Monday, May 9, 2011

Morning Drama, Brought To You By Aspergers

It's always the little things, it seems, with our son's Aspergers Syndrome.  Once Safety Guy gets into a routine, it's really hard on him to have something change that routine.  This morning we had a really good example of that phenomenon.  (We call it the "who moved my cheese?" problem, based on the book, and the idea that dealing with change is harder for some people than others.)

Usually Safety Guy is up before his sister on school mornings.  He gets up, gets dressed, turns on the Mac and has breakfast while watching a few YouTube videos before heading out to catch the bus.  That's his routine; it happens like clockwork.  This morning, though, his sister was up early and got on the Mac first.  Oy vay, you'd think the whole world had conspired against Safety Guy to derail his morning.  It wasn't fair, she did it on purpose, why did she do that when she knows that he uses the Mac EVERY MORNING, why couldn't she just get off and let him do his thing, didn't she know this was HIS TIME to be on there, she ALWAYS got up earlier just to get on the computer, he couldn't believe she'd do such a thing, etc.  (All this fussing is going on with him sitting on the end of my bed, while I'm just waiting in my nightgown, watching him melt down.  This is NOT how I like to start my day, either, I wanted to tell him.) 

I told him first that I was NOT going to tell her to get off the computer, because she has just as much right to it as he has, and she did get up first today  I also told him that his accusation of "she's always getting up first to get on the computer before me" was bogus, because most days he does get up earlier and get the computer first.  I reminded him that life isn't going to let him go first all the time, and that sometimes our routines will be changed by other people or circumstances we can't control and we'll have to deal with it.  We can't expect everything to go our way all the time - life just isn't like that.  I also told him that he was NOT to say anything to his sister about the computer when he went downstairs, that he should just leave her alone and get his breakfast, and that he'd get time on the Mac later.

Now, usually this situation would continue like this:  he would go downstairs and proceed to yell at his sister and demand his way, in spite of my admonition to make the right choice and leave her alone.  She'd yell back, and great unhappiness and even more drama would ensue.  This morning  he surprised me:  HE OBEYED.  You have no idea how delighted I was with this outcome.  He actually got his stuff, went downstairs, got his breakfast, and got ready for school without saying ANYTHING to Princess Yakyak.  No provoking, no yelling, no recriminations - he simply did what I had asked.  Hallelujah!  There's hope!

So, the biggest drama of the morning wasn't the semi-meltdown over who got to use the Mac first - it was that he did the right thing, with only the single parental edict of "leave your sister alone."  Ab-so-freaking-lutely amazing.  I guess a parent has to get a win once in a while, and I'd consider that an even bigger win for him as far as his self-control goes.

Raised Beds For The Garden

 Raised beds, looking north; the first 
one is done but not completely planted.
Eggplant at the near end, leeks at the 
far end, beans to go in the middle soon.

My husband built me some boxes for raised bed gardening at the back of our yard - 5 nice big ones (three are 4' wide x 8' long x 8" deep, two are 4' x 8' x 6" and raised on bricks).  When we did the lawn renovation project in the back yard last fall, I used some of the topsoil to partially fill each box, but I knew I'd have to add another several inches of soil and compost to them this spring.  I'm doing one box at a time - one down last week, four to go.  This week I'll be making multiple trips to my friend Sharon's farm, to get some composted horse manure.  A couple wheelbarrows full of that in each box will do wonders for the soil, I'm sure.  I'm also adding some peat humus to the boxes (NOT peat moss - peat humus is coarser and better for the soil, and won't form dry pockets or repel water like pure peat moss can, or decompose as quickly).  We also added some fine gravel/coarse sand, just a couple buckets full to each bed, again for drainage.  I want to finish filling the boxes in the next two weeks so I can be ready to plant my tomatoes, peppers and beans, and the squashes and melons.  We're having a dry spell (read:  more than three consecutive days without heavy rain, after 18 straight days of precipitation), so I can finally work in the back yard without sinking in up to my ankles or miring the wheelbarrow up to its axle.


Raised beds are easy enough to create.  You don't even need to make boxes to contain the soil if you don't want to.  We wanted boxes for cosmetic reasons, and for the ease of mowing/trimming around them.  My husband bought untreated lumber to create the boxes, and at my request he used 2" x 8" x 8 foot boards because I wanted deep beds.  You can use narrower boards (4" or 6") or stack them to make higher beds - it depends on how high you want the beds raised.  They're fastened together with weatherproof (deck) screws.  I asked for 8" deep beds because of the drainage issues at the back of our yard, which sees the runoff from several yards uphill from us via a drainage swale which the beds abut in parallel.  The smaller beds going across the side of the yard will only need to have 4" high boards added (a fall project for my husband and I), because the drainage there is good, and again the boxes will be for appearances only.  Those beds are already raised about 3-4" above the level of the turf and simply sit in the lawn.  Edging them a couple times a year by hand is a nuisance, so the boxes will make it easier to maintain them in the long run.

I haven't decided if I'll stain the boxes when I do the deck in a couple weeks.  If I have enough deck stain, I might.  It will mostly come down to time and weather, though, since I'll need at least 5 consecutive dry days to do the deck.  But I've no lack of things to keep me occupied lately - between the kids' activities, normal house stuff, and the garden, I'm keeping plenty busy.