Cooking and Other Lessons


My very first cooking lesson must have happened somewhere around the age of four or five. I remember it clearly. It wasn’t really cooking; it was more like a lesson in how to use the stove. But I was thrilled for the opportunity to learn how to make my favorite lunch- Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. I know. Gross. But as a kid I loved that creamy mushroom sauce with a whole sleeve of saltines crushed into it.

I had to push a chair up to the stove in order to execute the plan (under close supervision from my mom, of course). I am sure I was a failure with the can opener. It still outsmarts me on a regular basis. I know there weren’t any pop tops on soup cans in 1980, but there should have been. It’s not as if the technology didn’t exist.

But who am I kidding? You should have seen my childhood soda can disasters (that’s pop for my Michigan friends). Eventually I overcame that. I still buy canned soda- but you will never catch me with an old school soup can. I don’t care if it’s twenty cents cheaper. In over 140 years, the only improvements to can opening have been electric can droppers and pop tops. You might also be surprised to know how long canned foods existed before a can opener was even invented. Let’s just say it was a long time.

So I emptied the contents into a pan, scraping the sides with a butter knife to get every last bit out. Then I filled the empty can with tap water- a genius revelation. It was so perfect, I thought. This was something I could remember. No fancy measurements to hassle with; which was great, since we didn’t cover that kind of math until the second grade. Continue reading

What Would That Be Like?



I used to daydream with Dave about how great it would be if Teghan jumped into our bed once in a while. What would it be like if one morning Teghan got out of bed, and instead of just running back and forth in the hallway, actually came into our room to see us? Or what if one night she wanted to sleep in our bed like other small children; or maybe just sit next to us for more than ten seconds? What would that be like?

When she hurt herself, she didn’t want our comfort. She would scream and hit, and get angry over the pain- and there was nothing we could offer her. She just pushed us away.

She didn’t seem to notice when I came and went for work. Sometimes she wouldn’t even look at me. The cats at least looked up at me for a moment before resuming their naps, but Teghan would just continue with what she was doing.

She didn’t like to give hugs or kisses at all. She would oblige if requested, but often with tears. She hated it. For years there would be no snuggling at all. Years. We were simply tools to get what she wanted.

It doesn’t matter how much you know about autism, those little things will affect you. You believe in your heart that she feels what you want her to feel but just can’t express it. We knew that was true, but we still struggled to wrap our social brains around the concept. And how do you show affection to a child so unmoved by demonstrations of affection? Did any of it matter to her? It seemed to only annoy her. Continue reading