Big feelings

I’m trying to learn a little bit of self-discipline in the form of not blogging when I’m overly emotional. Which probably means I will never blog again. HA! I kid. See, that’s me being all casual and detached. Ahem.

So yesterday, I popped up my blog dashboard four or five times, and in the end, closed it again, because I just wasn’t able to think of anything to say other than WE ARE ALL DOOOOOOMED and OMG YOU GUYS AAAAIIIEEEEE and that just seemed… not in accordance with my new rule of not blogging while inebriated with negative emotions.

Instead, today you get the Wah Wah Hangover. Lucky you!

Simply put, on Wednesday afternoon the phone rang. It was Monkey’s parapro, and she was very sorry, but she was calling to let us know that Friday—two days later, today—would be her last day. This is where I dryly inform you that the very best thing in the whole damn world is when you have to inform your Aspie that someone he loves is unexpectedly leaving him.

Now, let’s be clear: I’m not mad at his parapro. Well; okay. I am mad at her, but in that diffuse, I’m-aware-this-is-irrational kind of way. There are good reasons for her departure, and I know that if she could’ve made things work out differently, she would’ve. It is crystal clear to all of us that she adores Monkey and I will be the first to tell you that she has gone above and beyond for him multiple times. This was just an unfortunate intersection of sucky circumstances, and I know she feels terrible about it. I am mad she waited so long to tell us, but truly, she was doing everything she could to make it work out so that she didn’t have to leave early, and… it just didn’t work out.

She is moving out of state, and she’s leaving after school today.

Months ago, as we had meetings and committees to discuss Middle School Oh My God Middle School, there was not a single pow-wow wherein someone didn’t say it was such a shame his parapro was moving… or where SHE didn’t mention that despite never having left the elementary school, before, if she was staying, she would happily move up with Monkey. She’s been a gift to our family, pure and simple. I don’t want to dilute that just because of this.

But this. Oh, this. Wednesday night was a disaster. We waited until after dinner to talk to Monkey, thinking we’d rather not ruin the meal. What happened instead was that he was angry and intractable and stormed off to bed in a huff of hating everything and everyone. And when I went in to check on him, later, as soon as I laid a hand on his arm, he dissolved into forlorn weeping. Because it’s not fair, and doesn’t she love him? Couldn’t she stay if she really wanted to? An already fraught time—the end of one school, the end of having his one best bud in class with him—and then this, on top of it all. It’s so unfair. I understand it and it kills me; I can’t even imagine what it’s doing to him.

We had plans for end-of-year teacher gifts, but nothing I could pull together in time for today. That turns out to be for the best; she’ll be back in town this summer, and this way Monkey has a tangible toehold: I told him we’ll save it until then, and he nodded and affirmed that we’ll HAVE to see her, now.

He sat at the kitchen table this morning and dawdled over his smoothie, sucking it partway up the straw, letting it slide back down again. His fingers twirled his shirt, his pants, his hair. I stopped to hug him every time I walked past while packing lunches, feeding the dog, etc. And we talked before he left.

“What do you need to remember about today?” I asked.

“Wear sunscreen?” he volunteered, hopeful that it was the right answer. Today is Field Day, so actually, he wasn’t wrong.

“Well yes, that too,” I said. “But what is today probably going to FEEL like? What will happen today?”

“I might have big feelings,” he said, somber. “Because Field Day is pretty loud.”

I nodded. “And…?” I prompted. “What else might make you have big feelings today?”

“It’s Ms. Parapro’s last day,” he said, studying his socks.

“Yeah, buddy. It is. And that’s hard.” He leaned into me, and I stroked his hair, kissed his head, longed for the days when I could fix up his boo-boos and be the hero. “But here’s the thing, sweetie. Because you KNOW today might be kind of challenging, you can be READY to deal with it productively, you know? What do we do when we have big feelings?”

“No big actions,” he answered. Huh. I’ve never given him that phrase. I don’t know if it was fed to him by someone else or if he came up with it on his own. But how very apt.

“Good! Yes, let’s… keep away from big actions. Especially big physical actions. What can you do instead?”

He shrugged. “Little actions?” The corners of his mouth twitched upward. Deflecting with humor. I wonder where he learned that? Ahem.

“How about talking?” I said. “Use your words. It’s okay to talk about the big feelings. Sometimes talking makes them less big.” He nodded and snuggled into me again, listening but not wanting to, and maybe remembering the boo-boo days, himself. It’s hard to know.

I sent him off to school this morning with Otto, so that we could grab a picture of them together before she goes. That will help him. I think. So much of the time I’m just guessing. Because today might be a disaster, or today might be fine and he might fall apart tomorrow, or Monday. There’s just no predicting, sometimes.

Godspeed, Ms. Parapro. We were lucky to have you as long as we did; thank you for always seeing right through the other stuff to Monkey’s heart. You’ll always be Good People to us.

Big feelings. Yeah.


  1. Otto

    That woman deserves a medal. Or maybe a monument.

    Best damned teacher we’ve ever had.


  2. SillyMe

    It’s difficult, I know. We’re out here thinking of you guys. I’m sending up prayers that your new Parapro is just as wonderful (or better) and that Monkey can accept the new one.
    -Sometimes that’s a hard thing to do even if they’re great, just ’cause change IS hard.

  3. Liz

    I would like to irrationally suggest that you move to wherever she is moving.

  4. birchsprite

    Sending strong positive thoughts across the big water to help with the big feelings!

  5. ste

    I have some friends who just went through the same thing. The son prays for the person every day even though he’s been gone for over a month (Catholic school/family) because he meant so much to him. Hope today has some wonderful moments and that you get someone to replace her that is just as good for Monkey and your family.

  6. Zilla

    Hugs to you, Monkey, and Ms. Parapro.

  7. bj

    “wear sunscreen” (I thought he was channeling the wear sunscreen speech by Schmich)

    “If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now. ”

    Good luck to you all.

  8. Sheila

    Here’s to No Big Actions today for Monkey, and to and end of the Wah Wah Hangover for Mir.

    Hang in there, both of you.

  9. Linda

    At least you have the new therapist who sounds really great.

  10. Grace

    Oh, that has to be so hard on your family! I’m sorry. It really sounds as if Monkey is at least partially understanding what’s going on, though, and how it needs to be dealt with. I’ll be thinking about him (and you!) today.

  11. Lynn in Mass

    It sounds like Monkey is prepared and I hope there are No Big Actions.
    I was going to say the same thing as Linda…Hopefully the new therapist can help Monkey accept the new parapro.

  12. Megan

    That is some seriously good verbalizing Monkey is doing right there – love the ‘no big actions’ symmetry and wish I’d had it around when my son was coping with some of his bigger feelings!

    Ach – I really hope the end of the school year goes well for him and that the summer, with the fab new therapist, gets him all armored up with what he needs for middle school!

  13. Stimey

    Oh, Mir, I’m so sorry. You did so well preparing him the best you could in the time you had. It sucks when big things drop on you like that. My fingers are crossed that he hangs in there today.

  14. The Other Leanne

    “Big feelings, no big actions.” We recently had an expensive training at work in Emotional Intelligence and, from what I understand, that about sums it up. I’m going to suggest that we just hire Monkey for the next training.
    Wishing you all a better day tomorrow.

  15. RuthWells

    So so sad. Big hugs to you and Monkey — big hugs can also be good for dealing with big feelings.

  16. Mary

    Tears. Poor Monkey! But you’re amazing, you’ll get him through!

  17. Karen R.

    My sympathies for all of you. Here is hoping for a new parapro who is at least as awesome as the one you are losing. And hopes that Monkey comes through it as well as possible. Sudden changes are so hard. My daughter manages far better when she has weeks to prepare for an upheaval.

  18. Aimee

    Big feelings, indeed. I love “big feelings = no big actions.” I know a lot of non-Aspie adults who could learn from that.

  19. Christina

    I’m so sorry for Monkey. Life throws us some big loops to dodge sometimes and he has enough on his plate. *hugs*

  20. Kate

    I didn’t cry until I got to Otto’s comment and then I LOST IT. So sorry, guys.

  21. meghann

    Virtual hugs to you all. We went through something kind of similar last fall when our son Logan’s speech therapist left. She worked absolute miracles with him in the two years he saw her, and we also got short notice when she was leaving. Sucked all around.

    “Big feelings, no big actions.” How very apt, I think I’m going to pass that tool onto Ryan.

  22. Jackie

    Well done moma! The only thing you can do is prepare him. It is so hard to let go knowing your baby is going to be hurting.

    Big hugs for all of you.

    BTW Happy Mothers Day!

  23. Jamie

    Just when one challenge passes, another presents itself. Ugh. Hugs and little action thoughts for today!

  24. Tracy B

    Oh jeez. I hope he handles his BIG feelings with little actions. Bless his heart and yours too. It will get better, Mir….eventually.

  25. Katie in MA

    Big fat *tears* welling up over here. I hurt so much for your little almost-big guy and the whole crappy situation he has to go through. Would Ms. Parapro be open to emailing with him? Would that help the transition? Sending lots of big hugs and happy thoughts your way….

  26. Sassy Apple

    Oy! My heart is full, my eyes are brimming and my students are wondering what happened at lunch to make their teacher cry. I spend the day with very special middle school students, so you’ll forgive me if your post, while making me tearful, also fills my heart with pride that some of us in the profession are doing things right……albeit with some bad timing. Bless Monkey’s heart, I hope today and the rest of the year go well. From now on, I’ll wait until the end of the day to read your post.

  27. Jen

    Oh hon. I won’t say I know how you guys feel, but I sure as hell know how I’d feel in this situation, and how A would feel if he lost a beloved teacher. He’s not Aspie (though I really DO have those whispering thoughts sometimes…), but is so incredibly intense that change is irrationally difficult. And if it’s a person? Hooboy. HIs best friend moved away almost 2 years ago and he still gets upset. A good friend from WHEN HE WAS FOUR moved away five years ago and he STILL brings it up.
    I like how you walked him through the big feelings/big actions. I really need to be more proactive with these sorts of things. The only thing is…he doesn’t always react, or react the same way, and I hate bringing up topics that could conceivably send him spiraling down. :/
    These darned kids. ;)

  28. My Kids Mom

    I helped at field day today and oh! the poor aspies. It was not a good day for them. Loud, crazy, confusing. And loud. To combine that with a big loss? Make his favorite foods tonight and tuck him in early. Good luck to him and all of you.

  29. Heather

    I think I might need that Big Feelings talk from time to time. I hope it all works out, and I’m really glad you’ve had Ms. Parapro for as long as you have!

  30. tj

    Just breath. You guys will make it through everything. Sending some big cosmic loves out to monkey!


    First off I am coping this blog post for all the Monkey insights and wisdom. It’s been a heart breaky day for me, so I am totally feeling your sadness and doom. I’m praying for all of us.

  32. All Adither

    It sounds like you handled it really, really well, Mir.

  33. Amanda

    Sounds like Monkey is very wise about the situation. It’s never easy to lose someone who’s been there for a good portion of the ride, and then to have to break in someone new. I hope the next parapro is just as wonderful.

  34. Clarity

    Oh my heart breaks :(

  35. Daisy

    My sympathies. That kind of loss is hard on the whole family.

    As for blogging under the influence – any influence – I’ve written several posts when upset. I always wait at least a week to post them. That was I can see if the post is really worthwhile or just a rant.

  36. Nancy

    I’m am getting caught up on your blog late, but I have to say that I am going to borrow Monkey’s advice of “no big actions” and pass it on. Thank you Monkey.

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