Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Northwest Fog

I have never seen such dense fog before as the one here in Seattle. The fog here comes and it stays, making all things gray and confusing for a long time. That's pretty much how I'm feeling these days, foggy and confused; colorless and dense. In the midst of dealing with Rebecca's and Victor's birthday parties and the visit of my parents for my big 40th birthday (all happening within the next 3 weeks), we have to figure out moving by the end of April.  Of course, we are the pickiest people when it comes to getting a house, even if it's a lease, so God knows if we will be sleeping under a bridge if we don't find the perfect house within two months!  Also, Victor needs to be registered for Kindergarten by the first week of February and it's all pending on what area of Shoreline we move to, this is if we actually stay in the Shoreline area (!!!!).  OK, these issues would not even be worth mentioning and I could probably handle them with my eyes closed, if it wouldn't be for the big BLACK cloud hanging over my head, almost as thick as the fog outside.  The truth is that I'm overwhelmed by the process we have started as of the first week of January, Frankie's evaluations to enter the school system before his third birthday in March.  The big "Developmental Preschool" cloud has settled in and it's not going away.

I'm convinced that Frankie is making great progress but can't help to wonder if this is good enough to prepare him for school, other kids and more hours of hard work; seriously, I don't really want to know the answer.  Is it denial?  Is it a defense mechanism? probably yes, but regardless of my denial or acceptance, the issue remains the same.  I don't have answers, I only have questions.  When I'm driving in this thick fog, I can only see the car right in front of me....Just like that, when it comes to Frankie and the fear of "special ed" and all that it implies, I can only see as far as today; tomorrow is still blurry.  Even when I try to see farther than that, my mind starts getting clogged and confused.  When I see a child with any kind of handicap, physical or mental, even developmental, I find myself looking away.  I look away so I don't feel sorry for them and for their parents;  perhaps, I look away so I don't feel sorry for Frankie and for myself.  Realistically, I haven't had time to feel sorry at all but this was the decision I made the first time I was told we were dealing with Autism.  I figured that I had to skip the "feeling sorry" stage so I could get to work right away.  Now that we are getting prepared to face one of society's solid institutions, the education system, it has made me realize how scared I really am. I'm scared of not being able to protect Frankie, and myself, from the rest of the world - from those people who are supposed to help us but might end up not doing so because of ignorance. More than ever I look up to the heavens and ask God to give me the strength to face reality -  I ask him for the fog to dissipate so I can see clearly what needs to be done for our little guy. Frankie is counting on us for help, even if he doesn't know this yet but WE, as his parents, are counting on an education system that hasn't quiet figured out yet how to deal with the special kids in the Autism spectrum. "Special Ed" might not be the right fit for Frankie in the long run but only time will tell; fortunately, time is all we do have at this point.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hats, Helmets and How to Eat a Planet

It could be the snow. Perhaps it's the cold. Maybe I'm just not taking enough vitamin D. One thing I know for sure: I'm a bit slow these days and I am falling behind in my blog. It's not that I'm short on stories - my kids always provide me with plenty of them! - It's just that I don't feel like writing. Well, since I am a committed woman and I promised my sister I'll do this for my own sanity, I'm going to snap out of the winter blues with Flamenco music and tell all about the new trends for the New Year 2009.

Tween Rebecca and her new look!
Rebecca has this velvet black hat, probably since she was eight or nine, which fit her big when we bought it (for a last minute school performance) and still does! This Christmas, I got her a black velvet sweater as one of her gifts and she figured it would go perfect with her hat. What started as a "Friday-night-dinner-outfit" has now become a uniform! The last thing I see on her head at night is the hat and the first thing I see in the morning is the hat. I know it's hard fitting in and I know that a security blanket is not always a "blanket" but Rebecca has never been insecure about anything before so the behavior is a bit surprising. Regardless, there is no harm in a hat and a sweater (I got her another one so I can at least wash the first one!) if it helps a young girl to find peer-acceptance and to find her uniqueness...I just step back and watch, telling myself this too will pass; at least, I hope it does!

Jedi or Clone Trooper? A little bit of both!
Along with most Seattlelites, Santa also got "snowed-in" this year and some of the gifts he was carrying on his sleight got stock at the UPS Redmond Station...Sad news for the Anglo kids but my kids are Latin so they lucked out; The Three Wise Men or Three Kings (Los Tres Reyes Magos) came bearing gifts on the eve of January 6th and made my kids very, very happy! The happiest of them all was Victor, whose top-of-the list item this year was a Star Wars helmet with voice changing abilities that did not make it on time for Christmas. It didn't matter that Santa got everything else on time down the chimney for him, the helmet was missing and he was disappointed. Ever since he got the helmet from Los Reyes, it doesn't come off from his head. Needless to say the helmet is HUGE on him and he looks like a big-headed midget. The funniest part is that he wears the helmet and fights with a Jedi sword....that's weird for ANYONE who has sat through a Star Wars movie. Well, he has no other choice since neither Santa or Los Reyes compromised in bringing him a gun - no way. The kid has to get creative and become the first Clone Soldier to fight with a Jedi Light Saber - there are no rules in pretend games, right?

An Inventive Way to Eat a Planet (Apple)
I usually core and cut my kids' apples into pieces and put them in a plate for them but the other day I bought the cutest little apples and didn't see the need to cut them. The apples were red-delicious and were the perfect size for lunch boxes and mess-free quick snacking. Yeah, think again - nothing is mess-free for Frankie! When I gave him the apple he disappeared for a while and that's usually not a good sign; sure enough, he had figured out a way to stick the apple in the "heart" of a wooden chair and he was biting pieces this way. He told me he was eating a "planet." Sometimes I can't believe I am so lucky and that I get to witness the craziest stuff my kids can come up with! Frankie did not only come up with a very handy-dandy device to hold his apple for comfort eating but he also found a way to make it into a planet - priceless.