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Monday, November 28, 2011

Friends Forever...

Hello Lover! (I say in my Sarah Jessica Parker voice to my blog) I've missed you so.  I haven't been able to write to you since school was out last week.  They kept me busy almost every waking moment. You are my therapy...so yes, I've been going a little nuts with out you...my stress reliever.

Then there was the family vacation (an oxymoron) to visit our friends up in Dallas.  I spent the days beforehand freaking out about it.  How can we make this as smooth as possible for the boys?  What kind of sleeping arrangement will work best?  How will we get along with all of us in the car for hours at at time?  Will all of that family togetherness send one of us over the edge?  Surely it will!  It always does.  And this time we have my mom with us to boot!  Add a new player to the game and the dynamics of the game will change.  How will the boys handle it all?  It's almost enough to make me completely change my mind about traveling.

Picture Taken in 2005
One of the biggest accomplishments in my life...
A 40-year friendship
We traveled to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with my oldest, dearest friends.  These girls (sisters) I have known for nearly 40 years...I hate to say that out loud.  But then again, it is something to be proud of.  We have known each other since I was about 6 or 7 years old.  We were neighbors who shared a common wall for most of our childhood into young adulthood.  I spent more time sitting at their kitchen table than I did my own.  Their house was the place to hang out.  They were my sisters...their mother a second mom, who I could talk to about anything.  Every song from that era is a memory of us hanging out together, singing into hair-brushes in front of the living room window..our audience...the rest of the world.  From Earth, Wind and Fire to Natalee Cole, to The Emotions.  Oh...Oh!  Am I telling my age here?

Well of course we had a ball!  It's simply a miracle and a blessing that we all grew up in Los Angeles, and now we live 3 hours from each other all the way here in Texas!  Our mothers of course, also know and love each other.  It was lovely for them to visit together as well.  They had other family in from California, whom we all know and love. It was great to see them as well.

My husband, Big Papa rented an Escalade for us to drive up there in, so that we would have plenty of space to keep the boys apart, and all of the luxuries of satellite radio, and a DVD player to keep the kids occupied...hopefully. Was this enough to make Red happy?  Of course not.  When we got ready to leave home...he refused to get in the car.  "I'm not going.  I just want to stay home by myself."  Anxiety kicking in as I knew that it would.  What will it be like to spend all this time around my family?  I'm not going to know anyone there? Although, we've spent time around these friends several times over the past 5 years since they lived up there.

Thanks to a special holiday deal, we got 2 suites and had the boys sleep in separate rooms so that there would be a little less family togetherness for them.  They both got to sleep alone, on the let-out couches in each room.  This worked out great! The only weird thing is...I slept in the room with my Mom and Blue while hubby slept in the room with Red.  Of course, I did sneak over there to snuggle after everyone went to sleep.

The Thanksgiving party itself was great for us (adults)...very difficult for our Aspergers boys.  The last time we spent Thanksgiving weekend with these friends, we actually stayed at their house.  The boys played so well with their children.   Now that they are teenagers...with Aspergers and so socially awkward, they did not connect at all with the kids there.  And there were plenty of kids...cousins, friends from high-school and college who were dropping in and out.  My boys felt totally out of place.  It was actually pretty painful to watch.

The adults all engaged them in conversations...the teens...not so much.  They were busy visiting with their cousins and friends.  Blue and Red had too much anxiety too try to break into the conversations.  Red especially, sits back and waits for people to engage him.  If that doesn't happen then he feels bad.  He has no idea what to do in these kind of situations.  Blue doesn't usually have this problem, but  because there were so many kids, I think that made it tough for him as well.  My friend has a daughter who is about the same age as Blue.  They really connected with in the past.  This time she was shy and  hardly had a word to say to him.  What can you do with that?  You can't make teenagers play together and engage each other.

Luckily for him, his best friends from school happened to also be in town.  The twins were celebrating their 13th birthday on Thanksgiving day.  Blue got to leave the uncomfortable situation and go to his friend's birthday party.  Red loosened up a bit as time went on.  He talked my friend's husband into paying him to complete a video project of the Thanksgiving party.  He used his video camera to film everyone.  Even that seemed to be slightly anxiety-ridden.  He kept coming to me asking what he should do.  He was especially anxious about filming the teenagers.  He took periodic sensory breaks...sitting in a quiet place alone, playing "Angry Birds".  Over and over again, as we are drinking and having fun he would come to me and say, "I'm ready to leave."  I just ached for him, among all of these people who love and care about us and he just couldn't really enjoy it.

Why did I think that things would get easier for them as they got older?  Some of the social awkwardness seems to get worse instead of better.  It's funny though, no matter how much time passes between them seeing our extended family....the sense of comfort with their uncles, aunts and cousins seems to never go away.

I'll have to consider that when we finalize plans for Christmas...which will be here much faster than I would like for it to be.

Funny though, the following day after all of the parties were over...we went back for one final visit.  It was much more comfortable and the boys didn't have to be there long.  As they received their hugs good-bye I implored Red to show them all his beautiful smile.  Everyone gave him a resounding applause and told him how handsome he is.  My friend's mother Ms. J -gave him a wonderful hug.

In the car he said...Ms. J is really special to me. He felt her genuine love...as I have for almost 40 years.