Thursday, April 30, 2015

Bicycle races are coming your way…. (How the times have changed)

Bicycle races are coming your way…. (How the times have changed)

Long ago (long, long ago) when I was 12 or 13, my friend Sue and I participated in a Bike-A-Thon. We met up with a couple of friends Joe and Ron, who were also participating. I remember it being a lot of fun with the exception of Susan smashing into and ruining Ron’s bike gears. We had so much fun that we went around the route twice (much to the dismay of the people who pledged by the mile – I was young; this did not occur to me at the time).

For years afterwards I tried to remember what this Bike-A-Thon was for. What cause were we supporting? No one I asked could remember either.

As an adult, when I think back on it, yes we had fun, but I am horrified that this organization thought it was okay for a bunch of 12 and 13 years olds to ride their bikes down these very busy main roads. It was not like it is today, roads were not closed or even sections roped off. We were on our own on these very busy main roads, most with no sidewalks or shoulders, until we came upon a check point. But this is the way it was. We didn’t think a thing about it back then.

Well, Susan was cleaning out her mother’s attic a week or two ago and found the actual map of the course we took on this Bike-A-Thon and on it was the name of the Bike-A-Thon.

Backing up for just a minute. This morning I read an article that had the R-Word in the title. It was a good article and I wanted to share it (I eventually did), but I was so apprehensive about the R-word in the title. It needed to be there, it really did, but I am so uncomfortable with it that I really thought a lot about it before sharing it. (If you have a moment, please read it here. It is worth the time)
Having said that, below is the map that my friend found. She was just as apprehensive about sending it to me as I am sharing it here.
My heart skipped a few beats when I first saw it. I sat on it for a few weeks, but I thought that if you are as appalled as I was (and still am) at reading the name of the Bike-A-Thon, then let’s look at it as a glowing example of how times really have changed. It is so hard for me to believe that back then, this and a few other words I am guilty of using as a child were just okay. We didn’t know any better back then. Now we certainly should know. (Joss Whedon, are you listening? I can overlook many things – like killing “Wash”, but you really have to stop)

I have gotten into plenty of discussions over the use of this word. Most of the discussions have been with people who really didn’t understand what the problem was as long as they were not using it to disparage someone with a special need – but they ARE! They are using it as slang for “stupid”. They are taking a word that was once used as an actual diagnosis and using it to describe “stupid”. I really don’t get why this is so hard to explain to people.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

All the ..... small things

All the…. small things

stacking Pizza and writing notes
I was talking to a friend of mine the other night at a Winter Guard Event. She was relating a story about how she had written a note to her daughter’s staff listing the items – the only items, her daughter was allowed to purchase that day. Her daughter added an item to that note and handed it in hoping no one would notice the addition.

Of course she was caught because the handwriting did not match, but my first reaction to the story was “That is SO Cool!”. Another friend agreed that it was fantastic. My friend laughed and of course knew that it was really an accomplishment, but you know,  she had to be the mother.

Much like when DC stacks 3 slices of pizza on top of each other thinking I will actually believe that he has only one piece -I have to be impressed. He thought it out and came up with that scam by himself – but on the other hand, I have to be the mother and tell him that it is wrong to be so sneaky and to lie.

I told her that if DC tried something like that, it would definitely be a blog post and even though it was not DC this time, a post it is.

This conversation reminded me of an old web-site my friends and I used to run, many years ago – probably 15 years ago when our children were young. One section of the site was titled:
The milestones WE Celebrate

Some might find our celebrations odd, but they are ours. We celebrate every advancement and every achievement, even if the achievement is something that most parents would frown upon – we do not. To us – it is progress.

Some of the following blurbs are mine (DC was very young at the time) and some are from friends of mine, but they were all very important achievements for us at the time.
So…. here are some of The Milestones WE Celebrated many years ago:
Your son whacks his Little League Coach in the head with a bat.  Both you and the Coach are thrilled because this was the first time he attempted to swing at ANYTHING!

You attend your Parent/Teacher conference: Your son’s teacher jubilantly announces that your son and his friend were cheating from each other’s papers. You are as thrilled as she is, because this means he finally realized (on his own) he was supposed to be doing something other than just sitting there – and also figured out, ON HIS OWN, how and where to find out just what it is he was supposed to be doing.

 It was a “bittersweet” morning when I discovered that almost all my “sled” ornaments from the Christmas tree had been crushed on the floor.  We were surprised to discover that my son was the culprit. While we watched,  he carefully removed a sled, (which are many),..gingerly placed it on the floor and then ever so slowly sat on it! I was dismayed that our collection was reduced to only the few left “on higher ground” but thrilled he finally realized what a sled is for!!

My son began saying “shut up” all of a sudden and quite often. I realized that he picked it up from Princess Diaries. I knew he had no idea what it really meant, but still, he continued to say it.
Last night he was in the car with one of his friends. His friend generally starts talking as soon as he gets in the car and the blue streak continues during the entire ride. On this particular ride my son turned to him and said “Shut Up”.
His friend’s mother called me on the phone immediately, very excited because she knew that it meant my son actually figured out what the word meant.

My son loves bread, more than just about any food. A few days ago, a friend of mine baked bread for Christmas gifts. She delivered two loaves to our house, one Cinnamon and the other was a small ‘personal size’ loaf of plain bread. We immediately had to make toast when he saw the Cinnamon bread.  Later, when he was giving me his breakfast order (which he does every night before bed), he requested the “Elf Bread”. Not really understanding what he meant, he went to the counter to show me the little ‘personal size’ loaf of bread – “Elf Bread!”

The forging of notes and the stacking of pizza would certainly have a place in the top 10 if we were ever to compile a new, updated list……

Thursday, April 16, 2015


I think this may have been the title of an old Jerry Lewis movie, so if I haven’t dated myself with “Gimme a head with hair”, I am certainly dating myself now….. but on with the story.

We just came home from a weekend trip to Cape Cod. As I mentioned in my last post, I was invited to the birthday party for the mother of a very old friend, Alli. I spent quite a lot of time at their house when I was young so it is always an honor to be invited to these birthday events.

The Cape is a good 3 1/2 hour drive (4 1/2 with me in the car) so again, we opted to make a weekend out of it. There was plenty for DC to do at the hotel even if the weather did not cooperate – it did, eventually. We arrived on Friday afternoon and on Friday night, we had dinner with Rhoda who flew up from Georgia.

Saturday was a busy day. I met Rhoda and Alli for breakfast. DC and Doug went for their breakfast earlier because DC could not wait until 10:00 to eat breakfast, “second breakfast”, maybe but not first breakfast. They went directly to the indoor pool afterwards. It was nice to be able to spend some time with my friends and catch up without interruptions.

After breakfast DC Doug and I went out for a drive just to see what was around in that area. We came back to the hotel around 1 and I went down to the banquet room to help set up for the party. We finished about 4.

Back in the room, it was almost time for me to start getting ready for the party. DC and Doug were busy making plans to go to the bookstore (yes, DC did spot a Barnes and Noble while we were out earlier) and out to dinner.

Doug is not one for big parties like this and DC, as much as he loves to dance and eat, would not have made it through the whole thing. As I could almost guarantee there would be no wings on the menu he was happy to go to dinner with Doug. So I was attending the party with Rhoda.

Needless to say, I did not see a lot of DC on Saturday.

At about 11:30, the party-goers were starting to thin out. Under direct orders from the birthday girl, I went back to the room to bring DC down to the party for a visit. There was no doubt that he would be awake. He wouldn’t go to sleep before I came back and I figured that Doug probably needed a break from “Mom is coming back soon?”.

He had a good time. He visited the cupcake mountain and the candy buffet and had a Shirley Temple with Mom. He danced for quite a while, by himself and with two beautiful ladies.


When the party was over and DC and I were walking back to the room, he started reciting a story. This was nothing new, he loves books and stories and knows almost all of his stories by heart. He did spot the “Ballroom” sign on his way into the party, so I knew there would be more than one Cinderella reference on the way back to the room. He started his scripting (or what I thought would be scripting) and I realized that this was different.
Speaking very clearly, like a narrator, he said:
Once upon a time –
The best boy in the whole world came to the ball.
and noooooo one knew who he was.
He ate cakes
He ate candy
He ate golden jellybeans
and danced
all night.”
After he told this “story” a second time, I said “Oh No! Should we go back to look for your shoe?”

“No”, he laughed and called me silly.

Here’s the thing though…. as many books and stories as I’ve heard him recite over the years, he never veers away from the original stories. They are told as they are – and in his mind, as they should be. As much as he loves his stories, his books and movies, he never relates them to his life or himself.

He not only altered the original story, but he altered it to include himself….


he got the joke…..

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Gimme head with hair

Long beautiful hair.. Shining, gleaming, Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there  – hair – Shoulder length or longer- Here baby, there mama
Everywhere……. daddy daddy  – HAIR….

We tried. We really did. But we had to admit defeat and throw in the towel……

DC has always had very thick and very curly hair. For most of his life he’s kept it short, very short –  a buzz cut. This style came about only because his Dad would take him for the day and he would come home with a shaved head – I was ever consulted, his Dad just shaved his head. After awhile we just got used to doing it this way I guess and hey, one less appointment for me to make and one less thing for me to do.

The ‘Dad-cuts’ began when DC was little. Getting a haircut was next to impossible – disastrous, so his Dad just started cutting his hair and just continued on through the years from there. DC has been to the barber plenty of times in-between the ‘Dad-cuts’ and he is well over the haircut meltdowns of the past. He actually likes going to the barber when I take him, but still he comes home with a shaved head from his Dad’s house.

I may have mentioned before that DC’s Dad left for Florida in mid-November for the winter. This means that DC has not seen him and has not gone to his house one day or evening a week and of course he has not had his head shaved.

Somewhere in early December I mentioned to DC that it was time for a haircut.  His reaction surprised me.. “No! No, Mom! No haircut! PLEEEEASE!” (complete with begging hands). I’m sure he assumed he’s be getting a ‘Dad-cut’. It never occurred to me that no one had ever asked him if he wanted his head shaved. He is an adult after all and should be allowed to have a say in things like this.

So, okay, we gave it a try.

As I said, DC’s hair is very thick and curly. Once it started growing, I could see we were going to have a problem. It just grew all over the place. I would get it to a point in the morning where it wasn’t sticking out everywhere but he would not leave it alone so that did not last very long – it always looked like a mess.

I had a talk with him and said we really needed to go have it trimmed a bit. I was hoping that they could shape it (especially on the sides) without cutting it too much so it would grow in without looking so unruly. I promised they would not shave his head (or give him a ‘Dad-cut’, which is the way he seemed to understand it). He agreed.

They did a nice job. They shaped it, took a little off the sides so it didn’t stick out. DC was happy because it was still long and curly. Unfortunately, that lasted all of two weeks. It grew so fast and even with all of the shaping they did, it grew back just the same way. I didn’t want to have to take him for a cut every two weeks so we talked about it again. I told him he could keep it long if he really wanted to, but it might be a good idea to get it cut short again. It is going to be summer soon and it would be very hot  having all of that hair. He agreed.

I asked him more than once just to be sure he understood what he was agreeing to – and I do think he was getting a little bit tired of me trying desperately to make it look decent every day. He understood.

Yesterday he went back to get a haircut. It was a longer version of the ‘Dad-cut’ but it is still very short. He was happy with the cut and also happy I think, that this time it was his decision.

…And just because those of you that may be close to my age now have that song stuck in your head and those of you who are not…. may just want to take a trip into to the 60’s…… Ladies and Gentlemen… the Cowsills:
(the video quality is terrible, but it is the best I could find)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Arrival Anxiety

(originally post at Taking a Step at a Time)

"Arrival Anxiety" - that is what I have always called it. It is, in my mind the best way to describe it.

It does not matter where we are going or how often we have or haven't been there - it happens. I see the change in his demeanor immediately. It happens so quickly - like walking though a door; on one side he is happy and the other side he is full of anxiety.

I always dreaded the birthday party invitation when he was little. The first half hour, sometimes more, was spent trying to calm him down. No matter how much I tried to prepare him beforehand he would scream, cry, flap and resort to very loud noises. Everyone stared and the other children would huddle with their parents because they were either afraid, nervous or both. He would, most of the time eventually calm down, but how I always dreaded our entrance.

After awhile, I realized that the mention of a party meant "cake" to DC. He was expecting cake - as soon as he arrived. He didn't understand why he had to bowl or play games, he was only there for the food. Once I realized this, I just stopped calling these events we had to attend, parties. We were going bowling or to the playscape or to someone's house or a picnic. Believe it or not, this helped a great deal with his "birthday arrival anxiety", it still happened of course but it was not as severe.

Afterwards when we talked about the party and whether he had fun, I would then refer to it as a party in the hopes that he would at some point realize that yes, it was a party, there was no cake at the door, but he had a good time anyway.

I remember being invited to my friend's house for her daughter's graduation party. Again, this was not going to be described as a party, I called it a picnic. We were there for a good while before DC saw one of the table cloths (a party table cloth). I saw his eyes widen and he signed "party" with a question on his face as if he were asking "Is THIS a PARTY??" - fortunately by that time, it was time for cake. Eventually he did begin to understand that a party meant more than just cake and our arrivals were not so traumatic.

This "arrival anxiety" continues today, of course not as bad as when he was younger but he still has an immediate change in personality, temperament and expression upon arrival to almost anywhere. You might think he is anxious about places he doesn't want to go, or places he's never been and yes, those are some factors, but his highest level of anxiety happens when we are going to places he loves to or has been looking forward to going.

Part of this is just anxiety, plain and simple but as with the earlier birthday issues a lot of it is about the fact that DC always has an agenda in his head. Whether or not I hear about the agenda over and over again, I know it's there.

At the times when we are going to places he really loves, like Disney or New York City, I do hear about his agenda for quite awhile before we arrive. He's excited all the way there and the anxiety kicks in the moment we arrive. His face changes and he begins spewing random words or phrases - "Another one, Another one" or "Froggy, Froggy, Froggy" or whatever the random word of the day might be. He gets himself so wrapped up in his head about what he wants to do and is in such a hurry to do all of it that he just can't control himself.

Last week we went to New York City for his birthday. We park in the same parking garage every time we're there because it is pretty much centrally located and walking distance to all of the places he wants to go. Each time, as soon as he gets out of the car he begins yelling out his random words, clenching his fists and making his loud noises. An observer would really think that he hated being there. He does this all along the route to Times Square or whatever our first stop might be. I was impressed that on our trip that weekend the "arrival anxiety" was quite minimal and he was over it by the time we left the garage. One step forward...

Yesterday afternoon I told DC that we would be going out to eat for dinner. I never mentioned where and he never asked. When we arrived at a place in town that after 21 years living here we've never been before (I was always under the impression that it was a bar until we received a gift certificate for dinner), DC was upset and the whole routine began and continued for an extended period of time - even after he discovered they had all of his favorites on the menu. Doug could not understand why he was reacting this way, we've been to new places before - often. Again, I think that when he heard we were going out, he had a few ideas in his head about where we would be going. He often has ideas about where we will be eating, usually more than one. If by chance we do not go to one of the places he had in his head, but it turns out to be a place he knows, there is no problem. Or.... if I tell him the name of a new place, there is no problem. This was not one of those times. It was not a place in his "mind file"  and it was not an alternate restaurant that he knows he likes but just didn't think of. It was new.

He did order all of his favorites (all of them) and eventually had a 'wonderful time' (DC-speak). I am sure he would be happy to go back again sometime.

Because I neglected to tell him that this was a place he'd never been before (my fault) , I will rate last night as only 1/2 a step back.