Our New Normal (For Now)

“Normal” is open to interpretation. That’s true for every family, but I’ve really come to understand the concept better since Baguette’s autism diagnosis. Actually, I knew it before her diagnosis–but that’s what made it okay for me to say openly that my normal is different from the normal you experience. Or you. Or that person over there.

I came across a post about what “normal” means for one family dealing with ADHD, and it got me to thinking about what is normal for us.

1) The house is always messy. Between work, commute, and ABA, we do not have time to clean. Mr. Sandwich does the laundry and I do the dishes, but the rest of the place is profoundly cluttered.

2) No “me” time. This isn’t exactly true. I get my hair colored and cut every six weeks, and about as often I get a massage. Mr. Sandwich has a (sometimes) regular Sunday morning bike ride. But with Baguette’s long-standing distaste for sleep, I can’t even read a magazine in one sitting. Recently, it took me three weeks to finish streaming a movie. We have literally years of “Castle” in our DVR–or at least we did until we gave up and deleted them, with plans to buy the DVDs at some point in the future.

3) There’s an awful lot of screaming. Baguette is frustrated by her inability to communicate. She’s also frustrated by the incessant demands of her ABA schedule. And sometimes the only way she can express that is to rage and rage and rage. As far as I’ve been able to figure it out, the only thing I can do is be there with her, as calmly as possible, and let the rage burn itself out. Friday was one of those days. After at least an hour of crying and screaming, she wore herself out until she was able to say, “I want carry me,” and I stood there with my arms around her, rocking her back and forth for at least 15 minutes. Then we sat down on the couch, and I held her on my lap until she slid down on the floor, still with her shoulder against my leg. I didn’t move until she did, because when she moved away, that meant she was feeling better. (Sorry, neighbors. This is just how it is.)

4) There’s probably a #4, but I’m too tired to come up with it.

5) The surprises never end. Baguette loves the water. She’s been teaching herself ASL–and now she’s teaching me, too. Lately she tells me she wants to play with her by saying, “Come along, Mommy,” and I have no idea where that phrase came from.

All of this will change with time. And that’s normal, too.

Your Mileage May Vary

This morning, when I took Baguette to daycare, she was excited to be there. She opened the door to the classroom without being prompted, and she ran up to a group of girls and started playing with the same toys they were using.

(This is HUGE. Six months ago, she would have retreated to the corner with a book. Now she chooses to play with the other kids.)

She picked up a toy ice cream cone and said, “Ice cream!” One of the other girls said, “Don’t eat it!”

I said, “Oh, it’s okay. I think she knows the difference between the toy and real ice cream.”

The girl said, “Sometimes babies put things in their mouth.”

Every child in that room is 3 or 4.

I said, “Well, she isn’t a baby.”

“Yes, she is. She can’t talk.”

One of the other little girls–we’ll call her Daisy–who has been in the same room as Baguette since they were both infants, said, “She can’t do anything.”

Baguette dropped the cone and headed for the bookshelf, where she selected Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street. It’s the book she’s most likely to pick up at school. I think I know why; it’s because no one in that book would be mean to her, with the possible exception of Oscar.

Daisy said, “Well, she knows Hebrew.”

I said, “She knows Hebrew?”

Daisy said, “Uh huh.”

I answered, “She’s still learning some things, but she’ll learn faster if you’re nice to her.”

Bestie came over to the bookshelf to hang out with Baguette, and gave her a one-armed hug.

Parenting is harder than being in your 40s.

Earthquakes and Motherhood

I always imagined that, in an emergency, I’d grab the dog under one arm and Baguette under the other and make a leaping dash for safety.

Turns out that, in spite of how much I love her, I’ll leave the dog.

I took one look at Wicket, sitting calmly on Baguette’s plush lion chair, and sprinted for the bedroom and my girl–who was still asleep, and therefore not at all concerned. (Although this morning she needed her pacifier for the first time in months, so maybe she did feel it a bit.)

Fortunately, this wasn’t an emergency. Yes, we had an earthquake, but not one that will in any way disable the area. At this point, the USGS is saying it was 4.4 on the Richter Scale, and that means this wasn’t the Northridge quake, not by a long shot. And Wicket is totally blase about earthquakes; she’s not one of those dogs that goes tearing for the exit. (In fact, she followed me into the bedroom at nothing faster than her usual trot.) I’m not sure if that’s good for her or bad, but it does mean we don’t have to worry about her getting lost.

But if you want to know, in great detail, how you might stock up on disaster supplies, here are a few posts:

Disaster Kit, Part 1

Disaster Kit, Part 2

Disaster Kit, Part 3

An Apple A Day

A week ago, I took the day off work and went to lots of doctors. Well, several doctors. Well, three.

Nothing alarming is happening, but I like to stay on top of my regular checkups. Plus I need new glasses. I’ve been wearing these for four years, and the lenses are still fine, but the color on the frame has started to chip. Let’s face it, at some point my nail polish touch-up is going to become obvious. Fortunately, I found some frames that I really like, and am getting new glasses. I’m also getting new contacts, which I gave up wearing over four years ago, when I was pregnant with Baguette and did not have the energy to put in contacts.

Apparently I have a little more energy now, not that I can tell most days. Then again, I have started wearing makeup at least 60% of the time.

Mind you, I came out of the appointments with a few referrals (apparently that pain in the ball of my foot is not going away, no matter how many years I wait), and I still have to visit the find a dentist.

Being in your 40s is hard, y’all.

“Go Outside Walk in Rain”

California is experiencing a record drought. To those caught in a polar vortex, our balmy winter temperatures may sound like paradise–but they actually indicate a really big problem.

Winter is our rainy season, and we just haven’t gotten rain this year. But finally, starting Thursday evening, we did get some. By Friday, the streets along my route to work were flooded, with cars or water or both. I chose to go home and work from my kitchen table, and that turned out to be the right choice; when I did head in, my drive was only about 30 minutes. It would easily have been two and a half hours if I’d gone during rush hour, like everyone else.

There have been breaks in the weather, but for the most part it’s been pretty wet. And it’s wonderful.

Baguette is in heaven. She loves the rain, and her boots, and her raincoat. Thursday night, she had me take her out at 8 p.m., and I swear I could see her beaming in spite of the nighttime darkness.

This afternoon, she walked to the front door, rattled the knob, and said, “Go outside walk in rain.” So of course we both suited up and splashed down the sidewalk, even when it was pouring. She had me sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” about four times, and she signed it along with me.

Walking hand in hand in the rain with my little girl? I can’t think of a lovelier way to spend the afternoon. Even though it turns out that my trenchcoat has sprung a leak.

Rainboots

Why My House is Messy

I know my house is messy. I’m not a good housekeeper. I never have been, and neither was my mother. I know she would have recognized herself in Claire McCarthy’s Huffington Post piece.* Also, there’s this.

I do want my house to be clean. It’s so much more peaceful and comfortable when it is. Mr. Sandwich and I agree on this (For the record, if you come over to our house? He’s the one who cleaned it for you.) And we really want to have people over, but we’d feel so much better about it if we were more orderly.

messy kitchen table

This is our kitchen table after Mr. Sandwich has taken some stuff off of it.

And, honestly, “orderly” is key here. We have too much stuff, and we have no organization system. But there aren’t dirty dishes lying around (seriously, I feel like I am always washing dishes), and the laundry is either clean or in the hamper (Mr. Sandwich is always doing laundry). We’re neither hoarders nor a hotbed of disease.

So is your house clean? I’d probably love being there. But if it’s a mess, I’m probably cool with that, too. Because I’m not visiting you for your house, I’m visiting you because it’s fun. So if I’m not judging you, why am I judging myself?

*That Dutch saying quoted in the comments? Yeah, the Dutch are a nation of people who leave their curtains open so you can peer in their windows and see how clean their houses are. My mother-in-law is Dutch. She’s the loveliest person, and yet she still can’t hide that my housekeeping pains her.

Note to the World

Please keep in mind that if you’re in line at a drugstore that also gives flu shots, and there’s a small child shrieking like a banshee next to you, it’s possible that she’s not actually all that poorly behaved.

Maybe she feels like she got stabbed in the arm.

And if you still think that’s too much, maybe we can test your theory by seeing how loudly you scream when I stab you in the arm.

Mostly, I Hope Jadis Isn’t in There

Actual conversation from last night:

Me: Baguette, why are you opening the closet door? Narnia isn’t in there.

Me (to Mr. Sandwich): Although I don’t actually know that. Maybe Narnia is in there.

Mr. Sandwich: If Narnia is in there, you know what that means. More storage.

Me: More cold storage.

Mr. Sandwich: But bad cold storage, because if you put a hamburger in there and come back for it a week later, it’s actually a hundred years old.

No one ever wonders why we’re married.