Friday, February 13, 2009

Optimism Open!

It's that time again -time for "Only the Good Friday" created last year by the one and only Texas Storyteller/blogger, Shelly Tucker of This Eclectic Life. And today, Shelly gave those of us who try to participate in this weekly event a selection of banners/pictures we could chose from to indicate our participation in this program.

The idea behind this is to take the mundane, sometimes not so nice things, sometimes stuff that could be downright depressing too, things life hands us and try to reverse the spin, to make a positive out of a negative.

And ya know what? In my opinion, this idea works! Really, it does! When you think of stuff that has happened to you recently or over time, or even a long time ago -stuff that may have hit you not so nicely or squarely between the eyes -whatever -and try to find something, anything, that could be construed as a positive force in that, it makes you actually begin to see things in a different light and thus, lessens the burdens some of these things might otherwise be or have been. Try it sometime. Heck, try it today, why don't 'cha and see if it doesn't give you just a little bit of a lift, even if it is only for a few minutes or an hour out of your day, isn't that a good thing?

And today, I have something else to add to my own "only the good" things -another award -this one given to me by Mary Ann, that Smalltown RN up on her island just off the coast of British Columbia.

It's called the Encouragement award and Mary Ann thinks I should be a recipient of this one. I do try to be as encouraging to others as possible and hope that my words do come through that way. But for sure, the bit about the "Coffee Is On" is most certainly the truth about me and my household anyway!

Thanks Mary Ann and I'll try to live up to this honor. (I'll pass this award along too a bit later, if that's ok.)

Something I wonder about from time to time when I write posts about my grandchildren -especially if I am writing about something one (or both of the kids) has done that might be viewed as some action not particularly nice or desirable, if perhaps I am construing an incorrect message there. The meltdowns perhaps, or some of Maya's messes in the past like the wall paintings she's done, or the recent "chocolate sandwich" mixture she made (and yes, apparently ate too) or Kurtis with his not always welcome extra long, often tiring nitetime hours. Please understand that I post them to show that yes, sometimes things like these do happen here and no, they aren't always happy times when they do occur, but maybe I should also add that frequently I employ sarcasm, cynicism, and the like but the intent is often meant to be taken in a humorous vein. Actually, without the use of sarcasm especially, in almost all conversations between my kids and me, I don't think we would be able to communicate adequately. It's just a given -something we each tend to expect the other to have some type of retort along those lines whenever possible. Ok, maybe we have an offbeat sense of humor but I've always tried for as long as I can remember to take things and try to poke fun at them and sometimes, sarcasm is the best method of all to utilize when doing that.

Like today, for instance. Mandy had a doctor's appointment this morning for Kurtis which meant she had to leave before Maya went to school. In the not too distant past, when Mandy would leave the house and Maya would be left behind -regardless of the reason -it could usually bring on a big meltdown of Maya crying, wailing, kicking, screaming about how she had to go wherever with her mother. This morning -though I was kind of on "red alert" for this to possibly happen, Maya was sweet, smiling, gave Mandy a hug and kiss goodbye and no outbursts at all after she left either. When it came time to get Maya on the van to go to school -which also can turn to a bit of disaster in the blink of an eye too -she was complacent, very pliable, friendly and even leaned forward and gave me a big hug and a kiss to say goodbye! YAY! YAY!

When Mandy came home from taking Kurtis to his appointment, she had an almost identical report to give about him and how he reacted and responded to the assistant as well as to the doctor's examination today too.

We were both really pleased with how both kids did today -very happy, indeed. As I remarked to Mandy that this morning, getting Maya on the van and all, she was absolutely angelic. But then, I added "Now, watch when she comes home, it's liable to feel like it's the devil incarnate arriving." There's that little twinge of sarcasm there to kind of keep us grounded a bit, knowing that as nice and peaceful as things were this morning, by 4 p.m., it can also all go to hell in a handbasket too. But the good thing is that episodes along the separation anxiety or fear of doctors or anyone/anything new are not near as frequent as they used to be. Shows both kids are making advances in their social skills, ya know.

Now, yesterday afternoon was a perfect esample of how something seeming very innocuous can rapidly disintegrate though. I don't even know exactly what it was that triggered Maya but she went into a meltdown and got sent to the stairway (to the upstairs) where she was to sit on the bottom step, alone, in time out. Time out is something she very much hates! Doesn't do well at all with the idea of being quiet there either! Much screaming, much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued. Some of this I do know began with some silly thing pertaining to her valentines and Mandy had apparently told her not to drag them out right now or some such and Maya, when she gets something fixated in her mind, well it ain't a pretty sight if her ideas don't mesh with Mandy's or mine. The crying and yelling at us involved a lot of things about her valentines which evolved then into one of us threatening to throw them all in the garbage which then, Maya started crying because -of all things -she said she wanted to throw them in the garbage and she was making it out that we weren't letting her do that! From there things progressed to putting the valentines in a "safe" and neat container -like a little ziplock baggie -and she couldn't have that because she insisted she had to put them in a "vonvelope" (translated -an envelope). And this went on and on for well over a half hour of arguing back and forth with her. At one point, she said she couldn't put them in a ziplock bag because they had to go into a triangle shaped bag or "vonvelope." Go figure and who knew that such things like a triangular shaped ziplock bag even existed! How she skips from one aspect to another without batting an eye at the incongruity there is really amazing and also, even though it is loud and sometimes nasty to hear, difficult to deal with at times, often Mandy and I will both end up just howling laughing too while arguing with her and trying to get her to eventually talk herself down and out of the upheaval going on there. See what I mean about finding the humor in trying to contend with the meltdowns as they come at us. You have to do that or else, I do think it could drive a person insane! By laughing at her dilemmas, it eventually tempers her and also, helps to keep Mandy and I in a better humor then too.

Last night, after Maya had her bath and a little snack, she came to me, climbed up in my lap and laid her head on my shoulder, just snuggling up like crazy and she looks up at me and announces "I love you, Gram!" Now there's a heart melter for ya if ever there was one! I've started now to try to show her, since she is getting much better at comprehension of language -the nuances that vocabulary holds -to tell her I love her all the time but I don't always like her very much when she misbehaves. I want her to learn that regardless of what it is that maybe upsetting and is wrong and she needs to learn to control or correct for, it still doesn't take away from the love I have had for her from day one and always will. I think all too often kids are made to feel when they get out of line and we get angry that this means they are unloved and that is far from the case. The love is there, always will be, and it is much different from whether we like or dislike some actions the child may have done or continue to do.

Some good news in another vein with respect to Kurtis today too is that Mandy heard from the agency that works with us and the children and come June, Kurtis will begin the transition to going to the same school as Maya has attended last year and this year. He will be in a program called "Summer Pals" which is, in essence, a summer school program for special needs children. It won't be as many days a week or as long a period of time as the regular school program is but it will be a means to get him acclimated to going to this school, on the van -with Maya too because she will also be in this program again this summer -and will help him begin learning more things, especially social skills in coping with new adults with authority as well as learning to respond correctly to other children in his age range. He'll still have the other therapies he currently receives while at the school too and then, come September, he will begin attending the same program Maya has been involved in for the past two years. Maya will then transition to fulltime kindergarten at our local school then too!

All these things are big changes for both the kids. Big changes that without these special programs for them I often wonder what would have happened to them. Would either of them be at the levels they are today if we didn't have the therapists and the teachers that Maya -and Kurtis -have both had? I rather doubt it. Regardless of how hard Mandy and I would probably have tried to work with both of them, without these things, they would be way behind their peers when it would be time for them to go to school. This is, in my opinion, one of the reasons that so many autistic children have often been regarded in the past as incompetent, even severely mentally challenged too when in fact, the reverse may often be the case. So many autistic children are actually highly intelligent but it is the adults who were trying to teach them, to cope with their actions and who had no idea that one of the keys here is to change our way of thinking, our way of dealing with kids who have this disorder. Yes, we do by therapy try to bring their actions, their learning to a central point -to be able to speak adequately at least and thus communicate better -whether it be vocalizing or via sign language -but communication is a key factor. Learning ways that we -the adults -can react and respond or in some instances to NOT react but respond -is also a tool that many parents would not know about if not for learning about this through the therapists and their work with the children.

And all of that -anything that helps my grandchildren to be better able to function, to learn how to communicate, then to comprehend, to realize that there are other people -adults and children - in their world besides themselves and thus, help them to develop empathetic skills too. Watching these two as they learn these things -sometimes quickly, often taking what at times seems to be an eternity because ya know, we all do want our kids to learn and to do it NOW don't we -but learning is something they have been doing and are continuing to do too. And that is oh, such a wonderful thing to see! Downright miraculous at times, ya know!

Laughing with them, applauding their new skills, and yes, at times, laughing at them too -they're all important in the general scheme of things and all bring with them light, a ray of sunshine and hope ever present then for the future for them. And for me, it all just increases the love I hold in my heart for both of them!

Another good thing this week was the report card my older grandson brought home too -the honor roll again and an overall grade of a 97! How awesome is that! His mother is constantly pinching herself with respect to Alex and his performance in school! I could tell her that had she applied herself a bit more in school, she could have done the same thing too but ya know, what's past is prologue, too late to turn the clock back 24 to 36 years now and do a makeover there. But it's still never to late to try to improve on what she did learn back then and keep on doing that.

For today, those are the things that have been, are and will continue to impact me. And today, I am so thankful for all the good things that have come to us -the therapists, the school, the teachers and aides -all who work to help Maya and Kurtis learn and who also work to help Mandy and I to continue to learn more and more ways that we too can help as well.

And once again, lest anyone forget the most important thing here is that I am ever so grateful to having had my life doubly blessed with these two awesome and beautiful -in every way -little grandchildren as well as my older and equally awesome grandson, Alex!

All three of you are the bestest gifts and make me possibly the proudest Grandma ever!


Moira said...

Thank you for this post. As a mother of 5yr old twin boys, I often find it easy to forget the joy they bring me or the simple moments when my heart does a little skip because they are in my life.

Like today, one of the twins has had a rough couple of days as his temperament resulted in a video game restriction. This was a none to pleasant experience all around and I in turn felt like a horrible mother. then he came home today and gave me an Elecktra super hero v-day card followed with a "that's you mommy." At five years old, this is my first v-day card from him and will be treasured all the more because it reminded me that the little things are important.

Travis said...

I was just happy to get to the end of the week.

Mary said...


Having been close to Brandon and his Asperger's for so many years, I've found that autistic children teach us something everyday of their lives. I'm glad that your grandkids are doing so well. Kurtis is gaining vocabulary and Maya is learning that life isn't always what you want it to be. Those things are difficult for every child, but more so with those on the autism spectrum.

You and Mandy are doing a GREAT job with the kids and to keep a sense of humor when an autistic child is in a full-blown meltdown takes some doing.

Children who have autism dislike change and life is nothing but changes. Brandon has come a long way and is looking forward to the coming week and also to attending high school in the fall.

I'm so glad you post about your grandkids. I love learning about their accomplishments and how their day has gone. Thanks for keeping us updated. Some great things are happening in your household, my friend.


Maggie May said...

You are so deserving of your grand children and they are so lucky to have you.
Your love for them oozes out of your blog!

RuneE said...

Thank you very much for the nice comment! I just hope that it may be a help for you in your daily hazzle - of which you seem to have plenty!

Sandi McBride said...

You know Jeni, it's your patience and love of life that got you rewarded with these two little angels...someone else might not be as wonderful a grandma as you are, might smack where a hug would do the trick, might break under the pressure...yes, I look on this as an honor for you...because He knew you could handle it! I admire you no end my friend. And talking about life and life's little bumps in the road is your specialty!
here I send you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!

Palm Springs Savant said...

Jeni- This is a good example of one of the reasons why I enjoy reading your blog. It is a wonderful glimpse into you and yoru family. They are sure lucky to have you.