I don’t know if I’ve mentioned how much I am enjoying this summer. I mean—The Saga Of The Fence aside—I feel like we’ve reached a good place as a family. The kids are old enough that they don’t need us every second but young enough that they still like hanging out with us. Otto and I have had time to nurture our relationship. (See, as a grownup I say “nurture our relationship” because I am fancy, rather than saying “be naked more often” because one, I’m a lady, and two, Otto would kill me if I said that.) (Oops!) I’m not going to claim to have that whole work/life balance thing down (haaaaaa!), but I think I’m getting a little bit better at it.
I suspect that having the specter of Impending Middle School DOOOOOOM hanging over our heads is contributing to making this summer feel like quality time, but I can live with that. Also, if I allow my brain too much free time, it also realizes ZOMG MY BAYBEE GIRL IS PRACTICALLY IN HIGH SCHOOL, and then the realization that my time is dwindling with both of them can be enough to take my breath away. Particularly when I think about how helpless they can be.
But today is Independence Day, man. If a whole country can do it, surely my kids will someday be independent, too, right?
It’s funny; in some ways, I find Monkey easier to train than Chickadee. If, for example, the kids get up in the morning and I ask them to “go get ready,” Monkey is pretty good about going upstairs, getting dressed, brushing his hair and teeth, and maybe even picking up his room. As long as he doesn’t see something shiny in his travels, we’re good. Meanwhile, in the time it takes him to do that, Chickadee is still sitting akimbo in the kitchen, flinging her head down on the table for occasional emphasis, while arguing with me about “BUT WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??” because it’s summer, and apparently in the summer you should be allowed to live in your pajamas non-stop.
Likewise: tell Monkey to take a shower, and off he goes. Tell Chickadee the same thing and she’s all “just a minute” and sometimes even “I smell fine” (which I suspect is less aversion to showering and more her urge to be irritating) and, again, an epic battle if I engage, and a prolonged, frosty silence if I do not.
On the other hand, it has recently come to my attention that despite Monkey’s fish-like love of all things water, willingness to hit the shower does not equal any sort of clarity once he’s in there. A series of incidents involving soap used in the hair and shampoo used on the body and (the horrors!) using his sister’s girly stuff, and a general, I don’t know, bottle-blindness, had me scheming non-stop for ways to train him on proper usage of his shower products. I’m talking hours of my life lost to this, which is CRAZY because it’s not like he can’t READ. He just… doesn’t care. And doesn’t notice if his hair is crunchy from soap or his pits are dandruff-free (thank goodness).
The old me, the pre-summer-live-and-let-live me, would’ve refused to let this one go. I was honestly considering an entire shower shelf organization system. Because HOW CAN HE EVER LIVE WITHOUT ME IF HE CANNOT REMEMBER WHICH BOTTLE IS THE SHAMPOO? But thank goodness, whether this is an Aspie thing or a guy thing, the solution turned out to be ridiculously simple.
Did you know that they make 3-in-1 Hair-and-Body wash? It’s shampoo! It’s conditioner! It’s soap! (It’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping!) I’m not sure Monkey could’ve been more excited if I’d handed it to him along with a hot fudge sundae. No more confusion, and his nice soft hair and clean skin both smell vaguely citrusy. I’m not sure it’s exactly his ticket to independent living—he does, for example, still need to be reminded to hang up his wet towel (and change his underwear…)—but it’s a step in the right direction.
As for Chickadee, we continue to work on her problem-solving skills. I’m coming to a place where I truly believe that the “cause and effect” portion of the human brain must completely melt away in teenagerhood and re-form later in adulthood.
Example: Chickadee’s skin issues continue. She takes a handful of medication every day, with some of her meds being twice-a-day affairs, and she also has a topical ointment for her rash. Sun definitely aggravates her condition, but we have special non-irritating sunscreen for her (though she needs to shower right after wearing it or it WILL irritate), and the newly-converted saltwater pool actually makes her skin feel BETTER (the salt dries out the rash). When things get really, really bad, we put her on a course of steroids and her skin clears up, but she feels horrible while taking them and usually complains bitterly. Now. HEARING ALL OF THAT, would you think that the normal course of action would be for her to 1) take her meds religiously, 2) use her ointment, 3) swim often (albeit either in the evening or while wearing sunscreen)?
Welllllllllll. Perhaps you don’t have a teenager…? She never takes her meds unless I remind her. She hates the ointment, because it’s goopy. She never wants to swim. When she does swim, she never wants to shower after, and then the next morning she’s all I’M SO ITCHY. And her answer to all of this? “Nothing I do matters anyway, my skin’s just always gross.” When I try to point out that her skin is, in fact, pretty well controlled when she does what she’s supposed to do, she insists that’s not true. “I should just take more Prednisone” she says, conveniently forgetting that the Prednisone makes her completely mental. And when I try to explain to her that the doctors can’t decide what to do next if we can’t give them a clear answer on how the current regimen is working, she rolls her eyes at me.
I just don’t UNDERSTAND. (Also: It would not surprise me if she thought her rash is my fault. Just sayin’.)
On the other hand, I have to admit that sometimes her inability to draw a logical conclusion or figure out what to do next is kind of hilarious. I took her thrifting at Goodwill with me a few days ago and she was apparently looking in the other direction when I got to the end of the row we were in and turned the corner.
Three seconds later my cell phone went BINGBING. Her text to me? “I’m lost!!!!”
I walked to the end of the aisle and stepped back over to the end of the aisle she was still in. A huge smile broke out on her face. “Hey MOM!” she called, waving her cell phone in my direction. “IT’S OKAY, I FOUND YOU!”
I think the moral to this story might be that independence is in the eye of the beholder. Or that we need to just go watch some fireworks tonight and not think about any of this.