Posts Filed Under Kids

They Aren’t Here

posted by Momo Fali on June 2, 2016

It never gets any easier. This is not how it is supposed to be.

They are often silent, watching shows on a tablet with headphones or reading in bed. But, they are here.

They frequently argue about silly things to the point you think you can’t take it anymore. They make messes. They use all the hot water. They leave their shoes and balls by the front door where everyone trips over them. But, they are here.

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And, it never gets any easier when they aren’t. It doesn’t matter that life is really good; work is fulfilling, school is going well, you’re in a great relationship, you have friends and family you can always lean on. None of that matters when they aren’t here.

So, you tell yourself you’ll stay busy. You go to the gym, you study, you run errands you’ve been putting off and end up at Target trying to spend the $75 you always spend.

Instead you come home with empty hands and an emptier heart and there are the shoes, and the ball, and the messes. Now the ordinary silence is deafening because they aren’t here.

And it never, ever, gets any easier.

Fourteen

posted by Momo Fali on May 9, 2016

Your birthday crept up on me this year because things have been a little crazy around here. Not that we don’t know crazy, because you and I have been doing crazy for 13 years and 364 days. Give or take a few leap years.

You, alone, have been through a lifetime of trials, but lately your trials have outweighed your triumphs. Having health problems is hard. Wearing hearing aids is hard. Being on the spectrum is hard. Having surgeries, getting blood drawn, switching schools, starting new medications, your mom starting a new job, and your parents getting divorced? All hard. And, that’s just the last nine months.

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When you put it all together, it’s clear that you are the same kid you’ve always been. You roll with the punches and always come back. Slowly, but I like to think that’s because you want it to be perfect.

And, even with all the chaos you made such strides in your 13th year. You learned how to swim without vomiting! (The other people in the pool appreciate that very much.)

You learned to smell vinegar without vomiting, too! And, you even LIKE pickles now. That was a big one. Of all the advances you’ve made, I think I like not vomiting the most.

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You did other amazing things too, like hiking nine miles through the mountains in California, going for a dirtbike ride, riding waves in North Carolina and seeing your first concert. It was a joy to see you experience new things. Like when you pulled the fire alarm in the hotel at midnight. Good times. Good times.

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I am so proud of how resilient you are. I’m so happy you were born. Happy 14th birthday, buddy. And, just so you know, you are totally not driving anytime soon.

Are You Whole?

posted by Momo Fali on March 1, 2016

Well, are you?

Oh, I know. Half of you are just staring at the words thinking, I don’t even understand the question!

Let me back up.

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Last week, I was keenly aware of how fulfilling my life was. My son had a successful surgery (lucky number 13, to keep his eardrums from collapsing, because OF COURSE his ear drums are collapsing), work was going well, I exercised, I studied, I had dinner with friends and even had time for Netflix. One day, the sun came out! Thanks, Ohio!

Then something happened which made me realize the joy I felt was only half as good as it could’ve been. I realized only a portion of me had experienced all that goodness because I was really kind of empty inside. I just didn’t know it.

I know you’re dying to know what my realization was, but that doesn’t matter. It was something intensely personal to me.

YOU might get filled up by a well-placed smile on the face of a grocery clerk. It could be a hug from your child or a liver-breathed lick on the face from your puppy. It’s whatever you need, at a given moment, to make you feel like you are FEELING with 100% of you. It’s fulfillment multiplied because your soul has soaked up enough to make it a puffy, smiley-faced sponge.

The trouble is being able to recognize it. I certainly didn’t feel like anything was missing – quite the contrary. So, how do you make yourself whole when you don’t even realize you’re half-empty?

My suggestion is that even when you think you’re at your peak, push on. Try new things, travel outside your comfort zone, let people in, read more, believe in something greater than yourself, give back, practice acceptance, trust people, LET GO.

You may think you have exactly what you need. You may feel complete, but there’s a chance that a new experience will move you away from being a fraction of yourself. And what’s crazy is that you may never know you were missing anything until you find it.

You’ve certainly heard that you should give your best effort, but do you receive with that kind of effort too? Most of us don’t think we deserve an abundance of happiness, because we are defeatists. We believe that bad things happen to good people (which they do…they definitely do), but good things can happen to good people too.

So let yourself be whole. Trust me. It feels 100% good.

Dear Typical Parent,

Hi there! I saw you this morning at the bus stop, taking pictures of your kids in their new clothes with shiny backpacks and haircuts. My son was the little guy with a hole in the back of his shirt where he ripped out the label because he couldn’t stand the feel of it against his skin. He had last year’s backpack even though the zipper is broken, because it’s familiar to him and he was also wearing last year’s shoes because he doesn’t grow much and they feel just right. Kids with autism like things that are broken in.

I noticed your son’s shiny braces, too! My son needs braces, but he can’t get them yet. He’s had two surgeries to have teeth removed (not at the dentist’s office, but at the hospital because that’s where kids with heart defects have to go), but he needs to have even more taken out before we can think about braces. That will be surgery number 14…I think. I’ve lost track.

Your daughter was the one first to ask how old my son was; probably because she’s seven and taller than he is. See above, regarding heart defects. He gets a shot of growth hormone every day, though, so I’m hoping he looks like a nine year old by Christmas break!

At first he didn’t hear the question, because his new hearing aids are still on order. After she asked three times, your son was shocked after my son said his age, so I said, “No, really. He is 13.”

Your boy replied, “He’s so little. That’s weird” and it was awesome how you nervously laughed and didn’t correct him.

When your kids come home this afternoon, they may tell you that my son sang the entire time he was on the bus. Or, that he bounced in his seat, or that he did something completely off the wall like throw something out of the window. I hope you are like the parents at his first primary school and tell your kids that he may not be able to help it, but if you’re like the parents at his second primary school, I understand that your first reaction will be to call the school and attempt to get him removed from the bus.

I know my son doesn’t look like yours, act like yours, play sports like yours, eat like yours, or talk like yours. That’s because he is not yours. He is mine. He is unique and quirky and sometimes the most frustrating human being in the world, but he is a child. And, he’s a child who needs an education just like yours. He’s smart enough to score on a 10th grade math level, but sometimes he can’t get his actions and words to match what’s in his brain.

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Tomorrow, after you’ve had a chance to talk to your kids about inclusion and how every child deserves a chance to go to school I hope they will greet him with hearty hellos. I promise, if they do, I’ll do the exact same for you.

Sincerely,

Momo