Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dear Neighborhood Idiots...

It is once again the eve of Trick-or-Treat; that sacred tradition of shaking down people you barely know for obscene amounts of sugar. As I survey my neighborhood and those around me, I see a host of ghosts and goblins, a few witches and one or two undead. Which brings me to my rant...

Last year the dufus across the street sat on his porch in a full body werewolf costume waiting to pass out candy to little kids. His son, the youngest of three knuckle-dragging brothers, lurked in the tree suspended over the driveway. As we were just beneath him, the little shit jumped down - in full on "guy from Scream" outfit and scared the bejeezus out of our troop, which ranged in age from 2 - 4.

OK. I get that you L-O-V-E Halloween. I get that you like to scare people (I live across the street from you and, let me tell you, you terrify me on a weekly basis). I am asking, for the sake of 4-year-olds with vivid imaginations and savant like memories everywhere - Could you PLEASE tone it down this year?

Should we not participate in Halloween? A lot of orthodox religions don't. Lots of right wing Christians and most orthodox Jews just ignore it. But, to me, it is part of being a kid. It is FUN to dress up and parade around the neighborhood and get free candy. So who is wrong here?

I really do believe that Beggars' Night is for the kids. My rules are 1) You must have a costume, 2) You must say Trick-or-Treat (followed promptly by "thank you") and 3) You must not yet have boobs or a baso profundo vocce. I think this keeps us to the 11 and under crowd, no? So if trick-or-treat is for the kids, why are we trying to scare the hell out of them. How, exactly, is that funny?

The real world id terrifying enough. Cripe, I honestly thought I was going to have to explain the concept of war to my 4-year-old during "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" I don't remember questioning my mom about why Snoopy, the "WWI Flying Ace" was being shot at. Maybe that is the part of the show when I went potty or retrieved my Dolly Madison snack cake from the kitchen. My kid, however, looked a little concerned and I sat there, waiting for the question (which, thankfully, did not come).
So I am asking, pleading, nay, BEGGING on this Beggars' Night to please tone it down. Remember that these are little kids with bog fears already. Let's not add to the mental and emotional scars Mommy and Daddy are already amassing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Sunday's Worth of Thoughts

There is a girl who does the weather before the football games on CBS. Her name is Marisol. She is very pretty. But do we, at home and ensconced in our couches and flannel pants, really care what the weather is doing in Denver?

To add insult to injury, she got it really wrong today. A little wrong would be that she called for 70 and sunny for the Pats games and it was 80 with clouds. Really wrong is calling for rain and getting snow throughout the game. While she called for rain in Foxborough, she mentioned that it was going to be "really chilly" in Pittsburgh for their kick-off with Cleveland. It was going to be 43 degrees. Does this woman watch football? Because "chilly" is having you ass frozen to the bleachers in The Dog Pound in December with a brutal wind coming off the lake.

My point is, call a spade a spade. Marisol clearly has no idea what the weather is going to do and I don't think she was aware that there are tight ends other than her own until she started this job (probably still isn't). But damn, she looks fine out there in front of a green screen, doesn't she? So let's give the girl something to do like bring the guys who know what they are talking about drinks or something. I find the "meteorologist" facade insulting. So should you, Marisol.

And now for something completely different...

I am having a moral dilemma. I think the moral dilemma has made me ill. In my last post I told you that I gave notice at work. Now I am champing at the bit to get going on figuring out my kid already.

Whoever came up with "Two Weeks Notice" was a moron. When someone has given notice at a job, they are telling you they are done. Do you know how much damage a facetious employee with a gripe could do in two weeks? They could do some pretty damaging sabotage.

I am not that kind of employee. I am not even that kind of person. When I commit to something I see it through. I finish strong. But...

This is about my kid. This is about what is right for not only me but for my family. I go a little more insane just thinking of the minutes I will be sitting in a cube, unable to do anything about it during the week. Add to this that the president of the company and his wife a friends (if not family) and I really don't want to leave on bad terms. But this is not a job that is going on my resume because I have been there for such a short time. I am not trying to screw anyone. I am just trying to get some momentum on The Jack Situation.

Today was spent compiling phone numbers, browsing websites and making a list of who to contact. Can't do any of that from work.

And so I am torn. And I am literally sick about it. It's only a week. But it is my reputation. I know what society and my employer expect me to do. And I know what my gut is telling me to do. They are at odds. Thus the gastrointestinal distress. And I am beginning to see the truth in the old addage that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

Ah, if I were only a beautiful weather girl. I could walk off the set and no one would even notice.

Monday, October 12, 2009

So Here's The Deal

In July, Jack was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, which is more letters than he is old. Pervasive Development Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. Osi and I thought maybe we were looking at a kid with some OCD tendencies, what we got was a diagnosis that placed us squarely on the Autism Spectrum.

If you read back about a year, I was railing against people who thought Jack needed tested because of the constant fascination with doors. As time wore on, however, and we met with the social worker at Jack's school (yes, his preschool has an in-house LISW, and we are thankful every day for her), it became obvious that the door fascination was just the beginning.

So in July, we had him tested at Nationwide Children's Autism Center here in Columbus. People always ask if it is Asperger's Syndrome. It is not. Not that glamorous, folks. It's just Autism. Not "capital A Autism" as some people refer to it, but again, on the spectrum, which is scary enough.

You never want to hear that your kid is anything less than perfect. So it has taken months for us to come out with this info. We literally told my parents, Osi's sisters and 2 sets of close friends in the first month. We were in denial and after that we were grieving. We didn't tell people because we didn't want people to treat him any differently. But if you're reading this, then you have likely met Jack and you know him. Great kid - a little quirky. You likely love him anyway.

Now I am in the let's kick this thing's ass mode. Which is why I have given notice at work and am devoting myself full time to getting Jack the help he needs. The longer I sat tied to the phones, unable to take or make calls or do any research or any kind, make appointments or get information for 8 hour stretches, the more I felt like the worst mother ever. I knew what my first priority was, and there I sat, not doing a damn thing about it. So, my last day of full time employment is Oct. 23. Can I afford to quit? Sure cannot. Can I afford not to? No way.

Already I am beginning to feel the heaviness lift. I feel ready to fight, rather than the crushing whirlwind I was caught up in just a week ago. With a decision made, I feel we at least have a direction. Is it the right one? Only hindsight will tell us. It is the right decision for us with the information we have right now.

Some people are in denial. Saying that if you ask for a diagnosis - whether or not anything is wrong - they will give you one. That there is nothing wrong with Jack. Others say"my kids misbehave, too." We're all resilient. Jack most of all. Hope you'll support us in our journey - it should be an interesting ride.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Trying to Learn, trying to grow

The last few weeks have been very busy here at Chez Zimmer. We were in the crush of the High Holy Days and with all the repenting and atoning, one has litle time for blogging.

Honestly, though, I have tried very hard to take the themes of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur seriously. I am a believer that we should try every day to be a better person that we were yesterday. But these two days, and the 10 days in between, really crystallize that feeling for me. My heart aches with the wrong I have done and the potential I have not fulfilled. I want so much to be what God expects of me, but fall prey all too often to my human faults - anger and bitterness the quickest to come. So I find it hard to sit through a service during this time of year without shedding tears - if not all out sobbing.

Which makes that fact that I was asked to sit on the bima (altar, for all you goyem out there) all that more challenging. My Sisterhood co-president, Mel, and I - along with the Brotherhood president, were all guests on the bima for the services beginning Rosh Hashanah (think of it at the Jewish New year's Eve). My focus, for most of the evening, was keeping my knees closed, adjusting my dress so my gut didn't look larger than it was, and being mildly amused at Artie Isaac knocking the rock of Lary Pliskin as he came off the bima from closing the ark. All of these led me to to reflect on Reform Judaism.

Some things you won't see at an Orthodox temple:
a) a woman on the bima.
b) a woman in a dress short enough where she is worried enough to have to keep her knees together
c) Artie Isaac knocking the rock of Larry Pliskin

At least 2 out of 3 of these things make me very proud to be a Reform Jew. You can decide which 2.

The last two weeks also also afforded me another opportunity to try a children's service with Jack. Once again, several of his JCC classmates were thee, sitting quietly. Once again, Jack had the attention span of someone half his age and we had to leave the service because he was disruptive. It is very difficult to watch. To have your kid not physically be able to act his age and not be able to explain to other parents that he is not a bad kid and you are not a bad parent. I want to get a little "We're On the Spectrum" yarmulke for him. While Jack is, what the doc called "high functioning" it is unmistakable that he is NOT like other kids his age when you see him in a room with them. It is then that this knowledge smacked me in the face; at 9:45 on the morning of Yom Kippur, throwing me into full emotional meltdown in the staff bathroom. Thank God I have connections or I would have been sobbing on the floor of one of the 20 stalls of the public restroom.

It has been a hard two weeks, but not without its triumphs.

Today was Jack's fourth birthday. We had a small party with just family and four of Jack's buddies at the JCC playground. We played pin the tail on the donkey, ate cake and climbed/jumped/slid until our hearts were content. We are thankful for every day with Jack - even the ones filled with challenges. But more often than not, they are filled with cuddles and laughs.

For instance, when trying to decide, in the 11th hour, what kind of cake to make for his birthday, here is the discussion my son and I had last night:

Me: What kind of cake do you want for your birthday?
Jack: Chocolate. With chocolate icing!
Me. Right. But what do you want it to LOOK like?
Jack: A CAKE, Mommy.

Because, yeah, I'm the idiot.

I am still learning.