They call me MOMMA BEAR

WOW. WOW. That is all I can think of at the moment. I finally have the time to sit down and type something down and I gotta start off with WOW.

Life is just amazing. I had first intended to write away on here daily and share my life with everyone. Things took a turn for sure. I don’t know where to begin. All I know is that if I start with something, the rest will follow. Hmmm…let’s see. How can I say everything that has happened in a nutshell? I will try.

Things were great. My son, Benjamin, was in a pre-K school and was learning so much. I was having time for myself and was beginning to get back into my writing. Things were falling into place. My son’s bus ride was quite long and I had a problem with him being on a school bus for an hour but my parents, the teacher and bus drivers assured me it was fine and Benjamin loved it. I tried my best to let it go until that hour bus ride home turned into two, three and even three and a half. That was it! I was livid. My parents criticized me, said I was over reacting and when I questioned the teacher, she was unresponsive. Everyone told me that I had to understand traffic was just bad in the evening. Still, I was not ok with my four year old, who had trouble communicating, still being potty trained and autistic, to be strapped down in a bus for three and a half hours. The last time he got off the bus he peed on himself and he came out of the bus with a change of clothes. That was it!

After that I called the special ed administration and they said that was absolutely not acceptable and questioned why I had let it go for as long as I did? I felt so stupid. It’s crazy how much control over me my parents still have. I allowed them to make me question myself but that was it. Not gonna happen any more. I picked my son up from school after that until the end of the year.

At his IEP meeting, I requested a closer school and he got it. I was so happy. The school was about ten minutes from us! Also, I was told my son was accepted for a summer program at another school also closer to us. I said I didn’t want my son to attend summer school but they all insisted that he should attend even if it was for a week. I found that odd but once home I shared the news with my parents and ofcourse, they too insisted that Benjamin should attend.

I was hesitant but I ended up taking Benjamin the first day of summer school. I drove him because now Benjamin was terrified of buses. Well, later that night, I noticed several bruises on his back when I took his shirt off. I saw what no mother would ever wish to see on their little ones. His chest had several bruises, his stomach too. I took pictures and for the second day of school I had him stay home. I was shaking because my first thought was “bloody murder” but, my dad told me he probably got them while playing and I was making a big deal. I couldn’t think straight. My father grew up in a tough neighborhood and he’s always saying how kids nowadays are too sheltered. I decided I needed to stay away from my parents and think for myself. The next day, I went to see the teacher and showed her the bruises. She was alarmed. She also looked stressed because it turned out that she had twelve special ed students in her classroom and one teacher assistant.

Well, to hurry up here because I have so much more to say, I contacted the principal, the special ed administration, sent out emails and left messages and finally, everyone was calling me, kissing my rear. School had begun on a Tuesday and by Friday, they had opened up a new classroom and hired the adequate amount of aides, which are required by law. The principal begged me to have Benjamin attend the rest of the summer school program but I said he wouldn’t be attending. They should have been prepared since day one. You see, the teacher admitted to me that she had no clue how he got those bruises. She said she had too many special ed students and couldn’t watch all of them. She also said that many of the special ed students are hostile and probably one of them hit my son. My son, not being able to communicate what happened with me, …, sorry…I just want to cry about it all over again. I am here to protect him and that is what I’ve been trying to do. Three and half hour bus ride? NO. I don’t think so. First day of summer school and coming home with bruises on his back, chest and stomach? I don’t think so.

I could have taken this to child protective services. I could have called the police and had charges against them. I just have to admit my parents voice and opinions held me back but it really bothered me for several months the “not knowing what happened”.

Well, we continued enjoying our summer and I was determined to make it a fun one. We visited the beach, went to the pool, the parks, etc. I was glad to devote my time to my children.

Then, my son turned five but he didn’t make the cut off date for kindergarten so he began pre-K at his new school. We were once again excited and optimistic for that fresh start. I met the principal, the teachers, visited the classroom and was pleased with the staff. That first day was wonderful. The teacher was so kind and cheerful. I just knew we’d become good friends by the end of the year. The second day my car wouldn’t start, so my son was late. I felt awful but fortunate the school was close enough so he was only a few minutes late. Then, something so tragic happened — my mother slipped and fell and hit her head on a metal bar. It was so scary because it came so close to hitting her temple — centimeters away. She didn’t want us to call for an ambulance so we helped her get in my car and took her to the hospital where they concluded she had a fractured knee and wrist. We were so amazed that was all because she fell HARD…really hard. There was no way she came out with just that. No bruise on her head, nothing. No bumps. Nothing. It was a miracle.

So, I had been rushing from here to there and was late to pick up my son. As I ran across the school parking lot, heading to the office in a frantic state bc now I worried my son would wonder where I was, the teacher’s aide is just screaming at me across the lot. I stop and look her way. She is screaming at me and tells me my son is in the office and then she points at me and shouts, “Tomorrow is short day and you better be on time!” I was shocked but I continued to run to the school office to get my son. In the office, I see the teacher and she’s talking with another parent. When she acknowledges me I apologize and mention my mother fell and I had to take her to the hospital. She says, “Yes, I know,” and continues talking with the parent. I’m feeling puzzled bc I just got yelled at by the TA and now the teacher says she knew my mother was in the hospital. She didn’t know! It wasn’t in the news! She just didn’t care. Besides, I was only about ten to twelve minutes late. Still, I felt horrible. I couldn’t get over it and thought about it all that night. The next day, I was sure we were on time in the morning and I wanted to apologize to the teacher. I asked her for a moment of her time and explained again how my mother had fallen and I was terrified and driving around to get her to a hospital. The teacher showed no empathy whatsoever. She said, “I know. That is why I gave you my card so you could call me to let me know if you’ll be late.” I said, “I’m sorry Mrs. X but you never gave me your card.”

“Yes, I did.”

“No mam, you didn’t.”

— I usually let it go and accept fault and not think much about it but their attitude was just really getting me pissed by now. I had all the stress from my mother falling and the stress for being the first days of back to school. I knew she must be under a lot of stress but so was I and if I was being civil, I didn’t understand what her problem was all of a sudden. It was so bizzare. The first day she had been a dream and by the second and third day she was a completely different person. I had even introduced her to my parents that first day and she was so delightful. I was expecting that when I told her the news about my mother, that she’d show some empathy and ask how she was doing. Something. I had even spoken to the school secretary and said why my son was not attending the fourth day of school. I said we were going to visit my mother in the hospital. The school secretary, who did not know me at all, said, “Oh my goodness. Yes, that is an emergency. I hope your mother gets well soon.” —

The teacher rolled her eyes as she walked to her purse, took out a business card and handed it to me.

“I’ll give it to you again.”

I was shocked! Never in my whole entire experience with teachers had I experienced something like this. Like that whole year. Six months had gone by, three schools and I had a complaint on all three. The first, super long bus ride. The second, my son comes home bruised up the first day. Now, this third school, I get barked at by the TA and the teacher is rolling her eyes and lacks empathy.

Again, my parents begin telling me to let it go. They tell me that my son’s education is more important than how I am being treated. But I can’t let it go. No, I have way too much against the teachers. I’ve been listening to all these “experts” and it’s gotten me nowhere. I then chose not to take my son to that school too. I figured, my son is only in pre-K, we shouldn’t be going through all this stress. I figured I’m going to sing like a canary and somebody better start listening bc I have a year before it will be mandatory that he attends kinder and I am going to practice now on how to get good quality education for my son.

I called the principal and she also asked about my mother and empathized. I also called the special ed administration and was told I had enough to call the district’s “x” department (forgot the name but it’s where you file a complaint against the teachers/school/district). It’s not much what I’m asking for. I just want my son to be safe, number one. Number two, caring teachers who show respect to the children and their families. With that, we can all work the rest out. I am the parent that volunteers and helps from home even. I had always been on the teachers side since I have worked in the school system myself since 1994. I’ve been the TA for elementary grades, the Substitute teacher for 1st-12th grades and an early learning assessor for pre-K classrooms. I had never been on the helpless parent side.

OMg. I guess I took up much time telling you guys about this incident and it’s a lot. I’ll stop now and continue with another topic tomorrow. So much has happened. Too much. So much but for now, I’ll just let you guys know that I chose to stay as a full-time mom again and teach my son myself. After all, I am very much qualified. I do want him to socialize with other children, that is important, but for now, we’re staying home and studying a little bit and having loads of fun. Most of all, I’m loving him and cherishing each day. In August sometime, he’ll go to kinder and that’ll be it. So, while I have my parents questioning my approach, I believe my son is doing much better now and we have put the screaming years behind us. There’s no rush. I have nothing more important to do than be with him.

So, that’s one chunk of what’s been happening with me and why I had to stop blogging. Things are much calmer now so, stay tuned. *wink =)

(I’ve said so much and I’m not going to edit. I apologize in advance for the errors.)

LOVE BIG OR GO HOME

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Road trip with Benjamin

I have to say My Benjamin did remarkable well during our road trip to North Cali.

We drove up for a friend’s baby shower because I promised her I wouldn’t miss it for the world…and when you make a promise you have to keep it. So, we woke up around 4:30am and left at 4:45am. Benjamin did great for about seven hours on the road. We trucked it all the way to Tracy, CA, where we stopped to buy the baby shower bag— and that’s when he just had it.

“Mom, get off me right now!” His way of saying he wanted to get out of his seat. When Benjamin’s not happy, I’m not happy. My stress level goes sky high and I panic. I was driving so I felt so helpless, unable to go back there and reassure him. Fortunately, we weren’t far from a Walmart. We stopped and we all got out so that gave him a nice little break. I bought him a baseball bat with the t-ball and everything. After that he was in a great mood. He got back in the car without a fuss as I explained to him our next stop would be a park.

Once we arrived to the baby shower at the park, he ran straight to the grass and began hitting his ball. There were so many other kids there that I was nervous on how everything would play out. Surprisingly, he did very well! He didn’t want to share but that’s alright. He ran and laughed and talked with the other kids. He was having a great time.

Three or four hours later, he had it. I had to excuse ourselves and say our good-bye’s. As soon as Benjamin got in his car seat, he was out! So, he was exhausted, which was ok too.

Everything went well…the hotel, the next morning…BUT…once we had been on the road for about three or four hours, he began getting frustrated and began screaming. We pulled over and he calmed down. That too, was ok.

So, over all, I think Benjamin did remarkably well. I stressed out a lot for nothing. lol..Plus most of the times he got cranky, I think I could have been better prepared. Next time, I have to have more snacks and drinks AND a dvd player!

=)

Autistic Love of Mine

I said I would share how this journey has been for our household and I’m finally finding the time to sit down and share with you all about it.

My Benjamin was born with a perfect pink little body. Three pushes and out he came. I was forty when I had him and stayed healthy. My doctor had me walking a strict line that when I told him I ate a cookie, he scolded me and made me blush.

Benjamin was beautiful. I counted his fingers and toes and listened to him breath…perfect. I was tired after giving birth and when he cried I did get frustrated at times…going on very little sleep; it takes its toll on the mind and bring you to a delirious state of exhaustion. Nevertheless, I was determined to be a better mom; especially since he was my last baby for this lifetime.

Crawling, walking— all came fine. I never noticed anything wrong. It wasn’t until he was two years old and he began trying to speak. He began making loud noises and then full out screaming. He’d scream and scream for no reason— it seemed to me. At first I didn’t know how to respond. I thought it was just as all toddlers begin to do but his was just louder.

At three I noticed more of a defiance character and I thought I should be quick to correct it. Putting him in time out was challenging and often drove my blood pressure through the roof. People were telling me I needed to spank him and for one who believed in no spanking, I finally caved in and I spanked him… only to have him scream louder and get more frustrated. It was a nightmare.

 

We couldn’t go anywhere…restaurants, malls, visiting friends, etc. We had our house in TX but moved to San Diego and were staying with my parents for a while. But when we bought a fifth wheel and parked it in my parents’ driveway, we just moved in it so that his screams wouldn’t torment everybody else inside the house.

My son Everett, my middle child, had won a prestigious award in fifth grade…only very few got this award and only one in his grade level. It was a president’s award and I missed the ceremony. My Benjamin threw a fit just as I was trying to get him ready. It was a tantrum full of loud screams and kicks. All I could do to keep myself from beating him out of frustration was to let my knees hit the floor and sob. I had so many pity parties for myself during that time.

People couldn’t believe I missed the ceremony and when I’d explain about my Benjamin, they looked at me in disbelief. Parties, birthdays, events, we could never go. I lost friends and soon people stopped inviting us. In a way it was a relief because it was stressful to always say no as well.

I’m giving a fast version of the events ofcourse, since I’m not planning on writing a book about it…at least not yet. But it wasn’t until one day, when I had just had it. I was tired of being unhappy and not knowing how to show my son any love. I had always been a fun mom with my other two boys and I felt like a failure here with my very last one. My face dragged to the floor, my hair was beginning to turn white, I gained so much weight from being depressed and not going anywhere public anymore. My blood pressure was bad and I woke up with my eyes blood shot on several days. I began praying for answers and I wasn’t getting any. My husband worked and when he got home he wanted no responsibility whatsoever with the boys, especially none with Benjamin. My marriage was deteriorating…I was full of resentment. Pity party.

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Why was I doing this all alone? Why was I failing at the one thing I wanted to succeed in the most in life?

All the psychology I knew was out the window. All the Child psychology, Child Development courses I had taken meant nothing because I had no CONTROL of my son.

I collapsed on the step of my fifth wheel, inside by the bedroom. I cried and cried and buried my face in my hands and cried—exhausted.

“I’m trying Benjamin…I’m really trying…”

Just then, I looked up and I see Benjamin walking towards me, he’s stopped crying too and is no longer screaming. He touched my face and wiped a tear away…with so much tenderness, so much empathy. How could this three year old possibly understand me? I looked in his eyes…I mean deep in his core…as if he was allowing me to do so…he could not talk…all he could do was make noise and in his stare I saw what he told me.

“You are too…huh? Benjamin?…you are also trying— huh?”

Instantly, our worlds changed from that day forward. I don’t know how it was possible but we understood each other. It was as if we were lifted in a space bubble, both sharing this moment and in it, God gave us the opportunity to find comprehension. Autistic son with his mother and Crazed mother with her son.

Once I comprehended that he was trying…a lot harder than I was…my approach changed. I mean, after all, he had only been in this earth for three years and I had been here for forty three now and still feeling sorry for myself? I realized I was his mother for a reason and I brought him here so that I would just love him. I was the one who had to adapt.

We chose to choose our battles from now on. I opted to having more kisses and hugs and fun and tell him how much I loved him than getting angry because he won’t get his shoes on…or because he doesn’t want to wear a jacket. We began to compromise and I started trusting him more with things and letting him have responsibilities.

It’s been great. I try to get him to sleep early so he can be feeling good in the morning. Before he goes to bed I kiss him and tell him I love him. I smile often and model behavior. If I tell him not to scream, I can’t be loosing my temper either. If I’m upset at something, I tell myself to count to ten and breathe in and out and say, “Calm down Emma…breathe.” I know he’s watching. Seldom do I give him a time out anymore but if I do and if he cries and throws a fit, I tell him he’s off time out when he is calm and stops screaming. As soon as I hear he has stopped and is calm, I call him over and with a stern voice, I tell him I didn’t like the behavior but that I love him and then, with a stern/sweet voice (I’ve mastered it), I tell him to give me a hug and I kiss him and tell him I love him. It make his day and mine and we are all good again.

It’s been working out for us. If he thinks I’m upset at him, he quickly searches my eyes and I make sure I communicate love for I know that is how he sees me, through my eyes.

I love my Benjamin so much. I love him for who he is and what he’s come to teach me. My life is so much more free. I don’t care if friends are gone right now, they’ll just have to understand. He’s my priority and I am so grateful. I even stopped working just to share these moments with my son. I was scared that he’d be off to school and I wouldn’t know him but now I know him and we have bonded like no one would have ever imagined.

Benjamin is now in a Special Ed class-prek and is doing fabulous. He goes part time, leaving me a few hours to continue with my writing and my blog. When the bus picks him up, he loves going in the bus and thinks he’s such a big boy. My mom, my dad, my eldest and myself walk out to the front of the house and excitedly wave him off and send him with blessings. He is always in a good mood for school. When he returns, my mom, my dad, his father and his middle brother, we all stand outside to greet him and ask him about his day even if he doesn’t answer. He comes home happy and hungry for dinner.

Sometimes he doesn’t like what I’ve set up in the dinner table for him to eat and he’ll push the plate away. We’re working on what to do when that happens. Also, his vocabulary has expanded and he doesn’t scream like before.

Well, this is us in a nutshell. I wouldn’t advise anybody anything because I know every child is different. All I can say is that we found something that works for us and we’re loving life. ❤ He’s got so much love at home that I don’t care who is ok with him or not. He’s got his family who accepts him and supports him and we’re all working together now to make his existence a spectacular one.

Tomorrow we are traveling eight hours to go to a friend’s baby shower. There will be many other kids there too. I think he’s going to do great but we’ll see. Either way, I’ve got a Plan B and Plan C. LOL. I’ll post on here about our trip on Monday, hopefully. Stop by and see how our weekend went! =)

LOVE BIG OR GO HOME! XOXOXO

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Autism-Unconditional Love

I want to share something I already shared on my Facebook page:

My son Everett asked me once if I felt sad that BENJAMIN had autism. I said NO. He was amazed and asked me why not. I said, ” …I saw a woman with a stroller talking to her baby…I then realized it wasn’t a stroller. It was a special kind of wheelchair for her daughter. Her daughter could not speak, her little body was in a twist as were her hands. Everett, BENJAMIN can run, walk, jump, swim, laugh, kiss, hug, play, eat, shower, go poo, be funny, be silly, tell us he loves us and sleep at night without any pain. I am thankful he’s only delayed in his speech and minor in other areas. As for the mother I saw that day, I am sure she has a lot to be thankful for too, since what I saw in her face was love.”

Here is a link to a video that just touched my heart.

 
I’ve been working on my website this morning but this video has been on my mind and I wanted to share it in my blog. I’ll share my personal experiences with my youngest and how we deal with autism at a later time. Right now I have to go off and help one of my other boys with something.

LOVE BIG OR GO HOME =) xoxo