Posts Tagged "amazingness"

A Christmas Miracle

Posted by on Jan 19, 2012 | 1 comment

A Christmas Miracle

Somewhere along the line this year, Jack started disliking Santa.  Oh, he loves the man and the gifts he brings, but as December rolled around, Jack made it clear he wouldn’t be sitting on the Big Man’s lap, and there would be no photo for the mantle this year.

I have to confess, I’m most likely responsible for Jack’s trepidation.

In late September, before we had even begun to talk about Jack’s birthday or Halloween (our favourite October events), it happened.  My boys pulled out their Polar Express DVD and started the countdown to Christmas.  I didn’t discourage them much, as I have a deep and abiding passion for Christmas and all the pageantry it entails.  I did insist on doing all of our traditional October things like picking apples, decorating pumpkins and the like, but it didn’t take long after each activity for their attentions to turn back to Santa.

One night, as we were looking for books to read before bed, I was quite upset to find that one of their favourites had been ripped to shreds.  Actually, its pages had been turned into paper airplanes.  We really love our books in this house, and I was beside myself.  I decided they needed to learn a lesson in consequence.

I told my big boys that in order for Santa to bring them shiny new toys this year, they’d have to apologize.  They needed to write him a letter, in advance of the traditional “I want” missive, explaining that not only had they shredded some books, but that yes, they’d used their special Polar Express train set outside in the mud (it was not, surprisingly, mud-proof), and that they were sorry.  I told them Santa wouldn’t bring them nice new things if he thought they would be treated badly, and an apology was in order.

Lennon didn’t like it, but he understood.  Jack argued points with me (he did not take part in the book destruction, so he felt he only needed to cop to the train wreck), but finally understood if he wanted new loot, he needed to come clean.

I felt good after that discussion, happy that my children might have actually learned responsibility and culpability.  They did, sort of.  What Jack learned, though, was that Santa has a bit of an attitude, and he wanted nothing to do with it.  He started to tell me how he would write his letter, but he wouldn’t go see Santa.  Not even for a second, no way.

I didn’t push him. If I’ve learned anything in the six-plus years of living with Jack, it’s that if he says he doesn’t want to do something, he means it.  We went to Sea World once, after a week of three-year-old Jack telling anyone who’d listen that he did not, in fact, want to go.  He didn’t want to see sharks or dolphins or whales.  He didn’t care about the turtles.  He did not want to go, period.  We assumed that once we got there he’d change his tune, as he adores sea life, but lo and behold, he stuck to his guns.  We did not get to see sharks or dolphins, and he summarily dismissed the huge killer whale swimming right past him.  It was the fastest trip to Sea World in recorded history.


So when Jack said no to Santa, I figured that was that.  Last year’s trip to see Santa was a debacle, since the whole family had been sick with the flu the entire month leading up to Christmas.  We finally got to see him at the little mall near us one night while we were out, on a whim, looking at decorations.  The boys were in their jammies, and the hurried photo we got reflected the moods of everyone involved (even poor Saint Nick, who was minutes away from quitting time and bombarded by a load of sick kids in pajamas). In search of a better experience this year, we packed everyone up and went into the city to the VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights.

Seeing the light

We enjoyed a spectacle of lights, music, Swedish waffles and fun.  As we neared Santa’s cottage, Jack started his dialogue of how he wouldn’t be participating, lest we had forgotten his endless lecture during the hour-long car ride to get there.  I took the younger kids in, and Jack watched through the windows.  For about ten seconds.  Then he was hooked.

The Santa experience at VanDusen was like nothing we expected.  Santa had his own little cottage (which they called his “living room”), separate from all the hustle and bustle of the botanical gardens. He sat on his big, comfy chair nestled between a fireplace and a beautiful Christmas tree, in front of three rows of benches.  Families sat and waited to chat with him, or just enjoyed the quiet coziness. There was no professional photographer, no cameras at all other than those in the hands of grinning parents and grandparents. Santa took his time with each child, asking them questions about their likes and dislikes, their thoughts on the world, and yes, eventually, what they would like for Christmas.  He invited them onto his lap if they were comfortable, let them sit next to him if they were not.  He smiled, laughed, and exuded absolute joy.

Deep in discussion

It didn’t take long for Jack to assess the situation and change his mind about meeting Santa.  He responded wholly to the calm and quiet, and wanted in.  As we waited our turn, I watched the excitement grow on his face, his love of Santa overcoming the fears he’d built up in his head.

Jack and Santa discussed the fireplace, the lights, and several other things before Jack finally expressed his desire for a book about airplanes.  Jack climbed up next to him and I took the best photos I have ever gotten of Jack and Santa.  In fact, the photos I took of the three boys and Santa are, hands down, our best Santa photos to date.  There is joy on their faces, all four of them.

Team Baskin with Santa. Joy all around.

As we left the little cottage, Jack couldn’t contain himself.  “It was a big mistake telling you I was afraid!”  He was giddy with pride.  Then he was serious. “Santa loves children all the way to the bottom of the world because he lives on the top of the world.”

Yes, Santa loves all of the children.  Even if they tear up books or destroy their Christmas trains in the summer mud.  Santa loves the children who are brave, and those who are not.  Santa loves the children who can tell him what they want, and those who cannot. Santa loves equally, always.

I will never forget this visit with Santa, and we will go see him in his little living room next year. And the year after that.  I hope he knows how much he is appreciated, by the parents as much as the children.

"Dear Santa, Thanks for making my stuff. From, Jack"


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Good Vibe University

Posted by on Oct 2, 2011 | 2 comments

Good Vibe University

Last month I had the joy and honour of joining Good Vibe University‘s “Follow Your Feel Good” conversation about the Gifts of Autism.  I chatted with some wonderful women about how autism has changed us, enlightened us, and brought us gifts we’d never imagined in our pre-autism lives.

I invite you to take a listen.

What are your thoughts?  What “gifts” do you believe autism has brought into your life?

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Posted by on Aug 23, 2011 | 7 comments


If my child didn’t have autism, my world would be different.

My children would have furniture in their bedroom and decorations on their walls instead of mattresses on the floor.

My son would nap when  he’s tired instead of pacing and jumping and screaming and encouraging his brother to join in.

We could go out and enjoy the world in the evening instead of having to wrangle exhausted children into bed early.

Mealtimes would be spent enjoying each others company instead of constantly reminding my son to sit in his chair and not lay across it or pace around the kitchen.

We could stay with family when we travel instead of always having to stay in a hotel.  And I wouldn’t be quite so afraid to fly with my children.

We could have a lazy day at home without worrying if the children have had enough physical activity to make it through the day without a breakdown.

We could go to the movies or a show or a concert or a parade without worrying about the sound and light levels.

We could get a babysitter without worrying about his/her welfare.

We wouldn’t have to explain why we can’t always have friends over or why we can’t always make playdates or why we can’t be super flexible all the time.

We wouldn’t have to always explain how autism affects our entire family, not just my son.

We wouldn’t have to explain that my younger children do not have autism, even though sometimes they act just like their big brother in stressful or exciting situations.

We wouldn’t have to wonder if our two neurotypical children will eventually learn to model their peers and not their brother’s erratic behaviour.

I wouldn’t feel like I’m a warrior, in constant battle for my child’s life and my own sanity.


If my child didn’t have autism, my world would be different.

I might not have learned to be patient and trust that my child will figure things out.

I might not have appreciated the sheer magic in watching a child acquire language, through any means necessary.

I might not have learned all the valuable tools for learning that I’ve shared with my younger children.

I might not have learned the subtle art of negotiation with a child that allows him to flourish and gain control of his life while still guiding him.

I might have missed the necessity of an afternoon downtime.

I would have never met the community of amazing people it took to lift my child up and put and keep him on his path.

I would never have met the community of amazing people it has taken to lift me up and put and keep me on my path.

I might not have had such a compelling reason to rediscover my joy of writing.

I would never have known about the beauty found in the tiniest details of life around me, as pointed out by my son.

I wouldn’t have the unbelievably amazing child who is my oldest son.  My beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.


My beautiful boy.


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But I’m Not A Hero

Posted by on Jun 8, 2011 | 2 comments

But I’m Not A Hero

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about self-care, mainly, the preservation of my own sanity. The second we decided to have a third child, heck the second we decided to have our first child, I willingly signed away my mental health. I’m ok with that, I accept that mothers need at least a modicum of insanity to survive the toddler years.

(I’m assuming the same goes for the pre-teen, teen, young adult and older adult years as well, but I’m not there yet. I’m sure I’ll let you know as it happens).

Autism has, of course, added its own extra spice to my life. Any stressful situation involving keeping multiple small children alive and unharmed is that much more intense if the sensory overload beast raises its ugly head.

On top of everything, I have had a horrible spate of computer tragedies. My laptop got a nasty virus, and while I was uploading the entire contents of my hard drive to Carbonite* (an online storage service I have since built an altar to in my home), it imploded. Indeed, the drive looked more like a bad rotor from my minivan than a computer component. I moved everything to my geriatric PC… which lasted about two weeks before the motherboard blew out.

My suicidal hard drive. Or a brake rotor. I’m not exactly sure.

I’m not sure what I did to drive my computers to depression and suicide, but I hope they’re at peace now.

I have been trying to find my Happy Place to compensate. I have joined several amazing Facebook pages that bring me Zen straight to my news feed**. I am making a concerted effort to take time for listening to music, which always makes me feel human again (yes, I watched the Lady Gaga concert on HBO by myself. And yes, I sang and danced along). I’m going to find a drop-in yoga class.

But mostly, I’m going to take some time to heal myself.  I believe in the amazing powers of the human brain.  How can I not?  I have Jack, who every single day shows me how magical brain power can be.  Somewhere along the line I got caught up in the mire of my life and forgot that I have the ability to create my own happy.

The other day Jack came home from school with his usual gusto.  “I’m back! Hey everyone, I’m home!” he shouted as he charged in the door.  He rushed into my arms for a hug, and as he looked into my eyes, I remembered.  My child is happy, even though his days are a challenge.  My child finds joy in returning home, returning to me.  My child is, so often, my teacher.

“I love you, baby,” I told him.  “You’re awesome.”

“But, mama,” he said.  “I’m not a hero.”

I beg to differ.

My hero

*I am not paid to sell you Carbonite – I just love them because when BOTH of my computers crashed, my files were safe.  I also love that I can get to my files from anywhere, including my iPhone.  Carbonite has not compensated me in any way for my endorsement – although I wouldn’t say no to a discount.
**Please join and enjoy Connors Gift ~ Embracing Autism in This New Age, Little Bird, You Are Perfect,  and many others – find them all on the AIT Facebook page
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Jack the Explorer Giant

Posted by on Feb 22, 2011 | 0 comments

Jack’s imagination fascinates me nowadays.  He has entire worlds in his head, and I’m getting glimpses of them here and there.  Lately, he’s been talking to his fingers.  Rather, his fingers have been talking to me.

Brother and Sister

It took me a bit to realize the stilted voice he was using during play was “another person,” as I initially thought he was talking for his toy trucks and trains and planes.  As I listened while making dinner one night, though, I caught pieces of a three-way conversation.

“Who are you talking to, Jack?” I asked.

“Brother and Sister are riding in the plane,” he said, simply.  He had his hand in a small plane as it flew around the room.  I called him over to the stove and started asking questions about “Brother and Sister,” desperately hoping we weren’t heading into “The Shining” territory.

What I discovered is “Brother and Sister” are Jack’s fingers.  They don’t have a dad and a mom, but they’re not lost, because they have Jack. They do not have a house.  They go to school with Jack, but they don’t need to learn French, because they don’t have any language.  When Jack speaks English, they speak English, and when Jack speaks French, they speak French.

His fingers say Jack is a giant, but he’s an explorer giant, not a scary giant.

Brother and Sister are around a lot.  They ride in the van, they play in Jack’s trains and other toys, and sometimes they converse with Lennon, too.  Mainly, though, they are Jack’s little buddies.

I wonder how long Brother and Sister are going to hang around with Jack the Explorer Giant.  Considering I never thought Jack would have an imaginary friend (or two), I’m pretty happy they’re here.  At least as long as Brother doesn’t change his name to Tony.

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