LIFE IS A SPECTRUM

peas

You have no idea what I'm willing to do for my kids' nutrition.

If you'd seen me in Sonny's Barbecue at lunchtime recently, you would have felt sorry for me. You might have thought that the whitest girl on the planet was auditioning to be one of Beyonce's backup dancers ... in a barbecue restaurant, for some reason.

But my goal wasn't VH-1 stardom. It was to get my son to eat chicken.

When my kids came along, along with the last shreds of my career and my pre-baby body went any sense of shame. I'll make an idiot out of myself to end a tantrum and get a smile. And to get Billy to eat? Well, let's just say I've ruined barbecue chicken for a good portion of Northwest Florida. Billy is the only person alive whose appetite is increased by the sight of my booty dance.

I know some of you are probably thinking, "Maybe you could try just being a better cook." But since that isn't going to happen, we've been going with the dancing.

It's working, though. Last night, Billy ate an actual serving of PEAS!

I'm not talking about peas disguised as something else, peas mashed up and hidden under something else, peas baked into muffins (yes, I've actually tried this – don't recommend it). I'm talking about real, honest-to-goodness straight-out-of-the-can (do they come any other way?) green peas.

S_billyartraisins

Favorite food: raisins

Like many parents of autistic kids, I have become semi-obsessed with food over the past few years. Heck, who am I kidding? I've been semi-obsessed with food most of my life.

My recent food obsession has less to do with fitting into skinny jeans and more to do with seeing that my son gets slightly more nutrition than what is contained in a Pop-Tart.

When Billy was a baby, he would eat anything. About the time he was supposed to move up to chunky foods, though, he started rebelling. Looking back, it should have been a sign, but we just thought it was hilarious when he would suck the cheese off macaroni and spit the noodle out.

He got to the point at which he'd eat macaroni and cheese, but that was just about all. For a while, his entire diet consisted of cheesy mac, cheese sandwiches, raisins (don't ask me), chicken nuggets and fish sticks. Oh, and peanut butter. Big fan of peanut butter.

An unfortunate symptom cropped up about this same time: When he watched other people eat something, particularly if it were some food he disliked, he would upchuck. Hurl. Any time, any where. It was almost as though he empathized so totally with the person he was watching that he imagined that he was eating the food. And so he did what he would have done had anyone stuck a blueberry in his mouth.

We were introduced to the concept of the gluten-free, casein-free diet and tried that for a while. After all, it made sense. If there were ever a child who had self-limited his diet to carbs and dairy, it was my son. The idea that his food might be serving as a kind of drug to him made enough theoretical sense that we decided to give it a shot.

That was six months of living hell. I am not a cook, but I home-made chicken nuggets and fish sticks every week with gluten-free bread crumbs. (My homemade fish sticks bore an unfortunate resemblance to something you might find buried in a litter box.) I baked gluten-free bread and bought expensive casein-free dairy products. The ninth circle of Hell for me would involve being locked away somewhere endlessly rolling up stuff in gluten-free bread crumbs.

chreese

Get it? Chreese?! Sounds like trees? Cause that's appetizing on your macaroni. (Appetizing = so gross)

We took food with us everywhere we went. Wanna see some black looks? Start unpacking your own picnic at a fancy restaurant serving Mother's Day brunch.

After six months and no real behavior changes – other than those you get when a child ages six months – we slowly started adding first gluten and then dairy back into his diet. Still, we saw no behavior changes.

Now I'm not saying that I don't believe the diet works for any autistic child. It must: There is a certain portion of the general population that is intolerant to dairy and a small portion with celiac disease. It stands to reason that some autistic people would also suffer those intolerances. When you feel uncomfortable – whether you're sick or tired – it affects your behavior. When Billy's sick, things can go completely off the rails: the echolalia gets worse and he's in a bad mood. I absolutely believe that a child with an intolerance to wheat or dairy would feel much better – and behave much better – if those irritants are removed from his diet.

Billy's just not one of those kids.

We decided to make new foods one of our ABA goals. At the prompting of our awesome therapists from BMC, we implemented an eating routine:

At the beginning of every meal, Billy is offered a non-preferred food (non-preferred = loathed), such as corn or peas, in five super-tiny bites on a separate plate. Next to that plate, is his preferred food. For him, that's ice cream in a little cup. For every bite of the non-preferred food, he gets a bite of ice cream. After he finishes his corn (or 15 minutes are up, whichever comes first), then he gets the rest of his meal (bring on the cheese sandwich!), followed by the rest of his ice cream.

For a few weeks, every dinner (we only did this one meal a day) felt like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. But he ate his tiny bites in order to get his ice cream.

I was so excited by his progress that when the therapists weren't there, I added extra rewards for each bite: a YouTube volcano video for every bite ALONG with the ice cream, a few minutes on the iPad, and then, I started dancing.

The dancing had a miraculous effect. He started laughing and eating things that prior to this had made him scream like he'd been poisoned. He ate pizza and peanuts and barbecue chicken. He suffered through bananas, though we've since decided he just doesn't like them – which is fine.

S_BillyBday10_LUN2

I'm trying to figure out a way to disguise nutritious food as birthday cake.

My dancing got more elaborate – until the day our ABA team put the breaks on it. Apparently, dinner isn't supposed to become a poor off-Broadway musical. And apparently, it could cause other problems later if I had to follow him around everywhere doing the Roger Rabbit or The Sprinkler. He's going to have enough challenges in the school cafeteria without having to explain that to his classmates, I guess.

I was convinced that the second I stopped entertaining him with my nightly one-woman show, he would stop eating. In my mind the only thing motivating him was my Humpty Dance.

But no. Ice cream is apparently as motivating as The Worm. Which is probably no bad thing. I got close to injuring myself a couple of times.

One of the biggest realizations I'm come to through this process is that Billy's self-limited diet was, in his case, behavioral and not related to any physiological problem. That being said, I think he started limiting himself because he used to suffer much more pervasive sensory problems related to smell and taste and texture. So we take it very slowly.

And it's been great to see him add things to his diet that he has discovered he likes. I don't force him to eat. I encourage him to eat. My job is “attaboys” and the ice cream currently provides the motivation to try.

Our New Year's resolution has been to eliminate the words “stick” and “nugget” from our kids' diet, to eat fresher, less processed food and to try and bridge the gap between “Billy” food and our food. It's been more successful, more quickly than I could have imagined. Tortellini has replaced mac-n-cheese; soy nuggets have replaced those containing Frankenchickens, and vegetables are easing their way into the rotation on a small scale.

I still occasionally break out my Cabbage Patch, but now we save that for dessert.

Reader Comments

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LMAO

This is hilarious; that 9th circle of hell line: GOLD!

We tried the diet, too, but not nearly as long as you did. I just didn't have it in me to keep it up for very long, especially since at the time the only thing he would eat was Mac & Cheese and this was before GFCF stuff was trendy so there was no rice pasta alternative. Luckily it made no difference, I can't even imagine being GFCFSFEFWFTFRFQFFF

Sprinker vs Grocery Cart

Aww! Look at that face?? He's lovin' it... Ok, so you do the sprinkler, I'll do the grocery cart and he may just eat an entire thanksgiving dinner! Btw, I once heard of a kid who would only eat when he was sitting on his dad's shoulders. So every morning for breakfast the kid would sit on his shoulders balancing a bowl of cereal on his dads head... so when you put it all in perspective, you don't have it so bad!! ha! Good luck!

Cheesy Mac

Oh, Amanda, I can really relate to this. Lately, I can't talk Henry into eating anything but carbs. But I have someone to blame; me likey the carbs myself.

I'm so glad you're having success. Peas? That's a real milestone! If your dance is working the magic you're describing above, then I'm going to have to insist on a vlog where you show us the steps...

Please come over to our house and dance... ;)

Peas!

Have you tried frozen peas with Billy? Canned peas make me want to upchuck...gross!

One extra benefit of the dancing is all the exercise you're getting!

Wendy

Hmmm....

You MUST do the Cabbage Patch for me!!!! Bahahahaa...love it! Great post. =)

I'm so glad he ate peas! What a victory! My husband is gluten free, and for awhile we tried going dairy-free, too. It was REALLY hard. It was a relief when we realized dairy doesn't affect him.

Apparently, I need lessons...

I tried the dancing thing tonight and for all my efforts, there is a stone cold pork chop sitting on my table... my son was not impressed at all. I am thinking we need video of the dinner dancing! On the bright side I laughed myself silly reading this post! This is so our life right now!

Total 14 comments

Quite a few mom bloggers took a hiatus, or at the very least slowed down their productivity, over the summer. That's one of the reasons The SITS Girls are hosting a Back2Blogging challenge this week. Many of our kids are in school (I'm writing this while Willow naps) so it's time to build some writing momentum.

Electrolux-Set

I want them!! (Thelma and Louise)

AND we get entered into a sweepstakes to win the lovely ladies directly to the left, Thelma and Louise. As my dryer just broke and I've been hanging laundry out to dry all over the house, I would really like to bring either Thelma or Louise (whichever one is a dryer) into my home.

So each day there's a different writing prompt: Today, we're supposed to republish our first-ever blog post.

As soon as I read that, I got kind of a funny feeling in my stomach. I remember that first post. I actually wrote it long before I had a blog. I can't even remember why. My son's autism diagnosis was still new, and the “A” word still had a bitter taste in my mouth:

“Saying the A Word”
(Posted August 2009, written January 2009)

For the past 18 months, we've been chasing a diagnosis for Billy's delays in speech, his differences in motor function, his quirks of personality. My emotions have run the gamut from an extreme skepticism that there's anything "wrong" with him to a growing fear that our early doubts are entirely justified. I've worried, cried, screamed and pleaded with insurance companies, prayed, laughed at myself, and started the process all over again.

Actually, if I'm completely honest with myself, what I've been looking for the past 18 months, is an expert who will say, "Your son is definitely not autistic." I would demand of the therapists and doctors, "He's not autistic, is he?" because to me, that meant the end. That I would lose my son. That he would slip away from me and lose his smiles and affection and love of life -- all of which he has in spades.

S_FB_MAndiBilly

Ignoring my crazy eyes and too-long sister-wife hair, the point of this pic is that it was difficult back then to get Billy to look at us.

Well, Billy's three now, and he's not slipping away -- but some of his differences from his peers have become more apparent. He's a bright, beautiful, extremely funny boy. He has an amazing memory and vocabulary. He can answer the question, "What is that?" almost every time. He recognizes animals, plants, people, the planets, food ... but he can't tell you what he did today, what he likes to do, what his name is. He doesn't ask any questions. He spends most of his time repeating entire books, the dialog of a whole cartoon, the question you just asked him.

I know what you're probably thinking: "All kids develop differently. Don't worry about it. Let him develop at his own pace ..." Believe me, I've heard it all. I've said it all to myself.

He can sing beautifully -- perfect pitch and rhythm -- has a catalog of over 100 songs that he knows, and he loves to dance. But he'll have a complete meltdown if you touch his head or offer him anything to eat except macaroni, oatmeal or chicken nuggets. A symptom of his sensory processing problems is his *extreme* clumsiness. It's like he's always looking at where he wants to be, rather than where he is, and he'll fall over the huge coffee table -- which he doesn't see -- in his desire to get to his ball on the other side of the room. He didn't see the edge of the slide, and he fell off and got himself five stitches.

It's not traditional autism. Or at least what I've always believed autism to be. He's loving and affectionate and emotional and funny. But communicating is incredibly difficult for him. It's like he has all this information locked inside him, and he can't make sense of it. So what comes out, instead of what he wants to say, are these things that he's memorized.

So on the advice of a neurologist, we went for an MRI. It was a harrowing experience. The drug they gave him to sedate him had hardly any effect, and when they put in an IV, a meltdown of Armageddon proportions commenced. The results of the MRI: nothing physically wrong. So we get our diagnosis: autism.

I asked our OT, "Is that what autism means now? A lack of brain tumor or seizure disorder or stroke? None of that and you're suddenly autistic?"

She was kind when she responded to me. "No, Amanda. There are benchmarks for communication delay, motor problems and behavior issues -- and Billy meets all of those."

Oh. OK.

I can say it: My son is autistic.

I'm lucky. He's only mildly autistic. Most of his problems are sensory-related. And she's quick to point out that with therapy, he probably has a very good shot at a complete -- or near-complete -- recovery. That's a word that didn't used to be used with autism.

I don't know why the word bothers me so much. It doesn't change the person that Billy is. He's more than a diagnosis. He's a fantastic boy that any mom would feel lucky to love. I guess it's kind of like the way I don't want anyone to know my weight. The number doesn't make me fatter, but I'm not exactly going around with it scrawled on my forehead.

Every day I question every instinct I have, every treatment decision I've made for Billy -- every decision I make full-stop, for both my kids. But I'm starting to see that that's just part of being a parent.

But the A-word doesn't scare me any more. Much.

___________________________________________________________________

S_Billyalien

It's still not easy, but sometimes he loves the camera! And the camera ALWAYS love him.

I first posted this in August of 2009, but I had originally written it nearly 8 months earlier.

Now I read those words and the anger and fear is familiar to me, but I don't feel that way any more. My recent post, “Life is a Spectrum” is a reflection of how far we've come and how we managed set down a lot of those burdens of anger and stress along the way. It's such an accurate reflection of where we are now that I decided to change the blog to that title.

A few thoughts:

I would never use the term “mildly autistic” to describe Billy any more, nor to I talk about “recovery” any more. You don't "recover" from a differently wired brain. Billy is autistic. His brain is wired differently, in some amazingly wonderful ways, as well as some ways that cause him communication challenges. He's very highly functioning, but that makes him sound like that fancy washer or dryer and doesn't do justice to the fascinating child he is.

I realize now that saying Billy didn't have “traditional autism” was just my way of showing how ignorant I was. There are as many ways to be autistic as there are to be human. And my loving, funny, brilliant, gorgeous, HAPPY son is living one of them.

Also, I now know how much I weigh. Once you've faced your greatest fears for your children, stepping on the scale isn't nearly so scary any more.

Thanks to SITS Girls, Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances for this little moment of time travel. It's nice to be reminded of how far my brave little man has come.

Reader Comments

The A-Word

I remember when we used to refer to my son as "mildly" autistic or use terms like, not "traditionally" autistic. It only took you 18 months or so to realize those terms are kinda silly and there is nothing to be afraid of the words, "My son is autistic." Congrats. It's funny, nowadays I sometimes use words like "profoundly" or "significantly" to describe my son's autism. Strange how 12 or 13 years change your persepctive. If you win the washer dryer, I'll be swinging by to run a couple of loads.

Comment

Wow what a touching first post. I am sorry you had to go through all of that but I am glad to hear he is doing much better. Look forward to following your journey!

Time Travel

Breathtaking post, Amanda. I say you've earned that washer and dryer.

The A Word

You've come so far so fast. I used to say all of the same things. It's good that you wrote that early on so that you can go back and see how far that you've come. Recovery is not the right word, but it seems like Billy has a great prognosis. All we want for them is to be able to live independently and be a fully functioning (just like the W/D) member of society. If that happens, I don't care what they call them.

Total 4 comments

Debbie Yost, mom of three daughters, including one with Down's Syndrome, started a great tradition on her blog Three Weddings: Ability Tuesday. On the first Tuesday of each month, she writes about her daughter's ABILITIES, rather than her challenges. What a beautiful idea, I thought.

BillyPinkhat_small

So, of course, I'm going to steal it. No, not steal it ... pay homage by copying the idea blatantly.

Today is Tuesday and here are 10 things Billy can do much better than I can:

1. Sing. His voice is beautiful, and he adds a soundtrack to everything. His voice is pitch-perfect and he gives equal airtime to music composed by Dvorak (a current favorite) and Elmo (eternal).

2. Keep rhythm. Ask his Kindermusik teacher, Mrs. Jaci: His sense of rhythm is freaky-good. Insanely, we bought him a drum set for Christmas, though he will happily drum away on anything: table, chairs, microwave door, windows!

3. Remember people. It's not names he zeroes in on; it's usually some detail of his first encounter with someone, a detail that they might not even remember themselves. If you had a dog with you the first time he met you, even if it was six months ago and you were just dogsitting, you better be prepared to explain the absence of said canine on each subsequent encounter with the Billster.

4. Remember ANYTHING. Song lyrics, movie dialogue, the complete text of books he's only heard a couple of times. He has a media library in his head that I often wish I could tap into, particularly when someone is boring me (see #8).

5. Get his way with my mother. Where was this push-over when I was growing up?

6. Climbing. He's half mountain goat, half squirrel.

7. Dance with his heart and soul in it. Let me tell ya: The boy puts the “bust” in “bust a move.”

8. Entertain himself when people around him are boring. I wish I had the guts to just completely check out the moment someone starts boring me. And start singing my favorite song loudly in their faces. Or dancing with abandon for no apparent reason. Or pull their cell phone out of their purse and start screaming for them to show me the “Angry Birds game!” Kids are awesome and they don't even know it.

9. Escape from his clothing. Oy vey! Can I say that even though I'm not Jewish? Because the situation warrants it. If you don't believe me, click here for our trials and tribulations with our young Houdini.

10. Make Willow laugh. They have their own language. He only needs to look at her in some inscrutable way and she just falls over in hysterical giggles. She adores him and he can't make a step without her at his heels, just waiting for the next hilarious and fascinating thing her brother will do for her.

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away." -- Henry David Thoreau

Reader Comments

Billy

Re: #5 He always gets his way with me bacause, at this point in my life, I am better able to slow down - even stop - and appreciate a Masterpiece. That's what our li'l Billy is - an absolute masterpiece!

Memory

The memory comes in so handy for me when I can't remember someone's name, or their kids, or their dogs, or directions to their house, etc, etc.

What a fantastic idea!

What a fantastic idea, Amanda! Your number 10 made me tear up a little bit. The bond between siblings is such an incredible, touching, lucky thing. Your kids are blessed to have each other. :)

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Total 10 comments

Music truly is a universal language. Even pre-verbal and non-verbal people can be moved to communicate through melody, harmony and rhythm. There's something inside us that literally craves the sound of music.

Therapy based on music is growing in popularity in the autism community. Billy attends Kindermusik with the whole family, as well as a couple of normally developing friends. And we also take him to weekly music therapy sessions at TMH Rehab.

Music therapy can be done in a group setting or one-on-one. Billy's session is one-on-one with the therapist, though I usually attend with him -- and most of the time Willow is there as well, sitting in her stroller, sipping a bottle and occasionally demanding a "cook-cook" (cookie).

At TMH, music therapy is free to their existing clients (we also attend occupational and speech therapy there), because it is a teaching hospital and intern therapists regularly participate in -- and often lead -- the sessions.

We always start with a "hello" song. We take turns singing hello to each of us -- Billy, the teacher, Mama, Willow (who has started waving as soon as she hears that song) -- while the therapist plays the guitar. Sometimes, Billy strums the guitar while the therapist holds it and changes the chords.

Then he gets to choose between a couple of activities. In the beginning, we used a picture schedule, and his two choices would be represented by pictures. For instance, he might have a choice between a drum or puppets. If he chooses puppets, he picks that card and places it on the position for "activity we're doing now." After we're done, he takes the card and puts it in the "All done" pile. That way, he can visually understand that an activity has a beginning and end and that we complete one activity before starting the next.

If he chooses the drum, one of the activities we do is "Leader of the Band." We each hold a drum, and we all sing: "Billy is the leader of the band. Billy tells us when to start and stop." Then Billy has to shout, "Start!" before we can all start playing our drums. And we keep playing until he commands us to "Stop!" That activity helps reinforce the idea that communication helps him to get people to do what he wants. He got the hang of that one pretty quickly. I frequently hear "Stop!" at home. But he also started commanding me to "Tickle!" which was nice.

There are several different puppet-based activities. One of Billy's favorites he calls "Alligator Monkey." It sounds like an inexplicable Japanese cartoon, but it's actually a game in which the therapist holds an alligator puppet, while Billy and I hold five monkey "puppets" (which are really just felt monkey on a popsicle stick).

Then we sing:
"Five little monkeys swinging from a tree,
teasing Mr. Alligator:
'Can't catch me, no, you can't catch me.'
Along comes Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
and he SNAPS that monkey right out of the tree!"

At the SNAP point, the therapist grabs one of the monkeys in the alligator's mouth. At first, I was worried Billy would be frightened by the game. But recently, he's started feeding the monkeys to the alligator as soon as the song starts. He sometimes tries to give the alligator a couple of monkeys at once.

Another favorite game: Bean bags. We each receive a bean bag of a particular color and sing:
"Bean bag, bean bag, where ya been?
Way up high (we hold our bean bag up high)
and down again (we move the bean bag down low).
Bean bag, bean bag, don't get lost.
If you're bean bag is (insert color here), then give it a toss!"
And whomever has the bean bag of a particular color, throws it into an upturned drum.

Music therapy uses instruments like the xylophone and various drums and shakers. We also occasionally use streamers, balls and balloons, bubbles, books. The unifying element is that there is a song involved with every activity, and each game or song helps teach a concept. There's a song for taking turns, a song for greetings and goodbyes, a song for cleaning up, a song for following instructions, even a song for sitting down in your blue chair and not running around the room.

When we started music therapy six months ago, each transition to a new activity was a struggle. Even getting from the lobby to the therapy room inspired a meltdown for the first few weeks. He didn't want to give up one activity or instrument he liked in favor of a new one. But now he'll run right in there shouting the name of whatever instrument he wants to play. He understands that he has to sit down in order to play. And he understands the concept of taking turns. He still prefers "Billy's turn" but he grudgingly accepts that other people get a turn with the Lollipop Drum too.

I'm a huge believer in music therapy for my child. I've seen it work with my own eyes, because Billy loves music. I can ask Billy to do something, and he'll ignore me. But if I sing the command to him, he'll look up, and most likely, respond. Sometimes, as I'm making up a melody and belting out, "Please, please, BIL-ly, stop stick-ing your hands in the toil-LET!" I feel like I'm starring in my own very strange way-way-off-off-Broadway production, but I don't mind that. I like musicals.

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Music Therapy for Autism

To the tune of every SLP's favorite song, "It's Time to Clean Up":

It's time to wake up, it's time to wake up...

It's time to eat breakfast, it's time to eat breakfast...

It's time to brush teeth, it's time to brush teeth...

This song is making me crazy, this song is making me crazy!

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Billy was bawling his eyes out yesterday, faced pressed to the front window as his new play date and his mom pulled out of our driveway. "He's gone! He's not here! EJ, where are you?" The "you" is a long heartbroken wail. "He's not here and it's my birthday!"

Easter_Billysad

It's not Billy's birthday. That line came straight from a book called Little Bear. But the emotion is real. He made a new friend and watching EJ walk away at the end of the play date was devastating.

My heart ached, and I had tears in my own throat. I also recognized that rising panic that I feel when confronted with a parenting problem I'm worried can't handle. I looked at him and it was like staring in helpless horror as an injured baby bird flailed around in the middle of a busy intersection. No amount of organization, careful study or regular therapy will ever protect my baby's heart from being broken.

Most people are more familiar with the unemotional side of autism, and we get that sometimes. It's almost easier to deal with. When I pick Billy up from school some afternoons, he's clearly waiting for me. But when he sees me, his first response might be a blank stare. And then suddenly, his face will break into the most brilliant smile and he'll run at me, arms in the air. And at the last minute, rather than throw himself into my arms, he does what we call "the drive-by:" he breaks away and runs in the other direction. It's almost like the emotion of the moment is too strong. He has to back away, size up the situation and then come at me again. It might take three or four tries before he finally accepts my embrace, but when he does, it's whole-hearted. He feels very deeply and sometimes it's too much for him.

When the anticipation of a moment is too strong -- maybe it's a tense moment in a book or TV show he knows very well -- he'll sometimes put his fingers in his ears. Anything to dull the sensory overload, it seems. Like he'll feel it less if he can't hear or see things as clearly. I think we all have moments like that in our lives, when we'd like to put a hazy filter on things, to tone it down just a bit. Billy's heartbreak over the absence of his new friend was one of those moments for me.

Then I snapped out of it. My son may be autistic, but he's no injured baby bird; he's smart and strong. He can handle this, and so can I. "Find Mama's eyes," I told him, and after a last doleful glance at the empty driveway, he turned his tear-stained face up to me.

"Find Mama's eyes," he repeated and then wailed again, "EJ is gone! He's not here!"

"Yeah, I know," I agreed, giving him a big hug. "But he'll come back. He's coming back on Sunday for Willow's birthday. And you'll see him at school, at lunch and on the playground." EJ goes to the same school, but is in a different pre-K class.

"He's not here. He's gone," he says again, but he's not crying now; he's thinking. "He's not here and it's my birthday." But the gears are working in his brain; you can almost watch them move. "Willow's birthday," he seemed to correct himself, and something clicked. "Where's Willow?"

Good point. Crap, where is Willow? In the midst of the drama, I momentarily forgot all about my one-year-old.

We find her playing happily, as usual, in her play yard. She looks up at her brother, squeals with delight, and holds up her arms. "Up!" she shouts. Instead, Billy climbs in the play yard with her. He wraps his arms around her and squeezes, maybe a little too hard, but she's a robust little thing and loves every minute of it.

I watch them play together, arranging figures and furniture in the doll house, and thank my lucky stars that there is no filter on what I feel.


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Love Hurts

Oh, yes, we saw that sweet boy pining in the window. EJ kept saying, "Biwwy is not happy, he is sad". Looking forward to the party on Sunday; rain, rain go away!!

Thank You!

A mutual friend of ours (Sharon Urquhart) was the one who sent me to your blog and I have been reading steadily for days now. I am amazed at how alike our boys are and when I read about Billy's "drive-by's" I had to comment! You have no idea how wonderful it is to know that you're not alone and that someone else is sharing the same experiences, Reese has done the "drive-by" since he was a year old!! I really wish I had known you when we lived in Panama City, it would have been great to know someone in the same boat. But mostly, I just wanted you to know what a comfort your story has been to me. Thank you!

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