Do you think you can keep them little forever? I ask God. Often. As so many other parents do, probably for centuries now. Some things never change, no matter when you inhabit earth. I bet even momma dinosaurs growled out, "it goes by so fast."
And each year God shows me, No, I can't. In fact they must grow and change at a rate so astonishing you won't believe your pictures. So fast you won't remember their funny little thinking lips or that crazy thing they did with their toes. Those memories are like bubbles. Watch them rise up towards you. Recognize the beauty in their rainbow reflection. Be in awe of it.
When they are ready, with no warning at all, those bubbles-- they will pop. Every time. I promise you. You can not mourn the loss of that bubble. Instead you must celebrate the beauty it once carried. You will see that beauty again, but it won't be in the same bubble. If you focus on the old one popping, you will miss the new and all the beauty that it holds.
Luckily, today God compromised. He kept them little all day long. And for the first time in awhile I brought my camera with me everywhere. Because today, I wanted to document the bubble before it popped. And holidays and school events and vacations are a great way to document life. But I like pictures from a random old Wednesday myself. Because I want to remember what our real life actually looked like.
At 8:15 on Wednesday, Parker's day begins with a 50-minute session of Speech Therapy while Grey goes to school. Shhhh- Don't tell Parker, I'm pretty sure he thinks we go just so he can play.
In addition to Applied Behavior Analysis (the gold standard of treatment for kids with autism), I also HIGHLY recommend a play based speech therapy. Our Speechies just so happen to have their SLP and a BCBA (a credential for Behavior therapy). We've been coming here for four years now. In my experience, school speech therapy doesn't even touch the itch.
After Speech, I drop Parker off at a school/clinic for ABA. More learning and more play. He is working on communication, social skills, and good behavior in a classroom of typical peers. Many children with autism need some typical peer models- so they can see play, good behavior and communication close up. In fact, we stopped going to early intervention preschool and started our own gig because they had no typical peer models. Grey wasn't able to see what good looked like. As far as he saw- it was normal to hit, scream, fall to the ground, refuse to share and throw your toys on the ground.
This is when I get a little ME time. It's the best stuff on earth, and without it- I am a terrible mom. At least five days a week I take a class at a place called The Bar Method. I started going to make my body healthier, but the best thing it does for me is clear my mind. It's a mixture of pilates, and yoga ballet poses, and other twisty, bendy hard things. It's hard to overthink when your quads are shaking. Exercise + Effexor are two things I've realized I just can't live without.
I pick up Doodle after a three hour therapy session. This place has the greatest leaf-dropping-trees around. Today we stayed and played a little.
Parker is the happiest guy I'm lucky to know.
My little buddy and I go home for lunch. I won't know what to do when he goes to full time school.
And then we pick up Grey from school.
Grey has a three hour ABA session as soon as he gets home from school at 2:30. He's working on at least ten different skills. Three days a week Parker also has another 3-hour Behavior Therapy session in the afternoon. He does not pull a double on Wednesday.
Grey is learning to ride his bike. He's a whiz with training wheels. I think we're ready to try without.
This program is called One to One Correspondence. This concept is so fundamental that we don't even think about it. Rote counting is important, (ie counting from 1-10) but those numbers can just be memorized like the lyrics to a song. In order to have a stronger understanding of mathematics, kids must have an understanding of the numbers. Here Greyson has to match the number on the board with the number of items he places in the bin.
At around 3pm, I think I'm going to die without caffeine or a nap. Unless it's the weekend- the nap just aint happening. Lately this has been my favorite. Coffee, with a half a pack of hot chocolate. Add vanilla creamer and marshmallows. I like a little coffee with my sugar.
He is the hardest worker I know. Like seriously investment banker hours. Whenever I feel bad about that- I remind myself that this makes his life easier and better. I can't express just how much ABA has changed our lives. This kind of therapy won't be available to them forever, and turning it down would be like throwing away money- or brain cells. This is a short time LONG TERM INVESTMENT. We've already seen so many dividends.
Throughout therapy Greyson works for reinforcers (a toy, a piece of chocolate, jumping time on the trampoline), in addition to pieces of this puzzle. When his session is complete, if he's earned it- he gets 45 minutes of play on his ipad. It's a good system.
Oh yes, and somebody pooped on the toilet, so he got ice cream. He hasn't had an accident in over two weeks!!! Poop training has easily been one of the HARDEST part of parenting for me.
My socks don't lie.
I'm happiest at home. I'm the type of person who longs for home before the end of the vacation. If you can't be content doing absolutely nothing at home, then you probably can't be happy- period. I love our daily routine. It's soothing and predictable. Until it suddenly bores me and I feel like I'm going to explode. Yep- that happens too. But for the most part, I am happy.
So often when tragedy and heartache or even stress strikes, we think back to our normal from before. "Why didn't I appreciate it more then?" We ask ourselves. So right now, when all is calm, take a moment to appreciate it now. Everyday life is my favorite. Even the hard days, the days we feel broken and exhausted really are just a little drop in the big bucket on life. Taking pictures and chatting with you always reminds me of that. Pay attention to your bubbles, friends. They were blown just for you.