Tag Archives: family

Road with snow on the edges

Where’s the High Road?

The liars in my life are hurting me today.

Usually, they inspire me to seek the high road. Find a path that’s not so riddled with chaos and finger pointing. Find a path that leads to healing and happiness with no dark allies or caverns to caress.

Today, however, I’m wondering if I’ve ever been right about exactly where the high road lay.

I’m raising my three great-grandkids. My grandson and his estranged wife find them to be too much, and so I’m raising them. Today, as is often the case when they’re off having a visit with their mom or dad, I’m left with enough time to think, and to wonder if I’ve ever been right about exactly where the high road lie.

My mind wanders back to the time when my cousins were visiting. I was a young mom and my mother was at the table listening to the complaints of her niece, my cousin. Her niece, my cousin, was saying that her dad, my mother’s brother, was rough on her; judgmental, pushing her to succeed. That one time he slapped her. My mother was aghast. “A parent should never hurt a child. I would never do that.”

At first I was dumbfounded and unable to breathe. Then I burst out, “Are you kidding me?” I went on a tirade about the many times she’d kicked me and pushed me down the stairs. I landed on a time where I was only eight years old and she was slapping me from side to side over and over and over and over and over again, to the point where I got giddy with hysteria imagining my head a ping-pong ball being bounced on the table back and forth until the players were too tired to play. All because I had spent ten cents too much at the movie theater. And I’d only done that because I knew I had a dime to replace it with when I got home. Unfortunately, my little brother had stolen my dime. So I was in trouble and my head bounced around with my brain inside hurting and hurting. Just another day in the life of my childhood.

That day I had decided to choose the high road, I thought.

This would come up many times in my life with my mother and my cousins. Times when they would say to me, “Well then you need to tell everyone these truths,” and I would ask, “Why? My mom visits you guys, I don’t. My mom would lose if you hated her, and I wouldn’t gain.” And I would leave my mom’s relationship as intact as possible with her brother and her sister and her nieces and her nephews.

When my father died my mom attacked me, then lied about it. She told everyone I’d attacked her when all I’d really done is held her arms down and said, “I’m not a little child anymore. I love you mom, but you have to calm down. I love you mom, but you have to calm down. You can’t hurt me anymore.”

But I was wrong. She could hurt me all the way until she died. And even her death hurt me. And her sister and her brother and her nieces and nephews, well, they just never knew the truth. About her rage or her cruelty.

I thought I was taking the high road by not spreading the venom. But, in fact, I think it was the opposite. I was allowing her to maintain a fantasy that possibly trickled down into the lives of others. Perhaps her nieces and nephews would have operated differently with their own parents had they known it was a family trait. Perhaps what I took was actually a chicken’s way out.

The low road, where we hide and don’t want to face the consequences of shouting out the truth.

So, today I’m wondering: where is that high road?

These kids I’m raising are so beautiful. So adorable. I love every second of it, except when I’m not with them.

Their mother seldom sees them, but she makes sure to get pictures when she does. She posts on her Instagram and Facebook pages about how much she loves her kids, how much she’s always there for them, and how much she lives for them. Meanwhile, she’s really living with another guy and doesn’t even have proper beds for them when they visit her. She makes sure to get enough of the holiday events that it looks like she’s a constant presence in their lives, when really she’s barely there at all.

There’s more to say, but that’s enough.

Because of this truth, my grandson, their dad, has gotten into a bit of a competition online with her. Well, no, that’s not true. He takes the pictures, but he doesn’t really post them like that. He’s a different kind of guy than that. He’s a good dad, as far as his moments with them go. They know he loves them. He’s always warm and friendly with them. He just doesn’t have the stuff that dads are made of in him. He doesn’t know how to care more about spending time with the kids than going to a concert or buying a video game or getting a cool tattoo.

Tattoos. They’ve become a symbol of all that’s bad for me, even though I know better.

So, I’m sitting her wondering: where’s the high road?

Is the high road me letting them hang onto this false identity, so they have at least some little semblance of something with their parents? Or is the high road in telling the truth? Being loud about it. Saying, “Actually, they’re shitty parents, and they mostly hurt their children through their selfishness and I’m doing the work and I’m loving it.”

So, that’s my question.

Where is the high road?

Which choice heals, helps, or hurts?

I really don’t know.

The joy on granddaughter's face is like the joy of heading home

The Best Day

The Best Day: Heading home after doing good work while away.

My tummy’s beginning to bubble with excitement. It’s the last day of work during my travels overseas before returning home.

It’s been wonderful. We’ve accomplished a lot and I believe I may have changed the face of coping with autism and other brain disorders. Changed them for the better. Made a difference in the world again. But I want to go home.

This happens every time I travel.

I’m focused, I work hard, I enjoy every moment of it. And on the last day the truth begins to percolate in my tummy: You wish you were home and you will be soon.

I allow the great-grandchildren’s faces into my mind’s eye. I send a message to my grandson. The call of home can be strong. Today, I will allow it in.

I’m glad I travel. It was easier this time than others, because now my most challenged son, Dar, travels with me and I don’t have that low grade anxiety of wondering what’s happening for him. (Join Dar and I via our videos on YouTube by clicking this link: Autism on the Road.) I love Dar. I love traveling with Dar. But I love them all the most and I want to be near them.

The great-grandkids, the grandkids, the kids. Familiar soil, familiar food, these do matter. But the hugs, cries, laughter, and “please buy me something” pull of family members is the strongest for me.

So, today is a great day.

My last day of work.

My mind travels over all the things I’ve accomplished in the last seventeen days. Forty-three videos on various techniques for autism, speaking to teachers, training new people who know nothing at all, untraining people who’ve been misled by the usual ideas around autism, spreading the word about what matters and what doesn’t, hands on helping people that are challenged and yet brilliant at the same time. I’ve created things while I was away that will live beyond me and I should be proud, and I am.

But more than anything I feel the tickle in my tummy that’s trying to reach my chest and say, “It’s almost home day, it’s almost home day. You don’t have to stay away anymore.”

This is the best day.

Tomorrow’s good. I’ll be on a plane for almost fourteen hours and I’ll be aware of my return, but I’ll get jet-lagged and go through that process next. So today, and about three days from now, are the best days of all.

I will enjoy.

As I struggle through the process coming up of adjusting to different time zones again, I’ll pass my mind over all I accomplished and know it was worth it.

Today is the best day.

Patiently, I Waited

As a young child my son had sensory problems that made brushing his front teeth intolerable. The dentist (who used laughing gas) chastised me for not forcing the issue. I stopped going to that dentist, stopped subjecting my under-the-influence son to the sight of his mother being lectured. We stayed away from the negative energy. And patiently, I waited.

Over the years we tried a few dentists. Many of them made me cry. Back then the handling of a patient was rough, needles hurt, and attitudes were superior. I kept my son away, trusting that the gaps between his teeth would help prevent cavities. I cleaned his front teeth with a toothpaste covered cloth and, patiently, I waited.

His front teeth began to stain with plaque and calcium deposits. I copied what I had seen the hygienist do and started picking the plaque from his teeth. (My son trusts me. So though when others try to work in his mouth he flinches and pulls away, when I do it he is very cooperative.) I took him to a dentist specializing in challenged children. He  tried a commanding style rather than gas to gain my son’s cooperation. My son bolted from his chair and we left. Patiently, I waited.

When my multi-challenged child reached the age of 20 all his opportunities shifted. He was bigger, scarier, sweatier and no one felt comfortable in his mouth. I told them to let me help but instead they tried biting blocks. He bit. Of course. Because the dentists and hygienists were not willing to see me as his expert. By now he could run a cloth over his own front teeth. I continued to pick the plaque and patiently, I waited.

I read about neurofeedback and decided to try it with him. He was still scary, still dependent on me, but the practitioner was patient and loving and we made it through the session despite the EEG wires pasted to his head. He seemed calmer afterward so we did more. I decided to become a practitioner and make it always available to my son. Patiently, I waited.

After a year his minimally verbal mouth seemed helped. He began to brush those very stained front teeth. I ceased to pick and tried to encourage self care. He improved a little more. After a while I decided to try another dentist. They again refused to let me help. They insisted on x-rays before cleanings. I insisted that this would be a set up to fail. But my son was different now and when they wouldn’t listen to me I listened to his new behavior. I didn’t believe it would work but I also didn’t want to limit him. I consented and they took him to the x-ray room. He was in his thirties and used to people helping him so he went willingly. Patiently, I waited.

The technician, covered in panic and sweat, ran into the room where I was waiting. Come help, she begged. I followed her to my son who was sitting smiling and trying to cooperate.What was her problem? They stuck the x-ray film in between his teeth inside the left cheek. He shook his head and spit it out. The lady turned to me and said, “See!” I said, “Well, that hurts. I can barely do it.” I talked them into letting me hold his head while they x-rayed. He still couldn’t do it and they were still annoyed. I needed someone who would drop their own rules and adjust for our needs. We left and patiently, I waited.

I found a dentist I liked and brought my son for all my appointments. He sat on the floor in the corner and watched. I got a couple of crowns, a root canal, two deep cleanings and one regular cleaning, all while he watched and they got used to his agreeableness. Patiently, I waited.

Technology had improved and cleanings no longer hurt. The vibrating water jet wand was a masterful tool for plaque. The hygienist is sweet, the office calm. My son’s breath had begun to give off an odor, something it had never done before. I decided to try again. I talked her into an appointment. I insisted that I had no expectation for success, just a desire to try. A wish for a positive experience, a willingness to be her assistant. She agreed but rescheduled him three times. She was nervous, the pandemic a handy excuse. He turned forty and still we waited, patiently. 

Today he had a cleaning. He waited patiently while I went first with his grand niece sitting on my lap. (He likes to impress her so she was an unexpected yet handy addition to the experience). She waited patiently, he waited patiently, I waited patiently till my teeth shone like diamonds. It was his turn. The hygienist babbled nervously, I donned gloves, she donned gloves, he opened his mouth. I stayed back. She went to put the vacuum in his cheek and he closed his teeth. I moved forward and put my fingers between his teeth confident that he would never bite me. 

Patiently and thoroughly we worked together. I pulled his lips and she vibrated the wand. He smiled calmly with his eyes while we complimented with genuine amazement. My four year old great-granddaughter (his grand niece) – dressed purposely in a backwards t-shirt so people could watch Elsa and Anna walk away – moved closer to peek at the operation and we all commented on how shiny his teeth were getting. It was remarkable, the plaque and stain fell onto his tongue and was vacuumed away piece by piece by piece. The gaps had kept food from sticking between his teeth and protected them  enough to allow for this eventuality. He has a brand new, stain free smile. He is proud, his breath clean and his gums healing.

Patience pays off.

Lesson to take with you:  Even if it didn’t work before it might work now. (And with a little technological help it might work even better.)