The Treasure of Friendship

Sketch ran away. Again.

It is really getting frustrating to have to constantly think about where he is, what he’s doing.

Is he still doing what he was doing just a minute ago?  How about now?

It’s a source of constant anxiety leading to panic when he’s out of sight.

So many times he is right where he should be, we just can’t see him.  But, the anxiety continues to rise until his body is visible again.

Just yesterday this happened. He went exploring in the small strip of woods along the side of our yard. It was about to rain, and I’d seen him go back there so I wasn’t too worried. Not worried, that is, until I lifted PolkaDot to my hip and walked across the yard with aching back, wrists, feet and knees (due to RA) to tell him to come inside only to find that I couldn’t find him at all. He’d vanished!  I knew I couldn’t search far, especially while carrying my 1 year old. Then I heard him scripting (I thanked God for his scripting this time!) and knew he was nearby.

But tonight when I wasn’t worried, is when I should have been worried.  That’s how it works, you know.

Sketch was outside snacking on Pirate Booty.  I was inside with my new best friend, the Kitchen Aid, watching it tirelessly work kneading dough for pizza tonight. Mr. Incredible was with the other 3 kids.  Next thing I know there is a house shaking “KNOCK – KNOCK – KNOCK” on the door, scared me right out of my rolling pin!

It was our neighbor, “Is this one yours?” he asks, as Sketch happily trots and scripts, signing to himself in the back yard.

“Yes it is.  Where did you find him?”

“Oh, down at my house.  I thought he was yours.”

“Did he give you a hard time coming back here?” I cringe, sure he fought him the entire way…like last year.

“No, he just ran to each house along the way, knocked on their doors.” He said with a smile.

Yes, I am very blessed with friendly neighbors who find my children far more often than I know they need to be found. It is an interesting way to meet ones neighbors, I might add.

Tonight when I posted on my Facebook wall that Sketch ran away again, several friends joined in the discussion because they either have the same problem with their child with autism, or they have ideas on how to help keep the children from running away.

I have made so many friends because of autism, that I never would have known otherwise. Friends literally across the world!  Some of these friends are among my closest friends, even though we have never physically met (yet!).

That is a true, true Treasure:  Friendship.

Friends who really do understand what it’s like to raise kids who don’t fit the mold.

Who have kids who are so smart there is no child proofing that can contain them.

Friends who struggle with children who go three days straight without sleep.

Friends who know what it’s like to have children prone to outrageous meltdowns due to sensory processing disorders that travel along with autism.

Friends who know what it’s like to have a child missing, not knowing if they are alive or if they drowned in the pond down the street. Not knowing if they were hit by that car coming over the hill ask they pranced up it oblivious to the dangers.

Some things we deal with in the autism world are so opposite from what “normal” parenting requires, but we are not alone.  God has given us each other.  He has made us find each other even when we reside on opposite sides of the globe.

As strange as some of the things that we deal with are, we are not ever alone in dealing with it.  “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again, there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes  1:9

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When Time Stands Still

You know it’s either really good, or really bad when time stands still.

I lost track of time, it seemed unchanging because my boy was missing.

This time, our neighbor saw Sketch (age 7, autism) walking down toward the farm at the end of our street.

Since I can’t run after him anymore (thanks to RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), I called down to Mr. Incredible who was working in his office in our basement.  He and Mr. Neighbor went in search of Sketch.

I wait, holding PolkaDot looking out the window.

Princess Buttercup comes up to me and teasingly kicks me with her mismatched neon socks.  I tell her what is going on.

“Can I go look for him too?”

I think about it… It’s 5:00, the farm trucks zoom down the road this time of day.  “I don’t know, you may get hurt with how fast the trucks fly down our street!”

“I”ll walk on the side of the street and be careful, Please?”

I think about all the times our In-Home Supports person used to take the kids on walks in the woods down there, and how Princess Buttercup really could be helpful in finding him…I think about how when I was 9 years old, I walked around the neighborhood all the time… So, I agree.

Princess Buttercup walks cautiously down the street.  I see someone walking back up the street toward our house, carrying  something.  I can’t see well because of the trees but I think for a minute it is Mr. Incredible carrying Sketch.

It wasn’t.

Then I think it was Mr. Neighbor and his bike, but it wasn’t.

Then I see.

It is the teenage Neighbor-Boy with his  2 small dogs.  The search party no where in sight.

This is where panic begins to set in.

I walk out with PolkaDot to the end of the driveway to watch.

The Friendly Neighbor-Boy says, “Hi”.  Apparently his new dog ran away and wouldn’t come back when he called for him.

I told him we have the same problem here with one of our kids and I look down the street where I hope to see them coming home safely.

And, I do!

Dash comes out at this point and says he’s starving.  We talk a bit with Mr. Neighbor and thank him profusely!

Dash says he’s “Sooooo Hungry!”

So we go inside.

It’s 5:10.

I couldn’t believe only 10 minutes had passed.

It seemed like time was moving so fast as it ticked away without my boy. At the same time, it seemed like it was going equally slow and I just wanted him back quickly and safely.

It seemed like time stood still.

Thinking like someone with ASD, it makes perfect sense.  xFast + xSlow= Still.

Time didn’t matter. It had no purpose…

The track team could wait.  Dinner could wait.

This time, time standing still was really bad but ended good.

When I think about the equation xFast + xSlow = still, and how time can go fast and slow all at the same time I think about the verse in Psalms 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Sometimes it seems like forever that we wait to hear from God.  When he  reveals himself, it seems like so much happens so fast.  How does God change a personal paradigm in one breath?  Change the way we think with a quick whisper to our hearts?  How does he instantly heal and set us on a different path in life?

It is perplexingly beautiful. It causes one to be awestruck.

It makes me want to just be still.

Playing Hide and Seek

Where's Princess Buttercup?

For the second time today, I lost Sketch. (Note:  this was written a few weeks ago)

But, before I go into that story, let me give you some background information.

There has been a bit of a theme around here, with the game Hide-And-Seek. The other day, the twins Dash and Princess Buttercup were playing this game together in the basement.  It was so fun to watch them play and hear them laugh together…well, until Princess comes out crying because Dash stopped looking for her and she was waiting in her hiding place for quite a while.  He got distracted by something he suddenly considered to be more fun. Oh, the joys of ADHD along with the lack of awareness of social rules or how his behavior effects others!

For those of you who are new to this blog, let me introduce to you the cast of characters: Sketch is our 6 years old boy, with autism/adhd/anxiety.  Dash & Princess Buttercup are 9 year old twins. Dash also has autism/adhd, and Polkadot, is our 6 month old baby girl.

Back to today. The first time Sketch went missing was at church when he wandered off after Sunday School.  In his mind, he followed the rules. The teacher told him, “You need to stay in this room until your parents come.”  And, he did.  And when we got there, he left…sigh… At least he was found (after much heart pounding) and he was very much ok.  He looked up at me with a smirk and said, “Hide-And-Seek?”

Sketch must have been noticing what the other kids in Sunday School were doing, because another child was also “missing” today.  It turned out that she was playing Hide-And-Seek but her mom was not aware of this.  As her mom and the Sunday School teachers looked for her, Dash was pointing to the hiding place saying, “She’s in here!” but ironically, no one listened to him.

Fast forward to later on this afternoon. Sketch went missing again!  When I realized it was very quiet in the house, I called out to Mr. Incredible who was laying on the couch, “Where’s Sketch?”  Off in the not-so-distant bedroom came his cute little voice under his bright red and green VeggieTales comforter, “Here I am!”  (This is the first time he’s ever answered that unprompted!)

This morning, as we drove to church, we drove by another church with a sign displaying 2 Chronicles 15:2 “If you seek Him, He will be found by you”.

Seems like God likes to play Hide-And-Seek as well.  Problem is… sometimes we aren’t seeking…or maybe we were and we got distracted by something that seems to be more interesting.  Or, maybe we are seeking but like so often happens, we can’t see what’s right before our eyes until somebody else calls our attention to it saying, “Here He is!  He’s in here!”

The nice thing about Hide-And-Seek with God is that He will always be found by you.  If call for him, he will answer “Here I am” just like Sketch did this afternoon.

The question is, are we listening?

Here I am!

Jeremiah 29:13-14: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD,“and will bring you back from captivity.

High Flying Dust

I'm sure there is a treasure in here somewhere!

The dreaded week has occurred.

It actually didn’t start out that way…but quickly became that when our last in-home supports staff quit last week, leaving us this week with no help and all three kids home, with only me during the day while Mr. Incredible is at work.

This is the week between Sketch’s last day at preschool, and the twins first day of public school.

This is the week, in which the dust of life has kicked up as high as it can get, without permanent damage.

The craziness started on Monday. The boys were at odds from the start. It went something like this:

“Sketch turned the light off!” in Dash’s well practiced whiney voice, bordering on a yell.

“Aaaaahhhhh!” squeals Sketch back at Dash.

“Sketch wants the lights off! It’s daytime. Sketch wants the lights off because why? Sketch! Lights go off at bedtime! Sketch wants the lights OFF!”

Sketch moves the table an inch or two, and looks at Dash.

“Sketch moved the table! NO Sketch!” and Dash attempts to move it back.

Sketch tries to move it again and yells at dash.

Dash starts screaming at Sketch.

Sketch screams at Dash.

Time to SEPARATE the children!!!

Sketch goes to the basement.

Dash works on his maps.

Ahhh…peace an quiet…

What’s that smell?

Sketch comes up without his beloved undies on and goes to the bathroom. I SEE the smell. Ugh… again!

I help clean up Sketch and he goes to his room to get more undies. I go to the basement and see the unspeakable horrors of what happened.

Diarrhea.

All over the carpet, the pillows, the toys. Everywhere. And the ubiquitous stink knew no bounds.

I start to clean up and get the well-used carpet cleaner ready.

“AAAAhhhhh! All Done!” Sketch protests. He doesn’t like the sound of the carpet cleaner, or the fact that the play room will be off limits for a while.

While I’m cleaning up, Dash, Sketch, and Princess Buttercup are upstairs TOGETHER…with no adult supervision… I can’t stay downstairs cleaning so I do the minimum required, and close off the basement until Mr. Incredible gets home.

The smell is still strong, even upstairs. It’s Sketch…I think it is in his hair.

“Sketch, time for a bath!”

“Aaaaahhhhhh! All Done!”

And on it goes…

A friend sends a word of encouragement. It is Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

The sun went down, the moon calmly shined through the night.

As I got up on Tuesday morning, I was sure the day would go better. The kids all had a good nights sleep, the morning was quiet. I got to take my shower and even have a cup of coffee before everyone was up and going.

Quiet mornings can be utterly deceiving.

Once everyone was up for the day, the arguing and fighting continued. Sketch was in rare form. He asked for some Special K, so I gave some to him in a red bowl. He looked at it, got angry and yelled, “All Done!” and threw the bowl at me with flakes flying all over the kitchen. He screamed and flailed about, attempting to scratch. ( I am still not sure what that was about. Maybe the bowl was the wrong color?)

Then he started crying and rubbed his eyes into my shirt as if to say, “I’m sorry”. He went to the basement to play again, with his trains.

The twins continued their fighting throughout the morning.

I attempted to get some laundry done, and while switching clothes from washer to dryer, I remember the verse my friend gave me the other day. He is my refuge and strength. He is my ever-present help in trouble. “But Lord! I need your physical presence! I need an actual set up extra eyes and hands and feet!”

“Am I not enough for you?” I hear him whisper back. “Can’t I help you my way?”

Oh yeah… “I’m sorry Lord, I have made you too small in my eyes…forgive me!”

There are many ways He can help me…he can send a calmness over the house. He could send a person to help, there are any number of creative ways He can help. Who am I to limit Him? “Ok, You have promised to be my ever-present help. You have promised to provide for me, you have promised that through You (who gives me strength), I can do all things.

The afternoon arrived and I decided to go to BJ’s, where I could get a car-cart and have all three kids contained. Maybe getting out of the house would help everyone be in a better mood. Things seemed calmer for a while.

For the first time in my BJ’s-going experience, BJ’s had no car-carts to be found!

So we moved on to plan B, and got a regular cart. Sketch sat in the back and Dash and princess Buttercup “helped” push the cart. Dash was very upset about not getting the car-cart, and spent the first half of the trip underneath the cart, watching the floor pass as we “drove” along, collecting the few items we needed.

Sketch and Dash fought over which direction to turn next.

“Going to turn right please!” Sketch demands

“Turn left please?” Dash immediately asks.

“Mommy is picking the direction. All the time, the driver picks” I remind the boys. I turn right.

“Sketch picks! It’s Sketch’s turn to pick!” Dash bellows as I turn.

This is just too much, so before things get worse, I go straight to the self check out. I want to get out of here before to much attention is brought to us! I go to scan my BJ’s card and Sketch stands up in the back of the cart and loudly exclaims, “Poopy in the POTTY? POTTY!” So much for not causing a scene!

I tell him to wait until we check out. He didn’t like that and tried to get out of the cart on his own, while screaming. I avoid looking at anyone else in the store. I am sure there area thousand eyes watching me, and I just wish there was a way to tell them the boys have autism and I am really not a terrible mom!

Sketch finally settled down and waited as I scanned all the food. Dash wants to “help”. Despite my attempts to tell him he cannot scan stuff, he continued to grab things and reach around me to the scanner. I decide to hold his hand so he can’t do that, and put the last thing on the scanner. I swipe my card to pay for it. Sketch has to go potty! I’m almost done. Then, before the card can be processed, Dash kicks the BIG RED button that shuts the entire machine off. We have to be rung up all over again, every single item… Sketch needs to go potty!

Finally, we are done paying for groceries, and we can go to the bathroom. He wasn’t kidding, Sketch needed to go potty!

We arrive home without incident (besides the constant arguing over which direction to turn at every opportunity!). It is cool outside so the kids are happy to play in the back yard.

Mr. Incredible comes home a little early! Yeah! Relief!!!

I usually go out on Tuesday nights with a friend for Bible Study, but it was rescheduled this time. So, I decided to go out anyway, to get a break from the madness, and went to the mall to use a gift card we had.

Not too long after I arrived, I received the phone call no one wants to get.

It is Mr. Incredible, “Hi, can you come home? Sketch is missing, I can’t find him anywhere”.

I drop everything and rush to the car. I call the police, they are already there seaching for him, and they brought a rescue dog. I wonder how long he’s been missing? I call my friend, Edna Mode and tell her what happened. She was at church so she and others there pray. Hard. She comes to help. She calls her husband who is nearby and he comes to help. I am racing home. The police said to be careful. I’m trying.

I am panicking and praying. I am crying out to God, loudly, in my car… “You are ever-present in my time of need! You are there with Sketch Please keep him safe. Let him be ok. Please SHOW me you are ever-present! Please GOD!!!” So many thoughts race through my mind. So many “what if’s” and “If only’s”.

Mr. Incredible calls, “They found him!”

The police call, “They found Sketch and he is alright!”

Relief. Kinda. I mostly think that vomiting on the side of the road would be a good thing to do.

I call Edna to tell her they found him and he’s ok.

He was in the woods beside our house. Sketch loves the woods…or “forest” as he calls it. He was barefoot and wandered out of the yard to a section of the “forest” he doesn’t usually go into. We don’t know what happened or why he went there. We can only speculate. But out he came, and he is safe. And he is OK.

And God was PRESENT in our time of trouble.

Just like He said.

And today, Sketch is happy as can be, dancing and singing a Hillsong song, “My souls set free in the one I love! Come on! Come on! And the whole world sings in the freedom we know! Come on! Come on and praise Him!”

Dash is working on his maps.

Princess Buttercup is making things.

There is very little fighting or arguing.

Mr. Incredible comes home early again.

All is well.

Come on! Come on and praise Him!

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