Sunday, January 14, 2018

Parenting Tips article California Special Edge 2018

I wrote an article for The California Department of Ed, Special Ed division called The Special Edge.

Parenting Tips link below.

Parenting a Child with Challenges 2018

And, here is a copy and paste version of the article.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tooth Fairy and Santa in one week

I was telling this story today and it happened such a long time ago, I decided to find it in my old emails and post it here...just because I am losing my memories of some of the really funny stories.  It's an oldie but a goody!

Most of you know Danny, my 10 year old kid with Autism, has had amazing adventures...and the last one I told you all about was his lucky meeting with his idol, Paul McCartney.  This time, I have an equally cool story to share with you all...we all need to believe...

The past two weeks have been trying to say the least having just buried my beloved mother after a dreadfully long battle with cancer...okay...

We finally get back home and try to get back to our lives but I am still sideways.

One evening last week, our new baby-sitter told me that she saw Danny pull out his tooth and put it surreptitiously under his pillow telling her "Don't tell my mom because I want to see if the toothfairy is real."  Thankfully, she told me but sadly, I forgot.

The next morning, Danny walked into our room pulling down his bottom lip to reveal the gaping, bloody hole where is tooth used to live "Hey mom, there is no tooth fairy...she didn't come"  To which I gulpingly replied "Did you check everyone else's pillow?  You know our tooth fairy likes to play tricks on us.  She's put money under everyone's pillows."  (it's been our safety excuse for years)  So while Danny continued to talk to his dad, I grabbed a bunch of quarters and snuck down to his room to put the quarters under the already overturned pillow in his top bunk.

While I was heading back, I noticed, poignantly, that Danny had already overturned the pillows in his sibling's rooms and the guest room.  Gulp. Oh well.

I was able to persuade him to go back downstairs and check the pillows never know!  At this point, Hallie, my 14 year old extremely hip teenager, is now part of the expedition.  We all ended up in Danny's room when Hallie says to him, "Come on, check the pillow in the top bunk...come on!" So, knowing that he has already done this, he somehow summons up the reluctant "interest" to try again. 

So, he flips over the pillow and there is the money.  He turns to Hallie, who is the only one in his sight line, drops his jaw, widens his eyes in disbelief...and says..."Hallie?  YOU are the tooth fairy?"  To  which Hallie, quick on her feet as always, replied "Don't spoil my cover and don't tell your friends, it's our secret."

Danny nearly fell over.

All this time...all these questions.  And here she was, living among us.

It was incredible for Danny.  He  couldn't believe it!  Hallie was modest in her celebrity...and answered all tough questions, appropriately for the tooth fairy.

What a great moment as a mother.

SANTA vs DANNY (this week really, too):

So, Danny has been asking us for Santa real? What is the deal? My friends don't believe, ect...We have managed to dodge the big ones responding with "It's the magic of Christmas, do you really want to know?"  He would always say "no" and he would go with the conventional wisdom in his teenage heavy house "dude...don't ask...don't tell."

Last Thursday he asked the last of 100 questions VERY  unexpectedly during his Little League Game (really, do any of us have the chance to prepare for the BIG questions from our kids)
He begged "Is Santa my parents?  Tell me...tell me!!!"  Well, no one was around to see that I had hit the wall with this topic...anyone who knows an autistic kid knows that the barage of questions is relentless but...his 16 year old brother had just cracked up the car and though he was fine,  I had just seen the car for the first  time in the tow yard and it was totaled  so...I admit... my head was somewhere I answered with exasperation..."Yes, yes, is your parents"  (for god's sake)... 

Danny was shocked..."It's really your parents?" he said with bugged out eyes and a sense of amazement (but thankfully, not disappointment)... and I said, as I scanned the younger kids from his team in the dugout..."Yeah, but if you tell anyone, the magic is over and NO presents will be there on Christmas  morning"  I couldn't bear the disappointment the other parents would feel at the realization of the TRUTH from their younger kids at Danny's innocent hands.

So, Danny moved on with this new information.

That is until, Friday May 11th.

We were on our way to join Dad in Las Vegas for a show and Danny had to "visit the men's room" before we boarded our plane.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted this small in stature guy with white hair, curly beard, twinkling eyes, glasses, red tee shirt that read "Yep, Im on vacation" and red sweat pants...It was Santa and he was walking into the mens room.

Danny took one look at him and followed him in...I held my breath.

As I stood out there for a minute I wondered "What a great pedophile act..." and I got a little nervous.  And then, the better of me (or my angelic mother, visited me for the first time) said "No way, this is so cool" and I went with it.

When Danny came out, though, I caved into my darker side and asked if he saw Santa's wiener or if Santa saw his while they were peeing...he said "Of course not, I wouldn't look at Santa's wiener," and I responded with "...of course"...I was relieved and felt a little guilty that I went there...

Anyway, Santa came out of the  men's room and he must have seen the look on my face and the innocence and wonder in Danny's eyes.  I said to Danny, "Hey, it's not everyday that you see Santa on vacation, is it Danny!?" and then Danny answered "Hey, Santa, do you know my name?"  Well, this guy must be an old pro at this...and he said "Of course I know it's you, Danny!"...

Santa then reached into his pocket and pulled out a small candy cane and handed it to the awestruck Danny (and looked at me, with my slack jaw).

We wished Santa well on his vacation and walked over to the B line at Southwest.

Danny called his dad on the phone and breathlessly told the story..."guess who I met...Lot's of people think he's a legend, and lots of people think he's not real...but dad, I just met Santa Clause in the mens room at LAX..."

And I thought, it's not everyday that you meet Santa in the mens room at LAX.

I will always believe in goodness and kindness and love...

Love, Laureen

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Mis-Adventures of the Malibu Hormone Queen

There is something so terribly "reflective" about turning a certain age but, when you can write a funny song, have a great director as your neighbor, hire a banging camera crew and then share it with  so many of your favorite and willing girlfriends (okay, expect the girl who had to play "Vaginal Dryness" she ended up putting a bag over her head)  The participants include one of Malibu's top real estate agents as well as two of Malibu's esteemed mayors!

So, for all the women, who are Queen's of their respective realms, enjoy "The Mis-Adventure's of The Hormone Queen"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Our Poon Puppy Led Us To The Iditarod

Here is Smokey Sills. 

Yup.  He is a pretty cute dog!  Last Christmas, my college-aged son tried very hard to bring Smokey up to USF/San Francisco with the hopes of walking this adorable puppy around in his neighborhood and attracting women of all ages with his sure-fire aphrodisiac.

My son named him Smokey. I named him The Poon Puppy.

Sadly, for my son, the landlord said “no way” so Smokey the Poon Puppy stayed behind in Malibu. I gave my gleeful 60 year old husband carte blanc to walk this “alleged aphrodisiac” around Point Dume to see if it really worked!

It sort of did but not in the way my husband was hoping. 

MY husband FELL in love with Smokey the Poon Puppy.  So did our 15 year son who is still at home.  And, I guess you could say…grudgingly, I have become Smokey’s lover, too.  Our whole family, including the two college kids in SF, has joined the Siberian Husky lovefest!

So in trying to find a quick vacation to accommodate my husband’s really busy work schedule, I booked a trip for the three (college kids stayed in school) of us to go see where the real huskies flourish…

The Iditarod!  You got it.  Beach people in Alaska during the winter!

In preparing for this bucket list trip, I scoured the main race website and clicked on all the bios of 60 or so mushers. (I was beyond intrigued with each one…some were right out of central casting for mushers!) Many of them are connected to causes and so I nearly fell over when I found one who had been involved with taking her team of dogs to meet children with disabilities.  She also had a nephew with Asperger’s Syndrome, just like our 15 year old. Get the down coats out…we were off to Alaska!

With a tiny donation from The Malibu Special Education Foundation and our family, we sponsored musher Jodi Bailey who is currently in 25 position (as I write this) as she nears the final stretch of the race!  She is carrying the Malibu Special Education Foundation banner for all to see as she flies through all the checkpoints and brings awareness for children with special needs all the way to Nome!

Jodi was very touched to get to know Danny and hear all the stories about what The Malibu Special Education Foundation does for so many families touched by disabilities!  Danny even had an opportunity to get a ride on her sled!  It was an incredible opportunity and the beginning of a new relationship!  We hope that Jodi will come down to Malibu and share her Iditarod experiences with all of us and enjoy taking a walk on the warm sunny beach with The Poon Puppy himself!! 

And that is how The Poon Puppy led us to the Iditarod!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Power: Understanding that a Jock is just a Jock

With incredible support from the coaches, a lot of back-channeling by us and a fantastic special ed crew at our high school, The Weatherman is a Lacrosse player!

“Lacrosse?” you might say, “really, for an aspie kid?”

And I say, “Lacrosse Mom? For this brain-dead husk of a survivor of three ADHD teens?  Bring it on!!”

The Lacrosse topic came up, as all paradigm-shifting conversations always do, unexpectedly and in the car.
(When the Smarter Spicoli was 13 he asked me how old I was when I lost my virginity.  I asked him why and he said he felt so sorry for Dad who told him he lost his virginity when he met me…he was 39…my hormonal son was practically despondent and I nearly rolled my car trying not to laugh.)

The Weatherman TOLD me he was trying out for the Lacrosse team.  I had to fight my wicked ADD “foot-in-mouth-disease” and refrain from saying “Are you kidding?  You don’t even walk fast let alone run and we have never been to a lacrosse game, we don’t know the rules and don’t those guys bash each other with sticks?”  But, my friends will be shocked to know that I actually told him I thought it was a great idea. 

Now for the next step. Teaching The Weatherman Lacrosse.

*Found a local coach who spent weeks teaching The Weatherman the basics so that when he got out on the field for tryouts, he didn’t embarrass himself.

*Contact the HS coach and start the long “conversation.”

*Buy a DVD about lacrosse.

*Get the outfit. So…here is how that went down.

The Weatherman and I went to the local sport store and I found a sympathetic looking sales kid to rescue me.  If The Weatherman was going to try out, at the very least, he would have the coolest accoutrements to complete the look. 

I accompanied the two as we piled the cart with pads, helmet, cool looking stick, gnarly cleats, gloves and oh, yeah, one thing the Weatherman didn’t have was a Jock Strap.

I made eye contact with the sales kid and left those “details” for him to discuss with The Weatherman…but I stayed close just in case The Weatherman reacted to the sales kid's size selection.

I give the sales kid a lot of credit.  He found the right stuff I guess and off to the cash register we went. 

We were ready….uh…sort of.

On the first day of practice, The Weatherman got dressed at home and I really had no idea if all the pads were on properly but he looked okay to me. 

Until I saw the way he was walking.  He was walking like a cowboy with bowlegs.  So I said to him “Hey, why are you walking so funny?”

He told me that I would walk that way too if I had to wear “a F#$%^ cup!”

So, of course I sympathized with him and said I had no idea what that would be like but lots of men play sports and don’t walk that way.

Swear this is true.  The Weatherman said that he didn’t believe that because “How could they do that with their balls hanging out of the cup.”

Breathe deeply.

My delivery of the next “piece of advice” was cautious as I told him I didn’t think he could possibly have it on right.  I gently said that I think the cup is designed to hold your stuff.  But again, I digressed with “I wouldn’t know that for sure, of course.”

That is when the light went off in The Weatherman’s eyes.

“Oh, maybe I have it on upside down.”

Ouch! “Really?”

So, the poor Weatherman had indeed put the smaller part on the top, which left his manjigglies squished out on the sides.

I drew the line at helping him “adjust” this issue but I did work the “visual learning” aspect of the teachable moment that would have given legendary mime Marcel Marceau a run for his money.

And, really, this begs the question “Why doesn’t any of this stuff happen on my husband’s watch?”

By the way, The Weatherman is having a great time on the lacrosse team and with all that “support” (haha) he is walking around campus like “THE MAN!”

Scepter’s up!!!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Power: Keeping My Eye on The Poon Puppy

The Power: Keeping my Eye on the Poon Puppy

My two college kids came home for their holiday break…for a month!

I have to admit, as the day approached in December for their return, I, like most normal mothers, looked forward to having them home.  Though I had gotten used to, and enjoyed the relative quiet of our house somehow I had developed a brain lesion or selective memory and had forgotten how much I deplored their nonstop, techno, wall vibrating taste in music. 

I returned to my old, cranky, pissed off self after a day of “Dub Step” and the endless parade of the cast of characters who just had to welcome back The Smarter Spicoli and Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle!

But, the best was yet to come! 

For anyone who thinks kids grow out of their ADD, I’ve got news for you…they don’t.  They are prone to all the same stuff that got them into trouble when they were in elementary school but now, often times, the consequences are a bit more challenging.

Impulsivity is our family’s biggest challenge.

The Smarter Spicoli came home a couple of days after Christmas with a Siberian Husky puppy that he had quasi rescued in downtown LA. He told me that the puppy was going to live with him in San Francisco.

Here are the highlights of our exchange.

Me: “A puppy? How can you bring a puppy back to college?  What about studying?”

Spicoli: “It’s chill, Mom.”

Me: “Puppies require a lot of attention. You go to school all day.”

Spicoli: “Mom, it’s chill.  I live with 5 guys. They will help.”

Me: “Why don’t you bring our old lab up to SF.  She sleeps all day and only requires feeding.”

Spicoli: “Dude, Mom.  Chicks love puppies.”

Me: “What?”

Spicoli: “Mom…if I walk around SF with this really cute puppy, think of all the poon I am going to get.”

*note: one of the special gifts a child with ADHD has is a lack of filter and relentlessly inappropriate, but truthful discourse.

Me: “You mean to tell me that you are going to take advantage of this sweet little puppy as a device to get poon?”

Spicoli: “Totally. It’s like a chick magnet.”

Poon Puppy with our Lab.
Me: (looking at the sweet puppy) “How does it feel to be a Poon Puppy?”

So the rest of the The Smarter Spicoli’s “vacation” was “totally chill” as the aphrodisiac effects of the Poon Puppy began to pay off. Gross.

I, on the other-hand, spent the “vacation” pointing out poop for Spicoli to clean up and trying to teach him how to care for a puppy that had such a wonderful future waiting for him in Spicoli’s lair.

As the date got closer and Spicoli realized just how hard he was going to have to work to get “poon” I began to feel really sorry for the Poon Puppy. He was going to be miserable in San Francisco. I prayed that Spicoli would see the world through the Poon Puppy’s striking blue eyes and figure out for himself that sacrificing the dog for poon would be the right thing to do…as a good citizen.

Thankfully for the Poon Puppy, Spicoli’s landlord told him that he would get evicted if he had a puppy.  Spicoli was pretty sad and wiped a tear from his eye as he said his good byes.  Not sure if the tear was for the dog or for the chaste future he faced back in San Francisco.

I didn’t have the heart to give the Poon Puppy away so, I am now the mother to two cats, two dogs and a cockatiel and now, a Poon Puppy. We all know the drill…they gnaw on everything, poop everywhere require exercise and non-stop attention and everything has to be put and out of teething range.

I am reluctantly up for it. What’s the worse thing that could happen?

Teeth marks at bottom right, ouch!!
Swear to God…I woke up yesterday morning and found the Poon Puppy teething on my $3500 fake eye. (it’s like a big contact lens which covers failed cornea transplant, no big deal) but now it has teeth marks on it and I can’t wear it because it hurts when I blink.

I’ve got to do a better job keeping my eye on that Poon Puppy!!

Scepters UP!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Power: Believing My Daughter...An "F" Can Actually Disappear

Last year, when I got the dreaded "progress reports" from the high school in the mail, I poured myself a lovely cab and sat down at the kitchen table. Progress reports meant a lot around here. Either I had a house full of dedicated "homework-doers" whose grades would reflect their nightly chants of "it's cool Mom, I did all my homework" or I had a house full of liars.

When they were little, I used to employ my mother's trusty old Dickens-like device to seek out the liars in my family. "Stick your tongue out and let me see if it's black" was a remarkable device and every time they would roll their eyes down to see if their tongue had turned black, I would laugh to myself. This was SO easy!! Too bad it didn't work when I asked my husband if a dress made me look fat or if my drooping jaw line made me look like a marionette. But now that they were older, my teenagers would boldly stick their tongues out just to prove they weren't lying.

So, when I opened up Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle's second semester senior year progress report, I nearly fell over.
She actually had an F in English!! With three kids with ADHD and my youngest in Special Ed, it seemed miraculous that I had actually never seen an F in all these years so when I called her into the kitchen, I was pretty pissed.

AS much as someone with heavy black Doc Martens could look like they were "strolling"over to the kitchen table, RS-D did just that and casually lowered her pink tipped locks to get a good look at the progress report. When she saw the F she gave a knowing laugh and said that her teacher had told her that the F wasn't really an F and it would disappear the following week.

Nicely done I thought. Calm, cool, confident. REALLY!!!?? She thought I would fall for a disappearing F?

She then sauntered off to the family computer which I valiantly and proudly kept in the kitchen so that I could attempt to monitor all their internet activities like the "Poster Mom" I dreamt I could be. RS-D happily composed an email to her teacher, hit send before I could read it and smiled proudly at me. "Geez Mom, don't be so paranoid. It's all chill."

Chill...?? God, I hate that word, by the way!

Moments later I received an email...

I am reprinting the following email from RS-D's teachers. (I changed all the real names)

Hello Mrs. xxx
I'm just writing to let you know how wonderful RS-D has been in my class.
Please don't worry about her grade at this moment. She just forgot to give her
Hamlet logs before the grading period and that plummeted her grade to an F.
Once she turns them in it will go back up to a B.
RS-D is an fantastic part of class. Smart, respectful and funny. And she has
been very good all year about her grades in English. This is just a momentary
fall that will be restored.
Thank you. And just let me know if I can help with anything.
Sincerely,  English Teacher

I had to laugh. I could tell it really came from the teacher and I was pretty happy to read all the great stuff about her but REALLY??  This might have been the very first nice letter I had ever gotten in my whole life as a mother of three kids so I stopped my self from hiring a skywriter and decided to have some fun with it.

I sent the following email to my daughter and cc'd the english teacher.

"Dear Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle,
Dad and I can't believe you hijacked Mrs. xxxx's email address and sent us this inconceivable "teacher's pet letter" as a ploy to let you go out this weekend.

RS-D, in all the years that Dad and I have had letters from teachers come to our house, we have never, ever, ever gotten a letter of such high praise about any one of you kids. We have become quite familiar with the "Dear Mrs. xxx, your child (fill in the blank) said (fill in the blank) at nutrition and now will have to do full day Friday."

Dad and I began to feel suspicious with the implausibility of this dubious letter when you included that you are a "fantastic part of class." We really got nervous when you said you have "been very good all year about her grades in English." But, the big "a-ha moment" came when you said you were "smart, respectful and funny"...uh...funny? No one is funny in our family...

You are grounded.

Love MOM"

I wish I could find the actual reply from RS-D's teacher. She defended my daughter and said the first email had actually come from her. RS-D hadn't hijacked anyone's email...she was innocent. When I tried to tell her I was just trying to have some fun with RS-D...she gave a glib reply which basically inferred that poor, quirky, ADHD RS-D had obviously had more significant challenges at home... with her weird parents.

And...the "F" disappeared!

Scepters up!!

Queen Beach

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Power: "The Old Switcharoo"

Spotty and Brownie were two very special mice and have earned a sacred place in our family lore.

When a "quirky" kid has an interest, all of us exhausted parents will go to the ends of the earth to try and accommodate that interest.  Who knows where it will lead, right?

RS-D has always loved animals and as I have previously mentioned, our house has been home to a manegerie of pets.

When RS-D was five, she fell in love with two "adorable" mice that we had walked bye in the pet store as we got a bag of crickets for her frog.  How could I say no when I figured they were going to be fed to a snake anyway.  So, we got her a clear plastic mouse cage complete with the spinning wheel, places to hide, tubes for water and food and lots of wood shavings.  Chez Spotty and Brownie was a mouse paradise!

We kept the mouse cage up on our counter in the kitchen so that RS-D could care for them and watch them play all day.  She could even carry the cage around to her friend's houses and to school because the cage had a convenient handle on top and it was pretty lightweight.  That is the operative word here...lightweight.

While RS-D was in school one day, I came home to find that our cats, Alvin and Simon, had also enjoyed watching Spotty and Brownie play all day, too.  So much that during all the excitement, they knocked the cage onto the kitchen floor.  I can only imagine the scenario because I found poor Brownie shuttering among the wood shavings.  Spotty's remains were left under the piano.  I was horrified!  What a terrible ending to Spotty's life!

But, I had to do something, and something fast.  RS-D couldn't see the carnage!!  I jumped in my car and drove as fast as I could to the pet store and quickly found a feeder mouse who was white and had spots similar to Spotty.  It didn't occur to me at the time but I am sure the pet store left the feeder mice to themselves and I suspect there must have been a lot of inbreeding.

I plopped the new Spotty back into the cage and RS-D thankfully didn't notice any genetic differences.  Good thing the pet store had a supply of these genetically related mice because my cats did this repeatedly over the span of a couple of months.  In fact, in a sort of Sisyphus-like twist, those poor mice must have really had a junky karma and a crummy destiny.  We got to Brownie #5 and Spotty #3 and she didn't ever notice the difference...until Spotty #4.

One day, RS-D came home from school and remarked that Spotty had part of his ear looked like Brownie #5 had taken a bite right out of his ear.  So, RS-D put Spotty in our "travelling mouse cage" and we headed for the vet with her best friend, Maria. They were both dressed as Belle, RS-D wore gold lame version of the rescued Belle while Maria wore the pink wedding Belle dress.

As the girls took off holding hands looking at all the poor injured animals waiting for the vet's tender care, I told the vet the whole story of Brownie #5 and the now, Spotty #4's ear debacle.

I swear this is a true story.

The vet took Spotty #4 out of the cage and wrapped he/she in a towel with her/his head sticking out and facing me.  I watched Spotty#4's face as the vet took a really long Q-Tip to try and clean out the affected ear.  It was then I remarked at how amazing it was that Spotty wasn't squirming around like he/she always did.  The vet looked at me quizzically.  "Really" she said.

It was then that I gulped and watched the vet lay the towel on the exam table, unfold the ends to reveal Spotty#4's limp body.

I looked over at the girls who were engrossed in the caged animals and didn't notice the drama the vet had just unfolded.

The vet looked at me and then at Spotty's limp body.  She took her two fingers and gently gave Spotty a couple of firm chest compressions and waited.  Nothing.  She tried it again.  Nothing.  And then she took her stethoscope from around her neck, placed the pieces in her ears, held the end to Spotty's chest and listened.

I swear to God...I held my breath willing Spotty to be just unconscience.

The vet slowly shook her head, removed the stethoscope and said "I'm afraid we've lost Spotty."

To this day I don't know if I almost burst into tears or into hysterics!!  It was a line right out of Ben Casey.  I had been holding my breath for what seemed like an eternity that I had trouble catching my breath as I looked over to make sure that RS-D and Maria didn't hear me.

I felt so badly for Spotty especially since he/she was looking right at me...I was the last person in this world that he/she had seen.  Geez....

I glared at the vet as I grabbed the girls.  I told them that Spotty was going to have surgery that evening and that we would be back right after school tomorrow to bring him/her home.

The next day I paid yet another visit to the pet store, picked up Spotty #5, brought him/her to the vet and back into the portable mouse cage. And when RS-D got home from school, we promptly went to the vet to pick up the surgically enhanced Spotty. She was very impressed with the vet's incredible skill..."you could hardly tell Spotty had surgery" she remarked.  I never did pay that vet bill, by the way.

When we got back home, RS-D was so relieved to bring Spotty home and gently place him/her back into Chez Spotty and Brownie.  But as Spotty got used to his/her "new surroundings" RS-D was shocked that Brownie hid behind the spinning wheel.  "It's as if Brownie doesn't recognize Spotty, Mommy."

It was then I realized that the jig was up.  I didn't recognize Spotty or Brownie or myself but I sure did recognized my daughter and her clarity.  I had exhausted myself and compromised the lives of a few poor sweet mice to keep my kid's attention and allow her to nurture her interest.

So, I adjusted my crown, hopped in the car and got Spotty and Brownie a new, sturdy cage where they could live together in peace and harmony (and safety) with all our other animals and still hang out in the kitchen.

Sometimes Supervision is in hindsight but as we know, it's 20/20!

Scepters up!!

Queen Beach

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Power: Embracing My Inner Mange

When my "quirky" daughter, Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle (RS-D) (she wanted to name herself that when she was little) was in Kindegarden at the Catholic School, I was often so proud of how different everyone thought she was. I mean, I had learned years before not to recoil in horror when her chubby fist would reveal such shocking pets like a Stink Bug, rolly-polly bugs and the endless lizards that came home in little nests she would make in her lunchbox.  The sweet teacher would always put a sticky note on her lunchbox to warn me so that I wouldn't have a heart attack when the dazed lizard would try to escape after being knocked about inside her lunch box all afternoon.  In fact, she really was amazing at catching those little suckers. 

 Have you ever seen how fast they run?  It was as if she anticipated which way they would run that was the key to her stellar lizard catching success.  Even the boys were impressed.  Everyone has their "gifts."

Over what seemed to be a freaking eternity fraught with fighting back the gag reflex, I learned to see the beauty in all creatures big and small...mostly small.  And I learned to see the beauty in RS-D's unique gift with animals.  "Perhaps she will grow up to be a vet" I thought despite her complete inability to do any kind of school work.  Nonetheless, I remained steadfast and hopeful and RS-D had every animal under the sun.  She had a Gerbil whom she named Lance Burton after the Vegas magician because he would disappear all the time. (Incidentally, my husband used to work on his TV Specials so when the vegas Lance would call our house he would announce himself as "Hey, it's Lance Burton.  Not the hamster." Swear)

 Anyway,  do you know why doctors in the emergency room call Gerbils "Staple Guns"...we do.  She had two mice named Spotty and Brownie which were so much a part of her childhood that they are now part of our family lore and I have dedicated a single post to them.  For the Science Fair, in third grade, she even ordered chicken eggs and an incubator and diligently tended to the eggs for almost a month until they hatched in her bedroom.  That was a huge accomplishment for a kid with the attention span of a gnat. With a big win looming at the Science Fair, I even let the chickens live in her bathtub for the month leading up to it.  I have to say, I relished in the thought of her winning First Place in front of all the "judgmental moms" proving that her "quirkiness" could really be a bonus but she lost out to a mom (oops, I mean a kid) who figured out the algorithms of the undulating waves on the beach (hummm, in third grade, imagine that?)

Eventually, RS-D got a couple of guinea pigs Honey and Mocha.
They were pretty cute and she loved them so much that they slept in her room in a very roomy cage.  She even performed a Britney Spears song at the talent show holding Honey in her arms. ( It was adorable but she lost out to a kid who did a well rehearsed version of Etta James' "At Last"complete with a backup track. ) But no one told me how prolific guinea pigs could be so when Honey got really fat, RS-D insisted she was pregnant. Try to imagine my shock when Honey gave birth to 6 babies and then immediately after expelling the the bloody afterbirth (which thankfully she and Mocha ate so I didn't have to clean it up), Mocha had his way with her and poor Honey was pregnant AND nursing her babies at the same time. Men!

It was a lot of fun for the neighborhood kids to come over and visit all the babies.  We decided the guinea pigs needed to run around outside (and the smell was killing me) so we put a fence around the dog run and put a chicken house out there to accommodate the Honey-Mocha clan.  The kids named all the babies after all Pokemon characters and decorated the fence with Pokemon cards.

RS-D eventually heard about a 4H Club that showed guinea pigs in contests. I immediately had images of RS-D living a fresh scrubbed life like Fern from Charlotte's Web so I signed her up.

 We drove way out to the farmlands on a weekly basis to hang with the fellow guinea pig lovers.  RS-D loved it and I tried my hardest to bond my fellow guinea pig lover moms. It was a tough job becasuse when I first arrived at the Guinea Pig Den Mother's house, I was shocked to see that she had lined two of her dining room walls with floor to ceiling guinea pig cages!

Like these.
 There had to be 25 cages per wall and they were on wheels so she could roll them out in the back yard for cleaning. I am not kidding!!!  I was in a serious guinea pig situation.

Eventually, the Big 4H Show came to the next county so RS-D eagerly signed up and we drove off with her dear Honey sitting on her lap.  I had never been to a 4H Show and aside from it being held right next to a Gun Show, it was very innocent and Charlotte's Web-ish. The kids all seemed so sweet and I was thrilled for RS-D, who was dressed in the prerecquiste jeans, white shirt and 4H scarf.  I admit, it was a teary moment for me as I watched her proudly place Honey into the "Cavy Contest" (I adopted the insider terminology.)  I was beyond dreamy watching this adorable tableaux of motherhood unfold before my eyes...with Paul Lynde and Debbie Reynolds singing the songs from Charlotte's Web as my misty musical underscore.

Shock and awe might well describe the reaction of the two toothless guinea pig judges who insisted RS-D immediately remove Honey from all the other "sows."  RS-D was perplexed and I didn't feel my feet crunching the stupid hay as I stomped over to inquire about their mistreatment of our dear sweet, mother of 13, Honey.

"She's got mange!!" they indignantly and I am not kidding, haughtily shouted for everyone to hear.

 As I tried to shield RS-D from the elbows of the other kids who were angrily reaching over to grab their perfect guinea pigs from getting any where near RS-D's, my eyes found our Guinea Pig Den Mother.  I quietly shrugged my shoulders and told her what the judges said and she frowned.  At first I thought it was out of sympathy for RS-D but as she began to give me the top to bottom on what mange actually is (contagious and mites is all you need to know) she actually insinuated that I needed to brush up on my guinea pig mothering skills and that perhaps we should look into buying RS-D a "show quality" guinea pig (for a couple of hundred bucks)  who would not live in the "outside" family quarters/dog run. As the words tumbled out of her mouth like Charlie Brown's teacher, I couldn't help but think that her two walls of show quality Guinea pigs were probably worth a heck of a lot of money.  But I bet she didn't have a Guinea pig who made such a difference in so many people's lives.

Mangy Ol' Honey meant the world to me, RS-D, The Smarter Spicoli, The Weatherman, The King, Mocha, all her babies and the neighborhood kids.  There is always a little part of me that wonders if animals know what is going on around them and, at that moment,  I secretly hoped that Honey didn't suffer the indignity of her ordeal.  However, I must say, I walked out of that 4H Show proud to be Honey's mother!

RS-D did get a ribbon for being "part of the 4H Show" and, thankfully, she really didn't grasp the whole "mangy guinea pig" debacle. I made sure I took a picture of RS-D and Honey and the ribbon and I put it in the newspaper.

RS-D was so proud of Honey and didn't participate in the 4H program after that big show because she was more interested in "playing" with her guinea pigs and not worrying about mange.  And, I was so proud of RS-D for finding the real reason to love someone who is really different.

I try to do the same.

Parental SUPERvision power:  Have fun, play and not worry about mange (or judgement or fear or the "what ifs.")

Scepters UP!!


The Power: Knowing Facebook is "The Cocktail Party You Are Not Invited To"

I used to LOVE Facebook for The Weatherman.  Being a kid "on the spectrum" means a lot of time alone and for a couple of years, I thought Facebook gave him the cultural references he needed to be on common ground with his otherwise typical peers.  He felt extremely cool as he navigated the silly "Why do Chicks Love You" questionairres and other goofy "groups" that made the isolated kids in the world feel like they were part of something.   I was relieved for him!

But somehow someone had thrown Kryptonite my way and my trusty Parental SUPERvision was disabled!  What was I thinking!  I used to make The Smarter Spicoli and his sister Rainbow Sparkle-Dazzle "get off the Facebook cocktail party!"  I would freak out when they were trying to do "homework" and Facebook was always on their screens when I would walk in their room.  (Parental SUPERvision power...catlike tiptoeing into any given room, undetected)

When we were kids it was easy to sit in your room and wring your hands over what you might be missing in the hormone-filled world of high school.  Can you imagine how much it stinks to be in your room all alone, turn on Facebook and see all the kids who are having fun, attending parties that you are not invited too, hooking up with all the kids you wanted to be hooking up with? What a nightmare! What a mind melt.  Any teenager worth their salt would have a tough time publically viewing all the stuff they are not included in!

How did I not see that coming for The Weatherman?

As The Weatherman wandered through his awkward adolecence armed with primo UCLA social skills our heartbreak for him was withering as we watched him flounder with his typical peers.  The Weatherman was doing EVERYTHING he learned at UCLA, to approach a desirable peer group (hummm), figuring out the desirable peer group (of course, The Weatherman was only attracted to the cool kids.)  He was pretty miserable.  

The final nail on our parental coffin was when we discovered that he was BEGGING on Facebook for anyone to come over to our house to hang out with him because he was so lonely.

Even one came over.

So, Facebook, "The Cocktail Party That You're Not Invited To" and I are in a SUPER Power struggle.

I HATE FACEBOOK!  Kids can say ANYthing to anyone and worst of all, they can publically "un-friend" anyone!  That is social torture!

Could I get arrested if I created a Facebook persona of the Weatherman, surrounded by hot girls, attending amazingly fun events, with tons of people responding to his funny posts so the other kids he knows at school will think he is cool and WANT to be his real and Facebook friend?

It sounds crazy, but think about it, it could be a helluva lot of fun AND it could really work.  In fact, it could be a really great movie....hummm....

Scepters UP!!!