Simple as that. I like to hold the Thanksgiving dinner at my house as it is easy, I have it down to a science, and I like the warmth of family that Thanksgiving provides. So, this is on holiday, where we are all around, maybe watching a football game, or just chatting while I cook the same standard Better Homes and Garden Thanksgiving meal.
Now cooking with Peter has and still remains a challenge. During the course of the preparations, I need to keep one eye on those items in the oven, and one eye on Peter. For Peter, for whatever reason....likes to help with maintaining the heat of these items.
More that one Thanksgiving has passed, when other family members have arrived and we become engaged in conversation. I, thinking, I have this all under control, have all the main dishes safely tucked in the oven at 350 degrees, and all I need to do is wait to hear the buzz of the timer...and Presto...a Thanksgiving dinner will commence to proceed from the coffers of the oven and unto the table. Magic! Just like that. And most likely in an ordinary household that is how it works. But, in this house, where Peter always makes a move...quietly, when no one is watching, when one thinks she has it all under control...will unobserved, sneak up to the oven and, yes, turn it off! Just like that! And for some reason, time will pass, and I will think, everything will be done at 300 PM, right on time to serve this ravenous crowd, will than notice that the oven is no longer in a functioning capacity. Now here is the trick..how long was that oven off?? I know my recipe says to cook for 4 hours...so was if off one or two hours....mmmm? When will we actually eat this turkey?
Yes, Peter has the fine knack of turning food off in the midst of the cooking cycle and walking away as if nothing occurred. Many a dinner has been served at this house and at a newly appointed time, as we wait until we start the recooking mode. Peter, my dear son, is also quite sneaky with the grill. The gas grill, which sits steps outside the back door is conveniently located for Peter, so in this case, when no one is watching, he will turn it up! Now, if I had a choice in the matter, off works much better for me. At least in off, we would not be consuming the remains of charbroiled meat.
So company, and family dinner are always an entertaining time in this household. We are entertained by our company, at times we are our own entertainment, and if that is not enough, Peter will provide a bit more excitement with his cooking antics. In all this excitement, we will eat. Maybe we will not eat on time, oh too bad...just will need a bit more wine or maybe our steaks will be very well done..another good excuse to serve more wine, but we will eat, and we will laugh, and we will enjoy the day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fireworks


The culmination of a great Fourth of July ends in Fireworks. Following the parade, the picnic, the looking for Peter in neighbor's doorways, the camaraderie of friends, who helped us locate Peter, we would gather the children and head to the Fireworks. Now in our area, that meant heading to the lakefront where various parks were located, and one could choose the park of their liking to scout out a good seat. That seat being one where the fireworks could be fully taken in and along with your new friends seated on the blanket next to you, one could "ooh and ahh" as loudly as possible.
Being creatures of habit, we usually chose the same park every year and the same location where we would plant the blanket, haul out the cooler filled with drinks, and gather for an evening of laughter and fun. Knowing friends who lived in the neighborhood near the park, we usually secured a parking spot in their driveway, or at least close to their house. Little did I know that feature of habit would turn out to be to my benefit in the future.
As the years past, the children grew older, we became less important, and the number of those attendees on our blanket grew smaller, until eventually only four members were left in the original group, that being Peter, myself, and the Ehlers. Several years ago, the Ehlers, Peter and I ventured down to the lakefront ready to end our day with a good dose of that good patriotic feeling one receives after watching the sky light up. We, again, parked close to our friends home and walked the mile to the park. Parking there also gave us the option of a quick getaway after the fireworks, as the hundreds of others heading west would get caught up in virtual parking lot of a traffic jam and we would head south to avoid that particular lot.
We parked, we observed, we loved the sky show and the fireworks ended with a bang...literally! As we were gathering our belongings, Peter decided to get a head start, and in his usual method did not announce his plans. He took off while we were bending over the blankets and coolers, discussing the last of the fireworks.
It did not take long for me to realize Peter was AWOL and even though my eyes scanned the crowd, he was no where to be found. That crowd of hundreds were all madly rushing to their cars to get first in line for the traffic jam, and somewhere embedded in them was Peter. The crowd was enveloped in darkness, as without the fireworks, and except for a few street lights, one could not see beyond a few feet. We took off full speed ahead, trying to out maneuver the crowd and find Peter. Hoping he was standing near a tree or light, we continued on to where the crowd forked. Appearing as a herd of cattle, one group headed west and one south, Peter was no where to be found. Always in the background post fireworks, if one notices, you can hear the sound of sirens. Those sounds, only invoked a feeling of helplessness in me, wondering if that emergency vehicle was heading towards Peter. At that point, 10 minutes into a lost Peter, my heart was racing. Did he head south, did he head west? Where was this child that would not be able to tell anyone his name or where he lived? That child, who would most likely run from anyone trying to assess that information.
Calling 911, I asked if they had found a child. The 911 operators, although very kind, at this point were being inundated with calls. I gave them my number and they promised they would let me know. We walked, we searched and hoped. The mile walk to the car, among the crowds seemed interminable. I called 911 again. Nope, no child.
Finally, after what seemed like hours we turned the onto the block where we had parked. Midway down the block, standing next to the Ehler's car, stood one young man nonchalantly waiting for us. Not a concern in the world. He knew where he was going. He had no idea that I had just lost ten years off my life stressing over his location. He had no idea that 911 was involved, and expressing these thoughts to Peter would only waste my time and breath. Telling Peter not to run.......yeah right!!
So, Peter, that Fourth created his own Fireworks in my heart. The next year he was given fair warning and was told he must hold my hand following the Fireworks...and he did. Me and my twenty year old, hand in hand, until we reached our destination.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Haircuts


Yesterday, Peter and I ran into Peter's favorite hairstylist while grabbing a quick bite to eat at McDonald's. Peter, who refuses to go to anyone else, has been going to Kelly since he was a baby. Peter was born with a really nice head of hair, that even at birth was relatively long. And Peter, along with Mike got the good hair gene in the family. Nice think dark brown hair that has a bit of a wave and grows rather quickly, if you ask me! When Peter was little, I used my unskill of hair cutting and kept Peter fairly recognizable with a somewhat short hairstyle. However, as Peter grew, I knew it was best to keep my real day job, that would not be a stylist, and find someone who would have the patience and understanding when cutting his hair.
At the saloon where I went, my stylist's younger sister, Kelly had just entered the world of the beauty saloon, so I asked her if she was up for the challenge. Kelly, young, wide eyed, and ready to take on the world, agreed. Little did she know what she was getting into.
Peter's haircuts went like this. I stood and held him...first of all, he was too floppy to sit, and Kelly cut. But Peter, possibly fearing the unknown, although he did not cry, made a great effort to "wag" his head while she cut. So, the three of appeared as if we had some dance going on. She danced around us, I tried to stabilize and Peter wagged. After a good forty five minutes of the act, we usually agreed that was about as good as it would get for this time around and off we went. This little performance went on for years, until one day Kelly suggested I put him in chair. Being quite apprehensive, and have dentist visits visions flashing in my head, I agreed. And what to my amazement happened, but he sat. Not only did he sit, he sat incredibly still and acted as if he really enjoyed this.
Time passed and one day I made a decision that Peter really did not need to go to the expensive saloon, but he would do just fine at one of those store front clipper places, the $9.95 haircut. Thinking he had matured enough to try a new place, we went off on a sunny afternoon to get Peter a much needed haircut. .....Forty five minutes later, and a definite Mexican Standoff occurring, Peter continued to refuse to get off the chair in the entry of this clipper joint and move to the back. Again...yes, you know the story, no amount of coercing, bribery, demands on my part would convince the young man that he needed to go from place A to B to get a haircut. Finally, after this scenario had been observed by many around us, I decided to leave. Yep, he won. Why change a good thing, why not go to the spa for a haircut, if one can! Peter knows a good thing when it happens.
Today, Peter just loves going and getting his haircut, he is so relaxed he usually falls asleep in the chair, and I would venture to say, that is the time Peter is totally still. Not a movement takes place. He has even been told he sits the best of anyone who gets their haircut.
Seeing Kelly today, Peter immediately lets her know he is in need of a haircut...it's getting kinda long, he says. Walking away, he tells me that she is so nice, such a nice person, she is way up there, pointing to the sky. I cannot remember Peter ever being that verbose about anyone thing or anybody.
Whatever she did or does, for Peter it is special. For the rest of his life, Peter will be going to see Kelly until she retires...hopefully, not for a really long time. Until then, Peter will continue to have a spa experience every time he gets a cut.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Fourth of July


The Fourth of July, that special day when we are most grateful for living in this fine country, no matter the politics, this remains a great place to be located. On the Fourth of July, our day started with a neighborhood parade where the local kids decorated their bikes, scooters, and wagons with the traditional red, white, and blue crepe paper and multi-layers of flags. Really, it was the parents who used their talents to intertwine those colorful strands in and out of the spokes. The parade, which actually started at our house, went around the neighborhood block and ended up at the Gourley's where the participants received ice cream and soda.


Peter's participation in this parade varied, as when he was young, he had no choice but to ride in the wagon. Following the years the Peter would have been considered a toddler, well beyond the "norm", Peter took up scooter riding, so his method of transportation in this patriotic parade became his scooter. I, always thinking Peter would follow the rules just as his siblings, thought this child would walk as the other children, moving slowly along, waving at those cheering on the sidelines, smiling and taking in the event as it unfolded down the tree strewn street. Wrong!!! Long before the parade began, he would sneak outside and remove my neatly placed star spangled bannered crepe paper and throw it away. Once he was in the parade, he made the decision to do the parade in typical Peter fashion. Never one to follow directions, but still wanting to be a part of the action, Peter, using his well built quadriceps, pushed that scooter full speed ahead, and completed the parade route within minutes, leaving the rest of paradees well behind. Was it that he wanted to be first in line for the ice cream that awaited the participants at the completion of the parade? Most likely not, Peter not being a big foodie really never had a concern about getting served first. Was it, because the "crowds" of twenty made him feel claustrophobic...naw...do not think so. I can philosophize and ponder the why. I can reason and come up with answers. It really did not matter, if Peter was going to participate, he was going to do it quickly and expediently. And that's the way he liked it. Always happy to be a part and feeling quite accomplished that he finished.

Living in the area that we did, we never feared that Peter was in any danger. We know that the neighbors were keeping an eye on Peter until we arrived. The security of the neighborhood, the comfort of knowing the neighbors were taking charge until we caught up with the youngster allowed us to complete the parade with the rest of the gang. He remained safe at the Gourleys, awaiting our arrival.

Recently, I made the decision that we would be really good on the sidelines. The parade has increased twentyfold with motorized vehicles involved, firetrucks and ambulances, a plethora of decorated baby strollers, those on Rollerblades, and the usual and customary bikes and walkers. Handing Peter small flags and turning up the patriotic vibes on the CD player, we do well cheering on those in the parade. I know he is safe. And, if we are lucky...maybe we will score on some candy!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Motherhood 101


So, did you ever have those days when you thought you flunked Motherhood 101? I did, just yesterday. Peter had arrived home for the weekend, and either I forgot how quick and fast he was or I was low in the patience bank, but he came, he conquered, and he left.

I seemed to forget that when I have guests over, Peter takes it as an opportunity to clean, to be as busy as possible. I know he means well, and he has a real need to keep busy, so I entertaining, somehow managed to organize and make a meal and keep one eye on Peter. Fortunately, the guests, well aware of Peter behavior, totally understood when I jumped up approximately every minute, chewing on my dinner, to corral Peter and convince him to try another task that would keep him busy. They kept the conversation going, and I tried to catch up, returning each time to a new topic. I will begin the scavenger hunt to find all the lost items that were "cleaned up' at another time.

That was the first day of the weekend. As the days progressed, I realized I needed to be one on one with the man. Yet, somehow, while I was sitting right next to him, having given up the idea of doing anything but just abiding my time glued to his hip, or at least I thought he was glued to my hip, he managed to fill a large bucket with soapy water and in his attempt to take that bucket from the laundry room to the garage...it broke...not sure how, it made a very large noise which made me jump, and there it was, all two gallons, on the floor in the laundry room, seeping into the bathroom, and running down the garage steps. Peter, knowing this was not good, was attempting to sup up the water with the rugs. I, asking him to please stop, was at the end of my patience bank. Now, I should know, 22 years later, that raising my voice, showing my frustration, only makes matters worse. When did I forget?? Peter, only more agitated, chose to waddle through the water with soaking wet feet, and into the carpeted family room.....Peter, I asked, what did you not understand about not walking through the house with soaking wet feet.

Peter, when he knows he messed up, only becomes more agitated. I, knowing this, should have been one step ahead of the game to outsmart him and to get him to work. I did not. Cleaning up the mess, I started thinking that I really failed in my motherhood classes today. I really did not promote the sense of well being that I could of or should of!! The guilt! The feeling of how I could have done better. Do we not all do this to ourselves? Do we not second guess what could have been done differently?

I guess the good is the opportunity to try again, and in raising children, any children, that is good. Children are also very forgiving, so we get alot of second chances. The bad, is the guilt, the beating yourself over the head feeling that one gets when one thinks the outcome should have been different. For many years, I second guessed. I tried to think what could have been different. Then I came to the conclusion, it is what it is. I will do my best, and my best may not always be good enough. There will be days when I will be more tired than my kids. As for Peter who was told he was not coming home next weekend, just called me two days later and asked when I was picking him up...gotta love that short term memory.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Speedy Zone

So, you know the check-out counters in the grocery store where you can do it yourself? You know, the ones that you take the item, say Peanut Butter, you search for the tiny bar code, than carefully place it above the glass, and some light from underneath flashes, and magically, your Peanut Butter price shows up on a screen, and this voice, some ladies voice, announces to you that your jar of PB costs you two dollars and ninety six cents. At which point, you dig into your grocery cart of twenty items, and repeat the process. I am not sure of the name of this modern day grocery checkout system, so I will call it the “Speedy Zone”. I really like to use this method. I do not know if it is because I am a grocery store checker “wannabe” or I just think I can get out of “dodge faster”, but I am really drawn to this method of checking out my groceries.
The other day, I, along with Peter, decided to use the Speedy Zone self-checkout system in the local grocery store. I, looking at the long lines in the other lanes, and in a hurry, decided this method would be much quicker! Why, I thought this was a good idea with Peter... I do not know??? I am not sure in that brief moment of making the decision to be speedy, that some voice did not surface and tell me... “Diane, get real...this is not a good thing”. But, nope, I never heard that voice of reason so off we went...thinking we had made a great decision. Now Peter, my twenty two year old son with a mind of a six year was ready to join in the fun and be extremely helpful. That is where the excitement began. Before I could even get my grocery card out of my wallet, I, who was searching in the depths of my purse so I could begin the checking experience, looked up to see that Mister Speedy himself, Peter, was scanning and rescanning the same item, and thinking this was how you played grocery store checker. I looking up from my desperate wallet hunt search in the depths of my purse, stood there with a look of bewilderment and a thought of how do I stop this commotion? The look on my face was all that was needed to call the nice lady, the one who monitors to the Speedy Zone, to come over, smile intact, and put in her much needed code into the machine and helped us regroup. We did regrouped, I in the process secured the much needed cards to once again commence this checking experience. In the past, I actually had this feeling of “Look at me, I am in charge of my own groceries, I can handle this with ease!” Today, I was beginning to lose that feeling of control.I do admit in my past checking experiences, I have a hard time with the veggies, the looking up and the weighing of those items. Having those green and yellow objects in my cart and awaiting to be bagged, I had already put on my game face for this event, when Peter decided to put his hands on the bagging area which immediately detected an unpaid item and once again, the process was stopped. Nothing could be done. The hopeless, helpless look was once again taking over my face. I grimaced and looked at now that machine, the one who has no personality and thought, “ No machine...I have paid for every grocery item up to this point, and NO, I am not going to pay for Peter...really, I do not think that is necessary. Besides, haven’t I paid for him already?” And so, over walks the nice lady, smile still intact, puts in her code, and life is once again good and swell, or so I think. I can once again pretend that I love this self checking process and that I am in control of my own destiny, at least, my ability to check out the groceries. And, yes, we regroup. Please realize, at this point, I am starting to sweat a bit and have made a decision not to make eye contact with those lined up behind us. That would be those individuals who now have lost their smiles, who are not being entertained by this event, and who have joined us in the Speedy Zone, because they also believe they would leave this store in a more timelier manner than if they had gone through the traditional checkout line.
I am now trying to scan the rest of the groceries and make a request to Peter to stand behind the cart, please Peter please stand behind the cart, over there, see where it is safe and you cannot get into any more trouble. Of course, to Peter, this is no trouble at all! No, this is big time fun, he has no care in the world that the five people behind us are ready to wrap their hands around our necks and squeeze really hard. It was at that point when Peter decided that he really needed and I mean really needed to check the FREE AutoTrader magazine that he managed to collect somewhere along the way. No amount of coercing would convince him that he need not do that. No, Peter, that will not work, we do not need to do this, was falling on ears that just must have been full of earwax, as there was no listening or comprehending involved.
Once again, the distress call came out, and yes, the nice lady, continuing to keep that smile intact, not only came over to put her code in the machine, she decided to become our new best friend, and did not leave our sides until we were done. I, observing her kind demeanor realize that she knows now that if she just stands there and does not move, hopefully, we would soon be out or her hair!! We did manage to finish with her help. I still maintaining my forward glace and not looking behind, expressed my extreme gratitude. I cannot tell you how much I appreciated her help and her ability to stand there between Peter and the machine, so I could finish the process. Peter, still tried to sneak that magazine in, however, we had luckily finished and no more damage could be done. And the individuals behind us, smiling ingratiatingly, taping their feet, and wishing we would be out the door soon, were relieved that the Speedy Zone act was done.
Leaving the store smiling, I remember muttering about never doing that again. I am considering even shopping at a new store for awhile in hopes that we would not be remembered. Peter, once again, providing a moment of entertainment...I am not sure who were the recipients of this...but made the Speedy Zone grocery experience is one that I will not forget!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Believe


Holidays...a day to experience that warm fuzzy feeling, a family day, a happy day...well, let's get real. Holidays are not always that perfect day that one conjures up in one's mind as that "special" day. In this household, we have had some really nice holidays, and we have had some really not so nice holidays. Trust me, we have had our share of both! But either good or bad, Peter has a way of making them special. Partly because he still believes. And in the saying...Believe...you've seen it around Christmas...it does make the holiday a bit more special. So whether the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus is showing up at our house, at the mere age of 22 and next year it will 23, Peter believes and neither Sara, Mike, or I are letting him in on the secret. No way!! Why wreck our fun!
So, Christmas, yes, I admit, still use the...if you are really good....Santa will bring you....line. And every Christmas, now 28 years and going strong, I still wake myself up in the middle of the night to sneak downstairs and bring the Santa gifts and to hang the stockings. I have delegated the eating of the chosen Santa cookies to those individuals still up on Christmas Eve playing some video game. Those chosen never complain and the the cookies are eaten and the crumbs carefully strewn to appear as if the one indulging really enjoyed the selection.
And Easter, no matter where we roam, EB still visits, bringing a basket or a bag of goodies. And those bags, yes, need to be hidden, carefully when one my not be looking in the hotel room.
The sheer belief, the look on the face of one who still holds on, it just a great feeling. Last year, at Peter's work party, the room was filled with believers ranging in age from 18 to 65. When Santa gave them a $5.00 bill, you would think they had won the lottery. The joy, the laughter, the need to tell you that they got a $5.00 bill...A FIVE DOLLAR BILL!! Wow, I am thinking, if we could all just be so happy that we got a five dollar bill. If we could all experience the sure pleasure of receiving this gift. In that moment, you just had to feel good all over.
So, this family is all bound to not tell Peter. We love it! We get into it as much as he does. Cheap thrill, maybe...actually . it's free!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Answering Machines

I really was planning on discussing holidays, and I will, however, again a break in the action, I have a need to talk about answering machines. You know, those very benign machines that when you purchase you compose an announcement regarding your inability to answer the telephone but if the caller leaves a message, you will gladly call them back. If I would venture a guess, I would think that most people do not change their greeting once it is set. Maybe never, maybe once or twice. However, in this household I change my greeting so often I have been known to wear out the tape.
So, my need to discuss this unique machine occurred today when Sara called and asked me if I had listened to my message on my answering machine. Laughing, she suggested I go home and listen. So there is was, Peter erasing my previous instruction regarding how to reach me, replaced it with his own version which stated something like "Hi Sara, this is Peter, Call me Sara, I am waiting for you." Now this message has been on this machine at least a good week, maybe longer, and has one person who called and left a message even hinting that something may be array?
There was a time that some nice person would call and gently remind me that I needed to make change. Peter, who would change the message, of course, when I was not around, did this on a fairly regular basis. I would make a nice little saying, Peter would change it to state something about how we were not home and maybe we were cooking or dancing, or he would leave messages to his brother and sister. Always something different, always something that did not quite fit the greeting standard.
When he was not changing the greeting, he was Johnny of the Spot to see the message button flashing and erase all the messages before they met my ears. Not sure why he thought that was entertaining, but he did. When we returned home, and I opened the door, Peter and I practically ran each other over to see who could get to the answering machine first, I tripping and begging, Peter please do not erase those messages!!! My standard greeting for a long time included a little ditty about if I do not return your call, I probably did not even know you called, as Peter beat me to the answering machine.
So,, this simple machine that really does not bring pleasure, but just conveys a message to stay in touch, in this house, at times brought laughs, interesting conversations among friends, sometimes a source of irritation, but always a something out of the ordinary.
So, I will sign off, go compose a new message which will last for a time. Until that moment, I will again get a call, a hint of laughter in the caller's voice, asking if I, that would be I who live here, have called my answering machine lately!!