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!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Change of Pace


Whew...all that talk about hospitals was exhausting! I think I will change directions and talk about something fun...how about Halloween, that is always a fun topic.
Now, if my memory serves me correctly, Peter, being the third child, was probably dressed at an early age and brought along for all Trick or Treat events. If I would guess, he most likely was placed in a wagon, and literally dragged along. Because he was tiny and did not speak for a very long time, he would be picked up from the wagon, and place on the stairway near the front door. Prodding to say those words "Trick or Treat". he would mumble something and my wonderful neighbors would oblige by filling his pumpkin to the brim. Now Peter, being half the size of the pumpkin would stagger back to the wagon, and we would empty that round into a grocery bag,ready for the next round. My memory also stirs up pictures of Peter really not all that interested in candy. So, his family obliged by helping him eat his candy, with some of us still holding the memory of that particular event on their hips...if you know what I mean.
Peter, liked Treat or Treat while he was accompanied by his bro and sis, but his interested waned when they gave up the sport and it was just Peter and I. Because Peter is Peter, he did this sport well beyond the norm. Finally, he made the decision to just hand out the candy. I, for the first time in years, did now need to to spend the afternoon visiting the locales in search of candy. I was thrilled. So, Peter, standing at the front door and in charge of the basket filled with candy, waited patiently and answered the door, I supervised, until I felt he understood the concept. Then, in my comfort zone, I headed to the kitchen, ready to to help if needed. And so, the doorbell rang, and Peter gave. Until....the doorbell rang and rang, and I drying the dishes went to determine why these youngsters were not the receipts of any candy. There, to my amazement, found...NO Peter, gone, candy gone. Apologizing to the youngsters, I ran out the door in search of the MIA child and candy. Shortly, I found him, Trick or Treating himself with our basket of candy, going door to door. He was not convinced to return, so we continued on with this large sized witch basket as his Trick or Treat bag, and I, dish towel in hand, attempting to explain to the neighbors "our look".
That was the last year Peter did solo on the handouts. I never left his side after that. He was closely supervised, no more multi-tasking for me. I learned my lesson that day...not quite sure why I did not know better. What was it that past experiences did not remind me that Peter handing out candy would be an ordinary event? I guess it is just part of me, the hopeful person, who always thinks that this will be the time.....only what will happen during that time is always entertaining.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Getting in the Door

Getting out of the house and into the hospital has always been a task that has taken every once of patience and outwitting that I owned. Always very apprehensive, that at any minute Peter would bolt and there would be no return. Peter, in his later years, was no match for my strength, so it always came down to a verbal discourse and an enormous amount of convincing and bribing...not sure if anything of that worked; however, it somehow made it in the door. One year standing by the elevators never to go into the room. Another year, standing outside the door, refusing to enter the pre-op room.

So, the stories go. At the local children's hospital, Peter was "drugged" enough to allow me to get him to the floor and into a room. But, at the first site of a MD in a scrub, that Valium had run it's course and Peter became aware, on guard, and if anything, Peter seemed more agitated and afraid. To be honest, that day, the anesthesiologist could have handled the situation better, as it took 6 very tall doctors and me to hold Peter down, long enough to give him sedation and the whole time Peter had the edge. The doctors begged me to join them in the OR, fully clothed in street clothes I said, but to them it did not matter. Those were the moments I really, and I mean really want to sit down and cry hysterically. I remember, gulping in a sob, and reassuring those men that yes, I would come with them. Smiling, looking fully in control...a good cover...my heart was breaking and wishing to be elsewhere.

In another hospital visit, and again dicey at best. The hospital engaged all the services needed to convince Peter that this was a good thing. Actually, as "bad" as it was, it was also as good as it could be. The nurses and MD's were all on the same page, quickly and expediently they handled Peter. The security personnel became his new BFF's for the day and Peter trusted them. We are here to help you, Peter, they said, and they held his hand, of course, hoping he would not bolt, but using comfort techniques to keep him safe. The anesthesiologist, having worked with children with special needs, swiftly walked in, and Peter who was now sitting on my lap, was given a dose of Ketamine, a drug that immediately induces a sleeplike state, right through his shirt. Sound awful, but having done this so many times, it works the best. This hospital team gave Peter and me it's all, and made a extremely hard situation the best it could be.

My thought, my wish, my prayer, that God would wave His magic wand and take away the fear. I really think someday that will happen. Hopefully sooner than later, because for Peter, as painful as this is for me or the hospital staff, I know that his fear is so much more really than anything I feel.

So there will be another tale to tell, another story this year, but until than I will continue the hope and prayer that Peter will be less afraid this time.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Getting to the Hospital

Really, going to visit a doctor’s or dentist office is a piece of cake compared to taking Peter to the hospital. This is one experience I still dread when it occurs and does occur on an annual basis. You see, Peter as a child, had many ear infection, so at one point needed to have a tube put in his left ear. He also, when young, resisted and fought teeth brushing on a daily basis, so now Peter has a month full of bad teeth. Very unfortunate! He has gotten better at that…good thing, but is still suffering the consequences. So, because of this inability to lie in a dental chair and even open his month without spewing, he needed to receive teeth cleaning and filling while sedated and that meant a hospital.
The first step in this hospital experience was always just getting there. That turned out to be a major undertaking in itself. When he was little, we just carried him and held his close. But the older and bigger he became, that just was not happening. So we needed to become crafty. Early on we started giving him Valium to relax him, so we would put it in his juice and off he went. However, as he grew that nasty tasty juice was a signal that either he would be visiting a dentist or going to the hospital. Good memory! When he was in high school, we engaged the whole class in a hospital experience as the teachers had snack time, and everyone got juice, only Peter’s contained a mixture of various drugs all meant to induce a sensation of relaxation. When Peter was deemed relaxed, I who was waiting in the parking lot retrieved him and we were on our merry way to the hospital.
Peter, as he grew, starting realizing that funky juice was usually connected with a hospital experience. And, in the last two years, has refused to drink knowing what the next step will involve. Two years ago, he had a surgery scheduled complete with dental work, every immunization known to mankind, blood work, TB skin test, you name it, we included it under the anesthetic period. That morning, Peter absolutely refused to do anything. I, totally at a loss, knowing a surgical team was waiting and he needed all these good things, did not know what to do. On advise of a good friend who said…you need to do this, you cannot give in…I was really ready to cave….we called the friendly Village police who quietly came and explained to Peter he could either go in his car or ours. Peter chose my car and off he went. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Officer Friendly, Peter was not going that day. I thank the nice gentleman dearly, who took the time, was kind, and really had a big impact on our life. Peter would never gotten in the group home, had he not had all those tests under the anesthetic.
Last year, we incorporated Wilson to come with Peter and somehow that worked. However, once we get there, getting him to go in and getting him to sit in the room and wait for surgery involves many members of the hospital staff, which I will save for another time. Let’s just say…that these times were extremely trying, however, those who helped in pitched in made the difference in getting the job done.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Doctors and Dentists


As long as I am in the behavior mode, I might as well continue with doctors. From a very early age, Peter was seen by many doctors, so many, you would think they would be his BFF's. But no, somewhere along the way, Peter developed an almost phobia when it came to the medical profession. I wish I could remember when it happened, or why it happened, but it happened. It was not so much a dislike, but a fear, an all and all out right fear of the MD. Not that they did anything wrong, he just did not like to be touched by them...and after all, isn't that a part of an exam.
So going to doctors took and still takes an inordinate amount of coercion, sometimes trickery, and an extreme amount of patience on everyone's part. Something as simple as a blood pressure was considered by Pete majorly invasive, something to be feared. Taking one's clothes off, for a peak, wow, major trauma and drama. His pediatrician was an extremely patient man who took his time and was able to complete the task. However, beyond a peak and a quick look, Peter would be dressed and out the door before you could even say "Now you can get dressed."
His love for dentist probably ranked even lower than his love for doctors. Never, not once in his life, has any dentist ever convinced him to lie in that chair. Now, when he was little, we laid together, but that could only take place for awhile. After that dental exams were performed usually in a chair, sitting upright, with Peter maintaining one hand of the door for the quick bolt, I hoping that the exam would be complete before the bolting took place.
You wonder...did she consider sedation pre-dental visit. Yes, that would include Benadryl and Valium. Did you know that some individuals actually react opposite to the needed effect of some drugs. Peter, who was valiumized to the point of needing assistance to walk a straight line, once in the exam room, woke up, had a heightened sense of awareness, and no drug could keep him sedated long enough to perform the exam. It was as if the antlers arose, and he know...dentist coming.....no touching. Oh, yes, to complicate matters, Peter, if asked by a doctor or dentist to open his mouth, develops this amazing gag reflex that you would think that at any minute you will see his lunch in your lap. Sort of like a conditioned response sort of thing that only occurs when asked that question within the realms of a doctor's office.
So, going to doctors and dentist's office does not evoke any warm fuzzy feelings within me. Rather, pre-visits included sleepless nights, and hours of thinking of the new "how to get Peter to cooperate". Peter of course, was never informed until the last minute, the very last minutes, the very last nanosecond.
Recently, Peter at the mere age of 22, needed to switch from his pediatrician to an adult doctors. For those of you who watched friends, it was kinda like Ross still going to his pediatrician. It was me, Peter, and the 2 year olds in that waiting room. So, I looked and searched and called to try to find the new replacement.
Off we went, having to visit his office in the hospital...a major task to get Peter in the front door. However, once in, the Medical Assistant had a very laid back manner and got Peter to jump on the scale and take his blood pressure. The new Doc...not knowing what he was getting into, played along, let Peter keep his clothes on, and let him keep the door open..so we were all involved in the physical..the secretaries, the bookkeepers, it was a family affair of sorts.
But we made it through, we made a new friend that day. I always pray that Peter will not need major anything, because it is traumatic. My hope, is next year, he will take another step in trusting. Peter will take off his clothes, shut the door, and feel more comfortable. Because as traumatic as it is for me, I know in Peter's mind, it is even more traumatic, because his fear is real to him.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Day Made for Mom's





This was Peter's message inside the card he gave me this morning. I found it upside down on the other side of the card. It reads " I love you, Peter", now the "I" is buried in the love. Kinda a cool concept if you think about it! As I am writing this, he is sitting, headphones on while attached to his computer and singing to me...well, I pretend he is singing to me. With his monotone voice and his hand slapping the ground, I feel as if I am about ready to meditate...hip-hop style. He is slapping, and squealing and laughing, which of course, I find quite entertaining. I know it will be a good day!
Mother's Day, also a day to celebrate...in years gone by, at some fancy brunch with my family. Again, you would think divine. With Peter, always interesting, as Peter from little on did not like to sit or eat...he had no pincer grasp so sitting in a high chair eating cheerios like most kids his age...just wasn't happening! Those fancy cloth restraints meant to secure a child in a high chair, either he squirmed or cried mercilessly to be released. So, he usually ended up on my lap where major squirming took place and my task was to get the fork to my mouth in one quick movement before a flying arm met the fork and flung the food across the table to someones face. Not cool, as we were all dressed in our Sunday best and spending a day's salary on the meal. Putting him down, meant that he would be out the door ASAP, and one of us would go in search, always concerned that he may end up in the duck pond. Smiling, grateful to be there enjoying this nice meal on Mother's Day, I remember, I was always happy when it ended without some major trauma taking place. Not that I am ungrateful, as those were very special times....just not the peaceful calm experience you would expect on Mother's Day.
To our Mothers...we would not be here without them! For all the great things they did for us, no matter how long they were with us, here's to you Moms! And to current mothers...keep on smiling and count your blessings..that would be your children if they are crawling up under your skirt as you are eating today! And to those who want to be mothers..may your prayers be answered.
In honor of all mothers, I have added two thoughts which I found, so read on:
A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. - Washington Irving
However...this one.....I thought held true meaning..
A mother is neither cocky nor proud because she knows the school principle may call at any minute to report that her child has just driven a motorcycle through the gymnasium. - Mary Kay Blakely

Enjoy the day!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dating


Yes, dating. Around the time Peter was eighteen, I found myself in the dating world. Having not been there for a very very long time, I decided to take on this task with a new vengeance. Living in the Internet world and the world of professional dating services, I and a friend decided this would be an "investment" into the future. So off we joined and proceeded to meet many nice professional males. This to us was a safe and convenient way to meet members of the opposite sex. And I, wanting to get my monies worth, met quite a few.

At that time, Peter was living with me and there was no concept of a group home. He was still in high school, and once he graduated...well, that would be the next step. So, at that time, the plan was that he was with me and would be with me on a daily basis. Now, when I met these fine men, I usually did not divulge that I had a child with special needs living with me on the first date. Why waste my time explaining, if that would be the first and last time I would be having any discussion with this person. However, if he passed the first round, then the second, and third followed. It was usually during that time, that I brought up Peter. Peter, became the barometer of my dating sessions. If I detected a hint of apprehension, than off the list you went. Very surprisingly interesting...that never happened, and these fine men always wanted to know more.

The next test came when they got to meet Peter. I, observant of all behavior, watched as how they addressed him, engaged him, and reacted to him. Now let me tell you, this is no easy task, as Peter is a man of few words, so engaging was an art form and I understood the enormity of the task. However, it was in the effort that I observed and evaluated. And once again, pleasantly surprised. Only one person, who could not stand up to the task, and for reasons I won't indulge, I understood why. However, reason aside....out the door, no more to be seen.

When I decided I had gotten my "monies worth" and the initial excitement of going to dinner every other night starting to wear off, I began to narrow down the field. So one "lucky" man got to have quiet candlelit dinners at my house while Peter decided to be Peter.
Many a quiet dinner included door slamming and those four letter words that Peter had picked up from the person who had previously lived in this house. (That will be made even more known when I tell you about Silent Night!). Peter, who usually was well behaved, may have been sitting on a tack or just hungry, but some of his behavior was definitely not date like material for anyone trying to impress. So, during these romantic candle lit dinners, I would calmly state..just ignore his behavior....and we did, as an occasional shoe may have passed our heads, or the door went slamming, or some #!*+ was said.

I was never questioned, never judged, and trusted that I knew what I was doing. Of course, I really never was quite sure I knew what I was doing, but I had to make a good appearance. He, also got very good at judging Peter's behavior and would haul out food before I could say..quick he needs something to eat.

Honestly, a true quality to me was tolerance of this. Not everyone would have the wherewithal to sit quietly as these events takes place. My Peter dating barometer helped me to select quality individuals who had hearts and understanding. And Peter, has made the dating experience most likely unique by any standards.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

It was not always about singing


No, Peter's life was not always about singing and dancing, although that filled his time and kept him focused. Life with Peter did not always end with a round of YMCA and High Fives. Nope, there were those times that weren't so rosy. At times, his teenage years were, what would be a good term, excitable, turbulent, crazy at times, as his small frame was filled with raging hormones. With a mind of a youngster, he was not in control at all times. Normally, hormones are hard, but when you really have no understanding, how do you give meaning to that?

When Peter was the tender age of nine, I started noticing changes in his voice and body that indicated he may be going through puberty. Feeling, like, come on, not one more thing...this is not fair, Peter and I took the trip to the Children's Hospital and met with a specialist who confirmed my fear. Yes, it was true, Peter was in the small percentage of children who went through puberty at a very early age. And yes, we could bring him in on a regular basis to receive injections that would stop the process. Peter, who already was developing a strong dislike..make that phobia of doctors and hospitals, just did not seem to be the candidate to subject to weekly "shots". So, both I and the medical professionals agreed, it was probably best not to pursue this mode of treatment.
So we returned to life, and Peter began his trip into puberty, never quite knowing what hit him. He still was a small child, and because developmentally behind, we still carried him around like a toddler. Now, this toddler like person, was developing facial hair, his high squeaky voice was now cracking and becoming lower, and you know...so were other things changing. He was the only child in elementary school to have a mustache. Really, heartbreaking at the time, but what are you going to do? It is what it is or was what it was, so we just dealt with the development.

Unfortunately, along with the facial hair, came years of on and off outbursts. The trick always being one step ahead of the outburst. Prevention, if possible, in the form of food and out thinking. Chair time outs, not working! And Peter, who has not one ounce of fat on his body, developed muscles...strong muscles.

So, on occasion things went flying...I became very good at catching, spindles broke, and at times life was tenuous. We put up our guard, and spent days making sure we stayed one step ahead. Learning, the best way to react to these outburst was to ignore them. Hard when things are flying by your head! His favorite, slamming the door to the garage. he was so good at that, I thought the house must be moving on it's foundation. Raising a voice only increased his agitation and lack of control, so the more upset he became, I learned to slow it down a notch. When I thought I had no patience left, I needed to dig even deeper in the patience bank and make another withdrawal. Nice easy deep breaths.... I needed to make decisions about what was important to discipline, and what you could let go. Not ever really sure if I was making the "right" decision, but someone needed to decide and be in charge. So, at least I convinced myself I was making the right decision.

The good news, the hormones have settled. At time, an occasional door is slammed. He may need to be reminded that he does not do that anymore...he has outgrown that. He does try and sneak it in. He has grown, has matured, and seems to even have a bit of an understanding of his body. I really do think living with three other males his age has helped with that growth and understanding. So again, when times were tough with his development and hormones, his need to play with the neighborhood children, that would be him, age 20, and the kids, 5 or 6, hormones slowing down, but still there, God opened the window and I found his group home. Amazing, simply amazing!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Singing

Peter, as I mentioned previously, has difficulty reading and writing, but can sing the words to many many songs. All different sorts, and when driving in the car with him, he randomly switches radio stations, finding the song of the moment which could be oldies, newbies, Country Western, Contemporary worship, and if he wishes to bring back good memories of visiting our friends Betty and Humberto in Mexico...tele mundo...or that would be radio mundo......maybe....
And when he finds his songs, he stops and sings, head nodding to the beat and arm waving included if needed. He sings loudly, and happily, as if he wants the whole world to hear.

Now, the one thing you need to know about Peter is he is monotone...m..o...n...o...t...o...n....e...
The same note for every song, the same very low note for every song. The sound that resembles a chanting of sorts, maybe someone meditating, as if in a Buddhist monastery. The only song I have ever heard him change his pitch is the Twelve Days of Christmas, where on the Fifth day...Five golden rings...some versions sing that part very high...so Peter has managed to change from monotone, to in a very high squeaky voice sing Five Golden Rings...enough to bring a large smile to my face every time I hear it.

So, Peter, arriving home from school would want to start the jamming going, and would play his CD'S or radio, sing and dance to which I usually joined in, unless of course..I needed a bit of P and Q or needed to listen to the news, or was having house guests. What do to....how to keep Peter entertained, me sane, and my house guests happy. That is where the Walkman and various versions came in. A small disc player with headphones...loved the headphones as Peter would sit at the kitchen table, play his songs, and sing.

Think about it.....Peter thinks he is Frank Sinatra, so he is singing away...loudly, especially if there are house guests, just wants to make sure they know of his existence. But, we on the other end of the headphones, do not hear the music, just the very loud voice of Peter...the very loud monotone voice of Peter singing to his heart's content. The very loud one tone voice singing away.

Many a book club was spent discussing our latest read while being accompanied by "We are Family" in pure monotone. Nice background music...very especial. He seemed to have a sense, that we may not hear him, so he would just turn up the volume...his volume and sing. What I like about this....he loves to sing and he does care or know that he is monotone...isn't that great. No bad feelings, just the love of singing...and really who cares if it is just one note. For him, it's a world of music. A means to communicate, a joyful moment. For us, entertainment...monotone version.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Button, Button...


A few weeks ago my friend Jeanne and I gave a birthday party for everyone in our book club. To ensure, LOL....lots of laughs, we decided to play your usual party games, pin the tail on the donkey, drop the clothes pin in the bottle, musical chairs, and Button, button who's got the button. Of course, we needed to Google how to play the button game. Why am I bringing this up, you may ask? Read on...
So off Peter went to play and off I went to play housekeeping. You see, Peter's short visit did not include washing this time. Oh no, we were all over that. He, however, was into cleaning up. Instead of playing "Button, button, who's got the Button?", I will be playing Sink plugger, sink plugger who's got my sink plugger?. I will be unloading the dishwasher which is filled with every item on my counter. I am still looking for the plug for the garbage disposal and the the thing that sits in the sink...can't remember the name., but it is MIA in my house.And, when finished with that, Mike and I will spend some time playing in the recycle bin, as Peter decided to dump all the grass clippings and leaves in with the bottles and cans. That would be an entire garbage can of grass clippings. Oh yes, and I will look for the doormats, I am sure they are somewhere..maybe?
These small tasks come with Peter...it is part of the package. And, yes, it may be a bit on the borderline of crazy, I love the package. Even Mike, as he stood and scooped for hours, cleaning the recycle bin, never complained, just took it in stride. It is part of our life...it is what it is. It is just understood, incorporated in the day. And, even though we watch vigilantly, it only takes a slip, a moment of distraction, and remember the radar...it will go up and Peter will seize the moment to do his thing.
So, Peter will be home again soon. I know we will be our washer alert and dishwasher alert. I have no doubt, Peter will come up with a new plan. A new way to clean or a new area to clean. And I have no doubt, that after he leaves, I will be playing some sort of housekeeping game.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Playing



Yesterday was a bright sunny day and after church Peter very enthusiastically told me that it was a nice day and he would be able to play outside today. And play he would, like a 6 or 8 year old. Should I be sad that my 22 year old man was planning on playing today. I wondered, should I regret that he would not be in the graduating class of 2010 at some University? I am most sure if he had attended college, he would be on the five year plan, so this May would have been his graduation date. He would be out seeking jobs in a few weeks, along with the other graduates, who I must say, might find it hard. But no, he is not graduating, instead today he is playing, and tomorrow, he will head for his job at a wonderful curative workshop where he most likely will box up Pledge. And, yes, I am most thankful that he has that job!
There were many times, although trying hard to put the "best construction on everything"..something my mom would say and still rings in my ears, that I did not. That I looked wistfully at Peter and wanted him to be more. Prayed for a miracle, as if God would come down with his magic wand and just fix him. Now, I really never got into what would really be fixed, but I just wanted a quick fix. Many days were spent with tears, and wishes of something better. The what if's that fills one mind to try and rationalize how things could turn out different...if I just had....
Yes, I had all those feeling. And, I understand the heartache that accompanies those feelings. The longing, the "life is not fair" kind of feeling. Yep, had all of those! But today, when he smiles at me and is just so happy that he gets to play outside because it is a nice day. I laugh. You are right Peter, it is a grand and glorious day and you will be able to enjoy every minute of sunshine. And he glows. His gift, living the moment, experiencing life for what it is. So simplistic.
I do not regret that he is playing today at the age of 22. For Peter, it may not be a college degree this month, but he graduated from high school, he is living independently in a phenomenal group home with his high school friends, he has a job, and a better social life than me.
I am rethinking this...I do believe God did come down with his magic wand. I do believe He did His magic, He did fix it ...for what more could one ask?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Today is Special Olympics Day


The annual track and field day has arrived, so have Nick and Sara. We will all go and watch Peter run his 100 dash. This is one of the events that one waits a year, and just like the Kentucky Derby, it is over in a flash. One never knows how this race will turn out. Will Peter run as fast as he can, using his true Forrest Gump like talents and finish the race? Or, will he run as fast as the person next to him, trying to strike up a conversation about the race, isn't this fun, maybe make a few smiley faces. Or, will he be distracted, as he was last year when someone fell, and he stopped and offered to help him up? One never knows....It is a bright sunny warm day..that is a good sign. Normally, this day turns out the to be the coldest, rainiest day of May, having to go in search of winter attire, just to make it through the few hours of entertainment.
So, I will leave for now. Go watch the opening ceremonies which always brings tears to my eyes. I will cheer for all the athletes as they do their own personal best to walk, or run or throw. I know it will be a warm fuzzy day, and this year the weather is a big plus. And, I will continue this story. The details of this long awaited race, the one Sara and Nick drove 6 hours to watch. I will let you know....

video

So the Harley Riders and Police Escort arrived on time, escorting the flame, the Star Spangled Banner was sung, and the games began. Pretty sunny picture, except, oh how could I forget, Peter reverted to his usual Special Olympics behavior of I am not going to participate. I need to eat, he tells us. But, Peter, you are running in a few minutes. Hot dogs, he states. Knowing that if he did not have a 1000 AM dog, he would most likely not participate. Sara, looks, and lets me know..I'll cover him mom, you go get the hot dogs. Luckily, she followed him as she was able to observe the stashing of the uniform into the trash as he took off. Several minutes before the race, Peter was stuffing his face with a hot dog, nothing like hot dog loading to get one to run. Uniform, back on, Peter is sent to the Lining up tent. And, we head down to the end of the track. As we patiently await his heat, Sara reminds me of all the money spent for her and Mike to go to soccer camps and tennis camps, and lessons and that Peter is now the only child left participating in a sport. Mmmm..and running is free!!
So we wait, wondering if between the line-up and the starting line will Peter make another participation decision. We squint, we look, ..does that look like him down there. And then we see him, he takes off, and runs....the best he has ever run. He does not stop, he runs fast, and crosses the finish line!! A major accomplishment. No, not first, or second, or even third...but a winner by completing the task.
So a quick soft ball throw, and this years events are over. Many winners there...all the participants trying their best. All the volunteers giving there time. And Peter, happy he participated, happy to have a pre-run hot dog, and now onto Boccie ball...his next Special Olympic Event.