Monday, December 4, 2017

Closing time

I am officially closing this blog.

It's been a long time coming, as you may have guessed from the dwindling number of new posts. I still have plenty of stories, but I no longer feel this is the proper place to tell them.

Ryan is in middle school, and middle school can be a cruel place. Now that all his peers have smart phones and are beginning to explore social media, I imagine the next logical step bullies will take is to conduct background research on their victims to maximize the impact of their taunts. And frankly, my kid doesn't need to make bullies' jobs any easier.

Maybe I'll delete the blog (even though I know nothing on the internet is ever really gone forever), and maybe I won't. But I do not intend to post new material.

Thank you to all who have followed our journey these past nine years. I hope that my writing has helped to soften the world ever so slightly for my baby and other individuals on the spectrum. Keep being awesome.

xoxo, Meredith

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

From sticker-free to full ogre in just 8 years

Age 3 3/4: Ryan learned to tolerate briefly wearing a sticker.

Age 5: Ryan freaks out because I made up my face for Halloween.

Age 9: Ryan allows a ladybug to be painted on his hand and resists washing it off for several minutes.

Age 10 3/4: Ryan comes home from school Field Day crying because his face is painted like a tiger.

Age 11 1/2: This happens.

No crying, no complaining about the sound of the airbrush compressor, no flinching at the peculiar feeling of being airbrushed, no touching his green face, no begging to wipe it all off before rehearsing his scene.

This weekend Ryan is playing Young Shrek in his middle school's production of Shrek Jr. Before casting Ryan the director asked if he would be ok with wearing full face paint; we said he would just have to deal with it. We told Ryan back in October that if he accepted this role he would have to wear green face paint - that the makeup would be part of the package.

And he accepted that.

He didn't move a muscle as a teacher applied a prosthetic nose with latex.
He was actually unnaturally silent as the latex dried - normally he's babbling nonstop.
Stu and I have vowed to stock up on liquid latex for daily use.
He was silent - not a giggle, not an "Aaagh, what's that sound?!?!" during the airbrushing process.

There were zero complaints as I applied lipstick and drew freckles on his cheeks.

And he was totally cooperative when we finally scrubbed and scrubbed the green away.

I am so proud of this kid.

Monday, February 20, 2017

My baby lost his very last baby tooth.

Stock image of the Tooth Fairy

The Tooth Fairy just visited for the very last time.

Upon losing his very last baby tooth, my baby declared his intention to stay up all night and wait for the Tooth Fairy so he could see what she looks like, and maybe take a picture of her.

I suggested that just in case he accidentally fell asleep before TF's arrival he might want to write her a note. He agreed, and painstakingly slowly wrote out a letter in his neatest handwriting. In this note, Ryan 1) thanked the Tooth Fairy for taking all his teeth; 2) asked what she does with all those teeth; and 3) asked what she looks like.

And the Tooth Fairy provided answers, in beautiful pink cursive. This surprised me, but it seems she uses the teeth to make the fairy dust which gives fairies the power to fly. We also learned that she is made of pure magic, so to our human eyes she probably looks like a white ball of light. Also, she said she's rather large for a fairy, and that it would take two hands to hold on to her. She took Ryan's tooth and left two coins - one for the tooth, and one for the letter.

It seems magical that at age 11 he still Believes with all his heart; I don't know if the average neurotypical child still Believes at this stage.

The Tooth Fairy seems to have tremendous confidence in Ryan. She wrote,
"Keep being a sweet, loving person. I have loved watching you grow up, and I know you will do amazing things as you get older. Remember to brush!"

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The gunman isn't hiding.

In my dream I was pitching an amazing membership scheme* to my gym. I was talking with a lot of interested, enthusiastic gym employees about this in their office, when suddenly we saw, through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls, a commotion on the gym floor. A man was pointing a gun at a crowd, waving it wildly while walking toward them. The crowd was backing away from the gunman. Several gym-goers were packed into the corner just outside the office. Most of the people in the office with me hid, or maybe disappeared - I was only aware at that point of one man behind a desk. I hit the floor in front of the desk and threw a blanket over myself, because that's obviously the safest place to be when all that separates you from a gunman is a glass wall with a glass door.

The gunman started firing.

People screamed. Some people ducked, others just stood there in shock, but I don't think anyone was actually hit.

Then the gunman turned toward the office. I didn't move.

The gunman opened the glass door. I half-tried to scoot under the desk, but I was tangled up in the blanket. I wondered why it hadn't occurred to me to hide under the desk earlier.

Then I woke up kicking my husband.

The gunman isn't hiding. He's right there, bringing fear to a place I love.

When a man shows you his gun in Act 1, be prepared for him to fire it in Act 2.

Glass walls will not protect you.

Chatting with people who agree that your idea is awesome won't protect you.

Curling up in your blanket will not protect you.

The only weapon at your disposal is the phone on the desk.

Call for help.

Get under the desk.

And pray that help arrives in time.

*Free idea, because I'm not going to pursue this: Get 12 gyms to offer a collective membership, which lets you go to Gym A the first month, Gym B the second month, etc. When the gunman appeared I was arguing in favor of averaging the membership prices so a customer wouldn't end up paying $10 for their month at Crunch and $150 for their month at Edge, and the manager was bemoaning the accounting headache that would cause.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Andy Warhol was a Hoarder

I recently read Claudia Kalb's new book, Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder: Inside the Minds of History's Great Personalities. It's one of those books in which the author rounds up a bunch of famous people and diagnoses their mental illnesses post mortem. Kalb uses each historical figure as starting point from which to explore each of several disorders, including autism, borderline personality disorder, narcissism, and addiction.
Artwork from the book's cover

These profiles can be divided into two basic groups (though this was not the author's organizing principle): individuals who achieved greatness in spite of their mental illnesses, and those who achieved greatness because of them. Charles Darwin pushed through his own crippling anxiety to conduct the research and thinking which led to The Origin of Species. Albert Einstein, on the other hand, made his discoveries because his mind was better optimized for math than for social interaction.

The chapter about George Gershwin goes so far as to explicitly question whether he would have composed Rhapsody in Blue if not for his ADHD. This got me thinking about the creative gifts that come with the condition, which then led me to realize that my own writing has suffered since going on Adderall.

Adderall has helped me in numerous ways - this year for the first time I was able to plan activities in advance, and I can unload a dishwasher without being distracted by whatever shiny notion pops into my head - but my creative ideas have atrophied. I can sit down to focus on writing, but if no good ideas come out, there's little point to the exercise. I've also grown adept at focusing on unimportant things, like computer games, instead of on getting up and doing things.

So I'm experimenting with taking a break from the drugs. Today was my third day in a row Adderall-free, and I feel flighty but energized, inspired yet fidgety. Remarkably I've gotten through more of my to-do list than I have in weeks, including a bit of creative writing and very grown-up things like making doctor appointments.

I feel good knowing I still have access to the meds as a tool, but I'm enjoying exploring what it feels like to be an adult with ADHD, conscious of both my inborn deficits and the unique insights that may come along with the package.

I'll still never be George Gershwin, but then again, how many people can be?