Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Life Swapping

Didja ever meet one of those parents that just have to have their children do EVERYTHING? Be involved in ALL activities? Push them to get the GREAT grades? Try for the BEST schools? Don'tja just LOVE to hate them (Nah, just kidding!)? I remember a scene in the movies Baby Boom where Diane Keaton, the driven career woman from the 80's sitting in the park with her newly 'acquired' child, when she overhears some women. "He didn't get into Preschool Academy! If he doesn't get in the right preschool, he won't get into the right kindergarten, so he won't get into the right primary school, then no good prep schools, which will RUIN any chances to get into an Ivy League school."

Not that I've ever been that way with my kids, before or after autism. But I would love to trade places with them for one day. For me, it would be a somewhat relaxing day where all I need worry about are the standard horrors of everyday life. Car payments, getting kids to and from activities, sitting down for a quiet conversation and cuddle at the end of the day with my kids. For the other end of the 'parent swap' it would be a different story.

To wake up...let's say it's a good day, at 5:30. Not bad, pretty normal. Now you have to get your almost 5 year old ready for summer preschool. A little extra work from a 'normal' 5 year old since you have to do most of the dressing brushing and feeding for her, but still, not bad. Once you get one off, it's on to the 3 year old, same routine, same little bit of extra work, but still a cake walk.

The other three, I'll give them a free ride on, since they could be like any other 12, 10 and 7 year olds. Except that when it comes time for soccer, dance, baseball, or any other activity they'd like to do or you'd like them to do; because once the other two get out of school, it's time for therapy sessions. Going from occupational to speech to play therapy take most of the afternoon, not leaving much time for recreational activities. Oh I suppose you could network with other parents to shuffle them around, but you see, you don't run with the 'normal' crowd. Your crowd is more the ABA-don't-go-to-the-market-since-the-tantrum type crowd. They don't exactly have the time either for 'extracurricular' activities. Not that there's an money left for activities after spending a good portion of you salary on therapies. Home at last late in the afternoon, you feed up, wash up, clean up and get them off to bed.

I guess it don't sound THAT bad, except when you think about what your goals are. My restful day with my 'new' kids consists of worrying about pee wee soccer, planning outings, and the all important social groups for my children. My counterpart must worry about pee wee OT, feeding, clothing, and the all important working on the ability for them to communicate.

I suppose I am taking the pessimist's viewpoint of all this; that I should be counting my blessings and cherishing what I have; and I do. But sometimes I'd like to be able to share good news about my kids with the outside world that they do not look at with puzzlement and pity. I'd like to have a day out, heck, how 'bout a weekend with the family without worrying about how we'll manage. I'd like to have a conversation about my kids that doesn't involve some type of therapeutic jargon. I'd like to have laurels to rest on, the one's we get are much too small and fleeting. Just for a day, I'd like to have a life without therapy balls and PECS books and diapers and meltdowns and night wakings. A day with gluten and casein and conversations and running free in the park and pointing out the tiniest of flowers, the biggest of clouds and the vastness of the world.

I'm just being impatient, I know. I'll get there, it won't be the same as I'd envisioned; but it will be better than I imagined...

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