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May’s Extremes

on June 1, 2012

It’s been a crazy month full of extreme highs and lows. I haven’t written much lately because both extremes were extremely overwhelming!

We started the month off with the Autism Walk efforts – marketing committee work, volunteering, rallying my amazing team and finally participating in the walk itself. I have to say that this was the best year yet. Every year that I walk is emotional – for different reasons. This year was no different. I had the amazing support of my co-workers to walk with me. Not only did I have onsite support, I had friends and loved ones make such generous donations this year. I didn’t even have that much time to really fund raise like I would have liked, but my true friends came through for me and gave with their hearts. No words, thank yous, tears or hugs can actually show these friends how much that means to me. In fact, today I was reading about a new drug that might help people affected by autism. Because of fund raising efforts like this, companies can research and test out medication that might actually help and hopefully eventually CURE our kids!!! That’s HUGE!!! I just hope these people have some idea of the true impact of their generosity and the thankfulness that I feel.Oh, and by the way, not only was it a great turnout, we were also the only team I think in history to actually tailgate at a charity walk. Thanks to my director and some cool co-workers, we had mimosas and wine to cheer us on the less than 3 mile walk – that we incidentally never even finished 🙂  FUNN!!

After that, my family experienced some tough times. Alex did some pretty big damage to his ceiling by knocking down the can light and ceiling tile by flipping his mattress. Luckily, a good friend of mine was able to come over the same day and fix it. Then, Alex decided to make “snow” by wetting down an entire roll of toilet paper and then sprinkling pieces of it all over my house. That took about an hour and a half to clean up.

And then, the worst happened. Alex got out of the house twice. OUT OF THE HOUSE. Do you know what that means? He literally left the house and was out and about. Not in an enclosed area, not in a fenced in yard, not with an adult – BY HIMSELF. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t communicate. He doesn’t know to look left and right to check for cars. He doesn’t know he should have clothes on when outside. He doesn’t know that 4am is not an appropriate time to drink 5 capri suns and leave them all over the driveway. He doesn’t know that Mommy would almost DIE when she sees the evidence that he escaped. He doesn’t know that I could lose him forever when he does this.

Talk about emotional low. The first time he escaped, it was truly my own fault. Katie came back from her dads and walked thru the garage door while the rest of the family came thru the front door. I didn’t even think to check the garage door because I didn’t even realize it. We went to bed and didn’t think twice. Alex has been getting up around 4 and making messes in the house but had never really attempted to go out, so I didn’t even lock the garage door.

I awoke suddenly around 6am with that weird feeling. I knew something was up. I yelled for Alex immediately. NO ANSWER. I went downstairs and I see him sitting at the kitchen table with the following FEAST in front of him: Gallon of ice cream, 2 packs of raisins, a box of Chex mix, grapes, frozen berries, cheese and a Capri sun. There was a mess all over the table and floor. The fridge was still locked though, so I was confused where the frozen stuff came from – and then I realized… HE WENT OUTSIDE. I ran outside, and to my horror, saw the open fridge/freezer with everything displaced and on the floor and a trail of Capri suns leading all the way to the street. The garage door had been accidentally left open by Katie the night before (and I didn’t even think to check on it!!)

I almost threw up. I come back in to see my (by the way NAKED) son, sitting at the kitchen table with his feast that he had prepared himself, happy as a clam. NO CLUE what could have happened to him. I cried as I cleaned up as the shear terror of what could have gone wrong and the guilt I felt for not keeping him safer.

After that, I was a psycho about checking the locks. I triple checked. I got up in the middle of the night. I checked in the morning. After I checked, I checked again. I tossed and turned, worried about it.

That’s why 2 days later, it was such a surprise when I saw the dirt.

The weekend prior, when my kids were at their dads, I had taken a few hours to do some planting in my courtyard in the front yard. I took great pride in planting new bushes and flowers, creating a pretty walkway with bricks and lights – it was beautiful to me – who was born with no gardening abilities whatsoever.

But that day, I knew it was no more. As I came down the stairs, I saw dirt all over the hallway. All over the kitchen. Mud in the sink. Hand prints on the door and all over the bathroom. There were hot pink petals near the doorway. What the hell happened???? Where did this come from, I thought. I know I locked the doors like crazy – there’s no way he could have gotten out!

But he did. He must have unlocked the door and the deadbolt to get out. He went into the courtyard and pulled out my petunias, dug up the plants and sprinkled dirt all over the entire courtyard. He then must have decided to clean it up, because I found the bathroom rug wet and rolled up with dirt all over it in the kitchen garbage.

Again – the tears flowed. This time – for longer, with even more desperation. What was I supposed to do? I triple locked. He still got out! What on earth am I going to do with this child? How will I ever sleep? How will I ever relax? How will I protect one of the loves of my life from himself!??

It was a tough day indeed. I told some friends and got some advice. I looked into an alarm system – but in the scheme of things – by the time an alarm sounds, he could already be in the street – he’s so damn fast!!

I ended up talking to my best friend and she and her fiance were over within hours to install new locks at the top of my doors that catch when you try to open. They also helped me to install magnet locks on the cabinets in the kitchen so he can’t get into those. (oh, forgot to mention, he also poured dishwasher soap and Comet all over the kitchen within 10 minutes of waking up one day). IT WAS NOT A GOOD WEEK.

So all in all, like I said – May was a busy month – full of extremes. All I can say is Thank GOD for such good friends and family members. From my friends and family members donating and walking with me (thanks work friends and family) to them listening to my worst fears coming true and being there for me as I cried out of guilt and concern (thanks Diane, Monica, Kristine and Nancy) to them coming over to help me clean up (thanks Mom) or to fix the ceiling (thanks Rich) or attach the lock issue (thanks Amy and Kevin)- I don’t know where I would be without them.

I wasn’t going to write this month because I didn’t think I had anything positive to say – but looking back, that’s all I have. I’m so thankful 🙂

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4 responses to “May’s Extremes

  1. A Quiet Week says:

    Oh, sweetie! You have my utmost sympathy. My boy has little idea of personal safety and I need to watch him so carefully. At six, he can play outside, but without constant supervision he’ll wander. Nothing is more frightening than a child who does not grasp danger.

    I am glad that you were able to find a solution. What a relief! We had a lock installed on our patio door at the top to keep him from unauthorized jaunts in the back yard. Our other outside doors have childproof knobs that (fortunately) still keep him contained.

    Hang in there!
    Lori

  2. Karen says:

    Yesterday I read a blog titled “Burden or Joy”. Caregiving is a journey and eventually we come to a fork in the road as we travel – Burden or Joy. We make the choice which road we will take. You are my constant inspiration to always choose the road to Joy. Love and Peace and Blessing to you! Karen

  3. Deanne Hatfield says:

    Jenn, how scarey. I feel for you. I had my issues being a single mom with 3 kids, one with ADHD that would make it very challenging, but nothing compared to what you are going through.
    Hang in there and stay strong.
    Deanne

  4. Nancy L says:

    I met Jenn at her new job – awesome lady, awesome mom!
    I’m also a parent of an autistic child that just turned – he’s now 16. Here’s my honest to goodness reality check about charities.

    First and foremost, I don’t contribute to charities that don’t give 90% plus back to the cause – period. By law, charities only need give 1% – yes, that is not a typo, 1% back to the cause.

    Idea! Rather than do fund raising efforts for organizations that need to justify their existence and pay their salaries, how about each famly does their own fund raising and gets the donations direct from loved ones to offset the ridiculously high costs of raising a child with Special Needs / Autism? Chances are the parents that are doing all the fund raising efforts for the organization do not receive a dime of it.

    Or, what if families of special needs kid/s received the financail help and loved ones and family members could then list this as a charitible gift (by law up to $11,000).

    This would all be tax free as long as the parent is able to file a list of therapies and receipts to offset the various costs that insurance won’t cover, etc.?

    Now, that’s a most wise form of fundraising that I would love to see AND to contribute directly to – cut out the middle man! Yes, charities do a decent job of stimulating publice awareness – maybe that should be relegated to government and PSA’s.

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