Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Yep, It’s Halloween and Cute Ghosts Abound Before The Coffee Is Ground…

4:45 am – Buddy and I step outside from a sleeping house into the crisp, 45 degree morning air for a 4 mile run

Lets say 5:00 am – Buddy gruffs and howls (I’m startled, I’m jogging and listening to my headphones, unaware to anything but the road in front of me so I don’t step on something and twist my ankle again) and he stops in his tracks. Across the street, on the road into another sub-division, there is a ghost inflatable (12 feet or so) that lights up and then goes dark. Scared the bejeezus out of the dog.

We wander back in the house 5:30ish – I can hear upstairs….whoooooooohhhhhoooooo…real ghostly noises from a little blonde.

I turn the corner and look up the stairs – there is Maya, with her blanky covering her head wandering into our bedroom making ghost noises telling Mommy to get up…again, 5:30ish.

My thought was she may not be a real ghost at the moment, but if Kim – the night owl – is in a foul mood… Maya could very quickly become a real one.

Demetrius then follows Maya down the hall. Here’s Demetrius in character: “I’m Demetrius, a boy, pretending to be a ghost.”

Just letting us know. This is when the ‘literal’ aspects of autism crack me up. He can’t just pretend – it is a bit out of his reach. However, he wants to play along as Demetrius, the boy pretending to be a ghost.

Woobie doesn’t cover your head like a blanky does. So he really didn’t look like a ghost.

He did throw a couple of dads at the neighborhood party too. They would be playing along with the kids dressed up…”Look, it is Buzz Lightyear…” etc… they said this Demetrius (look, it is Superman!) but Demetrius just said to them, “No, I’m Demetrius in a Superman costume.” Kind of confuses the dads…but I get a sadistic kick out of it…

Happy Halloween ya’ll. And Dads, don’t eat all the candy before you hand it out, okay?

Posted by Jerry in 12:49:26 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Weekend Stuff

Man: A long weekend. Why? Well, Demetrius was up at 5:30 on Saturday morning (not uncommon) and 4:15 am on Sunday morning (with time change) and we went to bed at the same time we usually do. It was cute though last night when he hit the proverbial wall at dinner. When he was a baby and he got tired, he would tug on his ear (only God knows why), and he did that again last night. Funny how that showed up when he got so tired…

He’s not the only one. Dad and Mom had no gas in the tank either.

Maya and I went to run some errands after lunch yesterday, one being to go get Buddy some more dogfood. That means, THE PET STORE! So we petted all the puppies, all the kittens, looked at all the birds, and every fish.

“No Maya, Buddy does not need a little brother or little sister.”

“No Maya, we don’t want a kitty cat – cats creep Daddy out.”

“No Maya, we can’t keep fish in the sink.”

“No Maya, the bird won’t keep Buddy company while we are gone.”

Can’t fault the girl for trying. Here are some great pics from the past few days:

Demetrius relaxing in the bounce house. These jumpy things offer some real sensory integration for him. He can bounce in them, and off the other kids, which is what he really wants to do…..

Or he can just have the kids lay on him as they crawl through the inflatable obstacle course (neighborhood Halloween party)

Maya and Buddy lounging on the couch. C’mon…I dare you to show me another photo on the Internet as cute as this one? I dare you…..

What’s a neighborhood party without a train ride around a few cul-de-sacs?

Maya and Emily at pre-school’s Fall Festival. Check out Maya – tights with stars on them and groovy rain boots…she’s got a style all her own….

This one I didn’t quite get…it was about 60 degrees out…so a….snow cone machine? I mean, right, we do live in the Southeast, but not South Florida. Each kid would take a few bites (SNOW CONES! DADDY! SNOW CONES!), their lips would turn blue (not from the syrup) and then you’d see moms and dads holding snow cones…sometimes double fisting as the kids ran off to a bounce house to run, jump and warm up

She cracks me up. No other way to write it.

Posted by Jerry in 13:45:46 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Friday, October 27, 2006

Learning from Demetrius’ Fits…..

Oh yea, you all know this face and sound…

Thursdays are hard in the Grasso house. You are getting that ‘end of the week’ tired before the ‘its Friday and then two days off from work/school/etc…’ euphoria. We put a big cherry on top of it by having Demetrius do a couple of hours of therapy on Thursday afternoons.

So should we be surprised that on Thursday we sometimes have multiple meltdowns? Not just crying…but anger, door slamming, kicking and screaming on the floor meltdowns. And sometimes you can hear them coming…sometimes they come out of nowhere…we had one when I got home last night…or should I say it was the one I was privy to.

So what do you do? Of course we told him that he needed to go to his room, throwing a fit the whole way. However, it was obvious the kid was just run down, hungry and was operating on an empty tank. After slamming his door three times in a row (I always somewhat think his fits are funny, because he is such a happy-go-lucky and laid-back kid that he has to really work himself up to be mad and he can’t keep it going…and you can see him working at it to stay mad…unlike his sister, who can stoke her fire at a moments notice), I went in his room, put my arms around him and lifted him onto his bed, sat him on the end and knelt down so we were looking eyes-to-eyes…he went immediately from an ‘I’m angry’ cry to a ‘I’m tired’ cry. He also needed some tactile stimulation, so I bear hugged him as hard as I could.

The fit stopped, and I told him it was okay to be grumpy and mad, but he needed to tell us that he is tired and we’ll try to help….quiet time, et al…we also pretended we have a ‘quiet button’ that if we push it and whisper our numbers from 1 to 10, that it will calm us down. He bought it.

During dinner I watched him eat, he slouched. He was visibly tired, and had a hard time sitting up without leaning on the table or kind of falling into his chair. He isn’t very strong in his upper body, so it really shows when he is tired.

And then…

He had a bowl of ice cream…

And then…

He wanted to wrestle…

We did for a while (at first I resisted, I JUST ATE!, but figured that he was still craving some tactile stimulation). He then took his bath and basically passed out in bed (I read and cuddled Maya, but she fell asleep early and when I went in his room to kiss him goodnight he was already out).

I don’t think a lot of what I’m writing today is much different for Demetrius than it is for your son or daughter…all kids go through this. But I wonder if/when this happens with the Pink Bombshell if I’ll react differently? When it comes to our ‘normal’ kids, we typically react to them like their little adults – we don’t vest our intellectual energy and objectivity to filter through a number of variables to figure out what’s wrong, or that’s my experience, I think.

With Demetrius, only once in awhile is he just being a little @#$%…but I don’t know about you, but often I go to that as the FIRST OPTION with Maya, because she can talk back, will talk back, sass her way all the way to her room…but I don’t first think, “Hmmmm – why is she doing this?” I should do that more often. I’ve said it before, but she doesn’t get the breaks cut for her that he does… and the age of four I often expect reactions out of her differently because of him. Not fair for her.

Anyway, the point of all of this? Maybe next time one of yours throws down, you’ll remember this posting to see if you can find out what’s wrong first (for those times that he/she hasn’t thrown down because they just want another piece of candy….)…and if you aren’t the kind of that says, “March that butt right to your room!” as soon as the fit starts… well, you are way ahead of me most of the time.

Posted by Jerry in 18:58:30 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Good to be home….

I got home last night..and immediately had to WRESTLE! The tickle monster came out. I’m lucky I have that secret tickle trick that gets me out of being beaten by two little ones…and the dog (Buddy has to get into the middle of it..no matter how many times he’s told to go lay down).

A couple of cute things:

1 – Demetrius’ teacher told us that he was actually pretending (Wow!), while playing with the Fisher Price Grill to make hamburgers. He made one and brought it over to her. He told her, “Here is a limited edition Happy meal with an Aerial Disney toy inside. Remember, we are also open round-the-clock, twenty-fours a day. McDonalds, I’m loving it.”  Which is exactly what he told me down stairs in the basement while he was grilling up some food before bathtime (or some very close variation of the ad I just spewed…)

Those autistic kids and their ability to retain TV and movies. She said it was cute and funny and he was serious while sharing the pretend burger…

2 – take a look at this picture:

It’s my briefcase, and on it are six strategically placed Hello Kitty stickers. Hmmmmm – where could those have come from…

Posted by Jerry in 14:30:58 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Halloween Good & Bad

Back to Atlanta.  Ah, warm weather…or warmer weather I should say.

Halloween is now less than a week away.  I like this holiday a lot more since we have had kids.  I read somewhere that this is the fastest growing holiday in the United States… I forget how they were measuring it, but somehow they came up with numbers that proved this to be the case.  I love seeing the kids dressed up coming to the door getting excited when they see the bowl of candy they get to pick from…from the really little ones that are dressed in Pooh Bear suits being pulled by the Moms and Dads in Fisher Price wagons down the street to the elementary school kids that really believe, in their outfits, that they are Power Rangers, Princesses and Pirates…

The older kids kind of piss me off though when they come to the door.  I have an issue with giving them candy. I do so reluctantly without much of a comment to them. I only give them one candy bar also.  I kind of have a personal feeling that they are in someway, somehow taking us for a ride – they are a bit too old for this.  I dunno know why. 

I also get real creeped out by adults that dress up and start to role play their characters.  Why do you need a costume? Why are you role playing so seriously?  What is going on in your head on a regular basis that this ‘role’ is allowed to come out of its pandora’s box today?  Stay away from my wife and kids, okay…get the *#&^& out of my office…  Are you stalking me?  You are not Spider Man, Steve, you are drunk and you cannot climb that wall, idiot….

Then the next day is fun, because all the people that don’t want the leftover candy bring it into the office. I’m no chocoholic (in fact, I don’t eat a lot of candy), but I do like a bite sized Snickers, etc…just perfect for my tastes and wants for about a week.

Of course, then you run into the joker who was the drunk Spider Man the night before and now he’s just plain ol’ ‘I take my finance job way too serious’ Steve asking for a report…and you still see drunk Spider Man. That’s a hard transition the next day, you know?

Its kind of like the promiscuous office worker who gets sloppy drunk at the Holiday Party and starts telling you how much she likes Joe from HR, likes him a lot, even though he is with his wife at the party…same thing, hard to transition the following Monday at work from sloppy drunk to take me serious legal aide.

As it stands, Maya is going to be a princess, a Disney Princess, and she has like, 18, different Disney Princess dress up outfits, and she hasn’t picked one as her final yet…and Demetrius is going to be SuperMan. He’s got one of those dress up outfits that have the fake muscles…very nice!

He’s had a hard time keeping his costumes on (with his sensory issues, masks, etc…are hard for him), and he really doesn’t seem to get Halloween (we all know a lot about it scares him)…he doesn’t get excited about the candy…but he does get real excited about watching the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown…so if he had his way he’d just rather stay home and watch Halloween specials.  HOWEVER, we are hoping this year, since he has finally taken a liking to sweets, will be a bit different with the free candy.  We’ll see.

Except at the adult, drunk Spider Man’s house.  He could get scared going over there, I think.  Daddy does for him. ☺

Posted by Jerry in 19:01:30 | Permalink | Comments Off

What I Have Not Before Considered…

Not too much to write about today.

Tradeshow day, and just chit chat long distance with the wife and kids. I’ll say it again. It is cold in Minnesota. I guess I’d be saying the same thing about the heat in Texas in late August…but I am not conditioned for this…I have thin blood now…I brought my ‘winter’ running gear, but my winter gear just ain’t wintery enough for a Fall day in October in Minneapolis. I pulled on my gloves and ski cap, stepped outside, got that first deep breath of cold air and felt that blast of freezing urban wind tunnel…and went right back inside and got the treadmill. Man its cold here. I’m going to be glad to be back in Atlanta tomorrow.

Fast forward to tonight and Demetrius was crying on the phone and so was Maya. I don’t know what about (I can’t understand the whining and the crying-talk loudly into the receiver), but that happens when I’m gone sometimes. From Kim I got the, “I’ll call you back in :45.” High likelihood I won’t hear back from her as she’ll fall asleep with one of them.

Talked to Grandpa about yesterday’s post…he gave me an interesting perspective…not one I had considered before. Imagine you have a special needs child in your life (not necessarily your own child, but one in your life) and you see that child on an irregular basis…like every couple of months. Now imagine that he or she is making progress, but because you aren’t there as often…the changes and improvements he or she is making aren’t obvious and you only hear about them (or read about them in a blog). And in fact, you’ve learned, over the course of time, that new issues arise when others go away.

This is what my parents, and my in-laws, face when they see Demetrius. My parents took Demetrius for a walk this past weekend, and for some reason, he basically melted down when he got near a certain street in the neighborhood. No one is sure why, but they are sure it scared them to death. How do you react? How would you react? This isn’t the child that can tell you why, and you just can’t read into it that it is because he’s scared or he doesn’t want to go on the walk … there could be a noise or experience that has just set him off. And imagine now you have to navigate this little boy and his meltdown back to the house. Can you imagine how that might feel? Does the blood drain out of you? Do you feel like you are failing in some way, shape or form?

Kim and I are in it everyday…I don’t know what it is like to approach Demetrius with any sort of concerns or reservations because it is part of my daily life. In this family, grandparents have to feel their way …like finding your way around the furniture in a dark room until your eyes adjust.

That’s got to be tough, especially if you are trying to maximize every minute of every day you have with them in those short trips.

The baseball game? Yea, we discussed it. He was happy to see Demetrius having so much fun and enjoying himself…regardless of whether or not he was learning skills or teamwork…and if it really isn’t baseball. He was a six year old having fun on the diamond. That made Grandpa happy – seeing the boy so happy.

Like I said yesterday, he’s like granite.

Posted by Jerry in 02:25:11 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Oldest In The Book…But…

I’m in Minneapolis….here’s a picture of the Mary Tyler Moore statue that caused such a PR commotion a couple of years ago.

Mary Tyler Moore statute – she was fictional, but got a statue in downtown Minneapolis over famous Minnesotans, say, like, Humbert Humphery or Jesse Ventura… 

We are the hotel across the street.  Kind of cool.  I called Kim, she put Maya on…she was busy drawing and wouldn’t talk, just answered my questions…’Yes’…’No’… Mommy told her to talk to me because she hadn’t said boo to me…

So Maya said, “Boo” and handed the phone back to Kim.

Yes, that actually happened…like Demetrius saying a prayer at dinner last night thanking God for letting my parents take him to Target to get a movie. 

Posted by Jerry in 23:57:37 | Permalink | Comments Off

A Solid Weekend With The Grandparents

Wow, what a weekend.  We slammed more into a Saturday and Sunday than we have in a long time.  I guess this is what you do with your grandparents when you only see them every couple of months.  We should probably slow it down and just ‘chill’ and enjoy each other’s company more, but we like to be on the move (in fact, I get that from these grandparents!).  The kids lead pretty busy and active lives, and we need a bit of down time on Saturdays on Sundays, I think.  In fact, yesterday afternoon, Demetrius just crawled into bed and stated he was going to sleep…which never happens…and this is after taking a nap on Saturday!  

Ultimately, I think, the kids just wear themselves out.  First, the night before the grandparents arrive, they are so excited that they have trouble going down…then, of course, the night that they arrive they just go crazy.  We don’t get to bed at the regular time (fight going to bed because we have a captive audience that worships us) and we are up early. I get up early to go jogging as you well know, and typically Grandpa is up waiting for us in the morning.  Demetrius gets up an hour earlier or so than he is used to being up…and well, this is just burning the candle at both ends.

But it is so worth it.  “Grandpa, will you come out and play with me…”  “Nonni Cheryl, will you do my hair…” I’ve said it again and again…these are not the people that raised me.  I don’t remember saying, “jump!” and ever seeing it happen that quickly when they were 30 years younger.  Yesterday, after we went out to breakfast, we caught an early movie, Open Season.  If I don’t have to see another kid’s movie for two months, I’ll be happy.  As we were walking out of the cinema, Demetrius turns to Grandpa and Nonni and asks if they will take him to Target.  We (the parents) say no, that the kids have enough stuff…but that was just for show, of course.  We leave Target with a new kids DVD (I guess I won’t be hitting that two month milestone) three pairs of Spongebob Squarepants pjs, and some Hello Kitty markers.  The oldest (my folks) and the youngest (the kids) got their Target fix.  Kim and I just chaperone and drive.

Demetrius had a baseball game on a beautiful, autumn Saturday morning.  Everyone went, and our friends the Carraghers came also.  We all did lunch afterwards.  Mea Culpa here, I didn’t hang out with Grandpa and Nonni during the game.  First, I watched Maya for a while at the jungle gym, and then I talked to Joseph about sports while I watched Demetrius.  Last time Nonni went to D’s game, she cried.  I think that when Demetrius is part of the fabric of the house, the four of us, etc…his disability is just part of our life…but when you see the games, and these other kids, its kind of like being at a Gallagher show with his sledgehammer and watermelon.  You have special needs all over you by the end of it.  And this is the first one that my Dad has attended.  I retreated a bit to let him take it in on his terms. 

Like many of us, grandpa was my coach in just about everything until I hit high school.  He still has the thank you awards in his study that the kids gave him over the years (the computer is in there, so when I travel to Texas and work from that room, those mementos bring back so much of my childhood). He was a very involved dad and very sports oriented…probably more so at 37 years old than I can ever claim to be.  So how was he going to take all of this in?  This baseball experience?  Should I have stood there next to him?  Let him be?  Tough call.    I watched him watching…no expression, which is not that uncommon for my dad – he’s very reserved.  He’s not emotive like my mom, thus, who is much easier to read (and was chatting up Elaine and cooing baby Maddie).  So, obviously, she is the social butterfly, has seen this once before, and is expending nervous energy watching Demetrius – but my dad just stood there and watched.  Mom is probably better at dealing in the moment in terms of blowing the steam that’s building; I never know with Dad.

Like I said, I let him take it all in.  We never really had a chance to revisit and discuss.  I’m not sure he wants to. I’m not sure I want to.  Sometimes it is easier to go places with Mom than Dad because she wears a lot more on her sleeve.  Dad…to discuss might just get a bit uncomfortable – maybe more for me than him.  So maybe this is all my issue here. I’m okay with that I guess.

I’ve had my moments with my father through this journey.  That stoicism let me tell you, has helped me.  Knowing he’ll listen, give the best advice he can at that moment, then again a few days later after thinking about whatever that situation was…in his same tone regardless of whether he is upset or happy…that’s been a pillar of strength.  Long and short, it is a guy thing.  And a guy thing that can probably only be fully understood between fathers and sons.  Don’t get my wrong, this isn’t any Don Corleone slapping and yelling, “Act like a man!”…this is just hearing something ‘same’ in his advice or reaction that I’ve heard since I’ve been listening, and the times I wasn’t or wouldn’t, over 37 years.

So for in the brief moment I was alone this weekend, I wondered if I did the right thing by my Dad?  Then I figured I know his answer if I asked him, “It was fine.”

That’s granite.

Posted by Jerry in 16:40:28 | Permalink | Comments Off

Saturday, October 21, 2006

But I can chew gum!

Sorry it took me so long to post today…I took the day off with Grandpa and Nonni and ran them around North Fulton County.  We did the circuit – lunch with Demetrius at school, lunch with Maya at Johns Creek United Methodist Church.  Two chicken sandwiches in two hours. 

I want to tell everyone a story.  Last year, about this time, Maya was in the 3-4 year old class at Johns Creek.  She was very upset because the 4-5 year old girls were out on the playground, and told her that she couldn’t play on the tire swing, because she was a ‘baby’.  Maya was so upset she cried in the car on the way home from school.  She told Kim, “I’m no baby, I can chew gum.”  Adorable!

Well, today, Mom, Dad, Kim and I were watching Maya’s 4-5 year old class out on the playground, and she, well, she kicked some 3-4 year olds off of the tire swing. 

Well, Kim and I looked at each other, and I went over to her and whispered that she needs to be nice to the little girls in the 3-4 year old class and she says to me, “Why?”

I was a bit taken aback, and then she said to me, “Do you have any chocolate?”  Since I didn’t she went back to playing…and I went back to standing by Kim, thinking to myself….she’ll be fine in a sorority…..

Posted by Jerry in 02:21:50 | Permalink | Comments Off

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Nonni and Grandpa

They are here. Nonni and Grandpa made it to the house.

Holy cow, was there a level of excitement, a buzz, if you will, from the house up in Alpharetta.

Demetrius was so excited, he gave hugs then put on his sneakers and ran across the street as fast as he possibly could.  Maya, well, she just didn’t know what to do. So she followed suit and ran as fast as the rain falls after her brother.

Buddy allowed different people to pet his belly.

Kim and I carried in suitcases.  Really, why are they here?  To see us? C’mon….this is all about the Grandkids.  We just house and feed them.

I was not a kid that grew up around my grandparents.  They, like my parents and Kim’s, lived halfway across the country.  So when we went to see them, or they to us, my heart just pounded all day in my chest.  “When will they be here?” I remember looking out our front window numerous times watching to see the car pull up into the cul-de-sac (they almost always drove).  So I can appreciate the nervous energy that Kim said was in the house all day.

Of course, they ran around like wild Indians all evening until bedtime and Demetrius then got up at 3:15 am, “Can I get Grandpa up?”  We made him crawl in bed and he fell back to sleep….but only because he had to, not because he wanted to. 

Plus, Nonni is taking them to Target, the greatest store in the whole world.

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy…

Grandparents, a kid can’t have enough of ‘um.

Nonni, Grandpa, D and Maya at Demetrius’ 6th Birthday party earlier this year.  They didn’t come with this many presents this time….but who knows by the time they leave….. 

Posted by Jerry in 16:29:20 | Permalink | Comments (1) »