Category Archives: Parenting

Leaf Piles and Imposter Syndrome

A few months ago, Radcliffe came to me with tears in his eyes.

Me: What’s wrong?

Radcliffe: I don’t want to tell you. I need you to take me to the doctor because something’s wrong with me.

After some coaxing, he said this:

Radcliffe: I hear voices and I know it’s weird and I’m embarrassed and people are going to judge me.

I internally start to panic, but I remained calm.

Me:  Are the voices telling you to do things?

Radcliffe: (looking at me quizzically) What? No! These people live in my mind like a movie and they have adventures and fight bad people. But they keep having adventures, even when I try to ignore it.

He inherited my brain, I realized. I hugged him and told him I needed to show him something. I brought him into my office and pointed to a piece of white butcher paper taped to the wall with black sharpie notes written on it.

Me: These are the people that live in my brain that I can’t turn off. This is the book I’ve been working on.

I could see the lightbulb go off and a wave of relief wash over him. This child, who with Asperger’s sees the world in black and white but is the most creative child, does not understand his own creativity. It must be so confusing, to be nine years old and not understand that this is how a creative mind works when you generally see things in stark contrast.

We’ve talked a lot since then about stories, how they’re made, keeping a notebook of thoughts, storyboards, and how to turn thoughts into a story. Since then, he’s come up with two comprehensive storylines that, dare I say, exceeds anything I could ever imagine.

Last year, he won first place in the region for poetry and placed second in the state. This year, we received another invitation to an award ceremony, telling us that he had won first place in poetry for the region and the state winners would be announced that night.

Tuesday night, he seemed nervous. When I asked him what was wrong, he told me he was nervous he wouldn’t place in state like he did last year.

Jesus. He has imposter syndrome already and he’s only nine.

After lots of hugs and encouragement, we went to the ceremony where they announced he also placed first in the state for poetry. The look on his face when they announced it brought tears to my eyes.

He sat down and said, ‘Wow, this is really exciting.’

It really is. It really, really is. It seemed fitting that this happened the beginning of Autism Awareness Month. We all worry about our children, and autism mothers worry about their children finding a place in this world. While I will always have this worry, I love seeing our children find a spot where they feel good about themselves and seeing them light up when they are in that place. Every day is Autism Day in our house, not just the month of April. But these days? I’ll take every single one of them.

His poem:

Leaf Piles
Leaves falling like rain in a pile.
There are so many they make me smile.
A wind will make my pile gone in awhile.
But that’s okay, it’s just my style.

Baton Rouge is My Town. Our Town.

Baton Rouge is My Town

I live in Baton Rouge. I am a transplant, but I consider it my home. I had to get off of social media last night because I didn’t have adequate words to describe my thoughts about what is happening in my town. Our town. Even if you don’t live here.

Last Thursday, before any of this happened, I had a conversation with my oldest about white privilege, specifically white male privilege. It’s a conversation I have frequently with our sons, because I refuse to raise assholes.

I got off of social media last night and had a conversation with both boys about what is going on. I told them about my friends that I love and respect worry that their boys won’t come home one day and that this is a real fear. My heart aches for them. My heart aches for Alton Sterling’s children and that they will never be able to open a computer without the fear of seeing the videos of their father being killed. My heart aches for Alton Sterling’s aunt who has raised him and has watched her greatest fear play out in real time. My heart aches for our city.

I am also appalled at the racist underbelly of OUR TOWN that has come out in droves in the comment sections of our local news. APPALLED. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

The way it works for me when I write is usually something percolates in my brain and then I sleep on it. Then the words come together. I went to bed last night with a storm of thoughts of all of my friends who had to have conversations with their sons about how to act around police, and even as I type this the next morning, it brings tears to my eyes. I know a very tiny fraction of this fear, because I worry about how my sons might react since they are autistic when put in a situation without me present to keep them from acting out. This is a TINY gnawing fear, minuscule in comparison to the GIANT looming fear my friends went to bed with last night. It brings tears to my eyes to know that they fear that one day they, too, will watch their son’s death play out on the national stage.

Last year, I wrote this piece around the time of the Baltimore riots. It’s not enough for what is happening in our town, but it adequately sums up my thoughts on acknowledging race relations in our town. I moved to Louisiana with my family in the 80’s. I swore growing up I would leave the state and then I fell in love with the state. I love the people, the food, the outdoors and everything that makes it Louisiana. I do not love the racist underbelly. I actively choose not to associate with people like that, but I know they exist and it is my biggest disappointment in our state. My biggest pride is watching our state come together in a time of crisis, as it has done so many times before. I am hopeful I will watch that happen again and people’s hearts will be changed. This is a parenting issue and needs to happen for the sake of our children and the next generation.

I will speak up for injustice and raise the next generation to do differently. It’s my responsibility, and yours, too.

Read the post I wrote last year about race here: Let’s Talk About Race

Polite At All Costs

Politeatallcosts

Southern women are taught to be polite at all costs. Southern mommas are expected to raise polite offspring.

One blistering day, I was driving with my two and a half year old son in the backseat, and I was feeling quite smug that I was going to be early for an appointment. So smug that I thought to myself, ‘You know, I have just enough time to run into the dollar store and pick up a few items.’

I pulled into the concrete strip mall and hustled my son into the store. I was still on schedule, until I got into the checkout line.

I waited. And then waited some more. And even though I was wearing a dress like a good Southern girl does, the sweat from the muggy day started to cause my thighs to stick together. My mostly silent child up until this point started to whimper.

I tried to ignore the noises. I tried to ignore my sticky thighs and the impatient sighs from the patrons behind me.

The line would not move. My smugness turned into panic as I realized that I not only might no longer be early, nor on time, but late.

As it finally became my turn to put my items onto the belt, my son started to cross his legs and cry.

‘Ma’am, can we use your bathroom? We’re potty training and he doesn’t have on a diaper.’

Disdainfully, she looked at me. ‘No. All of outside is a bathroom for boys.’

I stood there, both dumbfounded and livid, as I slowly reached up and clutched my pearls. I felt my fingernails cutting into the palm of my hand as my fingers wrapped around my necklace.

‘Of course. You’re right.’

Crimson shame spread across my cheeks as the long line behind us began to whisper.

I shuffled my son out of the store and looked around frantically. There was nowhere for him to go to the bathroom. I directed him to the nearest corner.

Instead, he walked straight over to the window of the store, pulled his smocked shorts down, and began to urinate on the window, in full view of the register and line we just walked away from. Everyone, including the cashier, stopped in their tracks as this child made the window his personal bathroom. I just stood there and did nothing, with my own jaw hanging open in surprise.

He pulled his shorts up and started leading me to the car as if nothing happened and I followed, speechless.

I waited a year to shop there again. When I finally had the nerve to go back, there was now a posted sign: ‘Bathrooms for pregnant women and potty-training children ONLY.’