He’s Back

I”ve mentioned an uptick in Little Man’s anxiety as the end of the school year approaches. Much as we know it’s coming, the expected change in routine, the difference between scheduled and unscheduled, and even the differences at school as all the end-of-year activities come up throw him off. His anxiety shows in different ways – he’s harder on himself, he cries more easily, his outbursts are more frequent. He’s much better than he used to be, but the anxiety is part of him, part of who he is, and all his triggers are in play this time of year.

It’s been months since he’s come into our room during the night and snuck into our bed. He’s been sleeping better for a long time, and I contribute that to a growth spurt and hormone change. He’s also been in a much better, more relaxed and confident place this year. Whatever the causes, better sleep for him is better sleep for everyone.

He’s been in our bed, or tried to get in our bed, four nights in the last week. I woke at 3:30 this morning to a clicking sound. I initially thought it was Spouse getting a drink of water. Then I realized it was the familiar sound of teeth grinding and jaw-clicking. Spouse does not grind his teeth, and in my middle-of-the-night stupor, it took me a minute to figure out it was Little Man in our bed, grinding his teeth away. Sigh…in my bed, and grinding his teeth – a sure sign his anxiety is at a high level.

He has 10 more school days. We will have the inevitable fallout of him adjusting to the summer routine/non-routine, so I figure I have about a month of him crawling into my bed most nights. I’d just gotten used to him staying in his own room and sleeping soundly all night. That anxiety-fueled, teeth-grinding, flop-around-on-the-bed insomniac is back. Dang it all anyways.

Finished

Finished – that word applies to so many things today. It’s been the word on my mind most the last few days. Finished. We are finished, we have finished, we will finish, we have yet to finish. Sigh….I’m in a funky place.

Big Man and P finished their school year Friday. P said she actually didn’t want the year to end. Wait, what? From my point of view, it’s been an exhausting, mentally and emotionally draining, dragged out, up-and-down/high-and-low year. I was not sad to see the door close on this one for them.

I am proud of Big Man – he pulled it together enough to have an almost-respectable GPA for the semester. It was a near-miracle, considering how deep a hole he’d dug himself. But he did it. We did have to push, and check in almost hourly to make sure he was doing what needed to be done, but he did it. Oh trust me, his final report card for the year wasn’t amazing, but it was nearly as ugly as it had been. For that, we say “Thank you Jesus!”, and heave a sigh of relief. Pray God he’s figured it out and we won’t have to face these same issues next  year.

After a long season of training (for me anyways  – Big Man didn’t really train at all), we ran the Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon yesterday morning. I was really worried about this one, as my training was cut short due to various injuries. My last 11-mile run was five weeks ago. My last run of any significant distance was three weeks ago. My last run was a week and a half before race day, and that just 4 miles. I spent 10 days gently stretching, icing, heating, and praying it would come together and I’d be able to push through. I had a 2-hour massage. I went to the chiropractor. I faithfully used my foam roller.

Race morning arrived. There was a LOT of frustration early – parking was an unmitigated disaster. It took us nearly an hour to get into the lot from the time we arrived downtown, then we had a mile walk to the shuttle busses. We got on our bus at the time we should have been arriving at our corral. We were in the bathroom line when our corral started, and ended up crossing the start with a corral 9 behind our assigned corral. I’d decided with my training partner to just push for the goal we’d trained for – a 2-hour finish. I knew 2 miles in I wasn’t going to be able to maintain that pace – the three weeks without any significant running had killed me. I slowed to my old half marathon pace and regrouped. Three miles later, my IT bands started tightening and my knees started to hurt. I pushed on, with short stretches of walking, until I hit mile 7 when I knew I’d have to just let go of this race. It became a matter of finishing, and nothing else. I walked when I needed to – which was quite a bit – and ran when I could. There was a downhill at 9.7 that almost did me in. But I pressed on. My training partner finished (I was getting texts for her and for Big Man) – I was at mile 10 I think. Then  Big Man finished. I was closing in on mile 11. I was frustrated, in pain, tired, and so disappointed. At mile 12, I started running again, determined to finish the race running. I knew there was nothing structurally wrong with my body – just IT bands that like to knot up and make it feel like there are knives going into the side of each knee – and so I pushed, and crossed the finish at 2:41 – my worst half marathon time ever, by 16 minutes. I headed to the medical tent and had my knees wrapped in ice.

My training partner had a PR, under 2 hours. Big Man didn’t meet his time from last year of 1:58, but he really didn’t train at all (oh to be 16!). He finished at 2:09. But we finished. The race is more about the culmination of training – a cap to a season. I’m trying to let it go, the disappointment of a bad race. Training had been going so well. I’m trying hard to focus on the fact I ran my 8th half marathon and not everyone gets to say that. I am so proud of Big Man – there were 114 boys on the course in his division. He finished 51st of those 114. That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? Out of 30,000+ people running (between the full, half, and half-relay), only 114 15-17 year old boys were running, and one of them was my son. I love that I got to share yesterday with him. What’s really fun  is being able to talk about it with him, remembering miles and sections like a football player will remember a play, a golfer will remember each hole on a course, a pitcher what pitch got launched out of the ballpark by which hitter. I love that shared experience. I’m proud of the fact he fought when things started to hurt; he didn’t give in when the course got rough, when he knew he wasn’t going to match his time from last year, when he got tired and wanted to quit. He finished. We finished.

Eleven more school days for Little Man. Then we will be finished completely with this school year. He’s hanging in there. He has had some increased anxiety – it’s so typical of this time of year for him. We will fight through, and then breathe another sigh of relief. It is so weird to manage two out of school and one still in, especially for the significant amount of time 2.5 weeks is. We’re almost finished.

Your Guess

It’s been pretty quiet on the autism front in the Herd household this year, thank the good Lord. I said it earlier this year, but it’s worth saying again….we desperately needed a quiet, drama-free year for our Little Man. Last year was dreadful, draining, overwhelming, awful. But you know in the wonderful world of autism, there are lots and lots of roadblocks, speed bumps, dips, turns, and storms. They’re not unexpected, but still disappointing when they happen.

Little Man has almost five weeks left of school. Good golly – that just sucks, especially as the bigs are out in two weeks. He knows the end is near. They’re in the middle of the standardized testing. He wants it over with quickly. Routine has been busted a bit at school because of the testing, but he’s also aware the end of the year is coming,  which means an even bigger routine bust. He does not do well with changes in, nor lack of, routine. I see his anxiety levels rising. I see some old behaviors returning. I see less tolerance and patience from him.

I’ve had a couple emails from his SAI at school letting me know he’s pushing back on work, he’s spending more time out of the classroom again, he’s pacing, his breathing is elevated. She wanted to know if I had any clue why this  might be happening. Uh, nope. Your guess is as good as mine. I could point to any number of things, but there doesn’t seem to be one thing we can say, “Yes, that’s what’s making him behave this way right now.”

We keep reminding him of his tools. We keep reminding him what he’s capable of. We keep reminding him the many successes he’s had this year. None of that changes whatever’s going on in his head, nor how he deals with life. So we do what we can at home. They do what they can at school. We pray this is just a blip and not a sign of long-term struggles.

I know better than to borrow trouble, but next year is his last year of middle school. There’s a new building with classrooms for the 8th graders. They will do things a bit differently for 8th grade than he has in sixth and seventh. He will have to participate in his IEP meetings. And the transition to high school will start. He knows it’s coming. I can’t help but think that may be hanging over him a bit, even though it’s in the distance. I know it’s hanging over me.

So we hang on for the ride the remainder of this school year, hoping this is just a temporary dip. But as for what the root cause is of this particular dip, your guess is as good as mine. And thus goes life on autism street.

Single digits, folks

Nine. More. School. Days. NINE!!!!!!!! Well, let me clarify….Big Man has just three left. Yeah, our high school district and middle/elementary districts cannot seem to get on the same page. Trust me, it totally blows. But I digress.

I’m barely making it. The school nurse called yesterday morning – Little Man had a headache and upset stomach. No fever. I didn’t argue – just got in my car and picked him up. He’s home again today. Still no fever, just a general not-feeling-good kind of feeling. He is a bit pasty, I’ll give him that. I just didn’t have the energy to argue with him this morning. There are days I think how I would feel to have to sit at a desk, surrounded by kids, trying to learn, while feeling totally icky. That was my thought this morning. I wouldn’t want to do it, so why would I make him suffer through that? If this were October, or even March, he’d totally be at school. Late May? Forget it.

I think we’re done with school projects. I’m praying we’re done with school projects. If I have to go to Michael’s or Staples to get one more tri-fold, I might lose it completely. Thank goodness 8th grade doesn’t have any “days” like sixth and seventh grade – no Greek Olympics, no Renaissance Fairs, no Colonial Days for 8th grade. We’re done with all that. Can I get an Amen?! My creativity is tapped out, for real.

The most depressing thing going through my head right now is that summer will not bring any respite. Cheerleading continues, Monday through Friday, at 6am. I kid you not. Then Big Man has cross country 9am – 11am, Monday through Friday. Ballerinas do  not get summers off, so we will continue at the studio five days a week, with recital at the end of July. I WANT TO SLEEP IN!!! My summer is being held hostage by high school sports. We’re trying desperately to figure out when we might be able to squeeze a little vacation time in. It doesn’t look promising. Weeks off from cheer, dance, cross country, and my work events are not coordinating at all. Something will have to give. We need to get away. We need some real summer. There’s no way we’re going to have any kind of energy come the fall and  new school year if we don’t get a break.

But there you have it – we’re down to single digits as far as this school year goes. We’ll get there. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll get there.

Friday Favorites 5.20.16

Oh my blog-world friends…This momma is toast today. We have (respectively) 7 and 13 days of school left. Yes, our high school gets out over a week ahead of our middle schools. I’m exhausted. Beat down. Over it. Done. The worst part though is knowing that summer won’t really bring relief. Cheer practice for the Princess will continue on through the summer, at 6am. I kid you not. Big Man starts cross country (9am – 11am, Monday through Friday) June 20th. And of course dance doesn’t break for summer. Recital is July 22nd and 23rd. No rest for the weary. I’m just sitting here being mad I don’t get to sleep in at all this summer, unless we manage to get away for a few days somewhere in between all the madness.

That being said, here’s my list of Favorites for today.

  • This post at Fabulous With Glitches just made me laugh. That’s been my Friday, spot on. And, I almost puked, and fell off the reformer, in Pilates class today. Bonus!
  • Shannon, Running Sunflower, had this to say about hills today. I love this post for soooooooo many reasons. A) The race I’m running in two weeks has a couple of gnarly hills, but it’s an awesome course and I’m really looking forward to it. B) Life has had its own share of hills lately. I love her line at the end, “And every hill — each and every one — has a top.” Beautifully written, Shannon!
  • I’ve been weepy as heck lately, and coming home stories ALWAYS get to me. This one is no exception. We all deserve a feel good moment today, so I’m sharing this one posted by bluebird of bitterness.
  • This is truth right here, and it made me lol. Short but sweet on  Arch Druidess.
  • A Momma’s View lifted up my heart, and made me cry at the same time (sensing a theme here?).  Go…If you don’t click on any of the other links today, click this one. So many people are out there doing battle every day. We are so quick to judge, without knowing anything about them, or what they’re facing. Don’t be the critic or scorekeeper. Cheer them for having the courage to fight.
  • Lastly, your weekly cute animal post. By the way, The Bloggess is a great one to follow. She’s just awesome-sauce.

Oh Lordy – the Princess just got home from school. A boy asked her to the 8th grade dinner dance, which is tomorrow night. Really? The DAY BEFORE???!!! She’s all in a tizzy. #andsoitbegins

What are your plans for the weekend? Any links you care to share?

Happy Friday!

Those consistent good days

I realized the other day I’ve reached a point in this school year I’m able to take good days with Little Man for granted. I no longer hold my phone anxiously in my hand the entire 6.5 hours he’s at school. I don’t cringe when my phone rings. Emails from his special ed teacher don’t give me anxiety. He’s in a good place. He has good friends. He’s in class more than he’s out of it. He even participated in a full session of PE, willingly. Can I get an amen?

I love this place. It’s freeing. I’m trying to enjoy the heck of it, because, well, we know how this dance goes, right?

We have 5 weeks and two days left in the school year, minus Memorial Day and the Friday after their last day. That’s 25 school days…TWENTY-FIVE!!!! Five plus weeks of racing to the finish line, complete with Open House, sports banquets, awards ceremonies, and project presentations. It will be busy.

A new routine is looming, followed by a year with a new teacher, in a new classroom. Out-of-the-norm activities, extra-business, coming routine change….those add up to anxiety for Little Man, which leads to wheels breaking down, if not falling off. I’m trying to not think about that possibility.  I’m trying to just relax in this good place we’re in. It’s hard to do when we’ve been down this particular road so  many times before, and the same thing has happened  every single year. It’s a delicate balance of living in the moment, and preparing for what’s to come.

That’s where we are. Some part of me can’t help hoping maybe this time, the end of the school year will be different, less fraught. Hang on for the ride, my friends. This is life in our autism-land.

Mom Winning Moments

It’s been a banner of a day as far as being a mom is concerned. Heck, it’s been a banner of a year so far. So in the spirit of full-disclosure, I thought I’d share some of my best with you.

* I told Little Man this morning as he started down the road to tantrum (exceedingly different from meltdown) to “stop banging on everything and pull (his) sh$@ together because I’ve had enough already, and it’s only 7:02am!” Nice, right? As an aside, I am not a person who swears at her children, ever. But it was really one of *those* mornings, and yes, it was only 7:02am. Oh, yeah, and I hadn’t had any coffee to speak of at that point.

* The Princess has the 7th Grade Renaissance Faire at school tomorrow. Not wanting to be a total fail, I bought her a costume. It arrived yesterday. Upon trying it on, she informed me I “needed to sew it, because it’s too big.” I calmly but firmly told her there would be no sewing of any kind. She can, and should anyways, wear something underneath, I’m not altering a costume she’s going to wear one day, and the dresses in the Renaissance period didn’t fit like her ballet leotard and tights. She gave me a look, humphed, and stomped off to her room.

* I was fifteen minutes late to Big Man’s academic bowl last week because I hadn’t bothered, until I was in the car, to look up the address and map it, only to find out when I arrived where the map told me to go, I was still halfway across town from where I was actually supposed to be.

* I’ve double-booked myself so many times in the past five months, it’s actually embarrassing.

* I’m so over the school projects. I’m pretty sure my kids can hear my eyeballs rolling to the back of my head when they inform me they need yet another tri-fold, or ask if I’ll pull the Cricut out to cut titles for them. I know these projects are important to them, and they want to do well, but jiminy multiply two or three projects times three and this momma is toast.

* I’ve hardly volunteered at either school this year. I’m tired. I have a bazillion other things to do. Although I did chair the book fair at the elementary school this year, which has meant basically living at the school for a week, and three more days next week.

* I completely forgot one golf lesson, and called Big Man in sick for two of them. They’re on Monday afternoons. Ouch.

* I’ve been so busy getting ready for our fundraiser next week, normal chores have been neglected. Little Man had to hunt for clean pants to wear. We also ran out of bowls yesterday because the dishwasher was full and I forgot to turn it on.

* We’ve been doing a lot of “fend for yourself” meals – aka frozen waffle night –  lately too because by 4pm, I’m exhausted, and/or hauling the Princess to the dance studio.

There’s just a few. Hope they make you feel better about where you are in life. But if you care to share any of your winning moments, I’m happy to listen.