Monday, December 19, 2011

Stop The World NOW - Part 3

Sunday was actually better than the previous two days, for which I was very, very grateful.  We still had a few go-rounds of BSS (Bratty Sibling Syndrome), but over all we did okay.  In fact, I could even see some serious progress with Safety Guy dealing with new situations.

We were invited to go to a Christmas party by one of my husband's coworkers.  The kids were included in the invitation, so later in the afternoon we all got ready to go.  Safety Guy was a bit nervous about going to the house of someone he's never met.  In the past that's been a tough sell, since he'd really rather NOT go to new social situations, especially where he doesn't know anyone.  Years ago we risked him having meltdowns every time we tried putting him in a new situation.  New things that involved bright lights and lots of strange people were even more difficult for him.  But yesterday we were able to go to a part at a new friend's house and Safety Guy actually enjoyed it, once he got past a few moments initial nervousness.  It helped that there were some much younger boys there who immediately took a liking to Safety Guy.  He loves kids, and is a total kid magnet.  It didn't take long before the little boys were enjoying the attention from one very big boy - mock wrestling, play fighting, and eventually playing on the Wii.  Add in holiday food and Safety Guy was just dandy.  I left that party counting my blessings that Safety Guy has come so very far in his social skills. 

It was a wild, up and down weekend.  I'm still not on an even keel, but I'm hanging on.  School today was rough, really rough.  Only four more days, only four more days, only four more days. . . .

Stop the World NOW - Part Two

To continue my "Help, I'm losing my Christmas spirit (and my mind!)" post:  Saturday I actually got to sleep in a bit - oh happy day!  I had a leisurely breakfast, then went out to do some Christmas shopping.  It was so pleasant to get a couple hours to myself, and I thought I was back to some semblance of "life is going okay" emotional balance.  Friday had faded to the point of being an "Oh well, we might as well laugh at it" memory. 

Sadly, I had grossly overestimated my capacity to deal with my kids' relationship and autism issues on Saturday.  In plain English, that means that after lunch the kids were bickering and snarky, selfish and rude, overtired and obnoxious, controlling and annoying, and I lost my patience and gave them a piece of my mind.  (In even plainer English, I did a pretty good Sybil imitation.)

So what did we decide to do with the rest of our day?  Why, we decided that some family time would be a good idea.  (Cue the "I've got a bad feeling about this" Star Wars references.)  Let's go shopping, we thought.  We can finish some Christmas shopping at Target, Safety Guy can spend that GameStop gift card that's been burning a hole in his pocket, and we can see the Christmas decorations at Lights on the Lake.  Sounds like fun, right?  We decided to do the lights first, since it was early.

Good heavens.  I should have stopped while I was behind, had a wine cooler, and gone to bed at 5PM.  The line for Lights on the Lake (a big thing in the Syracuse area) was insanely long and slow.  We crawled along for an hour and a half BEFORE we even got into the park where the light displays are staged.   After the first hour Safety Guy got bored and cramped, and Princess Yakyak started tossing out snarky comments and baiting her brother.  Tech Guy did a manful job of being patient, and I did my best to not say something I'd regret for the rest of my kids' (probably very SHORT at that point) lives. 

We waited and waited.  We talked.  We tried to keep it light.  We cycled through several radio stations looking for Christmas music that actually alluded to Christ (and finally found one).  Once we got into the park and paid to go through the light display, there weren't any turnoffs to get out of the line of cars.  We'd passed the point of no return.  Right after that point (of course) Safety Guy started to get upset and wanted to get out of the car and walk, because it looked like by the time we got out of there we were going to be too late to make our planned trip to GameStop - it would be closed.   Unhappiness of the perseverating kind erupted every 5 minutes or so after that.

PYY lived up to her nickname - and oh, was she annoying all of us with her commentary.  I dug my fingernails into my palm to keep from going ballistic as I repeatedly had to intervene between the kids to keep/restore the peace.  We hadn't bargained on such a crazy wait, and the car was low on gas when we started, so by that point I was wondering what would happen if we ran out of gas and had to call AAA from the middle of the display.  I could imagine us pushed off to the side of the road, parked in the glow of a bunch of holiday lights in the shape of a candy cane, while my husband or I walked back to the entrance to find some gas.  We finally got to the main section of lights ("Look, something shiny!") and drove through the display, which is a couple miles long.  Oh. So. Slowly.  I swear, some people had to take pictures of every single candy cane, elf, snowflake, and reindeer.  It went on and on and on and on - Christmas music and lights with a background patter of incipient autism meltdown and sibling baiting and parental angst.

We got in line to see the lights at 5:30.  We drove out of the display at 9:30.

FOUR HOURS in the car.  No bathroom.  No drinks.  The two packs of TicTacs I had given to the kids around 7PM didn't do much to divert them. Nothing but pure, unrelieved TOGETHERNESS.  It sounds like the plot of another Chevy Chase movie.  ("Look kids - Big Ben!")

The first thing we did when we finally got out of the park was find a gas station.  (Gas - check.  Drinks - check.  Getting more than two feet away from everyone else before someone got seriously hurt - check.   Bathroom - NOT.)  Then we went over to the shopping plaza, and by some miracle we made it to GameStop 10 minutes before it closed, and we found a bathroom.  All was right in Safety Guy's world again.  Eventually (after doing our long-delayed Christmas shopping at Target), we made it home. 

I stayed up much too late after we made it back from the Lights on the Lake expedition, just puttering on the computer and enjoying being LEFT ALONE. (I see a pattern here. . . .)

And that was it for Saturday night.

Stop the World - NOW

Holiday stress.  I thought I'd dodged the worst of it, and was feeling pretty good about dealing with the kids at home and the kids at school.  I thought I had myself mostly together, pretty organized, and almost caught up with the important house stuff (kids clean and fed, not too much clutter, laundry monster almost tamed).  Starting late last week, my semi-peaceful world started to unravel.

Nothing big or awful happened.  Nobody is sick, there's no financial emergency, and the house hasn't descended into fodder for a reality TV show (yet).  But suddenly I'm not coping as well as I was, and the holiday stress is really getting to me.

My students have been getting flakier by the day.  Honestly, I really like them, but I was imagining doing a Three Stooges maneuver on four of them on Friday (i.e. clunking their heads together in sequence - bonk, bonk, bonk, bonk).  Our classroom is RIGHT by the high school front door, with windows looking at it from the outside.  I could keep the blinds closed all the time, but that's too stifling for me.  (Not to mention I have to keep a window cracked open or we'll roast to death when the heat kicks on.)  So the kids see everything and everyone coming or going.  Teaching while ANYTHING happens outside the window is like having a class full of dogs like Dug from "Up":  "SQUIRREL!" and everyone rubbernecks.   So, back to my story:  on Friday one of the kids was looking out the window, and noticed that someone had dropped a five dollar bill on the ground right outside our classroomOh.  My. Goodness.  I should have stopped trying to teach right then and there, because they were totally useless after that.  All of them had to go look at it.  All of them wanted to go outside and get it.  None of them would focus on the homework we'd just started working on.  They were all in a swivet and chattering like magpies in spite of my firm injunction to SIT DOWN AND FORGET ABOUT IT until my classroom aide actually went outside, picked it up, and turned it in to the office.  THEN they all gabbled about us not letting them go out to get it, and one bright soul suddenly remembered that he needed to go to the office to make a phone call (and incidentally ask if anyone had turned in their "missing" $5).  The school day couldn't end quickly enough for me that day.

Then, at home, my own kids were in my face all evening long while my husband had to work late.  And, to make things even better, I swear the phone rang every time I tried to sit down and get a few minutes to myself.  I finally shuffled them off to bed.  After that I stayed up (too, too) late on the computer, trying to unwind and get my nerves to settle.  It took a while.

Saturday was another adventure. . . .