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Monday, February 18, 2008

That's Real Life, Baby!


It is the last hours of a 4 day mini vacation for my kids in honor of Presidents Day. My oldest is home for a 2 night, 3 day visit from the group home. It means so much to him to stay longer than overnight. Even with his limited understanding of time, 36 hours is too short to qualify as "every other weekend" at home. We called the relatives on his list. We napped. I read a good book- Ann Patchett's novel - "Run." It was a quick and thoughtful read. I cleaned a huge closet. I dragged out some of my yarn stash and reorganized. Thirty six hours can really drag on.

In keeping with the Presidential theme, we all 4 went to the local cinema to see "National Treasure" with Nick Cage. A good family-friendly adventure film. I was the lone female with 3 men plotting our own version of espionage and subterfuge

In order to allow Ryan to believe he was going on an outing with his younger brother, independent of parental supervision, we staged an event. We dropped the boys off at the theater with money and a cell phone. Parked the car, waited 20 minutes and bought our tickets for the same film. We waited for the previews to screen. When the lights dimmed for the feature film we slid into our seats. Now we were officially "shadowing" the kids.

In the event of any behaviors we were just a heartbeat away. Ryan was so quiet, we wondered if they were in the same theater. As the final scene played out- their Dad whispered "Let's go!" and we made a mad dash to the car. Running out of that 15 screen cineplex on wobbly legs, laughing like delinquents was a sight to behold. We pulled up outside the box office to pick them up. Thinking we had been out for cocktails at the local pub, Ryan asked us- how was our date? We let him know we had a great time, and hoped they had enjoyed the movie!

We have staged events like this throughout Ryan's life. Many times to monitor behaviors in situations where he will be in the care of someone new. His sister and his brother both need to know that if they accept responsibility for him in a public place, that they will be able to deal with him. We also have staged events to make Ryan feel happy and included in our lives.

One of my favorites was the first time we staged the "Happy Homecoming". College girl left home in 2004. Whenever possible, we try to fly her home from school during her breaks. Ryan loves the airport and travel as much as his mommy does. We both get a rush just getting near to jets. Ryan also has a crush on his big sister. He likes to be home when she visits and monopolize her time. This made for tension during school breaks. She needed a few days with her friends before she surrendered to her brother.Now we routinely have Sister fly in for up to a week of local socializing. When she is ready for Ryan, I drop her off at the airport with an empty suitcase and backpack. She buys a Starbuck and strolls around or sits and reads while I run over to the group home. I pick up Ryan and we go (Back) to pick her up at the airport. She calls us on the cell phone to tell us she has arrived and what gate exit she is at. I pull up, Ryan jumps out and greets his sister with all of the pomp and circumstance befitting the royalty that she is. I get the pleasure of watching. Pure joy.

I have three children. My first one nobody wanted to be friends with.
My second one picks her friends carefully and holds them to the highest standards.
My third is the kid everybody wants to sit next to. Everybody wants to be his friend.

#1 broke my heart.
#2 reminds me of myself.
#3 has created more trouble for himself over friendship, than I could have imagined.

In elementary school, Moms would call and tell me they were requesting a certain teacher. This is a practice I do not believe in. I want my children to learn to get along with authority figures that they don't like, and more importantly that may not like my kid. That's real life, baby!

To remedy their lack of control- some of those moms would request that their child be in the same class as young Master Wenskay? All good, until on the same form they would write the names of children that their kids should not be paired with under any circumstances. Inevitably, a clash would occur. Today is one of those days. Evan is off to spend time recording CD's with a less popular kid. They share an interest in music. The skate board friends are not amused. The mutual friend from Math class can't be included for some other crazy teen reason? The girlfriend is jealous of all competition. At least we seem to have gotten past the point of parental intervention . Evan is blessed/cursed with a personality that makes him fit in with most groups in an easy way. Easy going Evan. Like his Dad, he takes real life in stride...both are the babies of their families? Ummmm.

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