A tale of two parenting moments.

Tale one: Maggie is turning eight on Monday (oh holy God, where does the time go?!) and due to scheduling with friends and activities, today was the best day for the party. Maggie became very upset with me, in ways that manifested as not…quite an attitude befitting the honoree, let’s say.

“Sounding like an ungrateful smartass who was getting a bowling birthday party and was acting pissy that it wasn’t on the exact day she wanted it” would be another way to say it.

I think one of the things I struggle with the most as a parent is remembering to look at causation. Maggie is not an ungrateful or materialistic child, as a general rule, so my first instinct to react to that behavior as a patron would react to a spoiled artist was not correct. We hashed it out and I went down that road for a while, and I realized I needed to circle back around.

This is when I discovered my poor child was literally terrified that she was going to get in trouble–trouble on par with police and handcuffs–for having a birthday party almost a full week before her actual birthday. Cause discovered; cause dealt with. Party thoroughly enjoyed. Mom did not day-drink.

Tale two: I made a rule with the big girls that unless it’s a friend they know well and really trust, their bedrooms can be off-limits for play dates and I would enforce that. They each have special toys and items they don’t want to share in their rooms, and we have had kids over who don’t have good boundaries yet (like going through the girls’ piggy banks to look at the money inside, um, NOPE) that the girls would like to play with and share their playroom with, but not their bedrooms. One neighborhood boy came by to play and he was quite insistent that he wanted to play in Moira’s room. The conversation went like this:

Boy: But I really want to play in your room.

Moira: That’s my private space to be alone with my special things.


Moira: No. [thinks a moment] But you can look at my room from the yard!

That was around 4:30 today and I’m still laughing. The conversation went on, and Moira stood firm. I would have intervened if I thought she needed me, but it was clear that she had it handled. She maintained her position, and I was very pleased to note that she didn’t apologize for it. She never said “Sorry” for setting her boundary. She stated where her line was, and she held it without apologizing for having a reasonable position. May she always walk with such confidence.

I told her as much, and that I had heard how she was firm without being mean, and stood her ground without letting someone make her feel guilty. How proud I was that she stuck to what she wanted and was strong.

“I was sticking to you and what you told me.”

And then my heart exploded and that was the end of me. RIP, me.

As these little people move out of the tiny years and into the people they are becoming, these moments come up and you realize how much they’re listening. How much they’re absorbing. And sure, they’re kids, so that means sometimes they haven’t got the sense God gave a box of hair clippings.

But sometimes…sometimes you get to see that you’re really hearing them, and that they are really hearing you. And it’s enough to turn a rough morning into a fantastic day.



Today is World Autism Day and the kickoff of Autism Awareness Month. Four years later, I don’t have a lot to say on the subject of Maggie being Autistic. I have a LOT to say about the way other people treat autistic folks, the world we live in, the way it’s set up, but I’m fighting down a miserable cold and can’t think clearly about it. In short, autism itself is not a problem and Sartre was correct: hell is other people.

Minna has the worst temper of all three of the girls. She is the first to lie down, shaking, and scream with her fists clenched; the first to demand that you hand her something specifically so she can throw it on the ground while looking you in the eye. She’s also the one who gives the biggest, sloppiest, face-removing-suction kisses and squeals when you walk through the door, so there’s that.

We ventured to Ikea, and occasionally I say things like “I wish we had adult furniture. Actual, proper adult furniture.” Then I realize that I actually do love the angles and geometric lines of Ikea furniture, and how easy it is to shift around and adapt it to our needs. Since my design style is “Future Rec Room Pieces,” I think the actual adult furniture will have to wait until our children are actual adults.


– I was SO ready for Congressman Sulu, then realized the date and that George Takei would not be running for office after all. Today’s bright political spot: snuffed out.

– Old friends, and babies everywhere. We tried a brewery with some friends today; old friends we knew from when Tom was in college. I overheard one tell another “I’ve known her for half her life.” And I guess if they met freshman year of college and they’re 36, that’s…completely and truly weird. And true. (Incidentally, I am exactly the target demographic for the thirtysomething angst in “This Is Us” and they know just how to get me.) We were the only ones with more than two kids, which is always a weird feeling. I never thought of three children as being a big family, and I still don’t. However, the closer you get to DC, the more that number tips you toward people looking at you as if they’d like to ask “And to which fundamental organization do you belong?”

It was wonderful to see old friends, especially when everyone seems to be doing so well personally and professionally. It was comforting, especially with a side of cheesy brewery pretzels.

– We are still homeschooling. Maggie is 3/4 of the way through second grade, and doing amazingly well at reading. We really poured it on this week to finish All About Reading Level 3 before Tom goes on a long work trip, and Tom presented Maggie with her completion certificate.

A few days ago, Maggie finished up reading Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, a favorite of mine when I was a kid. I got swept up in this incredible rush when she was telling me about what happened to Jeremy and his dragon on St. John’s Night. She’s doing this, I thought. She’s doing this and we made it happen. It isn’t easy, and I would never pretend to someone considering this life that it is. Some days–at least once a week–I consider what it would be like to put them in public school. But then I get these moments of wonderment and curiosity and I think: I can do this. I can do this. She’s doing this, and so can I.

…Remind me of that when Moira begins kindergarten next year.