Archives for posts with tag: child in college

self careA few weeks ago, I started this post by writing:

“I am eating cold chicken fried rice out of the carry-out carton and watching flight tracker, which has suddenly and mysteriously changed my son’s arrival time from 9:30pm to 3:40am. He is on his way back to school for his final semester. And then … who knows?

“He says that the underclassmen have learned that “What are you going to do after you graduate?”  is the worst possible question to ask a senior. I suspect he told me that preemptively, in case I had planned to ask him That Question. I hadn’t. When he has firm plans or good news, he’ll tell me. Meanwhile, I believe that he has ideas brewing and interesting options ahead. He is resourceful and creative and I trust him to take good care of himself and his future.”

Now it’s almost March and I am thinking again about taking care of oneself. I spent time with a dear friend (DF) who had had a painful health scare and had decided to go vegan as a result. It wasn’t easy but DF was committed and is now feeling good, feeling healthy, and is hopeful that this will be life-prolonging as well as life-improving. DF talked about veganism not as a prison or punishment but as a choice DF makes every day to “take care of myself.”  Veganism is also in line with DF’s belief system.

I was very happy to see DF feeling great and doing so well. At the same time, I am aware that I usually recoil when someone says “take care of [one]self.” Usually a recoil is a sign that something has crossed a boundary or triggered a sense of violation for me, so I spent the next couple of days thinking about how and why I could be so happy about the idea of DF and my son “taking care of” themselves, when often those words make me want to scream and shake someone. After some thought, I concluded 1) that context matters and 2) that biased assumptions, hierarchy, judgment, paternalism, and lack of respect for others’ autonomy are often involved in the making of such statements.

Regarding context, it matters whether someone is talking about themselves (“I am taking care of myself by doing such-and-such”)  or whether they are speaking of someone else, as in “I wish he would take better care of himself” or “She should take care of herself.” DF had identified some priorities  and is taking specific steps to honor those priorities. DF is deciding for DF what DF wants, needs, values, and is willing and able to do, and then is choosing each day to act on those.  I find that inspiring and admirable and not at all triggering.  All too often, though, I hear people making the second kind of statement about someone else and about what that other person could or should be doing. That’s what activates my scream-and-murder impulse.

It used to be that when I’d hear that gendered phrase about some woman not “taking care of herself,” it referred to her physical appearance and her failure or refusal to follow social norms involving makeup, hair, and clothing. It was often linked to another homicide-worthy phrase, “letting herself go.”  These things were almost never said about men. They indicate a willingness and desire and assumed right on the part of the speaker to judge another person and to find them inferior on the basis of appearance and behavior. These statements also represent moral judgments, because if a woman is not doing what she “should,” then it must surely indicate a moral lapse (such as laziness) or faulty judgment or improper socialization (in which case the blame extends to the previous generation, particularly the ever-problematic Mom). In each case the speaker is placing hirself on higher ground than the person being discussed. In each case the speaker is assuming to know better than the person being discussed  what the person being discussed needs.

Now when I hear that someone is not “taking care of herself,”  it’s often a statement about weight or body shape  and their presumed connections to health.  Again, the phrase is applied more often and more heavily to women than to men, and again the speaker is assuming superiority (physical, mental and moral), a right to judge,  and better knowledge of what the other person needs. Most of western society seems to believe that large body size is itself proof of “bad” habits or behaviors, that fat people must surely eat too much (all the time!), must never exercise (or they wouldn’t be fat!), and must certainly be walking time bombs set to explode and die at any moment. Being fat, then, is evidence of failure to “take care of yourself.” Bring on the concern trolls.

In addition to being monumentally arrogant and irritating to a mandatory-throat-punch degree,  these statements are often based in ignorance or denial of scientific findings or the actual behaviors of the person in question, and they display a harmful paternalism which cements a social hierarchy holding fat people down. Worse still, these statements deny fat people’s – particularly fat women’s – autonomy. Having a thin body does not confer super-powers of judgment or omniscience or moral strength, and having a fat body does not require anyone to forfeit basic rights. Fat people don’t need anyone to tell them that they are fat; they know. They don’t need unsolicited advice on what or how much to eat or how and when to move (especially from people who don’t know them well enough to know how they DO eat or how they DO move). Fat people don’t benefit from bullying, ridicule, shaming, or hateful assumptions from biased idiots. And most importantly, a fat person doesn’t need someone else to define their self-care needs and goals. Like everyone else, fat people get to decide these for themselves.

“Taking care of ourselves” comes in many forms, some with a big social stamp of approval, and others discounted, dismissed, or invisible to society and those who would judge. The assumption that there is a fixed, finite one-size-fits-all set of ways to care for oneself is harmful and flat out wrong. For someone suffering from depression, getting out of bed and showering can be a major self-care accomplishment.  For a disabled person, successful rationing of spoons can mean the difference between a bearable day and a nightmarish one. For anyone of any size who struggles with disordered eating, learning to listen to one’s body and eat without shame or guilt is a huge self-care victory. And for members of socially-despised groups (including but not limited to fat people), getting through a day without succumbing to self-hatred is a triumph, and whatever you need to do to get there  is self-care.

Nobody else knows as well as each of us what we need and value. Nobody else lives in our skin and experiences our lives and our unique challenges. Nobody else gets to define our self-care for us, and nobody else gets a vote in how we are doing on that. We don’t owe anyone explanation or “perfection” or “health,” and we certainly don’t owe anyone anything that interferes with our autonomy. In my presence, then, you can safely say “I take care of myself by…” followed by pretty much anything you want that doesn’t involve infringing on another person’s rights.  I cannot guarantee your safety, however, if you try to tell me how I or anyone else should take care of ourselves. People who say such things in my presence tend to need a lot more care afterward themselves.

 

 

 

 

little w

The other night after a phone conversation with W, I found myself thinking something I hadn’t thought for a while: “I have to write this in the jungle book.”

“The jungle book” is what I call a clothbound journal I got when I was pregnant with W. It has a brilliant leaf-and-bird print cover. In that journal I have written 20 years worth of memories, thoughts, and stories for W. Most of the entries describe tiny pieces of his life: words he learned, silly things he said, places we went and things we did together, his likes and dislikes and tooth configurations at different ages. That book of memories is one of my most vaued possessions. I hadn’t added any new entries since W’s high school graduation.

The other night I took it out and wrote:

You went back to ___ early for January term. You got there a couple of weeks ago and promptly got sick. Got over the fever/chills/dizziness quickly but, as you told me when you called, “As usual, my cough hung on. So I stole a couch.” You said this as if it were the most logical thing in the world. Actually you had dragged it into your room from a dorm common area – because there were so few people back on campus – so that you could sleep sitting up.

So today you called again, said that you were enjoying having the couch in your room, and that you had just gone through “a quite hermitish spell” which you had decided to break by calling me after “spider-crawling over to the window to see how many suns and moons had passed.”

W has recovered from his illness and returned the couch now, but I am still enjoying the jungle book. Excerpts:

Age 3 1/2, as I dried W off after his bath:

W: It’s not YOUR time, it’s MY time! Is not! Is too! Is not! Is too!

Me: Honey, what are you talking about?

W: My feet are arguing [about which should be dried first].

Age 4 1/2:

W: What are you thinking about, Mommy?

Me: I don’t want to tell you, honey.

W: Why?

Me: They’re private thoughts.

W (nodding wisely): Oh. I know. You’re thinking ’bout your penis.

Just before W’s 5th birthday:

You screen my calls for me. Once I heard your side of a conversation: “Are you a salesperson? [pause] Well, are you KIND of a salesperson? Then my mommy doesn’t want to talk to you – but you can talk nice to me because I’m a little kid… Hello? Hello?”

Just after W’s 5th birthday, when my sister visited with her daughters, W’s younger cousins:

You were playing Candyland with [cousin] and Grandma, and you were not winning. Stricken, you wandered out of the room wailing, “Is this how my life is going to be? Will I never smile again?”

Age 5 1/2:

Today you listened to an Alanis Morissette song on the radio and you said, “She sings with might and courage.”

Age 6:

I taught 3rd & 4th grade [Sunday school] last semester, and you and I always talked about our respective classes as we drove home from church. One day I told you my class had talked about Buddhism and the importance of living in the moment and not losing the present to worry about the future. Later (another day, I think) we were listening to your N Sync CD and a song called “Space Cowboy” came on, with the words “We don’t need all these prophecies / tellin’ us what’s a sign / ’cause paranoia ain’t the way to live your life from day to day / So leave your doubt and your fears behind…”  After listening carefully, out of the blue you said, “I think N Sync are Buddhists.”

Age 9 1/2:

Said by a giggling W after I “nagged” him to clean up a mess he had made: “You’re a meany – a big meany! You’re so full of meanness you’re – no offense – BULGING!”

Age 10:

Bellowed by you a couple of months ago as you charged backwards across the room at me: “Buttocks … of unspeakable EEEEVil!”

Every time I read from this book I see that little boy again, shaggy hair in his big brown eyes, huge grin, ready to take on the world. Writing a new silly story in the jungle book this week allowed me to see that that wacky child is not gone. He’s still in there and still delightful.   ❤

 

 

 

the path ahead

This past summer with W was wonderful. We hung around town most of the time but made a couple of trips to Asheville NC and to Washington DC.  One trip was to visit cousins I hadn’t seen in 25 years … a side of the family W had never met at all.  He fit right in with them and it truly did feel like a warm family gathering instead of a meeting with near-strangers. What a lovely fun smart humorous bunch of people. ❤

W spent the last 2-3 weeks of summer with his dad before going back to campus.  Suddenly my house was too quiet again. Suddenly I was talking to the cats about things that probably don’t interest cats at all, such as what household supplies I need from the grocery, and how @#$&ing stupid and obscenely wasteful the tenure application process is here. I’m pretty sure that these talks did increase the cats’ vocabulary, and I’m just as certain that they will not be able to show off those new words in polite company.

After a week or so back at campus, W called and stated, “I have decided that I am not busy enough.” I’m thinking, You take a full course load, work all the hours you’re allowed at your work/study job, are an orientation leader for new freshmen, are in student government, and host prospective freshmen several times a year. Plus you have 50,000 events you attend and people you hang out with. How could you not be ‘busy enough’?  After I stopped laughing, W said that he was going to become a tour guide for families visiting campus and he was going to try out for an a capella group and … a couple of other things I can’t remember.  Sure enough, he went through the tour guide training and a capella tryout, in addition to setting up meetings to talk with the internship office about summer opportunities  and the study abroad office about the trip he hopes to take next school year.  He was not accepted into the a capella group, but that turned out to be a good thing because he had discovered that he had more affinity for the campus players improv-like theatre troupe and joined them instead.  One of the troupe leaders sent out a message asking members how they identify and what roles they would be willing to play. One of W’s friends responded, “I am a banana.”  W’s response was, “I identify as a man, but I am willing to play anything including an amorphous asexual blob, should that need arise.”  Another of W’s friends wrote, “Please don’t make me a Nazi again.”      Obviously, this is the perfect group for W.

In that phone call I told W I felt as if he were expanding before my very eyes, still using the familiar tools and abilities I’d always known he had while also pulling out new and unique and unexpected tools from heretofore hidden compartments. I told him it was a pretty neat thing to see.

Later I examined my own life and found it wanting. Do I have hidden tools? Are they rusting away in there? Once the madhouse rush of W’s leaving and my tenure application process and the semester start was past, life settled back into a pretty empty-seeming pattern. Classes are going well … and that’s pretty much all I do now. I did try out a new church a couple of weeks ago – it’s tiny and meets twice a month in a youth center in the hills – and the people were very nice but for the most part way older than me and retired. I have friends I go out with occasionally. I have stacked my language books on the floor in my room so that I can begin to recover my Spanish and German skills. Occasionally I eye the saxophone case in the corner; the other day I went so far as to imagine assembling the instrument and bellowing out a few dreadful scales. I am sure that I can become the next Clarence Clemons if I try, despite that one time when a little neighbor boy (who had the misfortune to walk by my house with his daddy when I was practicing) shrieked ‘Daddy, what IS it?!’   

I have discovered that I am easily overwhelmed. To get around that, I think I must make things  very easy for myself, perhaps by breaking each big action down into a million ridiculously easy steps and then doing one of them at a time. Getting those language books out was a step. So was thinking seriously about the saxophone.  I need to poke around inside my battered old case of a self … to fish around to see what tools are still in working order. Impossibly tiny tweezers?  Filet knife?  Corkscrew?  Maybe they’re all in there just waiting to be used.  Next step: Choosing one of those language books and clearing workspace for it on my desk.

SeussianHair     I get to see my sweetie soon! He has just finished his freshman year and is probably in the passenger seat of a pickup truck bound for his dad’s house right now, trailing the stuffings of his dorm room behind him.

By all accounts he has had a wonderful year at THE perfect college for him. His professors have made him work and laugh and fume and think, his work/study job has taught him tele-marketable skills, and he has made friends he will keep for life. After visiting him on campus one weekend, my 17-year old niece reported that W knows everyone and that he occasionally, upon seeing someone on campus before they see him, will hide behind a tree or building, call them on their cell phones, and say in his special-creepy demon voice, “I see you…”   They respond by laughing and saying, “Oh, W…!” as if it is an everyday occurrence to receive a telephone call from an unseen creepy-stalker demon.

Some branches of my family would not find this funny or amusing at all; to them demons are very real, extremely malevolent, and omnipresent. There is no joking about demons in a world over-populated by demons.  Once, at a reunion of sorts, I learned that I had been eating eggs seasoned with exorcised salt every morning for breakfast, on account of the cook’s strong belief that demons had been singling out her family for special horrid treatment.  Upon hearing this I was speechless. I wasn’t sure whether I was being given the salt out of love and a desire to protect  or whether I myself was suspected of harboring demons.  It was probably a bit of both (I just want to go on the record here and say that I did not hiss, yowl, melt, curse, or have any head-spinning pea soupy reaction at all to said exorcised salt. In fact, I found the eggs yummy.).

That’s not to say I don’t have any demons, and this first year of W’s college adventure has certainly resurrected them for me. Sometimes I hear someone else’s voice echoing around in my head and it ain’t pretty. It is a voice from my past that has, at different times of my life, taken up residence with no invitation and no welcome, completely comfortable in its entitlement to my skull and private thoughts. This voice likes to bludgeon me into submission, drain every drop of blood and every ounce of good feeling from my heart and my veins.  An internal Dementor, I guess. It lives to make sure I know just how awful I am – worse than worthless, really, because at least worthless does no harm. What I am is vile, poisonous, contemptible, utterly unloveable and grotesquely flawed in every measurable way, a walking burden on the earth and all its occupants. I’m not sure why the voice has been around more than usual this year, but I suspect it moved in to take up the space that used to be filled by my daily interactions with W. It’s not an actual voice from my actual past  but it contains all my child-time interpretations of people’s reactions to me, and all the feelings that came from those – the observations that I used to build my sense of myself.

As you can imagine, I don’t LIKE my new roommate. In fact, I am mostly sick to death of her and desperate to evict her – as forcefully as possible – forever. Don’t know if that’s possible, but I have developed a way to keep Demonella at bay.  It involves inviting even more characters to take up residence in my head. I invented these others and I call them the protector women. They are a little younger and harder than I but fiercely loyal. They are armed with bats and are very skilled at wielding them. They lounge around being funny and sardonic until Demonella pokes her head around the door frame to say something snide; then the protector women turn to me, eyebrows raised, and ask hopefully, “You want we should shut her up?”  The protector women have a kind of working class New York accent; I don’t know where they get that but I like it.

So, demons everywhere, some good, some bad, some being dealt with. It’s okay, because Sunday is Mother’s Day and I get to bring my boy home.

ChristmasLeaves“You shoulda named me Joyful Noise,”  said W a few days ago before he went back to campus. I couldn’t answer, laughing as I was at his singing, dancing, stomping, and clapping, or whatever it was he was doing that was so dang loud.

My semester ended a week before his. W’s dad B and I had worked out that B would get W to his house after W’s finals week  and would keep him there until Christmas day. Then I would bring W back home with me.

I had decided that I needed to see family, starting with sis P 1200 miles away. After my students turned in their final papers and exams, I hit the road, driving 4-500 miles per day, stopping in a hotel and grading for several hours, then sleeping before getting up and repeating the process.  I coasted in to P’s driveway on a cloud of frigid snowflakes on the 3rd day.

Her youngest daughter, a true sweet earth child, was out by the road celebrating the snow when I got there. The house was lit up, pointy windows glowing. The building was old and had been a church, a bordello, a different church, and then a family home for 30 years before sis and her husband bought it. It perches at the feet of mountains and gets semi-regular visits from bears seeking P’s wild-growing concord grapes  and from cougars seeking the family’s smaller pets.

The three girls had grown so much since 2005! The oldest is now a little taller than me, confident, funny, capable and beautiful. Middle niece is quieter with a simple ballet dancer elegance and a wicked dry sense of humor. Youngest niece is always moving, always sharing, and always smiling. Sis P’s house is comfy and welcoming like a favorite pair of shoes. Sliding in on a cold snowy night it seemed the perfect place to go for holiday warmth. P and her husband are the ideal hosts for me, making me feel welcome and comfortable and not like a visitor at all.

We had four lovely days together filled with fun excursions, good food, and a lot of laughter. We celebrated Christmas together before the real day and it was lovely. Then I headed east and, after driving all day, arrived at big sis (P2)’s house. She hadn’t known I was coming and held me so tight we both just stood and cried for a few minutes, swaying and hugging. Big sis had had a really tough year and her youngest child was to marry in a few days. I met her fiance for the first time. Turns out he had been offered a job up near W’s college and they would be moving up there in mid-January. Big sis and I sat and talked for hours in her big pretty old farm house around which a city had grown, and two of her other children came over to join us, bringing spouses and beautiful sweet children I hadn’t yet met. That too was lovely and warm and perfect for Christmas.

The next day (Christmas Eve) I drove to the house of my brother and sis-in-law  who live only a few miles from W’s dad. They welcomed me into yet another warm fragrant house and we too talked for hours, exchanging funny stories and catching up on each other’s lives. We had a very laid back Christmas morning. It was quieter than most of ours because their son and his wife and their new baby had gone to visit the baby’s other grandparents. The weather report promised a snow storm. I called W’s dad (who has a second job clearing parking lots of snow) and arranged to get W a few hours earlier than planned so that we could head home well ahead of the storm.

Even before I had W snugly beside me in the warm car driving the few hundred miles home, this felt like the best Christmas in a long time. I hadn’t cleaned the house before leaving and hadn’t set up any holiday decorations. Didn’t have a single gift for him except one Terry’s milk chocolate orange I had happened to see in the grocery. Instead of setting a day to celebrate Christmas with wrapped presents and favorite family foods, we went out to eat and had an after-Christmas shopping trip.

W had a nice long break – just went back yesterday – and we spent it going all our favorite places, doing our favorite things, seeing our favorite people, and talking about all our separate adventures. He snuggled and sweet-talked his furry sisters, hugged me a lot, and told great stories. He shared his thoughts on his classes and his work/study job and the books that he’s reading. We rented movies and caught up on our favorite tv shows. There was a lot of Joyful Noise.  It was wonderful.

Did you ever find  after a tense or scary event  that you had been clenching your hands into tight little fist balls?  And then when you tried to unclench it really hurt?

I think I need to unclench  and it ain’t gonna be pretty.  This past week I realized just how constricted my life has become … how small my world is. It first struck me as I was talking to someone about finally getting my passport renewed. It struck harder later, as I was explaining to someone else that my unwillingness to fly is no longer all about fear of flight, it’s also about fear of FWF – flying while fat. In my mind I see myself going to the airport, already scared about leaving terra firma and desperately needing some kind of medication to quiet THAT, and then having the airline clerk(s) treat me as less than a full person, and yet somehow more than a full person, necessitating the purchase of a second ticket for the other half of my fat self. That would be humiliating and awful enough. Even worse, the scene always ends with me being dragged away screaming and cursing by TSA officials  to spend the rest of my life in a dank anonymous cell somewhere, never able to use my new passport which wouldn’t be possible anyway on account of me being on a universal no-fly list.

Sorry. Got carried away with my neuroses. Perhaps I also need medication when NOT trying to fly.

If anyone had asked me when W was a tiny ball of a baby  if I had a bucket list of things I really wanted to do with him before he grew up, one item I would have listed is ‘Explore Europe with him,’ showing him all the places he has read about in the history books he so loves.  He’s gone now and we’ve never done that. His first view of the Eiffel Tower and the Waterloo battlefield and the Acropolis will probably be with someone else.  We’ve never flown anywhere together.

We HAVE driven all over much of the US from Utah to South Carolina and Boston to Florida. Also to Canada twice. When childless I drove everywhere by myself without a worry. Then I was blessed with my little bundle of boy and from that point on  my major goal was to keep him alive and safe and screw him up as little as possible. Suddenly driving seemed much more dangerous, as the possibility of wrecks and car-malfunction strandings loomed menacingly over us. I drove anyway but the carefree fun was gone. Still, I’d buckle my little guy into his child safety seat in the center of the backseat and surround him with all the necessities (snacks, drinks, book bag, toy bag, blankie, pillow, sweatshirt, kiddie road maps, kiddie shades), turn on music or recorded stories, and off we’d go. W told me years later that he sometimes cracked open the back window just enough to toss out one of his tiny plastic toy soldiers without me noticing. Their mission was to scout and report back to him.

Those trips were pretty wonderful: a dinosaur tour through Utah and Colorado with my sis and her daughters, a drive to marshy Point Pelee (on Lake Erie in Ontario) with my mom, and conference trips to St. Louis, San Antonio, Boston, Chicago and Montreal. In the cities we would use our hotel as the starting point and each evening choose a different direction to walk, exploring and eventually having dinner before heading back to our room.

W is a wonderful travel companion. He’s a good navigator, funny,  helpful, interested in exploring, and not picky about food. He loves meeting people and talking to them and he likes learning new things and discussing it all later. I’m a little jealous of his future travel companions as they are in for a treat. He has unfolded beautifully over his 18 years, unfurling from a little ball of life wrapped tightly in a favorite blankie to a young man whose height stretches beyond mine and whose horizons are limitless. His world is opening wide and, unlike his mama, he seems not to find that painful at all.

I think I’ve let myself get old and my world get small  way too soon. Have passport, will unclench. Don’t mind the noise, please; that will just be me shrieking in (temporary) pain.  It’ll be better when I get to Europe…. and certainly quieter for you.

  I detest roller coasters. The first (and only) time I went on a big one I was 14 or 15 and felt certain I was going to die. We inched clacking up the first big hill, came over the top and there was nothing below. As my car dropped over the edge into the abyss I opened my mouth to scream, not in pleasure or enjoyment but in terror, and maybe to make some noise that would mark the end of my life in this world (I wasn’t particularly concerned about what would happen when I/we hit the ground at a million miles per hour because I knew my heart would stop long before that point.).  No scream would come out; instead I rode, whipping around sharp curves, up and down violent hills, open mouth issuing staccato  “Ah!  Ah!  Ah!” sounds, harsh, forced, and totally unsatisfactory for proclaiming ‘I was here, however briefly!’

I have a similar dislike for emotional roller coasters, so the past few weeks have not been particularly enjoyable here. I did get a paper written and submitted for consideration by a journal, which is important and kept me busy and involved for quite a while – a good thing when trying to avoid drops into nothingness. Now, however, there is nothing of substance between me and the hill drop. I’m thinking desperately, trying to conjure something to get me through the weekend. Maybe a long walk in the mountains? A drive to the shore? Window-shopping somewhere fun?

W has brilliantly weathered several important firsts at his end: his first illness, his first close-up view of alcohol poisoning, his first birthday away from home. A week or two ago he came down with a bad cold. His voice dropped an octave, he couldn’t stop coughing, he was dizzy, and he sounded as if someone had held him down and stuffed his nose full of wet wipes. As I sat helpless at home, fruitlessly searching the web for health food stores and/or restaurants that would deliver hot chicken soup and cold remedies, his friends rallied ’round, providing him with EmergenC and ginger crystals for hot tea, checking on him when they hadn’t seen him out in a while, and making sure he had what he needed. He got himself to the student health center for cough medicine, slept and ate well, and … got better. Without me.

One night he sensed something amiss on his floor…. some commotion in the dorm bathroom across from his room. He checked to see if he could help. A young man had alcohol poisoning. The students summoned the RAs, the RAs summoned medics and the boy was taken to the hospital. He’s fine now, W reports, and actually thanked W for spending a couple of hours comforting his friend who had felt terribly guilty for encouraging him to drink. I think the whole experience was eye-opening for W, as much of college has been.  And he weathered that just fine without me.

His birthday – his 18th! – arrived and I had again been online for hours, searching for places that would allow me to pay for dinner for W and his friends by either buying a gift certificate for him over the phone or giving them my credit card number. Turns out he and his friends had already made plans. I told W if he bought them dinner, I’d send him a check to cover it all. They went to a local Thai place, had a great time, and W really enjoyed his birthday ….  say it with me, now  … without me.

All these firsts, and he’s managing wonderfully. He’s doing exactly what I had hoped he would be able to do out on his own: building relationships, making his own decisions, taking good care of himself and others, and enjoying life. All the things I wanted for him!  I feel proud and comfortable in his abililties and very happy for him.

At the same time I feel lonely on days when I don’t have a plan or a distraction. I’m an introvert – don’t care to mingle or chat or go out much unless it’s with someone I already know and enjoy. W is doing much better than I am in that regard; he does what he is supposed to be doing, and does it well.  Now it’s my turn to show some awareness of what *I’M* supposed to be doing.  I need a plan.

After the big roller coaster near death experience, my friends who had enjoyed it immensely  teased and teased me. They badgered me to go on it with them again but I wouldn’t. I DID go on the great splattery log flume ride, repeatedly, and enjoyed that a lot, and I eventually discovered that I could go over into the kiddie ride area and enjoy the Scooby-Doo (the coaster for little kids). That was the perfect amount of thrill for me. My friends laughed at me and I laughed at myself too. But I did NOT go back on that monstrous clacking ride from hell. I knew what I needed, and that was not it.

Now I just need to figure out how to handle this different type of coaster.