Sunday, September 30, 2007

Alan Made a Joke

For the first time I can remember, Alan made an original joke. And he made it on himself. I value humor and the ability to see the funny side of oneself.

Alan has been taking longer and longer to eat. Several family members have commented on it. It is now 8:15 and Alan has been at the table since 6 p. m. or so. He doesn't have to sit down right at 6 p. m. as he used to, so I am not certain he sat down exactly then. It was near then, though.

I got up from the computer, went upstairs and remarked to Alan, "Good heavens, Alan, are you still eating?"

Alan replied, "I take forever to eat. ""

He added, "Dial-up."

"At supper I go at dial-up speed."

I saw him grin.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Alan Is Using His iPod
Someone asked me if Alan had learned to use his iPod he got at the end of July. Yes, indeed. In fact, he is using it a little too much. He likes to use it at the kitchen table when we are having lunch. I have told him that I believe this is rude. He is there now and I have left because I told him I didn't want him to use it while we were together at the table.
On the other hand, whenever he has his iPod on when we are going someplace we have not been before, he asks me, always with these words, "Do they even allow iPods here?" He asked me this, appropriately, I think, when we were going into a restaurant and also when we were going into the library.
What does he have on it? All the music he has on it is from his father's computer. It is all sixties and seventies music. Dad happened to preserve the recording from our wedding on his computer, so at the end of the music, there is our wedding. Funny. Dad keeps saying he must add some more music. I wish he would teach Alan to add music.
At first, Alan shouted when his dad was fixing his iPod. It did not work correctly at first. Dad had to take it in to the local Apple store. Why was Alan upset? Dad changed the order of the music. We talked with Alan about how unreasonable it was to keep the same order. Now Alan says he changes the order himself, but only one time each week, on Fridays.
We are about to take another short trip. I am really glad Alan has his iPod to amuse himself while we are waiting in airports, or in restaurants, or for sister Cate to arrive.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Disentangling Rigid Thinking

My son has developed some rigid behaviors around his use of the treadmill. I am at a loss as to how to help him disengage his rituals so that he can be successful.

The climax today was when he told me after two tries to get his "run" under 35 minutes, that he wanted to try again. To have a do-over again, making it the third run of the day all so one of his runs would be under 35 minutes and the first two "don't count."

When I told him he needed to have his shower and get ready for bed, he said he needed to be on the treadmill tomorrow at 3:15:15. Yes, at fifteen minutes and fiteen seconds after 3. He is 15 years old. Many things are connected to 15s for him. He said he blamed his lack of success today on not being home at 3:15:15.

I told him I could not allow him to dictate the time of his treadmill use. This has been an issue for months. Before this, he decided he had to wait until the mail was delivered before he could use the treadmill. He is required by his Dad to be done with the treadmill by the time Dad comes home. This is not really hard since he has all day to do it in. It is only hard because he makes it so.

And, if he does not achieve the run in less than 35 minutes, he claims that he can't do any written work that evening. He has been told they are not related, but in his mind they are.

Why can he do the run in less than 35 minutes sometimes and not others? I am not sure. Dana says it has to do with the t.v. show he watches while he is on the treadmill. He doesn't run fast except during certain parts. He walks slowly. He sounds to me as though he is running quite steadily when I listen from the floor below. I do not want to have to go into the room to monitor him. I need the time free from him and I need him to be responsible for his treadmill use.

I do know he has a thing about how many calories the machine says he has burned. I have repeatedly told him I am not interested in the calories. I am only interested in time and distance.

My great frustration is in not understanding this obsession well, and also in not figuring it out, I don't know how to help him.

He won't record it and doesn't want me to write it in the daybook unless he does it in the required time.

He is collecting the mail again once in a while. I allow him to do it in a random fashion. That is, I do it most days and now and then I will let him get it. He likes to get it. I can't allow him to control my life to the point that I don't get to use the treadmill or that I have to listen to him pounding on it over my head for more than 70 minutes a day. I think I may have successfully got the treadmill unhooked from getting the mail into the house.

The hard thing for me is that he is making this a conflict between us. I need not to have to have a power struggle over his p. e.

Suggestions are welcome.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Making the Most of Moments

Trying to engage Alan in RDI activities during the day is sometimes reduced to only a moment. Let me give a few examples. I am always working on getting Alan to reference me. I wanted him to return to grocery cart to the cart corral after we put the groceries into the back of the van together. I simply tilted my head toward it, and he ran off with it to return it. When we got home, I parked the van inside the garage. Alan was in front of me, going toward the inner garage door. He asked me aloud, "Mom, can I close the (big) garage door?" I didn't answer him. I waited a few seconds. He took another couple of steps. Then he turned to look at me. I nodded, and he did it. Waiting is the hardest thing for me. I have to remind myself often not to "help" Alan or "solve" things for him. Rushing him means that he does not figure the thing at hand out for himself. We are building competencies, so I need to wait even more and see if he figures out what is needed. One thing that helps is that we are together so much every day. I don't have to find time to be with him like some parents do. He depends on interacting with me because we are alone together. Of course, he is like a typical fifteen-year-old and in the evening closets himself in his room. Same thing in the morning before we begin our work together and after he has made and eaten his breakfast. The next thing I am planning is to hand him something inconguous...for example, giving him a spoon when the task calls for a knife since we are often making our lunch at the same time, or I could hand him a tissue when he clearly wants to have my keys to open the mailbox. If I let myself be less competent, less in charge, he may rise to the occasion and be more competent. I am confident nowadays that this sort of thing will not cause a melt-down as I am sure it would have a couple of years ago. I think he is more trusting that things will work out, even if they aren't working or a solution isn't clear at the moment. Get him thinking. That's the goal.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Opressive Parents United

We are trying to balance using RDI with Alan and having him do a few chores. A few days ago, I began just having him put away a few things from the dishwasher...the silverware, or just the glasses. I prepared by emptying the dishwasher before he came down to breakfast except for these few items. Two days, it went fine. On the third day, he reached into the cupboard for a glass. There were none in there. I began passing him the clean glasses from the dishwasher, one by one. Near the end he declared, "Hurry up, Slow Poke! I hate chores."

Now I know that fifteen year olds do not like to do chores at all. At the same time, we think that he needs to learn to do them as part of the family unit. We tell him, we are all members of the family team and we all have to participate.

Yesterday afternoon, his dad and I were doing yard work and dad told Alan he needed to come out and help. I got out the video camera so that I could record some RDI moments. First, Dad asked Alan to pull the trigger and guide the long pole for trimming the oleander bushes. Minimal participation. Grumbling. Next, I asked him to mow the postage stamp back lawn. He did a decent job of it, grumbling all the while. Saying he was going to find a new family and run away. Saying we were oppressive parents.

The final thing Dad hit upon for Alan to help with was to cut away the branches of another, taller oleander which had twined its branches around the cable vision wire that runs into the house. Dad told Alan that if the branches broke the wire, Alan would have no more cable vision in the house. This did get Alan engaged. Alan had to pull on the rope which operated the lever after Dad had placed the hook over each branch. There was not a word of grumbling about this chore and there were no verbal stims at all. We do have video of this activity as well.

A friend on one of my lists told me she had the reaction of not wanting to do a chore from her fourteen year old daughter. Said daughter was willing to give up an afternoon with a friend rather than do the dishes. My friend offered me membership in OPU...Oppressive Parents United, pronounced "Oh, Poo!" She wondered what my son's reaction would be when I told him I had joined OPU. I can't wait to find out when I ask him to do the next chore.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Welcome Surprise

The first week at home has been a blur. I came home with a chest cold. I was tired out from coughing and waking in the night. I expected all my plants to have suffered since we were gone from home so long this year. Imagine my delight, then, when I found that my kitchen plants had not only survived, they were and are still blooming!
Years ago, when we lived in Edmonton, Alberta,
I knew two older ladies who each grew African violets. One was our next door neighbor, Mrs. Cook, who could get anything to grow except for the clematis vine she kept trying to grow outside her back door. Her African violets always seemed to be in bloom. The other was Mom's and my friend, Mrs. Bouillon. She also had African violets she grew in her assisted living apartment. Since then, I have usually had some African violets, with mixed success. Lately, though, I have had many blooms from these three plants.
After coming to live in the United States, I have had orchid plants given to me. I always tried to get them to rebloom, usually without success. However, this one phaleanopsis has outdone itself. This is the fourth time this plant has bloomed. As you can see from the picture, the blooms are prolific. You can also see that I am still attempting to get other orchids to rebloom. I find orchid plants to be extremely cost effective, whether or not they bloom even a second time. The plant usually costs under $25, at least in the size I buy them, and usually at Trader Joe's. If I get them with only a few blossoms open, they continue to bloom for weeks on end. I am happy to be nurturing these plants that reward me with magnificent blossoms.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Large Raptor

This evening, we ventured out into our yard to use the pool and the spa. The temperature has been torrid during the daytime.

We noticed that the large raptor that likes to come to our dead pine tree to survey the hillside had returned. He sits there, sometimes making his fearsome call, and swoops down, probably to score his evening meal of some unlucky rodent. At times, he is joined by another, which, we assume, is his mate.

We have looked in our bird book. We can only surmise that this is a large red-tailed hawk. We hope someone will tell us what "our" bird is.

Even though we live in the greater Los Angeles area, there are large green areas. We have an untamed, wild hillside on our property. We also face a public park called Wildwood which remains natural.

Mr. Raptor is a welcome visitor.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Wonderful August Vacation

This year we took a wonderful vacation to British Columbia. It was filled with family visits and lots of time beside and on the water. We all need a chance to renew ourselves and renew our bonds with our family and friends. We were able to spend time with many of the people who mean so much to us. We were able to spend time in Victoria, Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Don, Alan and I spent an afternoon in our inflatable boat on Sproat Lake where the Martin Mars water bombers are stationed. We also took the boat from the boat launch near Departure Bay over to our favorite floating lunch spot, the Dinghy Dock Pub on Protection Island. We explored a bit of the inner harbor and Alan got a chance to drive the boat. Of course, I was apprehensive when he didn't seem to watch where we were headed. I was relaxed when Don was driving. On Sproat Lake, however, I made an error. Don had said we didn't seem to need the boat seat and I seemed comfortable sitting down in the bottom of the boat. Hmmm. Ok. So he offered to let me drive. I declined. Mistake. He decided to go over to take a close look at the Martin Mars water bombers. Just as we got close, he hadn't noticed that there was a speed boat coming under the nearest plane, towing an inner tube. Fast. We were in no danger. However, the wake splashed over the side of our rubber raft. I was miffed! Of course I felt as if I had wet myself. I can laugh about it now. At the time, though, I didn't want to stop in Cathedral Grove or anywhere else on the way back to Parksville. Once at our resort, I figured out to tie my jacket around my waist and I flounced into our condo. Next time, I'll drive.