The wand chooses the wizard!

Are you a Harry Potter fan? I am and in the first book Harry has to go Ollivander’s Wand Shop to get a wand for his first year at Hogwart’s school. Mr. Ollivander is an old man who specializes in matching wizards to the right wand. He remembers every wand he has ever sold and tells Harry, “the wand chooses the wizard after all”. 2010 HP Wands for FaiI am not exactly why this has always stuck with me, almost like you subconsciously choose your own fate.  I say subconsciously because there are things in my life I am not sure I would choose or not choose, but some combination of will, resignation, choice, both conscious and subconscious all collide to create where you are today. I went to the salon I always go to get my hair colored (necessary evil with so many grays) and I was letting the woman at the desk know I was here for my appt. Standing next to me was one of those women, you know, the ones that are in good shape, wearing workout clothes, not in a rush. She was making multiple appts for all kinds of services, waxing, nails, hair, etc. all during what we typical people call “work hours”.  I had a moment where I thought to myself, where did I get off track? How is this woman looking like the picture of good health, plus some serious bling, all relaxed and scheduled for during the day appts and I flew in, like a bat out of hell,in my work clothes, with my make up faded and smeared  from my face since  applied at 6am;  my iphone and ipad in tow as if some great work emergency might take place?  I have learned over the  years never to be envious of others, because 1. it’s a dumb emotion, 2. you don’t really know what someone is going through and everyone has problems. So my thought process was not about envy but more about how did I choose my wand? To be clear, I did have one year without working. Frankly, it wasn’t a great experience for me at all. I am not the person who can just “be”. I like to be around people, I like the collegial atmosphere of an office.  I am by nature a multi-tasker and, like many others, I get way more done when I have 10 things to do than one. But for just this one moment, I thought, wow, do we select how are lives are going to go or do things just sort of happen. Clearly I would not choose to work full time, with two kids with one having special needs, but I am lucky to have a great job and family, so perhaps I could not have appreciation for one without the other?
I had an experience today that really jolted me back to being me. I met with a psychologist today, but not for any purpose relating to my psychological well being. In the course of this meeting I revealed that my child had autism. The psychologist said “I’m sorry”. WOW, that really hurt. I explained to the psychologist there is nothing to be sorry about, my son is warm and loving and it may have been one of the best things that has ever happened to me or my family. My profound appreciation for some of the smallest things in life is all due to this disorder and the child I love who has it. As you can imagine, the doctor was a bit taken aback. Funny, if I said my kid had diabetes or asthma would they say that? What about autism makes people feel they need to respond like this. No matter how long I have come into contact with new people addressing this topic, their response, comments and behavior is still shocking. However, and here is the good news, in that single moment, I saw a glimpse of my wand. I felt oddly awakened by her comment or snapped back to the reality of who I am. I am not great, not significant, and no better than any other mom, I am just me. Sometimes being me is tough and sometimes that is comforting. Either way I am a product of how I have orchestrated my life and I must embrace it and own it.

I won the powerball!!

powerball2Ok, settle down, no I didn’t win the actual powerball. If I did, do you think I would be blogging? No, I would be out figuring out how to allocate some funds to family and friends and then I would write some short blog from Florence. firenzeSo pretty much everyone does that “what would you do if you won the lottery” game with their spouse, family, friends. Yesterday I picked up Jason from Hebrew School and stopped to get gas in my car. We decided to go into the gas station convenience store to get some gum and go to the restroom. When we bought gum we also bought a powerball ticket. I usually just buy one. I know that is dumb from an odds perspective, but really, if you go that route, there is no end to the amount you should buy. We also play as a group at work, and that seriously increases our odds, but still it is more likely to drown in your bathtub than win. So Jason and I got into the car and he asked how much the powerball is right now. Earl has always played lotto and the powerball so he is familiar with the tickets and the discussion about winning the big one. I play if I remember when I go to get gas or we do it as a group. As you can picture, on our way to get Bryan at speech therapy, Jason asked me what would you do if you won?<a

Here’s how it went:
Jason: We would buy a house in NY, right Mom?NYC
Me: Yes, of course we would, and houses for Aunt Stacey and Aunt Frannie.
Jason: Would we give money to charity?
Me: Yes, of course, probably a million dollars to autism charities.
Jason: Do you think they will ever find a cure for autism?
(So here is my aside to that question. I have never been invested in a cure. I guess that is because I do not look at autism as a disease. Does cure imply disease? Hmm.)
Me: Well I am not sure. I don’t think of autism really as a disease, but I would like things to be easier for Bryan and other people with autism.
Jason: Well people with autism don’t know they have autism, so I guess it’s ok.
Me: Yes, Jason, they do. Maybe not at a super young age, but Bryan knows he is different. He may not be able to articulate what is different but he is aware enough to know that he is. Also, adults with autism know they have autism. I am not sure it’s a good idea to take away their autism either. Maybe they have it so that their brains can function better, smarter, or more creatively. They have other issues, but their brains are always working.
Jason: Maybe they could get that thing like an antidote, you know to stop if they wanted it.
Me: Interesting idea, smart boy.
Jason: Would you want Bryan to have an antidote to autism?
Now if you know me and us, you know that Jason has asked this question before and in many different ways. I wonder if he wishes Bryan did not have autism or does he wonder like we do what is really in Bryan’s mind. I wonder if he thinks, as I do, that wouldn’t it be great just to have a regular conversation with Bryan to know what he truly thinks about his world, his life, his being. These questions are so interesting, because, like teaching Bryan how to answer a why question, we have to teach Jason that there are why questions we cannot answer.
Me: Jason I always struggle with this. On the one hand I would love for things to be easier for Bryan, like a typical kid, on the other hand, would Bryan really be Bryan without his autism? As predicted, just saying this triggers watery eyes.
We got out of the car and went into get Bryan from speech. Bryan’s speech teacher explained to us how Bryan needs to work on why questions. We know he needs this but the exercises she gave me truly go to the essence of this disorder. One of the pictures shows a person driving and there are raindrops on the car and the windshield wipers are in the middle of the windshield to show they are working. The question is “why do we use windshield wipers?” So simple, something people figure out from being in a car and a typical child can just say why we use them, no one has to explain it or teach it. For the child with autism, the inference, that’s where the challenge lies. Bryan knows why we are using them, but can he take the thought of why and translate that into a comprehensive response? Not easily is the answer. These are drills we must always do. They are a reminder that you must give your child the tools, the language to persevere and progress. The most obvious inferences and conclusions are always the most difficult.
Bryan has trouble saying the letter “L” and saying “th”. Marcia, our speech teacher, (I say our because this woman cares so much for all of us, not just Bryan) gave me a sheet of sentences that contained one or more words that started with “L”. She said you must read the sentence to him first so he can get ready for the “L”. Wow, I had never thought of it that way. He must prepare his brain to say the “L” since it is not a natural sound to him. Genius!
We got in the car to drive home and I thought wow, I think I already won the powerball.