A Sam Funny

Sam is a planner. He likes to get a plan in place and then not deviate from it at all. (Routine is a big deal to people on the spectrum.) We keep that in mind but we also push him a little on that front because he doesn’t live in a bubble. He lives in a community with other people whose thoughts and preferences have to be considered as well. Last night was one such instance.

I had an engagement shoot and all the kids were home. Sam and I had talked earlier in the day about watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, his latest obsessions favorite past time. I had told him it would be fine but what I didn’t realize was that a movie marathon of some sort was starting at the same time and the girls wanted to watch it.

During a phone conversation I reminded him that we were working on being considerate of other people and no that just because he let his sisters watch something instead of the game shows did not make him a lifetime loser. (Please note that whenever he mention the phrase lifetime loser he does indeed hold his fingers into the shape of an “L” on his forehead.) I tried to talk him through understanding that his shows could be watched another time and they came on every day but the movies didn’t. He was pretty convinced I had been brainwashed by his sisters.

“But, Mooooom! We were agreed on this. You are spoiling them!”

Without missing a beat,

“Wait, is this some kind of feminist march?”

I think he is feeling slightly out numbered with his father out of town.

Poor kid.

The Orchestra of Grace

There are a lot of things you learn to cope with when dealing with autism. When Sam was little we figured out some of his triggers and learned to avoid them if possible. I say some triggers because the thing with autism is that you don’t always know what the triggers are and some days it would be something completely normal and common to our life that had never gotten a reaction before that moment. I also said ‘avoid when possible’ because sometimes you couldn’t always avoid the situations. Sometimes you just had to go the grocery store.

In our experience the triggers are less frequent now that he is older. Not sure if it is just normal (for an autistic kid) maturing or the years of working with and dealing with stuff that makes the difference but I have a feeling it is a combination of both.

But there are still things to deal with. Mostly social things. Sam is no respecter of personal space. A common conversation in our house happens around the hugging of his sisters. First it should be noted that when Samuel wakes up…he is awake. His sisters? Not so much. And Sam is also tall. Really tall. He has a tendency to squish his sisters. Consequently, they are somewhat resistant to his brand of affection. “I just want to love them, Mama!”

So we talked. About how if he wants to hug his sisters because he loves them then he needs to show that love to them in a way that is pleasing and pleasant to them. He needs to be gentle and considerate. He can’t just grab them around the neck and squeeze.

He’s working on it. It’s probably a conversation we will have to have in different forms many more times but he is working on it.

We’re working on a lot of things along those lines.

Sam loves to ride his bike. He also likes to visit. There are two families in our neighborhood that we also go to church with. We’ve had to talk with Sam about limiting his visits because he was stopping to visit every single time he went for a bike ride. Which is probably about four or five times a day.

Visits from Sam can be awkward because, and I say this with much love and joy in my son, Sam is awkward. He tends to enter a room like Cosmo Kramer. And he just wants to poke around and check things out. His conversational skills are less than smooth unless he is talking about his cartoons and comics and he’s loud.

Both families have accepted his inelegant visits with much kindness and grace. Sometimes they give him tasks to do or just enter into the clumsy cadence of his conversation. One of our friends shared about one of his visits where he just hung out in the grand kids play room, rummaging around and then she heard him on her elliptical exercise machine.

Both families have made room in their lives for our son. I like to think that, in some ways, Sam is contributing something to their lives that is pleasant and pleasing but the truth of the matter is that Sam requires a lot. A lot of grace, a lot of tolerance, and a lot of room to just be Sam.

I guess the take away from this post, if there is one, is this. If you have an autistic person in your life somewhere don’t be afraid to let them into your life. Don’t let their awkwardness put you off. Trust me – you may sense the awkward but they don’t. They’re learning grace from you. They’re learning life and family and friendship from you. I’m not saying let them have free reign. Our friends do a good job of welcoming Sam in but also of putting boundaries in place for him. They add their string melody to the percussion rhythm of life we’re pounding out for him everyday.

There are plenty of places for us to sound out our solos but our boy needs to hear the sounds of the full orchestra. We all do. And when your community steps in and joins your song right where you are it is the most beautiful sound you will ever hear. It’s the sound of grace.

P.S.
If you’re serious about stepping into the song of a family with autism be prepared for some crazy riffs. They don’t always know when to let it rest. Case in point, one of the sweet families mentioned above paid Sam to take care of returning trash cans and check the mail while they were on a trip. He did a great job. About a week and a half after they got back though I received a call from Terri asking me to chat with Sam about checking their mail. It seems that he was still checking it and setting it on their front porch. The concern was that it would blow away before they got to it. The other big concern was the fact that he was removing the outgoing mail 🙂

P.P.S
The other of the sweet families above went for a walk around the neighborhood the other day, and returned the favor of a pop-in visit. It was a joyful moment, and everybody (even Sam) got the joke.

Catching Up, Slowing Down, and a Samtoon

The catching up part…

It started with Rob’s computer dying.

The following week it was the refrigerator.

The next it was his car going into the shop.

Not to be left alive and well and missing all the fun,  my computer committed suicide.

We’ve had allergies, head colds, and mono.

We’ve also been preparing for a class trip to New York. And let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you have searched for a pair of modest appropriate jeans for a five foot nine inch one hundred thirteen pound teenage girl.

Oh, and did I mention that we are homeschooling Sam again? We were kind of sure this would be his last year at Trinitas but we didn’t expect that having a few months of preparing and planning would suddenly be reduced to four days.

It’s been a real tilt-a-whirl life lately.

Buuut, and I hope I am not speaking too soon, I think this is where the slowing down part begins.

Rob is all settled in with his new computer.

A brand spanking new fridge is in my kitchen.

His car, and all other Hadding vehicles, are running just fine. (May it continue to be thus.)

And I am adjusting to a new keyboard and the maternity session, retirement party, and 50th birthday party have all been reloaded and editing has begun again from scratch. Double the work but grateful everything was backed up onto my external hard drive.

The mono patient is on her way to a full recovery and the assorted other ailments and afflictions are all being tended.

Emily’s jeans are packed and she is on her way to the Big Apple as we speak read.

Sam’s transition to homeschooling is going well. Trinitas is still wonderful and the girls still attend but it became clear to all of us that as great as the education is and as loving a community as it is, that Sam needed something else. We’re incredibly grateful for his time there and the rich blessing that his classmates were to him. We’re looking forward to a wonderful journey with him.

Which brings us to the Samtoon part…

Sam has always had a bit of an eclectic taste in music. The last season of America’s Got Talent broadened his taste to include an affection for opera. It was just a matter of time before it bled over into his cartooning. Those silly ol’ Vikings!

Holiday Friday Funnies

Well, it was bound to happen. I missed posting yesterday’s DPP. I took the picture but with the kids holiday school program I just didn’t do anything else other than snap the shutter. The shot is currently uploading to my computer as we speak along with the gazillion other pictures I took last night and it will eventually make it’s way to the blog. With an early family Christmas tomorrow there may just be a big catch up post on Sunday or Monday. As another group member commented, the DPP was made for me and not me for the DPP so it’s all good.

I do, however, have a couple of  Sam funnies for you. The first one has many recognizable characters and maybe a few you don’t know at first glance. Think Mr. Bean, Grace Vanderwaal, Laura Bretan, and Tape Face. I’m pretty sure you will recognize Napoleon from his “Vote for Pedro” shirt.

I am always amazed at how good his drawings can be. And so expressive just like in the next one.

So happy and carefree. And, then, WHAM! You’re hit by a reindeer driving a truck. The boy has quite the sense of humor, doesn’t he?

DPP ~ Day 3

This kid.

Oh, my goodness does he make me smile. He is so full of exuberance and life. He didn’t ask to be on the running team. He asked if he could retire after his first race. He tells his coach that he is going to be too busy next year to run.

But he puts in his miles faithfully each week without complaint and without being told he needs to do it. And he is quick to encourage his teammates to keep going and not give up. (Which is really funny because in the beginning right in the middle of practice he would just decide he was done and stop and walk.)

On race day he is all there. Ready to run, ready to enjoy the pre/post race party.

This morning he bounced into my room, where I was still sleeping thank you very much, and in a very Tigger-esque kind of way free styling his favorite geico commercial, “Guess what day it is, Mom? Guess what day it is?”

Race Day!

He was so proud of his time. His coach had given him a 23 minute goal for the USO Airport run. He came across the finish line at 21:59.

He could have come in faster and slower though as far as I am concerned. I love this boy so much just because of who he is and how he lives his life…so fully and wholeheartedly.

 He looks more than just a little like his proud father standing behind him doesn’t he?

Sam’s World ~ It’s a Meme World

On Monday I shared one of Sam’s memes with y’all. Everybody seemed to be amused so I thought I would share a couple more with you.

He has made a lot of them. A.Lot.

Not all of them are as funny to us mere mortals as they are to him but that’s because his world is funnier than ours I think. But the ones that are funny to us show a glimpse into his world and I love that.

Some of the subjects in the memes repeat. When Sam finds something that gets a laugh he works it.

And for a kid that cannot have his green beans on the same plate as his chicken without panicking he loves to mash up the funniest people and characters.

He loves Grumpy Cat. One year we even had a Grumpy Cat cake for his birthday. He also enjoys Lord of The Rings. And Barney was a friend back in his younger days. Put the two together and well, you have a Sam meme.

Sam is a huge fan of SpongeBob. His favorite character is Patrick. What happens when Patrick meets LOTR? This.

Nothing and no one is safe from Sam’s meme maker. Michael Phelps? He’s got him. The first is one he made after watching Civil War this weekend.

This is what we lived with for days after Laura Bretan lost AGT.

He also went a little old school classic to share his dismay about his favorite act leaving the show.
The boy is pretty funny, don’t you think?

Is It Really Autumn?

The calendar may say that we’ve switched season but it sure doesn’t feel any differently around these parts. But that’s living in Florida, I guess, and since we can still enjoy the beach I figure it’s ok.

One sure fire way we can tell the seasons have changed despite the drop in temperature is the seasonal illnesses that strike this time every year. We’ve had strep and a couple of the worst head colds lately! I think we may all finally be on the mend and maybe, just maybe the weather is going to cooperate and I can open the windows this week and air out the house.

One of the reasons blogging has been so sporadic is that finding our school year groove has taken some time. But the dance is fun and we are settling in and everyone is doing fine. But I’ve got some fun things to post soon so hopefully I can get the ball rolling again.

Sam is enjoying ninth grade but he does love his weekends. Last night he made this meme and then called me over and said, “Do you know how I feel on Sunday nights? Like this!”

Sponge_bob_meme

Can he get an amen?

Sam’s White Board Drawing

The oldest is about to turn twenty-one and the youngest is forever reminding me that she will soon be my last child to hit double digits for the first time. (We don’t do huge birthday celebrations every year but going double digits is a milestone we usually mark with some extra hoopla. Is anyone surprised that Claire is working her status as the baby and the “last one” to get a little extra something something for her celebration in November?)

What I am really coming to terms with is that my babies are babies no more. This year in particular seems to have been a tipping point when that reality is just so sharp. Because of the eleven years that stretch between the first and the last it’s not like we’re on the home stretch of parenting obviously. But we do seem to have moved into the late summer and early autumn season of child rearing. There’s weeding and pruning still to do as there always will be but it’s different than before when they were little.

It’s an interesting season of life. Having them home for the summer is putting their various stages of maturity into relief and it’s so easy to see how they’ve grown and matured. Oh, they still have moments where they are the best of friends or the worst of enemies but it’s just different somehow. They are growing up. They have grown up.

And oddly enough I feel like I have too. I was talking with a friend recently and we were sharing how humbling it is to be a parent of older children. When they’re little you have it all figured out…you’re the grown up and they are learning from you. At some point though they should be entering the battle with you, along side of you, fighting the same fight that you are as brothers and sisters in Christ. They begin more and more to join you in the labor rather than being so much a part of the labor.

Honestly, I didn’t mean to get all philosophical and meandering. I really just wanted to share one of Sam’s drawings with you and it just got me to thinking how much they’ve changed and that’s how we ended up on the stroll down that rabbit trail.

Anyway, this tickled me and I thought y’all might enjoy it as well.

The boy has insight, wouldn’t you say?