September 29, 2011

X Marks the Spot

X marks the spot where the For Sale sign stands on the lawn.

X marks the spot where we painted the dining room bright green. Then repainted a much better green.

X marks the spot where we put up wainscoting in the nursery, even though we were still calling it the "spare room."

X marks the spot where we carried you through the front door, followed by your sister two years later.

X marks the spots where you nursed on the couch, napped in the swing, bounced in the jumperoo.

X marks the spots where you formed your first smile, ate your first foods, took your first steps.

X marks the corner in your room where you bury yourself in your books.

X marks the spot where you played with the incrediblock for 45 minutes straight.

X marks the spot where I cried tears of joy at your first words, then of sadness when those words no longer came.

X marks the spot where you spent the 800 hours of therapy that we all hated and still aren't sure did any good.

X marks the spot on the lawn where you ran and splashed in the water, squealing with pure joy.

X marks the spots of so much laughter and tears, heartache and wonder, questions and hope.

X marks the spot where you crashed into the wall, resulting in stitches, but where you still run flying by.

X marks the moments of your life, held close in these walls.

And now, X marks an empty spot, waiting for us to sign our names.

But do not worry. I have a bag full of X's to bring with us.

September 27, 2011

Is My House Telling Me Something?

As I've mentioned, our house is on the market. We've lived here for just over six years. That doesn't seem like a very long time, but in many ways it has felt like a lifetime. Since moving in Jeff and I got married, had two kids, and started down our autism road.

For a couple of those years, I really wanted to move. Our house is not big, and when Moe's 25 hour a week ABA program was in full swing, I felt cramped. When Moe was working with a therapist, Jelly, the dog and I had to find other space to be in. I was unhappy with the situation and I projected that on to the house. I wanted more space, yes, but it doesn't take a psychotherapist to see that I also wanted a fresh start.

The day after this happened, a potential buyer
wanted to see the house. I warned the realtor that
the branch had fallen, and she said her client wasn't
much of a "tree person."
But now, the house is starting to feel bigger again. Part of this may have to do with the fact that a lot of our things, including some furniture and many boxes of toys, are in storage or in the garage. Moe is also in school for most of the day. Jelly is in preschool two mornings a week, and as she gets older, her time at home during the day will also decrease.

Most days, I'm also more at peace with Moe's diagnosis, and as a result, with our life as a family. That helps put everything in a better light. I'm also not looking forward to packing or finding another place to live, possibly two, if we have to rent for a while before we find a new place.

There are still reasons to move. I cook and bake and I'd love a bigger kitchen. I'd like a comfortable guest room where the grandparents can stay. A playroom that I can make completely (okay, almost completely) Moe-proof and more conducive to teaching would be amazing. We could spend some money and turn our house into this, but it doesn't make financial sense to do that in our current neighborhood.

And lately, I've been thinking our house is trying to tell us something. Like the way the wall jumped out and attacked Moe. Before that, half of one of our lovely dwarf pear trees, the only tress that provide any shade in our yard, fell.

The only problem is I can't tell if it is telling us to stay or pushing us out.

September 26, 2011

An Unsavory New Habit

Moe has developed a new habit. He's been spitting. He doesn't spit at anything or anyone. He just spits on his fingers, then wipes it off on whatever is nearby including his shirt, the wall, the window or the sofa. Yuck.

I'm not sure exactly when it started, but it has been at least a month. I think it started around the time he started school this year. The good news is Moe doesn't seem to be biting or chewing as much (though he still puts everything in his mouth), so it seems this fun new behavior has replaced the old fun behavior. At least a little bit. For now. You know how these things go.

I've started meeting a few moms for breakfast occasionally, and we discovered last week that this habit seems to be going around. A number of the kids have been spitting. They've also all been screaming the same high pitched scream. We all think it is our kid who started these lovely behaviors. But I'm pretty sure it was Moe. At least it's some form of imitation. Who says our kids aren't paying attention?

The spitting is definitely a sensory seeking behavior, though I'm not sure yet if it is the oral or tactile input, or both, that Moe likes. I also haven't been able to track yet if it happens more during certain times of day or activities. Our OT suggested giving similar tactile input, like finger painting or playing with shaving cream, to see if that helps.

I'm considering trying the brushing protocol again to see if that helps. We already incorporate oral input into Moe's sensory diet, like giving chewy and crunchy foods and giving smoothies through a straw. Does anyone else have any experience with this? I'd love to hear what has worked for you.

September 21, 2011


I use pseudonyms for my kids on this blog. It felt like the right thing to do, but sometimes I don't like it. You see, I love my kids' names.

Moe's real name starts with a W. He was named after my brother, William. We Jews generally don't name people after someone who is living, and usually do name our kids after someone who has died. Many choose to use the first letter of the name to honor the person. We thought about William but I just couldn't bring myself to call my child Bill or Billy, the names my brother went by. So we went with another W name. As it turns out, William seems to be popular again, though most Williams I've met seem to go by either Will or Liam.

I can't really argue with this.
We were thankful that our first child turned out to be a boy. The W names for girls were less appealing than the one we chose for Moe. I already have a cousin Wendy, and although Willa and Willow had potential, our last name is Bush. So Willow Bush was probably not the best option. (Some of my other favorite non-W girl names, like Rose, Olive and Lily were similarly off the table.)

Our last name has posed another challenge as well. In case you haven't pieced this together yet, my son is W Bush. Yes, like the former president. And I am, to put it gently, not a fan. I have one friend who likes to bring up the fact that my son is W Bush. But this friend moved to Texas, thereby waiving all his rights to tease me about the W.

Besides, Moe's middle name starts with the letter D.

For Democrat.

No More Stitches

After Moe's stitches were in, the ER doc assured me that Moe would be fine, but understood "it must be hard when you can't really explain what was going on." I told him that maybe in this case it was a little easier, since he didn't know it would hurt so he wasn't scared in anticipation. The stitches weren't any worse for it and the waiting process was so much easier.

Getting the stitches out was the same. We had our regular pediatrician take them out. I was nervous with the anticipation of how it was going to go. But Moe was in a great mood. He was excited that I picked him up early from school. He was excited that he got to be with both Jeff and I without his annoying little sister taking away our attention. He had no reason to be concerned.

And in this case, neither did I. The process was fast and easy. Moe sat on Jeff's lap and held his arms still with one hand and his head with the other. Although Moe wasn't thrilled with having his head held still, he didn't put up much of a fuss and he let the doctor get close with those sharp scissors. At the end, she even remarked how impressed she was with how well he did and with his eye contact. He is usually a pretty happy kid.

Because things were going so well, and because we were there, (and are mean, mean parents), we decided to go ahead and give him a flu shot too. Lucky kid. He didn't cry at the shot, but he did give us a quite a look. He may not have words, but his eyes gave us a sharp "now that was just uncalled for."

September 16, 2011

A Visit to the ER (Part 2)

We do what we can to protect our children. We vaccinate. (Or not. Let's not go there today.) We keep sharp knives off the counter and we cover the electrical outlets. But as I found out on Wednesday, kids find a way to injure themselves anyway.

To continue with our story, we got to the emergency room at a small, local hospital that we had never been to before. As emergency rooms go, it wasn't too bad. Jeff pointed out, "no bullet proof glass!" But all ER visits require the one thing Moe hates to do: wait. But wait we did, first in the waiting room, then in our little curtained-off cubicle.

I was pretty calm while we were waiting. It helped that Moe was no longer bleeding, and that the triage nurse put some gauze over his cut so I wasn't staring at my failure as mother it. It was about this time that I realized that we had left the house in such a hurry that I neglected to get either a shirt or shoes for Moe. It was cold in the waiting room, but he didn't seem to mind.

When we were taken back to the area with the beds, I got really nervous. Fortunately, we had at least another 30 minutes of waiting for that to wear off.

The doctor finally came in. He was young and very nice, and he confirmed that Moe would need three or four stitches. We told him that Moe was autistic so wouldn't be able to understand his directions. The doctor was incredibly kind to us and Moe. I was concerned that Moe wouldn't be able to stay still for the stitches. It turns out that most four year olds won't stay still for stitches, and he knew just what to do.

They started by putting a topical anesthesia on the area. Then we had to wait 20-30 minutes. We gave Moe a snack and changed his diaper. Moe played with my iPhone. I reversed the camera and showed him how to take pictures of himself. (Side note: why did I never think to show him that before?)

About 45 minutes later, the doctor and RN (an awesome guy with a hilarious southern accent that I can only describe, with apologies, as "redneck") came back with their tray of medieval torture devices. We swaddled Moe in a sheet, something we do in OT for calming. He was okay. Jeff held Moe's torso. The RN held his head still. And the doctor started with the Lidocaine injections.

The first shot wasn't too bad. Moe cried a bit, but it didn't seem horrible. But the second shot, which seemed a bit more directly into the wound, hurt. Moe screamed something like I've never heard from him before. I felt it physically. Even though I knew I it was necessary, that sound has stayed with me. And Moe never stopped crying - hard - through the whole process, from two more Lidocaine shots, to cleaning out the cut with water, to three stitches.

Despite the Lidocaine, I swear Moe could feel that first stitch going in. The doctor said he didn't think so. After the painful shots, I'm sure Moe was scared, didn't like his head being held so tightly. Coincidentally, one of my BFF's kids had the exact same injury when he was little, and she also said he didn't recover during the process.

As you can see, the cut is 2 feet long and
required 117 stitches.
As soon as they were done, and Jeff picked him up, Moe was completely fine. No more tears at all. But I haven't quite recovered. I can still see his hands covered in blood and a gaping wound on his head. I can still hear his scream from that shot, and see the fear in his eyes as that first stitch went in. In the scheme of things, this was minor. How do parents watch their kids suffer through worse? I hope I never know.

Also, I'm not looking forward next week, when Moe gets his stitches removed.

It is, however, strangely nice to write about this. Moe's autism had very little to do with what happened or how the process went. Through all the waiting, he was so well behaved in the ER. He hasn't been messing with his stitches, and he's letting me put antibiotic ointment on it. I wish it had never happened, but sometimes it is nice to have typical parenting stuff to talk about.

That reminds me: I must ask our realtor to make sure our next house has padded walls.

September 15, 2011

A Visit to the ER (Part 1)

Yesterday started off like any other day. I was excited because my BFF and her two boys were coming over for dinner. I made pizza dough in the morning, Jelly and I had the first day of the new session of music class, and things seemed under control. Oh, how wrong I was.

A little after 4:00, Jelly was watching Sesame Street and Moe was doing what he always does when the TV is on: watches a bit, runs down to his room, plays a bit, and comes back. He doesn't sit still for long. If he's out of my sight for too long, and I can't hear what he's doing, I check on him, and often will find him in some precarious spot like the top of his toy bin or standing on his dresser.

He's also a little bit clumsy. I'm sure this is because of his motor delays and nothing to do with my athletic prowess. It isn't unusual for him to trip occasionally as he runs down the hall. So yesterday, when Moe tripped in the living room, I barely even looked up. He wasn't on top of a bookshelf or swivel chair; he was maybe ten feet away from me. But Moe never cries when he falls. He always just gets back up. He cries when he's hungry or frustrated, but like many kids on the spectrum, he seems to have a very high pain tolerance or experience pain differently than you and I. So when he didn't get up from the ground, had his head buried in his hands, and started crying, I went to him.

And when I picked up his head, all I saw was blood. I ran to get a clean towel, and see what was going on. It wasn't his teeth or eyes, but a pretty deep cut on his forehead. I was worried at first that he actually landed on something, but that didn't seem to be the case, so I just held him and applied direct pressure.

Jelly was aware of what was going on, but since she doesn't understand blood yet, she wasn't too freaked out. The dog, ever sensitive to the slightest increase in stress in the room, immediately started barking. She always knows how to make a difficult situation just a little bit harder.

At that point, I was a little stumped. I didn't want to just put the kids in the car and run to the ER, since I felt like I needed to keep applying pressure to the wound. (At what point does a cut qualify as a wound?) After a minute, I ran for the phone, called Jeff and told him to come home. I also called my BFF, who was supposed to be coming in another half hour or so, to come right away.

Then I waited, holding Moe and the towel. After about 10 minutes, Moe did not want to sit still. He was not amused at the towel I still insisted on holding to his head, and kept trying to go to the table for a snack. Both Jeff and the BFF called, but between Moe's crying and the dog barking, I couldn't hear a thing. All I could say was "just come here." She arrived in about 15 minutes, and Jeff was right behind her. Apparently, he made some daring traffic moves right in front of a cop, but fortunately did not get pulled over.

By the time we got in the car, Moe had stopped bleeding, but it was pretty clear he was going to need stitches. He now has three of them. That story tomorrow...

September 14, 2011

Citizens of the Online World

I recently got involved in a discussion about vaccines on a local moms group mailing list. It turned ugly (as they always do), but it got me thinking about our responsibilities as citizens, not just of the real world, but of the online world as well.

Read about it today over at Hopeful Parents, where I contribute on the 14th of every month.

September 12, 2011

Our First Target Meltdown

As you know, I have one typical child, as well as one with special needs. Watching Jelly, my typical two year old, gives us interesting insight into what a standard developmental path looks like. Although I do think this firsthand knowledge would have been helpful before Moe came along, because he is so delayed, they are sometimes quite similar, especially in terms of emotional development.

But they are also quite different. So many things come easy to Jelly, especially in terms of her motor development. When she wants her body to do something, for the most part she can just do it. Moe has to work really hard even to make a fist for a fist bump. He's only recently become fairly proficient at taking off his shoes, and can't put them on himself, where Jelly has been able to take shoes off and on for many months.

The biggest difference is their language development. Jelly has always been slightly ahead of the curve verbally, easily speaking in full sentences, and is working on concepts like when to use "ing" (as in Mommy is typing), and prepositions (in, on, behind, etc.). She practices these, speaking in sentences, and adjusting when they don't sound right to her. I'm not teaching her these things; she just picks them up. It's how most of us learn language, and it's fascinating.

You might think that this makes Jelly a much easier child to raise. Certainly her ability to say what she wants is very helpful. But Jelly is only two, so although she can talk, she isn't yet rational. Nor does she have patience. Very small issues or delays can turn into major tears, although she is getting better with concepts like "first, then" (as in, first we change your diaper then you can watch Dora).

I read often about the epic meltdowns of our autistic kids, often in sensory overloaded, and very public, places like Target. I've been lucky (excuse me while I go knock on some wood) that Moe is generally very well behaved when we're out and, as a sensory seeker, usually loves to be in bright, noisy environments. But I was still quite surprised that Jelly was the one who indoctrinated me into the Target meltdown club. My membership card should be arriving any day.

I was with Jeff and Moe, and the trigger was some perceived injustice around a hat that Moe had and Jelly didn't. She whined and complained for a while. When Moe was finally done with the hat, Jelly got to hold it for a bit. But I wasn't planning to buy it, so when we were done paying for the rest of our things, I gave the hat back. That was the last straw, and Jelly lost it. She was riding in the cart, otherwise I'm sure she would have thrown herself on the floor in perfect tantrum form.

It was also just about lunch time, and I'm sure that didn't help, but we couldn't go home because some people were coming to see it. So we decided a quick lunch was in order. We wanted fast, so we stopped at Carl's Jr. on the way home, thinking some fries and smoothies would help. Bad idea. This was the slowest fast food place ever. It took about 20 minutes from the time we ordered for them to bring our food. They weren't busy, nor was the food any better for taking that long. Moe and Jelly whined, cried, and/or screamed the entire time. It sucked.

The only saving grace was that Jeff was there. If I had gotten home and explained how Jelly had this horrible meltdown in Target, he would have sympathetically said "that's too bad" then moved on. At least he got to experience this particular hell right along with me. Lucky guy.

September 8, 2011

Understanding the Rules of Civility

"She had changed into high heels and a tangerine-colored blouse 
that clashed with all her best intentions." 

I love witty writing.

I love smart female characters.

I especially love smart female characters who are a little bit sassy and a little bit ahead of their time. They make me want to be witty and sassy and a little bit ahead of my time.

Katy Kontent is that character. Rules of Civility is that book. And I got to read it for the BlogHer book club!

Read my review for Rules Of Civility on BlogHer today. Then go read the book!

September 6, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

I had about an hour and a half of time to myself today. With both kids in school two mornings a week, I haven't quite figured out how to plan my free time. I have a to-do list, of course, but for various reasons, can't get them done. The place where I get my hair cut doesn't open early enough for me to fit in a visit before I pick up Jelly. The oral surgeon (ugh) only does consultations in the afternoons. I "forgot" to bring my gym bag. You get the idea.

The number one item on my list, however, is always "write new blog post." So today I went to my favorite writing spot, a local coffee house with free WiFi, ample power outlets, and a college town feel that makes me feel like a real writer.

But I'm not actually in a college town. So when I walked in today, I found a few of the usual suspects along with many, many new moms and their babies. I sat down anyway, tried to write a little, but found myself distracted. It wasn't the noise; lord knows I can write through almost anything. I was distracted by the memories of my own first mom's group meetings four years ago, Moe asleep in his car seat, me still learning how to hold a latte in one hand a push a stroller with the other.

How can it possibly be four years ago that I was one of them? How is it that so much and so little time has passed? Four years goes by in a heartbeat, and yet in this particular four years, my world has changed completely. Part of the change was just having kids, that life-changing jump from "me" to "mommy." But in the early days, Moe was just like all of those other babies. And I was just like all of those other moms.

What is even harder to believe is that we have now had as much time with Moe since his autism diagnosis as we did before it. And every day, that divide between before and after, between me and those new moms, grows bigger. My worldview has shifted. I am deeply and fundamentally changed, both stronger and more fragile, sometimes sadder, but often more hopeful than ever before.

They say one ending starts another beginning. Moe's diagnosis put him on a new path, ending his "normal childhood" and filling his days with early intervention and special education. But it also gave us answers and started us on a path toward healing. The diagnosis put me on new path too. I am a special needs parent. I am a blogger. I am a member of a new community of parents, helping each other out one day at a time.

And I've gotten really good at juggling a latte in one hand a stroller in the other.

This post inspired by the prompt "Where did it all begin?" at Kick in the Blog

September 5, 2011


Jelly, now just over two years old, has become a little parrot, repeating everything I say. While I'm amazed at her pronunciation, this can be annoying, worrisome (possible echolalia?), entertaining, and a little dangerous. If I ask her a question, and she doesn't know the answer right away, she will simply repeat the question.

"Jelly, where's Moe's monkey?"
"Where's Moe's monkey?"
"I'm asking you. Where did you put the monkey?"
"Where did you put the monkey?"

It's the toddler version of "Who's on First?"

Although neither Jeff nor I are especially big swearers, certain words do come out of our mouths that we'd rather our two year old didn't repeat. While it may be cute to hear Jelly say "Oh my goodness! So messy!" I'm a little less comfortable hearing her say "Berkeley, be quiet!" or "Moe, stop it!" When I got home from BlogHer, I had a temporary tattoo from the Aiming Low party, that said "Internets. Hell Yea!" For some reason I read this out loud, and Jelly immediately repeated it. And while my first thought was "quick, go get the video camera!" the mom in me quickly repeated "Oh yeah!" and successfully changed her tune.

Last weekend, the four of us went to the Hiller Aviation Museum. This is a pretty cool place for kids, and Jelly wanted to explore everything. One of the exhibits is the cockpit of a plane in which an attempted hijacking had been thwarted. I held Jelly up to see in inside and silently read the story.

Jeff was only mildly interested so I gave him the quick summary of what happened. The hijacker was suffering from black lung disease and was mentally ill, but I insensitively just said "he was crazy." Oops. Since then, Jelly has been saying "that's crazy!" I tried changing her to "that's silly" but this time, I was too late.

Fortunately, she didn't realize I was talking about a person, and seemed to think I was describing the airplane. So now, any time she hears or sees an airplane, she immediately shouts "that's crazy!" In this case, I think my choice of words worked out okay. I can't imagine a two year old shouting "that's mentally ill!" every time she sees an airplane.

Where's my juice box? I thought this was first class.

September 3, 2011

Trusting Your Gut and Solving Behavior Problems

Last week, Moe had a few rough days at school. I attributed this to a rough transition back to school. He's been tired from the long day and had a couple of sleepless nights. He can get really grumpy when he's tired and people try to make him work. And school, although fun, is also a lot of work.

Moe's wonderful teacher from last year read my blog post about his recent aggression, and reminded me that something probably set him off. One comment on that post suggested we request a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA). Since it was only the second week of school, and because it had only been two rough days, I didn't think that was appropriate yet. But it was a good reminder that there are tools to help us learn more. We don't ever have to just shrug our shoulders and hope it goes away.

An FBA, for those who aren't familiar, is a structured observation of the behavior over time. We start with the ABCs of behavior:

  • Antecedent: what happened before the behavior began?
  • Behavior: the behavior itself
  • Consequence: what consequence did the behavior have?
For example, Moe pulled a child's hair. His teacher said that they had a long circle time and Moe was probably  frustrated with having to sit still for that long. So the antecedent may have been a long circle time. The behavior was pulling a child's hair. The consequence was Moe got pulled into time out. 

But if we looked at this over time, we might learn something different. In the above example, Moe was sitting at the end of the circle. We might find that Moe is more likely to get frustrated when it takes longer to sing goodbye to him, so we can adjust the antecedent to put him at the beginning of the circle, thus avoiding the behavior. Or we might find that the issue is only when he sits next to a particular child. Maybe that child makes a noise that bothers Moe, or he touches Moe, so simply separating them solves the problem. Or maybe the pulling has nothing to do with the other kids, but is a sensory need, so providing a therapy band on the chair (a trick our OT just taught us) or using a lap pad could help provide input if he does get frustrated.

We can also adjust the consequence to make sure an undesirable behavior isn't inadvertently reinforcing the behavior.We might find that Moe is pulling hair to get attention. Obviously we can't ignore an aggressive behavior, but we can be stoic in the way we respond. Or maybe Moe just wants to be out of the circle, and he does it so he can go to time out. By sending Moe to time out, we'd actually be encouraging Moe to pull hair again, since he got to leave circle time, exactly what he wanted.

In Moe's case, I had another thought. As I was writing a note to his teacher about some other things, I had a realization. Moe's lunchbox has been coming back almost full every day. He comes home and devours the entire contents. When Moe is hungry, he is very grumpy, and without words to express "feed me, dammit!" he gets very frustrated. We ran into this last year when I realized that our weekend meal schedule was about a half hour off from the school schedule. Simply adjusting our schedule at home made things much better.

I asked about this. Did Moe seem like he didn't want to eat at school? Or, since snacks are highly structured and they work on making requests, asking for more or help and sharing, perhaps they were asking too much of him at snack time? Bingo. His teacher said that Moe often takes a long time to make requests so snack time is over before he's eaten much. She said lunch is more about nutrition, and they aren't as demanding. But I know Moe needs those snacks throughout the day to keep him going.

I told her that Moe gets very frustrated when he's hungry, and asked that they figure out a way to make sure he eats more during the day. Because he loves to eat, snack time is a great time to work with him, but if he's not eating at all, that's a problem. Maybe they need to dial back the demands until he's better at it. (They are going to start using pictures of his food to help with choice-making, something he is good at.) Or maybe they ask for 5 spontaneous requests, but then give him free access. Or maybe give him bigger portions at each request. These are all small adjustments that could lead not only to reduced negative behaviors, but also to more successful learning at snack time, and a happier child who will be more receptive to learning throughout the remainder of the day.

Yesterday, his teacher reported that he ate better and he had a much better day. I hope it continues.

Learn more about Functional Behavior Assessments and how they can help you and your child. You can also use the concepts behind an FBA to solve behavior problems at home by charting the ABCs of your child's behaviors.

September 2, 2011


I've always wanted to be really talented at something. Outside of the stick figures required for a good game of Pictionary, I am a terrible artist. I am a very bad singer, never had much skill at dancing, and quit playing the flute as soon as I could. I am good at things like interior design and am improving as a writer, but am I truly talented? I don't think so.

Many people on the autism spectrum have amazing talents. These are sometimes referred to as "splinter skills," but this is a term many people, including me, are uncomfortable with. It puts a true skill into a negative light. If someone is unable to dress himself but he can hear any piece of music and sit down and play it, why does the first trait take anything away from the second? In fact, these talents are often a pathway to learning other skills.

I think I have finally learned (mostly) to stop comparing Moe to other typical kids. I don't constantly think how things would be different "if." But I am by nature a competitive person, so I've (unwillingly) started comparing Moe to other autistic kids. That kid can play guitar at age 5! That kid has a photographic memory! This two year old can read!

But Moe doesn't seem to have any extraordinary talents yet. He is a very musically-inclined kid. He loves to hum and sing melodies, and he is in tune, but I attribute that more to the early music classes I did with Moe, starting when he was just a baby. Their philosophy is that all children are inherently musical and can learn basic music competence (singing in tune and keeping a rhythm). We're always singing in our house.

I find myself getting jealous of other kids who have these outstanding talents. How wonderful for their parents, who can say, "he can't talk, but just look at these paintings he created. He's so talented!" You don't have to tell me I'm being ridiculous. I know this is, in part, just parental competitiveness. We all want our kids to shine, and we have to check our own motivations (toddler beauty pageants, anyone?).

But I'm also always looking for a way in with Moe, a path to connection and shared experience. I don't care what it is. If he loves snakes, or rats, or bugs, I'll learn everything I can about them. Of course, a love of mid-century modern design would be preferable. And later, fine food and wine would be perfect.

I have to be careful with Jelly too. As my typical child, I need to be sure not to put too many expectations on her just to fulfill my need to see her in a dance recital. Though that would be really cute.

I hope to encourage both of my kids to try many different things. Because although some talents seem to be inherent, others can be developed with hard work over time.

Jenny Matlock


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