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Friday, April 26, 2013

Haven't Blogged in a While, It's My Mom's Fault, Read on Please...

I haven't blogged in over a month.  There were many things going on in my life - primarily a long visit from my mother, whom I did not want to ignore during the few evenings we had together by sitting in front of my laptop blogging or writing while she watched Seinfeld reruns (this newly minted entry is dedicated to you, mom). Then there was the finishing up of a consulting project that I had been working on, which was part of  a larger effort I have been making to remove myself from the world of living day to day focused on my children and my son's challenges...then there has been a string of volunteer opportunities that I signed up for to occupy my time in case the previously mentioned effort to remove myself from the day to day world of child-rearing is not effective.  Yet here I find myself once again, drawn to write about my child(ren) that I love so much, not even caring if anyone will read this.   I like it much more than the thought of returning to real paid work or being a PTA rock star.  After a several week absence (thanks mom) I returned to my writing class yesterday and into the open arms of my classmates. A couple of classmates told me that they have referred folks to my blog (woops, sorry 'bout the prolonged absence!) and I thought, holy crap what am I going to write about?  The problem is NOT that I have nothing to write about. Rather I have too much to write about that is all things Finbar and life on the fringe.  Every day it seems has presented a "Finbar story" or a "Life on the Fringe" account. They've been firing at me at such a pace that I'm considering carrying around one of those voice recorders in my pocket from now on to keep track of them all.  I thus have a hodge podge thus of anecdotes to share. I'll just start with the most distant one.

Parent Teacher Conferences - You can learn the darndest things about your quirky kid at a parent teacher conference.  Finbar engaged ( I use the term very lightly) me in what was a "student led" parent teacher conference back in March.  I wish someone had filmed this conference to be aired on a reality TV show, Parenthood, or just to put on YouTube for your viewing pleasure. After his teacher went over his test scores with me and he was visibly unphased by how well he did on those (unlike my-trying-not-to-overly-gush self),   I sat at the desk with him while his teacher coached him through what information he was supposed to take me through.  He first sat facing the two of us, messily pushing around his papers and artwork laid out on the desk muttering "um, yeah...this is my work I guess, um, yeah."  He then turned completely around in his chair and stared at the back wall lost in thought. I exchanged a giggle and smile with his teacher at which time she tried to call his attention back to the task at hand, reminding him of what he was supposed to do, and then excused herself to go speak to the other family that was waiting in the classroom (always fun to have another family watching your son behave this way :).   Still amused I tried, "OK Finney, so show me what all this is."   "Um, well, like, it's just, I guess, you know, my stuff, my work." "Uhuh...and is this your letter to your penpal?" "Um, yeah, you can read it I guess, if you want." (he turns back to the wall).  In the middle of correspondence about summer plans was a random sentence stating that his grandpa who lived in New Orleans died in a boating accident.  Just like that, random matter of fact. Then the writing returned to some other topic such as "what is your favorite color?".  Note to self: work on creative writing at home.  I moved on to the art, which was remarkably good for a child who until this year struggled with fine motor skills, still coloring outside the lines. "Wow, Finney, this is really good, you must be proud of yourself, can't wait to frame this." Still facing the back wall,  "Um yeah,
do you want me to show you my math tiles now?"  Something clicked. Out came the student led conference on math tiles..."So you take the tiles and you see you have to make equations that work out of all the tiles like this....wait, that doesn't work...let me figure this out...oh yeah, that's right.... and so here is what level I am on. Would you like me to do a set now? I really want to get to the next level." (works out the math tiles while I watch).  "Make sure we don't leave without showing
Mrs. B so that I can get credit for it." And just like that I realized that for Finbar's type, leading a conference and conversation - not so engaging.  Demonstrating math computations - totally engaging. He's probably never going to lead a sales team, but he might make a great professor.

Living with Intensity - this is my new favorite subject and book title.  THIS is the "motto" of my life with my two kids - LIVING WITH INTENSITY - yes! Finally someone put it into words for me.  How many times have I heard from grandmothers in the grocery store, who upon seeing me interact with my two highly animated boys or, overhearing Finbar recount some moralistic philosophy ("I think we should all go back to horse and carriage to save the earth, so can we do that mom, huh, can we please get rid of our van and get a horse and carriage??" ) offers to me a dose of sympathy "My you've got your hands full don't you?" or, "You sure must have a lot of patience. Keep up the good work mom, they are only young once." I try to explain to people (and to myself) what it is about my children that exhausts me everyday... I mean I
don't work and I have only two children  - how hard can it be right? And finally, here is someone explaining it in a BOOK.  They are INTENSE!  Sometimes VERY INTENSE! And when they are both intense at the same time my life becomes VERY VERY INTENSE.  From what I am gathering by reading this book, the intensity comes from intelligence (phew) but that intelligence comes with a price (tell me about it, I'm mentally exhausted after mulling all the possible life forms in the universe for the umpteenth time, and that is after being asked quite seriously to calculate on the spot how many hours we have until we leave for our trip to Hawaii in 6 weeks because "we just need to know, mom, puleeeez"). 

Cotillion Anyone? - We received a formal invitation for Finbar to join the 3rd grade Cotillion. The
ultimate Life on the Fringe gamble.  Would make for a great reality show "Autism: The Cotillion." 






Chess Anyone? - After a couple of years of trying, I finally saw one of my shallow mommy dreams for Finbar come true this evening (you would think that Cotillion would be my shallow dream, but
that's just plain social suicide LOL).   Finbar participated in a chess tournament (Ok, I admit probably also social suicide).  I have convinced myself that Academic Chess would be the ultimate nerd social outlet for him and that being so bright, he would be good at it.  Alas, while he seemed to have a pretty good time (let's just say there were no tears shed and he enjoyed the free pizza greatly), it was just another friendly yet torturous reminder to not rock the boat in the name of helping Finbar be more social.  A reminder not to force things that I think would be good for Finbar on him. Chess being one of them, me thinks, but time will tell. I paid the price for my obsession in the form of several uncomfortable moments such as "Gee how old is your son? Oh, 8? And he still likes to cuddle in your lap as an 8 year old? That's sweet." Or, after the 5th time Finbar has publically told me in a baby voice that he loves me and has promised to be my baby forever, I feel the odd stares from parents who are wondering why isn't he finishing up the chess tournament like their kids are and instead is pretending to be a baby in his mother's lap. I try to act like there is nothing abnormal about this, my skin growing thicker all the while...eek.  As we left the tournament, I cringed from embarrassment, and the feelings of remorse and worry that Finbar will never have the concentration span to figure out how to beat someone at chess. I must tell myself that it is all worth it in the grand scheme of things. Leave no stone unturned. Try chess, try swim team, try Piano Club, try Space Academy, try whatever he shows an interest in, try anything (except Cotillion that is).



4 comments:

Rebecca Royce said...

Jen,
Oh my gosh I go through all that stuff too with Austin. Ralph and I cringed through basketball because i thought he should do it. I like your description of growing thick skin.

finbarsmom said...

Yes I used to think my thick skin was due to aging, I like this explanation better :)
You may want to pick up that book Living With Intensity, could shed some light on Austin...

Brear Cannarsa said...

Your description of Finbar climbing on your lap during Chess is so endearing. How many parents want to keep their "babies" around forever (guilty here). It's a shame we live in a world where judgments and the fear of criticism guide our actions and influence our own feelings about ourselves, kids, etc. The reason I say this is because I think we'd all like to pursue our dreams and have our kids explore what suits them best without the worry of embarrassment, awkwardness or disappointment. Finbar is bright, loving, sensitive, curious and has a loving family so he's got the sense of security that is probably helping him mature at his own pace. Screw the Nellies who expect him to conform with the norm. Life is not black & white, there is no right answer to life's challenges and we should have the liberty to pursue our dreams if we aren't impinging on the rights of others. There are many individuals not perceived to be "normal" and achieved notoriety - Da Vinci, Stephen Hawking, Einstein, Virginia Woolf,... I'm sure Finbar is on a path to greatness. I hope you find joy in his journey. It's sometimes my struggle not to get frustrated with the frenzy of trying to be a good parent. As for cotillion, isn't that like outsourcing training in ettiquite? I kind of think we as parents should be doing that and social graces are learned through trial and error - I'm still trying and making lots of errors. Something to master over a lifetime, if at all.

finbarsmom said...

To my superheroine working mother of four, all I can say is I wish we could go back to that Irish pub in Geneva, get drunk on Kronenbourgs and talk about this :) But you are so right. I am actually considering writing those cotillion folks to see if they would sponsor a cotillion for special needs kids! But you are right, I prefer to impose my own social graces (or lack thereof) on my children. xo