17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Our Little Wonder Child

As in, I wonder WHERE exactly he came from.

He doesn’t really look much like DH or myself. He certainly doesn’t act like either one of us. I KNOW this child came out of me. DH confirms that fact as well. It’s as though he hijacked someone else’s genes through the birth canal.

Not our autistic child, the other one. We understand Noe perfectly. He is just like us. He is quiet, doesn’t like to wake up early in the mornings, and gets anxious in social gatherings.

And then there is…the Other One. Asher bolts out of his crib every morning at 6am. He runs straight to his CD player and demands that we play his favorite CD. This week it is “Dora’s Disco Hits” where he gets DOWN and DIRTY to songs like “Celebration” and “La Bamba” sung in high-pitched annoyity by Dora and Boots. I’m talking head bobbing, deep-knee bends, clapping and shaking that 17-month-old boot-i-licous bum at 6AM!!! After breakfast, he bangs on the front door until I take him outside. Once we are out the door, he shouts at everthing and everyone....the mailman, the birds in the trees, our deaf Vietnamese neighbor, “HELLO????” “HELLO!!!!” Meanwhile, I am still peeling my eyes open and talking myself out of curling up on the sidewalk and going back to sleep. His latest thing is to find our digital camera, hand it to me, and start posing until we take his picture. Not a picture or two....but a whole photo shoot worth of film.

The worst part of it is that because he is such a social little guy, other people assume that I am equally as social, and that I enjoy talking with complete strangers....which I don't. I have even started wearing sunglasses and a bandana or baseball cap to the grocery store...ala fake celebrity...to give the message that, yes, my child will talk to you, but I won't. I miss New York. Nobody ever wanted to "strike up a conversation" in the checkout line or "shoot the breeze" at the gas station. Just give me my damn change and get out of my way, thank you. Customer service is overrated.

Despite the sleep deprivation and small talk with strangers, I have to say that I love (almost) every minute with Asher. As children do, he makes me look at life through his wonder and joy. He softens me. When I am with Asher, I don't worry adult worries, I live in his moments.

I am terrified of raising both of my boys, for different reasons that are also the same. With Noe, I fear that I won't succeed in helping him fully connect with the outside world. That his autism will never loosen its grip, and that he will never achieve his full potential. I see glimpses of this potential from time to time and it is awesome and limitless.

With Asher, I am terrified that he will disconnect himself from the world as his understanding of it increases. Yesterday I took him to a neighborhood playground and he excitedly ran up to a boy (about 5-years old) who was playing cars in the sandbox. He wanted to share in the fun. The boy, however, wanted nothing to do with him and shouted for him to go away. Poor Asher. He cried and cried. The beginning of his lost innocence.

How will my little boy change as he discovers that the world can be an ugly place? That not everyone wants to be his friend, that people (even grown-ups) do bad things. That bad things happen to good people, like his brother's autism and his grandfather's untimely death. And most importantly, how can I, as his mother, help him face the bad and find the good in the world?

My cynical self is pretty ill-equipped for this job. Thinking about Asher and what he needs from his mother has caused me to make some changes in my life. I am actively trying to have a more positive outlook. If I catch myself in negative thoughts, I am learning to replace them or busy myself with something productive. I am trying to keep my voice soft and a smile on my face, especially in front of my boys. I am reading my scriptures and praying more consistently than I have in a long time. Praying for faith and for wisdom to raise these little guys well. But even if I succeed beautifully at all of this, will it be enough?


  • Oh, Jen! Beautiful post. And what a beautiful picture of Asher.

    There is no way you'll fail at raising these boys, because you put so much into it. I don't have advice, but I have no doubt that your home will always be a place where Asher will retain his innocence and exuberance for life. I think making home a safe place--emotionally, spiritually, physically--is one of the greatest things we can do for our children, so that they can retreat there from the world and know that they're loved just the way they are.

    I grew up in a VERY sheltered environment--as an ex-pat in Tokyo, where the world my mom created for me was everything. Returning to the States was shocking when I was ten years old: kids were mean, I didn't fit in, I wasn't cool enough for anyone. But home remained a place that never changed and that I could count on. That's one thing you can control for Asher.
    posted by Blogger sunny at 5/31/2006 05:05:00 AM  

  • The first time my daughter was snubbed by some friends, I was watching and I sobbed and sobbed (I was behind one of those mirrors in an observation booth at her pre-school).

    It's so hard to see our children in pain, and until I had kids I don't think I ever really understood how much it would affect me --to the inner core of my soul!! It's so hard to draw the line between protecting and allowing them to learn on their own.

    I wouldn't worry too much (yeah, like telling a mom not to worry even works... :) ) because it sounds to me like you are doing all you can and your heart is right where it should be. Thank you for such a great post...
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 5/31/2006 06:55:00 AM  

  • I agree with sunny that our homes can be a place of refuge and peace. I also think that siblings can have such a positive role in development for one another. I am constantly telling my boys how lucky they are to have a brother and I hope that they can always turn to one aonther when they need to find a friend. Beautiful Post, they are lucky to have such an insightful mom.
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 5/31/2006 07:12:00 AM  

  • You are so good with your words Jen. I feel like I learn something new about you every time you write. The boys are so lucky to have you. You are a fantastic mother who knows just what they need and you will do everything just right. I love that Asher is going to be an actor or entertainer of some sort.
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 5/31/2006 12:20:00 PM  

  • What a great mom you are. You take the time and effort to raise your sons as individuals and help them develop their own talents and different characteristics. Sounds like a lot of work. I am so impressed that you seem to know just what to do for their own unique personalities. You are the perfect mom for two very different boys.
    I am doing my best to learn the best way to raise my son...never hit me that I will have learn all over again with the next :)
    Thanks for the great post.
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 6/01/2006 12:15:00 AM  

  • Your posts are always entertaining and fun to read. Yeah, it's amazing when our children can be so much themselves. It just reconfirms to me how we have existed as spirits long before this earthly life.
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 6/01/2006 03:57:00 PM  

  • I also absolutley love this post. I learn so much from you every time you write something new. I share your concern about how to protect and shelter our babies. It really is such a cruel world and I hate to think of what it will be once our kids are teenagers. I am thankful for the gospel and what it teaches us about God's love. He wouldn't have given you such challenging situations if he didn't trust you completely. Your babies adore you and rightfully so. You really have done such a great job making them your everything.
    posted by Blogger Krista at 6/01/2006 08:56:00 PM  

  • Jen, this is your sister speaking... reading that post put me in tears. You are such an amazing example for me. Someday when I have a baby or two I hope to be as loving and supportive as you are. I feel like you got some practice on me before the boys came along. You did good. I love you and I love the mother and sister you are.
    Love, Kel

    PS. Tell me which kid it was at the park and I will go beat up his Mom.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/02/2006 01:29:00 AM  

  • This is the funniest thing! Just the image of someone from your family insisting on a photo shoot boggles the mind. My favorite part is: "I miss New York. Nobody ever wanted to "strike up a conversation" in the checkout line or "shoot the breeze" at the gas station. Just give me my damn change and get out of my way, thank you. Customer service is overrated." This just about sent me tears, I was laughing so hard! I totally agree!

    Isn't it interesting how our children thrust us out of our own comfort zones. Bless them, bless Asher, bless Noe, bless you! A great post Jen.
    posted by Blogger newmom at 6/02/2006 05:29:00 AM  

  • I love how you captured they ways in which our children change us and how overwhelming the task of raising children in this world can sometimes be. I always look forward to your posts.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 6/03/2006 08:51:00 AM  

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