Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wyatts first sleepover!

Wyatt had his first honest to goodness sleepover tonight!

I know, in the vast scheme of things this doesn't sound like a big deal, but when you're raising a kid with autism the things that other parents take for granted become world changing events. Wy's never had a friend spend the night before, he's never even expressed an interest in anything like that.

Wyatt likes other kids, he enjoys being around them, but he doesn't really interact for more than a few minutes at a time. He loves other children, but he only directly interacts with them for short periods unless he can control the interaction. Wyatt just assumes that everyone loves the same things he does. Since most 9 year olds really don't care about Auteck 3000 car washes with PDQ cleaning systems and undercarriage washer jets, it doesn't leave him much else to talk about with them, and after a few minutes he ends up wandering off to play on his own.

He doesn't seem to mind, but I've worried for a long time now that he might not get to have the kinds of experiences that typically developing kids do. Last night he got to have one of those experiences, and it's made me so happy for him.

Our friends Jamie and Karen have a son Wyatts age. Damien is a great kid, he's really bright and very sweet. Damien also has Aspergers Syndrome. Wy's autism is very high functioning, so he and Damien are at about the same level. The boys have played together before and they get along well, and when J&K came over 2 weeks ago with Damien and Austin, the 3 boys had a blast together. Damien decided he and Wy should have a sleep over, and Wy was all for it, so Karen and I decided tonight would be a good night for it.

OK, Damien decided.

Karen sent me a text today saying Damien had been bugging her for 2 weeks asking when he was going to get to come over and spend the night, and Wy's been doing the same thing on my end. So we caved and said tonight was the night. As soon as Karen told Damien he had a bag packed and was waiting for her in the car.

Really. Karen sent me this about 5 min after she told him he was sleeping over

Karen dropped Damien off this afternoon, and he and Wy were playing video games, and giving each other detailed instructions on which buttons to push, how to jump, no no no - go get that gem, no not that one, the other one. They were like 2 pint sized drill instructors, but they never got mad at each other. Whoever was playing would do what the other said, and they were both having fun. After a while, Wy decided he wanted to watch elevator videos on youtube, so he was doing that while Damien was sitting next to him playing Spongebob.

They weren't playing together, they were each sitting there doing their own thing, but they were enjoying being around each other. They'd each wander off periodically, go do something different, and then end up in the same place and reconnect, play together for a bit, and then go do their own thing again. Which was cool.

At one point Damien started teasing Wy because he was watching Thomas The Tank Engine videos. He told Wy "Dude, you watch that? That's a baby show!"

Wy was highly insulted, but Damiens right, it is kind of a baby show. Damien went downstairs and was watching TV and asked me how old Wyatt is. I told him he's 9, he'll be 10 next month. Damien said "I'm 11, I'm almost a teenager, I just have to turn 13."

I loved it, it was almost like having 2 Wyatts here.

What I found really interesting was the way they knew without saying that when one of them needed to step away, it was OK. They just "Got" where each other was at, no explaining needed, since they're both in the same place in terms of their social functioning. It was really nice for them.

I got them tucked in around 10, they both went right off to sleep with no problems.
They're playing together in Wyatts room right now, again, giving each other instructions on the video game, and complaining about Luna (our special needs cat who's decided she belongs in Wy's room with the boys)trying to sit in their laps while they're playing. Luna's in there yowling, and Damien said "That sounds like dying cat sounds" Wy said "You're right, it sounds angry"

They're both right, Luna has this meow that could shatter glass.

Both the boys said they'd like to have another sleepover again.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In Memory Of...

Those of you that know me through the Pagan community also know that yesterday Isaac Bonewits passed away.  Isaac was one of the most important figures in the modern Pagan community - teacher, leader, musician, general troublemaker (in the best possible way).

I'm not going to list Isaacs many accomplishments here, frankly his own webpage does a much better job of that than I ever could. For those of you that are interested, here's a link to his page

What I AM going to do is write a little bit about the man I knew. I said it yesterday on FB, but it bears repeating, Isaac was a hell of a guy.

The first time I ever met him was at the first Wellspring Gathering in 1991. My girlfriend Kathleen had talked me into coming along with her and her boyfriend Bill, because she didn't want to be the only non-pagan girl there. It sounded like a fun time, and I'd always had an interest in paganism, so I went.

I don't remember who it was that introduced me to him, but I do remember that he reminded me of a slightly scruffy, mildly daft college professor - you know, the kind who's prone to going off on tangents that have nothing to do with the topic at hand but are actually far more interesting than the lesson itself. In some ways that first impression of him was dead on, but Isaac had a razor sharp intellect, and a wicked sense of humor. Wicked enough to forgive him his love of bad puns.

Somehow Kathleen and I got roped into tending one of the directional fires for the main ritual (I think I may have volunteered us). Turned out we were tending the fire in the North, directly behind where the alter and Isaac were. Being the urban chicks we were, we promptly piled too much fuel on it and nearly put it out in the middle of the ritual. I remember the 2 of us on our knees, blowing on the fire to try and get it to flare back up. We must have been making a little to much noise with all the huffing and puffing, because I heard someone going PSSST! PSST!. I looked up, and Isaac was looking over his shoulder, laughing at us, and holding out a bottle of oil. We got the fire stoked back up, and periodically Isaac would look back over at us and start laughing again.

The ritual itself, and the whole weekend would have a profound impact on my life that continues to this day. As I told Isaac at the time, I went away a nice Catholic girl from the suburbs and came back a Druid. After that weekend, I became an active member of ADF, a part of Green Man Grove, and eventually Bard for that grove.  Isaac and his family were living in NJ at the time, and since Green Man Grove was based in Jersey City, we were fortunate enough to have him come to grove functions. Isaac and Debs son Arthur and my son John were both toddlers at the time, and I remember enjoying watching them play together. Isaac took such pleasure from Arthur, it was really lovely to see.

Isaac asked me to take over running ADF's regalia department, which I did for 2 years. It's not as big a deal as it might sound, at that time ADF regalia consisted of some pins and pendants, copies of Isaacs book Real Magick, a few back issues of Druids Progress (ADF's Newsletter/magazine/journal), and for some unknown reason, 12 copies of a book on Day Lilies. But I was honored that he asked me.

One of the things that sticks out most in my memories of him is the way he would always make time for people who needed his help or support. When my first husband and I split up, Isaac was very supportive and caring, and checked on me by phone to make sure that I was doing OK. Everyone around me (with a few exceptions) assumed that I was doing fine, but Isaac took the time to make sure that I was ok, and there were more than a few times that he let me cry on his shoulder. When my last marriage fell apart and I was devestated, Isaac took the time to make contact through FB, and give me some emotional support. We hadn't seen each other in many years, but he still cared enough to let me know that he was there, and I'll never forget that.

His kindness wasn't limited to just people in his circle. I was part of a coven on Long Island, and one of our coven sisters was going through a nasty divorce and a VERY nasty custody battle over her son. Her husband, who was a practicing pagan and had been to ritual at my home on several occasions, had dragged the word "Witch" into the custody battle. His lawyer was accusing her of sacrificing animals, devil worship, orgies, all the usual slander that's associated with the accusation of being a witch. He was trying to have her declared an unfit mother and take sole custody of the baby. Isaac had never met my coven sister, but I asked him to contact her, and he got in touch with her and offered to come to court and give testimony as to what Wicca and Paganism are, and what they are NOT. The case ended with a joint custody decision, in large part because of Isaacs testimony, and his efforts to educate the court on Pagan spirituality.

Even though it's been a long time since I've seen Isaac, I'll miss him. I'll miss his songs, his jokes about dirgelike pagan chants, his occasional copping a feel (OK, his frequent copping a feel, this was Isaac after all), his bad puns, and the opportunity to tease him about his total lack of a backside. I'll miss the books he would have written, the rituals he would have led, the songs he would have sung.

I'll miss the man who inspired me to explore my spirituality, who encouraged my creativity and who never failed to show kindness and support when it was needed.

As I said, a hell of a guy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why Suburban Chicken?

I knew you'd ask that.

It's in honor of my Salvadoran naighbors continued efforts to keep chickens in their yard, which invariably seem to end up in MY yard, driving my poor dog into fits of doggie excitement, and the chicken into a feathery freaked out flurry of wings and clucks.

OK, now that all that crap is out of the way....

It's been a LONG time since I've written anything new. The occasional FB note, yes, but really, other than a somewhat long winded, this is what's been happening the last few months, nothing of any real interest or consequence.  And I've missed it.

Things have been pretty good lately, and when my life is settled, I tend to get a little complacent. OK, let's get real here, I get fat, happy and lazy. Which I am now, most of the time.

After close to a decade of being stressed, semi bitter and cranky it's a nice change, but apparently it doesn't do much for keeping the creative juices flowing, which is something I've been mulling over a bit lately.

I wonder sometimes if my writing is based in the need to rant and spew about whatever is twisting my knickers at the moment. Is my need to be creative feuled by a desire to commit emotional bulemia, binging on stress and anger, digesting it into something humorous and then purging it onto a computer screen?

Or am I just too lazy to actually put forth the effort it takes to write more frequently than crisis to crisis?

Who the fuck knows? Not me, that's for damn sure.

So, that's what's been spinning through my warped little head lately.