learning to live and love from a new perspective

Archive for February, 2015

A Vacation in Extremes

We live in Boston.  Winter in Boston is never easy.  There’s snow, and ice, and and winter colds.  There’s shoveling and storms and canceled plans.  This year has been particularly bad.  In fact, this has been the worst winter in Boston in recorded history.  Four epic snowstorms in rapid succession have dumped 95.7 inches of snow on our city within the space of three weeks.  School has been canceled 6 days out of the last fifteen.  Simple things like making a trip to the corner store is now a life-threatening experience.

But me?  I thought I had it all figured out.  We were going away for February break.  On a CRUISE.  To someplace WARM.  For FIVE WHOLE DAYS.  Another storm hits Boston?  No problem.  I’m on YouTube watching videos of families in bathings suits splashing down water slides on their cruise ship.  That will be us in just two more weeks.  Kids are at home for yet another snow day?  No problem.  I’ve got my eyes closed, imagining the warm Caribbean sun pouring down on my face in just one more week.  Near collision as I pull out of my driveway, view completely obstructed by a ten foot snow bank?  No problem.  I just crank up my Jimmy Buffet tunes until I can almost taste the Strawberry Margarita I’ll be sipping on the Lido deck in just a few more days.

The big day finally arrived.  Of course, given that this is the Winter From Hell, there was another enormous, shut-down-the-airport blizzard on our departure day.  So we did what any desperate, vacation-craving family would do.  Rebooked our flight, and drove to NYC, catching a plan out of LaGuardia a day early.

I desperately wish  that I could say the vacation was heavenly.  That we soaked up six days of sun and fun, creating the happy memories that will carry us through until spring.  I’m still hoping I’ll feel that way in a couple of days.  There were parts of the vacation that were like that.  It was heavenly to walk around Miami in shorts and t-shirts.  Watching the sunrise over the ocean was amazing.  Looking up at the stars when the boat was in the middle of the ocean was indescribably beautiful and awesome.  Plus we ate great food, participated in fun activities, and met interesting people.  A successful vacation by almost every standard.

Then why do I feel so bad?  I was close to tears all day yesterday.  S kept asking me if I was sick.

I’m trying so hard to be grateful that we were able to go on this trip.  It was a luxury by any standard, but especially during a winter like this.

I guess I’m bummed out for two reasons.  First, I feel guilty.  These storms have impacted my family’s life in inconvenient and slightly costly ways.  (For example, when we noticed the ice dams beginning to form last week, we laid out an absolutely painful amount of money to the roofing company to shovel two feet of snow off our BRAND NEW ROOF.)  However, I know that the minor inconveniences of snow days and unexpected expenditures are nothing compared to the impact these storms have had on people who depend on public transportation and can’t get to work, for example.  I feel guilty when I can’t summon up the gratitude for my family’s health, safety and security…  let alone a luxury like a vacation.

The other reason I feel bummed out is that it was SO HARD TO COME HOME TO THIS!!  It feels like jumping back into a freezing lake after taking a break to warm up.  It shocks your system to readjust to the cold. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to readjust to the ten-foot snow banks and icy roads.

I’m just about to wrap up this post, dear readers, and yet again I am struck by the therapeutic power of blogging.  I hope I’m not coming off as whiny and impossible to please.  As I’ve been writing, I’ve been acknowledging the difficult thoughts and feelings.  I can feel my better self (joyful, appreciative, grateful) starting to bubble to the surface.  Thanks for being the sounding board I need.  I’ll leave you with a few photos of the happy moments I was telling you about.

Stay warm and safe, everyone!!

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The Next Person Who Tells Me I Should Plan More Playdates for My Kid Had Best Beware….

We have the most amazing team of specialists who work with our son. Really. Every single teacher he’s had since preK has been awesome. ABA therapists have all been excellent. All of his medical providers are doctors who treat our son with compassion and wisdom. But due to the immense number of doctors, teachers and therapists who interact with our son, we are inundated on an almost daily basis with suggestions and advice. All of it comes from a good place. These people want nothing less than to help our son reach his potential. They give us advice on how to help him develop physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. We do our very best to take their ideas, and implement their suggestions at home. We do. In many ways, we’d be lost without guidance from our team. But, I’m telling you, the next person who tells me I should plan more play dates for my kid had best beware. Because that person is going to get an earful.  Period.

First of all, we live in New England and it’s winter. Scheduling ANYTHING is just an enormous exercise of frustration.

Second, you try scheduling around G’s ABA schedule. Two hours of ABA twice a week. And that’s not even taking S’s schedule into account.

Third, play dates are HARD WORK. When S has a play date, I’m in heaven. S and her friend will drift off upstairs, and not be heard from again for well over an hour (except for the occasional giggle that escapes from her room).   When G has a friend over, I’m the interpreter, trying to bridge the gap between what G wants to do and what the friend wants to do. If I push too hard on G, it won’t be fun for anyone. If I don’t push hard enough, the friend will end up wondering why he was invited to begin with, if G spends the whole play date on his own.

Finally, play dates make me sad. The way G interacts with friends is different than the way his peers interact. Not better, not worse, just different. G is a happy kid when left to his own devices. But putting him in a room with another 6 year old, and enforcing a set of expectations that don’t make any particular sense to G, can be depressing. Yes, he needs to learn how to interact in a “socially appropriate” way. Yes, he needs to learn the give and take of social interactions so that he can forge relationships throughout his life. Yes, he needs to learn to take others’ perspectives and listen to his friends’ ideas. I get that. But watching the amount of effort G makes to live up to these expectations makes me sad. I wish it wasn’t so hard for him.

So, in case you were wondering, I rate planning play dates right up there with scheduling a visit to the dentist. It’s one of the things I keep up with because I know it’s healthy in the long run. But I look forward to planning play dates about as much as I look forward to a root canal.

Ed note: I’m not talking about the kind of play date where two kids really like each other and request to spend time together. We have that kind of play date occasionally… and it’s truly a joy. I’m talking about the kind of play date that I schedule in response to the teacher/doctor/therapist/etc telling me that it would be good for G to expand his repertoire of play skills, and isn’t there someone in his class/neighborhood/baseball team/etc he would like to play with?

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