Return of the Sleepwalker


Sea Monkey is a sleep-walker… She gets it from her mother.

I’ve caught her on her princess rug, walking tight little circles, complaining about the alligators that are going to eat her toes if she tries to escape to go to the bathroom. I’ve caught her sitting in the sink in her bathroom. Just sitting there.

Last night, she was crying and turning circles on her princess rug. When husband went to talk to her, she was complaining that she couldn’t find the bathroom in her castle. When M suggested that she go to the bathroom, she ran in there. Then she wandered down the hall to my bathroom, took off her shirt, turned on the shower to the exact spot it’s always positioned when she’s in it, went back to her room and went to sleep.

During these… episodes… you can talk to her, but the answers you get are always interesting.

“Sea, what are you doing?”

“I’m getting married, Mom, and I can’t find my house.”

“Who are you marrying?”

*Snore*

“Maybe you should go to bed?”

“Where’s the wedding church? It’s not here. I can’t get married in a castle.”

I actually think a castle is a fine place to get married, but whatever.

“Go to bed, Sea Monkey.”

*Snore*

There’s a reason the dogs sleep on the stairs. Not only does she have to get through two gates, but she has to get past Frank and his ruckus. One of us should wake up to that. We installed baby gates as soon as she could walk… They aren’t necessary now, but they will stay up for as long as she continues to sleep walk. Which could be a very long time.

After all, I was still sleep walking at sixteen. That’s when I woke up on the street in front of my house, wearing nothing but my pajamas (and thank heavens it wasn’t one of those “Oh, I’ll just sleep in my t-shirt and underwear” kind of nights). It was a bit scary that I got so far completely asleep. I think I only woke up because it was cold.

But Lordy, if this goes on for that long, I’ll never get any sleep.

*Snore*

Advertisements

A Good Day


Some days, it’s all worth it, and I love my job. Today is one of those days.

About two weeks ago, we started a new communication system with one of my little kiddos with autism, who is nonverbal. I love this kid. I think he’s funny and cute, and he’s got great potential. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, in addition to picture exchange, we began a system where we immerse him in using pictures to communicate, meaning that, when I work with him, I use pictures too. I use them to comment, to request, to clarify what he wants. I use them for everything. I thought it would be a pain, but it’s actually been really… fun.

The big breakthrough was when he began using the pictures to request snacks and comment. Today, I was requesting that he throw the ball by pointing to “My turn” and then the two pictures “throw” and “ball.” I require nothing of him. But he loved it, and he was pointing to the pictures too, in order to request that I throw the ball back to him. I thought the session was going fantastically. He had even made a couple of comments, like “I don’t like that.” It was awesome. I stayed way longer than the normal amount of time I give him.

I was bouncing the ball and waiting for him to tell me he wanted a turn. When he did, I started pointing to the numbers, and I said, “One… Two…” as we had been doing. But before I got to three, I got distracted. In that space–way longer than the five seconds I’d been waiting–I heard a tiny voice say, “Three.”

I’ve been working with this boy since August. I’ve only heard him cry, and rarely even that. He’s so silent, this boy, walking around the room like a ghost. He uses some signs, and he’s gotten pretty good at pictures, but I’ve never heard him babble or vocalize in any way. I’ve never really heard his voice.

I heard you today, little man.

When I looked at him, thinking someone else must have come up behind him, he was smiling at me–at me–with a look that said, “Yeah, lady, it’s been there all along. All you had to do was wait for it.” And then he kissed me on the cheek.

It still gives me chills.

I waited, and I heard him. I was patient, and I believed, and he spoke.

Will the same thing happen tomorrow?  I don’t know. Maybe it will be awhile before I hear his voice again. Maybe he’ll start talking all the time.

Until then, I will keep trying, and I will be patient. I will wait.

And I will hear his voice again. I know I will.

MCC

Stop! Hammerhead Time!


When i was a kid, I had a lot of different dreams. One of my dreams was to be a marine biologist (because isn’t it the dream of every desert-dwelling kid to live a life immersed in water?). I guess I wanted it because I can swim really well… The only thing is, my fat ass doesn’t sink. Literally. I have to force myself to not float like I’m in the Dead Sea when I’m swimming in a pool. I can tread water without doing anything–this is also known as the vertical float. I can’t teach the art of floating to my own children because it’s like teaching them how to breathe. I don’t know  how I do it, I just do

All of this leads into the day the marine biologist dream died.

In all honesty, it had been on its way out for probably a couple of years anyway, since I wasn’t very good in Math. Or Science. I was good at Biology, but I didn’t get Chemistry until about a month ago. 20 years after my last Chemistry class, and I finally got it. The irony.

But I digress.

So, the family went on a vacation down Loreto, Mexico–my parents, my brother, a family friend, and Marit, the foreign exchange student. Marit and I didn’t get along that great (she lived a more sophisticated, worldly life than I did), but I think she was happy to go on this trip.

Anyway, we were two days into the trip when we chartered a boat to go scuba diving. My brother, father, and the family friend were dropped off on one side of an island, while Marit, my mother and I were dropped off on the other to go snorkeling.

I actually wanted to go snorkeling closer into the beach, but no one listens to me. So we went snorkeling in water near a very sheer drop off (the water went from rocks on shore to at least 40-50 feet deep just like that–no beach, no shelf, just deep water). Now, I should have realized this was a bad idea–the rocks were littered with seals. Bathing, barking, doing “seal” things (whatever that may be… in any case, it looks fun).

Here we arrive at Mistake Number One: swimming with shark food when the unsinkable you actually resembles shark food.

To go snorkeling, I had to take out my contact lenses. Given how I was well beyond legally blind when uncorrected, this left me able to make out only indistinct shapes.

Mistake Number Two: Swimming with shark food while shaped like shark food, and blind, to boot.

So, we’re snorkeling around, when I notice something that I took for A VERY BAD SIGN: the seals all began coming in to shore. Not lounging, not loitering. They were coming into shore and launching themselves on the rocks.

Crap.

I looked up for the boat, which I could make out as a fuzzy white shape barreling toward us. I looked for my mother, who was snorkeling about 20 feet away.

“Mom?” I called. “I want to get out of the water.”

“Don’t be melodramatic,” my mother responded.

But the seals were coming to shore quickly, and launching themselves  out of the water, because, well, they’re smarter than we were. There was nothing slow and gradual about this: they were literally throwing themselves out of the water. Not only this, but the boat, which had drifted away from us, was roaring toward us, and the driver (pilot? boatman?) was yelling at us in Spanish.

I don’t speak Spanish, because my father convinced me in 7th grade that German (German?!?!?!) was more practical.

But I didn’t have to see the wild gestures I was later told he was using,  because I already knew what was about. I may have been blind, but I could recognize a bad situation when I was in one… Not only that, but a very large shadow was swimming underneath me, and, given that seals were flinging themselves out of the water, I was pretty certain I knew what very large shadow was.

And thus, we come to Mistake Number Three: For future reference, trying to crawl out of 40-50 ft. deep water on to rocks covered in barnacles while very large shadow swims beneath you is NOT a good idea. But it will leave your knees and hands and elbows abraded.

Convenient, if you want to chum the water with your own blood. Not so much if you think you might want to, I don’t know, live.

Mistake number three leads almost immediately into mistake number four. At this point, I decided my best bet was to get to the boat, and fast.

Mistake Number Four: Listening to my mother (we’re all guilty of this one at one point in time or another).

I was the first one back to the boat–blind desperation is a GREAT motivator, but my mother insisted I allow Marit to get in the boat first. So Marit took the hand of the driver (there was no ladder to assist us in getting in), climbed into the safety of the boat, and promptly lost her bikini top.

Mistake Number Five: Believing my life might be worth more than ogling a topless, large-breasted German chick (FYI, it’s not).

To this day, I’m not entirely certain she wasn’t trying to kill me. I mean “Whoops, my boobs just happened to fall out of my top at the worst possible moment for you! So sorry!” Really??? Because I guess she hadn’t learned her lesson when she lost her entire bathing suit in Malibu (This begs the question: Who loses an entire bathing suit? Unless the wave that hit her was the special five-fingered kind, and had some help, I’m not seeing it.).

The boat driver completely lost his bearings in assisting said German girl with her top, leaving my mother and me in the water with very large shadow swimming beneath us. But whatever. I was getting into that boat if it was the last thing I did, so I grabbed ahold of the side of the boat and started hoisting myself in.

And then my mother wailed, “Meg, you have to push me into the boat!”

Seriously? Oh, yes, seriously. And pulling her in once I got in wasn’t going to do–I had to stay in the water and push her out.

So much for survival of the species.

Anyway, I looked down, and I could swear very large shadow had gotten bigger–and closer.

So I grabbed ahold of my mother’s bathing suit, and, with strength born of sheer adrenaline and the desperate, illogical fear I would die a virgin, threw her and myself into the boat. By this time, the most pressing concern–that Marit had most of her clothes on–had been resolved, and so, exhausted and terrified, we went back to the other side of the island to pick up the boys.

And the identity of very large shadow? Well, that was a hammerhead shark. This was confirmed by both the boat driver and several scuba divers on the other side of the island who saw it.

The unsinkable Meggan Connors could have potentially become the very edible Meggan Connors. I am sure I would have been tender and juicy, like veal. Oi.

That was the day the dream of becoming a marine biologist died, never to be resurrected. Because as much as I like fish, I don’t want to be fish food.

MCC

Rocking the killer ‘stache


I have a friend who recently grew a mustache.

I want to tell him its killer, because I think he looks like some 70s porno king, but I’m afraid he’ll take the phrase ’70s porno king’ the wrong way.

It’s a good ‘stache, really, and I suppose it’s not too terribly 70s… It actually looks very much like a cop ‘stache, a look with which I am very familiar. But in certain circles, saying, “Oh, you’re rocking the cop ‘stache” doesn’t come across any better than “I like the killer 70s porno ‘stache.” In some cases, it’s far better to have one’s facial hair compared to a two-bit porn actor’s than it is to be compared to a cop.

As I read the previous sentences, I have to laugh, because I’m acting like I know the first thing about 70s porn. I do not. Actually, I know very little about porn in general, unless you count the romance novels I read, which I generally do not.

In any case, I want to tell him I like the newfound facial hair–for some reason, it suits him. I get it’s not a look for everyone, but I have a soft spot for hairy guys. But even my saying, “I like the mustache” comes across as snotty. The last time I said that to anyone other than my husband, the poor man took offense and shaved it off the next day… (Weirdly, I think I take less offense at those same words than he did)

So, in the interest of preserving someone’s feelings, I will keep my opinions to myself.

But keep rocking the ‘stache, my friend. It’s killer.

 

How Justin Bieber Saved My Day


I’m not much of a crier… Only twice in the last ten years has a patient or a student actually made me cry–or almost cry–at work. One of them was when I worked in a skilled nursing unit (almost 10 years ago), but that’s a story for another day.

The other one was today.

I have a student on my caseload who has very high needs. She is a seriously darling child, quite the kick in the pants, and she makes me smile every time I see her. Because she’s so medically fragile, and her condition is deteriorating, we got her an iPad for a communication device, and I was programming it–or trying to, at least. The way I do it is super slow and cumbersome, and I’m sure there’s a faster way to program it, but it works.

So, we’re talking about music and TV shows, and I’m programming away. And then I made an innocent, if fatal, mistake: I asked her what her favorite song was.

The first time she said it, I hoped to God I hadn’t understood–she can be quite unintelligible. But then, she said it again, as clearly as she could, and I realized I hadn’t misunderstood.

She said, “Fix You. By Coldplay.” Clear as day.

And because I’m a speech path, I looked up at her aide, who gave me a confused shrug, and repeated it back to her.

And this little doll of a child replied, “Yeah. Fix You. My daddy sings it to me when he thinks I’m sleeping.”

“Fix You.” I know this dad, and he would if he could, but all the king’s horses and all the king’s men…

Oh, darlin’, I would if I could too.

But I can’t, so I’ll keep programming this device for the day when she needs it.

So I swallowed the lump in my throat and croaked, “What about Justin Bieber?” Because crap, I would program every god-forsaken Justin Bieber song into this damn computer just so long as I don’t have to put “Fix You” in there. Nothing like a little Justin Bieber to dry the eyes and make you want to run a spike through your skull (I’m over 30… My parents didn’t understand NKOTB, and I will never understand the allure of Justin Bieber, but more power to him).

And, because she’s six, she immediately brightened, stood up, and began singing, “Oh, baby, baby, baby… Oh, baby, baby, baby. I just love Justin Bieber!” and I started to laugh. Because at that moment, I loved him too. Anyone who can make this little person so happy is alright in my book. So, I programmed him in there while she danced around my office, singing.

After work, I came home and kissed my kids, the two little hearts that beat outside my chest. Kids who, God willing, will never need a device like that. Kids who, I pray, I WILL NOT sing “Fix You” to while they sleep, because I’m hoping for a cure that may never come.

I think I’ll go listen to some Justin Bieber now.

MCC

Denied


To start the new year, I got my first official rejection.

I know this is part of the process, and that it’s OK. It’s OK to get rejected–it doesn’t really mean anything. It doesn’t mean I stink (though that may be true), it just means she didn’t like it.

The thing is, she was so nice about it. I’m not sure which is worse: getting the smack down, where you can say, “Oh, she’s just mean,” or getting what is probably the nicest rejection ever, because then the problem is me. **Sigh**

The good thing about this is, I got the first one under my belt, and the world didn’t end. The sky did not fall. I’m not exactly happy about it, but I’m also not wallowing in despair, either. I found out less than half an hour ago, and I’m doing OK. It’s all part of the process.

MCC