Friday, October 13, 2017

It's His Birthday and I'll Cry if I Want to

Today is GP's 22nd birthday.
On this day, Friday the 13th of October, twenty-two years ago, I became a parent. It seems like a lifetime ago. Oh, how many tears I have shed since then. 
I try to remind myself of how far he has come, and how hard he has worked, but I still want so much more for him. I don't know if I will ever be sure that I have done enough. I don't know if I will ever believe that he knows how hard I have tried to be the best Mom I can be... but I am still doing the best I can, with what I have, and I hope that in the end he will know how much I have loved him and how hard I tried to help him navigate the storm waters that come with life.

Being a parent is the hardest job I have ever had. I don't know why I was chosen to walk this path. I don't know why my handsome boy was chosen to be the one child out of a hundred and twenty five children to be diagnosed with autism so many years ago. But I do know that I am still angry, and I am still bitter that we were chosen. It took me a long time to admit that, but I now stand in my truth and make no apologies for it. I alone walk in my shoes, it is my truth and I own it.

I wish I could say life has gotten easier, I wish I could say that "I've got this", But I can't. I still have days when I don't know what the hell I'm doing. Days when I "guess" what is wrong and then "guess" how I can fix it. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't, but every time I have one of "those" days I am emotionally drained and at the edge of giving up. It's been twenty two years of parenting and at least twenty of trying to solve the puzzle that came with  job.

GP is very excited about his special day. No cake or party as those are "for children" but a day off to do as he wishes, go where he wants and spend his time (and mine) as he pleases. Oh how time changes and so much stays the same. I am happy that he is so happy that he is getting older and he is now an "adult". I am terrified, for basically the same reason.

Happy Birthday, my love. I hope someday you will know how much I love you.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Spring Market Brings Fall Goodies

It must be strange for people who are new to quilting to see Fall patterns and kits showing up as soon as Spring market is over, but Spring Market is all about Fall. It took me a long time to psyche myself into these weird calendar events. Try thinking of tulips in October (Fall market is about Spring!), weird; but that's how retail works. You have to be one step ahead of the next season. 
As a crafter you also want to try a season ahead if you like working on multiple projects and want to have them completed before the season starts. Oh, the spirit is willing but the days are short and the responsibilities many. 
I personally love Spring market, but then again, it's no coincidence that my shoppe is named Pumpkin Patch Primitives. I'm all about the pumpkins, the acorns, the colored leaved. Oh, just color me orange and draw a smile on me.
I love it all. 
Needless to say, Fall patterns are on order and it won't be long now before the patch is full of pumpkins. I can't wait.  
Isn't this adorable? I'm kitting this one up as a bi-weekly program, starting in just a few weeks (June) so it will be ready to hang come October. Watch your inbox for the newsletter. 
There will be a link for it. I can't wait to get started.... 
I love Spring market, and the Fall goodies that come with it! =)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

It won't be long now

I was out raking leaves and cleaning out flower beds this afternoon and dreaming of warm days ahead. I am looking forward to pulling out the little mesh tables and the umbrellas that mark the beginning of the "outdoor" season for us.
Even with a mild winter it seems like a lifetime ago since we actually sat outside. I catch GP pacing the patio and surveying the yard every afternoon. He is so ready he doesn't even complain when I tell him we have to do yardwork.   I am right there with him... ready for the sunny days.
Spring is a blessing, a respite from the long, cold months. If only, if only I had a little bit of sunshine, I could be more patient. Thankfully the calendar says it won't be long now, so I watch the clouds pass us by and use my cool mornings to rake more leaves and plant more flowers. 
Hope your spring is sunny and warm and that you too are enjoying the cool while anxiously awaiting the warmth. Hang in there, it won't be long now. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

And one day, he was no longer silent.

I read this amazing post this morning about a young man, just a wee bit younger than GP. He is non verbal and now uses an app to communicate.
You can read it here. 

I t made me think of a time, no so long ago (in my heart it feels like just yesterday, as the hurt is so real and still so raw) when GP was silent. The days were fraught with screeches and tantrums, and the misunderstanding that he was "not there". It was a common misconception that children with autism were incapable of speech. It was a "thing"... a label, a grossly negligent fable told to parents by "professionals" who could not get the words out of them. I was one of the lucky ones. I was told that GP "could" speak (he was physically capable of speaking), but he chose not to, 
AND that he might never choose to speak. I don't know if GP's path to being verbal would have been the same if I was told he "couldn't". 

As a parent one always looks for guidance from those who have more experience than us. The pediatricians, the therapists, anyone older and wiser seems like a good "counselor". The last person we listen to is ourself. Self-doubt trumps all. However, in the end, it is US, the parents of the child who have to take care of them. We are the ones who are ultimately responsible for our children. It is up to us to decide the course of action to be taken to get them on the path to success, and let's be clear, success is not always a scholarship to Harvard. Sometimes success is as simple as being able to master public transportation and make change at the supermarket. Success is like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. Let me tell you, it took me a LONG time to understand that... and I do mean a long time. Hardest lesson, ever.

But, anyway, back to the post. I just remember being in so many meetings going over and over the "options" brought to me by the public school system. I remember the symbols, the cards the notebooks (these big electronic keyboards that spoke when you typed)... (there were no iPads back then). And I remember turning them all down. I remember fighting for GP and telling them that he would not be using them because he needed to have a communication device that he would not lose, and that would not run out of batteries, or need a plug. They were such heated arguments, over and over.... it was exhausting. I get tired just revisiting those times. "But, Mrs. Mercado..." It was like they didn't hear what I was saying. 

GP is a visual learner, like many autistic people. You can't see words, so speaking just doesn't make sense. (You can't SEE words that are spoken) GP was one of those. Once he started signing (we did teach him that at home, because at school they did not teach children to sign back then, don't even get me started!), and he could SEE what he was saying (which is really the same principal used when using a picture system), he "got it". Once he "saw" that written words, "hand words" and spoken words were "the same", I think it just "clicked". It took six months to teach him how to speak. It was hard, it was emotionally draining and it was incomprehensible that something so "natural" was so hard for him, but it was. It was SOOOOOO hard. There were tears, there were tantrums...ugh.

To this day he struggles with language. He can read and his spelling beats any spellcheck I've ever used, but language arts is like kryptonite. It's so stinking hard. It kills me to see him struggle, and  I struggle with my own shortcomings as an educator, as his parent, as his guide in the murky waters of language. It's hard to help him navigate the tides of that storm that come daily. I want him to wake up one day and just be able to hold a conversation without using the wrong pronoun, or the wrong tense... or simply without getting so frustrated that he can't articulate what he wants to say that he just says, "Oh, never mind" and leaves without telling me what he wants to say. 

I never lose sight of how far he has come, and I never forget that he is no longer silent. When I read stories of young men of GP's age group, who are just now finding their voices, I always get emotional. That road out of "the silence" is so hard. I can't even begin to describe it. It's like a forest that gets darker and darker, and you just can't find your way out of it. You don't know how far it goes because you can't see the light at the end. When you  talk and talk, write and write, sign and sign and you just have no idea if your child gets ANY of what you are trying to convey... but you hope and you pray, and do it over and over. Then one day, you hear that sound, that sound that you recognize as a word....
I can't even.  

I'm so happy for those who are finding their voices now. One can't change the past but the future is wide open. I hope that more nonverbal people find their voices because they do have one, even if you can't hear it. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Every Moment is a Teachable Moment

So this weekend GP and I went to Target and we "met" our very first Transgender Teen. A very pretty young lady in customer service who had the booming voice of a young man going through puberty. I had been in line for a little while so I was not surprised when she spoke to me. However, GP had been wandering around and when the girl addressed him he LITERALLY gasped. He quickly caught himself and thankfully whispered," Um, that voice". I pretended not to hear him and finished my business. We walked away and I took this opportunity to talk to him about being Transgender. 
How do you explain being transgender to a developmentally delayed young man? The same way you explain homosexuality. As simply as possible. 
I explained to GP that that young lady was girl who was born a boy, and transgender people are people who are born with opposite sex body parts. So her deep voice was probably just a sign that she was going through puberty and that would change later, when she was older.
He smiled, and said, "Oh, OK. She talks like a boy." I told him, "Some transgender people look like boys but talk like girls. That's OK too." 
He smiled and I kid you not, he said, "I'm going to Newbury comics."... end of story. 
And just like that, we now know that there are boys, girls, gay people and transgender people.
AND it's no big deal. I am so grateful for that young lady, and how she helped me explain what I thought would be so complicated, in such a simple way. 
She's just a girl, that was born a boy and now works at Target. 
And I'm grateful for the way GP accepts everyone, without prejudice. 
If only others would accept him that way too...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Still Believe...

A few years ago I told GP that Santa didn't bring teenagers presents, he only brought presents to children and that parents were responsible for gifting to teenagers. He didn't believe me, so he went to talk it out with Santa on one of his weekend day trips with his Dad. Ummm. That was a problem, Gino had no idea what Santa had agreed to bring him. LOL

For the last few years I have been the Scrooge in my home (the "Non believer" in GP's eyes), so he has gone to talk with Santa "on the down low" with Gino. This year, Gino has moved away and GP asked me to take him to talk to Santa. 
I once again, explained that Santa will not bring him presents , and he once again gave me the "yeah, yeah, whatever you say" look, and explained, "I need to check on the naughty list". I asked him, "What about the naughty list?" and he explained that he needed to check that he WASN'T on the naughty list. OMG! That was the funniest thing ever... 
The saying, "Dear Santa, I can explain..." came to mind. I just had to laugh, and then I took him to "check" on that, LOL

This is GP having his "talk" with Santa this year. I think he was explaining his wrong-doings and hoping that he could talk his way off the naughty list. But I think he might have snuck in some "Amazon gift cards" in there, maybe after his remorseful speech.

Every year, when GP goes to see Santa and Santa hugs him and tells him whatever it is that he tells him that makes him light up like a Christmas tree, I receive a gift; a special gift that money cannot buy, the generosity of a stranger, who brings joy to my son's life. And every year I wonder if that Santa knows how much I love him, for putting on that suit and being so patient and attentive with my son... and for helping me believe in the magic of Christmas. 

It's the season of giving. I think so many people forget that the best gift is the one we can't buy... time, love, attention. 
I hope you receive them all this season...and you just might,
if you still believe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It won't Be Long Now...

It won't be long now before the trees start going up at the mall and the velvet chair comes out to greet the little ones (and Big ones in GP's case), and Autism Speaks just announced that it has partnered with Simon Property Group to offer children with special needs a time to go and meet up with the Big Guy. This is such a fantastic opportunity for parents to take their kiddos in and let them enjoy their visit without the pressures of "fitting in" and rushing them. 
I have so many stories that I could tell, but they all bring me to tears so I will just say Thank you, Autism Speaks and Simon PG. You have no idea how much this means to moms like me. 
Please share this information with any parent you know who has a child with disabilities. Let's not squander this wonderful gift of one on one time for our kiddos with Santa. 
For more info on this go to:
I'm so excited about this, and I'm sure I'm not alone.