J-Bear and Me

learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: jbear being jbear (page 1 of 2)

Fall 2015 (Picture Heavy)

Two years ago this past August we had the pleasure of meeting Laura of Family Tree Photography for the first time.  She has become a tremendous friend and support as we have watched both of our boys go through the highs and lows of starting out lives with service dogs of their own. You might remember the wonderful beach photos at the top of the blog, featured in this post, and now we have some new pictures to show how much J has grown. I was sad to do these without his partner by his side but there was nothing I could do. Thankfully, Laura is gifted with children of all abilities and brought out his best even when he didn’t want to give it at first.

So, without further adieu, here are the results of her amazing work! I could not be happier!

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Life at Home

Welcome to life with the Bumpuss Hounds. I’ll be your host this evening…

So this is life with J-Bear and B-Dog right now. Whenever they are interacting together they are bouncing off the walls. It’d be funny if this apartment weren’t so small and crowded! They are interacting though and that is the important part.

When a lot of families might go into a process such as this they may have this Norman Rockwell-esque vision of the outcome.

I’m here to warn you that that’s highly unlikely to be the truth of what happens when you bring your dog home and there is a chance it might never be.

Having Brooklyn home this past week  has been amazing and exhausting. This week promises more of the same as we get into a very firm training routine. We did a practice track with her this afternoon that was… rough to say the least. She had the scent, she lost the scent, she had the scent, she lost it again, then she used her sight rather than her nose to find her boy. Not perfect, but I felt reassured that I could at least read what she was doing with a sense of almost complete confidence so that I can work on the problems we had. Training will be essential, which means hours carved out of the week to devote to it. Not tons, because a lot of her skills remain sharp by doing every day life things with us, but some of the others will need refreshers and reinforcing.

Their bond is not perfect, either. They seek each other out for fun, yes. They love to play with one another and to cuddle when J is in the mood for that, but they’re still learning one another. The affection is there, and the concern about one another is obvious. J cries, she generally searches him out to see what’s happening. Tonight he screamed over getting his hair washed and she bolted to the bathroom door, peering in with alert interest and ready to work. That’s a wonderful sign. He’s taken to cuddling her and patting her face and holding her paw. She enjoys the way he “speaks” with her when he does that so it’s very encouraging to watch.

Our life is a brand new sort of “work in progress”. Our familiarity with how each member of the family interacts is increasing to more and more comfortable levels, which is great. The more we can establish a strong routine, the better we can handle everything too. This week is a regular week. No days off school, no doctor appointments, no nothing but the usual stuff we do. That will be awesome for Brooklyn and for J.

Now let’s pray J’s little cold doesn’t turn into something worse. She’ll be there to comfort him if it does, which is great, but let’s not get our carts before our horses just yet!

So that’s life in the big city. Our world is covered in a fine layer of blonde fur and I could not be happier to have it so. She is a loving girl and he is so happy to have her, so every bit of work is infinitely worth it.

Training Interlude

In lieu of a proper training post, please accept the musical stylings of J-Bear as seen by our class this morning. Mama is tired, and posts will resume tomorrow:

 

A Gentle Sweetness

There are times I stand in awe of my son. I imagine most parents do this, especially as they see their tiny child develop into this independent person that surprises them in ways they’d never quite anticipated.

You see, my clumsy and boorish boy happens to be one of the gentlest people I know.

Oh, there’s tiny children playing with him in a play area? They’re scared of the slide? He walks up the slide from the bottom, meets them at the top, sits down and shows them how to slide down. I do not make this up. He repeats the process several times until the very little ones are following him. It is all done in pantomime: Not a word is spoken, yet every message is perfectly conveyed. He does not bowl them over, harass them or get frustrated with however long it takes to see every child ushered down the slide. He repeats, again and again, and leaves me blown away.

His big thing right now is babies. He loves babies. Baby people, baby animals… He loves tiny little new creatures of all sorts. Our friends have a beautiful baby girl and when he sees her in her mother’s arms, he lights up like it’s Christmas morning. His favorite thing to do? Run over and gently tap her nose. He knows not to be rough, or quick, or harsh.

I would be lying if I said he has not had a few run ins being just a little bit too exuberant around animals, specifically cats. He learned, through Loki’s very vocal manner, that one does not grab tails abruptly. Loki was not harmed, nor was J. A very important lesson was carried away and he has been much gentler in his approach of both Loki, his aunt’s cat, and Lenny, his grandparent’s cat. That’s the key thing: He learned, and quickly at that. This bodes well for Dog to be Named Later.

Maybe I am odd, and it would not be the first time, but this all seems so amazing to me. My experience with both male children and adults has not been positive. They have always been brash and harsh and hard for me to be around with rare exceptions. My son’s family tree has a few very bad apples on it and yet here he is, a shining example of all that is good. He is a rough, freshly mined stone right now, slowly being worked into the magnificent gem he’s meant to be. If this is how he at the start of the process, I am that much more eager to see the grown man he becomes. If he manages to retain even just a sliver of this natural compassion and concern towards the world around him he is going to do great things in his life, even if the ripples never extend far beyond a small area. The lives he will be touch will be changed for the better, and I can think of nothing more noble or wonderful for my son to leave his mark with.

Just think, in less than a month, he’ll have a sidekick to help him on his way to doing that too. We can’t wait.

Grubby Gus

This is J right now, a little Grubby Gus. You see, taking him in and out of the bath involves some serious staging and planning. You cannot just say “okay bath time!” and leave it at that. The bathroom has to be prepared, the toys laid out, and then he happily gets in the tub.

Getting out is where the warfare begins.

Let me tell you, almost forty pounds of chaotic three and a half year old can be as powerful as an elephant when he gets mad. Getting out of the tub makes him so very mad. I think you could throw all his Thomas trains and stuffies into a bonfire and get less a care out of him than the ire ending a bath draws.

So I have Grubby Gus, hair going seventy-two ways from Sunday while I mentally dread preparing to help him bathe again.

Please note my words, though. He is slowly learning how to bathe himself, which is good, but he’s all boy. Expecting him to do a good job washing his hair and face and self is just slightly outside his realm of care. Care, not possibility. Little kids are in part made of dirt after all, he just doesn’t care to change that.

Now please pray for me, as I put on my battle armor and get ready to run a bath.

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A random note: J’s teacher reported at least one (maybe more) of the staring episodes having occurred in school. This is the first time someone outside the home has definitively seen him do it. I’m awaiting details as to what was going on, etc. and will be keeping a log. Never a dull moment.

Halloween

My son trick or treated.

This is so damned awesome to say.

My son trick or treated!

He marched down Main Street and around the town square and joined other children collecting candy from various local businesses. He struggled a little bit with approaching some of the locations or participating in some of the merchant’s activities but overall, he did amazing. Said thank you, even at one point tried to trade his candy for a new piece at a business.

Now, he has a cowboy costume for this year. Like most children on the spectrum the idea of putting this costume on was abhorrent to him, even if it is just a coat and vest. So at the immediate last second I put a too large Red Sox Kid Nation player style jersey on him, plunked his Sox hat on his head and out he marched.

And he was a hit thanks to Game 3 being due to be played tonight.

Now he has a plastic pumpkin laden with candy and goodies that he is just fascinated with and continually asks for chocolate.

To think, he might get to go again this week! What a lucky kid!

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PS: Auctions are still going on til 10/30! Go to http://www.jbearandme.com/Team-Jacobly-for-4-Paws-for-Ability and check out the links from there! An autographed picture of John Lackey is being auctioned as well as a large gift basket from Thesaurus Tea! Crazy awesome stuff!

The (in)Famous J-Bear

So here I am. Still tired, still struggling with some things but I am here. And I couldn’t resist sharing this story.

Today as I walked J in to school we met up with a boy who was maybe in the 5th grade or so. Nice kid, very polite and friendly and J seemed confused by seeing him outside. I just chalked it up to him not being used to seeing many other children outside when we’re heading in as the majority of the school starts their day before the preschoolers do.

We walked onwards to J’s classroom and a little way ahead of us, this older boy stopped and turned back. He told me that he works with J sometimes and that he’s a very great boy, always working very hard and he loves working with him.

Well, cue my jaw hitting the floor.

I thanked the boy, as did J, and the boy went off to class.

Now, of course I think my son is the sweetest most awesome kid to ever kid. I’m his mother. And I know he is generally well liked by others too. It just never ceases to astonish me the relationships he forges with others despite having poor expressive language skills. He figures out ways to make it work, like it’s no big deal, and that will always kind of blow me away. Most grown adults, if placed in his shoes, would fall apart without the ability to easily express themselves in an expected manner. I don’t know if it’s the wiring of his brain, the way he’s adapted, or just the fact he’s always been this way that makes it so easy for him but it just seems like that: easy.

His teacher said it best though: He’s known for being a sweetheart and is well liked. He is not actually by any means infamous except within his own home. Part of that makes me quite sad, because it reminds me that there’s other children who are seen as “infamous” because they are not easy to relate to. It is sad because there is probably such a beautiful mind within that child, eager to be shared, and yet their outward struggles make most people not want to bother. J has a lot of future ahead of him. There will be people to whom is he one of those who struggles; who is not “easy enough” to know. This will hurt him at some point I’d imagine but I hope he always has that strong core of people there holding him up and reminding him about how much good he has to share to lessen the blow.

Meanwhile, I hope he gravitates towards some of the children others overlook. Sometimes, J is smarter than the rest of us. He notices awesome we frequently miss, and he would not miss them.

This went way more rambly than planned. I think that could be said about this whole blog!

Anyway….

Fundraising update to come shortly. We’re not done yet, but we have an auction going on that sports fans might be interested in, particularly Red Sox fans. Stay tuned.

Haircuts, He Hates Them

Oh, does he hate them.

He liked exactly one haircut in his whole life. It was his very first, done by a dear friend, and he was the happiest clam to ever clam.

Every haircut since has been utter fail and woe.

Today was only a little different. I didn’t want to drive so far away and risk hitting nasty traffic so I took him up the road to a chain salon. The lady who took him happened to be the lady who cut my hair a couple of weeks ago. She did an amazing job with him! Despite his screaming the entire time, she gave him a very clean, even, nice haircut. I am actually shocked given that even though I had him on my lap he was all over the place.

Here’s his cuteness before grocery shopping afterwards:

haircut day_marked

Of course this sweetness belies the fact that the moment we got home he lost his mind so badly it took a half hour to calm him down. Good with the bad, folks, good with the bad.

Back to school tomorrow with the goal set at having him attending full days by next week. It might be too ambitious but we shall try!

I have great news about some awesome donations that I will post later. My inbox needs going through and I better get at it!

As Simple As A Cat

Hunker down, I’m about to tell a story. By now all should know I am physically incapable of being short-winded on the internets.

About a year ago we were coming up on J’s first neurologist appointment. This was going to be the turning point in J’s care. This would be when he was given an initial diagnosis of autism. It was his Early Intervention coordinator along with his EI Occupational Therapist and his group leader who all saw the signs. They saw the struggles I saw and knew what they meant. These women were amazing to us, guiding us along the start of what will be a lifelong journey.

One appointment I was chatting with his coordinator about his attachment to his pacifier. A particularly horrible doctor in J’s primary care doc’s practice had been vile to me about it. Now, children tend to have self soothing things. Some have pacifiers, some have their thumbs, some have who knows what. J at this point had zero attachments to any item or ritual outside that pacifier. Two years of age is starting to get long in the tooth to keep using one but, it was his ‘thing’ and still is his thing. He accepted no other comfort, so in our discussions we noted that factor and left the pacifier alone with the thought that maybe seeing if he’d grow attached to a lovey would help him wean off it.

Now, J has roughly half a million stuffed animals. That’s what it feels like anyway. They’re everywhere in our house. There’s a mountain of them in the living room and another in his bedroom and a small heap where he sleeps… We have stuffed animals covered. Take your pick, we likely have it. I was only in my first trimester when I bought him his first stuffies, three beautiful JellyCat critters, and the collection just exploded from there. He liked some of them, for they were soft and some had been by his side since birth, but he wasn’t truly attached to them. I was of the mind that he never would get attached to them.

Then he found her, the stuffie of his dreams.

DSC_2550_edited-1_marked

Image by Family Tree Photography

Miss Kitty came to us as a gift. She represented a fluffy member of the family who departed this world not too long ago, a fat black and white cat named Diesel. Despite the masculine name she was indeed a female cat and she purred like a poorly tuned up Mack truck. She had a mean streak if she didn’t like you but was tolerant and even hilarious if she did. In her old age she somehow always managed to be gentle and tolerant of J who did not understand that she was going blind and deaf. She allowed his pats and attention and generally made him giddy every time they met. One day J just took up with the fat stuffed animal that looked so like her and I’ll tell you… He hasn’t looked back.

This cat has been puked on, peed on, thrown in multiple water tables, dropped in puddles, traipsed across state lines, dragged through surgery, thrown through the washing machine many times… This cat has gone everywhere she possibly could with J. I even sought out duplicates from the same company but every time J rejects them as Inferior Cats! Miss Kitty and only Miss Kitty will do.

Now, sometimes, J will accept his little beanie Kai-Lan doll or one of his stuffed sheep, or his stuffed dog, or his monkey… but it’s always Miss Kitty he comes back to and Miss Kitty he truly misses when she is gone. She has sat on Santa’s lap with him while he screamed (Santa’s scary) and comes with us nigh everywhere like my errant other child that needs watching.

To finish this post, I’ll leave you with some pictures of Miss Kitty making Poor Life Choices:

kittypoorlifechoice1

Miss Kitty and the Mardi Gras Beads

kittypoorlifechoices2

No, I still don’t know what happened here.

Yeah: The Revenge And Other Stuff

I wrote about J answering with a direct “yeah” reply to a question not too long ago. It has since become his go to answer when he wants you to react positively.

It’s actually kind of hilarious. It’s an effort to not encourage it, though on occasion he has been very definite about saying no. It’s usually to food. Like, healthy stuff. Because of course we would never eat that.

Today while he was at occupational therapy his therapist asked him if he’d like to go home with her. Of course he said “yeah”. You’d think this was a joke and him just parroting because he feels that’s what expected by I have to wonder. After the session, which was his last water/swim session for the summer, he kept cozying up to her and offering his cheek like he does to loved ones for hugs and kisses.

The wicked little flirt!

This kid cracks me up a lot but lately, we’re  making each other crazy. This was what it was like before he had summer session at school. We were with each other 24/7 and it made us both a little nuts sometimes. When he’s feeling frustrated with it he gets more clingy. When I am feeling frustrated with it I want to be on another continent away from all people. It’s not a good mix.

We’re getting by though. We did an indoor water park yesterday. For those curious, CoCo Key in Danvers, MA, is not worth the cost of admission. While it has a great little kid area and the lifeguard staff is top-notch there’s much to be desired elsewhere. The little concession grill area looked like an afterthought, some of the pool areas seemed old/neglected, the bathrooms made me feel like I was going to walk out with several kinds of rare and interesting fungal infections and it wasn’t a very user-friendly place for families with small children to use for changing, etc. I think for what I spent, we kind of got our money’s worth. J had a blast but he’s thrilled with water to begin with… He’s an easy audience. I think if I am going to spend the money on a water park again it’ll be for Canobie Lake, Six Flags or Water Country. Maybe next summer?

J’s cast comes off on Monday. Meanwhile, Murphy dog has his own purple cast! Yes, the unstoppable Murphy is fighting back against infections. His drains are removed and he’s moving about! His worse of the two injured legs is in the cast for now but the fact that he is healing and showing more of his old self is so, so, so heartening after being scared for him those first days. Still praying for his full and complete recovery but at least right now he’s trekking dutifully forward, as is his beloved person.

So this is our life. School starts 9/4, yard sale 9/14 and I am noodling getting a raffle together. If my friends at the Red Sox ever see this… Please consider helping us out! I’m sending you a press release and letter begging! Show us some love, guys!

Yeah I’m both pathetic and shameless sometimes. I’m semi okay with that.

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