Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Hope You Dance

My little Aidan has dazzled me again. He got up on stage today, the youngest member of his hip-hop dance class (and the only boy), and danced his little heart out. Sure, it was hard to discern any actual dance moves in all of the jumping about, but that's not the point:

He did it. Fearlessly. And he loved it. And it showed. 

So even though I'm now convinced that suburban dance studios are first cousins to beauty pageants (no eight-year-old should look that much like a Vegas showgirl), I'm happy he got to have the experience. 

I hope he holds onto that feeling of joy that comes from putting your heart into something. 

And I hope he learns to breakdance.  

Friday, May 29, 2009

Kissing Bandit

The other night Aidan announced that he "just loves" his classmate. We'll call her "J," a precocious little girl whose ability to chatter rivals even Aidan's. 

Well, I thought, that's cute. But then he continued...

"I love her so much...that I tried to kiss her," he blurted out and then assumed a look of shock, as if someone else had just said it. 

I tried to contain my own shock (and laughter), as I asked, "And what did J think about that?"

"She didn't really like it," he said, matter-of-factly. 
"How could you tell?"
"She yelled, 'Don't kiss me!'"
"I see."

Upon further investigation, it seems that once J had turned him down, he went to dance class that evening and tried to kiss a girl in his dance class, who, he reports, "didn't really mind." Trollup.

OMG. Why is my five-year-old kissing girls? What has the world come to? Did I miss the episode of Word Girl that involved kissing?

Needless to say, we had a talk about how kissing is something that should wait a few years (decades?), but let it surprise no one when I get the call from some poor girl's mother, asking me to explain what turned my son into a kissing bandit. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Well, Monday now promises to be the most disturbing night on television. 

After having watched Intervention, Obsessed and Jon and Kate Plus 8 last night (thanks, Tivo), am I still thinking about the heroine addict who sold all of his possessions to buy drugs? The obsessive-compulsive who wears her dead father's bloody clothes? No, I'm still pondering the public implosion of Jon and Kate's relationship.

I don't read tabloids unless I'm on a plane (really, that's the only time I allow myself to buy US Weekly), but, like everyone, I had heard about the alleged affairs. I knew that people were saying terrible things. But I didn't really believe any of it. And I didn't think anyone would let it impact the show. (If you're sitting there wondering WTF this is all about, the Vancouver Sun ran this snarky-but-decent recap of the drama.)

Last night's episode was just sad. Really sad. I think they actually think they are putting up some sort of facade. To listen to them go on and on about how they are committed to making sure that their kids don't get hurt in all of this, while they are essentially broadcasting the demise of their relationship to the's delusional. 

I mean, some level of delusion is probably normal (even necessary) during a traumatic time, but it's not the kind of thing I'd want documented for the rest of my life. Or my kids' lives. 

I just don't know how they can possibly keep doing a show. There's paparazzi watching their kids' birthday party. They can hardly look at each other. It's creepy and sad and just depressing. And not entertaining (and this is coming from someone who enjoys shows about addicts hitting rock bottom).

Make it stop, TLC. Make it stop. 

Monday, May 25, 2009


When I don't blog for a long stretch (like lately), I like to tell myself that it's because I couldn't think of anything to blog about...only that's not really true, since most of what I blog about is the mundane and I've got lots of mundanity to spare. 

So I have no excuses, really, other than taking on two extra projects (Hawaii, here we come!), plus working my still-newish job in corporate America...yet I still found time to blog about American Idol last week, but you know, I was moved in that case. 

I expect to be moved in, perhaps, a different way this evening when I watch the season premiere of Intervention and the series premiere of Obsessed. As I said to my friends yesterday, I would watch a 24/7 network devoted to addicts and the strange things they do. It's sick and wrong, but I guess that's sort of what morbid curiosity is all about. And clearly I'm not alone in this, as I stumbled upon a Facebook group tastefully titled, "I'm Addicted to Intervention," which has more than 3,000 members. (Can we all be wrong?)

Right, so what was I saying about having nothing to blog about? Yeah, that. I'll try harder tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tracks of my Tears

**Spoiler alert for those living under rocks**

The first time I ever watched American Idol was the year Ruben won. I attributed my tears during the finale to the fact that I was laid up in a hospital bed, six months pregnant with twins. (As a side note, we almost named Owen "Ryan," but Ryan Seacrest made me rethink that decision.)

Six years later, I can't really blame my kids anymore, so I just have to accept it: American Idol makes me cry. Not every episode, mind you, just the finale. 

I can't help it. There's something about seeing a person realize their dreams -- regardless of if they later look back and regret the whole thing, or if they never put out a decent record, or if they're just in love with celebrity -- there's something about that moment when the single thing that they wanted more than anything becomes theirs

I don't know, maybe it's just a manifestation of my childhood desire to be a singer. Or I'm just sappy. But I love it. Not all the product placement and horrible song choices and cheesy guest appearances, just the part where you can see that flicker in their eyes and you know their lives are changed. Who knew American Idol had such depth?

Lest you think I drank the whole pitcher of Kool-aid, I do want to point out that during the part of "We are the Champions" when all the eliminated contestants emerged through the smoke, all I could think about was the song near the end of "Les Miserables" when all the ghosts come out singing. Creepy. 

But congrats, Kris! I voted for my mind. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Optional Mom

I hope you’ll excuse this delayed Mother’s Day blog – I didn’t want to post anything until I knew if it would be good or bad news and then I ran off to NYC before I could share it with you, but I did want to share it, so here goes…

The teenager came to brunch. I knew he had agreed to come, but I wasn’t letting myself get my hopes up. Actually, I was alternating between being anxious that he wouldn’t show and anxious that he would and that it would be tense and awful.

But he did come and it wasn’t awful. It was wonderful. We talked and ate and laughed and I felt like I was getting to be his mom again. It’s funny how such small things can be so important when you strip everything else away. 

You may have noticed a lack of teenager-related blogs in recent months. The trauma with him this fall/winter sort of pushed me over the edge and I basically just stopped dealing with it. Where he was concerned, I felt useless and unwanted.

After several months of this, I went to my therapist seeking some sort of absolution. I think that I wanted her to give me permission to give up…to accept that this person to whom I’ve given twelve years of my life, was just no longer going to be part of it…I wanted her to confirm my suspicion that I no longer had a role in his life. That I was an optional component.

What I got instead – and what it turned out I actually wanted – was permission to continue to be his mom. I may have been displaced, undermined, shut out and ignored, but nothing can undo the mothering I have done. I am still his mom, no matter who gave birth to him and no matter whose house he sleeps in.

I will be his mom, I told myself, even if I have to go another 10 or 20 years without any reciprocation of my concern and love for him.

But maybe I don’t have to. Because he came to brunch. Because you have to start somewhere. And tiny steps feel so much better than nothing at all. 

Happy Mother’s Day to me.

Friday, May 8, 2009

But what I really, really want is...

I wrote this post about Mother's Day for today and it's left me feeling a bit conflicted. (Go ahead, click on it - I'll wait.)

It's all true, mind you, I do actually like spending Mother's Day with my kids...I guess I just feel a little hypocritical because this year I've been presented with the amazing opportunity to spend Mother's Day both with and without my children. 

I get to start the day with the mega brunch buffet I mentioned in the piece (my kids have seriously been looking forward to it since last year) and end the day having a romantic dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan

No, I haven't recently won the lottery and purchased a private plane (I promise to blog about that if it happens), my husband just smartly turned what could have been a disastrously-timed business trip into what could be the best Mother's Day ever. 

Yay for thoughtful husbands! And frequent flyer miles! And for mothers who will accept babysitting their grandchildren for two nights as a Mother's Day gift!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Goodbye, Oprah

Well, I'm officially swearing off Oprah. Last night I deleted my season pass on Tivo. 

She's been fairly cringe-worthy for the past year or three, what with all the unnecessary God talk and her ability to make anything and everything about her (Guest: "And then I watched my whole life crumble before me..." Oprah: "That reminds me of when I..."), but I still enjoyed the occasional look at hoarders or inspiring story about overcoming great odds, etc. But this latest deal with Jenny McCarthy pushed me over the edge. 

I get that Oprah and Jenny are BFFs now. It's clear that Oprah has no personal connection with autism (amazing, given the number of people she must know), or else she wouldn't be able to stomach the insanity either. But giving this woman her own show is really horrifying. 

As if her Oprah show appearances weren't damaging enough, now she'll be able to infiltrate people's lives on a daily basis, spouting her delusions and positioning herself as someone whom people should aspire to emulate. Imagine legions of women trotting their special needs children around like purse dogs, telling anyone who will listen that they've "cured" them using Google.   

Frightening, wrong, and completely irresponsible. I'm done. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Science and Luck

TIME magazine ran an interesting article today about new research suggesting that autism can be detected in infancy. Perhaps more interesting is that the researchers think that if autism is identified early enough (say, by 18 months), parents can learn to interact with their kids in such a way that would "protect [them] from becoming fully autistic."

Now, I'm not a big fan of theories that place the responsibility for autism on the shoulders of the parents (I think moms feel too guilty as it is), but I am intrigued by this idea that the disorder can be curbed, to an extent, by a set of actions during toddlerhood. If that's true, I would think we'd want all parents interacting with their kids in this special way - better safe than sorry, right?

On a more personal level, what this research confirms for me is that we are truly lucky to have had twins. I think that Owen defies many of the common traits of autism because he's had a brother who does not have autism (I hesitate to call him neurotypical because he is, in all likelihood, a genius). Just having that bond with another person from birth has helped Owen learn to be aware of other people in a way that many autistic people struggle with. 

And while I'm not convinced that our parenting explains Owen's high level of functioning, I do think that having a twin who was on track with his development (or ahead, in some areas) did inadvertently cause us to hold Owen to those same expectations...and to notice the quirks in Owen and to work to help him "catch up" with his brother. (And yes, we did know that there was something just a little off about him before he had even turned one.)

I have often wondered what Owen would be like were he born an only child and I have to admit that I don't think he would be the same. 

I say all of this simply as a point of thought. I would never want to imply that anyone's parenting caused their child's autism, or caused it to be more severe. I don't believe that. 

I don't take credit for Owen's autism or his amazingness. He is who he is. 

But if it just so happens that the combination of having an exceptional twin, coupled with our complete naiveté of the possibility that he wouldn't be able to do anything his brother could do, has helped his brain overcome even one tiny speck of this disorder, then I guess we are even luckier than I knew. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Today I had the brilliant idea of taking the boys to pick out their birthday invitations, even though the party is still a month away. 

After five years of working way too hard to come up with clever party themes and ordering custom invites or, worse, making them myself (crafty, I am not), I had resigned myself to not being OCD about it and just letting them pick. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, I just wanted it to be easy and done. 

So we went to Party City (even though I'm pretty sure I swore I wouldn't go there anymore) and walked the aisles of cheesy, character-themed party supplies. After about 10 minutes in the store, Aidan came up with his own brilliant idea. "Why don't we just decorate our own cards?" 

My mind started racing with visions of being left under a pile of construction paper and glitter glue. Is this backwards day? I'm letting you have SpongeBob Squarepants!

Despite my subtle pleas to the contrary, Aidan was insistent that he wanted to make his own invites. I considered putting my foot down and forcing them to choose either Spongebob or Spiderman, but that seemed really twisted and wrong. So we left Party City empty-handed and headed to Target for card-making supplies. 

I estimate that the premade cards would have cost us $12-14. The card-making supplies (blank cards, glitter markers and stickers) cost $20. So much for saving money and doing it the easy way. 

And so, as I sit here, the boys are hard at work making invitations. When Aidan said "decorate," he clearly meant "write a novel," as he is currently pondering whether it's okay to use two exclamation points in one sentence. Here is just one example of his handiwork:

Meanwhile, Owen has drawn a complex series of blobs:

He says they are caves because "it's a bear's birthday!" Obviously. 

Maybe next year I will get the store bought party I have been dreaming of...