Simple trip to the Zoo

Tuesday was an exciting day for my five year old son. It was the big field trip to the zoo. For the last few weeks he had talked about “zoo day.”  We had spent hours looking at pictures of the different animals he would see there and learning the different sounds they made. He was excited and I was excited for him.

The permission slip was signed and his lunch was packed and the school had agreed to let his aid go with him. So on Tuesday he got up and got ready and out the door he went.  I dressed our other little ones and dropped them off to preschool and headed to the zoo. 

It was raining some but not enough to ruin the day. Wild man loves to play on the rain anyways so it did not even phase him.  He was all smiles.  He walked in between me and his aid “Ms T” and pointed out to everyone that his momma and baby sister was there.   He engaged well with the questions his aid asked him about the animals and he was eager to share his knowledge of his favorite ones.   My heart could not have been more full. 

He loved the giraffes
 

His class was given tickets to feed the giraffes.  I was not allowed (safety measures for the animals) to take the stroller passed a certain point, so he and Ms T went with the class so he could take his turn feeding the giraffe.  Pure joy came across his face as the giraffe took the carrot from his hand.  He clapped and jumped and smiled from ear to ear.  Life was good. 
When it was time for lunch we made our way over to the picnic tables so that the class could eat together.  The teacher and other staff passed out the brown bagged lunches the school sent and passed out the lunches the parents had sent.   My son sat patiently ( well as patiently as he can) waiting on his lunch.  The teacher asked me several times what I had sent his lunch in.  I replied, “I sent his green camouflage lunch box. The same lunch box he has used all year.”  They looked and looked and then sent someone to the bus to see if it was with another classes lunch.  The teacher then came over and looked at my son and asked him(and me) if he had taken it out of his backpack that morning.  My son’s reply “backpack backpack backpack” while clapping his hands in shear delight.  She then looks at me and says, “Well if he didn’t take it out of his backpack then it’s not here. We are working on teaching him to do things like that on his own.”  “We have an extra school lunch he can have if he wants.”  
Mad is an understatement.  First off, my son is still new to the “regular kindergarten room”. He goes to the regular room half a day and then to his autism classroom the other half and he has only been doing this about two months. He is still getting use to the idea and still learning the day in and day out routine of how things are done in a regular classroom. Second, he takes his lunch to school EVERYDAY because he has sensory issues that prevent him from eating “normal foods”.  Third, I get that they are trying to teach him to be independent however if you know he brings his lunch everyday would it have hurt to check his backpack that morning to make sure he took it out especially if you know he is still forgetting to take it out of his backpack?  I understand that the morning was most likely filled with chaos as the children were excited about the trip, but he is the only autistic child in the class one extra step would have changed the whole outcome of the day.   

We declined the lunch from school.  I am sure that the ham and cheese sandwich was delicious but my son does not eat meat. I do appreciate the teacher giving him her chips from her Subway meal she brought, I do really but I could tell she was not happy about it.   As I looked at him and then looked at all the other children eating their lunch I became aggravated.  This is Exactly why I was worried about him being placed in a regular classroom.  He looks normal and people overlook his abilities and lack of abilities.  But the truth is he is not like all kids his age.  What if I had not been there? Would anyone even noticed that he did not have a lunch?  

I seen the meltdown coming so I walked over to the little consession stand and paid $12 for two orders of nachos and cheese and two juices, one for him to eat and one for me to eat so he would understand it was safe to eat.  As I walked back over to the table I received the “we were told  to pack a lunch” head shakes and glares from some of the other parents while a few of the other kids wanted to know why my son got special treatment and got to eat from the consession stand when they were told they were not allowed.  At the end of the thirty minute lunch I was ready to scream.     

His aid was overly apologetic. She felt terrible that his lunch and been left at school.   She was sorry and I believed her. She went as far as to text my sons other teacher (the one in his autism classroom) to let her know he would need a snack when he got back to class. She could tell I was upset because my son was upset with the events that had taken place.  
As I left the zoo to pick up my preschoolers from class, my son was walking around with Ms T looking at the monkeys.  He was back to his happy go lucky self and I was thankful, still mad but thankful. 

As a mom I worry about things like this all the time. Is he being well cared for while at school? Is he making friends? Are other kids picking on him? Is he really adjusting to the new class or are they just overlooking him?  

And while I want to be mad(I am still pretty ticked) I am going to remember this day as a day my son played with the giraffes and talked to the zebras.  Yes we had a meltdown and people stared but at this point on our autism journey I don’t care.  It’s part of our life.  The smiles and laughs that day far outweigh the forgotten lunch. 
From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s not the situations that make us it’s how we react to them that shape us.

JR’s Office

In honor of autism awareness month, this is my breakfast nook aka JR’s office. This is where he retreats when he needs his own space. This is where he keeps all of his “treasures”. Currently his treasures include: An empty pizza box, his lunchbox of Five Nights of Freddy’s action figures, a Green Bay Packer football, Lego’s, matchbox cars, his dads #2 hat, his photo album his preschool teachers made him before we moved, his Valentine’s Day robot, his snack chart, and some old worksheets from school. It may not look like much to you but to him it’s everything. This is autism. This is our life. This is his world. So happy to be apart of it ❤️💙. 

My Great-Grandma

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

 

Last week in small group we discussed wisdom.  We were all asked a simple question, Who is/was the wisest person you know?  As we went around the table we all answered the question and gave reasons as to why we thought the person we chose was wise.  We then watched a video with a message out of James.  At the end of the video we were asked again who was the wisest person we knew?  My answer stayed the same: My Great- Grandma.

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My Beautiful Great-Grandma
Man what I would  give to have one more talk with her.  But I must say I am blessed.  You see my Great-Grandma lived to be 102.  She was born in 1903 and passed away two weeks after her birthday in 2005.  I was fortunate to have her around my enter childhood and then into my adult years.    So in honor of her and her always welcomed wisdom this post is about her.

 

Grandma was a firecracker.  She loved the Lord, and her family with every ounce she had.  She loved to sing praises to our Lord while she cooked or washed dishes.  I remember going to my mamaw’s after grandma moved in with her and hearing the two of them singing songs like, “I’ll Fly Away”, “What a Day that Will Be”, ” How Great thou Art” and “Mansion over the Hilltop” while in the kitchen.  Those songs still ring in my mind as I do the dishes and cook for my own family now.  She always had a warm hug and smile to greet us as we walked in. And there was always food on their table just in case someone stopped by.  She was a homemaker, wife, mother to seven children, grandmother to 29, great-grandmother to 51, and great-great grandmother to 20 (that’s where my two oldest fell in). She was a sister and she was a friend.

She lived through so much while here on earth.  She lost her leg at a young age but that never slowed her down.  I remember one visit with her where my oldest son, maybe three at the time, went to climb up on her lap so he could get some candy, she always had candy.  I told him to be careful and she looked at me and said, “He can’t hurt this old wooden leg(as she knocked on her prosthetic leg), let him get up here and help me eat this candy”  My son laughed and climb on up.  From that day on, every time he went to climb on her lap he knocked on her leg to made sure it was the “old wooden one” and every time she would laugh and say, “yep that’s it now come on up we have M&M’s to eat.”  Her love for my kids, and all of her grand-kid’s was unconditional.  She never complained about not having her leg, she only gave praise to God for allowing her to be where she was at.

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my son and grandma at one of her birthday parties
When I got pregnant at the age of 18, she did not turn her back on me.  While others thought I was way to young, heck I thought I was too young, she never judged me. Many turned their backs on me, she comforted me and let me know things would work out.  She never stopped loving me.  She told me not to worry what the world or other people thought of me, that if this baby was on her way then she was meant to be.  “God does not make mistakes” When I told her I was naming my daughter after her, she made me promise to never call her “Lizzy” like so many people called her. I personally don’t think she liked the nickname but she never said a word.  “Always call her Elizabeth, there’s power in that name young lady…power” she said. And you know what, she was right.  She taught me so many life lessons in the kind caring way only a grandmother can.  If she could only see baby girl now, I know she would be proud.  22, graduating college, moving off to find her place in God’s big plan.  We did good grandma we did good.

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my daughter, my great-grandma, and me
I wonder what she would think about the path we have chosen?  I wonder what she thinks about all the new great-great grand-babies I have added to her legacy?  I wish they could have met her and shared a piece or two of chocolate with her.  I hope when she looks down from heaven I make her happy.   She helped install a love for others in my heart, a love that ultimately led me to become a foster to adopt parent.  I can only hope and pray I became half the woman she was.

 

Her laughter was contagious.  Her heart always full of love.  Her advise always welcomed.  Her stories and jokes always left you wanting more. She always called me baby girl, maybe that’s why I still call Sie baby girl.  Oh, what I would give to have her hug me one more time and tell me things will be alright.

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my babies, great-grandma and me

She loved to cook.  She loved to quilt.  She loved to swing on the front porch and watch the cars go by.  She loved to watch the neighbors come and go. She loved to clean and cut up Ramps for meals in the spring time, then laugh because she thought she stunk.  She loved to see others succeed in life.  She loved to provide comfort when life throw curve balls.  Her hands had made thousands of meals, wiped away billions of tears, and cradled many.  She loved flowers, and watching the rain.  She loved to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.  She loved me.

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The last kiss she gave my at her 102nd birthday party, 2 weeks before she was called to heaven.  I am so thankful I have this photo to remember it by.
The last time I visited her she was laying in a hospital bed.  The nurses and doctors said she was in a deep sleep, coma, and that she come not hear us.  My mamaw, a few of her siblings, and I sat around her bed.  A group of singers came to the room and asked if they could come and sing for her.  Someone asked if they knew any gospel songs, to which they replied yes.  As the group sang and all of us in the room joined in, I saw my great-grandmother’s mouth move slowly.  And I smiled.  Even though the nurses said it was a muscle reaction, I know my she was singing with us one last time.  I know she was. After we sang a few songs it was time for me to go pick up my kids from school.  I kissed her forehead softly and told her I would be back later that evening.  By the time I got the kids picked up and dropped back off to my aunts, she was gone.

 

I am thankful I got to sing one last song with her, I am thankful for all she taught me, I am thankful that despite me flaws she loved me anyway.  I am thankful she was mine. I hope you are pleased with the way I have turned out. Baby girl loves you always, until we met again.

 

From our beautiful chaos to yours, take a walk down memory lane every now and then.  Its good for the soul.

Autism Awareness Month…Why My Son will never be Accepted 

Unless you live under a rock you know by know that April is Autism Awareness Month. Many people will be “supporting” awareness by making donations to local organizations or wearing their blue shirts or bragging about how they “one time helped an autistic child carry books to their class” on social media.  And while all of that is well and good, as an autism mom here is what I would have you do if I could. 
I want you to see my son through my eyes.  He is just a child. A wonderful little boy. Treat him as such!

My boy cheering on our favorite football team💛💚🏈

Don’t whisper things like “I bet life at home is hard with that one.” Or “She should bust his ass, my child would never act that way in public” Or the all famous “Control your kid, what a terrible mother she must be” line.   First off life at our home is just fine. At home our son is not judge for his actions that are out of his control, he has autism he does not see things they way you or I do therefore his behavior is different. Second, I’m thrilled your child behaves for you while you are out where everyone can see.  Truly I am. As for me, I don’t get to pick when or what will cause my son to have a meltdown, but I know busting his ass will Not make the situation any easier on any of us.  And third, I am controlling my kid, trust me on this one.

Me and my little guy enjoying some playtime a few years back

Don’t stare at him at the playground or make your children play somewhere else. As his mom all I want is for him to have the best childhood he can, just like you want for your child.  And while he will not notice that you are pointing at him and shaking your head…. I will notice.  He will not see that you quickly gathered your children up and moved them away from the swings and over to the sandbox…..but I will see and it hurts.  Playgrounds are suppose to be safe places where children can be just that… kids. Please help me help me child be “just a kid” for just a few minutes out of the day.

Wild man and his Papaw laughing at one of his airplane video’s

Don’t ask me if I’ve tried this or that to help with his eating habits or his outburst.  I know you mean well, I do, but autism is my life 24/7 if we thought it could help we have tried it.  As his mom do I want to see my almost six year old eat only yogurts, Barbecue potato chips, and stage two Gerber peas, the answer is no. Babies don’t even want to eat stage two peas. But I want him to eat so we take what we can get.  We have tried dairy free diets and gluten free diets and we have taken ideas from them and other diets to come up with what works best for him.

Wild man loved to pet sit Bacon Bit more than anything

“Why is he still not toilet trained, there is no way I would be changing crap diapers at his age.  If he can pee in the toilet he can poop in it”.  There again if it were your son and he needed you to change his diaper at the age of 6 or at 30 you would do so, because you love him just as I love my son.  And no just because he can pee in the toilet (most days) does not mean he can poop in it. With his limited diet he does not “poo” like everyone else. It’s hard and painful for him.  And before you ask, yes he is on medicine to help and he still only goes once every 8 to 10 days.  Autism moms are painful poo experts.

Me and my boy doing what he loves best
Game day. Go Pack Go

You should take him out more places, that way he would learn how to behave around others”. Don’t you think I want to take my child out? I want more than anything to be able to go to the store or out to eat as a family without the noise or the lights sending him into a major meltdown. I want to take him to an amusement park to ride rides but know the crowd and the lines would overstimulate him and led to more harm than good.  I want to enjoy family get togthers and family reunions just as much as the next person, but I know as soon as he tries to get a snack that he saw hanging out of cousin Karries bag things will get heated because those were not his but for her daughter and she does not want to share.  They will not care that he does not understand personal space or personal belongs. I know school plays and class parties are to much for him, and seeing all of the other kids enjoy them hurts. I want a normal life for him but know his limitations better than anyone.  So I stay home where I know he is safe.

Morning cuddles with this guy ❤️

My son hates clothes so if you get offended by an almost six year old running around in our house in only a pull-up or underwear, please do use a favor and don’t come around.  He has to keep clothes on while he is at school or at church, but as soon as he is home he knows he is safe and the clothes come off. Sensory issues at their finest. Remember this is his home not yours. My job as his mom is to make him feel safe, especially at his house. I’m not trying to be mean but I use up all my patience and love on him (and our other kiddos) I don’t have time to entertain your ignorance about my sons disabilities. If it bothers you don’t come around. You can just call.  You can always reach me on the phone and this will be less hurtful for all of us.

My son is not unruly or a mistake or nuisance or the monster-child uneducated society portrays him as.  He is a sweet, loving, adorable kid that I’m blessed to have call me “momma”  

In Our world we celebrate autism awareness every month, every day, and every minute. I do appreciate the thought of bringing awareness to something that many people deal with day in and day out but the fact is this my son will never be accepted in the social norm of things and that is something I am still trying to process and accept myself. He is loud and he chirps at different things. He looks just like any “normal child” but his meltdowns set him apart. He screams. He sits and lines cars up for hours while he rocks in place. He talks about the same airplanes for hours.  He has a room “his office” where, although a cluttered mess, he knows where every lego or every piece of paper is because they are ALL his “treats” aka treasures.  He plays on his tablet more than I’m sure you think he should, but that keeps him engaged for more than two minutes, in his games and videos he is in control of his otherwise out of control world.  He is so smart and so funny, his laugh lights up my world more than a few times daily.  He did not choose this life but it is what was given to him and he is making them most of it. So as an autism mom I ask this of you.  The next time you see a child don’t be so quick to judge their behavior. If you know a family who has an autistic child offer to watch their child so they can go out to dinner or on a date with their spouse. Encourage not discourage your own child to play with them, laugh with them and be friendly with them. Treat that child with love and respect just as you treat other kids.  Kids with autism are just like other kids trying to make it in this difficult world. They just have to find a way as unique as they are.

My autism awareness 💙

Buying a tshirt or donating money to an organization is great, but getting it actually know someone with autism is a much brighter beautiful action.  And by doing so it could just be the first step to making our world a better place for everyone to live it.   

So this month I will flood my social media with facts about autism and pictures of my amazing little guy in the hopes that one, just one person takes the “awesomeness” to heart and takes time to actually get to know someone with autism.  They might be surprised to see just how bright that person shines.     

From our beautiful chaos to yours God does not create junk. We are all beautifully made in His image. Remember that. Much love

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