Day 15 - A picture of something you want to do before you die.
Yeah--I don't really think like this. I've never been a fan of bucket lists or anything like that. They just seem so final. Like, once you do it, then what? Lay down and die? Hey, it's been great. Climbing Everest was fun, but now I've got nothing to do…
Not that I want to climb anything like that. Or even be in a situation that is a) cold and b) lacking in oxygen. Not to mention c) uses yak milk for purposes that are best left unexplained. Besides, I have a fabulous bro-in-law who does that sort of thing regularly, through whom I can live vicariously. It turns out that first-hand, graphically-told tales of snot icicles are close enough to feed my wanderlust sufficiently, thank you.
Now, this isn't to say my main goal is to sit at home watching re-runs of True Blood (as tempting as it may sound). I'm just not one to make some sort of list to determine who I am.
A little back tracking perhaps: Autism has changed a lot of this. Once Ben was diagnosed--and even before--I had to learn to live in the NOW. And I'm not just talking some sort of Zen spiritualism. I mean, (and some of you mommies know what I'm getting at here) I can really only live TODAY, and maybe have a few ideas for tomorrow and the subsequent week. But those ideas MUST be transient, and open to change at a moment's notice. You do not know when a meltdown will occur. You do not know when your child will suddenly be afraid of t-shirts or the mailman. You have no warning that one day he will stop eating his favorite (and only) food, and then cry for some other food that you don't even have in the house and is only described verbally as "Wheenutch! WHEENUTCH!" For those of you scoring along at home, "wheenutch" remains undefined, although we suspect it might be located in the ethnic food aisle.
Living in The NOW trains you to be on your toes, and to really only worry about what's going on at this moment.
Oh, sure. In the back of my mind, when he's down for his nap, I like to envision Ben graduating High school, going on to college, being a major contributor to the Hadron Collider, or some such Nobel-worthy activity--just like any parent. But I am really--and I'm not just blowing smoke here--REALLY open to whatever the future brings. If he gains the skills to get him through school and further, awesome. If he finds that being around other people makes him break out in hives, OK. If he wants to sell Fuller brushes door-to-door, I'll get him a new suit. If he wants to be an disheveled slacker and hang out on my couch, I will teach him to knit Jamaican headwear to sell to his friends and hope whatever young, vulnerable actress he is dating will suddenly land a role on some unwatchable Teen Disney sitcom that goes into syndication despite the cast being led by Bernie Kopell. My job is to support him, in whatever capacity he needs, so that he can grow to the best ability of which he is capable.
It's actually been quite liberating, this NOW-thinking. And also stressful. And sorta Buddhist.
Now, that isn't to say I don't have an Autism bucket list. We all do--even if we don’t' admit it openly…
1) Potty training. You've seen me bitch about it enough. When will ABA start and when can I stop washing pull-ups? (We use cloth at home.)
2) Conversations. I am hoping one day I will be able to have an actual conversation with my kid--even if it's about a bug or proton particles--as long as there is a coherent back-and-forth that doesn't seem like I am trying to extract blood from the proverbial Rock.
3) I would like to stop being defensively jumpy at any and all playdates/playground activities/ or anything involving other children. Trying to explain the concept of "yours" and "mine" and "sharing" to him usually involve a great deal of "alcohol" on mommy's part, and my kid is…ahem…physical. His idea of a good time is clothes-lining other kids. So we have to be ready to spring into action should Ben decide to take a running lunge at another child in a violent half-hug of a hello, so that we can intervene or reprimand-reinstruct before Muffy McHovermom says something ignorantly inappropriate enough to make me clench my teeth and squint my eyes.
4) I'd love to travel more with him, to take him to places where he can get his learn on, or support what he is already learning in school. I mean, I totally fantasize about the year he learns about the pilgrims and Puritans, so that I can drag the clan to Salem, Mass. and study colonial witchy happenings with the poor saps who re-enact the psychedelic trips those folks were having. And don't even get me started on CA history…
And really, that's all I've got. I don't have any kind of "I hope he becomes the next Gaugin" or "Einstein's got nothin' on this guy". Yeah, that might be nice, but I've got today to worry about, and whether or not he's up for a hike in Griffith Park, or if he wants to watch Daddy play Mario cart. And the back-up plan involving both and a couple peanut butter sandwiches and a trip to playland at the mall. And afternoon margaritas. What is a back-up plan without margaritas? It may not be planning an expedition to Everest, but it'll do for now...