Saturday, August 25, 2007


The summer has been hard. Michael only went to school from 8am-11:30am. Last summer it was until 2:30pm. Also this summer he came home every afternoon wanting to do something- like go to the pool or park.

When Michael was around 2-3 yrs old he would just play home all day long. Lining up cars, watching Sesame Street. He was very happy. He never asked to go outside or play. He didn't want to play with other children. He just didn't care. He didn't even notice our 3 cats. Many parents with autistic children have to put special locks on their doors so their children won't escape. Michael only did that once, about 2 yrs ago when they first put the back door in.

It's so different now. Everything is different. Different but good. I break a smile when I write that. OK- honestly, I'm crying. I'm so lucky to have this kid. He is REALLY a good kid. Great kid actually.

We just went upstate for about a week. Just me and him and our new Honda CR-V. We were doing a dry-run for our summer trip next year. Everyone thinks I'm crazy, but Michael is really good in the car on long trips. Better than most adults actually. LOL. I also love driving, as long as there is no traffic.

I lived upstate a few times. 1987-1991 I attended Cortland State. Cortland is in the central southern tier- between Binghamton and Syracuse. It's about a 5-6 hr trip from my hometown.

I stayed in Buffalo two different times- for 2 months in 1990 while doing an internship for the Buffalo Bisons AAA Baseball team and for 7 months in 1992-1993 while working at Buffalo State at the NYPRIG Coordinator.

I also lived in Varick, NY. A town so small they don't have cable, internet or a post office. It's really pretty though and found between two of the finger lakes in Seneca County, kinda near Rochester and Syracuse, about 30 min north of Ithaca. It's about a 7 hr drive from my hometown. I was there for 6 months in '99 while pregnant with Michael.

OK. Enough for the history lesson. I've basically spent 5 years of my 38 years in Western New York. I wanted to show Michael where I went to college. He's actually talking about going to college after graduating high school. I also wanted to visit my college roommate Donna and her family. They were the ones who took me in when I was pregnant. Donna and Ken have 3 kids (ages 4, 7, & 10).

It was so great to see Michael with the kids. Except for 1 conflict with the 4 year old and a set of cars (no surprise) they got along great. They swam in the pool, played out in the backyard, participated in games of hide and seek, played board games, etc. Donna's cat even had kittens while we were there. Michael was slightly interested. A first for both of us.

We went to this awesome Children's Museum of Play in Rochester. Holy Cow- there was so much there to do. Michael had a great time.

They had this small stage, where kids could put on plays or sing or whatever. There was this one child, about 12 years old who was blind. He was on the stage singing his heart out. Donna and I noticed and I said "let's wait until he is done and clap". She happily agreed. Well, there was this blond kid, about 8 yrs old making fun of the blind child. He was poking him and making faces. I swear if there wasn't a wall right there, I would have knocked the kid on his ass- and I'm not a violent person. Donna and I got upset, as did another lady who was watching. We tried to grab the kid, but he wasn't listening. I looked for his mother, but couldn't find her. It was so horrible to watch this boy make fun of a child with a disability. That could be MY son one day. It probably has been my son before.

After he sang his song, Donna and I talked with the 12 year old. He was so smart and a delight to speak with. He was with his Aunt. She said that blond kid tried to bite her nephew too. OMG. We only caught the second half of the episode.

Anyway, the rest of the museum trip was great. But, I couldn't stop thinking about that blond kid. Argh!

For about 2 days, Michael and I went to Buffalo (about 2 1/2 hrs west of Donna's House). We went to a Bison game (lasted about 5 innings). The weather was so weird. It was very windy and these dark clouds kept moving over the stadium. Michael didn't like it. Minor league games are kinda boring anyway (nothing like the Yankee game we went to a few days before). Michael kept saying "Mommy, remember you worked here before?" I also showed him my old apartments.

The highlight of the Buffalo trip was Fantasy Island. It's this amusement park near Niagara Falls. It's actually right off the main highway- which of course Michael saw on the way to the Falls. So, as soon as we got to the Falls Michael wanted to turn around and leave. Oh, but first he wanted to walk across the bridge to Canada because he saw a Ferris Wheel across the river. Seriously. They have this bridge that people walk across. Michael is probably the only kid who ever wanted to go to another country for a Ferris Wheel ride.

So, after our 2 minutes at the Falls, we went to Fantasy Island. It was a nice place. First of all, they gave us the "handicap" discount and a pass to cut the line. That was a surprise (nothing on their website). I didn't use the pass for the first 2 hours. But, then we waited on this 1 ride for over 20 min. and Michael was getting very upset. Then he KNEW we had the pass and kept yelling "Mommy, let's use the special pass and cut the line" (people were probably thinking "autism my ass").

Michael will go on pretty much any ride. Me- well, let's just say I like to take pictures of people on rides. I had to go on the flume with Michael, which scared the crap out of me. I got so wet. It was about 70* that day- but just warm enough that it didn't bother me too much.

Before we left Buffalo, we met my friend (another mother) for lunch. Michael did great sitting at the Cheesecake Factory for almost 2 hours. On the ride back to Donna's we got the call that the first kitten was born. I might post the video on Youtube and link it here.

On the way home we stopped in Cortland and had lunch. I also showed Michael my old dorm. He knows 4 people who went to school there- so I was pointing things out to him. "there is where Mommy and Donna lived" "there is where the radio station was". I think he found it interesting that there was this school with adults in it. I got him a Cortland t-shirt at the school store. He was excited to go there. This summer they went to the school store a lot.

Michael kept saying "we need to go home and use the internet". While at Donna's we had no internet (that's why I'm doing the blog now). Michael likes to check the weather online. He was excited to leave and get back home.

The ride home was so pretty- going through the Catskills. I would read signs to Michael "Sullivan County", etc. He loved the NYS map I got. Many times he would open it up (all 3 ft of it) on the kitchen table and read the towns. I'm telling you, this kid is going to memorize all these facts. Currently one of his favorite things are the exits on the Long Island Expressway. I'm happy he finds all this stuff interesting while on the road. Gives him something to do.

Michael got so excited when we got home. He was singing for the last 15 minutes in the car. We were listening to They Might Be Giants. Then when we pulled up to the apartment he yells (and I mean yells) with joy "THEY PUT IN THE TREES AND BUSHES FOR MY BIRTHDAY!". His 8th birthday is this Monday. When he said it- it sounded so natural. Really, there were probably 5-6 times this trip where I said "he never said that before". I was really amazed at how he adjusted to things. As long as I give him the schedule and warning of any changes.

It was good practice for our cross country trip next year. I think Michael will be awesome. We just have to find amusement parks and children's museums all along the way.

Oh, I almost forgot (how could I?). We went to my old church on Sunday morning. It was so awesome. Michael sat through the whole service with only 1 outburst. They announced that it was Millie's 92nd birthday and Michael yelled "We need to go to Millie's birthday party today". Which was somewhat appropriate (and funny). Actually, her birthday party was the day before, which I later found out. But, it was so nice to visit my favorite church in the world with my favorite kid in the world. It was the perfect service- 5 women ran it and played music about every 10 minutes. People were clapping and singing and sometimes laughing- not boring at all. Michael hasn't been to church since he was about 3. Well, he did go to Christmas Mass with my sister's family a year or two ago, but that doesn't really count (it was a Catholic Church). LOL.

Anyway, it was a good trip. Michael had fun and it was great to see my old homes and my old friends. Part of me is starting to realize that the 80's and 90's are over and in the past. The memories of 2 feet of lake effect snow, baseball games every night and those beautiful rolling hills are great- but I'm back on Long Island. Even though it's not where I planned to be- it is where I am and where I need to be. I will always think of Buffalo, Cortland and Varick (and Virginia Beach) as my home.

In 1989, I took a greyhound bus to CA by myself and met this lady at a youth hostel. I was scared and she said to me "home is where the heart is". I never REALLY understood that common phase until that very moment. Every time I visit one of these places, I feel like I'm home. I felt so lucky to be able to share it with Michael. I think he understands a lot of it too. At least I hope so.

Today we spent some time with my Mom who just finished chemo and radiation for Pancreatic Cancer. Life is way to short. I've been thinking a lot lately how things just happen and you have no control over them. Well, you do have control over your attitude. I feel like now I can't even complain about my son's autism. He's such a joy that any person who doesn't want to be with him or is ignorant enough to make fun of him- they are the one's missing out. They are the one's with the handicap. Just like that blond boy dancing in front of the blind boy singing his heart out. I really hope he learns some compassion in his life.

Thanks everyone for reading my blog and emailing me feedback. Thanks for listening, sometimes you are the only person I can talk to about this stuff :) Take care, Christine

PS- Michael's Dad failed his physical and won't be going to Iraq this fall (mission accomplished).

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