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.


  1. birchsprite

    I do so love hearing about your family! I particularly like the idea of crunchy hair and dandruff free pits!

    That sounds wrong.

    Chickie will get there in the end, most of us (ex dreadful teen girls) do.

  2. Ladybug Crossing

    Independence comes in baby steps. Eventually, they go off to college and somehow they manage.
    Enjoy them! You are in what we call “The Golden Age” where they still like you and they still want to be with you AND they are relatively self sufficient. Once they become full fledged teens, they say they don’t want you around. But, they lie — they do still want you around, it’s just not cool to say so.
    (We are involved in almost every aspect of our kids’ lives in some way and they do thank us for being there – once in a while. Yes, we are carrying some of their stuff and making sure they are hydrated, fed, clothed appropriately, etc. but we are also doing the same for their friends and classmates. They see the kids whose parents never come and they appreciate us because we are there.)
    So – make them miserable and continue be there to push ’em when they need pushing and catching when they need catching.

  3. Laura

    I teach high school. Somewhere around 11th grade most students begin getting a glimmer about consequences. Of course, some are born old while others graduate and still haven’t got a clue. Take heart. The clueless most often have oblivious parents. As for body wash and gels, that stuff gives me the shivers (sorry). I used it and had a rash for 2 years, undiagnosable (ha), until I went back to olive soap and it went away. I know that’s not Chickadee’s problem, and I’m glad it’s working for Monkey. I’m just reacting. Oh, and I taught middle school for 5 years. High school students can be rational. The light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train. I promise.

  4. Kim

    Your Chickie bears a striking resemblance to my 12 year old daughter–every moment you’ve described has happened in our home, right down to the refusal to comply with a med regimen for her skin condition., but I suspect it is the result of being 12, not a deep-seated desire to see me institutionalized when she finally does drive me over the precipice into crazytown. I hope so, anyway.

    My 10yo son also has the gift of selective sight. Just a hint–do not leave the dog’s shampoo in the children’s shower, lest you end up with Golden Retriever and a boy who smell remarkably similar. Sigh.

  5. Megan

    Ah yes, I totally did a Dance of Glory when the last kid graduated high school – because independence, it is truly a two way street, non? And yet? and yet? STILL I fret and worry and bite my nails. It’s just now I do it in my much tidier and quieter house!*

    *NB, it WAS my tidier and quieter house, except one hasn’t left yet and another has moved back in preparatory to its upcoming move to Edinburgh, but I did taste quiet and cleanliness and, while I miss them and love them, I must say mum-independence is rather nice too!

  6. Karen R.

    I’m with Laura on the shower gel thing. The artificial fragrances and sodium laureth sulfate give me a rash and leave me sneezing. Natural is the way to go. Shampoo bars have been very useful for my HFA daughter. She is able to evenly distribute the shampoo over her extremely curly hair, and use just the right amount. Plus, the bars leave our hair so soft. They also work as an all-in-one solution, which is great when we are camping.

    I had the same issue with routines with my kids. HFA daughter could be relied on to do whatever she needed to do and be ready to leave on time. ADD kids — “you didn’t remind me to brush my teeth!” It really does get better.

    Enjoy your summer!

  7. Tenessa

    My Aspie has to be reminded of the order in which EVERYTHING is done. Otherwise, he will dry off, play with the toys, turn off the water, then shampoo his hair. I can’t count the number of times he’s come out of the bathroom with his previously worn attire stuck to his still wet skin while his hair protrudes from his scalp in a frothy mess. This does not even BEGIN to address the issue with which soap to use where. Yeesh. SO, shuffling him off to bathe requires the litany, “Get clean clothes (or jammies) and underwear, get naked, rinse, scrub your hair and body (including the sides of your head) until your nails are clean, rinse, THEN PLAY, then dry and dress.”
    Oh yes, I have considered hanging lists of things to do and in which order to do them. “Go potty, THEN wipe, THEN wash your hands, THEN TURN OUT THE LIGHT.” lol

  8. Karen R.

    Tenessa — When my daughter was younger I made laminated cards for bathing. They were hole-punched and hung on a ring, so she could flip through them when she showered. She hasn’t needed them for years but they were a real help when she was younger.

  9. bj

    “It would not surprise me if she thought her rash is my fault. ”

    Of course she does. She probably has what seems to her a perfectly logical explanation of why it’s all your fault.

    Sometimes, when they’re like that, I really think we should be sending them all of on walkabouts.

  10. Another Dawn

    Do not fear the dwindling time! Adult children rock! They actually want to be around you, they can problem solve (mostly) and when they can’t, they talk to you as if you might actually KNOW SOMETHING. It’s rad! Why, I’ve gained about 50 IQ points in the last couple of years… :) And lots of time for relationship nurturing (wink, wink, nod,nod).

    That said, if I had a time machine, I would occasionally take a trip back to when they were little, because THE CUDDLING. OH, THE CUDDLING. AND THE CUTENESS.

    Other than that… I’m happy right where we are right now.

  11. Susan Walker

    I am so glad I’m not alone (read: misery loves company). I have an almost-12-year-old girl who is strikingly similar. I don’t even have anything clever to say at this point. She has just about wiped out any bit of cleverness I once had in me.

    As an aside, have you seen Martina McBride’s new video, “Teenage Daughters?” Very cute.

  12. amy

    I swear sometimes you’re writing about my life. Not even kidding.

  13. parodie

    I suffer from a chronic condition (chronic daily headaches, and yes, they are about as much fun as they sound) and as a generally competent adult I still have to fight reacting to treatments the same way that you describe Chickadee reacting. Chronic pain is so annoying, and it can be hard to notice the absence of an unpleasant symptom. What helps me is keeping a log. Perhaps you could log each day (I would do it by half-day, maybe) and note meds taken or not (& on time or not) (perhaps better to simply log time taken), time spent in the sun, swims, and state of skin and discomfort level.

    As I write this out I seem to vaguely recall you mentioning that you had done some kind of log earlier in your treatment journey. Or maybe I’m imagining it. Either way, this might be an easy way for you both to be able to tell if the treatments help or not, and for Chickie to be able to notice for herself…

  14. ramblin red

    LOL….I was recently very stoked about the 3 in 1 body wash thing for my son too. He’s 100% neuro-typical (of the y chromosome persuasion, though) and still has bottle blindness too. This has helped immensely.

  15. StephLove

    I wonder how long that golden age lasts. I fear with mine five years apart they may never be in it at the same time. (The 10 year old is now; the 5 year old, not so much.) On the positive side, we’ll have a longer period of time with one kid in it.

  16. Daisy

    My daughter (recent college grad) is couch surfing while working at part-time unpaid internships and looking for a real (paying) job. I emailed her today. “Are you coming home this week?” Her response. “I might come home today; I’m out of clothes!” ahem. They never stop needing us – or at least our laundry machines.

  17. Chuck

    How did we survive growing up without cell phones? :)

  18. addy

    During her formative years I was paged in every store at every school function and at many other events because she “lost” me. The phrase ‘DONT HAVE ME PAGED” became my parting words for her for many a year. I still get texted ‘WHERE U?” from my now college student…..

  19. allison

    Long time lurker here, my 10 year old step son was recently diagnosed with Aspergers. I have to say that reading your website really helped me to see that our kiddo was a lot like Monkey and probably needed to be re-evaluated for autism. Thanks for writing so openly about life with Monkey.

    I had to laugh when I read this post and the first thing I thought of was the three-in-one soap because we had to get it for our kiddo – or else we got 15 questions from the shower. Last week we sent him up to take a shower and clip his nails which turned into 15 minutes of nail clipping with the water running (!) before he finally got in there. Also we can’t get him to get undressed in the bathroom, he insists on streaking from his bedroom over to the bathroom. Gotta love it.

  20. Cele

    Independence, ya gotta love it.

  21. Caz

    I will tell you I don’t think it’s an Aspie thing, more of a pre-teen boy thing. Most of the boys I volunteer with on a regular basis (Scout Leader) need to be reminded to brush their teeth and change their underwear.

  22. Rachael

    I sent my 7-year-old to camp once for a week with clean towels, clothes, and underwear. He came back wearing the same thing I sent him in smelling like fish, all the clean clothes still in the bag. And then he argued with me about taking a shower when he got home.

  23. Reagan

    OF COURSE I can believe they have a 3-in-1 wash for men! Sure, make it easy for them, while I have a different soap for each part of my body, for each season of the year. ;)

    I resent that my husband can get by on it, but now I’m glad it works for Monkey!!

  24. matinyoupi

    It reminds me that, at some point, my boys, BOTH of them, were using my feminine wash as a shampoo!!! I shall add that they could read very well at that time.
    I was wondering why it went out so quickly… We had a such a good laugh when we realised it!
    Haaa… the wet towel… I suppose (hope) it’s a boy’s thing rather than an aspie one.

  25. Jeff W

    Look into Halotherapy (salt therapy) for the skin problems. I really think we’ll see a movement in this area. There is a company called Salt Chalet in the Los Angeles area and sessions last 45 minutes and provide relief from respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and allergies. It is also ideal for treating skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest