promisingly ominous

Atheism, Autism and, Apparently, Alliteration…Aplenty!

Month: December, 2014

HodgePodge – About this Series

It must have been spring 1991 or maybe the previous fall – senior year at my Arizona high school. I remember sitting in a classroom at my desk, which was positioned on the side of a large “U” seating pattern. The rest of the memory is pretty fuzzy, except for the light bulb moment.

My mind was wandering, so it must have been a math class. I was daydreaming about what I should do for a living after high school. Archaeology or anthropology? Nope, couldn’t hack the math. French? I loved it but I would have hated to specialize in just one thing.

And then it hit me – why should I have to pick one thing? So many topics and aspects of the world were fascinating that I couldn’t imagine sticking to one forever. My attention span wouldn’t allow it. But what type of career would allow me to explore an array of interests?

Journalism. That was it. I knew I enjoyed writing. And what little I must have known about journalism at the time did include an idea that they could become mini-experts in 1,000 different topics.

From that point on, I never wavered about what I’d major in and I got a journalism degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

All these years later, I haven’t changed. The world has millions of shiny objects to distract me with renewed interest in every aspect of life. Sometimes I wish I was one of those single-minded people with a consuming devotion to one topic. It seems appealing to mine the depths of a subject and get lost in the intricacies. But I know it wouldn’t suit me long term. I’ve got to flit from one thing to another – it’s just me.

This series of posts – HodgePodge – is just that. This is where I’d like to explore anything that doesn’t fit within the other topics on this blog. French and France. Mosaics. Film festivals and movie sets and screenwriting. Anything. Everything. Will you indulge me?

Spectrum – About this Series

The ultrasound technician lied to us.

Prone on the examining table with the husband beside me, belly covered in goopy gel, we had just been told that the 20-or-so-week baby inside was a boy. It made me weepy, which isn’t really characteristic. I felt overwhelmed and happy.

We had a few moments earlier told the tech that the little bugger inside had a sister, approaching two years old, waiting for him to arrive. So, after delivering the XY-chromosome news, she said something congratulatory and nice about how we had “a perfect little family going on.”

I remember it because I instantly felt that way, too. The perfect, nuclear family. Not lopsided, like my childhood with three sisters and no brothers. (Love you, girls!) Nope, this would be evenly distributed. Perfect in every way. Soccer games and ballet practice. Somebody would play the guitar and someone the piano. Life would be a veritable Disneyland commercial.

Around 12 months, that changed. Worry set in (mostly for me) because Hayes hadn’t really uttered a word. By 18 months, he was being evaluated by the state and was granted weekly speech therapy. Just before age 3, we got the diagnosis I’d known in my heart long before: autism. Somewhat mild on the spectrum.

So, yeah, I say with sarcasm that the pleasant technician lied to us that day. Heck, maybe even jinxed us. And while I’m trying to be funny – this is me, trying – I of course don’t even come close to meaning it. Life with Hayes can be challenging. But I love him, we love him, and we don’t want a do-over. We are in this together. We laugh every day, we wrestle, we cuddle, we learn from each other. He is sweet and affectionate and rambunctious and so smart.

A variety of platitudes could be offered in answer to the whole perfection dream. Ones like, “You wouldn’t have wanted a flawless life, anyway – how boring!”

That’s true, of course, though I’m ashamed to say I still catch creeping thoughts that mourn what might have been. Mostly I’m getting on with it and being as proactive as possible. I’m a big believer in connecting with resources and that’s what this series attempts to do – to connect families with information and anecdotes that might help their daily lives. If you get practical information you need and I can take a lesson from you at the same time, that’s the whole idea. There are so many clinical experts and so many everyday experts (read: parents) to tap for ideas.

Thousands and thousands of our kids are out there and we’re not as alone as we once might have been. Let’s love our kids, learn from each other and open a few minds, if we can. Sounds pretty perfect to me.