Where has the Time Gone?

Teghan with Daddy

 

Where has the time gone? I was looking through old photos on my computer, and I just can’t imagine Teghan being so little. But there she is. I remember that time as if it were both yesterday and a million years ago.

You know what I mean.

Those old photos reveal a family that has no idea what lies ahead. Well, that’s not entirely true. We had plenty of ideas- we just didn’t know how wrong we were. And if we did know, we talked ourselves out of it a thousand times before coming around to the realization that we needed to know that our fears were real. It can make you crazy to know…. until it makes you crazier not to know. I remember all of that, too.  Continue reading

A Question of Time and History (and Other Questions No One is Asking)

Teghan Walking on the Wheel of History

 

I have a very clear memory of the day I learned to read a calendar. By this time I understood the concept of measuring time and how the days of the week went. My young brain had easily accepted how the months of the year were made up of these weeks, and all the reasons behind why there were more days in some months than others. The whole thing came together for me in a nice little package that I could reason out.

But something about that calendar really bothered me.

I remember sitting in the kitchen, staring at the wall calendar with my parents. I asked them how they knew, just by looking at the calendar, which week it was right now. I mean, sure it’s Sunday. But how do we know which Sunday it is just by looking at the calendar?

We just know.

We always stay aware of time, and we just know what day it is. So, when we look at the calendar we already know if it’s the third week of the month or the fourth week, and which day it is.

This answer was unacceptable to me. What was the point of a calendar, then, if we had to already know what day it was before we could read the thing?  Continue reading

You’ll Regret This…. Or Else (Maybe I Will)

 

Little Teghan

 

I have mentioned that I once worked the drive-thru at a doughnut shop for four days. I don’t know why I took that job. It was full time, 4am to noon. I already had a full time job that was from 2pm to 10pm, so I had clearly lost my mind that week. I was nineteen years old at the time, and not filled with a ton of motivation. It doesn’t matter. On the fourth day, I went into the manager’s office for a little chat about how this might be the wrong fit for me. He kind of agreed.

I had a little time before heading to my more glamorous job as a Meijer Shoe Department Clerk, so I figured I would just get there early and hang out in the employee break room. I climbed into my 1979 Plymouth Horizon (that’s right) and left that doughnut shop for the last time. It was great. I turned left out of the parking lot and stopped at the light- a little embarrassed at the horrible noise my brakes had been making the past week every time I stopped. Oh, well. I was too broke to fix that…. maybe quitting my job was premature? At least I didn’t have to leave the house at 3:30 in the morning anymore.

I was almost excited to get to my other job. If you have been paying attention to these things I write, you may recall that this was a job where I could perfect my skills of taking naps without getting caught. It was a skill I most likely acquired on this particular week. But as I was walking into the store, a man in a truck pulled up next to me and tried to get my attention.  Continue reading

Expectations While Visiting the Spectrum

 

The online autism community definitely makes us feel more normal around here. The truth is, most of the parenting experiences I read about on social media come from that community. I get a daily dose of it- and it does make me forget once in a while that most families are not like ours.

Of course, we don’t really know many people personally who understand autism; and we do have to leave the house some time. I have gotten so used to hearing from autism parents online, I have to remind myself that the majority of people I encounter in the real world know next to nothing about autism. People are filled with wrong ideas about autism. Or no ideas at all. If it is not a part of their world, who can blame them?  Continue reading

Losing a Part of Our Youth in a Wisconsin Motel

1995

 

There was a brief period of time in 1995 when Dave and I were engaged to be married, but we were living in two different states. We were young. We had jobs one would expect youngsters to have. We both lived at home with our parents. We had gotten our first taste of freedom by joining a group that toured the country and required no actual independence or responsibility- and we had spent that year falling madly in love.

There was never any question that we were going to get married. Breaking up was not an option, and we were absolutely young and naive. But, to our credit- we were right to have acted on that stupidity. It’s still the best decision I ever made.

I lived in Michigan, and Dave lived in Illinois. During this time of separation, a trip was planned for a family reunion in Wisconsin, where I would meet my future father-in-law’s family. I would take a train to Chicago, where Dave and his brother would pick me up. Then we would swing by and pick up Dave’s other brother in Madison on our way to LaCrosse. Dave’s aunt and uncle owned a motel where we would all be staying.

When we arrived at the motel, they were overbooked. Dave’s sister thought it would be fun if she and I spent the night in a tent in the motel parking lot. And yes, even though I could see a nearby motel with vacant rooms, and I had cash in my pocket- that is what we did (this isn’t crucial to my story; I just needed to talk about the fact that this happened).   Continue reading

Unintentional Humor is (Sometimes) the Very Best Kind

Silly T

 

My kid is hilarious. I don’t care if it is mostly unintentional; it is part of her undeniable charm. She keeps things interesting. And in spite of all the stories we get hit over the head with around here on ways to cope with our autism parenting lifestyle- we also get entertained by the bizarre on a daily basis. It’s okay to laugh at it. It’s even therapeutic. God help the parents who lack a sense of humor about all this.

Sometimes Teghan is subtle in her quirks. The way she licks the window, taps on the TV, or gallops back and forth unless forcibly diverted. Sometimes she is full on crazy- running into things while screaming nonsense and giggling. Sometimes even her tantrums are funny.

When we are not in public, of course.

But at home….there are times when we have to go in the other room so she won’t see us laughing. It’s like an interpretive dance of anger playing out on our living room floor. And she doesn’t talk, so sometimes she defiantly yells things at us that are really just random letters. I know she’s angry, but it’s just too cute. We’re only human.   Continue reading

Lies…. or Just Good Storytelling?

 

Teghan Church

 

This one isn’t about autism, but it is about blogging. And liars…. (but I added a few cute pictures of Teghan, anyway).

I have never preferred writing fiction. Not that I can’t, it’s just not what I am best at. It is easier for me to find an interesting angle in a true story than to create an angle and develop a false story around it. If that makes sense. The good news is, the stories I tell are extremely accurate- though often analytical.

Some people are the opposite of this. They might tell true stories, but they find it easier to make up an interesting plot twist rather than work out true angles that make an ordinary situation seem less….ordinary. I am not criticizing. We go with our instincts. And good fiction writers are the best writers. They create the stories we love most. Some of the most amazing true stories I read online make me forget that I know it was embellished a bit- and that can be a good thing. We are often fooled, but it doesn’t always matter. Once in a while it does.

I once got into an argument with a priest over a blog. Considering how few real disputes I have actually had in my adult life with anyone, it seems like a particularly strange thing to have happened to me. Most of my disputes are on behalf of other people. All of them have been work-related. Including this one.  Continue reading