If you’ve been here long, you know that we regularly talk about the ups and downs of raising our autistic teen.
Admittedly, we often talk about the lows. But I’m happy to report that it’s been a good week in our household.
Last weekend, I got to spend some time with my mom. I was WAY overdue for that (thanks in large part to the pandemic), and it was really great to just get to spend some time talking. Kirk had taken Nolan to work on a super-secret Mother’s Day surprise at the time, so I didn’t have to entertain him or worry about what unknown “treasures” he might otherwise be searching for (and causing mess and/or destruction along the way).
Tuesday was my birthday, so we ordered from a local Chicago Dog place. This particular spot is only a few blocks from our house, and is owned by a family with a son who Nolan has been in classes with since elementary school. We hadn’t gotten a chance to eat there, and it was every bit as amazing as I’d hoped it would be. I even got a nice spumoni gelato, and that beats birthday cake any day as far as I’m concerned.
While Wednesday brought news that Nolan’s iPad screen had gotten cracked at school, we later realized that the tempered glass screen protector seems to be the only part that took the damage. I cannot tell you how many times those protectors have saved us. For real. That crisis averted was another win in our week.
The main event came on Thursday, though. Nolan participated in his first competition as a high school athlete as part of his school’s Adaptive Sports League Wiffle ball team. Kirk has been helping Nolan at practices since the season started, so they were able to be out in the field together. While I wasn’t able to be there (because work…), a friend of ours was there as team photographer and shared some great shots with us. At least one of these is definitely going on the wall.
Photo Credit: Krista Gold
Friday morning, Kirk forwarded a listing from Facebook Marketplace to me… We’ve been watching keyboards for several weeks knowing it’s about time to upgrade Nolan from what he’s currently got (which was gifted by a friend who had
one that wasn’t being used). It was exactly what he’d been hoping to find for Nolan. You see, when Nolan’s music therapy services resumed after the early days of the pandemic, Kirk was asked to join the sessions (previously Nolan went in without us). Kirk fell in love with the sound of the electric pianos the music therapists use, and has wanted to get him one from this specific company ever since. And Friday morning, the right instrument at the right price fell right in front of him. I’m pretty sure Kirk is still giddy about it. Nolan, on the other hand, needs to wait until the good sturdy stand I ordered arrives (hopefully some time today) to get to use it. But once we’re up and running, I have the feeling he’ll be just as giddy as Kirk. Maybe…
The weekend was pretty relaxed. That doesn’t really happen for us very often.
But Saturday, Nolan let me take him to a furniture store to look for a couch. Kirk and I both decided that despite the fact that our couch isn’t particularly old, it’s time to replace it. Honestly, it smells like 3 dying cats peed on it (which Oscar, Jeffrey Lemeowski and Frodo all did at some point—plus Donny when he was new here… he either wanted to make it known that this was his couch, too, or he was just trying to establish a pattern of assholery from early on…) Plus, somehow the ultra-economy-tier furniture that I picked out (yes—I’m a cheapskate) just doesn’t hold up to the rigors of our reality—go figure.
Nolan did a really great job in the store. Had it been up to him, we would have tried every bed in the store, but even when I had to steer him away from the beds and back to the more boring furniture, he did really well. And after looking seemingly everywhere, we’ve finally got a replacement coming. HOORAY!
Finally, Kirk got out to a flea market Sunday morning. By now, you probably know that Kirk loves flea markets almost as much as he loves coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. He found a couple of things that he’s been hunting for. It was nice to be able to give him a break (like he did for me the previous weekend), and it’s always nice to see him come back relaxed and excited about a treasure.
While none of these things on their own are huge, they’re big to us. And when we have more than one win in a short period of time, it can feel like a momentum shift. It can be so easy to get caught up in all of the things that seem to not be going well that sometimes we miss those wins—even the small ones.
And that makes me wonder how much control I have over which direction the momentum is heading. If I stop to pay attention and make a deliberate effort to celebrate those small wins, how will my perspective change? Will I realize that the small wins are no smaller or less important than the kinds of things that normally bring my day down? Or will I even maybe notice that there are more wins than I thought?
For example, why do I not celebrate things like Nolan using the bathroom properly with as much energy as I put into being disgruntled about it when he doesn’t? These things feel pretty equal from a logic standpoint, but I certainly don’t affect me equally. If I celebrated wiping a relatively clean hinder as hard as I grumble about wiping a much messier one, how would that impact my day? More importantly, how would it impact Nolan’s day? Or Kirk’s?
So maybe my goal for this week and beyond needs to be to celebrate the wins no matter how small. Perhaps I can save myself some stress by simply not emphasizing the negative like we so often do. And even if I can’t change the trajectory of the events of my day, maybe I can at least change my perception of them.
And even if I try and fail, at least I’ll get to do more celebrating, right? That feels like the opposite of a problem to me…