Thursday, September 3, 2009

New Toys!

This morning I wake Maya up – in our little game of cooing and waking up I remind her that Nonni Cheryl and Grandpa are coming tomorrow. She jumps up, squeals and basically yells, “Demetrius, Nonni Cheryl and Grandpa are coming tomorrow! It is one day away!”

Demetrius yells back from his bedroom, “I know, NEW TOYS!”

Say it like it is, Super D.

Posted by Jerry in 21:19:27 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tricksey Maya

I fear Maya’s teenage years on many levels, for many reasons, but one that is emerging is her love of the cellphone.

She has well mastered how to dial Mommy’s phone when she’s not looking, and she’s always sweet talked when she’s done so, “Hi Daddy, I miss you, come home….” but now, at the tender age of almost eight, she’s taken to crank calling her Grandpa (my dad) on Kim’s phone. Only she’s not quite got the sequencing right. This is what makes it cute.

She dials Grandpa and he answers (of course, excited to receive a phone call from his granddaughter!):

“Hi Maya!”

“Hi Grandpa, yes, you’ve reached Maya’s voicemail.  Please leave her a voicemail message and she’ll call you back.  By Grandpa.”

She actually does hang up periodically.

She did this the other day, so proud of herself and her ‘tricksey’ mind. She told me that she thought that tricking Grandpa this way was pretty easy.

Of course, I think it is pretty darn cute.  I just hope she doesn’t start asking if the refrigerator is running….

Posted by Jerry in 22:00:23 | Permalink | Comments Off

Friday, January 30, 2009

Long Day…Big Payoff

Whew, who am I kidding…long week!

Payoff is huge though, on a plane back to Atlanta to see Kim and the kids tomorrow. I know you guys get tired of me writing it, but I ain’t gonna stop – every time I see them it feels like Christmas…

It kind of is, in a way, my folks are flying in also for the weekend – because it is Super D’s birthday!  Can you believe it, Sunday the boy is nine years old. Wow.

I was talking with Grandpa yesterday and he was recounting about when Nonni and Grandpa came out to California for Demetrius’ first birthday…I remember him in his high chair, and we gave him a cupcake, the first time he had refined sugar…and he really, really liked it. And he really, really liked wearing blue icing…blue icing…of course, for ‘Bear in the Big Blue House’ Super D’s favorite TV show at that time…

How far we’ve come, from Bear and Ojo to Spider Man vs. Doctor Octopus. Well, we all evolve…except me I guess. I pretty much still love Spidey vs. Doc Ock….

Some Photos from his eighth year….looks like a pretty good one, minus the one of having to do some homework or go to the American Girl store…

Posted by Jerry in 01:56:40 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Maya’s working the cell phones

Kim tells me she showed Maya how to work the cell phone.

Two hours later I talked to my Dad in Fort Worth.

Dad: So I got a cell phone call from Maya this morning, and I listened to it at lunch…

Wait for it, Wait for it….

Dad: And all she said was, “Hello Chicken Butt Grandpa” (Giggles follow).

Crank calling at seven years old, without any prompts. She just knows how…..I’m scared, yet so proud at the same time.

So sweet, this little one is….

Posted by Jerry in 01:35:26 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Grandpas and Demetrius

Periodically when I’m talking about the kids with my dad, he’ll say something profound.  

Grandpas do this.  

Sometimes though, it takes a special Grandpa to be profound about his autistic grandson.

I mentioned that Demetrius was organizing my day for when I get back to Alpharetta, that he had it planned that we’d go to McDonalds and run some errands. I chuckled.  Dad didn’t.

Instead, my dad said to me last night, “That’s his way of bonding with you, spending time with you. When he has a plan and it is something he wants to do like that, he is comfortable and happy.  He’s comfortable, and happy, with you, at that time. This is what he does.”

I’ve thought alot about his saying that to me today, and of course he’s right.

Since Demetrius has been diagnosed, the two people who seem to understand him best are his two grandpas.  Both quiet men, but very different.  Kim’s dad, Jim, a big ol’ farmboy that’s a gentle giant until you get his hair up…what’s left of his hair.  My Dad, quiet and objective, a thinker and wise man, patient as anyone I’ve ever known.  Both are good men from muscle to marrow.  Both love Demetrius for what he is, not a minute have they ever loved him more because of what he is not.

Jim’s got two other grandsons, one is a champion athlete, a star in Central Kansas.  The other is just budding into something of his own – as only a 14 year old can. Who knows what he’ll be in a few years.  I think probably something exceptional, exceptionally unexpected.  

So I wonder what he thinks of his third grandson?  The one who doesn’t say too much but wants to play on his computer, and go down into the basement, where he works on his advertising specialties. Doing TV talk and sometimes flapping his hands (albeit so much less so than he used to).

I sometimes think that they have a bit of a special relationship.  The two of them spend alot of time…well, just being together.  They don’t talk – but since they are both gentle and a bit shy, they don’t have to.  I’ve witnessed the two of them having a good time just ‘being’. 

With the type As that Demetrius has in everyday life (Kim, Maya and me), maybe this is what Super D needs. Someone that can be just as quiet as he can, who can sit and read a book sitting next to Demetrius as he plays on the computer – making Demetrius much more content than I think I ever could with my over planned, what’s the next goal in life drive. 

Once we were walking along the quiet streets in rural Kansas when the boy was much younger, maybe 4 years old…and he was running ahead of us down the street, flapping a bit and holding his toys in each hand.  Jim sensed that I was getting a bit nervous.  He just said to me, “You know it is okay, don’t you?  He’s going to be just fine.”  I thought to myself, “maybe.”  And I still think that, “maybe.”  But the maybe at times changes from whether he’ll ‘maybe’ be fine in life…to maybe I’ll be okay accepting a few things that I haven’t yet accepted.  

I’m now not so sure Jim wasn’t talking about Demetrius, and much more about me and what I needed to realize…and am still trying to.

We tease my Dad that he might be on the Spectrum.  I promise all of you right now he’s got next summer planned out for our week at the beach.  It is 20 degrees outside right now, but when it is 90 degrees and just as humid, he’ll be thinking about when he can see the kids during the winter.  He likes plans. He likes yellow legal pads.  He likes to have it all worked out to the best it can be.

My dad was the first person other than Kim to tell me he thought something was ‘different’ about Demetrius.  The family story is that I told him he was right. He was deaf.  No one would believe me.  

To prove the point I brought the silverware out of the drawer and dropped it behind him as he watched Toy Story.  D never noticed.  Dad never responded or agreed – or disagreed for that matter.  What I failed to realize is that he realized that regardless of what we thought, something was wrong.  I was upset that noone believed me and my non-scientific tests on my son’s auditory reactions. He was concerned that I was missing the bigger point.  

He let me vent, and then he waited until we (mostly me) got our arms around more testing.    

D’s not deaf.  I was deaf to the real issues at that time.  My dad remained patient and knew I’d get there. 

He approaches all of the issues two-fold, what do I need from him as my father – his son dealing with his special needs child, and what does Demetrius need from him. He’s never cared that Demetrius can’t handle sports or still has the interests of a four-year-old at times.  He revels in Demetrius’ happiness, not in what he wants his grandson to revel in.  

He seemed so happy last year to be watching Demetrius at the soccer game regardless of whether or not he played.  He was happy that Demetrius was outside, I think, trying something new.  Maybe he sensed how hard it was for Kim and I to watch Demetrius, when he won’t engage or just let the ball go by and went into his ‘bubble’.  He knew that we want Demetrius to desperately ‘interact’ with other boys, as the other boys literally, not figuratively, seem to be running past him in every way possible.

Once the game ended, he just asked Demetrius if he wanted to go get breakfast and then go to Target. All wins in every way for the boy.  Grandpa just understands this.  Grandpa understands the overall effect creates a good day for the boy – the stress of the soccer game is balanced out by a trip to IHOP and new action figure, and then watching some SpongeBob.  Much like my father-in-law, my Dad can just sit with Demetrius.  Did I mention they stayed at a hotel that night, went swimming in the indoor pool and ate pizza, while Demetrius watched movies on the ‘little’ portable DVD player?  

Demetrius told everyone it was a great day – Grandpa knows.

Maybe in 20+ years I’ll be able to understand a bit better the calmness they bring to dealing with the boy and his ticks.  Maybe I won’t because being a parent is so much different than being a grandparent.  

MAYBE, I should just go and sit with Demetrius while he fumbles with his Happy Meal toy at McDonalds, versus trying to get him to go play and interact with the other kids who scream and yell as they climb around so effortlessly.  Maybe I should think about what makes him happy periodically, rather than just what his goals should be for interacting and ‘not being autistic’.

That would be hard for me.

Thank God for Grandpas, it isn’t hard for them…. because they make it so easy for Demetrius to be Demetrius.
Posted by Jerry in 01:04:28 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kids and the Grandparents

When we got off the plane yesterday, Demetrius informed everyone he DID NOT want to go out to eat after the flight. He wanted to go directly to Grandpa and Nonni’s house.  He started yelling at us about not wanting to go out!

My mom and Kim debated on how he had sensory overload, needed to relax and decompress, etc..

I knew better.

Daddy and Demetrius talking alone in a corner by baggage claim:

Daddy – Demetrius, you need to apologize for yelling at Nonni and Grandpa right now!

Demetrius – But Daddy, I just wanted my new toys!

Yea, just like Daddy thought….

The boy is smart that way, or should I switch up some words, he’s way smarter than we are in his ways of getting what he wants!

Posted by Jerry in 14:24:57 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Monday, June 16, 2008

Back From The Beach

Hope all is well with each of you. The Grassos just got back from Gulf Shores, AL. As I’ve mentioned before, the Texas Grassos meet us there and we spend a week in the sun and doing other fun stuff, like riding three story go kart rides and seeing new movies like Kung Fu Panda and The Incredible Hulk (I recommend both, but only Panda for younger kids).

Many consider Gulf Shores the ‘Red Neck Riveria’ but that is off putting. It is a great location where the seafood is good and everyone smiles. Sure, there are plenty of tags from the ‘Heart of Dixie’ but I’ve also sat and chatted with folks from as far away as Canada (albeit, this guy was a Mobile, AL native from years before). Another interesting thing is that alot of kids do summer programs from around the world there. We’ve met kids from as far away as Russia, Jamacia and Mexico (and no, they are actually doing management internships and such…don’t be that way).

Still put off? Well, if you like Destin, you’ll like Gulf Shores, just a few miles away. I recommend it greatly. Just don’t pre-judge. We stay at a great little resort area (all family owned houses) with a private beach. Again, check out Martinique here.

Now, what is you really want…pictures!

Demetrius playing in the sand dunes at the beach

Maya heading into the waves, one more time…I have a picture of her the first year we went with a swim diaper on. How quickly things change…..

Demetrius and our friend, Joseph Carragher (little Joseph) on the beach

Kim, Demetrius and Joseph about to Boogie Board at the Beach….

Maya pulling out for her first go kart ride…by herself…..

Demetrius drove like an old pro…that said, he would periodically stop and just look around. He was only in a hurry when he decided to be in a hurry….

There were all these little guppies swimming around us one day. And when Aunt Francine went to take a shower….look what fell out of her hair. Now if you knew Aunt Francine and her head of hair….this wouldn’t surprise you. Lets just say she’s got great, awesome, Italian hair that most women are jealous of….and the kind of hair that can catch and kill guppies

We decorated the golf cart. Here sits Aunt Francine, Maya, and Hannah. Who is Hannah? The little girl that lives next door to the house we rented. Maya and Hannah became friends fast, and couldn’t be separated during the trip. Leaving was very hard and sad. They were, as they say, two peas in a pod….and bonded quickly

Jerry and Kim trying to catch some waves…..

L2R: Grandpa, Nonni, Joseph, Demetrius….

Group dinner: L2R: Grandpa’s head, Elaine Carragher, Joseph (Senior) Carragher, Me, Nonni, Kim…poor Aunt Francine and the Carragher’s nanny Janice had to sit at the bar by the kitchen….

The last night at the beach we went ‘crabbing’. My guess is that crabs don’t have ears…because if they did, they would have heard our loud zoo crew approaching from 10 miles away. The crabs were tiny, which made them less scary. Here is a photo of one that’s about five inches long…which was a big crab for this beach!

All good things must come to an end. Big smiles on the faces of Demetrius and Joseph. They’ll see each other in the very near future, I’m sure. But look at Maya resting her head on Hannah’s shoulder. This is a friend that will be missed. Thank goodness for email and Skype. We’ll chat soon, I’m sure with little Miss Hannah in Gulf Shores…..

A couple of other things:

  • The kids go for a swim in the morning before we pack up and go, but my folks have a longer drive so they head out first. When Demetrius got back from the pool and he realized they were gone he went and laid down on their bed and said he missed them alot and he didn’t want anyone to leave the beach. What better testament could anyone leave for what the trip meant. My words can’t give justice to those Heminway-esque words and actions
  • I’ve loaded some music onto the kids new iPods. So I was looking at the playlists on what songs they like. Some of the favorites are obvious…such as Hannah Montana. But both have basically ‘gorged’ on Gloria by U2. It has to be the melodic voice of Bono. It isn’t like they hear that song often, so I found that interesting.
  • Today they are off to their first week of summer camps. I’m actually working from home (well, if I’m blogging, am I really working?) and it is really quiet. I forget what it is like when they aren’t home. Too quiet in ways….
Posted by Jerry in 15:19:33 | Permalink | Comments Off

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Demetrius – Chess Master

I found out something about the boy I didn’t know previously, that being he’s a bit of a chess fanatic.  I always thought he was ‘mirroring’ Geri’s Game (The Pixar Short that played before Monster’s Inc.) but no, he plays it on the computer at school all the time.

After his haircut yesterday, we went to Target and I went to get him a chess board and he says to me: “No daddy, Grandpa is bringing a chess board to the beach to play with me. Get me a computer game of chess.”  So I did.  He beat the computer at the  ‘novice’ level.  Intermediate gave him some trouble and he got frustrated and moved on to another game…but I’m kinda impressed.

My dad is a huge chess fan. I’m really not a board game guy (I like Risk once every blue moon), but looks like I am going to have to learn here being wedged in birthorder between two chess masters….

Bobby Fischer I aint…..

Posted by Jerry in 15:09:33 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kite Day At Abbotts Hill

Friday was kite day at Abbotts Hill Elementary School for the kindergartners. Here are some great pics (most of the great ones Nonni Cheryl took).

Me and Mackenzie’s mommy walking out to the playground (I’m carrying the Barbie kite)

Chaos begins once the kids come out. It was amazing to find out how many parents had never flown a kite before. This was their first time. You don’t get much wind in the Southeast, so it isn’t an experience that they do every spring.

Maya gets her kite up high in the air, as I look on…..

Letting out more rope to get the kite higher in the wind….

Grandpa taking over for Maya for awhile

Maya running with her kite

Maya’s friend Harrison.  You can only look at the sun so often….

My favorite picture of this set.  Jack is a friend of ours and friday was his birthday.  Check out his birthday hat, yellow shirt, plaid shorts and army fatigue wellies. Look to your lower left and see Maya trying to sneak into the photos. This is as classic a little boy photo as I’ve ever seen

Posted by Jerry in 14:46:23 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Big Trouble For Demetrius On A Wednesday

Has it been a couple of months? Lets see, February…March…April… it has been! Time for a trip to GA from grandparents!

Yesterday Nonni and Grandpa flew from Texas (I need to be fair here, Grandpa has meetings in Atlanta) and I picked them up and we all hit Casa Grasso at about 7pm.

As we are getting ready for dinner, Kim tells me about the interesting afternoon D, Maya and Kim had at a friend’s house. Where Demetrius broke a VCR (putting the tape in backwards); went out into the friend’s mini-van and tried to watch movies and then was caught climbing on furniture trying to pull DVDs down from a cabinet.

Of course, he caught heck from Kim, they left early and then Daddy got the story when we got home later in the evening.

So while the adults ate dinner and the children ate dessert, Demetrius got TV and computer time taken away from him (and he didn’t argue, fuss, whine, or cry, so he got it and knew what he did was wrong) and got fussed at by Daddy (he’d taken it from Kim already).

But it was so hard to keep a straight face as he would look across the table at his grandparents for ‘help’ and watch them ‘look away’ and to see them ‘suffer’ as this child, who rarely does anything wrong (don’t all grandparents think that about grandchildren?), get what’s coming to him. Grandpa and Demetrius, after the ‘TV at Patrick and Shannon’s Affair’ ended, went into the basement… Nonni handled it better (hey, she did more of the day to day rearing of kids…she knows I was a little shit a touch better than my dad remembers). But man, was it fun to watch.

It shouldn’t be a practice to enjoy ‘giving the boy hell’, but watching him try to work his grandparents while catching it, and watching them try to manage it, was a hoot.

Posted by Jerry in 15:32:22 | Permalink | Comments (1) »