Selfish

Sometimes, Mommy needs a hobby.

I’ve written about this before, but sometimes when you are a mother, your life (and identity) get sucked up by your family.  Some days, it seems like everyone has something to do outside of the house besides me.  My husband has work, and his group of buddies that hunts and fishes with, and he goes to football games.  The Grandmother bowls and shops and basically does whatever she wants.  The Grandfather hunts anything that is in season, hangs out at the local “old-guy” hang-out, and also does whatever he wants. 

I’m much more limited.  I can’t just get out of bed and say, I think I’ll go to the mall today.  Well, I can, but everyone has to go with me, and that takes some of the joy out of it.  That’s a bad example–the mall is never my destination of choice without some express purpose.  I really don’t know what example I would give.  I’m not much of a shopper.  I’m not going to hunt or fish, and bowling holds about as much interest as a visit to the dentist.

I often say my family should be thankful that I am as content as I am.  I don’t care about shopping or running around or any of that stuff.  It really doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. 

But that doesn’t mean I don’t need anything. 

For example, I love to read.  Love, love, love it.  I read every single day of my life without fail.  But it’s a very disjointed process.  I read a little while, then someone interrupts me.  Then I read a little longer, and then I get interrupted again.  And so it goes.  No one understands why this is so irritating.  Imagine watching a show that you really like, and someone hits the pause button every five minutes or so.  Then you have to wait a little while and watch five more minutes.  Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? 

I think this is why so many of us seem to lose ourselves over the course of every day life.  We don’t really lose ourselves–we just sort of forget that we are actually people, not just moms and wives and maids and cooks.  It’s nice to have friends outside of your own family.  It would be great to go to lunch sometimes and talk about something besides diapers.

Mostly, I think it has to do with being able to use your mind.  I find that my own brain seems to be turning slightly traitor on me.  I’m forgetting things more often.  Worst of all, sometimes it seems like I’m just not as smart as I used to be.  I always considered myself a reasonably intelligent person, but some days I feel like the only thing I could have a meaningful conversation with anyone about is how to wipe an ass.

There is hope, though. 

For one thing, as I am teaching my son, I find I am also teaching myself.  I am “remembering” things I used to know.  I actually find that I can do quite easily the math that I used to scorn.  I’m brushing up my grammar, which is by far my favorite subject.

On a more fun note, I am also increasing my yoga practice.  I have just simply made up my mind that I will make time each day to do it.  It’s challenging both mentally and physically, because I’m learning the theory and history of yoga as well as actually doing it. 

Best of all, I’ve started teaching myself how to play the guitar.  My son started taking guitar lessons, and I’m cheating off of him, plus I’m learning out of a book.  I learned to play one of my all time favorite songs by watching someone else play it on the Internet.  That probably sounds silly to some people, but it is so much fun, and again, it’s working my mind.  It’s not like I think I’m going to be the next guitar superstar or anything, it’s just something I can do that is reasonably cool (you know, as opposed to ass-wiping.)

 

I think that’s sort of the point.  You don’t do the things that interest you because you hope to get something out of them.  You do them because, well, they interest you.  It keeps you in touch with yourself, and the fact you don’t just exist for the sole purpose of taking care of other people.  You have to take care of yourself sometimes, too.  Maybe it sounds selfish, but I think you’ll find that if you do take care of yourself, it becomes a lot more enjoyable to take care of others.

Do it for yourself.  Do it for that young person you were all those years ago who had a list of things she wanted to try.  Do it for your family, because they will really appreciate the happier, more content you.  Most of all, do it for Clapton, because Clapton is a god.

Dear Ian……Love, Mom

After Ian was born, I started keeping a notebook for him.  It’s one of those black and white composition books–you know the kind.

 

 

I just wrote various things to him as they crossed my mind. I put current events in there and give him my thoughts, like the entries on 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing.  The idea was that when he grew up, he could have it and read it, maybe even after I was gone. (You know, like to Florida or something.)  I had a similar book for Matt that I wrote after we got engaged.  I gave it to him as a wedding gift.  I also have one for Evelyn, but I’m pretty sure she’ll never read it, so it’s a lot more like a journal. 

Anyway, I was reading through Ian’s book, and for whatever reason, I decided to share one of the entires (letters, whatever.)

February 10, 2006

Dear Ian,

I was thinking about something last night when I was supposed to be sleeping.

Words hurt.

When you’re six, it’s different.  You say things and people might get mad at you or you might get in trouble.  But all in all, people tend to forget the mean things little kids say. 

But I want you to remember something–there will come a time when you will have to be accountable not only for the things you do, but for the things you say.  In a book by Stephen King called The Green Mile, he says “A man’s mouth can get him more trouble than his pecker ever could, most of the time.” That’s not trouble at school like getting your card flipped, but trouble like saying something that you can never take back.

Once that cruel word comes out of your mouth, it’s out forever.  You can’t “unsay” anything.  Hurtful words make a brand on a person’s insides, and even if you are forgiven, even if they forget, you need to remember that the brand remains.  They will always wonder why you said it–you must have had that thought in your head all along.  It’s okay to say, “That makes me mad,” or “I don’t like that,” or “You did something I don’t like.”  It’s never okay to say “You’re ugly,” or “stupid” or “You always do this” or “You never do that.”

These things don’t just apply to your friends and loved ones.  There might be a kid at school that everyone picks on.  You might find yourself in a situation where you could pick on that person, too.  You should imagine yourself as that person, and feel those words from the inside.  You can’t imagine how badly they can hurt–and who wants to look back and see they had such a negative impact on someone else’s life?  How sad to think that what you left behind in another person’s mind is hurt.

One last thing–back at the beginning of January, thirteen coal miners got trapped in a mine.  Twelve of them died because they ran out of breathable air.  As they sat and waited for rescue or death, they wrote notes to their families in case it wasn’t the rescuers who arrived first.

It wasn’t.

Twelve of the thirteen died waiting.  What must that be like? To sit and write out all of the things you want to say to your loved ones before the end of your life, and wish so much that you had said them in person.

Some of us say things that we would never want to be the last thing we said to someone, but there’s no guarantee that it won’t be.  If there’s one thing your mother has learned over the years, it’s that, in this life, there are no guarantees.  Remember that.

I love you,

Mom

(not so) Normal

I slipped out of the house undetected (after a complete report on where I was going and when I’d be back) a couple of days ago to have lunch with my husband.  Before I came home, I called to see if anyone wanted anything while I was out.  No.  Then I asked if everyone was ok.  Here’s the conversation:

The Grandmother: “Everything’s normal.”

Me:  “Normal?”

The Grandmother: “Well, everything is like it usually is, anyway.”

Me: “Right.”

 Now, I have this thing where, no matter what anyone says, I can usually apply some sort of movie quote or song lyric to it.  I wrote about it here.  So I started thinking about what it really means to be “normal.”  First of all, my brain spewed out a quote from the movie “Tombstone.” At the very end, Doc Holiday is dying, and he asks Wyatt Earp what he wants, and Wyatt says, “Just a normal life,” to which Doc responds, “There is no normal life, Wyatt, there’s just life.”  Then, naturally, my mind jumped to Spongebob, and the episode where Spongebob becomes “normal.”

 

If you haven’t seen the episode, obviously you have more of a life than I do, but the gist is, normal turns out to be kind of boring, and just generally not as much fun as abnormal.  Who decides what normal is, anyway?

My life definitely does not qualify as normal–at least, not to the public in general.  With a sister and daughter with severe and yet very different types of disability, my days are probably not a lot like yours.  And yet, they might not be as different as you think.  I still have to get everyone up, get them fed, get them headed in their various directions for the day, meals are planned, bodies are washed, teeth are brushed, books read, work done, house cleaned……you get the picture.  The same things have to be done, they are just done a little differently.

My life is normal, to me at least.  I think maybe normal is a very subjective word, like most things, if you stop and think about it.  We all just sort of do what we do, you know?

I am always amused when someone says, “I have no idea how you do what you do.  I couldn’t.”  I always bite my tongue and I never say what crosses my mind (note to doubters: believe it or not, despite rumors to the contrary, I do NOT say everything that pops into my mind) which is simply “Sure you could, if that’s what you had to do.”

For what it’s worth, all of you who think I do so much more than anyone else, let me give you some examples of the lives of people I know, and guess what?  I wouldn’t trade places with them for anything.

  • My dear friend is a stay-at-home mom like me, and she has a son who just turned two.  He demands her attention all of the time. I mean this in a very literal sense.  He won’t sleep without her, eat without her, nothing.  Ever. Can I make this any clearer?  On top of that, her middle child feels compelled to compete for her attention.  I am about ten years past my baby-tending prime, and I swear, I have no idea why she isn’t in a mental ward somewhere.  She is either the most patient person on earth, or she has some really good drugs.  Maybe a little both.
  • Another of my friends is a teacher plus has two kids at home plus has a daughter in college plus has temporary custody of a boy whose mother passed away not to long ago plus she’s in the middle of getting a divorce from the world’s neediest man.  Holy hell–need I say more?
  • My own mother is with her husband all of the time.  I am not making this up.  They work in the same place and they have the same schedules.  They take the same vacations.  They are together all of the time.  Did I mention they are never apart?  I have the type of personality that completely supports the theory that you can’t really appreciate someone until you spend some time apart from them.
  • I know another woman who isn’t a close friend, although I do see her pretty regularly.  She is one of those, whaddayacallem, obedient wives, and she asks her husband’s permission before she makes decisions about the kids, the money, the house, whatever.  Um, I didn’t get married because I needed support for my poor decision-making abilities.  That fellow and me would last in a marriage less than twenty-four hours, I promise.  I’m not bragging–he’d despise me probably more than I would despise him.

So you see, normal really doesn’t exist, at least outside of our own walls.  Everyone has their own thing going on, and it always appears kind of weird to people on the outside looking in.  Before you look at my life and think, “I couldn’t do that!” remember: you might be surprised what you could do.  I guess we all just do whatever we have to.  Except the obeying the husband thing.  I’m pretty sure that  is way out of my reach.

 

The Trials and Tribulations of the Modern Day Millionaire

Yeah, it’s a hard old world, all right.  Just ask a rich person.

I mean, I’m not even going to talk about what kind of taxes rich people have to pay.  Unless of course they don’t have to pay any, and then I guess that’s ok.  Oh! And let’s not forget how difficult it is to make sure the help is all legal–let’s see those green cards, guys!  Then there’s the constant demands of the people around the rich–you know, to do something worthy with their money and make a difference in the world.  And you can’t even imagine how much the insurance on a Bentley costs!

Sort of makes you sad, doesn’t it?  Either that, or it makes you want to vomit.

Somehow, rich people are becoming the victims.  Of all of the amazing things I’ve heard in the course of my life, this one has to be WAAAAAYYYYYY up there at the top of the list.  I’m not so naive that I actually believe taxing rich people will solve our economic problems–but neither am I so dumb that I think it’s okay for everyone else on Earth to pay taxes for basically everything except the air we breathe (don’t get any ideas, Mr. President, it was just a joke!) and that certain other financially endowed people get a break.  I find it amusing that Congress was against the increase on taxing the rich–hel-LO! They ARE the rich! These are the same people who get on television and gesture and tear at their hair and open small arms fire at the opposing party because of the state of our economy…..and then vote to give themselves a cost of living raise.

Now, I know this horse is long dead, and I know Rep. Fleming wasn’t really asking for sympathy when he informed us that he “only” made about $400,000 after he “fed his family” (what the &%$# is his family eating, anyway?) I still couldn’t help but to not give a shit.  I’m sure $400,000 is what the IRS sees on his personal income tax, but I’m equally sure he’s just as big a whore as everyone else in DC.

True Story:  The government wanted to adjust some school lunch programs around the country to include fewer potatoes and some different, healthier vegetables from time to time.  The bill was doing pretty good, until apparently it suddenly occurred to the potato producers that, “Hey! That means they won’t be buying as many potatoes!”  So they threw some money at the right people, and that particular bill went down in flames.  I hope they at least wore a condom.

Even if $400,000 a year really is “all” someone earns, is that a bad thing?  I think I could stretch that out for a year.  Of course, my tastes are probably not quite as exquisite.  But damn! Think of the books I could put on my Kindle with that!

And celebrities. They crack me up.  Professional sports players actually going on strike. They cry and say they have no privacy and no personal lives because everything is photographed and splashed across the cover of magazines.  Oh, excuse me while I get a tissue.  Don’t like it?  Give up the millions and millions of dollars you make for basically playing dress-up and go to work like the rest of us. Yes, and that means Consuela has to leave and you have to take care of your own kids.  Uh-oh.  I thought that might be a deal-breaker.

I especially love when these celebs go to foreign countries.  Angelina is my favorite, by far.  She goes to all of these poverty-ridden countries, and after she adopts a kid or two to tote around for the cameras, she frowns and hugs some of the ones she didn’t adopt, and gets lots of great photo-ops.  She puts her skinny, vein-y arms around those little guys and it just about breaks your heart.

Or not.

If celebrities are so worried about those people, why don’t they realize that the opulent lifestyles they lead are a direct mockery to the image they are trying to portray?  Hey, Angie! Why not drop a couple hundred bucks and hand out some sandwiches and DaSani?

I’m sure somewhere out there someone is going to go on about all of the good celebrities do and how they use their fame to make issues more public so pathetic low-life losers like us can be more aware of them.  Whatever.  There are people all over this planet who do good–no, make that great–things every day who don’t need to have a picture of it to make it count, and furthermore, they sure as hell aren’t rich.

The worst thing about all of this is that money is really just a figment of our imagination, anyway.  Dave Barry says it’s like Tinkerbell–the only reason it exists is because we believe in it.  Keep clapping, everyone!

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have breakfast.  I think I’ll fry some potatoes.

 

 

 

Smile and Say “Moo!”

Hide your checkbook, grab your children, and hide in the closet. It’s PICTURE DAY!! (cue scary music.)

One of the most incomprehensible facts of the universe (to me at least) is how with all of our vast technology we can’t manage to take a decent school picture of a child.  I dread picture day, because it causes me to battle two of my most basic instincts.

First, I love pictures–especially pictures of my children.  I have literally thousands of them.  The dark side of that love is that I cannot stand to think that there are pictures of my kids out in the world somewhere that I don’t have.  True Story: I took the kids to a portrait studio once many years ago, and my daughter cried through the whole thing.  She would not pose, she would not smile, period.  My son tried to cooperate, but the daughter was definitely bumming him out.  So when I went back to see the packages and decide what to buy, I was confronted with a bunch of pictures of my daughter either frowning like Hank Williams Jr. on Monday night or outright crying, and my son looking like he was battling a severe toothache. So of course I did the only reasonable thing.

I bought a package.

Well, in my defense, it was a cheap(ish) package.  I couldn’t stand it.  I had to buy some.  Even the picture lady sort of looked at me like maybe I’d been spending too much time in the paint department at Lowe’s, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Now, the other instinct on the line on picture day is my desire to stop wasting money.  Why on earth would anyone pay good  money for those pictures?  And, to make the situation even more disgusting, they no longer provide “proofs” (remember?) for you to look at before you buy.  You have to make your selections and have your money at school on picture day, or you don’t get any pictures.  Also, the prices just keep going up.  I suspect this is a key factor to our declining economy–higher prices for poorer quality. But thinking about that too much makes my head hurt.

The most tragic thing is that my daughter is quite capable of producing good pictures.  I have unlimited evidence to support this statement. Consider the following:

I have hundreds more like this that span the years and are just dripping with cuteness.  She is really quite the ham, and will pose in a silly pose or grin for the camera.

Then picture day rolls around and I get something like this:

(This is not my child ((I don’t think)) but still a pretty good representation.)

I think part of the problem is that the photographer is under a lot of pressure.  Whoever that poor soul is has my sympathy.  He has to snap a picture of hundreds of kids in a few short hours, and I’m sure by the time the 100th or so kid herds through, he or she isn’t even seeing the kid.  The teacher could plop, I don’t know, a hand puppet onto that little stool and the photographer would just say, “Smile,” and then click, then “Next, please.”  Those poor kids are just marched through like little cows with gel in their hair.  I think eventually, to raise profit margins, studios will start hiring the lady who takes your picture at the DMV.  Well, I don’t know.  I’m not sure she moves fast enough.  Wait! I know! How about if they just install a little switch on the stool, and when the kids sit down, they will activate the switch, and their picture will automatically be taken. No photographer needed!

Judging from my parent’s yearbooks, I can at least console myself that this isn’t a new problem.

But this year, I did it.  I finally did it.  I sent my daughter to school on picture day without her money or her envelope.  I didn’t order pictures.  There will be a school picture out there that I don’t have.  I’m fine with that.  Really.  I’m sure it’s going to be a bad picture, anyway. Right? Right?!

Oh hell.  I need to go call the school.

Low Impact Camping for the Pseudo-Outdoorsperson

Well, it’s that time of year again.  That happy, magical time when our family leaves behind the trappings of civilization and heads to the mountains for some interaction with nature! Usually, too much so.

Our SOP is to head to the mountains twice a year–once as just a couple, and once (in the fall) as a married couple with two kids.  The husband and I went there in July and had a great trip.  This time I put my maternal foot down and reserved a cabin to stay in instead of our usual tent-based adventure.  The weather is fairly chilly, especially at night, and somehow I just couldn’t get enthusiastic about shivering in a tent for three nights.

So, instead, we shivered in a cabin for three nights.  I feel I should define the word “cabin,” lest you become confused and imagine us lounging in a centrally heated, house-like dwelling similar to a hotel room.  Oh no. In WV state park terminology, this cabin was defined as “standard,” although that term could be considered fairly loose.  I mean, standard to one person could be vastly different than standard for someone else.  Like, some folks are happy if a toilet is standard.  I, on the other hand, have slightly higher standards, and they keep getting higher the older I get.

The cabin does have a bathroom, kitchen, and some furniture, but I found this to be more troubling than I would have imagined.  When we camp with our tent, it’s all our stuff–our own towels, sheets, beds–you get the point.  In the cabin, not so much.  Also, our tent has far less mice.  This is a bad time of year for mice if you are a country dweller, and a cabin in the middle of the woods doesn’t stand a chance.  The mice are thinking it’s a little too cold outside, too, so there is some fair amount of competition for space.  We managed to trap one, but saw another the next night.  Maybe we should have put the dead mouse outside as a warning to the others.  Normally I don’t approve of animal killing of any kind, but I have to tell you, I can’t deal with mice in the house–too nasty.  I usually just wash up the dishes as soon as we get there, but this time I had to wash the dishes each time right before we used them, just in case.

The kids liked the cabin–especially the daughter, because I took her portable tv/dvd combo and her movies.  The son thought it was the coolest thing ever, of course.  For some reason, my daughter was determined to hurt herself, and her efforts finally culminated in a shocking but thankfully brief moment when she managed to fold herself up in a portable rocking chair.

Having the cabin was undoubtedly better, but we became obsessed with the fire.  We dared not stray too far in fear that the fire would go out, and then we’d freeze and be forced to eat the stuffing out of the mattresses.  So we fed the fire.  I’d be willing to bet that the deforestation of at least a few acres of woodland could be traced to our fire this weekend.

The biggest factor in fire-having success is building one to begin with.  There are critical elements of fire-building that you must master in order to have a long-lasting, heat-producing fire. These are the two biggest:

  1. Marry someone who can build a fire.
  2. While they are building the fire, lay in the bed under the covers and call out helpful pointers, such as, “Maybe the wood is wet!” or “Is it getting enough air?” until your spouse begins to get an ominous twitch on the left side of his/her face and starts looking at the firewood in his/her hand then glancing at you in a way that you find alarming.  At this point, resume shivering in silence.

If you can’t master these steps, my advice is to check in to the nearest Holiday Inn.

If you succeed in lighting it, I must warn you, a fire is hungry.  The husband and the son had tickets to WVU’s football game on Saturday, so they abandoned me and my daughter for the day to go see it.  All I did was put wood on that fire.  If I turned my back for more than a few minutes, the fire became jealous and began to produce copious amounts of stinky smoke instead of flame.  Then for a change it would burn furiously and devour all of the wood I had just put on there.  I could actually hear it chuckling when I turned my back.  Once, I decided I’d lay down with my daughter and have a nap, and I was laying there innocently trying to doze off.  Through the drowsiness my nose started sending me a message.

Alas, the fire, sensing my inattention, had slyly shifted a log too far out onto the hearth, and caused it to smoke merrily, thereby filling the cabin up with smoke.  Thank God there was a nice tall vaulted ceiling for the smoke to retreat to, and I opened the door to let some more get out.

So aside from feeding the fire, it was a very relaxing time.  As always, cabin or tent, there is no cell phone service up there, so it’s very quiet.  The cabin area is even quieter than the campground, although the whole park was pretty busy with the leaf peepers (people who drive from all over to see the fall colors.)  It was great to spend time together as a family, doing all of those fun family things that bring us all closer–feeding the fire, disposing of dead mice, extracting children from collapsed chairs, feeding the fire, hiking, laughing, feeding the fire, napping, feeding the fire…….

Seriously, it was great.  Next year, though, we’ll be sticking to the tent.  The mice can feed the fire.

 

Trained Idiot

If any of you out there in readerland have a close friend or family member with special needs, then maybe you are familiar with the avalanche of paperwork that comes with being involved with any sort of government program.

If you have your child (or sister, as the case may be) enrolled in any of these programs, such as the I/DD Waiver program, then paperwork becomes downright frightening.  Apparently some government official somewhere decided that six thousand pounds of paperwork a month wasn’t enough, so now they have decided that anyone who works with the special needs “consumer” (that’s their new term for the disabled individual) has to have lots of specialized training.  Since I am one of my sister’s “providers,” I am required to have this training.  I technically don’t have to do the training, but then we won’t qualify for the services provided by Waiver, and that would be a major bummer.  There are TONS of qualifications that have to be met, and this whole day of training is one of them.

The purpose of this all day training session is to educate people like myself on how to care for people like my sister.  That’s just in case I haven’t figured it out in the past twenty years or so.  The largest part of the training is called “Crisis Intervention.”  What that means is the government has too much time, too much money, and not enough sense.  No, sorry, what that means is when a special needs person has a “crisis,” we are trained how to handle it.  Now, a crisis is different for each person–some people scream, some people hurt others, and some people hurt themselves.  The point is, there are certain ways they think you should handle the situation.

I’m not going to get into what the actual training consisted of.  By far the most fascinating (and infuriating!) part of the training was studying the people who were there, myself included.  For example, I realized there is a good chance that I have that adult attention thing.  I literally cannot sit still for more than twenty seconds or so.  Also, one of the fluorescent lights kept blinking, and it nearly drove me batshit!  I doodled on the papers, squirmed, shifted, and glared at the blinking light for approximately seven hours.  Good times.

I guess the only thing that kept me from either dropping dead of a heart attack or jumping up and running screaming from the room was being able to watch the others trapped in paradise with me.  I was, as I always am, fascinated by the different personality types represented in the room.  Here were my favorites:

The Stupid Question People:  You know who they are, and you know what they do.  In any group of people, there are at least of couple of these wonderful folks.  Example:  the instructor said, “Right now we are going to talk about how to get out of a one-handed grab. We will talk about two-handed grabs in just a minute.” One of the SQP’s responded immediately by saying, and I quote, “What if they grab you with two hands?”

The Smug Guy:  Oh yes, he was there.  The guy who knew it all and knew it best.  Not only that, but he was incredibly convinced of his own wit.  One of the first things we talked about was identifying changes or escalation in behavior, and he said, “Let’s just take a step back here.  How exactly are you all defining ‘behavior’?”  He even did the air quotes thing.  He knew exactly what she meant–we all did.  We all have special needs people in our lives.  He just had to be cute.  He had some narcissistic need to show everyone how smart he was.  I can observe most of these people with disdainful detachment, but I’ll be honest, this guy got to me.  I think some of my neighbors were equally disgruntled.  I was afraid it would escalate to the point where all of us, driven by irritation and lack of food, would rush upon the Smug Guy en masse and whack him repeatedly over the head with our Crisis Intervention handouts.  Given the heft of these papers, he would have, at the very least, been put into a coma.

The Late People: Isn’t it wonderful to be somewhere on time, and then have to sit and wait for people who apparently can’t tell time?  We were supposed to start at 8:30 sharp, and we were pre-registered, so the instructors knew there were some people missing, and they kept saying things like, “Just a few more minutes,” and “We’ll just give them another minute or two to get here.” Finally the stragglers wandered in, but two people go there at 9:00, after the class had started.  Not only that, but the exact same people could not grasp the concept of a fifteen minute break.  The could not make it back on time, even though we never even left the building for the breaks!

The Random Thoughts Guy: Guess who was sitting beside this guy?  I’ll give you a hint: it was me.  He would sit quietly for a while, then just make some random statement.  From time to time he would morph into a Stupid Question Person, but really he was in a league of his own.  At one point, after watching a video about infection prevention, he said (I swear) “Did you hear about that athlete that had AIDS? And then they took all his blood out and cleaned it or something? And then he didn’t have AIDS anymore? I don’t know, they must have did it in some other country or something.  Seems like a shame they can’t do that in this country, you know?”  It was a long, long day.

The Martyr:  Oh boy.  Boy oh boy.  This was a young woman who has a son with autism.  I couldn’t say for sure what issues he has, because no matter what anyone said, this woman had to pipe up and tell about her son did or had the same thing.  And she couldn’t stop talking during the whole session.  Once, a comment was made about how the weather affects some people in a negative way, and she said, “Oh, the weather definitely has an effect on my son.”  When someone mentioned hitting, she said, “Oh, my son is definitely a hitter.”  Then she would nod her head sagely after each comment.  I could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on…….but you get the picture.  My first instinct was to be annoyed with this woman, like maybe she was looking for pity.  Hell, I don’t know, maybe she was.  All I could think was that she just wanted to be a part of the conversation, of the group even, if you can dig it.  Sometimes, having a special needs child can seem very isolating, and here was a whole room full of people who knew exactly what it was like to go through the daily struggles that we go through.  I get it.  She was a nice woman, you know, other than the fact I wanted to stick my ink pen up her nose.

In short, it really wasn’t the way I would have chosen to spend my day, but what can you do?  I did actually learn a few things, I guess, and I met some nice people.  A few of us are going to get together soon, and when you read an article in the paper about a man found dead under a mountain of paperwork, I have no idea what happened.

 

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