Life On The B Side

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

Early Start September 26, 2016

It’s not October yet – Fall officially began only 3 days ago – But we’ve already gotten our fall fun underway.  That’s not to say that I don’t want to hold onto the summer for as long as possible.  I do.  However, when you find good deals on Groupon you go with it.  Plus, there weren’t a lot of crowds and I get to post my pictures before everyone gets tired of seeing pumpkins all up and down their timeline.

We made a very beautiful drive out to the Shenandoah Valley this past Saturday and spent the day at a farm.

The farm was set up with a lot of different areas where kids can have fun.  Once inside, you roam around and enjoy each thing at your own pace.

 

There are no pictures of the first stops we made.  Jay ventured to the petting zoo area with Shaunie while Ace and I went straight to a giant air pillow that you could jump on like a trampoline.  It was pretty cool.

 

Following those things, the boys decided to try their hand at roping a cow.  It didn’t go well.  I mean, it well well for me because I got a good laugh but it didn’t go well for the kids who really wanted to get the rope around the cows neck.

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They had a little section with sand for digging and playing and also a couple of farm vehicles to climb into and pretend drive.  They had a tether ball pole and “pumpkin tic-tac-toe” and corn hole type games.  The boys didn’t spend much time there.  I did take a minute to pose for a picture or 2.

 

(My hair looks crazy becasue it was windy.  Not because I have unruly hair – Which I kinda do but that’s besides the point.)

 

Those were taken after I decided to sit ON instead of walking ACROSS the tires.  They were not as sturdy as they looked.  If you think that means I nearly fell off and embarrassed myself you’d be absolutely correct.  The following is me laughing at myself following the near fall and sighing relief.

 

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OK so after my foolishness it was Hay Ride Time!

Who doesn’t love a good hay ride?  And a scavenger hunt one at that.  We had a list of things to spot as we made our way around the farm.  All the kids that were on our ride worked together to find and then announce the items.  Jay didn’t want to take any Hay Ride pictures.  He was too concerned with us sitting carefully and not being silly while we were moving.

 

 

Up next was some see-sawing … Which I hadn’t done in years and some spinning in a barn tunnel thing.  I have video of us spinning in the “Twister-Barn” but it also shows other peoples kids so I’d rather not put it here.  Just imagine pushing that black part around and around like a hamster wheel and then falling once you got too close to being upside down.  The kids had a blast in there tumbling all over each other.

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Ace shot small pumpkins out of a cannon blaster and Jay went down a Mega Slide.

Both boys jumped into a corn pit which works just like a ball pit.  They had a lot more fun in there than I would have expected.  They did cannon balls off hay stacks and made corn angels and rained corn kernels on each others heads.

 

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Wait a second … I forgot to tell you that we did a corn maze.  I’m not typically a fan of mazes.  I get nervous.  This place had an easy one and a hard one.  Guess which one we did?  They apparently do a haunted maze in October.  Yeah NO!  I have no interest thank you very much.

 

(Inside the maze)

 

OK … Where were we?  Pumpkin Blaster, Mega Slide, Corn Pit.

Also, there were pig races and pumpkin smashing.  Ace got selected to help open the gate for the pig race and they were up front and center for the pumpkin smash so of course they got pumpkin juice all over them.  Fun stuff!

While all that was going on, we were taking selfies.

 

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Before we moved on to the next thing I tried to get a good picture of the boys together.  This is what I got.  I know it could be worse but Jays’ face isn’t exactly what I was hoping for.  A Mama can try though can’t she?

 

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What we thought was gonna be the last thing was picking a pumpkin.  There was much debate over what size pumpkin we were going to get and how many of them.  Shaunie and I were on Team ONE, NOT TOO BIG, ONE and Ace and Jay were on Team GET WHATEVER YOU WANT AND HOWEVER MANY YOU WANT.

We compromised and got one regular sized one (for Jack-0-Lantern making) and each kid also got one personal sized one.  I have no idea what they are going to do with the little ones but for $0.84 it was worth it to make them happy.

 

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By the time we had done all that – We were hungry.  We decided to head out and hit up a Chick-Fil-A.

We found snacks in the car though so we delayed our Chick-Fil-A stop and did some apple picking.  Why not?  Most of us had fun with it.  We ate a few apples while roaming around the orchard and checked out the cows in the nearby pasture.

“Someone” … (Not me or Ace or Jay) … spotted a dead possum in the grass and got a little freaked out and tried to pick the rest of her apples from INSIDE the car.  It didn’t work out so well but makes for a funny story.

 

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Overall, we had a really good day.  It never gets old having wholesome family fun with the people I love.

Happy Fall To All.

 

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

 

When An Innocent Mistake On My Part Yields Something Good For Me October 30, 2013

Ace’s school hosted a Halloween fun night.  They had a Haunted House, Arts and Crafts, a Story Room and a Movie Room.

When we got there, wouldn’tcha know, all the kids were dressed in costume.  All the kids, except mine.

It hadn’t even crossed my mind to whip out the Captain America and Ninja Turtle costumes so I had dressed my 2 in “going out” clothes.

 

Since we don’t dress up very often and since I’m always trying to get a nice picture of my sons together, which has turned out to be as difficult to get as a picture of the Lochness monster, I asked them to pose for me before we headed out the door.

Which they did.

Then, Ace volunteered to take a picture of me and Jay.

Then Jay said “my turn” and took the camera from Ace’s hands.  (That was a first)

 

On their behalf, I’m really quite sorry that the kids missed an opportunity to wear their costumes but for myself, I’m really quite pleased with the pictures that I got as a result.

 

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All Because of Busted School Shoes November 19, 2012

It’s only November.  TWO months into the school year.  And already Ace needed new shoes.  He goes to a school with a strict uniform policy so there was no way around getting him new shoes since the ones that were new in September (TWO months ago) no longer had soles and he can’t go to school in sneakers.

 

The first place we went to is still trying to recover from Super Storm Sandy and was closed.  I had no idea that entire strip mall had suffered so much damage.  All but 1 store was closed and under going massive renovations.

We ended up going to the mall where we did find him some shoes for school.  Me and my first born son strolled around checking out all the cool Christmassy things and eating cinnamon/sugar pretzels from Auntie Annies and sipping on a too-big cup of lemonade.  It was really nice having that time with him.  We held hands while we walked and we talked about all kinds of things that are important to 6 year old boys.

On our way out, he spotted Santa and asked if he could go take pictures and tell Santa what he wanted.

I told him we’d come back the next day and try to get pictures with him and Jay together.

—–

 

Three years ago I tried to get a picture with my 2 sons and Santa but it was a miserable failure.  Yelling and screaming and all that fun stuff.

The following year, we kept our heads straight whenever we passed old St Nick in the mall.  No way was I going through that again.

Last year, I let Ace go up to Santa and say hi and shake hands but we didn’t try for pictures.  Ace was satisfied with that and so was I. After all, I knew it wouldn’t work for Jay and what would I do with cute pictures of Ace and Santa but none of Jay?  I can’t send that to anybody.

But that was last year.

This year Ace REALLY wanted a picture with Santa.

—–

 

The following day – the day after getting the new shoes that had better last until June – Jay, Ace and I went to the mall.  CC wanted no part of our little outing.  He already knew there would be a scene and that we would leave with me feeling sorry for myself and asking the same question I ask all the time.  Why do these everyday things have to be so hard?  He told me not to do it.  He told me to just take Ace and have fun but I couldn’t.  I had to at least give Jay a chance.  If it didn’t look like it would work I would bail early.  I wouldn’t push him.  If he didn’t want to be there, I would let Ace have his pictures and we would come home – but we would have tried.

 

In the car on the way, I told Ace that we were going to see if we could get a picture of Santa with both him and Jay.  I asked him not to yell at Jay or to yank on him.  I promised him that if Jay didn’t want to take the picture, I would still let him get his chance by himself.

Once at the mall, me and my 2 handsome boys walked in.  Hand in hand.  You know … like we do that all the time.  Just casually and quietly walk around without drawing attention to ourselves.

We didn’t rush anything.  We stopped so Jay could look at the Christmas posters and decorations.

We stopped so Jay could spell and then try to sound out all the names of the stores.  <– Yeh, my kid does that now.

Then we rounded the corner and there was Santa.

The line wasn’t too long.  Just 3 people ahead of us.  We joined the line and just waited.  Yup.  Jay played with the velvet rope and we WAITED QUIETLY.

When we got to the front, I said to Santas helper “This one (pointing to Jay) has autism so I don’t know if he will cooperate. I would like to try though.  Please don’t do a lot of yelling and waving to get him to look at the camera.  Just be calm and let me see if I can get him to look.  If it doesn’t work then don’t worry about it.  I’ll still purchase a picture with this one (pointing to Ace) by himself.  OK?” 

She said all the right things – went and spoke to Santa – and then it was our turn.

 

Ace ran right up to Santa and jumped onto his lap.  Jay and I walked over and Santa called him to come sit next to him.  Jay climbed up onto the over sized chair and sat on the arm.  Ace launched into his speech about wanting Avengers Lego and Jay wanting a Leap Pad 2.  Jay pulled on Santa beard and gave him hi-fives.  He lifted his hat off his head and touched his cheek.  Santa asked Jay to come sit next to him, which he did.  They took one picture with Ace on Santas lap and Jay crouched down on the chair next to Santa.  Then Santa asked me to help him get Jay onto his other leg.  I moved slowly and carefully – all the while monitoring Jay’s mood and reactions.  I asked Jay to sit on Santas lap, which he did.  Then I said “Say cheese.”

Snap.

They took another picture – this time with both kids sitting on Santas lap and smiling for the camera.

As we were leaving Jay waved his awkward wave and said “Bye Santa.”

 

This is definitely a story for our record books.

 

In the car on the way home Ace said to me “Mom, wasn’t that a good idea that I had?  We took pictures and I told Santa that Jay wants a Leap Pad 2.  Now you can take back the one you bought cause Santa will bring itNow you can use that money for something else.” 

 

It was a brilliant idea my love.

 

Just one of Those Days November 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — The B Side @ 12:12 pm
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I went home last night to a very grumpy Jay, a very frustrated CC and a somewhat resentful Ace.

 

CC confirmed that Jay had been difficult all day.  I think the term he used was that Jay had been a “pest”.  He cried a lot.  He tormented Ace at every turn.  He wanted everything and anything that Ace was playing with.  From his blanket to his Kindle.  He got mad when they (CC and Ace) didn’t repeat the words he wanted them to repeat – in the way he wanted them to say them.  He didn’t want to take off his pajamas.  He didn’t want CC to help him zip them back up after using the bathroom.  He didn’t want to eat.  There was just no pleasing him.

 

We’ve had many days like that with Jay before but thankfully they are way less frequent now.  I always worry that he’s in some kind of pain and can’t tell us.  As far as I can tell, that’s never been the case.  None-the-less, I still worry.  It’s awful seeing your child thrashing around batting you away and knowing there’s nothing you can do about it.   All you know is that your child is unhappy.  Plain and simple.  And you have no idea why so you can’t fix it.

 

Ace asked me to play with him but I didn’t have the energy for it.  I had just gotten home from work and I felt like I should try to give CC a break.  He was clearly at the end of his rope.

 

I asked Ace to hang on a second and to entertain himself while I tried to calm Jay down.  That’s when he hit me with …

But I just want to play with you.  Daddy didn’t play with me all day.  He was always busy.  And Jay didn’t play with me either.  All he did was cry and take my stuff.”

 

Holy hell.  I was so sad for him in that moment.  He’s a really great kid.  He is such a great big brother to Jay.  He looks out for him.  He shares with him.  He repeats the words that Jay wants repeated.  Over and over and over and over. But he gets tired of it.  Of course he gets tired of it.  It wears us out too and we’re the adults.

 

I told him that I was sorry he hadn’t had a good day but that sometimes that’s just how it is.  I told him I was proud of him for behaving well despite Jay being grumpy and I told him that the next day would be better since Jay would be going back to school but he still had one more day to stay home.  I told him he would have Daddy all to himself and they would play.  He asked me to promise.  I did.  He asked me to talk to CC for him and tell him of the promise I had made.  I did.

 

Later in the evening, CC went for a walk in the cold November air and came back feeling refreshed.

Ace and I were on the couch looking through the Toys R Us catalog.  Again.  I could tell he was starting to feel better.    He just needed a little loving.

CC then gave him $8 for his good behavior all day.  Ace quickly added in the $2 he had gotten last week from the tooth fairy and announced that he now had $10.  We told him he could pick something from the toy store with his earnings.  He definitely perked up some more at that news.

 

Jay came running out of his room with a smile.  He jumped on top of me and then looked at CC and said “what’s up daddy?”- like nothing had ever happened.  CC shook his head.  I laughed.

 

Everyone went to bed in a pretty good mood.  I don’t know what happened.

Like I told Ace, it’s just like that sometimes.

 

 

 

ESY, Bus and Pool Time July 20, 2012

This morning I watched as my little boy got onto a yellow school bus.  He’s been taking the bus since last week Monday when his extended school year (ESY) program started.  Usually the bus comes after I’ve already left for work though, so it was my 1st time actually seeing him go.

Never mind that my friend told me that I’m crazy because I went to the school last week and spoke to the bus driver and got her name and personal cell phone number.

He can call me crazy all he wants.  You never know when I may need to get in touch with her; she’s carrying very precious cargo.

 

Now while I may not be thrilled that my son needs an extra month of school because of his autism and the delays that come with it; and I may not be thrilled that he’s getting driven around by a stranger; there are benefits to this whole thing.

He gets to be somewhat independent and I learn to let go just a tiny bit.  (If it were up to me I’d have cameras following him everywhere he went all day every day).  The more he gets to spread his little wings the better he’ll be I think.  Taking the bus is a new experience for him.  He’s been fine with it since the 1st day which is more than I can say for myself.  He just looks so grown up standing in front of the bus door with his book bag heading off into the world on his own.  But he’s not grown up, he’s still a baby.  (I know, I’m very dramatic).  Getting sent off with strangers and not getting chaperoned from point A to point B by either CC or myself so that we can make SURE he’s ok and that everyone who is working with him understands him is a new experience for him (and us).  Learning to navigate a new school and deal with a new teacher and make new “friends” and get himself settled and used to a new routine … all valuable experiences for him.

 

Then there’s my Ace.  He spends a lot of time being Jay’s older brother.  He still gets frustrated at times, but he’s learned how to handle Jay’s miserable moments really well.  He has a calmness that CC and I don’t always have.  He talks to him and listens to him and understands him and teaches him things.  He sits in waiting rooms while Jay gets therapy and goes to doctors visits.  He protects and he encourages and he makes concessions.  So much of who he is, is tied up in what Jay needs or wants.

I love that while Jay is at school, Ace gets a break from big-brotherdom.  He gets to play whatever he wants with his own friends.   He gets to watch whatever he wants on TV.  Instead of being at work or running errands or doing housework, I took him to the pool last week Friday and it was great.  Just me and my boy.  He really LOVES the water and has actually begun teaching himself to swim.  (I signed him up to start formal swimming lessons later this month.)  He spent some time playing with a friend from his school that was there.  We moved from one area to the other on his whim and we ate hot dogs and took pictures and relaxed.  He didn’t have to stop and consider anyone else that day.  He was free to have fun his own way.

 

If Jay had been home I would’ve brought both boys to the pool that day.  I always feel badly about leaving one behind while the other gets to go out.  But I think Ace deserves some undivided attention and quality time with Mom and Dad and without little brother.

Ace doesn’t know this yet, but I’ll take just him to the pool again one day next week so he can have another “Mummy to himself day”.  Jay’s ESY only lasts for one month.

 

Maybe If You Ask A Question, You Will Get The Answer March 1, 2012

Filed under: Life on the Jay train — The B Side @ 9:05 am
Tags: , ,

We talk all the time in our house about how we’re a family and we have to look out for each other and love each other.  It’s really meant for Ace.  It’s really REALLY important to CC and I that he keep an eye on his lil bro.  We don’t expect him to be his care taker (now or in the future).  We don’t want Jay to ever be a burden on Ace … but, we want him to be nice to him and not get annoyed with him (even though Jay can make that very easy).  We want Ace to look out for Jay.  To speak up for him if it’s ever necessary.  To include him in things.

We’d feel this way whether Jay had autism or not.  They are brothers first.  In a perfect world, that’s how brothers (and sisters) would be.  They would care about each other and share with each other and laugh with each other and protect each other and keep each others secrets and gang up on the parents and cover for each other and fight each other but not allow anyone else to do the same.

 

It’s hard for Ace to relate to Jay sometimes though.  (Shoot, it’s hard for us sometimes).  There are definitely times when Jay makes Ace’s life harder than it should be.  There are times when Ace doesn’t get the attention he should because it’s all directed at Jay.  There are times when Ace has to sacrifice his own fun or toys or story time because Jay is just being so fussy and it’s easier for us (the parents) to reason with Ace about waiting till later to get what he should.  We ask him to compromise a lot.  It may not be fair but sometimes it’s the only way to keep our sanity.

 

I worry that Ace will feel resentful or bitter towards Jay.  My worries may be baseless.  They may not be.  Either way I worry.  I make a point not to let any of the actual responsibility of  taking care of Jay fall on Ace.  (Like, I don’t ask him to fetch things or clean up after Jay etc)

…..

 

Recently Ace has fallen in love with drawing pictures and making cards.  He usually does it when he’s at After Care waiting to come home or when CC and I are otherwise tied up so we can’t pay attention to him.  It’s how he entertains himself.  He always shows us the pictures when he’s done and is very proud of each of them.  He’s actually pretty good for a 5 year old.  He has a better eye for art than I do.

We noticed though that when he draws family pictures he always leaves Jay out.  We know they are family pictures because the people are labeled.  “Mom”, “Dad”, “Ace”.

This has happened quite a few times over the past couple of weeks.

 

It was disturbing.  Did it mean something?  Did he wish his brother wasn’t around?  Does he just not care at all about his brother?  Have all our teachings been in vein?  What should we do about this?

The questions in my head were numerous.

I’d have to tread lightly.  We need to talk about it.  It’s gotta be addressed … but gently.  He should be allowed to feel whatever he’s feeling.  I know what it’s like to have your feelings dismissed and to be told that they are ridiculous and unfounded.  I can’t do that to my son.

It’s been very busy around here lately though so I haven’t really had the quiet time I wanted to sit and talk to Ace.  There were always people around or homework to be done or I was getting home late from work.

 

A couple of days ago, CC (who apparently is not insane and doesn’t have all the emotional baggage that I do) just asked him “Why do you always leave Jay out of your pictures? Don’t you like him?”

The answer.

 

Daddy, I don’t mean to.  I do love Jay.  But I don’t know how to spell his name. You never showed me.”

 

 

Oh.  Oops 🙂

*Whew*