‘Attach’ed at the hip

So who remembers “Blossom” from back in the day?  The trendy little teen with all her hats? It seems that Mayim Bialik, the actress who played her, recently needed a makeover,  and will be unveiling her new look on What Not to Wear tonight.

What struck me about the brief interview above was her statement that she and her husband follow the ‘attachment parenting’ teachings of a Dr. Sears. They are apparently (gasp) “raising their boys without the help of a nanny or childcare.”

“It takes over your world,” she told People Magazine. “We’re always tired! But it’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”

Wondering what dubious professional would recommend that people use their own hands to care for their child, I had to go look this up.  Wikipedia says “According to attachment theory, a strong emotional bond with parents during childhood, also known as a secure attachment, is a precursor of secure, empathic relationships in adulthood.”  Well duh.

The article goes on to explain how:

Attachment parents seek to understand the biological and psychological needs of the children, and to avoid unrealistic expectations of child behavior. In setting boundaries and limits that are appropriate to the age of the child, attachment parenting takes into account the physical and psychological stage of development that the child is currently experiencing. In this way, parents may seek to avoid the frustration that occurs when they expect things beyond their child’s capability.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for avoiding frustration. But really? Really?

What’s the difference between that and parenting? What we all do every day. Taking into account what our child is experiencing in order to make them feel safe and secure.

I don’t know about you, but I think maybe I should call myself “Doctor” and get my shingle out there while people are tossing money. Here’s to those savvy enough to do the right thing. Salut.

The wide, wide world of sports

One of the suggestions we got from the autism whisperers back in the early days was to see if we could get the Captain involved with sports. You know, the theory being that if he was really good at baseball, then the other boys would let some of the other strange behavior slide.

That was, of course, before they saw the Captain play sports.  Or…not play sports.

Sadly he and Little Miss have some fine and gross motor issues that make it difficult for them to really play well. She’s better than he is, but still it’s just not a happening thing.

The Captain does have some creative and dramatic skills that have received approval from his classmates when he can tolerate company long enough to complete a group project. Little Miss has gradually become more friendly over the years, and while she won’t have a discussion on fashion or boys any time soon, it’s thrilling to hear her ask one of us, “What did you do for your day today?” and really listen to the answer.

So our humble athletic aspirations are concentrated in Ditto Boy. He has a limitless supply of energy, and when his attention can be focused, he can be quite the court warrior.  Though he’s a little short, he works hard at basketball.  He played on intramural volleyball last winter. He likes swimming, too.

This summer he will be part of a special ADD curriculum that will be taught by our wraparound agency, which up until now hasn’t had any services that would suit him. They have a sports-based alternative that works on a points/rewards system, where the children in the program will have to keep control of details in whatever game they’re playing, so that when they are called on, they know, for example, who scored the last point, or how long there is left to play, or what the current score is. The director said it’s supposed to have a 66% improvement rate.  Now wouldn’t that be something?

In the meantime, we bought a heavy plastic horseshoe set for the yard.  The Cabana Boy went over all the details of the game at great length, how not to stand where someone was throwing the horseshoes, how to keep score, how to handle the horseshoes themselves, and so on, including every possible safety measure he could think of.

We replaced the little plastic pegs they used with larger sticks, in hopes they’d be able to hit the horseshoes more often.  Explaining how they could run up to the stick, but not past it, Dad demonstrated how to toss the piece to the other pole.

Ditto Boy, very excited indeed, grabbed up the set of horseshoes and went to run for the pole, prepared to toss them.  Just before he slid into the pole with his crotch.

Maybe it’s time to think about volleyball again.

It’s a small world

Back when I had my first round of children, I had great dreams for them. I just knew they’d be concert pianists or famous actresses or….who knew what?

The days and weeks and months and years passed and they did many wonderful things–got awards, graduated from college, produced healthy children. These accomplishments were duly noted and applauded. They may not as been as significant, on the scale of other children I knew, who were being accepted to Princeton, or competing in national music events or starring in every community theatre production, but I didn’t push them, either, the way some parents do, to the brink of breakdown. It was all right.  They were happy and healthy and content.

What we look for now (and I notice it often in other blogs of parents of autistic children) are small things. Actions that demonstrate mastery, or maturity. It IS all about the small things.  Like:

*This week when I made a grocery run, we left the groceries on the table when I got home because there were several other imminent tasks, like getting the laundry off the line and sending the boys to the shower. When we came back Little Miss had put all the groceries away. No one had asked her. She just knew that’s what had to be done, and did it.

*Little Miss left her spelling words at school, and though she teared up as usual when she’s frustrated, she suggested instead that she could spell out ten country’s names. And she did. (Initiating a solution to a problem!!)

She really has done better on the ADD medication, and the advances she makes seem to stick longer and lead to more conversation/understanding/accomplishment, even after we’ve discontinued her wraparound therapy.

These are small things.  But we’re just as grateful as if she was a first row violinist at Carnegie Hall. Brava, my little one (who at 9, is nearly tall as me!)!  Brava!

As time goes by

And so you and I, We watch our years go by

We watch our sweet dreams fly, Far away but maybe someday…

I don’t know when, but we will dream again

And we’ll be happy then Till our time just drifts away  (Harry Chapin, Dreams Go By)

It’s a good thing humans celebrate their milestones: birthdays, holidays, anniversaries. Otherwise so much time would slip away unnoticed in the day-to-day turmoil and details.

The Cabana Boy and I marked one of those milestones this week: nine years of marriage. What different people we are now than we were then. He was barely out of the National Guard, a father of three under the age of 5; I was an established author and lawyer, with four daughters under my belt, one married with children, one in the Navy, one in college and only an 11 year old still at home.  Now he’s a tech school instructor in computer forensics, and I’ve adopted his children, who are 9, 10 and 13. We’ve raised them together through their autism and ADD diagnoses and treatment, and they’ve all survived so far.

To celebrate, we returned to the scene of the crime– the Meadville Community Theatre stage. In 2000, I was playing Ouiser in Steel Magnolias. The set was beautiful, the interior a softly decorated southern beauty shop, with flowers and bowls of fruit and giggly ladies making themselves pretty, while the exterior was a traditional white picket fence and other evidence southern charm. A good place to start, wouldn’t you say?

Last night, we waited breathlessly for the new show, a musical our little theatre troupe has been waiting to perform for years–Chicago. The set was beautiful again–but a stark contrast. The skyline was Chicago of the 1920s and the setting the Cook County jail where women were awaiting trials for the murder of their husbands. Is that a metaphor for where the past nine years have gotten us?

Let’s just say it’s a good thing neither of us are gum-poppers. 🙂

Speak up!

Commitment is a wonderful thing.

Whether you’re talking about marriage, a job, a faith, parenthood, any cause–the willingness to commit openly and faithfully is admirable. Especially if it’s unpopular or out of the norm. I applaud those who continue to speak out against vaccines for their children with autism, those who rally against the war even if they’re called un-American, those who defend gay and lesbian rights.

But I also support those who commit to points I don’t believe in, like Carrie Prejean, the Miss California contestant who answered contest judge Perez Hilton’s question about whether same sex-marriage should be legal in all the states as follows:

“Well, I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there, but that’s how I was raised, and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”

While I think she’s a little deluded that people in America “can choose” a marriage of either type, I think the storm of controversy that Hilton then generated over how horrible it was that she gave her true opinion is ridiculous.  As CNN commentator Roland S. Martin says: “Hey, Hilton, from a real journalist to a wanna-be who traffics in gossip: Never ask a question if you’re unprepared for the answer!”

Fact is, America, not all of us hold the same opinion about things. We vary on everything but the weather–and most of the time, even that too. I happen to support same-sex rights, but I sure don’t expect that I can make everyone else do so. If you don’t want a same-sex marriage, don’t have one.

Just like abortion, sex change operation, Star Trek addiction, left wing/right wing, Conservative Christian, evangelical Baptist, Hare Krishna, and many other topics, what you yourself  believe is your business, and you should be able to state your opinion without being attacked. You just shouldn’t be able to impose your belief on someone else and expect to force them to change.

I also appreciate the fact that she didn’t base this on her Christian beliefs and upbringing, only to have those racy photos show up the next week. (That would have been tacky.) She just said for HER, that’s what she believed. Good onya, Miss Prejean.

And thanks to Hilton, while Prejean won’t be Miss USA this go-round, she is now a spokesperson for the National Organization for Marriage and has appeared all over media circusland. I hope that she continues to speak her mind, as we all have the right to do.  I just won’t be listening.