Vanity

Apparently a war was waged recently – chillingly close to my bedside. It must have been quite a sight. Unseen by me, even though it was fought in my own bathroom. Yes, I can see from the newly darkened hair of my husbands he attempted, again, to color his own locks.

Mind you, it suits him, that deep brown hair color. Looks good with his Sicilian year round skin tone. And honestly, I appreciate him taking care of himself. As we age (we as in all of us) its only natural to fight nature with the products and protocols manufactured just for this purpose. But really, my toilet seat was meant to be white, dear.

Oh, and the drips on the counter, in the drawers, and all around the sink? Didn’t you USE the gloves provided in the box, dear? And my towels, or should I say your towels now, they didn’t do anything to solicit such abuse. Yes, there is a waiting period for the dye to adhere to the hair folicle….I get that. But getting sucked into your favorite NFL channel – post season no less – is not a good enough excuse for destroying the nice bed linens that I JUST washed and replaced. Again, where was the plastic head liner that was also provided IN THE BOX, dear?

Thanks for leaving the conditioning treatment in the shower for me to use too. But leaving the comb, q-tips, and oh! so thats where the plastic gloves went….they too are in the shower, dear. And I’m curious, just how did you manage to spray that forsaken dye on the ceiling? Do you just shake like one of the dogs when they come in from the rain, dear? The mirror, did what you saw need to be swiped by your hand while wrangling the applicator, dear?

Yes, it was a thrifty thought, buying a nice hair dye kit on sale, with a coupon to use in the privacy (you thought) of your own home. It really was……but I think next time you need to be supervised. Of course, I’ll grab the stain remover, paint supplies, industrial cleansers and hydrogen peroxide when I’m at the store, dear. No problem. But honey – I’m also going to make you an appointment for 3 weeks from now with my stylist. I have a feeling it will save us more in the end, dear.

(Insert eye roll, right about HERE, dear.)

~ Wendy Frye

“A good marriage would be between a blind wife and a deaf husband.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

Breaking Bad Ass

We like to have a beer or other adult beverage while watching the Seattle Seahawks play football. With our son on the autism spectrum since he was three, an adult now, there stands a hard line between beer and wine – and hard alcohol.

“Vodka!” He screams at the top of his lungs….”Yes, Vodka.” We, his dutiful but worn out parents confess. “It makes a delicious alternative when mixed with lemonade vs. a heavy beer.” We TRY to explain.

“It will lead to DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!” He vehemently proclaims. Daring to hope he understands and will choose to be rational like he usually is……we headed down to watch the game. With the vodka drinks.

Ever the comedian, and dramatic as all get out, our “not so sold” adult son hears us from his room yelling at the television, cheering on Russell Wilson the the team after a very solid play. The stadium in Seattle is rocking and everyone is knocking. Except our son.

“Thats IT!” “You are fighting and it’s because of the VODKA!”

We yell upstairs to him that we really are not fighting….we are cheering on our team. No go. “I’M CALLING 911 NOW!” Oh shit. He does have his cell phone fully charged, in his room, on the night stand at all times.

We rush up the stairs. In full boxer short glory he’s taken the “God Forsaken Poison!” from the fridge (sitting next to the apple beer) and threw it out the back door almost to the neighbors yard.

“I’m DIALING!”

“NOW!”

Mind you, we suburban dwellers, affected by the virtual tragedy of autism, i.e. underemployed, lifetime caretakers, double duty chefs, and on and on. Deserve. A. Drink. Especially at this very moment. So, in his room, hand poised to press send on his cell he smirks…..

Yes, I called him a rat bastard. Yes, I meant it. No, I’m a horrible mother sometimes. Yes, he had us. Yes, he knew it.

Yes, we dumped the bottle.

Yes, we had an apple beer instead.

This morning I approached my adult son on the spectrum. “Wanna go to the casino?”

Oh boy…..the new frontier.

“WHERE’S MY CELL PHONE!!!!!!”

(snicker) ~ Wendy Frye

“Spend some time this weekend on home improvement; improve your attitude toward your family.” ~ Bo Bennett

Book

I’ve been holding my cellphone in a kung-fu death grip for the last 12 working days of the past weeks. We will log 30 total days. I drive downtown with my eldest son, the one diagnosed on the spectrum so many years ago, to drop him off at The Goodwill for a job-study. I was staying downtown, certain that the 20 minute drive from home would render him helpless if he had an autism meltdown or lost it over a bee in the building.

The shovel ready jobs of Obama are alive and well next to our destination. Four times daily we have to navigate across the ripped up street, around heavy construction equipment, jumping new water pipes waiting to be dropped and hooked in the trenches. Oh, and the cars along the one open lane really should consider stopping at the cross walk. If they did, the drivers wouldn’t get the fist pump motion from my son relaying in unspoken words what an “IDIOT” they are.

Can’t quite stop holding his hand. Still, so many years later, I hold his hand to cross the street. Sounds ridiculous? Not really – beats him sprinting in panic and getting creamed by one of those “IDIOTS”. Hand in mine, the opposite one in a cell phone death grip. God help us autism parents over the everyday stress we live with. God. Help. Us.

This is part of the process. The inadequate process of employing a bright young man given a disability in one quick shot in the leg. He’s riding the crest of the coming population, or should I say legion of young autistic adults who too will find their helpless parents clutching their phones within an inch of crushing it in half.

My son sees himself as an artist, we do too. But even artists need to work. So, we tell him he’s a working artist. The day he received his first paycheck (a paid study at least) he began to understand that even though bagging children books can be mind-numbingly boring, there is a sense of pride in a job well done.

I’ve read the articles that claim parents with autism in the home suffer from PTSD. I think it’s true – and that our children suffer even more so every day by virtue of the condition. Seems the only people who understand this kind of Autism are the few “friends” I’ve met on Facebook. Slow to get involved with the vehicle of communication most are choosing, I find it invaluable for information sharing of the subjects most important to me.

Of late, the tide of Autism Awareness is giving way to Autism Action. The process of doing this whole gig – shouldering the responsibility of this specific generation has to have an ending. My good friends, who too are in the trenches, are too making the shift. We are collectively embittered by the situation and have waited years for the disclosure that we, as a society, are being damaged and broken for the profit of the corporations.

As I always try to find it, there is hope. Recently, Mr. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. made a vow to my – wait scratch “my”, OUR community that his life work will be to disclose the simple truth that our government has known vaccines, and their components, are at the root of the Autism Epidemic. He has a book made up and is not afraid of the ramifications if the government doesn’t follow through.

Never did I imagine my life ending up this way. But it is a life, and it’s worth living. I can always buy a new phone.

God help us. ~ Wendy Frye

“To my mind this is like the Nazi death camps.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spoken to the audience at Autism One, 2013.

Wiz

One absolutely spectacular benefit working within the banking industry is a certain pretend holiday, Columbus Day. Oh yeah, falling on a Monday in October while the kids are back in school, husbands at work….Columbus Day HAS to be the best, employer paid holiday EVER known in the United Sates of America.

A couple of years ago, while employed with a local credit union, another Columbus Day came along. The time was ripe. My son on the Spectrum had shown me twice the venue he wanted to visit. His younger brother, an absolute super-hero, was good with the idea. So, we sprang it on him. Booked an overnight flight to Vegas (Baby!) to visit the unknown-to-most Pinball Hall of Fame!

You know the song, Pinball Wizard. Well, the guy with late onset autism, he relates. The self proclaimed “gamer” regressed, technologically speaking, into loving pinball. So hey, just try finding an operating machine thats not in a dive bar or other establishment that discourages a 16 year old young man from living his passion. Not easy, any day of the week. But try we did. So with his research and discovery of the “Hall” lie the path that will lead us to pinball Nirvana.

Om. (Clang Clang!)

Within fifteen minutes of our arrival to Vegas, we were surrounded by two hundred plus pinball machines. All workable and playable, spanning from the oldest to the latest, WOW! Can you say sensory overload? “MOM!” “I need a quarter!” was the last I heard from him for the eight hour shift.

It really was my idea of idyllic, a wonderful way to spend a weekend with my son. Besides the “Hall” we went to the art showing at the Bellagio, ate crappy pizza, had dinner for breakfast and pillaged the arcade at our hotel resort.

Returning home exhausted at 2:00 in the morning, I drug it to work the next day and managed to play off that I hadn’t slept in 24 hours. Arriving home, ready to collapse, my eldest son yells for my attention from the basement. He’d found it, a new Nirvana – the Coin Operated Museum in San Francisco!

“When can we go!” ~ James Frye

“If some people didn’t tell you, you’d never know they’d been away on a vacation.” ~ Kin Hubbard

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Resolve

Considering resolutions for the coming New Year has a lot more meaning, or so it seems. Stepping back, taking care of my now adult son on the Autism Spectrum, I’ve been given a golden opportunity. The opportunity to take back my life too – refine my own “how I wanna live” goals – and move forward into a new beginning. Oh sure, eat right, exercise, breathe, payoff bills, and all that rot remains tattooed to the list. But this go around, on a philosophical level, will be the changes it takes to live how I wanna LIVE.

This time, I resolve to……:

Love with all I have,
Respect myself,
Be creative,
Start a venture, and succeed,
Work smart,
Leave negativity behind (including negative people)
Volunteer,
Keep family a priority,
Forgive those people who have worked against me, mine or ours (seriously, even the ones who say they are a friend),
Stay positive,
Become a role model,
Expand my garden, literally and figuratively
Create abundance,
Reach out to others who need a hand,
Get to know my neighbors,
Dig up the old, wonderful relationships I had to leave behind early on dealing with Autism in my home (I miss some people!)
Be grateful for having enough,
Live without regrets.

This coming years resolutions doesn’t start with the new calendar, nope, it starts right now. With the holiday festivities starting today – what better time for a new beginning. Seriously, we all made it through the Mayan end of times, didn’t we? Yes, yes we did……

Cheers! ~ Wendy Frye

“Nobody can bring you peace but yourself” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

YOU ARE

My son, the one on the spectrum, isn’t feeling himself today. I’m home with him, sorting through old papers and such, and happened upon a couple of age worn poems written by my youngest. WOW, I honor my youngest. Please enjoy his works with me, all sloppy and teary as I am now….

YOU ARE

I think you are friendly.
I wonder if you are a super hero.
I hear you laugh.
I see you smile.
I want you to be happy.
You are great.

I pretend you fly.
I feel you give a mamas little baby.
You touch me.
I worry that you cry.
You cry water.
You are smart.

You understand James.
You say nice things (some times).
I dream that you play football.
You try to make us happy.
You hope we grow up.
You are wonders.

YOU ARE great, HAPPY FATHERS DAY!
love, Jon 🙂

by Jon ~ aged 8 years old

WENDY

Daughter of Kent and Sandra
Sister of Melissa and Paula
MOTHER of Jon and James
Lover of my family
Maker of crafts
Dreamer of James and Jon to gragat (graduate)
Fear of Heights
Player of big Kahuna Reef
Giver of kisses and smiles
Watcher of unwrapped and survivor
Listener of rock and roll

Love, Jon

by Jon ~ aged 9 years old

You are becoming a fine young man, Jon ~ Love Mom

“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” ~ Charles Swindoll

Relations

When your family (immediate and extended) receives a diagnosis of “Autism” (seriously it doesn’t even BEGIN to matter where on the spectrum) ALL things change. The changes evolve in daily living, future plans and especially in the way one relates to the world.

Within the mindset we CHOOSE when our son was diagnosed 15 years or so ago, the mindset to heal and support his pursuit back to well, most of our superficial relationships fell off a cliff. Our extended families remained, and we stood still, for the most part, in “social time”.

Moving forward to today, when our boys (the astronaut and his heroic brother) are healthier and more mature, we are beginning to breathe again. Still we live in a certain and special framework, but are beginning to live a little more out loud. Life is good. We know it, and live it. Life is good.

Today, I just know that Zuckerberg got it right. The mighty, mighty Facebook really is AMAZING. I have to be one of the last people in the world who held out, never had the “time”, didn’t have the “gumption”, and wanted my “privacy”. Whatever. WOW! It is because of Facebook that I am inspired to write this blog entry. Since my social life fell off the cliff, it is a little simpler to look back at the relationships that really matter – and have been valid all these years since our “autism” diagnosis so long ago.

Initially, I had a handful of people to add to my “friends” list, sincerely they are the most important in my life.

For instance:

Janice, my first “other mother”, who nurtured me spiritually, told me OUT LOUD how cute I was and supported my friendship with her youngest son, Trent. Trent, my very first friend, who I re-connected with on Facebook a few months ago – he was and IS a superior educator. When I was in kindergarten and he was in 1st grade, it was Trent who took the time to tutor me in fractions. Yes, I was able to understand fractional math at the age of 5. I will never forget that moment – after I worked so hard in my bedroom to spell and write my name – that Trent went on to demonstrate how much more there is to know and learn. My first friend, Trent Ling, has gone on to surpass his education from Duke University to further educate the world. He shines brightest in the pictures of himself and his beautiful family traveling all over this world, and I am so proud to know him and someday I hope to meet up again with him and his family.

Trent’s family friend, Mrs. Shelley, was best friends with my now “other mother” Cynthia. Mrs. Shelley drove me, at the age of 5 or 6 years of age, between where Trent lived and where I live now. Mrs. Shelley, who was best friends with Cynthia, (my next other mother) knew I was so alone in this new place, wanted Cynthia’s kids to know me, too. What a boon! My other mother’s daughter, Jenny and I have been friends from that time to now. Cynthia’s youngest daughter, Laina, son Damon and I all still friends to share and celebrate family events. Thank you Barbara….I honor you here and thank you for your kindness and help when I was so young……again, I thank you.

Last night, Jenny, my long time friend, posted a picture of her Dad, James, on Facebook. It was his birthday, and she was reminiscing how long he had been gone (over 18 years) – I was so moved seeing his picture that I cried. I never cry….it is not in my soul or nature to do so since my son was diagnosed Autistic. Talking to my husband tonight, telling him how undone I was about the post of Jenny’s Father, my “other father”, reminded me to be grateful and thankful for the relationships I have, have had – and will always have in my life. Those enriching relationships where we will take a bullet for our friend – surpassing those who we would hold up as a human shield when fired upon.

Thank you, Janice, Trent, Cynthia, Barbara, Jennifer, Laina and Damon. I honor you all, here. Again – it really is within the relationships we have that we grow to be the people we are. I again, thank you all…… ~ Wendy Frye

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” ~ Proverbs 22:6

Whistle Stop

There is a considerable amount of free-flowing information on the internet, in the papers and on the television regarding the spike in the rate of diagnosed cases of Autism.

An Autism diagnosis does change the entire landscape of the family.  From my own personal experience, receiving the diagnoses for our eldest son approximately 15 years ago was nothing less than getting hit by a freight train.  The freight train that hits you is travelling full speed, at night, in the dark and in total silence.  We never saw it coming.  Most parents, grandparents and caregivers in our generation never saw it coming.  In our “day”, it was 1 in 10,000…..now; sadly 1 in 88 is the official number.  Again, I reiterate, it has only been 15 years since our son’s diagnosis.

While the debate churns and turns even nastier regarding the cause of Autism, we do know deep in our heart what happened and how our son became so ill.  We instinctively did what we felt we needed to do for our son to get him back to “well”.  We will always be skeptical of all statements, studies, suppositions or rehash on the subject.  However, regardless of how I feel and what I know, I am standing HERE, on this blog in neutrality – and choose to only educate those who read this simple blog, on my simple page about my complicated life with the same wry twist that has saved our sinking souls.

You see, we honor our sons, both the “astronaut” and his “heroic brother”.  While we never saw the train coming, we did ultimately jump off the tracks in the attempt keep our sanity.  It was necessary, but it was not easy, and the scars are still red welts, bleeding and miserable.  We ultimately went off the grid, did the fringe therapies that were emerging science at the time, and have never second guessed ourselves then or now.

It really is surreal, sensing your son was mugged and robbed of his childhood on so many levels left sick, scared and seemingly left behind to ultimately be sent to a group home or institution when he turns 18. 

Well, he’s 18 now.  He’s healthier and stronger BECAUSE he’s had to prove himself every day since he was diagnosed.  He now walks tall, he didn’t die, and he has transformed his life and ours – paving the way to excellence in his own way.

That little boy didn’t have much of an early childhood beyond therapies, medicines, treatments, procedures, surgeries and the like.  But now, right now and into his future lays a bright and beautiful landscape.  In our thoughts, those years should have been full of the wonders and delights kids experience when they are young and learning about the world.  We feel the same type of years that were stripped from our son is now in front of us. So, we GET to flip forward and continue to parent our son after his majority year, does it really matter that much if we do? No, it doesn’t matter because he is now much healthier, engaged and driven to succeed.  He is actually enjoying the idea of continuing his education in the subjects of his choosing….and thankfully; he’s letting us come along for the ride.

As the debates escalate, parties divide and research is conducted regarding the Autism debacle, feel free to visit here at Juggling the Astronaut.  I will strive to offer up some humorous, side-ways stories, thoughts and ponderings.  Even though I will never underestimate the healing ability of humor –  I can’t promise to always be funny here every time, all the time……all I can do is try.  ~ Wendy Frye

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”  ~ Havelock Ellis