Monday, May 31, 2010

Summertime Blues

I pulled a wet bathing suit out of the crack of my ass more than once this past weekend, which can only mean one thing...summer is officially here. I am not a fan. I hate feeling fat in my summer clothes, the constant shaving, the extreme heat and humidity, and chit-chatting with the neighbors. Which should tell you what a hairy, unsociable yeti-like creature I turn into during the winter months. Mmmmmm...winter.

I would never ever be seen in a bathing suit except for the fact that Audrey loves going to the pool, beach, or water park. It is just about the only activity that thoroughly knocks her on her ass so that she sleeps more than her usual amount, which is always no-more-no-less than precisely 10 hours. There are only 3 months to take advantage of it in these parts, so I feel that I have to suck it up/in for her benefit.

Audrey loves to go in the water, but also has a terrible fixation of watching other people come splashing down a water slide or jumping off of the diving board. She wants to stand there poolside watching the others while jumping up and down with excitement, and would do so for hours if I let her. A new wrinkle this year was that after watching the kids diving, she decided that she wanted to give it a try. This was a 1-meter springboard into 12 feet of water. She can't swim and there was no way that she would ever do it.

Whereas it seems to me that most typical kids are either total scaredy-cats or fearless daredevils, Audrey has this thing where she thinks she wants to do these really dangerous things, but doesn't really want or have the skills to do so. Sometimes I've had to go so far as to let her do something just to prove a point, but you can't do that with everything. One time she would not let me hold her back from running headlong into icy-cold Northern California surf, so I let her go. And she screamed her fool head off and was deathly afraid of it after that.

But I can only take it so far...I can't let her run into traffic just to prove to her that getting hit by a car really hurts. When she thinks that she wants to climb a tree that has a 10 foot circumference and whose lowest branch hangs about 15 feet off the ground, I say "go for it". And she'll walk over and sort of hug the trunk, and after a few seconds turn to me and say "help". And then get completely pissed off when I tell her that I can't.

So Saturday at the pool she was adamant about the diving board. We were with Lauren, who went so far as to ask the lifeguard if they would let her get into the diving well to catch her. Needless to say, I wasn't making that offer. They wouldn't let her though, and Audrey was thoroughly annoyed that she couldn't get in line with the other kids. This was another situation where it was difficult to let her go through with it just to prove that she would never actually do it. Had I done so, she would have climbed the ladder and maybe walked a couple of steps on the diving board, and then no doubt froze up and flipped out. Meaning that I would have had to elbow my way through the line of surly kids and shimmy my butt up there to get her down.

Once she recovered from her disappointment, Lauren managed to get her to jump off of the side of the 4-foot pool with the other 2-year olds. She had never even done that much before, so don't ask me why she thought she could go from zero to half-gainer without any stops in between. Such is the mind of an autistic child.

Well, I've survived Memorial Day weekend...only 152 days left til Halloween!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Da Limo Drivers

Audrey attends a private school that is about 25 miles away, and we are very lucky that our school district provides transportation. This past school year it was provided by a private limo company. That will change as of the upcoming summer session when she will be riding in a short-bus, but that is a story for another day. At the beginning of the school year, the company made an effort to send the same driver every day. Our first driver was Noor, who was awesome, and drove Audrey with enough regularity that he was the recipient of the obligatory Target gift card at Christmas. I was sure that he didn’t celebrate Christmas though, so I got him a gift card with snowflakes on it and put it inside a “Happy Winter” card, because, as his transition to a Gor-Tex turban would indicate, Chicago winters affect everyone equally regardless of your religion.

After the New Year though, we started getting a wider variety of drivers. There is Slava, the 300-pound Russian. Peter, who asked me to write him a reference after driving Audrey twice. Dan, who always rings the doorbell instead of waiting in the car no matter how early he is. And Cheryl-Lynn, whose wardrobe consists exclusively of too-tight terry-cloth sweatsuits and who has a stack of female empowerment books in the front seat for her downtime.

But our current favorite is Brian. Brian is one of those hyper-kinetic kind of guys who bounces on the balls of his feet and is constantly nodding. He says “Gotcha” as an affirmation and “You got it” instead of “OK”. He loves to bullshit about anything and everything, and has a put-upon tone no matter what the topic. He’ll say things like “Geez, I just got called to pick someone up at O’Hare” or “I gotta drive a buncha guys to the Cubs game tonight. Can you believe that?” Ummmm…since you are a limo driver…yes? He will hang out in our driveway and smoke a butt if he gets here especially early. When he called his dispatcher “Mohammed”, I found myself assuming that it was some sort of racial slur. I would later find out that the dispatcher really is named Mohammed. I feel like this is one of those “you might be a Chicago guy if…” kind of schticks. I haven’t seen him in any Chicago sports team regalia, but only because he dresses business formal for his job (see photo). And I'm sure, were I to ask, that he'd be quick with a recommendation for his favorite Italian beef/hot dog/coffee cake spot.

Brian has no clue about autism, but is always willing to follow directions from me that I'm sure make no sense to him whatsoever:
"Brian, could you make sure to warn Audrey ahead of time if you are going to take a different route?"
"You got it."
"She has this thing where she knows the route by heart, and it's kind of upsetting to her if you go a different way unexpectedly."

I don't always feel that I've been completely "gotten", but that's OK. He's a good guy, gets Audrey to school safely...and hopes that fachrissakes the Hawks don't blow it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Block Me Amadeus

Ever since I used Baby Mozart as a crutch to get us through dental work, Audrey has gotten re-addicted to this video. We’ve been through this before: I weaken and let her have something that I know is like crack to her, then she has to go through withdrawal all over again as it gets squirreled back away with all of the other forbidden fruit. So far, this system has worked fine. At worst I had to endure a couple of days of whining/DT’s, but she always got over it.

But as of a couple of weeks ago, I am no longer the sole supplier of her fix. She has discovered YouTube. If her favorite videos are like a drug, then YouTube is the giant crack house where the doors are always open and the drugs are always free.

I thought that I knew that you could find videos of just about anything on YouTube, but I didn’t really know it until Audrey started using it. She has managed to find videos of escalators going up and down, chicks hatching, snow globes spinning, some annoying Yoko Ono-like singer performing "Twinkle Twinkle" in primal scream mode, a hybrid video of the Teletubbies riding in the Wiggles’ Big Red Car, dirty Dora parodies, and countless other oddities. I'm quite sure that there is a video out there to indulge every autistic child's every obsession.

My first response was to use parental controls to block her from YouTube altogether, but I could not believe the obscure websites that she found to get around the system. One day I walked in the room to find her watching a video of a mother giving a review of Baby Mozart while the video played on her TV in the background. So I blocked her from that site. Then she found some Chinese website advertising Baby Einstein. Then it was the video sites within Google and Yahoo. Before I knew it, I had ten sites on the blocked list.

Our home-therapy consultant finally recommended that I not go the prohibition route, especially since she would have free access to YouTube on the computers at school. She suggested that we try a little shame game, although I'm sure that she never in a million years would call it that. She made a chart and wrote a social story distinguishing between videos that are for 2 years vs. 4 year olds vs. 6 year olds. You can see Audrey reading the story in the video below.

She doesn't even know some of the characters included, like Hannah Pootanna and Caillou. You could argue with some of our categorizations, but that would make you super weird. The important thing is that Baby Einstein is in the 2 year old column, and 6 year olds do not watch videos made for 2 year olds.

I don't think that shame works for autistic kids quite like it does for typical kids. The bigger hammer is that we just make her get off the computer immediately if we find her watching anything Baby Einstein-related. So far, so good, but like all recovering addicts she is having difficulty looking at herself in her Melissa-and-Doug-Decorate-Your-Own-Princess Mirror and admitting that she has a problem.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pass the Pinot #3: Loving Nanny More Than Mommy

I thought that I'd throw in a curve ball at this point. Most of these posts (wherein I'm going through the list of parenting stress-inducers as described in books written by parents of typical children, for those joining our program in progress) point out how much more difficult it can be to raise a special needs child. But, good is an example of a problem that I don't think we have at all. Hurray! At least nobody I know loses sleep at night (or gets hammered) over worrying that their child loves their nanny/babysitter/primary-caregiver-who-is-not-Mom better than Mom. Me thinks that perhaps the author of this book has spent a little too much time in the upper reaches of society/the San Fernando Valley. I think that even most typical parents I know would agree that this one can be filed under "Nice Problems to Have".

For parents of special needs children, the drinking comes into play during the search for someone who is willing and able to watch our kids. You would ideally like someone who has some familiarity with your child's disability, but would also like to not have to pay an arm and a leg. In the olden days when Audrey was under 3 and we were a part of a state-run early intervention program, we were granted some hours of "respite" and directed to an agency that could provide us with caregivers. The first candidate they sent had worked exclusively with the elderly and didn't know from autism. She let Audrey watch TV the entire time I was gone. Hey, it works for the old folks right? I guess I should be glad that she didn't strap her into her stroller and park her in front of the screen with the brake on. Candidate #2 was a rockabilly chick with too-short bangs and too-red lipstick that said her availability would be dependent on her packed calendar of hep-cat meetups, festivals and various happenings with her daddy-o, you dig? OK, third time's a charm. Candidate #3 was 19 years old and over 6 feet tall. In spite of her height, she seemed about 13. But when she told me that, unlike the previous two, she had experience babysitting autistic children, I was encouraged. In fact, she said that she loved babysitting for autistic kids. They were her absolute favorite. I should have stopped there, but I couldn't help but ask her what it was that she loved so much about it. "They're soooo great. One time this one kid I sat for licked a door knob for like 3 straight hours. And this other kid, he just like moved a garbage can back and forth the whole time. Babysitting autistic kids is like the easiest gig ever!" I guess I didn't need to leave the house that badly anyway.

I gave up on the agency and eventually did manage to find some help through the clinic where Audrey went for therapy. But even then I never worried about her loving her sitters more than me. I'm generalizing here, but I think that a lot of autistic children fall into one of two diametrically opposed camps: those that are super-attached to their parents and experience extreme separation anxiety when apart from them, and those that don't have strong emotional attachments at all. Either way, you're not snorting the cooking sherry over the thought that the babysitter is getting more love than you. Whew...what a relief! Finally something that I don't have to worry about.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My Favorite Things, Autism-Style

OK, I couldn't resist revisiting this. Audrey is actually learning how to play this song on the piano, and it's maybe been running through my head more than I thought because these verses came way too easily. I'm assuming that everyone knows the tune so feel free to sing out loud...uh one and uh two and uh...

Numbers and letters and mall escalators
Pushing the buttons on the store's elevator
Fountains and sprinklers and toilets flushing
These are a few of my favorite things

Gluten-full food that I'm not s'posed to eat
Smells that are nasty like poop, pits, and feet
Toys that are beeping, flashing, or spinning
These are a few of my favorite things

When the light's bright
When my ears ring
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Dora and Wiggles and Baby Einstein
Watching those shows til Mom loses her mind
Rocking and flapping and elbow pumping
These are a few of my favorite things

Bright shiny full moons and microwave ovens
Fridge doors and sewers and oak-tree-trunk-lovin'
Canadian geese and their stinky droppings
These are a few of my favorite things

When the light's bright
When my ears ring
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel soooooooo bad!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Staff Appreciation Week

For Staff Appreciation Week at school, we were asked to have our kids write something along the lines of "I like my teachers because (fill in the blank)". I decided to get ambitious and have Audrey complete one for each teacher and aide:

"I like Kristi because she plays with you." So far so good.
"I like Jarret because he plays the guitar." Excellent!
"I like Yvonne because she plays with you." OK, running out of ideas, but I can't argue with it.
"I like Aimee because she throws you in the sewer." OK, all done. Wait...WHAT?

My surprise lasted only a nanosecond, as I immediately realized that this must have to do with Audrey's aforementioned sewer obsession. Luckily I know Audrey (and the school) so well that it didn't even enter my mind that she might be referring to an exceedingly harsh form of timeout. I was surprised, however, that I didn't get a reaction when I sent her little tribute on to school. A few days later, I was on the phone with the teacher about another issue and couldn't help but bring it up. She laughed and said that, yes, this was a little game that Aimee and Audrey played. Audrey likes to throw things down the sewer grate, and Aimee kids her that she's going to throw her down there with the Ninja Turtles.

I'm sure that these teachers have seen it all as far as autistic kids and their fixations. I can't imagine a harder job, and I've always said that you have to be a very special kind of person to work with our kids. So maybe next year I'll go with a Starbucks gift card...or at least a written note from Audrey that is more suitable for her personnel file.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Avian Fever

Audrey quote of the day: "Look at all the goose poop!" We had our lawn aerated and she was shocked to see all of the turd-shaped dirt clods covering the lawn. She froze in place and I can just about guess what was going through her mind as she imagined the great flock of geese that it would have taken to produce such an output of crap. "Let me get this straight. Hundreds of geese descended on our lawn, and ours alone because I don't see any turds on any of the neighbors' lawns, and this once-in-a-lifetime euphoria-inducing event occurred while I was at school? Damn you, geese!"

She also told me, after seeing an IHOP commercial for their new cheesecake-sandwich-pancake-stackers, that she too wanted "whooping crane" on her pancakes from now on.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Audrey has taken to describing everything as "scary" lately. It definitely pushes a button with me because she does have a lot of anxiety, and I try to nip these things in the bud as much as possible before they progress into full-blown irrational fears. If I don't stay on top of it, I can end up with a kid that won't cross the threshold of a room with something green in it, or play a certain key on the piano, or allow us to pause the TiVo, without reacting like someone's coming at her with a goalie mask and a hatchet. I can live without the color green or her becoming a piano prodigy, but the TiVo is staying sister.

I'm not going to be played for a sap, like when she described her occupational therapy sessions as scary. And then there was this yesterday, "I think paying attention to the teachers at school is a little bit scary." Riiiiight.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pass the Pinot #2: The Milestone Olympics

The competition amongst parents is indeed fierce. One of the most humbling and depressing experiences of my life was joining a new mothers group shortly after Audrey was born. Her autism wouldn’t be diagnosed for more than a year, but we were already running behind the competition.
Is she crawling yet? Is she pulling herself up yet? Is she walking yet? Is she saying any words? How many words? How many word sentences? Is she sleeping through the night? How many hours? One nap or two? What height percentile is she in? Still breastfeeding? Baby food or table food? Potty trained? For #1 and #2? Pull-up at night?
I guess that's what new mommy groups are for, but it's really only fun for the over-achievers in the group. Or that may just be my jaundiced view from the bottom of the heap. Audrey was late with every milestone from the very beginning: rolling over, pointing, clapping, crawling, walking. She even got "held back" for the first time before she was even one year old. When the group became too big, it was split between the first and second halves of the birth year. Audrey should have gone with the older kids from the first half of the year, but we went with the second-half crowd. When even those kids (some of whom were as much as 8 months younger than her) started walking before her, I was officially done. If these were the Olympics, then we were the Jamaican bobsled team. Hey, somebody's got to come in last.

Of all gripes in the typical parenting books, this is the one where the gulf is the widest between typical and special needs parents. In most cases, typical parents are not nagged by these questions for very long before their child does meet the milestone in question. For special needs parents, they may never be it's a little bit more than a glancing blow to be on the receiving end of such inquiries. Audrey didn’t crawl until she was 19 months old, and didn’t walk until she was nearly 2 years old. She did not have a physical disability and I had no reason to think that she wasn't going to walk eventually, but that didn't stop me from convincing myself of just that. It seems so stupid now, but it was the longest year of my life waiting for her to walk.

The baby and toddler years are finally behind us, but the competition isn't. We'll probably never be completely free of gross motor-related hurdles (sports, ugh), but the emphasis has already shifted more towards the academic...and here is where we will get a little payback. Audrey wasn't just sitting on her diapered ass doing nothing for two years. She was teaching herself how to read and memorizing every sentence she ever saw. They stopped testing her reading skills this year when they got to the 3rd grade level. Maybe it's finally my turn for a little bragging rights. We may still be Jamaican, but it's the Summer Olympics now bizzotches.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fun with Echolalia

ech·o·la·li·a (ĕkˌō-lāˈlē-ə) noun: The immediate and involuntary repetition of words or phrases just spoken by others, often a symptom of autism or some types of schizophrenia
This is the textbook definition. I would take exception to "just" part, as Audrey is capable of repeating conversations from years ago and scripting out television episodes that she hasn't watched in ages. Much of Audrey's speech is derivative, and sometimes it feels like a 24/7 pub trivia contest around here as I try to figure out where her lines are from.

The TV cartoon quotes are kinda cute and pretty easy to identify. Quotes from commercials are wild cards and not always when she told her Dad this weekend that he had a saggy diaper. And not unlike typical parents, we live in mortal fear of profanity. As much as I'd like to, I can't blame Dora for everything. Then there are the less profane but just as damning lines that everyone within earshot knows came from you, like when Audrey yelled at me in the middle of a crowded park, "You're making me mental!" Stay classy Mom.

But the best, as in the most useful, form of echolalia is when she is recounting things that happened during her school day. I get a daily note from school that relates the highlights of their activities and what goals they worked on and Audrey will answer direct questions about her day, but I don't always get as many details as I would like. So when I pick up on her saying the name of her teacher or a classmate, I definitely start listening in.

Last week she was cracking herself up as she was "reminiscing" about something funny that happened at school that day. Her teacher's name is Kristi. The rest of the kids names have been changed to protect the young and the pantless:
Hi Kristi. Hi Kristi. Hi Kristi. Hi Kristi. We only say hi once, Joey. NO NO NO Alex! Keep your pants on! When Josh gets upset, he loses his points. Matthew says "When's the guitar?" STOP! We need to walk. Kristi says you cannot hit the teachers.
I learned more in that short little burst than I had from months of teacher's notes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Dancing To a Different Drummer

Steve asked me if Audrey was the worst kid in the dance recital, and I thought, well...yeah, I suppose she was. But she was definitely the best (=only) autistic kid there. She kept drifting off of her "floor sticker" but only because she was concentrating so hard on imitating the teacher's moves. She tries so hard, and it's clear that she absolutely loves it. So we will definitely be signing on for another session. Unfortunately her sweetie-pie teacher Miss Louise will not be returning. I hope that she is replaced by someone as patient and accepting as she was. Lauren had Audrey write her a thank-you card in which she spelled her name Miss much better than the lame bouquets that the other suck-ups brought!

Starting out pretty well...just a beat or two behind.
Don't be laughing at me...I'd like to see you chasse your fat ass up here, Mom.
Finally something I can do with ease...with a glance over to my proud mama.
The grand finale...40 minutes in and getting a little tired and tangle-footed.

Down in the Mouth

I had my wisdom teeth out and have been laid out ever since. Unfortunately, Baby Mozart does not do the trick for me as far as dental work goes. I am so miserable. And because I am a total hypochondriac, I have had everything from a perforated sinus cavity to tetanus to the spinal-moanin'-Jesus in the past week. I'm flat on my back (so difficult to type in this position) and last night when I did a vigorous mouth rinse I swear Listerine came shooting out my nose and ears. Something is definitely not right up there. My oral surgeon is not returning my calls. I initialed about 50 things on a waiver before the procedure so I guess he figures his ass is covered.

I dragged my sorry butt to Audrey's ballet recital Wednesday night. I was staggering in and out of the room in a fevered haze, while Audrey drifted around the room in her usual haze. Between the two of us, I'm sure that we are in everyone's videos of their little darlings. Oh well, I thought that she did and video to come as soon as I work up the energy to find my camera.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there, especially my sisters in the special needs army.

Mothering a special needs child can feel like a thankless job, so my hope for all of you is that someone in your life was able to make you feel appreciated...especially if your child isn't able to.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Baby's First Cavities

Audrey had her first cavities filled today. I've been dreading this since last month, when she had her first teeth cleaning in two years and we got the bad news that she had not one, but two cavities. We've been trying to prep her, but even the usually money social stories didn't seem to be working their magic. She had a particularly bad day yesterday, and was already digging in her heels last night about going. So I had to pull out the big guns...Baby Einstein DVD's.
I'm embarrassed to say that Audrey still loves these videos. I use them in only the most dire of emergencies -- blood draws, bone settings, Mom needing precisely 28 minutes curled up in the fetal position under her bed -- and now cavity fillings. On the (thankfully) rare occasions that I have to pull one of these out, I am taunted by the 3+ label on the case. That's months, not years people. Months. How old did she just turn?
We had one appointment this morning and another scheduled in two weeks, assuming that we were only able to get one cavity filled at a time. I didn't think that either she or I were going to be able to be dragged backed after today, so I was hellbent on a two-fer. And if watching a video of a disembodied hand putting shapes into a puzzle while a stuffed bear blows bubbles over spinning tops and floating candles gives us a better chance at success, who I am to stand on pride? And indeed, I am happy to report that both cavities got filled in one go.

The patient gets prepped. After our last appointment, we were sent home with a bubblegum-scented nozzle for her to practice breathing through. Very important because she was getting bubblegum-scented laughing gas through it.

Looking at this picture, I'm even more shocked that we made it through. If you could see her eyes, they were trained upwards on the video screen hanging from the ceiling.

I'll never understand why medical people think it's a good idea to walk you through every little thing. I'm pretty sure that she could have done without seeing herself looking like a cross between a circus clown and that tentacle-faced dude from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pass the Pinot #1: Everyone's an Expert

So here's the first installment in a series covering the annoyances as depicted in the lush-y parenting books that I've read. First up is dealing with overbearing know-it-alls that dole out unsolicited parenting advice. This is a common one, especially for first-time parents. Everyone thinks that they are an expert and that it's perfectly fine to lay their pearls of wisdom on you. Complete strangers who won't even tell you that you are about to drive away with your $7 Pomegranate Pick-Me-Up smoothie with a wheatgrass energy shot on the roof of your car, have no problem telling you how to raise your child.

The problem is that a lot of people have kids. And they think that this alone qualifies them to proselytize to you. It's one thing if it's a relative or someone that you know giving the advice. At least you have some idea of how their kids turned out. But in the case of strangers, how do I know that Sonny-boy isn't some mother-hating sociopath doing time in juvie hall? Even if they are well-meaning, no one wants to hear it. Just the fact that someone felt compelled to give you advice in the first place probably means that your child wasn't behaving well, so you were already having a bad day.

For parents of a child with autism, this experience moves beyond the annoying and into soul-crushing territory. As annoying as these buttinskis are to typical parents, at least they have for the most part walked in your same shoes. Special needs parents are just as frequently, if not more so, subjected to unsolicited advice, but usually the person has no idea that their child is afflicted or, even if they do, they know absolutely nothing about autism. And what we get is usually not so much advice as judgment along the lines of “Why can’t you control your kid?” It is not uncommon for members of our own families to shunt aside the opinions of professionals and helpfully make their own diagnosis: “Autism, schmautism. He’s just a brat that needs a swift kick.” Of course, people of a certain age think that pretty much everyone on the planet that is not acting as they think they should be just needs a boot in the ass, including your typical kids, my autistic kid, the idiot driving in front on them, and pretty much anyone on their TV screen. I've learned to write off their crotchety "you kids get off of my lawn" brand of criticism. The stuff that really hurts is the judgment of other mothers of typical kids who seems to think that their child's angelicness vs. my child's disruptiveness is solely the result of their superior parenting abilities. And when I think about it, they usually don't actually have the nerve to say something straight to your face. They either give you a smug, pitying look, or pull my favorite passive-aggressive move of telling their child not to do something that your child is doing. "No Caden, we use our inside voice." "Sweetie, honeypot, sugar-ass, we play nicely."

And I think, "We would really like to hurt you very badly right now." Maybe the old farts aren't so bad after all.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Audrey's Favorite Things

So I've already mentioned a few of Audrey's current obsessions: Canadian geese, sticking credit card-like objects into slots, and snacking on my toiletries, none of which show any sign of abating. Especially the geese. Oh Lord, the geese. It got me to thinking that I should really take an inventory of all of them that have come and gone. I certainly wouldn't want to risk forgetting any of them come scrapbooking time. I'm not going to bother including the obvious ones like electronic toys that light up and make sounds, computer games/websites, or TV shows, because I'd like to finish this post before the end of the month.

I'm not sure that a list, no matter how long, could ever convey the torment that comes along with these fixations. Every child has things that they like to do/play with/watch ad nauseum, but I always know when we have crossed over from a quirky little affinity into fatal attraction when Audrey is unable to be separated from the object of her affection without a meltdown that goes way beyond the norm.

So, with apologies to Julie Andrews, here are a few of her favorite things, past and present:
Watching escalators
Opening and closing refrigerator and cabinet doors
Making automatic doors (at the grocery store, Target, etc) open and close
A foam block with the word "funny" written on it
Messing with the telephone until she hears the operator recording
Setting the timer on the microwave so that she can see it flash "END" when the time's up
Flushing toilets
Smearing liquid soap in her hair
Taking one bite of an apple and putting it back
Thwapping that springy doorstop thingy on the baseboard
Watching fountains, sprinklers, and any other water in motion
Throwing rocks down/looking at sewers
The hot pink My Little Pony (Starcatcher? Rainbow Tiddly Winks? Princess McRufflebutt?) as opposed to the light pink or medium pink or purply-pink ones

And with that, I am off to try to find some sewer-themed scrapbooking paper...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Bad Idea

Audrey started loving me up today, and I noticed that she had a weird smell on her breath and that her tongue was white. She had just come down from some unsupervised upstairs-time, and when I asked her what she had eaten she said, "Dry Idea". Nice.

Audrey is under the misapprehension that most toiletries are edible, and that there is a 50-50 chance that they are either buttercream frosting or bismarck custard. She hasn't figured out that I don't store tubes of pastry filling in my nightstand. Anymore.

The odd thing is that she totally doesn't recoil in horror at the taste. She has ingested hand lotion, liquid soap, sunscreen, and now anti-perspirant. I'm sure that it has to do with some kind of sensory confusion, where apparently the fact that the texture is a close facsimile to something savory is good enough for her. I, however, almost wretched just from the incidental taste I got off of her cheek. And I'm still have trouble manufacturing saliva.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Scared Sober by 20/20

Did anyone else watch last night? Pretty sad and scary stuff. It’s easy to joke about your kids getting on your nerves so bad that you need to knock back a cocktail or five, but on the other hand, imagine trying to maintain all of your parental responsibilities while almost constantly under the influence. Yeah, I guess if you were half in the bag all of the time you’d cease to be stressed by the more irritating of your kids’ behaviors, but you’d also never be able to keep track of anything. I can barely remember which day it is and I’m sober…is it show-and-tell day? Is there a permission slip I’m supposed to send back? Did I forget to pick her up somewhere?

I’ve been a non-drinker my whole life, and have only just recently begun to enjoy an occasional (half) glass of wine. On the show last night, they said that for most of these mothers wine was their drink of choice. Uh oh. I’d better rein in my out-of-control drinking habit before I start hiding bottles in boots.

I feel like I've been explaining my non-drinking for my whole life. Which goes to show you how much everyone else drinks if I'm always the one having to explain myself.
When I was in high school, I had to pretend that I was drinking and that I enjoyed it. I remember one time pretending to swig from a bottle of Boone’s Farm and my friend Suellen busting me on it. She was so pissed that I was diluting her ghetto wine with my backwash.
During college and the rest of my twenties, I stopped caring what anyone thought and, if asked why I didn’t drink, I just said that I didn’t like it. I thought of it as my cool alternative lifestyle.
Beginning in my thirties, people started assuming that I was a recovering alcoholic. Especially the half of my thirties that were spent living in Amsterdam. The Europeans could not fathom any other reason for not drinking. They would give me a pitying look, a supportive pat on the shoulder, and helpfully inform me that they had 12-step programs over there too.
Now in my forties, if asked I say, “If I started now, I would never stop.” And no further explanation is necessary. I get a knowing smile and a “tell me about it”. Some things are better with age...and Boone's Farm isn't one of them.