Sleeping Beauty or That Girl Can Fall Asleep Anywhere

I wrote this post nearly two years ago. But “girl sleeping” seems to be a frequent search term, because it pops up in my stats as “viewed” at least twice a week. Even two years later, she still falls asleep anywhere and everywhere. She is a super busy girl, and goes and goes until she drops, and/or we have meltdown. This is her, this is part of her story…..I thought I’d re-share since it gets hits pretty frequently.  Happy Weekend!

So, the Princess has been a wee bit ignored lately what with March for Babies focusing our thoughts on Big Man’s prematurity,  and it being Autism Awareness Month turning our minds towards Little Man and his stuff. I’m here to remedy that this afternoon.

This girl can fall asleep anywhere, and she usually does. She hated napping and going to bed when she was an infant and toddler. She would fight it tooth and nail. She didn’t want to be held to fall asleep. She preferred her bouncy seat, exersaucer, crib, pack-n-play…anywhere but in someone’s arms. She just didn’t particularly like to sleep where or when you expected her to sleep. This made for some interesting discoveries, especially after she learned how to climb out of her crib (at a ridiculously young age for my liking, mind you). She would go and go and go, until she dropped wherever she was, and I mean that literally. We have video of her sound asleep, and snoring, laying up the stairs. We have photos of her hanging half off her bed, on her back. I have pictures of her sleeping pretty much everywhere. Some samples: IMG_0074 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

across her pillow across recliner after beach after slumber party after soccer arms across e in the car booster sleeping on the stairs

I’ll give her this…in almost all of the above photos, we were either at the beach, at soccer, skiing, or at dance before she passed out and photos were taken.

Nowadays, if you put her in the car for more than five minutes, she’s out. You would think that with all the time she and I spend in the car together, we would get some good mother/daughter, one-on-one time. Not so much. She falls asleep on the way to the studio and on the way home from the studio. It is rather entertaining to watch her head start to bob, and then we hit the curvy road and she falls over. She doesn’t even try to fight it anymore. Airplane to DC? She was out before we were over Arizona.  On the way home, I don’t even think she made it to takeoff. It’s kind of her thing now, part of her story.  Seems almost appropriate – I call her Princess, and she could qualify as Sleeping Beauty. That girl can sleep anywhere.

Is it over yet?

I know I’m not alone in saying I can’t wait for this election to be over. It’s gotten so ugly out there. I’ve unfollowed so many people in the last few months. I’m now  a pro at hitting that little downward arrow in the upper right corner of posts. Good grief. I haven’t unfollowed just the people supporting the “other” candidate either. It’s been across the board unfollowing. I can’t take it anymore.

There was an interesting segment on 60 Minutes last night with a panel of voters – decided, and undecided, voting for someone, and voting against someone. The person doing the interviewing – a man who’s been doing this a very long time – said he’s never seen anything like this, the way everyone on the panel was talking over each other, getting so angry, not listening to anyone else at all. It was a sad statement on our society.

I’d been blaming it on the 24-hour news cycle. The media has to hype even the smallest scandals or slip-ups, drawing them out, sucking the life out of every little thing, then re-hash it for days. I do think it’s contributed to our elections becoming a three-ring circus, full of mud-slinging, half-truths, insults, and a complete loss of integrity.

What I’ve come to realize in the course of the last year is that social media is just as much, if not more, to blame. First of all, social media is the biggest rumor mill outside of high school. Ever play the telephone game? Multiply that times oh, about 3 billion or so. Everyone  has a platform, a public voice. Too many people choose to exercise that voice without ever fact checking what they’re repeating or re-posting. It’s so easy to sling insults from behind the safety of a keyboard and computer screen – when you never have to see the person you’re sending a bunch of horrible words towards. I’ve watched long-term friendships go down in flames over stupid Facebook posts within the last year.

I have two teenagers and one almost-teenager. They’re very aware what’s going on. We don’t censor much.  I’ve watched the behavior of kids their age spiral back to a place we’ve worked so hard to crawl out of….This election  has led too many kids to believe it’s okay to say horrible things, write horrible things about those who are different in any way. We’ve shut it down with our children – reminding them this is just NOT okay behavior, and won’t be tolerated no matter what they see being accepted as the norm around them. It’s sad, and it’s heartbreaking.

I can’t wait for tomorrow to be over, for this election to be done. I have a bad feeling all the bad feelings aren’t going to end, however, with the end of this election cycle. I pray this isn’t how people are going to be from here on out. I pray we will be able to heal, recover, re-group, and support whomever is elected. Until then, I think I’m going to just hide over here in my little corner of the world, with my family, my friends,  and some chocolate. Tell me when it’s over.

PS…Yes, I did vote.

We look a little different

I took Little Man with me to church this morning. It’s been awhile since he’s been with me. Quite honestly, it’s often easier to leave him at home. I can worship and listen without having to worry about him, or handle an outburst or meltdown. But today, he chose to go with me rather than the gym with dad.

I’ll admit – we just look a little different than most families. First off – I don’t battle his clothing choices much. He walked in this morning in his too-short sweatpants, gaming t-shirt, and flip flops. This is his typical uniform every day. He loves his sweatpants, and he would wear sweatpants every single day if allowed. Add to the look his ever-present headphones, and, due to his lip-licking tic, the chapped red line of skin under his lower lip. He also tries to get away with showering without actually using any soap, and has a tendency to jam his hands into his hair, resulting in his thick, not-entirely-clean  hair usually standing on end. It’s definitely his own look.

He doesn’t appear to pay any attention to what’s going on in the service. He has his headphones on, and watches YouTube videos on my iPad. It keeps him calm most of the time. He does, however, spread the autism awareness by flopping around in his seat, frequently squatting on the edge of his chair, back to the pulpit, or raises his feet in the air. Half the time, I’m terrified he’s going to yell out smack in the middle of the sermon.  He watches the clock at the back of the sanctuary, knowing when service typically ends. Often, he gives a heavy sigh when less time has passed than he thinks.

It doesn’t end at church. When we go out to dinner, when I take him to the high school football games, he has his “stuff”…….headphones, iPad, phone, second set of headphones, and always the snacks.  At the football games, he takes up the space of about three people, his things on either side of him. When there’s cheering, he slaps his hands over his already-headphoned ears.  I’m aware we just don’t look normal.

Most of the time, I don’t think about it. We are who we are. He’s autistic. There’s no changing that fact. And I refuse, frequently, to excuse or explain. I do what I must to help my child be comfortable in a world that’s difficult for him.  Yes, we do look a little different, but like every other family, we’re just doing our best for our babies.

More than words

I intentionally don’t engage in talking politics on social media. My Gramma always taught me to “keep your politics to yourself if you want to keep friends.” I have anxiety just “liking” things other people have posted. This post isn’t about politics. It isn’t really even about a politician. It’s about a man, his words, his actions, and how painful they are to a person who has been the victim of sexual assault. It is also about the people who have supported him, condoned his words as “just locker room talk.”

If you’ve been the victim of sexual assault, those words, yes, even words spoken eleven years ago, are painful. They are wrought with fear, guilt, mortification. They are objectifying. Even worse than those words spoken eleven years ago is the downplaying of that conversation to “just the way men talk.” That’s NOT the way real men talk. That’s not the way my husband talks. That had better not be the way my sons EVER talk. That’s not the way my male friends talk. That’s not the way my brothers, nephews, uncles, or father talks. That’s the way men who don’t respect women talk. That’s the way men who think it’s okay to use their position of power over women talk. That’s the way men talk who put rapists in jail for just six months while the rapist’s victim’s life is destroyed.

I have been heartbroken, and wanting to throw up, over so many of the comments on social media and in the news since Friday night. I can’t believe anyone would excuse his actions in any way, shape, or form. I’m incensed at anyone trying to deflect the conversation towards anyone or anything else, try to point the finger any other direction. I cried listening to that tape, reading the transcript of that conversation. I’ve been made to feel all over again the way I felt that day, and the weeks and months that followed.

I’ve grown up around athletes. I’ve heard some pretty crude conversations. But not once did they ever talk about sexually assaulting women and have everyone around them say it was okay. Because that’s exactly what this conversation admitted to – sexual assault. SEXUAL ASSAULT. Let’s not call it anything but what it was. As a victim of sexual assault, calling it anything else victimizes me all over again. It takes me back to that day when my choice was taken away, and then I was made to feel like the guilty, responsible party.

The lack of a sincere apology makes it that much worse. The refusal to call it what it was makes it that much worse. Pointing the finger at someone else as being just as bad, rather than taking ownership of his own actions makes it that much worse. My God – my kids did that when they were toddlers – pointed their fingers at another guilty party rather than just saying they were sorry for their own actions. They’ve learned better since then. They know it doesn’t take away from their own guilt to deflect to someone else.

Don’t downplay what he said. Don’t make it anything less than what it was, because that victimizes every victim of sexual assault all over again. That tells young men it’s okay to touch women who’ve said no, that it’s okay to make women less than men, that it’s okay to use your position of power and fame to take women’s choice away, that it’s okay to sexually assault and harass women. It’s NOT okay. It’s contributing to the rape culture. They are more than words. And it’s not okay.

Just, nothing

I wanted to write about baseball walk-up songs today. Seriously, I’ve been trying to get to it for a week. But then Orlando happened, and my heart ached. Yesterday was a day of grief, exhaustion – mentally and emotionally, and was apparently enough time for everyone with an opinion to come out of the woodwork. This morning, post after post scrolled on my social media feeds – so much finger-pointing, vitriol, and anger, as well as some voices of reason, which were quickly jumped on with vitriol and anger. People saying we need more guns, people saying we need no guns. It’s quite obvious we, as a country, need to do something. I’ve never in my life seen the flag at half-staff so often because of mass shootings.  But people seem more content to call people with an opposing opinion stupid and ignorant (and that’s the lightest stuff I saw) than they are to actually sit down and have a rational, reasonable conversation that might actually solve some problems.

I’m empty right now. This election cycle has been draining enough. This just added fuel to the fire. This country used to be about respecting the right to have an opinion. Now it seems to be about coming up with the biggest, ugliest one-liner against someone who doesn’t see things the way you do. There’s no debate, it’s just spouting mean. I like debate. I detest what I see day after day on my screen. Yes, it’s my choice to engage in social media. But I should be able to check in on my friends and family – what their kids are doing, where they’re traveling, who they’re sharing a meal with – without having to see people tearing each other apart. Rhetoric is not discussion.

I have no words. It doesn’t even matter where I sit on the issues, nor politically. I just want the hate to end.

Fear and Individualism

This is not my typical type of post. But I feel a strong need to add my voice to this discussion. I know I’m opening myself up for all kinds of criticism. We each have the right to our opinion. I will be the person over here—> teaching her children to be compassionate, accepting, tolerant, and caring.

I was driving Little Man to school one morning last week when I saw a sign on the side of a bus, “Report suspicious activity.” At first my brain said, “Yes, we must report suspicious activity,” but then my brain said, “Hey, wait a minute…..someone is bound to take that too far.” It sounded like something from a movie. It sounded like something you might hear in the 1950’s, or 1940’s.  I became worried, and afraid.

As citizens who care for one another’s safety, yes we should make known things that are out of order. But there will be those who take advantage of the process. This is my fear…..we are moving backwards, and an environment of fear is being created. People are preying upon the fear they’ve created.

Ban all Muslims from entering the country, Trump says. Create a database. Tell the police about any “suspicious” activity. Sound familiar? Nazi Germany, anyone? Or maybe McCarthy USA? Or we could take it all the way back to Salem, Massachusetts and the witch trials. Create an environment of fear and individualism. Separate neighbor from neighbor so there is no remorse in turning them in, even if you make up “suspicious activity.”

Why are we so afraid of different? There are bad people everywhere. Nothing about skin color, religion, race, sex, or creed saves a person from being evil. Nothing. Look at our own history; you don’t even have to go back too far.  We have memorials for a reason – so we remember the bad things we did ourselves. Let’s not go backwards. Yet I fear that’s exactly what’s happening.

I’m not a paranoid person. Neither am I a conspiracy theorist. And I do believe we need to be aware of our surroundings. But I’m more afraid of going back to the days we put millions of Japanese-American citizens into interment camps, had neighbors reporting neighbors as Communist just because they annoyed someone, turned in the girl down the street as a witch just because she looked at you sideways.

When did we stop caring about other people? Nowadays, it’s commonplace for people to shoot other people on the freeway because they cut you off, or to yell at someone in a store for not moving quickly enough. It seems selfish, self-centered, me-first behavior is the more popular way to go anymore. I almost think that’s why the stories of people doing good go viral – because there’s so little of it anymore we pay attention when it does happen.  We need more “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and less, separatist, selfish, individualist rhetoric. As a mom, I preach kindness to my children. Would that more would do the same.

Circling

I started a post the other day about the mass shooting at the Oregon community college last week. I couldn’t keep things straight in my head, so I left it as a draft. I’ve gone back to it twice, and just can’t get it worked out the way I want. The autism hate page that sprung up over the weekend on Facebook freaked me out, and I haven’t been able to get past it to focus on all the things circling in my head.

Here’s the thing…..Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s in California, we had our share of drills – earthquake drills, fire drills, duck-and-cover drills (it was the Cold War period). We were prepared for any of those eventualities. I lived through two actual earthquakes while at school, big ones. All those things we prepared for were out of our hands for the most part. Nature is nature, after all. And goodness knows the Cold War was fraught.  It didn’t freak anyone out we did those drills.

I remember distinctly the first time I was volunteering in Big Man’s kindergarten class during a lockdown drill. The kids had already been through it before, so were fairly un-phased. I came home and cried. My little six year old knew what to do in a lockdown. He explained they had to stay away from the windows, far away from the door, which would be locked and blinds drawn, hidden under tables, in the bathrooms, or in the pods. Six. Years. Old. and prepared what to do if a “bad person” came onto campus and wanted to shoot them. Seriously. This is normal for them. Normal. If you’re not freaked out by that, you should be.

Schools are supposed to be safe places, areas of refuge at times even. But in the last few years, school shootings have become commonplace. I can’t, in clear conscience, look my kids in the eyes and tell them this will never happen at their schools. That’s pathetic, and terrifying.

I’m not going to go into the whole gun control issue, nor the mental health issue. I don’t like to talk politics here, as that’s not what this blog is about. There have been many articles, posts, Facebook status, and tweets on both gun control and mental health care. Many of them have me shaking my head. So much bandwagoning rhetoric, and no real action. Ridiculous amounts of money is thrown from one side, while parents lay their children to rest, their lives cut ridiculously short.

My kids’ safety at school is not guaranteed. Oh, every one of their schools has drills, and doesn’t take any chances, but that’s no guarantee. That makes me angry. My kids’s safety is compromised anymore. That this is normal for them is a sad statement on how little we value life.