Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday Retrospective: The Passing of a Generation

The Heinz sisters (left to right): Junie, Esther, Marie (in lap), and Ruth. Ruth died very young. Marie was my Granny Pinkie.

Esther, Marie, and Esther's husband Fred.

My Granny Pinkie, my Great-Uncle Frank, and my Great-Aunt Barbara Hope. Aunt Barbie Hope was my grandfather's sister, and Frank was her husband.

My Granny Rabbit and Pop-Pop. These were my father's parents. I don't currently have any photos of my grandmother's sisters, Tressa and Pauline (my grandmother was Mary).

The grown Heinz sisters: Junie, Marie, and Esther.

We are unsure who the adults are in this photo, but I suspect they are my grandmother's grandparents (the Heinzes). If I am correct, we have: my great-great grandmother Annie Krug Heinz, my great-great grandfather Evan A. Heinz, my grandmother Marie, my great-uncle Evan (he died when my mom was young), my great-aunt Esther, my great-aunt Junie, and my great-aunt Ruth.

This is the Perrygo clan. I know who some of these people are, but not all of them- and though I know the names, which face does the name belong to? I can say my grandfather had a lot of brothers and sisters, and I think this photo has most of them. Clint, Annette, Margaret, Edgar, Maurice, Elmer, Percy, Watson, and my grandfather, Leroy. It is likely that his parents, Elmer and Rosa, are also shown here.

My Pop-Pop Conway, the real Santa Claus (Mr. King), my Granny Pinkie, and the real Mrs. Claus (Mrs. King). I grew up with these people being Mr. and Mrs. Claus... period.

My grandmother, my grandfather, my great-aunt Betty, and my great-uncle Bob. Bob was my grandfather's brother. Betty was his wife, and she died this morning.

They are all gone now.

Meltdown in 3... 2...

And unfortunately, I am not referring to my children.

Its a rainy day. I've been trying to engage my children in an activity that does not involve the television or the computer to no avail. No interest in making bead-chains, decorations, water-colors. Joey briefly got interested in drawing cupcakes and coloring them and cutting them out, but then he wanted to take them to a friend. Great.

So I give up, put them in shoes and coats to go for a walk in the lull of the rain. We are out to collect leaves and other now-wet items, and Joey had put his paper cupcakes in his bucket, so I offered to hold them. I take the cupcakes and store them in a safe pocket- to be left also holding the bucket. "No, Joey," I hand him back his bucket. "You have to carry this."

And then the "I have to be first" game starts. Joey runs screaming down the street because Andy is ahead of him. And then he gets ahead of Andy, and Andy starts to run to get ahead of Joey. And they are both screaming. And no one is looking at leaves, or acorns, or even where they are going. We live in the town, you have to watch for things like cars.

So I call them back, and try to explain that we are trying to have a nice walk and... Joey starts chewing on his bucket, wandering away down the street, paying not one nevermind to me at all... actually, he's just avoiding me. Right into the street.

So I recall him, and take the bucket so he will pay attention to what I am saying, and he starts emptying his lungs.

We gather ourselves together, and we start to continue the walk...

And it starts to pour. We need to go home. So I say, "It's raining, we have to go home." And Joey commences screaming again, now a good tantrum- how frustrating to be told everything is fine, only to it suddenly not be fine for an entirely different reason.

I melted down on the spot.

I manage to get hold of hands and half-drag my children back to the house, with Joey screeching the whole block home.

Edited a couple of hours later: JOey is in front of the computer Andy is watching his beloved new favorite, Max and Ruby. All quiet on the eastern front.

Friday, October 24, 2008

LRE Catch-22

A couple Falls ago, we- that is, my sons and I- started attending church. We gave a couple of churches around a try, and had a lot of trouble the minute the word “autism” was uttered- local churches, particularly Sunday School teachers- wanted no parts of it. Some of you may want to drawl on about how Sunday School teachers are volunteers, they have no special education training, they aren’t prepared to deal with special needs, yadda, yadda, yadda. And I say to you: this is supposed to be a Christian community. Joey is part of that community. I’m happy to help and talk with you and even be in the classroom to support him; but you have to welcome him in. We were turned away.

So we ended up in one of the big downtown churches, mostly because when I mentioned that Joey was autistic, the Sunday School supervisor said “OK.” And when I asked to meet with her and with his teachers, they all said, “Wonderful.” And then we met, and talked, and it may not have been a perfect world of support and understanding, but everyone did their best and the teachers loved Joey just as they loved all the other kids in their class, and stressed that we’re all God’s children and He loves us all just as we are- including Joey. Some of the kids liked him, and were friendly; some of the kids didn’t, and weren’t, and it was funny how this was mirrored in their parents’ reaction to meeting him or seeing him. We were glad to have a place where Joey could be an active participant in his community among his peers.

Then we moved on a year, and the next teacher wasn’t interested in meeting, and it was a little less successful a year, and the supervisor that was so willing to listen left. That’s the way Sunday Schools go. Some people stick it out forever, some folks come and go. Andy’s Sunday School teachers had been at it for fifty years.

And then we signed up for Vacation Bible School. I would call that moderate success. We had some incidents, but overall, he had a good time, and all was OK, even though I had to be there with him instead of letting him be on his own a little. The new supervisor of Sunday School mentioned there were plans for a special needs class in the Sunday school, and would I like to get into the discussions about it? There was a problem where the upper-levels (second grade and up) do “Rotation Sunday School.” This means that the kids have rotating themes throughout the year- and they move from room to room for different activities. We had a couple of the older set that couldn’t handle all that change so quickly (Sunday School is only about an hour, remember). So I said I’d be glad to help, and heard nothing more about it.

I’ve been working on a lot of Sundays. The Fall is the busy season for one of my jobs, and as it also has a slow season, I like to try to build up some cash now to tide over the slower months (although it usually ends up making money to play catch-up from being through the slower months). We finally got a chance to go to Sunday School last week, as my work was cancelled for the day. So we went to introduce the guys to their new rooms: Andy to the preschool-4’s (the teachers Joey had his first year), and Joey to the First Grade room.

So I arrive and take Andy to his room, and one of the ladies pulls me aside and asks me about Joey. How is he doing? Where am I taking him?

We got guided not to the First Grade room, but to a new class- the Disabilities class, which currently consists of those two older kids, and now Joey. They have two people who “alternate” covering the class, and they are both special educators in their real lives. (How is “alternating” the teacher going to help kids with trouble with transitions and change?)

In other words, for Sunday School, Joey just got put in the self-contained classroom. And I find myself in a bit of a Catch-22.

Apparently, the first grade teacher doesn’t want Joey in her room, because she had one of the now-older kids, and didn’t know what to do with him. In other words, she was not properly supported before, and has no desire to be left in the cold twice. That may be reasonable enough, but where does that leave Joey? Isolated and closeted in a self-contained environment- a class that I am being given the strong impression was created specifically for him and these two other kids, one of which isn’t showing up regularly, either. He will get one-on-one (or nearly so, if the other kid shows up) attention for reading the little weekly reader things and the week’s Bible lesson. But he’ll be shut away from his friends, from his peers, and they are shut away from him.

I appreciate the effort and thought of trying to support people with special needs, but what about supporting them in the least restrictive environment?

What is more important? Learning Bible stories, or being included in the community of his peers? You probably have figured out my answer to that. If you haven’t, please note nowhere else in this post have I said anything about Bible stories.

That may seem strange to some folks, but we’re Methodists. The Bible stories themselves aren’t nearly as important as the lessons they teach- love, acceptance, honor, respect, living a life that spreads God’s grace in love through positive action and attitude. What good is memorizing The Good Samaritan if you keep passing by on the other side of the road every time you see someone in need? Teach the kid to help the person in need. They can read the Bible story later.

So we are left with a Sunday dilemma. Do we go back? Do we leave Joey in the self-contained room, or do we fight to have him in a room where the teacher doesn’t want to deal with him? Should we be looking for a new church home?

To the pumpkin patch!

We went to the pumpkin patch this afternoon. It is supposed to rain tomorrow, Andy has Harvest Day on Sunday, Halloween is Friday, so today was the day. We were pleased to see lots of other folks at Snead's Farm, because that means Snead's made money today, and we like them. We got to pick out pumpkins, play in the hay in the barn, check out the goats, llamas, and chickens, and have a great time. Yay, Fall!

Joey loves pumpkins. This year he's been into odd-colored pumpkins. He has a white one he bought with Grandma, and today he picked out this green one. He spent a good part of the afternoon cradling it in his arms, patting it lovingly, and referring to it as his "baby pumpkin." Which, it is- a baby, unripe pumpkin. Smart boy.

Andy picked out this little tiny pumpkin. Now, when I was a mere lass, my brother and I picked out a pair of pumpkins together. His was very tall and thin, and mine was tiny. We called them "Laurel and Hardly." Andy would have been in love with Hardly.
Then we went for a good chicken chase. Andy likes pretending to be a T. Rex and run after the chickens, roaring. He scared the bejeebus out of some chickens today. Sorry Myrtle May.

Joey preferred to chase the chickens while crowing like a rooster. Or just crowing. He sounded remarkably like a real rooster. Maddy's son would be so proud of him.

Yummy chocolate for Andy's school

Andy's school is having a fundraiser selling Gertrude Hawk chocolates. Very yummy yummy chocolate. If you are interested, you can order online (just click here), and they just ship it to you. Yummy yummy chocolate. To your door. And Andy's school gets money. Yummy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


For almost two years now- or is it longer?- Joey has insisted that someone sit in his room with him while he drifts off to sleep. Trying to leave before the child was fully asleep meant starting over in the whole 30-40 minute process. JoeyAndyDad has taken on the task the vast majority of evenings, sitting in the chair that was once my grandfather's, turning on his iPod to listen to a book once Joey was calm and quiet and just dropping off. Sometimes Joey likes to watch his aquarium light for a while before really going to sleep.

Every once in a while, we get a glimmer of possibility that this ritual may be ending.

Last night, Joey dismissed his dad after story time. I was still reading to Andy and making up our latest T-Rex and the Lizards installment, so when Andy was all tucked in, I wandered over to Joey's room to check on him. He has his fish light on.

I was also dismissed after a good squishing.

He went to the bathroom once, and spent the rest of time in his own room, being quiet. And then he fell asleep all by himself.

I think my baby is growing up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Never Forget

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . .
And by that time there was no one left to speak up."
-Martin Niemöller

There are many times when someone said or did something ignorant and mean, and I have spoken up. Every time I do so, I of course get my share of folks who support and folks who just plain don't get why I'm unhappy. Such is the way of the world; ignorance is hard to admit to and give up.

And there are plenty of moments when I have been reminded of my own ignorance, bias, and thoughtlessness. Thinking and changing is part of growing, and may I never stop growing until I'm dead. There is always more to learn.

But it remains hard to realize that there are some lessons people should have long ago learned and generalized, and yet the mistakes remain part of our society, even praised. Being"politically correct" once meant you showed respect to others and engaged in constructive dialogue using constructive language; somewhere along the way, that got lost in a frenzy of semantics and bulldog attitudes that insisted the point was more than to not offend. Is it really more respectful to say "disabled" instead of "handicapped"? The idea of asking a disabled or handicapped person- particularly the person standing in front of you- got lost in the war of folks on one side or the other. So much for being politically correct. The phrase got picked up and bashed by those who only wanted to think of themselves, which is so much easier, anyway.

Why is it is still "funny" to laugh at people, instead of with people? Most of us recoil at the idea of blackface being funny, but still laugh at the "retard." We fail to see the difference between Bill Cosby talking about having to kiss his aunts or dropping his ice cream and Topsy jokes. Do you know the difference? Why is latter offensive, and the former not? Why do people still think it funny to laugh at other people, when it is well-known that laughing at someone because of their race or religion is unacceptable?

There is a huge difference between laughing at someone, and laughing with someone. Laughing at people is mean. I refuse to condone it.

Wordless Wednesday: Today's accomplishment

Eep. Or, What's happening here.

Sorry for the post lag. I am grading the worst set of midterms I have ever gotten. We are trying to figure out what is going on with Joey in math. I had to put away the boys' big pool-slide today before it starts to really freeze around here. And I've been working like the Little Beaver Who Could.

Joey read Green Eggs and Ham to me last night, entirely by himself. He had his first box of 64 Crayolas today, which are right now his greatest treasure- all those colors, including "macaroni and cheese"! He was having some tummy distress in the car- the return of car sickness is not a good sign for sensory integration (here comes another sensory shift! AAAA!)

Andy's after-school mood is consistently Crabby. We took him for pizza yesterday because he positively would NOT go into the Olive Garden (where we normally have lunch when we go out with Grandma). He still likes dinosaurs. We're now making up the Adventures of T-Rex and the Lizard Brothers regularly at bedtime (maybe I should write them down and start a new classic children's story series). We've added Spider, Fox, Frog, Spooky, and Pumpkin to our list of characters this week. They tend to like to blow bubbles and play Hide-and-Seek.

I have two hours off tomorrow. I would dearly love to spend it curled up in my living room watching Time Bandits whilst stitching up something pretty from mom for Christmas in front of a small, comfy fire in the fireplace. Maybe if I feel energetic, I could arrange the mantel for Halloween. But I'm placing my money on the two hours being spent mulching the garden, digging through the guest room to even try to get to the Halloween decorations, and maybe some random cleaning-type activities. Because i suck.

But I will ltry for a few minutes of blogging. Really.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fly on the ceiling of my car.

"aaEEEE{snort} onmyGREEshur aasisma anj aaEEEE{snort} onmyGREEshur aasisma anj ..."
"We found dinosaurs! Mommy! Dinosaurs!"

"Well, they didn't do too bad. It was a pretty long service, we couldn't have stayed for the whole thing anyway."
"Andy was asleep through most of it."
"That helped."

"aaEEEE{snort} onmyGREEshur aasisma anj aaEEEE{snort} onmyGREEshur aasisma anj ..."
"Dinosaur bites the babies. They get in the water splash and crocodiles eat them. They dead."

"The people behind us seemed very nice. They didn't even complain about Joey telling the church to be quiet."
"Yes, they were very patient."
'And the folks in front of us were nice about the kicking."

"aaEEEE{snort} onmyGREEshur aasisma anj aaEEEE{snort} onmyGREEshur aasisma anj ..."
"AAAARRRRRGGGG! T-Rex eats the crocodile!"

"Considering how loud it was, they did really well."
"Yes, I'm very proud of them."

"aaEEEE{snort} onmyGREEshur aasisma anj Look at the pretty leaves! onmyGREEshur aasisma anj ..."

Sunday Retrospective: In Memory of Love Lost II