Friday, September 30, 2011

The Game, Passages, and ...

My son, seven, got his first serious game machine, a hand-me-down PS2, last weekend. If That isn't a sentence rife with potential for several different blog posts and probably a short story or three, well, I just don't know if a person, no wait - a parent could call themselves a writer.

It brings up parenting issues about values, socioeconomics, Rites of Passage, (I promise I'll stop using capitalization for emphasis soon, I'm coming off of it gradually, because quitting cold turkey would be Traumatic)

Where was I? Right then - PS2 - 7yo(autistic spectrum remember) - Rites of Passage now - value judgments and socioeconomic implications and traumas to be dealt with later - got it.

As I mentioned in Monday's post, nice neighbor dropped off his old PlayStation 2 last weekend, and of course A-Boy was thrilled, just thrrrrilllled I tell you! My first thought was "And so it begins". My second thought was along the lines of perhaps now he'll be more likely to be content on his own a bit and not be requiring direct, active attention seemingly all the time. I know, I'm a horrible parent. Sometimes, even when my child is awake and around, I just want to concentrate on something not involving him, or his repetitive large/fast movements and sounds. Something like reading or writing or even, Heaven forbid, watching a movie and actually hearing all the dialog. There, I said it, send me to horrible parent Hell.

Well that has not been the case. It turns out that playing video games is just not as fun by one's self. I've been captured and drug upstairs to the room with the thing. I have been forced to play video games. And occasionally, just occasionally, it's been OK. More than Ok. Other times, not so much. Not surprisingly, I suck at pretty much any video game that involves speed and control. Yeah, all of them. But it's not about me, right? Right.

About A-Boy and the Game console, I see that it's a modern rite of passage. Even if his is a second hand less than current example of the game maker's art and alchemy. He's a big boy now. He has his own game machine. He can invite his friends over to play and have something they know, something that makes him part of the group.

Getting the training wheels off his bike was a rite of passage that I could recognize, could remember and relate to from my own childhood. That one has been around for many years, a well known passage I'm sure recognized world over. It's almost as integral a part of growing up human as walking is.

This video game as rite of passage thing though, I've got no reference for that. Never been a video game guy and when I was A-Boy's age they hadn't invented Pong, and no one new who Atari was. Yes, I'm that old. And here's another one coming up, his own phone. No, I'm not buying a seven year old a cell phone, but I anticipate that it won't be very many more years before a cell phone will be a practical necessity for him. Will his first phone be a smart phone? Or, perhaps it will be one of the emerging pad/phone/game/video production hybrids that are pretty much here or right around the corner, waiting for a release date. How would I know, I'm a dinosaur!

So what have I learned here? Um....Oh, I know! Pick me! Pick me! What I've learned on a real, visceral level, that I only could have theorized before on a rational, hypothetical level, is that our children will have, are having, an often very different set of Rites of Passage than we had. And I''ve learned that not only will I not have had some of those experiences as a child, I can't even partake in the activities, the languages, or the mindsets involved in them now. That makes me kind of sad, but it's not like the same thing didn't happen to our parents. First-time things we did, not realizing they even were rites of passage, became those for us, and our parents may not have even known it, let alone been able to witness and partake in them.

I realize that many of you probably already experienced this. But it was a "Wow, look at that weird thing happening" moment for me, so of course I had to write about it.

So, have you noticed any important rites of passage your children or their children have had that are part of the new?

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Just Not Right

Aaron likes his routines. Unless it's a "cool" surprise, like when our neighbors gave Aaron their old PlayStation II complete with, well, pretty much everything(including two game guitars - TWO!) Yup, to Aaron that was a very cool surprise, a definitely ok break in routine.

We're sharing one car in our house now. One died so now there's just the one to share, and yes, I know how Blessed we are to have even one relatively nice, safe, legal, comfy Subaru Outback (love the Outback - it's name is Yoshi).

This means a not cool shift of routine for him. We have to get him out of bed and into the car at five-thirty am in order to get Ginny to work by six. Then he can come back home and snooze for a half hour or so before he really starts his day, but I'm afraid by then the damage is done.

Now remember that Aaron is high-functioning autistic. Most of the time he seems like a pretty normal(and bright of course) seven year old, if perhaps a little emotionally young. Think seven and a half, going on four and a half or five emotionally. Add to that mix an autistically expect-able rigidity of mindset regarding things like routines, what's ok and right, and what's decidedly Not Ok or "Just Not Right". This makes the crack of dawn disruption of routine a potentially big deal.

Today was our third day of the new thing, hopefully soon to be for him, routine. Fine. Got Ginny to work, him to school, me off to my Dr. appointment across town. I got home about eleven am, just in time to get a "Come to the school NOW" message from his school Principal. It was his first big Melt Down of the school year, now in it's third or fourth week. We did have enough foresight to have our intro to Aaron show and tell meeting with his new teacher less than two weeks ago, so the melt down chair tossing session should not have come as a total surprise to her. Except - we're talking a TOTAL five star no-verbal communication, kicking, snarling, throwing chairs to the floor kind of a Big Ole' No Reasoning With Him Aaron Melt Down. It was a "Room Clearing Event" as they say. That means that what Aaron was doing in the class room caused his teacher to get everybody else the Hell out of the room in a big damn hurry for safety's sake. Not good. Big. Not. Good.

I got there a half hour after his classroom antics, fifteen minutes after the phone call, to find him in the Principal's office, at least sitting unrestrained while the Principal attempted to get him to talk to her. I tried to get him to talk to me. That was a no go on either account. Principal and I had our necessary chat around him(she at least, has seen similar from him before) and I carried him(it's just safer all around that way) out to the car.

Got him home, sent him stomping up to his room, where he screamed incoherently at me for ten minutes before crashing out on his bed. An hour later I got him up, he, still not talking. Two hours later over a peanut butter sandwich I finally got him back to talking again enough to ascertain that there was some issue with his reading worksheet paper which frustrated him. A Lot. (somewhat of an understatement, that.)

When these things happen the not talking at all for a couple or three hours is probably the most frustrating and scariest part for me. Well ok, after I've determined that neither he, nor anyone else, or any expensive school property has sustained significant damage.

There's that irrational little voice in the back of my mind that thinks "What if he's crossed some new threshold?" What if today is the day that will be remembered as "...and he never spoke again"? That would be highly unlikely from everything I've been able to find out from reading, from talking to other parents, and to more than a few professionals of various levels and experience. I mean, normally this kid can not shut up for more than five seconds. Maybe six.

Still, every time he Melts Down Big Time and goes non-verbal, the fear is there.

Later on after picking Ginny up from work, he seemed to flow back into his average evening of being a basically normal seven year old. After his almost favorite dinner of waffles and bacon we went and played some Guitar Hero. He kicked my ass about half the time. Hey, it was only my second time to have ever played, and besides, he needed to win at something today, ok?

Was the real issue behind his melt-down the disruption of his three or four week old routine? We will probably never know. It's just the biggest thing to have changed around him recently, and we know that can be kind of a trigger set up for problems.

OK, so it could be a weird reaction to having been given the neighbor's old PlayStation this last weekend, but he's not really playing violent stuff. He's playing football, bike racing, Guitar hero- OK, one Fantastic Four game(rated E for Everyone). Somehow, I'm not buying that as the fuse, just from my observations of him.

I'm more inclined to believe his emotional stamina or fortitude was compromised by having to get up an hour earlier than his normal six-thirty. And then, something was "Just not right, It's gonna be ALL MESSED UP!" That can definitely be a trigger for him. It's like if this one thing, especially if it's about his performance on something he is insecure about doesn't work, The Entire World will End!(at least for him).

Now he's bedded down all safe and secure. he's very recently been happily playing with some small thing, talking non-stop to Ginny, watching Dancing With the Stars(hey don't judge, now). and he's been as happy as a proverbial clam. Everything in his world restored to equilibrium, to ok, to just fine and dandy.

Until next time.

I have no idea what would be an appropriate music selection for this. Sorry.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bob knew the path from the house up through the woods by heart. He could take it at a full run in pitch dark by feel without ever stumbling or hitting a snag.
At the top of the hill, in a clear swath that ran the width of the woods, were the sandstone places. Just there by where he made his fires he would often find one of the great horned owls sitting up in an oak that was part of the last “virgin woods” in the county. He liked it here. Quieter, safer, than back in town.
Bob never quite fit in back in town. In grade school he was the little guy with Clark Kent glasses, nose always in a book, didn’t even try at sports. Just too perfect a target to resist for some. Kind of kid had to take a different door out of school, a different route home every day, for fear he’d get beat up. Then that one day in gym he just lost it. Dove on the bigger kid, had him by the throat, purple and gasping on the floor before the other guys pulled Bob off. They mostly left him alone after that. But Bob was still angry.
Now days he did much of the same stuff his few high school friends did. He drove around in his V-Dub, listening to Rock N Roll, laughing and shouting, drinking and smoking, singing along to The Who and not quite getting it all and knowing he wasn’t. And he worried about everything and nothing. And he was still angry.
As much as he loved this place, these woods, he felt like he didn’t quite belong here either. It seemed that he hadn’t quite passed some test. Bob wondered if he would ever belong anywhere, indeed sometimes wondered if there was much point in bothering with any of it. And Bob was still angry.
Something seemed different today. There was an extra quiet to the woods, not just the normal thing. Something was missing, and something else was there. Most days during the hot Kansas summer the woods had their own sounds. Small animals coming and going, the breeze through the black jacks. Amazing how much noise a turtle could make trundling through the dead leaves.
Sitting by his fire, he tried to follow the old pipe way, praying with the pipe to the East, the West, the North, and the South. No one here to teach him those ways now. He’d have to muddle through as best he could on his own. He felt the smoke take him then. And he felt The Other too.
Bob had tried to put the fears, troubles, and the anger all out of his mind. Those kinds of feelings weren’t compatible with the smoke. He knew bad thoughts or bad feelings could let bad things in between the big spaces. He hoped that instead the smoke would give him some relief, let him forget, to just stare at the stars later on.
He saw that the fire had burnt low, didn’t bother to add to it. It was after all mid summer, the evening just a little cool up here on this low hill. As dark came on fully, he smoked the pipe again, this time with just a nod to the four directions. The smoke came on stronger now.
Bob felt the wind not just in the trees, but inside his head. He heard the calling of the owls, the singing of the coyotes. And then, something coming. Something BIG coming, and still coming … and then, stopping. Bob felt it there, just out of the light, watching and listening. He could feel its strength, feared its power. He didn’t know what it was, but he knew it could snuff him out in a second, if it chose.
All of his fears, all of his anger slammed down on him like a mighty wind, unstoppable and unrelenting. He lay back on the sandstone, not quite giving up hope, but no longer resisting. He let loose the feelings, let the thing take him where and how it would.
Gi lo Sa quo hi rode his pony slowly up the hill from the south. It had been another long day of traveling on his family’s annual excursion up north to trade. Late, it had already gone full dark. Ten days each direction it took, and the way grew wearisome some times. Lately, he had found himself feeling as though time were running out somehow. He had heard rumors about the new people coming from the east. So far away it was, but their conquest was mighty it was told. He had heard they were crazy, that they destroyed the land wherever they went. He wondered what would become of this place, if any would honor it later.
Coming to the top of the hill, just up from the living spring, he knew something was changed. Drawn by some new sense he broke off from the others and walked the pony a ways to the west. There, just this side of the trees he could see the glow of a camp fire it seemed. Cautious now, he got down, leaving his pony to knicker gently in question as he crept forward to see a figure there asleep by the fire. Closer still, this young man, no older than his own sons, was not of The People. The boy’s skin was too light, his clothes entirely strange, of no hide or weave he knew. This must be one of the new people. But why was he here all alone, no weapons, no pony, no food, not even a blanket. Gi lo Sa quo hi moved closer still, leaned down, drew back. He was not to touch, only to see, to know, and perhaps to offer some comfort to a lost spirit, adrift far from its rightful home. Reaching in his pouch, he drew out one feather, beaded along its quill, the story pattern of Great Horned Owl. He laid it down next to the strange apparition of things to come, made solid in this place of The Rock and The Spring, for him to see and know.
Awake now, Little Head Bob turned and looked around, stopped as he caught the light on the shiny beads on the ground below. He couldn’t think why they mattered. His brothers and sisters there on the branch roused and hooted softly, as his father flew in through the woods, breakfast in his strong talons. And he heard the wind in the trees.
Pink Floyd - Learning to Fly
note: Gi lo Sa quo hi is actually Cherokee for "Someone".

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Geez, Sept almost gone.

Geez, where the Hell did September go?

I hadn't realized it'd been this long since I've appeared here. It seems that most of my last few posts have been crossovers of posts I've actually done for or the one for Moondustwriter's Blog . In other words, I've been either busy or neglectful. We'll go with busy, ok?

I have recently read one post from a friend about gaining or re-gaining some sense of balance in her life as a working professional mom, writer, human bean(spelling intentional - just for fun). And I have also read another post by a fairly accomplished writer about balance being overrated and how writers, especially new writers, need to forget balance and devote themselves more fully to gaining their craft.

Devotion and dedication are great things, and most of the writers, artists, musicians I know have to push the boundaries of the point of diminishing returns in order to move forward. That said, I have long maintained that in life generally Balance is the Key. I stand by that. Without some kind of healthy balance one will soon find themselves an overwhelmed less-than-healthy mess. Balance is not something one attains and can then forget about. It must be constantly reassessed and adjusted. At this point my balance scale is leaning too far away from time spent writing again. I need to fix that.

So here's the plan - I'm setting myself the goal to post SOMETHING on every Monday and every Friday, taking my que there from Quickmissive, as that seems to work pretty well for her as writer and for we, her friends a/o followers.

Bear with me. Or shall it be Bare with me? Ok, that could get a little disturbing so we'll just go with "Bear with me", mm'K? Anyhow, bear with me, I'm just not able to be brilliant on demand(why I got out of the graphic design program in college). So some of these posts, IF they are actually going to occur on a regular schedule are going to be....well, Not Brilliant. They may be all kinds of things, hopefully somewhat entertaining enough to satisfy some of us, and that will have to do. It's as much about the process as the product at this point in my writing.

I have still not been able to settle on any one given topic or specialty, which I understand may mean certain death or at least an interminable amount of time for this page to not quite flourish. Too bad, I'm just not that focused on one kind of thing.

Ding! (That signals a change of topic, a mental shifting of gears in my family, so it will here as well)

Funny how after all the toys the kid wants, gets, and forgets, he is still just as happy eating a snack in his "house" box. Recently re-diagnosed as high functioning Autistic, it's good to see him quietly enjoying using his imagination, which is not all that unusual for him, and having good "by himself time", which is unusual for him.

let's just consider this one a "check in", shall we?

What kind of things do you do to maintain your balance? Or is it even something you consciously have to think about at all? I'd love to know.