Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In which Grandma goes all Mama Bear

I got to spend several hours of Hurricane Irene blissfully doped up on prescription muscle relaxants.

Last Saturday I sustained my first real ("real" meaning during a game) roller derby injury: a wee little concussion. There was a pile-up, I don't remember how it happened, and I ended up as the filling in a skater sandwich.

So I have been resting. You know, as much as one can when home with a five-year-old all day.

After several days my head was feeling worse, not better, so I called my mom to watch Ryan so I could see a doctor. My mom insisted on driving me to my appointment, even though I had been driving just fine all week, which meant Ryan had to come along too.

You will be shocked to hear that Ryan had no interest in waiting around a medical building for two hours. Or that he had difficulty with the transition from sitting next to me to being dragged off to the cafeteria for lunch by his Grandma.

I was not there, but I imagine there were the usual theatrics: crying, yelling, throwing himself on the floor in protest. My mom ordered him to get up; he refused. She got stern with him; he was unimpressed.

Then an old man took the liberty of yelling at Ryan. "You get up right now! Raaagh! Raaaagh! Get off my lawn!"*

That's when Grandma whipped around and got all Mama Bear on his ass. Beautifully-manicured claws came out.

"You shut up!" she shouted at the old man. "First of all, you have no business yelling at this child you don't know. Second, you're yelling at a young autistic boy who...:

"Oh," the man interjected, suddenly apologetic, "I didn't know."

"Well maybe you should think before you start yelling at a stranger's kid."

My mom got some lunch into Ryan, and after that they had a lovely couple of hours waiting for me.

Nobody yells at my baby but me. And his Grandma.

*Like I said, I wasn't there for this part, so think of this as a dramatic reenactment.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

He Talks!

The boy doesn't want to play with me. Doesn't want me around him. Doesn't want me in the same room.

He's sassy, but he's using language to sass me, so I'm going along with it. To an extent.

When I suggested we might want to leave the house and go to the park, Ryan pointed sternly at my sewing machine and ordered, "You can sit back down in the chair and get back to that."

When I asked if I could work on his puzzle with him, Ryan glared at me and said, "Mommy, you can go over there." I'm not sure where "there" was, but it was certainly nowhere near the puzzle.

And the other day, when I annoyed him by telling him not to dump all the water out of the neighbor's kiddie pool, he told me, "You can sit down over there." When I didn't leave, he started to walk toward the street. When I yelled at him, he turned around and asked, "What's the problem?" Like, all casually, like he asks questions all the time. I don't care that it was a script, it was used perfectly.

And on those rare occasions when I'm not totally unwanted, Ryan's using words to communicate with me. Yesterday, after an hour of painting with water on a slate wall, Ryan stood back and asked, "You like it, Mommy?"

Yes, baby, yes I do.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shameless promotion

For those of you in the great NYC area, I invite you to check out Suburbia Roller Derby's summer season championship game this Saturday. And it's a double-header! It's a fun night out, and you might even see me get knocked on my ass...


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Got to Get the Butterfly Net!

Life has become a never-ending search for lost toys.

The Frog is still missing two parts, of course. Black-and-white cow has not yet emerged from that deadly lawnmower accident. Yellow Chick disappeared on the bus. The little green ball he had for all of 10 seconds is still stuck between the tiles on our patio.

And now his favorite plastic giraffe has drown at the bottom of a storm drain.

(He seems not to have noticed that two of his Dinosaur Train toys went missing a few weeks ago, or that we never recovered the stuffed dog he threw out the school bus window. And I'm sure as hell not going to be the one to remind him.)

The giraffe went down the storm drain moments after I told him not to drop his toys there. Aside from the predictable crying that ensued, Ryan hatched a couple of plans for how we could rescue the giraffe. His first idea (my favorite) involved scissors and a diving mask. Eventually he decided a butterfly net would be the tool of choice.

Ryan refuses to accept that all these toys are gone forever. Every day for the last few weeks has been filled with episodes of anguished mourning for his lost plastic friends, and no amount of rational explanation on my part can help.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Encyclopedia Ryanica, Vol. 1

Ryan may not be able to tell you what he did at school today or ask why the sky is blue, but he is a font of factual information. Whenever one of a handful of topics is mentioned, Ryan will tell you what he believes is most important for you to know; as he repeats these lessons with great frequency and consistency, it seems only right to share them with you here.

Here is Everything You Need to Know, according to Ryan:

On stop signs:
"Stop sign is a octagon, it has eight sides and four letters, S-T-O-P."

On zebras and tigers:
"It has stripes."

On milk:
"Cows love it."

On cows:
"Cows love milk."

On bananas:
"Monkeys love them. Bananas are yellow. They have stickers on them."

On butterflies:
"They got to turn into a caterpillar, turn into a cocoon."

On the letter C*:
"It's got to go between the B and the D."
* similar information also available on most other letters and numbers

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Ryan is working with Chrissy right now. Magical, omnipotent Chrissy.

Chrissy is asking him questions, and by God, Ryan is answering them.

How do you get to New York City? On the train!

How do you get to Florida? On an airplane!

What do you use to call Grandma? A telephone!

What picks up the garbage? A truck!

What do you need to turn on when it's too dark? The lamp!

What do you need to turn on when it's too hot? A fan!

Meanwhile, they're playing a sorting game that involves grouping little toys in various ways. Chrissy is finding challenging ways for them to clean up, like "Give me two things that live in the sea and two animals that live on a farm," and Ryan is keeping up with her perfectly.

Then Chrissy says, "Give me the crab, the horse, the truck, and the bread."

Ryan pauses, then asks her, "What was the first one?"

I'm in tears I'm so happy. When the pieces come together, the picture is indescribably beautiful.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Frog is Missing Two Parts!

"The frog is missing two parts!!!" 

This shocking realization pops up seemingly out of nowhere every few days. And each time, it comes with emotion as raw as the first time Ryan made that horrible discovery.

A few weeks ago, Ryan threw his favorite plastic frog, a rubber ducky, and some sort of toy dog out the window of the school bus on the way home. When the bus pulled up in front of my house, Ryan was sobbing and in great distress. The bus driver told me that he had thrown toys out the window at some point, but neither she nor her assistant knew where or when this had happened. I asked her to describe the route she had taken so I could trace it and perhaps track down the missing animals, but we hit a language barrier.

Miraculously, after much driving around, we found the duck and most of the frog. The duck was in one piece. The frog, which had been broken to begin with (it had a noise-making thingy, and when the non-replaceable battery started to die, making the frog whine nonstop, I eviscerated it, leaving a big hole in the bottom, which I patched with packing tape), but now it was more broken. The poor thing had been hit by cars and lost half an inch of its rear end - I think this section once housed the frog's speaker.

A stickler for completion, Ryan considered our search and rescue mission an utter failure. We hadn't found the dog, and the frog was now missing its "tail." He cried pitifully. I told him that's what he gets for throwing his toys out the window of a moving bus on a busy street.

Now, every few days, whether or not the plastic frog is anywhere near him, Ryan will cry, panicked, "The frog is missing two parts! The frog's tail is in the street! WE GOT TO FIND IT!" Once I helped him fix the frog by plugging its holes with green Play-Doh, but all Ryan saw was a broken frog with Play-Doh stuck to it; this didn't help.

The boy has a long memory. Early this summer, he brought some animals out to the back yard to play with, and he accidentally left behind a Lego cow. A few days later, I discovered the cow had been run over by a lawnmower. There were several pieces left, but not enough to make a whole cow.

Now, every few days, Ryan will wail, distraught, that "the white cow with black spots is missing," and we've "got to find it." I explain that the lawnmower ate it and that he should be more careful with his toys. He cries with the intensity of a fresh wound.

I don't know if Ryan's sense of time is typical of a young child or if it's more characteristic of a child on the spectrum. Maybe he's a grudge-holder like his mother - sometimes I'll find myself ruminating on a 15-years-past slight and I'll get almost as angry as if I had just been wronged again.

Maybe he's working through the concept of permanent loss. Two full years after Dragon Tales went off the air, Ryan is still asking to watch it and play its related computer games. I refuse to rent the series on DVD because then he'll think I can pull the old games out of the air and I'll never hear the end of it. I'm trying to use Dragon Tales as a lesson in death.

Perhaps the frog will become a lesson in permanent injury?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

We got to save the peacock!

A peacock has escaped from the Central Park Zoo.

I made the mistake of reporting this news to Ryan this morning while we were getting ready for school.

Now Ryan thinks we're on a Nick Jr.-style animal rescue mission.

"We got to FIND the peacock!"

OK, I say. We can look for the peacock after school.

"We got to go to the zoo! We got to SAVE the peacock!"

I explain that the peacock is wandering around the city somewhere - it may even have walked all the way up to our neighborhood, right where the school bus is about to pull up, so why don't we go look for it in front of our building right now?

"We got to go to the zoo and find the peacock!"

So apparently I'm picking him up from school this afternoon and driving straight to the Bronx Zoo. There's an animal in trouble somewhere...