From my house, I have a beautiful view of Italy. I don’t mean the rolling, cypress-dotted hills of Tuscany, I mean the “Hey, I was supposed to go to Italy, but ended up in Holland” kind of Italy. And I’m not in Holland, either. I honestly don’t know what to call where we live — someplace with occasional shelling, weird food, lots of restrictions on activity — but we have a nice view.
Our next-door neighbors are the quintessential Italians. Meaning, they have no special-needs kids, they have an active social life, they spend money on cars and clothes, they take vacations, and they are . . . relaxed. My husband and I have no clue how they manage this.
They are lovely, kind, fun people and I thoroughly enjoy having them as neighbors. Some days, I just have a hard time witnessing the normalcy. I’m not in a completely different country, I’m just separated by a thick glass of special needs, food allergies, panic attacks, epilepsy, and high-risk, complicated parenting. My oldest has recovered from autism. My middle son is an everything-but-autism kind of a kid, but slowly making improvements, and my youngest has a few minor issues, but he’s super confident, charismatic, and full of beans. We are pretty much on top of all of it. I’m in Italy, but I’m not of Italy.
Sneak out with kid #2, taking advantage of the small window of cooperative mood.
- Drop kid #2 at babysitter’s house to play with her dogs while husband heads out with kid #3.
- Run home (20 mins in rush hour), prep anti-epileptic meds and juice loaded with gut-healing and anti-anxiety herbs, inositol, and some minerals. Set out bowl of supplements and breakfast for kid #1.
- Rouse kid #1.
- Retrieve Kid #2, then head to neurologic chiropractor for 19-channel LORETA neurofeedback for kid #2 and a full adjustment for kid #1 . . . 30 minutes away the other direction.
- Reward kids for cooperation with ice cream. Yeah, I know . . .
Head to occupational therapy . . . 30 minutes back.
- Step out of OT office to order a gluten-free lunch to pick up from nearby restaurant with GF menu.
- Get called into OT session because kid #2 has jammed himself into a piece of therapy equipment, has managed to get his leg completely stuck, and is now having a full-on freak-out panic attack because they couldn’t find me for two minutes.
- Calm kid enough that he can listen to directions and help get him unstuck.
- Miss a call from assistive-technology specialist because child is crying too hard for me to hear the phone.
- Eventually leave OT with tear-stained 10-year-old who wants to be carried. I am thankful kid #1 is a weightlifting 16 year old. Also thankful the therapist waived the fee for today.
- Pick up lunch for kids to eat en route.
- Drive to beach . . . 45 minutes away. I am thankful we have The Lego Movie in the minivan DVD player AND the headphones work. Because everything is not awesome.
- Find good parking spot, YAY! Watch kid #2 head into the surf in his brand-spanking-new shoes that he refuses to take off, BOO!
- Kid #1 wanders off for a beach walk because he’s so frustrated with his brother, and I haven’t had a moment alone with him to explain what happened at OT.
- We have one hour of mostly blissful beach time. It’s a beautiful day at the beach,
- Kid #2 gets startled by a seagull and announces it’s time to leave by swearing a blue streak and throwing one of my running shoes — mysteriously filled with sand — at his brother. Clearly the fight option of fight-or-flight as been triggered.
- Shoe throwing, swinging, sand tossing, swearing, and growling continues for about 20 minutes.
- Meltdown ensues about wanting a milk tea, apropos of nothing.
- Give in because I am completely on my own for two days and I need this 80-lb. kid to get into the car under his own power. No one has been hurt, no one has run off, no one has climbed on the minivan roof, and there is no permanent damage of any kind.
- Drive 60 minutes to milk tea place, barefoot, because shoes are drying in back.
- Negotiate meltdown because kid #2 is demanding a LARGE milk tea. He settles for a regular size, but runs away to the end of the block just to demonstrate that he can.
- Finally arrive home, wave to another neighbor who is out bike riding with her two little girls who are giggling because they’re being silly, riding around the block in their pink pajamas. Ignore pangs of jealousy.
- Get kid #2 in shower, try to feed him dinner, give evening meds, extra melatonin.
- Sit down to watch a little TV with the kiddo, check Facebook to read Italian neighbor’s update: “The hardest part of parenting is when the 2 year old gives up his nap. Where’s my wine??”
- Give in to jealousy and have a little wallow in self pity. Go completely off diet, eat huge amount of gluten-free pizza and chocolate. Grateful we have no ice cream or wine in the house.
- Mediate argument between kids because one wants to watch The Hobbit and the other one wants to watch Police Women of Dallas. Social skills therapy pays off and a compromise is achieved! We watch both.
- Let kid #2 fall asleep on the couch because he’s too wound up from the OT incident, the meltdowns, and the milk tea to sleep (I KNEW that was going to happen). As he falls asleep, watch violent myoclonus jerks that 1. nearly throw him off the couch and onto the floor and 2. indicate possible subclinical seizures.
- Go over everything I did wrong and everything I could have done better. Remember the new box of essential oils in the kitchen that could have helped.
- Somehow carry 80-lb. kid to bed despite arthritis flare-up — realize I’ve been glutened.
So yeah, we have a nice view of Italy, and we had a beautiful hour or so at the beach.
Zorro – is a California mom with a point to make about autism (and ADHD and sensory integration dysfunction): It has biological underpinnings and it’s treatable! Kids can improve and some can recover when their medical issues and nutritional deficiencies are corrected. Mom to three boys with issues including anxiety, autism (her son has recovered!), ADHD, epilepsy, dyslexia, and mild attachment disorder, Zorro spends her days looking for solutions, geeking out over neurobiology, juggling schedules, trying to feed picky kids with a billion food allergies, and keeping up with celebrity gossip. She blogs at Recovery Road www.RecoveryRd.wordpress.com.