What Will This Day Bring?

Yesterday was Griffin’s first day back to the after-school program he participated in last year. It’s a way for him to socialize with other kids since he’s homeschooled. When I went to pick him up, Patrick, one of the counselors asked to speak to me in the hall. I won’t lie, I got nervous. He was great and immediately reassured me that it was nothing bad. He went on to tell me that Griffin actually handled himself very well when it came to another boy referring to and then singing a song Griffin doesn’t like. This moment reminded me of how much I still worry that something will happen when it comes to Griffin being in a social situation. I don’t expect him to be perfect. I just live with the memories of things not working out. This was a nice reminder that we’ve come along way. I’m so grateful for his progress and that he has a safe environment to learn in.

The song below is a song I wrote while Griffin was in traditional school.

This song was inspired by the countless phone calls I would receive when Griffin attended traditional school.  Every time the phone would ring when he was in school I would tense up.  I actually prayed it would be a solicitor or bill collector.  But then I  would see good old “CPS” on the caller ID and I knew it wasn’t good…..

OMG! Dido, Dido, Dido!

We went to the library this week and while we were there I suggested to Griffin that he check out the teen section. He loves to read and I thought maybe he would discover a new series of books aimed at his age group. I thought that by reading books from this section, it might help him with his social skills when he’s around kids his own age. Boy, was I in for a big surprise!

He immediately found a book series that is written in text form which seemed interesting to him, so he grabbed a few of those. He then spotted “Forever” by Judy Blume. He loves reading the Fudge series she wrote so he just assumed “Forever” would be a good choice. As soon as he said “this looks interesting” I told him “This is about dating, I don’t think you’ll like it.” (I remember reading “Forever” when I was younger and how controversial it was back then.) Griffin seemed ok with putting it back (crisis averted!), and we moved on to the section of the library that had the other Judy Blume books…ones I didn’t have to worry about.

Later that day Griffin was sitting reading one of the library books when he said very calmly “Mom, this book has some language in it and I’m not reacting.” He told me the words and they seemed age appropriate and harmless so I let him keep reading.

Cut to dinner when he asks “What’s an ‘F’ buddy and what’s a dildo?” Um, excuse me!! I just about died and was so glad Tom was there to help out. As soon as Griffin asked those questions, he immediately giggled and whispered (again very appropriate) what the answers were. He told me he was asking because the words were in the book he was reading. From the answers he gave, I’m guessing the book must clearly define the words as well. (Thanks for not leaving my kid in the dark or giving me time to answer.)

I immediately blamed myself for being so naive to think that I could let him read a teen book without doing research on it. We do our best to limit what Griffin is exposed to in an attempt to help him not have meltdowns from being exposed to subjects he’s not ready for. He’s thirteen but he can also seem six sometimes, depending on the situation. He has a tendency to repeat inappropriate words, often in succession, at the most inopportune times and places. He’s certainly becoming more mature in many ways, but he’s just not ready for this subject matter. I want him to be more independent, but clearly finding the balance of when to step back and when to let it be is still a work in progress.

The funny thing is that while he was talking about dildos, he started inadvertently calling them “didos”. We were not about to correct him. I have a thousand other things to worry about. Didos, I mean dildos, are not going to be one of them. Luckily I confiscated the books so he won’t be reading about anything heavier than that…at least, for now. There are other words he’s come across that are not ok for him to say because they could hurt people and make them uncomfortable. He gets that, and does not say those words. So we told him that talking about “F” buddies and “didos” was in the same category. But, for now he’s a bit fixated on “didos”.

Then Tom tells him that there is a singer named Dido. “So her name means fake penis?” he asked. Now I have to worry that if he ever meets Dido, he’s going to say to her “I’m so sorry that your name means fake penis.” Oh Lord, now I really do have a thousand and one things to worry about.

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&*$@! these books!!

I’m Learning Right Along Side Of Griffin

I keep being reminded that I’m learning and growing right along side of Griffin. Today it’s all about the importance of music in both of our lives. For Griffin music has become a great passion. When he plays the piano he is calm and focused. When he’s listening to music he engages in conversation about the composer, the song, the tempo.

For me music has always been a passion. I love to sing and in recent years I began teaching myself how to play the ukulele. When I’m playing the words I’m singing comfort me, I don’t feel so alone. Writing songs as become a way for me to express emotions and thoughts that at times seem too overwhelming to express. When I’m stressed or feeling depressed, music is always right there to help me.

This is a song I first heard on a music box my grandmother Zonie had when I was growing up. I can really relate to the lyrics, as I know we probably all can.

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Water Balloon Fight, Anyone?

Today we were at our neighborhood festival and Griffin asked Tom if they could do the water balloon fight game. Griffin doesn’t like balloons popping at all. When we walked by the game booth where you pop balloons to win a prize, he walked as fast as he could in fear that one would pop. But water balloons are different and he really wanted to get Tom soaked! Tom asked one of the workers if they could demonstrate to Griffin how to play and before we knew it, Clarissa was helping Griffin. It turned out slinging the water balloons was harder than it looked and she stayed with him the whole time. I thanked her and wished there was more time to express to her how much it meant to us. You can tell by Griffin’s screams he had a great time!

Griffin’s Gold Medal Moment

Griffin just finished two weeks of summer camp, a major accomplishment. This is him performing in the camp talent show tonight. This is so special for reasons I can’t even begin to explain but I’ll try. One of the reasons is Griffin doesn’t like to dance in front of people, despite the fact that he really likes to dance. There was also a lot of noise and he had to wait to go on, his group was the last one to perform. He had his earplugs in to help with the noise. And each time a group went on I would ask him if he knew anyone in the group so he would be more invested and it would help with the waiting. I immediately started crying when he started to dance. I love how he is in his joy, how free he is. For our family this is huge. I love our “Y” and I’m so grateful for all the amazing people we have met, they each have a special place in my heart.

Dear Parents

As soon as I was handed the letter, my head immediately started itching. I heard a mother say “Oh, that’s not a letter you want to get.” I smiled and wanted so very badly to get Griffin home so I could check his head.

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Later as I was telling Tom about Griffin’s day, it hit me. This letter was in a very strange way a beautiful reminder of just how far we’ve come. Here I was waiting for Griffin to return from a camp field trip, something I prayed would happen. I searched for a place that was willing to work with Griffin and that would see the amazing person he is. A place were he could thrive and learn in a safe and nurturing way while being around other children. He’s been so happy these past two weeks. Seeing him interact with other kids puts a huge smile on my face and doesn’t get old at all. When I drop him off or pick him up the counselors greet me with a smile and a “He did great,” “He’s so smart and articulate.” It takes everything I have not to cry. I can’t begin to explain what it all means to me.

And yes, I agree with the other mother, this is a letter I don’t ever want to get again but today I’m grateful I did.

My Morning Conversation With Griffin

This morning while getting ready for camp, Griffin asked me if I ever had any crushes when I was younger. When I said yes and told him my crushes were mostly on actors, he replied: “Like on Michael Jackson?” “Why on Michael Jackson?” I asked. Very innocently he answered, “Because you looked liked him when you where younger, when you had short hair.” I thought: So you wanna be starting something?? I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I knew he wasn’t trying to be mean so I decided to just laugh.

When I was studying improv one of the rules you’re taught is “show, don’t tell”. So, with that in mind, I will show you what Griffin was talking about.

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Yeah, not my finest moment. I think I look more like Albert from Little House On The Prairie. I actually did have a crush on Matthew Labyorteaux, the actor who played Albert. Wait, is that weird…since I kinda looked like him?

So there you have it, my morning conversation with Griffin and my 8th grade year book picture, Enjoy!

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Griffin’s First Day Of Summer Camp

Griffin had a great first day of camp! He’s tired but wanted to let you all know how his day went. His day was filled with making new friends, making friendship bracelets, building with legos, playing outside, and learning that sticking up your middle finger is not a good thing. I know you’d think he’d know by now what it means, since he loves to curse but we’ve been spared that one, until now….

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Griffin made me a friendship bracelet at camp.  He wanted to see if both our wrists would be into it, it didn’t! He positioned our hands so it would look like they both fit into the bracelet. 

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The Night Before Camp

It’s the night before Griffin starts summer camp.

Last summer he attended a partial day camp with his therapist shadowing him with great success. This year he’ll be doing a full day with limited support from his therapy team. It’s very exciting and a testament to the hard work he’s been doing and the quality of therapy he has been receiving. And although I’m so proud and excited for this milestone, I’m not going to lie, I’m freaking out a little. This will be the longest day he’s ever had away from home. Even when he was in traditional school, his day was shorter.

All these what ifs are filling the space in my mind that wants to just relax, trust, and celebrate this amazing moment. Even though he’s worked hard, he’s still figuring things out. He’s still working on communicating appropriately. What if  he get’s tired and has a meltdown? What if  he doesn’t pick up on the other kids’ social cues and has a hard time making friends? What if  it’s too loud or he falls behind when they go outside? What if  someone doesn’t understand him or isn’t patient with him?  I feel guilty for having these What ifs. I feel like by having these What ifs it’s like I’m saying I don’t have enough faith in him, that I doubt if he’s ready.  But I think what’s really happening is that I’m not ready. Based on the past, I’m not sure I’m ready to trust the outside world with him.

But the more I think about it, I already have examples of Griffin being successful in the outside world. Just this past school year he attended the after-school program at our local Y. The staff was so wonderful and welcoming. They were willing to work with his therapy team to provide him with whatever he needed to succeed. And he did…Griffin can’t wait for after-school to start up again. Being in that program gave us hope and made it possible for me to consider signing him up for summer camp. Lucky for us we got to meet the staff from the camp. Some are even from the after-school program. Griffin already has people looking out for him. One of the camp staff who we already know told me she’d keep an eye on him. And one of the life guards we know said that he would also look out for Griffin.

I know I need to take it moment by moment, that’s all I can do. Hope and excitement, that’s what I’m feeling right now.

Go Griffin! I love you! I know you can do it!