Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

According to Ace June 21, 2017

If all goes well, courtesy of their father and step-mother, the boys will be the big brothers to twin sisters early in the fall.  The other day, Ace was talking about it and said “I hope the twins don’t get autism.”

I understood that he probably had a good reason for what he said but I didn’t like that he said it in front of Jay and explained to him that we never want Jay to feel as though something is wrong with him or that we don’t love him for exactly who he is.

It gave me the idea though that I wanted to interview Ace.  I wanted to give him a chance to talk without feeling the need to sugar coat or censor anything.  Our interview is posted below (with his permission) as well as a couple of notes by me.  His answers are in bold and my notes are in small print.   (If the formatting acts right.  It’s looking weird on my screen.)  Also, I selected the punctuation to try and reflect the way he spoke as accurately as possible.

 

 

What’s your name and how old are you?

*Ace.  I’m 10 years old.

 

What’s your brothers name and how old is he?

Jay and he’s 9.

 

What kind of things do you do for fun?

*smiling*

I’ve never been an interviewer before. 

 

Interviewee.  Remember there are no wrong or right answers.  I want you to be completely honest.  OK?  So, now, what kind of things do you do for fun?

 Sometimes I watch videos or play video games.  I also like to build Legos and on occasion, I read for fun. 

(I love that he said “on occasion”.  It sounded so grown up. )

 

What kind of things does your brother do for fun?

He likes to watch videos.  Right now, mostly Garfield episodes and then he makes them in book form.  He also plays Roblox.

 

What do you guys enjoy doing together?

*Long pause*

We play with Legos or other toys.  Like animal toys.  And we act out our own stories.

 

What have you taught your brother?

That’s a hard one.  I can’t really think of anything.  I did help him to get better at speaking.  Like, I correct his language when he says things the wrong way.

 

What has your brother taught you?

He tried to help me to get better at drawing but I’m just horrible.

 

What kinds of things are hard to do with your brother and why do you think they are hard?

It’s hard for him to speak properly and to not get angry over silly things.  It’s because he’s autistic and his brain has a hard time knowing what to get angry about and knowing how to focus on what to say and how to say it correctly.

 

What can you tell me about autism?

I know kids with autism are really smart but they have problems showing it.  He’ll get better when he’s older.  He’ll still have it but he’ll know how to control it.

 

Can you think of a time you felt really proud of your brother?

Yes actually!  Whenever he tries new foods and when he completed his first book that he wrote I was really impressed.  It was really good.

Also, when other kids compliment him and his drawing I feel really proud of him.

 

Does your brother ever embarrass or frustrate you? If yes, how do you handle it?

No.  Well … kind of, sometimes.  When he gets angry and other kids talk about him it’s kind of embarrassing.  I don’t say anything.  I try to ignore it.  Now, it’s not so bad though and he gets over it really quick. 

 

Is there anything your family hasn’t been able to do or it’s been harder because of your brother?

I can’t remember where we were going but he got angry and started making the trip miserable so we turned around and didn’t go.  Also, sometimes we leave places early because he’s getting mad and making it miserable for everyone.

 

Do you feel like you get less attention than your brother?

No.  I feel like we get equal amount.

 

Do you feel like you each get enough individual attention from your parents?

Yes.  You do a good job.  Don’t change a thing.

(That was nice to hear because it’s one of the things I have long worried about.)

 

Do you ever talk to your friends about having a brother with autism?

Yes.  No mean things.  But like when we are at camp and other kids talk about how it’s not fair that he gets better food than us so I tell them that he has a doctors note and I try to explain to them and defend him.  Or if he’s throwing a tantrum and kids say something I tell them he’s autistic.

 

Do you have any friends that also have a brother or sister with autism?

No.  One time after I was talking about Jay, one kid told me that I would get along well with his sister but I don’t know why he said that. 

 

What can parents do to help siblings understand autism?

I think parents should be open and they should talk about things and explain why things are happening and what to do about it.  Like in case you can help.  Depending on the sibling I think they don’t mind helping. 

 

How can parents encourage more positive interaction between their children?

I don’t know.  I think we have a positive relationship.

 

How can parents deal with resentment and competition from siblings?  Do you understand that question?

Yes, I understand but I don’t know.  I don’t feel any of that.

 

If you put yourself in your brother’s shoes, what do you think he would say about you?

That’s a hard one.  I think he would understand how I feel and he would try to help me as well.  He would say I’m a good brother even though I am only nice sometimes. 

 

Do you worry about what will happen to your brother when you guys get older?

No.  Not really.  I believe in him.

(I LOVED the words “I believe in him”). 

 

Do you think he will become your responsibility and you will have to take care of him when he’s older?

No.  I think he will get a job and be able to live in his own house.

 

What’s the best thing about having Jay as a brother?

*LONG pause*

I’m not saying there’s no best thing. 

*Smiling/Giggling*

He is easy to tease and to have fun with.  Like, I can show him what to do and he will do it.

 

What’s the hardest thing about having Jay as a brother?

Dealing with his anger issues.  For sure.

 

What are the best and worst things about having you as a brother?

Having a brother who respects him.  But having a brother who bosses him around.  Like, I will tell him “take your feet off the chair” and like that.  I talk to him like he’s only 5 years old and I will do the counting thing like “One, two … “ when he’s not doing what he’s supposed to do.   

 

Is there anything else you’d like to say that I haven’t asked you?

You only asked me about autism.  I want to say that having ADHD is hard.  I get distracted easily and sometimes I have a hard time falling asleep and I fall asleep late but then I am tired the next day. 

 

Is there anything else we can do to help you that we are not already doing?

No.  I feel like you know it’s hard and you understand what it feels like for me.  We have a lot of fun and even when you are hard on me I understand why even if I don’t like it.

 

Anything else you’d like to say?  Would it be ok if I interviewed you again some other time?  Maybe in another year or so?

Oh yes!!!  Maybe you can interview me and ask me what it’s like to have twin sisters.

 

*Both of us laughing*

Sounds like a plan.  Thank you for doing this.

 

Cause & Effect April 7, 2017

Picture this …

Jay on his scooter, Ace on his bike, slick roads from recent rain – and the next thing you know, there is blood everywhere.  It was coming from Jays face and from Ace’s knee.

 

Now, when you are the only parent home and 2 bleeding children come running into the house and they are both screaming about the pain they are in, there is a certain amount of panic that immediately hits you.  Who do you tend to first?

 

After a quick assessment I determined that Jay needed more intense service but Ace’s injury would be more easily tempered.  So, I slapped a band aid on Ace to cover the bleeding.  (I would clean it later).  Then I turned my attention to Jay.  The poor thing had what looked like a bad gash on his upper lip and some minor ones on his chin.  I couldn’t tell if the blood in his mouth was as a result of the lip or if he had done damage to his gums as well.

 

After some careful washing and rinsing, I determined that all the blood was coming from his rapidly swelling lip.  I managed to get him cleaned up and I put some antibiotic cream on it.  It wasn’t as bad as it had initially looked.

 

But none of that is what I want to talk about.  I want to talk about how amazing Jay was throughout this ordeal.  He was clearly in a lot of pain but he tried so hard to hold it together.  When I asked him to wait one second so I could slap the bandaid on Ace, he did.  When I asked him not to touch his face with his sleeve, he moved his hand away.  When I asked him to rinse his mouth with water, he did, even though he was scared that it would cause more pain.  When I let him know that I was going to have to touch it to clean it and apply ointment, he nodded his consent.

 

When it was over, he said:  “Mom, do you know what that was?  That was cause and effect.  The cause was that Ace and I crashed and the effect was that I got bleed.”

I let him know that he was absolutely right and that I was very proud of him for being so strong.

Then we curled up in bed and cuddled for a bit.  After a while I asked him how he was feeling and he said it was getting a little less hurt but that he was ok.  He even smiled for a picture.

 

Then this morning, my sweet boy, who the internet will tell you lacks empathy due to his autism, asked Ace how he was feeling even though he, Jay, had gotten the worse injury.  Ace assured him he was fine and in turn asked Jay how his lip was.

 

Happy Friday everyone … May you all have a great, no bleeding, no lip swelling day.

 

 

Snow Flash Back September 19, 2016

*Every so often I browse through my drafts folder to see what kinds of things I’ve written but never shared.  Today I found the below which was written just about 3 years ago.  Dunno why I never published it.  This year will be the first winter that we’ve spent living anywhere other than New Jersey.  I’m a summer lover, but we do take advantage of snow when it comes.  The kids love sledding and snow man building.  For Shaunie’s last birthday we spent the day snow tubing and Jay thought it was awesome.  I don’t know what this winter will be like where we are now.  It will certainly be milder than up north.  I can’t believe I am saying this, but I hope we get to enjoy a little snow at some point.*

 

 

When we left home this morning it was cold, but dry.  10 minutes later when I was dropping Ace at school there was snow sticking to the ground.  10 minutes after that – as I was pulling into my parking lot at work – there was enough snow that cars were skidding around.

“This is a lucky day.” Ace said as he exited the car this morning.  “Lucky how?” I wanted to know.  “It’s snowing.” was his cheerful reply; then he hopped out the car and skipped down the curb towards the school entrance; face raised and tongue out so as to catch snow on his tongue.

I spent all day at work wishing for a phone call from the school to say they were closing early so I could leave work early and go home.  When it’s snowing, I like to be home.

The first time we saw any snow this season was last Sunday evening.  It wasn’t very much at all, but there it was; white stuff falling from the sky.

There are only 2 things that could get me to venture out into the snow voluntarily.

Jay and Ace.

We were all already bathed and pajama’d by the time they noticed it.  They both stood in the window quietly staring out.

I don’t think he had planned out his strategy but it worked like a charm.  Ace asked Jay if he’d like to go outside and play in the snow.  Of course Jay said yes and even threw in a “Change du clothes“.

Now I had 2 very excited little boys asking me to get their snow boots and gloves out.  Before I realized what was happening, we were headed outside.  I don’t even think they ever officially asked me if it was OK to go.

We went for a walk and were out for about 20 minutes.  The boys kicked up the snow and they turned their faces up.  Ace licked some snow off a hedge and when I said “eww” he reminded me that it was alright because it’s not like any dog could have peed up there and it wasn’t yellow.  (That boy makes me laugh)

I guess our winter is officially underway and I can only assume that we will spend a lot of time outside playing in snow – and this Warm Blooded Island Gal will love every second of it.

 

They’re Back September 8, 2016

 

They’re back home – And this mama is happy.   We are back to making grilled cheese sandwiches and to giving good night kisses.  We are back to chore lists and finding fallen ice on the floor in front of the fridge.  We are back to laughing in the evening as Shaunee drags both boys, at the same time, across the carpet as they lay on their tummies, much to their delight.  We are back to hanging out and talking about moles and birthmarks, the krill that blue whales eat or how much it would hurt to get stitches.  The boys are back to demonstrating their karate moves (neither one takes karate) and back to Jay complaining about the amount of toothpaste Ace uses.

Jay, I think, is happy to be back in his own bed.  Every night so far, he’s fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Ace, is up to his usual antics of getting out of bed for more hugs and kisses, or to get water or to show us his dance moves.

 

Some things never change.

 

It’s amazing how much can change in a month.  Jay is now interested in having a healthier diet.  I have witnessed him eating carrots, a banana and watermelon.  He asked for an apple to go in his lunch box.  I hear he also eats oranges, peanut butter sandwiches and yogurt.  He drinks regular white milk now (in addition to what he used to drink; strawberry milk).  He tasted a pretzel and declared at dinner, “The next protein I am going to try is fish.”

When I spoke to CC and tried to give him credit for this change, he said it was all thanks to his wife Emma.  I do appreciate her ability to get Jay to turn this page.

 

Ace is 10 now.  He got Legos and more Legos and more Legos.  He’s in Lego heaven.   We got him an ice-cream cake because he used to like it but apparently no longer does.  His size 10 pants are short and his size 3 shoes are tight.

 

~*~

 

They’re back at school – And one kid wanted summer vacation to drag on forever while the other couldn’t get out the door and to his classroom fast enough.   We are back to filling out tons of paperwork and sending in money for trips and *gasp* graduation gowns.

Jay came home after his first day saying it was good and telling us about the new fish tank in the resource room.  Ace left his homework at school.

 

Some things never change.

 

It’s amazing how much can change from one school year to the next.

Jay is now in a general education class all day.  He has 2 teachers and goes back and forth between 2 classrooms.  One teacher does math and the sciences while the other does language and social studies and the like.  It’s a totally new set up for him.

Ace is still kind of the new kid in school but he’s not the newest kid in school.  There was 1 new boy in his class this year and they have apparently been leaning on each other and have formed a quick friendship.  I am happy about that.

We are looking into clubs and activities for both.  Possibly 4H and the gardening club for Jay and Navy Cadets and track or swimming for Ace.  We will see.

 

Stay tuned to see how this new school year plays out and what else will change; Inasmuch as many things will stay the same.

 

 

 

The Brotherhood June 3, 2014

Lord have mercy on me they fight. They fight over the dumbest things. Whose turn is it to put the strawberry powder in the milk. Whose turn is it to feed the cat or the fish or the turtle. How long will I let one play with the others ones toy before I return it to the rightful owner. Who should get which blanket. Who should get into the car first. Who should hold the Cheetos. Who cleaned up more than whom. The blue bean bag or the green been bag. The list is endless. ENDLESS!!!

 

It wears me down and I find myself doing that angry whisper several times a day. The one where you want to yell but you are trying really hard not to. Sometimes I give them time to sort it out themselves but they never do. It always escalates and turns into pushing and hitting and kicking. Then I have no choice but to intervene.

 

People tell me this is normal. People who either have brothers of their own or who have multiple sons. I have no clue. I grew up as an only child. I had my own everything. My friends and neighbours and cousins were girls. We didn’t fight. We played with My Little Pony and we climbed trees and we swung and we made fake pies out of mud and ketchup. We re-enacted Michael Jackson music videos. We formed a neighbourhood club that raised money for community service projects and we made pom poms out of plastic bags. We were those kinds of kids. We didn’t play games called “kill brother” and we didn’t try to throw each other off furniture or down the stairs.

 

And then …

 

Then they play. And they hug. And they love.

 

It is my favourite thing ever. To see them together laughing and coming up with plans and sharing and cooperating. It happens everywhere. At the pool, at the park, on the couch, in bed … It’s superb. Sometimes Ace leads the activity and Jay follows. Sometimes Jay is the one taking charge and Ace lets him. They build forts and they play tag and they dive for goggles and they script TV show and movie lines. It’s so much fun for me to see and hear them. I’m always trying to catch it on video or camera. Sometimes I feel guilty because it feels like I’m spying on a sacred  bond and special moment in their lives. Something I will never understand. I try not to intrude and break their spell but it’s like a drug to me. I can’t keep away.

Sometimes when we are out Ace gets a little bossy but it’s his way of protecting his brother. Even though I am there, Ace will tell Jay what he can and cannot do. It’s so cute. Ace also translates for Jay. It’s like he thinks he’s the only one who speaks Jays language. I have to tell him that I get it. There’s no need for him to translate for me. But it makes me smile.

Jay is definitely not a follower.  As a general rule, he does his own thing and makes up his own mind but he looks up to and trusts Ace. That in and of itself is big and I hope that as Ace gets older, he realizes that it’s not to be taken lightly.  While Ace will jump into new things head first, Jay is more cautious and likes to wait and see and make sure first. I have noticed though that if Ace tells Jay that something is ok, he believes him. He wouldn’t choose it, but if Ace wants to go on what looks like a big, scary roller coaster, Jay will try it too. If Ace wants to jump into the deep end, Jay will jump too. If Ace wants to climb on rocks or roll down a grassy hill or walk barefoot, well, Jay’s climbing and rolling and walking right along with him. For no other reason than he trusts his big brothers judgment and he wants to do what his big brother is doing. Even though it looks a little intimidating, if Ace says it’s fun to go under the mushroom water fall then it must be. The only thing Jay sticks to his cautious ways with is trying new foods. He’s not eating a hot dog no matter how good Ace says it tastes.

 

I wish they would be the happy, playing, getting-along brothers all the time and there would be no fighting ever but until that day comes, I will keep playing my role of peace-maker and chief-toy-negotiator and injury-preventer. I will also keep taking pictures and videos like a creepy stalker.

 

Oh and if anyone wants a turtle, just say the word. You can have ours for free. No-one will fight you over that.

 

Boys Pool Mushroom

 

A Kind Of Sleepover May 14, 2014

My sons share a bedroom and in that bedroom they sleep in bunk beds. Ace on the top and Jay on the bottom.

 

I was lounging in bed watching TV and writing a post about a hard day at the store when I heard a loud crash. It didn’t sound like a kid had fallen of a bed and there’s really nothing on a dresser or wall that could have fallen but something had fallen from somewhere and it was loud.

 

I ran to the kids room where I saw a big plastic hot-wheels cars case on the floor where it had not been a few minutes earlier.

Ace’s head popped up when I entered the room and he launched into:

Hi Mom, I’m sorry I dropped it but I was making room for Jay. I asked him if he wanted to come and sleep in my bed with me kind of like a sleep over and he said yes.”

 

Sure enough, there Jay was … In Ace’s bed, under a bundle of blankets and pillows. His head peeked out and he was wearing a smile.

I climbed up on the ladder, kissed each one on his head and went back to my own room.

They both stayed in that top bunk and slept all night.

 

It’s never easy to write about the meltdowns, but it was made easier that night because I knew I had this post waiting in the wings.

The “sleep over” that the boys had was just what I needed in that moment to feel better about the relationship that they have.

 

Pot. Kettle. Black. November 10, 2013

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I’m in my room hiding. No, not hiding, taking a breather. That sounds better. 

I hear Jay yelling to me from the living room. 

“Moooommm, Ace isn’t sharing.”

I smile but make no move to intervene.  After all, I’m hiding remember? 

A second later, Ace comes bursting through the door …

“Mom, Jay is trying to tattle on me.”