Life On The B Side

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

My Wish April 2, 2019

One of the things that I often tell my children is how important it is to choose good friends and to be a good friend.

I know for now they don’t “get it”; but I hope that my repeated focus on it, seeps into their DNA and sticks.  My friendships are and have been a critical factor in my ability to get through life in any sort of graceful or healthy way.

 

A couple of weeks ago, we had one of our first really nice weather days since the start of Spring.  Ace, Jay and another friend were outside playing.  The boys wanted to bring their Nerf guns outside to have “an epic war”.  Ace asked because we’ve had “the talk” with him.  That one that the parents of white children don’t have to have.  The one where the rest of us have to tell our black sons about racial bias and perceptions.  The one where we have to warn them to be careful because they may not be assumed to be innocent children playing games.  If any of you doubt the truth of that statement please let me know.  I’ll point you towards some stories.  They are plentiful.

 

Below is a conversation I had with someone who has been a very dear friend to me for 25 years.  We mostly joke around, tease each other and share funny meme’s back and forth, but I knew that if I shared something that was in my heart, he’d step up – and boy did he deliver.

(Me: Right aligned ; Him: Left aligned)

 

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I hadn’t mentioned it in my texts, but in addition to Tamir, I was also thinking about the shooting of Charles Kinsey.  Kinsey was taking care of an autistic man when he was shot by police, while lying on the ground with his arms in the air; his disabled client was sitting next to him.

 

Any time my boys step out into the world they each face dangers beyond what many other boys face.  Watching them grow up and become more and more independent is too wonderful to explain.  I marvel at them.  But, I worry about them.

Their blackness isn’t ever going away.

Ace’s ADHD and associated poor impulse control or social awkwardness isn’t going away.

Jays autism isn’t ever going away. 

Those things unfairly put them at risk – YET – there are times when I must let them face the fire.  I can’t let them see all MY fear.  I do want them to be careful.  I do NOT want them to live fearfully.

 

My friend wished for his loved ones “Time, health and courage.”  Those are great, but I think my main wish for my boys and all my loved ones: To have people in your life with whom you can be real and honest and true and loved anyway.

We can make all the money, or plans, or take all the precautions in the world, but in the end the only thing we can be sure of – when the chips fall – is our own truths and the honesty with which we lived our own lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Life Appreciation Post December 11, 2018

We are not big on the kids sleeping over at friends houses – if we don’t know the family well. That said … Jay got invited to a sleepover to celebrate one of his school friends birthday. My initial thought was no. But my mind kept drifting back to … well, maybe.

Having good friends is huge. For many autistic people, having any friends is huge. I mean, just yesterday the mom of a popular facebook page posted the foll:

 

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(As you can probably assume, her son Greyson is non-verbal and uses a device to communicate.)

 

I had met the mom issuing the sleepover invite before. She seemed very nice each time. As Jamaican people would say “mi spirit did tek to her”. Jay had been invited to and had attended that same kids birthday party last year so this is not a brand new friendship.

After talking to the mom 1 more time and asking questions like “which other kids that we know will be there and *do you have a gun in your house?”, we agreed to let him go. He was so excited about it and the other kids were excited to see him when we showed up – that made it easier for me to walk away after the drop off. I want this for my son. I want him to have friends and to be included.

 

*~*

 

For the first time – I think ever – Ace had Shaunie and I to himself for an entire evening and night. He’d been asking to go to a Hibachi restaurant but since we knew Jay wouldn’t eat any of the food there it hadn’t happened. This was our chance. We didn’t tell him where we were going and to see his face light up once the realization hit was awesome. The evening did not disappoint. From the initial giant flame to clean the stove area, to the flaming onion volcano to the catching of the food in your mouth to the fake egg being thrown at him. He loved it all. And I loved watching him love it all. He tried the miso soup and said it was good. He did not eat any of the salad but … are you ready?… he ate a piece of zucchini AND a mushroom. Of both he said “It was ok but I don’t want anymore.” He did like the rice and although he had chosen to order steak, he said the best part was the complimentary 3 pieces of shrimp he got. Neither of those meats are things he typically eats.

I was just so proud of him. I want this for my son. I want him to have a wide variety of experiences and to know that even though sometimes his wants are not immediately do-able, when we can, we will do, just for him.

Following the hibachi dinner, at Ace’s request, we browsed Barnes and Noble where we each got a new book.

 

*~*

 

The next day we picked Jay up and heard rave reviews from him about how much fun he and the other boys had. He didn’t even want to come home. [Well, hurt my feelings won’t ya 🙂 ] The mom told us how pleasant of a kid Jay is and how polite and how much of a gentleman. It made me feel so good. I know I say this all the time, but truly – I NEVER COULD HAVE IMAGINED THIS WHEN HE WAS YOUNGER. It’s the most wonderful thing to witness.

 

After we got home it began snowing so we spent the day reading books and baking and playing in snow and finally settled down in front of the TV to watch Christmas Chronicles (a new holiday movie on Netflix). As I sat there, cuddled with my 2 boys under a blanket, listening to them laugh and seeing Shaunie in her spot on the other side of the couch, also under a blanket, the fireplace lit, the Christmas tree lit and already overflowing with presents, the snow falling outside, I had a moment of total and complete contentment. Despite a whole lot of crazy and hectic and worry, we have such a good life and I am so blessed.  I don’t take any of it for granted.

 

 

 

 

*If she did own a gun, I’d’ve had follow up questions about the storage of said gun.  I mean, you can’t be too careful with 7 boys ages 10 and 11 running around.

 

The Friend Jackpot August 25, 2014

In my life, there have been oh so many times when I wished to be in a different situation and there have been oh so many circumstances that I would have changed if I had my way. But the truth is, one small change can change the entire projection of our lives. In the end, we just have to take what we have and do the best we can. We have to be as good as we can to the people who are good to us and we have to try to forgive those who have hurt us. (Forgiving does not mean continuing to tolerate).  It’s because of some life-pain that I have received some of my best blessings. It’s because of some less than ideal situations that I was able to meet and become friends with some of the most incredible people in the world. I wouldn’t change a thing if it meant losing any one of my friends. 

 

NO MATTER WHAT life throws at me (or what I get myself into), I can WITHOUT A DOUBT say that I hit the Super, Mega, Giant, Best Of All Time Jackpot where friends are concerned.

All through mine and their own, family drama, financial issues, heartbreak, questionable fashion choices, medical diagnoses/procedures, bad decisions, relocations, close calls, fears for/death of loved ones, fad diets, disappointments and all things wonderful and joyous … My friends have been the most consistent, kind, funny, fun, supportive, responsible, dependable, strong, goofy, sensitive, compassionate, genuine people in my life.

 

My circle is not that big (although it’s grown to include some of their spouses). The friends I have now are the same friends that I have had for YEARS. I get lonely sometimes since we are all now scattered across the globe but our bond is unbreakable and we make time and effort to see each other when we can. Jobs and other things get in the way so there is usually at least 1 or 2 people missing when there’s a gathering but none the less, what we have is special. We all know it and we all really cherish it.

 

This past weekend some of us got to spend 2 days together and it was just amazing. It’s nice seeing our children together but our children won’t understand what WE have. It’s wonderful – our reminiscing and teasing and dancing and eating and cooking and commiserating and laughing and sharing together – again – still – after all these years. We all want the best for each other and we bring out the best in each other. I may not be where I want to be in many ways in my life but without these people who I call friends, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be a heck of a lot worse off. 

 

I know that having them in my life saved me.

In every way. 

 

I hope that my boys find friends who will look out for them and who will be a good influence on them and who will not worry about following the crowd. I hope my boys find friends who will want good for them and who will accept them and encourage them and help bring them back into the fold when they stray. I hope their circle of friends will make them want to be their best selves just by setting a good example and loving them through thick and thin. I hope that they can be all that for someone who needs it – like I did.  Like I still do. 

 

 

 

 

 

*There are a couple of people who are not necessarily a part of this particular group that got together over the weekend.  My feelings above are as much about them as about the ones I just saw.  Just know that if you are my bonafide friend (and you know who you are), THIS is how I feel about you and I love you.*