The Change.

I think it would be interesting to be a doctor that diagnoses autism. A family comes to you in a very vulnerable place. You give them the dreaded diagnosis and they go home and learn how to deal with it. The next check-up, the parents that you met last time are just a little stronger. Then the next time, and the next time. You see these changes happen. Until 1-2 years later, and they are no longer the person that they were at the initial appointment. It is a metamorphosis process of sorts that you are forced into as parents of children with special needs. No one asks for this life, but you take it and you adjust, and you become the person you need to be. Out of necessity. It would be hard to give the person the diagnosis, and know that you are drastically changing this person’s life. Obviously, the doctor is not actually the one changing their life, but it is the onset of their new reality. The actual diagnosis.

I would never want to go back and live that 6 months following diagnosis again. It was a dark, confusing, hard time. When I see parents about to get the diagnosis/ ones who just did, my heart goes out to them. I hurt for them knowing what is to come. I give advice, but nothing I can do can change what they are going through. You just have to step aside and watch them change into the person that they need to be. As they learn to do autism their way. Don’t get me wrong, I love the community in the autism world, and I don’t know what I would have done without people’s help along the way. Those who answered my questions about therapy, behaviors, self-care. But nothing can take away that stage that you must go through to be the Autism Parent you need to be.

I distinctly remember a meltdown that E was having one night. He was out of control. Literally. I don’t think he had actual control over what he was doing anymore. Nothing would get him to calm down. I was holding him in his room in the dark trying to get him to go back to sleep. He was flailing and trying to move everywhere. I was holding him as best as I could to keep him safe from himself. I could not comfort him. I just sat. I held it together at first, but then he wriggled a bit from the position I was holding him in and head butted me in the lip. Hard. My lip was split, swollen, and bleeding. That instant of sheer pain destroyed the barrier that was keeping me together. I sat there crying, holding my son, pleading with a higher power to help me know what to do. I thought in that moment, I cannot do this. I am not strong enough to handle this situation. I wondered why I was given a child like this. I felt claustrophobic, wondering if there was a light at the end of the tunnel. My husband came up to check on the situation. He took E from me and had a turn trying to calm him down. I went into my room and cried and cried and cried. I felt like a failure, unable to calm my own child. I thought it impossible that I could stretch any further without breaking. But I did. The wounds heal into a sort of armor, and you get up and you do it again and again and again. You get used to people staring in public when your child melts down. You get to used to the comments of others, strangers and sometimes those close to you even, about your parenting. You get used to having to dodge your child’s aggressive behaviors as if you are in a boxing match. You get used to functioning on 3 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. You get used to filling out paper work and going to countless appointments. Strong people are not born strong. They are made.

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Postal Head Games.

I’m an online shopper. I get a lot of stuff online. Diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies, clothes for me, clothes for the kids, books. You get it. There are so many pros to online shopping, it’s hard to say no. Free shipping, cheap prices, not having to go into a store to find said thing. It used to be just Amazon that did the free shipping thing, but now all of the websites do free shipping or at least free shipping after 50 dollars. It’s gotten to the point where if a website actually charges me for shipping, I get offended. I scoff. I cannot believe that they would dare add a 7.99 shipping charge onto my order. I’m so spoiled. We’re all so spoiled with the conveniences of our modern world. With that said, I lead into my problem.

It’s a very first world problem, but it is a problem. Any online shopper will sympathize with me I am sure. The mailman. The deliverer of my goods. The man who judges every purchase, every bill, how many packages I get, where the packages are from. I get a junk mail letter that looks like a collectors notice. I rip it open and relieved to see it is just a junk mail fake out, I want to shout back out the door at the mailman. “No worries! Just a false alarm! We actually are quite responsible with our finances!” The more packages I get, the more I feel like he judges the bills that I get. “Hmm… a second bill from the ENT. Maybe she should spend more time paying her bills and not ordering packages”. I think of all the mail I get and what my mailman can gather from me based on my parcels, magazines, letters, and so forth. He knows all my health problems, well at least the many specialists my family and I see. He knows we are LDS because he sees our church magazines come monthly. He knows we have a lot of family in Utah who send us letters and packages. I just feel like the mailman could be part detective. Why hire a private eye for anything when you can just question the mailman.

At first most of the stuff I ordered was from Amazon. So, he’d bring my big package of Subscribe and Save and I’d say, “Oh there’s my monthly supply of diapers. Thanks”. Then, I’d get another box and I’d say, “Oh, there are my wipes”.  After a few packages I start running out of excuses. I want to just yell out after him, “My son has autism!” I don’t know what it has to do with anything, but it seems like a decent enough excuse to use.

A recently had a growth spurt. When my kids have growth spurts they grow like two sizes at once and then just stay there for a year or so. So, I ordered her summer clothes and new shoes at the beginning of the summer. Then literally two weeks later she sprouted out of everything and I had to order new things. I guess what online ordering does have to do with Autism is that it’s hard for me to get to the store. So I buy a bunch of things, try them on, and ship back the ones that don’t work. I know that is easier for me and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but I cannot help feeling guilty and sheepish when I get the packages in the mail. The worst thing is, companies lately love to send things out all individually. I don’t know why they do this. It’s not great for them long term. We see all those boxes and we become ashamed, or worse, they come on a Saturday when the husband is home and he freaks out and starts frantically scrolling on his phone checking the bank accounts to see if you have spent all of everything. They should have husband safe delivery that you can check when you order something. Because like I mentioned before, when husband sees it, you have to explain every purchase and then you have to look really responsible and return at least one item. You say something like, “Oh, I was just ordering these really to look at them. I am going to return them now that I was able to feel the beautiful quality of the clothes.” Then you ship them back cursing the stupid company that shipped them out to be delivered on a Saturday. It’s not even that the wife is overspending. At least not in my case. It’s just that husbands don’t really know the price of how much things are. If it were up to my husband, the shoe budget for the kids would be three dollars a season.

The last two weeks, I have had a lot of packages coming. Therapy items for E, clothes for A, cleaning supplies for the house, a few books to read for my upcoming trip, maybe some clothes for me on the side. Just to try on of course. Then return.

The first three packages that were delivered were delivered on the same day. The mailman set them down on the porch and said, “Got some heavy ones for you.” I used the diaper excuse, It’s the default, the first one that comes to my mind. The next day, I got a few more. “Oh, looks like they decided to send out everything I ordered on the same day LOL.” The next day, even more. So embarrassing. Saturday I get some with the husband home. Some of these packages I am getting are literally a humongous box with a tiny little box of cabinet locks for baby proofing. I am sure the mailman just loves to watch the drama unfold as he delivers his Saturday goods. Out of excuses, the first reaction that came to me was one of faux shock. If you can’t beat them join them, right?  “Whoa, so many packages? What the heck?” I ask. Then I shake my head incredulously as I take them from him, as if I am not the one who ordered the J. Crew boxes piling up in my arms. As if it is a burden and the company is randomly sending me boxes of free clothes to annoy me.

Today, the mailman just delivered one package. It was the last of them. The final try on of shoes for A. From Mini Boden. Mini Boden is based in the UK. So even if the mail man did not know what was in there, it was written on the customs form on the box with the price stamped right on it. No excuse needed. I opened my mouth to say, “A, some shoes, for you to try on and probably we will return most of them,” but I was out of energy.

Hoping For What?

As humans, I think we are designed to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. We gear up all the energy that we have, get a running start, and do everything we can to get to that light. But what happens when that light is not as visible? What happens when there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight?

I’ve been having meeting after meeting lately while we prepare to transition E out of Early Intervention and into the next phase of services. Part of this is a Future Planning Meeting, where we talk about what my hopes and goals are for E. I remember the meeting last year. I was optimistic. I had heard so many success stories about kids who after a year of therapy, their progress really took off. The speech kicked into place and things just got easier. When E’s third birthday rolled around, I remembered that meeting and I felt a loss all over again. A loss for all the hopes that I had for him in the past year. My original hopes were adjusted when he was diagnosed, and I had acquired new hopes. E actually has progressed. He has made a lot of changes. But as any parent of a special needs child knows, with progress, comes new difficulties. E becomes more aware of his environment. E becomes more anxious and sensitive to those things around him. E becomes more fearful. E becomes destructive as he learns to explore his environment.

As he has learned to say certain words and babble I find myself so excited for him. So excited that he is learning how to form sounds, and say words that are functional. E hears a door open somewhere in the world; on the tv, upstairs, in the neighbors house (That E Boy has supersonic hearing when he wants to). He says “door opennnn”…. I get so excited that he is aware enough to notice that the door is open and to say that phrase. I start to think, “Wow he is going to talk. I am so happy for him! Things are going to get easier.” But then that excitement fades as it stays the same. The same standstill. Last June, he imitated his first word, I was elated. A year later he does not imitate that word anymore. He does not imitate more words. He imitates a different word. I am ready for the progress, but it seems to just be parallel progress.

Preparing for my next Future Planning Meeting, I thought, “What are my hopes”? The meeting came around, and they asked the questions. “What is E doing differently this year? What has he overcome? What are his strengths”, and lastly, “What are your hopes for him?” Adjusting what I want, I told them I don’t have specific goals. My hope? For him to be happy.

Having a child with autism, it often seems suffocating. I get to a breaking point where it seems I can not stretch anymore, but then against all odds, I do.

Today, I heard a crash from the basement. I went down to find E shattering an heirloom. Picking it up again and again. Smashing it into thousands of pieces. The one thing I had that had been passed onto me from that grandparent. My heart broke. I was devastated. I can tolerate him pouring fruit loops all over the floor. I can tolerate him ripping a key off of my keyboard. I can fix those things. What I can’t handle? Him destroying something so irreplaceable and special to me.

Hope can be dangerous when you are dealing with autism. Every child is so different and I have no idea what to hope for. I hope that I can handle the next year. I hope that I can be a good parent. I don’t hope for things to get easier, and I don’t hope for progress. I want it. But if I hope for it, I don’t think I can handle the pain from that being crushed. Again and again.

Coping.

Sometimes it totally catches me off guard that E has autism. I look at him asleep in his room and I see the pictures of him on the wall as an infant and it just hits me. The reality of it all. That my baby E has autism. It’s like a punch to the gut and I feel like I have had the wind knocked out of me. Especially days like today where he is really hard and the autism is more obvious. I look at that those old photos and with them are my expectations of what I thought he would be like and what I thought my life would be like. I expected him to be a typical little boy. He would go through the same stages and milestones as A. I see those pictures and it’s like they were another lifetime. It’s almost as if that boy still exists out there, and that mom still exists out there. And then I am here. People try to be optimistic with me. They say, he will be fine, he will do great. I hope for those things too, but what they don’t understand is that I am still dealing with the loss of what I thought he would be. I am still grieving my old life. To me in this moment, Autism is everything. I am grateful for what I have. I am grateful for the resources I have, but sometimes I am still just sad. And defeated. Sometimes it takes every ounce of energy to run after him again. Or to ignore the intense embarrassment I feel when he is shrieking and I am taking him out of the restaurant while everyone watches. Or feeling anxious as some stranger at a store comes over and tries to play with him and tries to be interactive. I pray that he just looks at them once so the moment will be over. Sometimes it feels like I have been dealt more than I can handle. For those days, there is writing and David Sedaris.

Janmohamed Pseudo Christmas Letter

If you’re not sick of hearing about us yet, here is our year in review.

 

Janmohamed Family Highlights

January: Eric accepts new job working for Mars, the Mars responsible for making M and M’s, in Toledo, Ohio. Mars recently acquired Iams Pet Food, and Eric is working at one of the Iams Plants. I fly out to Ohio to find us a home accompanied by my sister because Eric was busy tying up loose ends at Young Living. Found a home in 48 hours. Harassed the landlord incessantly, telling him I was an amazing tenant over and over again. I amassed 26 back and forth emails before he called me to tell me that I got the house.

February: Mars packed us up and moved us, very stress-free. Flew to Ohio. Thought it would be fine not putting A in a preschool for the rest of the year. Majorly mistaken. After 7 days of pure chaos, I found a preschool for A before we even had our internet set up. After touring the preschool and liking it, I asked them if they could take her the next day. They did and I was able to finally start unpacking in peace.

March: Trips back and forth to Lexington, Kentucky to visit the sister. These continued until July when she moved. I do not know if this is correlated to us visiting her every possible chance and setting up our big air mattress in the center of her living room each time. I tell myself it isn’t.

April: Trip to the Windy City. The kids traded off throwing up in every restaurant we went to. We amassed an entire new wardrobe, because amazingly after the second and even third time we never thought to bring a change of clothes. Target for the win. And the Chicago Outlets.

May: My birthday. The most important time of year. Oh and E’s I guess is in May too. We had his birthday party in Lexington. Surprise Surprise. Aforementioned sister also graduated with her Masters from University of Kentucky that weekend so most of the Bourgerie Family was in town. 

June: Beach visits. Went to Detroit. A visit from the Uncle and Aunt in Minneapolis. They were on a niece tour visiting all their nieces East of the Mississippi. We were honored to be on the tour. Humidity in Toledo starts to get thick.

July: Fourth of July in Kentucky. Trip to Utah. Stranded in Houston. We finally made it to Utah in the exact time it would have taken us to drive. Lots of Bourgerie and Janmohamed family time. Takes a bit of adjustment for the kids to get used to time change and new place.

August: Home from Utah for the last half of August. A few more beach days. Lots of park days. Approved for Respite Care and my life changed. At the start, I usually just sat in a parking lot and ate Burger King and thought, this is what life is really about.

September: I go to New Orleans for an Autism Conference. Temple Grandin and me become pretty much BFF’s. My mom and I walk around the French Quarter. We find out the difference between Jambalaya and Gumbo. I eat Beignets and tell my mom all about New Orleans based off of what I learned in Princess and the Frog.

October: Visit from Older Sister. We visit Motown Museum and I buy the most comfortable sweater of my life. Everyday, sister would say, Oh that looks amazing, I really want it too. I think I am going to go back and buy it. When we go back, she changes her mind. Instead she buys a bunch of who knows what from The Henry Ford gift shop.

November: Visits from both Grandmas and a Grandpa. A’s birthday. Grandma Janmohamed is here for it. We host a party in our humble abode and surprisingly it goes well with 13 kids and half of their parents. Kids get their faces painted and have balloon animals. We go to the Art Museum twice so we can play in the kids family center, and both times it is closed. We become very cultured in the actual art since no choice but to visit and I am shocked at how well the kids do. Thanksgiving brings the Bourgerie grandparents. Amazing food made mostly by my mom. I do make some green beans and a quick bread. We see Coco, but on our way there I spill gasoline all over myself, because apparently I can’t pump gas. My mom tells me she will be sick if she has to sit by me, so I buy myself a Christmas present at the mall in the form of a new outfit. You think by now, I would bring alternate outfits for the whole family.

December: Christmas tree, Hallmark movies, and Frankenmuth- the Christmas town.

Most insane year of our lives, but also filled with a lot of fun times. Merry Christmas

FAQ about Autism

The kids and I were in the play place of a fast food restaurant the other day. I was sitting down while A and E played. There was another adult sitting in the play place as well and she was watching E. “How old is he?” she finally asked me. This is the seemingly non-complicated question that I get stumped on. The reason being, they are usually asking how old he is because they are confused by his behavior and his size. They usually think he is big for his age because he is acting younger than he looks. “Two and a half,” is what I replied. This is the point where I wonder if I should insert, “He has autism.” It’s not anybody’s business and I am under no pressure to share this information with strangers. But… they are usually asking because they notice something is different about his behavior. I don’t want pity so in the past I have often hesitated to bring it up. Lately though, I have been trying to bring it up more regularly. The reason for this is, I want to bring normalcy to autism. I don’t want it to be a taboo subject. I want the person to be aware. He is doing those things because he has autism and that’s okay. “He has autism” I finally tell the lady. “Oh really?” she replies. “That’s interesting because he looks so happy.” With this response I am immediately grateful that I chose to bring it up with her. I explain to her a little more about autism. I explain that children with autism are happy and are able to convey it. Maybe not in the traditional way that we expect, but they still are.
When I tell people that E has autism, I usually get several follow-up questions. I welcome these. I have a tough skin and there is not much you can say, short of directly insulting my son, on the subject of autism that will offend me. I welcome being able to educate people and help people learn more on the subject. When my husband told his boss about E’s situation, his boss replied that he had never met someone with autism and to be honest he didn’t really know what it was. I was shocked by this. I just figured everyone knew what autism was.

I have gathered a list of the answers to my five most frequently asked questions. My answers are not everyones answers. There is a famous saying people like to quote in the autism world. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism” I am sharing the answers gained through my experiences with my son with autism.
Without further hesitation…

1. How did you know E had autism?
I get asked this all the time. I get asked this the most when the asker has concerns about their own child’s development. I think the hidden question is, should I have concerns about my child?
I was lucky enough to be around autism quite a bit with a prior job. I knew the warning signs. I also went to school for Early Childhood Education. I realized that E wasn’t as interactive as A was at his age. I realized that he could go days without acknowledging me. I noticed he wanted to communicate so bad but he didn’t seem to be able to do it. There are a lot of these symptoms that on their own are nothing to worry about. E had them all. Poor eye contact, speech regression, behavioral issues. My advice on this is, you have your mother or father sixth sense. If you feel there is something off, what’s the harm in getting your child tested or an opinion from a medical professional? We had to go through three screening processes which were quite time-consuming. Each one over an hour before we were even referred to the developmental pediatrician. They don’t diagnose autism easily. They are very thorough. Whatever the problem might be, through testing, they can identify your child’s delay and come up with a individualized plan to address it.

2. Have you tried [insert latest fad, diet, or behavior]?
When E was first diagnosed, I didn’t sleep. I spent every possible moment researching therapies and reading book after book. I wanted to do everything possible to help my son. There comes a time when you realize what you can realistically do out of all the information and services out there and what will work for your child. You can’t do every single thing and it’s not good for the child to be in therapy every waking moment either. It’s also not good for the parent to be only eating and breathing autism. I have tried certain things and will continue to try new things, but one step at a time. I guess, what I am trying to get at is, every single fad, diet, or behavior, I am very aware of. I probably have earned a PhD with all of the research I have done on autism. I know that people want to help. It’s human nature to want to fix things. Trust that we know what we are doing and we have one hundred percent heard of what you are suggesting. Even if you know somebody who had success with such behavior or therapy, every child is so different and what worked for them may not work for my child. Replacement questions that I personally love are, “How are you handling all of this? How are you doing? What’s keeping you awake at night worrying?” Autism moms want to sound off. I am not offended when people mention the previously mentioned things. I know they are being kind and it’s coming from a good place. It does however get tiresome explaining what I am doing with my child and if I have tried it and if I haven’t, why not.

3. Was it the vaccinations?
I don’t believe that vaccines cause autism. This is a hot topic so I will not elaborate much more. Two things. E did not have good eye contact or interaction at all as an infant. It did happen, but it was few and far between. He always seemed to just tolerate me. I thought I wasn’t being a good enough parent or that I was not bonding with him properly. These signs were noticeable from a young age, I just didn’t know they were connected to autism yet. Second thing. https://www.amazon.com/Autistic-Brain-Helping-Different-Succeed/dp/0544227735/ref=mt_paperback?_encoding=UTF8&me= This book talks in depth about what the autistic brain looks like.  It’s a very interesting read and I highly recommend it. The information in the book has strengthened my belief even more that autism is something you are born with.

4. This is not a question, but an observation I get often. “He doesn’t look like he has autism” or “It doesn’t look that bad”. This one really gets to me sometimes. Autism is not obvious at all times. If E is just playing at a park, you probably are not going to notice. Come to my house when I try to transition him from play time to another activity and the autism alarms will be going off at full decibel. A child with autism is not always hand flapping/stimming. To say it doesn’t look that bad minimizes things. Until you have walked in my shoes, you can’t say it’s not that bad. This goes for everyone. We don’t know what other people are going through. Supportive words are always the best whether or not you see the difficulty in that moment.

5. I thought kids with autism didn’t smile or like to be touched. Why is he so loving and touchy with you?
E is sensory seeking. Other children with autism may be sensory avoiding or some are like E and are seeking sensory stimulation. E does not seem to feel things as much as a typical child. He falls down and bleeds but doesn’t cry. I don’t realize he has an ear infection often for almost a month because he does not show that he is in pain. If I put a block down his shirt, he can’t feel it most of the time. He craves sensory input. Most often times from me or A. Children who are sensory avoiding may be overwhelmed by loud noises. They tend to hear and feel things even more than the typical child. They easily get overwhelmed by touch because they are feeling it so much more that it can hurt. E does not feel it enough. He likes to crash into things. He loves to swing. He loves to squish into me as hard as he can. He likes to flip upside down. This feels good. When he is having a meltdown, I put him in a tight hold and this calms him down quickly about fifty percent of the time.
E didn’t always smile. It used to be very hard to get a smile out of him. He is able to show his emotion a lot better than he used to. We are grateful for this. E may not react to the same kind of stimuli as W will with a smile. If I smile at E, he will return it maybe one out of four times. There are certain things that make E smile almost without a doubt. These are motion games. A will take E’s hand and they spin around and around and around and that makes him smile. E feels the most relaxed and happy when his sensory needs are being met. We get the most speech and smiles out of him when he is in his swing. His sensory needs being met make him feel safe and relaxed and because of this he is able to relax a bit and smile.

5. What is the hardest part?
The hardest part right now is feeling like I have an eternal one-year-old. E cannot walk on his own or he will run away. When I hold his hand in a parking lot he drops all his weight to the ground and refuses to walk. When I hold him he is constantly trying to get free. Pulling my hair, throwing my sunglasses, pulling at my face, whatever he can do to get me to let him down. He still puts things in his mouth, he runs straight to the street or the pond when we go outside to play. He resists getting into the car seat. Every time I put him in I have to man handle him. He still gets up in the middle of the night several times. I feel like when you have a baby, you think this is so hard, but it’s okay because you know they will get older and outgrow it. You mentally are prepared to handle it for x amount of time. With E, I don’t know how long this will last. It’s exhausting. I live in fear of him getting lost or hurt. He flails in tantrums and hurts himself. Self-harm is a problem with him and him harming me when he is angry. I feel tired all the time. I reassess my situation every few months and decide what help I need to add on. I am lucky to live in a state that has such amazing services that we can afford to add on help in the home. As hard as all that is, the smiles and the love and his sweet personality make it all worth it.

Challenges are not unique to me or to autism. Before I had E, I often felt at my breaking point with whatever life was handing me. A having tantrums, hard pregnancy, husband working late. Life is hard no matter what you are handed, and you adjust accordingly.  Viktor E. Frankl describes this better than I can in his book “Man’s Search For Meaning”

“To draw an analogy: a man’s suffering is similar to the behavior of a gas. If a certain quantity of gas is pumped into an empty chamber, it will fill the chamber completely and evenly, no matter how big the chamber. Thus suffering completely fills the human soul and conscious mind, no matter whether the suffering is great or little. Therefore the “size” of human suffering is absolutely relative.”

And with that I end. Please comment any questions you may have about autism or about your current challenges in your lives.

 

Queen A

A is the boss of the house. Or so she thinks. Sometimes A is feeling very impressed with something she has done and might remark, “Wasn’t that a very six-years-old way that I got the cheese out of the fridge?” If I agree and say, yes it was in fact a very six-years-old way to get the cheese, she is instilled with just enough confidence to keep going. She then informs me about all the things that four-years-olds, five-years-olds and six-years-olds like to do with their spare time. “Sometimes four-years-olds really like to get cheese out of the fridge because they are feeling grown up, but four-years-olds also really like to get the mail. AND they like to unlock the door when the babysitter comes. They get very upset when their moms do it for them.” When she says this she tries to align her gaze with mine. Almost as if her general assessment of four-years-olds is directed towards me.

When we were moving last winter and people were coming to look at our house, A would try to take direction of the tour. She had seen enough Fixer Uppers that she felt like she knew her way around tour-guiding houses. “And this…” she would say, “is the room where Mom puts all the things she doesn’t want to put away.” She would then quickly transition to the Master and and all it’s dazzling features. Including the accompanying “ensuite”. Let me tell you this. There was nothing ensuite about that bathroom. The house was 1400 sq. ft, built in the fifty’s, and probably updated once in the seventy’s. It worked for our needs, but it definitely did not have an ensuite.

A likes to talk a lot and fortunately for her, unfortunately for me since I am the topic of it, she has plenty of opportunities to exercise her skill. At E’s Early Intervention Playgroup she told his teachers, “My mom doesn’t have time to play with me ever so she hired a babysitter to do it instead.” This is accompanied by A putting her positive spin on the situation. “Isn’t that so nice of her?” I told them that I recently hired a babysitter to help out and when we got home I went over with A all the times that day that I had played with her.

My mother-in-law has been visiting this week, which has been wonderful to have the help. She has been getting the kids for me in the morning so that I can sleep in. On the first morning that she got up with them, I overheard A giving her the rundown of our household. “Every morning I wake up first, then I go into E’s room and I play with him. Then I have to take care of him. I feed him breakfast and make sure he is safe. I help out with my brother A LOT. Mommy really likes to sleep. Sometimes she sleeps so late that we miss lunch.” She probably would have kept incriminating me, but I ran out of my bedroom faster than I have ever gotten up in the morning and interjected. I let my mother-in-law know that A sometimes goes in first to get E while I get dressed and plays with him in his room. The breakfast that she gets him consists of old Easter, Halloween, or Christmas Candy that she hides throughout the house. Lastly, A mixes up her meals and often mistakes breakfast for lunch. I am grateful for a mother-in-law who knows me well and knows that I am quite involved with my children and would never leave my “four-years-old” to care for my highly active two-year-old with autism.

I realize how easily my praise for A goes to her head. My telling her that she does such a good job helping with her brother and that I appreciate her help, translates in her mind to pretty much her running the house and being a super awesome four-year-old who takes care of her brother all the time. My sleep deprived pleas to her at four am to go back to bed and that I really like my sleep translates to me liking my sleep so much that I sleep through not one, but two important meals.

A is very precocious and it’s cute, but it more often borders on her thinking she is actually in charge. What is it with kids? You give them a compliment and they internalize it forever. I remember as a kid, someone said I had a good voice and I started practicing everyday in my room dreaming of the day that I would be discovered and turned into a famous pop star. After all, someone did say I had a good voice. Why wouldn’t that happen?

We hate to discourage A from being confident, but sometimes we do need to put a dent in her massive ego. We remind her that we are the parents and she is the child. She responds with, “Okay Mom”, or “Okay Dad”, and runs off. We know that deep down she still thinks that she runs the place. The next person who comes over she will be telling all about how Daddy loves video games so much he should have a video game themed birthday party and Mommy feeds us Diet Coke allllll the time.