Monday, February 13, 2017

Ignorance is Bliss

Facebook is my life.

When I say that out loud it sounds childish.
It sounds teen-angsty.
It sounds like I live for friend-counts and post-likes.

But no. What I mean is that Facebook is how I have come to deal with/stay in touch with/hide from/sort out many areas of my life.
I have a very small circle of people that I see outside of the digital world. I would love to see more people but everyone either has children or lives too far away. Every has their own schedules. Toby has never been the type of child to travel well or be ok jumping from place to place day after day. So I only regularly see a group of friends that I can count on one hand, and two of them I live with.
Facebook has always been my social escape. I can 'visit' with people I miss. I see photos of their kids and their trips. I post my own photos and quotes for a small sense of being liked and a part of something. My photo albums serve as a memory bank and a backup of the best photos I have in case my computer craps out before I've done a file transfer (which has happened before. Which is why I can't bring myself to delete out-of-date albums). The Facebook memories algorithm fills me with beloved nostalgia as it daily reminds me of the funny things Toby once said, or the conversations I've had.

Facebook is my life in the sense that I don't feel like I have much of a social life without it. It's like going to a friend's house and seeing another few friends you know are already there and you sit around swapping funny cat videos and embarrassing photos.

But Facebook has changed.
It happened slowly over the last year. The political memes changed from Obama's goofy smirk to over-zealous debaters. The comedy monologues changed from poking fun at fast food restaurants and news media, to calling out the idiocy of the new presidential campaign.

It didn't bother me at the time. I like to be informed. I like reading the summaries and watching the highlights and researching the truths.

And besides, it was all a big show. There was no way that Trump would possibly be elected president.

But then he was.
And that had to be accepted.
And there were marches to show that humans value human rights.
And there were protests to say that families shouldn't be kept apart based on citizenship records.

And that was fine too. I was happy that the world was standing up for itself, albeit it shouldn't have been necessary in this era of freedom.

But then the doubt started creeping on to my Facebook feed. The doubt that marching and protesting were the right things to do. The doubt that things would have been any better with a different President.
And then the anger started creeping in on top of that. Anger at the people who were 'needlessly' speaking up, and anger at those who questioned the protests and stayed silent. Anger towards the people who voted, and towards the people who didn't vote.
And then criticism of the leaders of other countries who either agreed or disagreed with what has been happening. And criticism of religious groups for either speaking out or not. Neither was the right answer.

I like to think that I've dulled my emotional senses over the years (and by "like to think" I don't mean I really like it or am particularly proud of it). I have tried hard to no be an emotional train wreck over small things. I try to tell myself that these things are beyond my control.
But the funny thing about anxiety is that it has a mind of it's own. You think you have it turned off and then from out of nowhere it pops it's head back out again.

I can make a dozen trouble-free trips to Toronto, but then next time we want to go I feel very strongly that walking casually anywhere is a recipe for getting shot.
I can drive highway 400 over and over, but then there's that one time where I am convinced that the tire on the freight truck directly in front of me is going to blow and send the rest of us into oblivion, but I'm blocked and can't get to an off ramp.
I can accept that Anthony has successfully driven through more bad weather situations than I can count, but there will be that one day that being 15 minutes late means he's definitely DEFINITELY dead this time.

I felt the signs of anxiety a few weeks ago with no explanation. My heart would suddenly go in to over drive when I was sitting in a chair. My head would spin and become frantic when simply washing dishes. I would take deep breaths and drinks of water and find a corner to curl up with my phone and try to turn whatever was wrong with me off.
It took 4 days to realize that my heart rate spiked after being on Facebook.
Aimlessly scrolling, not even reading articles.... but the anticipation of 'What did Trump do today?'...or subconsciously realizing that people's comments were making me upset.

My sister has participated in several media detoxes. A full media detox involved no phone apps (phone calls ok, texting allowable, but avoidable), no computer games, no tv, no movies. Email only if it was needed for work.
A later social media detox was less strict, but still difficult. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no Tumblr, email only for work, movies allowed.
I always said she was nuts and I could never do that even though I knew I probably should. Facebook is my life. I can't cut myself off like that.

And so I was surprised by the speed with which I deleted the Facebook app from my phone.

I was surprised that I was not even tempted to check anything for several days.

Facebook is not my cozy home anymore. I miss it but it has changed. I will still share my Instagram posts on Facebook. I still have the messenger app so I can text with Facebook friends. I may occasionally check my notifications. I may occasionally post a batch of photos. I may some day come back. Today I tried, just for work. I had to look up a toy company of ours on Facebook and then scrolled through a few photos. I found a very sweet supportive message posted at the time of the Women's March, and the comments were nothing but anger and disappointment and several people declaring that they would never buy their clearly heathen pro-abortion femi-nazi products ever again.

I don't like feeling helpless and sad all the time. I have comments to make and opinions to post, but I fear the lash back. I'm tired of scrolling through Facebook as though it's a game of Russian Roulette. I'm tired of my body feeling the need to be on high alert all the time. I'm tired of the deepening pit in my stomach that is akin to accidentally seeing posts of your ex with someone else.
I've started calling this feeling the 'Bee Hive' instead of 'Butterflies'. A bee hive looks zen and calm and even has a soothing hum, but if you look close it's writhing and squirming and flitting and never sitting still. It's ready to explode in rage and defense if poked the wrong way.

I can't keep doing this to myself.
I won't.
So until I find a way to shove my unpredictable Bee Hive in a box, or until things die down, I will be remaining blissfully ignorant for a while.
You can still tag me or message me, but don't be offended if I don't respond for a while.

And now I'm going to turn the computer off and have a cup of tea.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016

2016.

The year all the celebrities died and Donald Trump was elected President.

2016 was a year I was glad to see go. It was a year full of stress and grudges and breakdowns.
Every year I write a Christmas letter that gets sent to a few friends and family, and I sometimes find it hard to bridge the gap between honesty and good impressions.
If you read our Christmas letter you will see that the store is doing well, Anthony is done school, I made a ton of costumes, we took a few trips and Toby continues to enjoy homeschooling.
If you look at my Facebook over the last year you will see beach trips and birthdays and smiles.

But Facebook and Christmas letters only give you a split second out of a bigger reality.

This photo, for example, wasn't taken because we were having a great time outside. it was taken because Toby hadn't set foot outside in months because of his anxiety of how bulky his outdoor clothes feel, and wonder of wonders one day he decided we'd try the new coat. This was documenting that we made it outside but it was amid complaints and whining, which consumed my winter.


















In February I started seeing a councillor for my still un-officially-diagnosed depression. I was hoping to find an 'in' somewhere so I could bring Toby with me to begin the process of trying to get him assessed for Aspergers and SPD. Instead I spent months going by myself and venting about the violent dreams/daydreams I was having towards family members and how miserable I was as a parent.
This photo was taken on a miserable day for both Toby and I, where I somehow convinced him to come outside with me, and we just sat on the bridge doing nothing for a long time.














This video that Shannon and I made was filmed on Mother's Day. Two days prior to that Anthony and I nearly ended our relationship and at this point we were still discussing the logistics of him moving out.
This video took my mind off of it for a few hours.


















This was a summer project that made me almost want to quit the theatre industry.
This prop making project was rewarding, but being asked to do several other jobs beyond my expertise on top of this made for some very late, very teary nights.
This particular night involved an exploding champagne bottle, an emergency cleaning of my kitchen, a complete mental breakdown, and needing to be bailed out by friends and family.



















Yes, 2016 was a year that I would like to put behind me.

But on December 31st at 9:25 pm I heard uncontrollable sobbing coming from Toby's room.
I went in and asked what was wrong and got a muffled scream of "I don't WANT it to be 2017! I want it to stay 2016 forever!"
My first reaction was to come back with how awful 2016 was, but quickly caught myself.
I wanted to say how silly that was, but caught myself again.
In Toby's world, none of the news media or my personal problems existed.

In Toby's world this was a year where:

He got to go to the Aquarium and finally see the sea turtle. It didn't matter that Anthony and I were dancing around each other the whole time, unsure of whether our relationship existed or not.















He got a new bike. It didn't matter that it was at the end of a very stressful week of sewing for me.















We spent more days at the beach this summer than usual. It didn't matter that I was often sick or tired when we went.



















We got to see Joseph twice. It didn't matter that the previous 6 months had been a nightmare of costume deadlines and ignoring Toby because of this very thing.




















We visited Stratford, Toronto, and Sudbury.
We had Birthdays.
We had just come to the end of a week of Christmases, food, and friends.

And so how could I just tell Toby, who has always had a hard time with transitions, that this year was finally due to be gone.

I rubbed his back and told him that we didn't have to call it 2017, we could call it 2016.1.
I told him that it was just like a Minecraft update, you get some fixes and surprises, but the previous edition doesn't change.
I asked him if he felt any different when he turned 8, and that this is the same - it's just another day.
I asked him what his favourite parts of 2016 were.
Even though he didn't want to answer me I asked what he was looking forward to about 2017.
I told him I was most looking forward to the spring thaw so then the squirrels would finally move out of the attic. He laughed at that and we talked about some Lego sets he was looking forward to seeing the release of.

2017 is going to be a year of just taking an extra breath.
I want to pay more attention to myself.
I don't want to be afraid to say no to people.
I want to minimize the chaos on my house, both visually and emotionally.
I want to assert my needs for than I've been accustomed to.
I want to re-build.

I hope everyone has a good 2017.
Take too many pictures.
Have too much fun.
And take time for one extra breath.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

'Smart' Phone

About a week ago I gave in to something I've been steadfastly holding out on for years.

I got a smart phone.

Up until now my phone had the ability  to ring, to text, and to take crappy photos. I had no internet access or games or fancy reverse camera.
I held out so long because I knew  that as a computer/Facebook addict, I would become attached. I didn't want to be that person who was always glued to my phone.
I liked only charging my phone once a week.
I liked not paying out my nose for usage.

However...

The last year I have found it difficult to maintain social media accounts for work and find out simple things like a store's hours when on the move (first world problems, I know, I know).
So I finally broke down. I did my research. I picked a plan. I bit the bullet. I got a new phone.

The first evening with my phone was spent setting up account access and downloading 'essential' apps (hello, instagram!).
So far so good, the only reason I'm spending so much time on it is because of set up...

Day two: I went to work, uploaded to instagram, turned off data, logged into Facebook on the computer, checked my phone for texts, went back to the computer, attempted to get my phone to connect to the WiFi at work, failed, went back to the computer, turned data on again to see how my phone would receive updates, ate lunch, etc.
Got home and downloaded the game 2048. Lost half an hour of time.

Day three: Got up. Checked phone. Sifted through email alerts. Instagramed Toby playing with Lego. Scrolled through Facebook. Lost track of time. Plugged in phone out of reach. Attempted to carry on with day. Mildly successful.

Day four: Resisted posting anything to instagram all day so I didn't become one of 'those' people. Caved and posted a picture of my dinner. Later downloaded the game 4 pics 1 word. Lost half an hour of time.

Day five: Now can't leave to do anything without phone in my hand. Forced to charge very dead battery, but continue to check for updates while it's plugged in. Play 2048. Remember I'm supposed to be doing dishes. Take half charged phone outside instead and take photos of cats.

It's now been about 10 days since my purchase and though I don't regret the change over, my reservations have been confirmed: I'm an addict.
I look up things one at random moments just because I CAN.
I have to very consciously hold back from instagraming literally everything.
I have to set time limits for games because I will forget to sleep.
I am currently writing this blog on my phone because I can lie in bed while doing so.
I have to really fight myself to not be glued to it when I'm with Toby, o r to not leap up and find it with every little ping and buzz that happens.

I realize that the term 'Smart Phone' is referring to how 'clever' your little hand held device is, but are they really making US smarter?
Sure, we sound smart because we have Google at our fingertips, but I think that being reliant on a little flashing and beeping metal box just to get through our days doesn't bode well for actual 'smarts'.

Now if you'll excuse me, I just received a facebook alert from a page I  never really check, but i'm going to check it anyway (because I CAN) and then I need to spend the next 25 minutes scrolling aimlessly through nothingness...

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Baby Blues

Doesn't 'Baby Blues' seem like a fluffy name for something that doesn't feel nice and fluffy?

It sounds like: "Oh, just getting through some Baby Blues", she says with an eye roll and a smile on her face.

It's anything but an eye roll and a smile. It's messy. It's ugly. It's dark. It's hard.

And even moms who've been there can sometimes forget all-to-soon.
You push yourself to move on and be happy, and sooner or later you trick yourself in to believing it. You then comfort your new-mom friends saying that 'it will pass' and 'just keep a close support network' and 'call me anytime'.
While these are all meant-well sentiments, we forget what it feels like to BE that person.

When depression sets in you don't even see the possibility of 'it will pass'.
There is no 'better day tomorrow'.
Each second your baby screams at 2am feels like an eternity. Each excruciating mis-latch or duct-clog is the end of your world.
You feel guilty wanting to call the call-me-anytime-friend at 3am, not wanting to burden anyone else with your misery. Your 'close support network' all have lives of their own and you know you can't ask them to sit with you 24/7 just to talk with words that aren't one syllable in length, and just so you're not alone in the symphony of screeches. You get invited out to meals, but don't really enjoy it because you know you have to go home eventually.

Some people make it through by saying things like "It's all worth it just for that smile" or "the love in their eyes is enough to pull me along". And those people get better. And that's wonderful.

But there are some, like myself, who are hit so hard that we can't even love them back.

It took me a long time to be able to look baby-Toby in the face and say I Love You.
Even then it sounded weird and I wasn't sure if I meant it. Reading the book The Second Nine Months by Vicki Glembocki helped me feel less alone since all other resources I had at the time told me that Bonding was GREAT, and that my loving mother-instinct would prevail!

I remember numbly holding screamy baby and just thinking 'I hate this...I hate you...' and then trying to push those feelings deep down inside because I felt so guilty for even thinking them. Constantly feeling guilty for being sad when so many others so desperately want babies or have lost babies.
The guilt makes you put on a mask and file away your emotions just so you can get through the day.

When Toby was old enough to interact with me I began to have more fun, and smile, and even laugh at the things he would do or say. We'd go on backyard adventures, short day trips to a museum or park, and cook together in the kitchen.
I felt human again.
I was finally over my long bout of un-diagnosed post-partum depression.

But then Toby got older again. And developed more of a personality.
All the tantrums and quirks, that I was assured 'were a phase' by multiple people, just seemed to get worse.
If you know us, you know we try very hard to have a mindful, loving, respectful atmosphere in our house. If you know Toby at all, you know that 'typical' discipline tactics don't work on him. Instead we talk and we compromise and we reason, and sometimes it takes a while, but it works.
But somehow this intense anger and anxiety began to rise in him. Tantrums would erupt over the simplest of things and last for over an hour. Suddenly he can't put on socks because he's afraid they will fall down in his boots and the anticipation of that discomfort is enough to reduce him to a puddle on the floor and we now can't leave the house.
Most recently, he is terrified of all bugs after walking in to a wasp nest over the summer, and now refuses to go outside at all, except for the short path from the door to the car. 'But there's no bugs in the winter!' I hear you all say.... yes, but going outside now would involve putting on snowpants... and boots... and mitts... and a heavy coat....the collar of which would touch his hat...
I try to talk to him about the 'big feelings' he's having, and how to express himself properly, and that we have to at least TRY to do things before we give up. But bringing it up again and again pushes him further inside himself. If I talk about trying to not be afraid of bees, he will remember he is afraid of bees and continue to be afraid of bees. He was never afraid of the dark until he read a book about being afraid of the dark and he thought that the dark was now something he SHOULD be afraid of. So I try not to mention it. I try not to mention anything.

So once again I feel these familiar fireworks inside me. Explosions of emotion that I'm not allowed to express for fear of making everything worse. Intense guilt at the thought that me being depressed while pregnant somehow altered his physical make-up to make him this way now. Guilt stemming from the fact that I spent most of his first year of life crying instead of singing songs and laughing. Guilt over not trying harder to get out and socialize the both of us more so maybe our lives could be more 'normal' now.

I've been told I worry too much.
I've been told I'm over-sensitive.
I've been told that pain makes you stronger and tougher.

But being hurt just makes me feel weak. Trying not to worry about things makes me worry more.

Many people treat mental illness like a bad mood.

You'll grow out of it.
Just think happy thoughts.
It's healthy to have some down-days.
Have some 'me-time'!
Give it a few days, you'll feel better.

I find myself thinking these thoughts towards Toby. I tell him to focus on things that make him happy. I tell him not to worry about things too far ahead to see.
I tell myself he'll grow out of it.

And then I step back and realize how much I hate it when people say those things to me.

Believe me, if there was an Off switch for this, I'd be more than happy to pull it.
I'm not proud of the fact that I cried myself to sleep the other night just because a movie I watched didn't live up to my expectations and I felt cheated out of two hours of my life.
I don't like never having the energy to play with Toby when he asks me to, and then when I do have some energy, he turns me down.
I don't like holding grudges with my son over situations and emotions that are beyond our control.

Again, if it were as easy as 'getting a good night sleep' or 'walking it off' I would do it.

But it's like telling someone with cancer to just get over it. Just take a walk, you'll feel better tomorrow.
People with depression just can't.
And as a result we start to lose the people that we need closest to us.
Friends get bored because you can't make conversation.
You can feel the small amounts of love you're able to emit just go un-reciprocated.
Things that used to make you happy are now mundane.

Once again I feel the 'baby blues' creeping in. Even though my son is far from being a baby, I still feel my sadness stemming from everything surrounding him. My inability to deal with his anxiety…wanting to be spontaneous and adventurous in my own life, and not being able to because I can't leave him with anyone, and he doesn't want to come with me... the complete dread I feel at the prospect of attempting to get him in clothing and out of the house to possibly go see a child psychologist… knowing that even if I succeed, if it's the wrong experience he'll never go back. Wanting desperately to go on day trips and play outside knowing it will make ME happier, but not wanting to disappoint myself by trying too hard.

I often feel like I complain a lot... like I only have negative things to say... both in blogs and in person.
I'm not asking for sympathy.
I'm not complaining for attention.
I just need to vent. I need an outlet where I can sort out my head so I can let go a little bit.
I write so that maybe the one person who is in tears reading this because it's all too real knows they're not alone.
You aren't.
But it feels like it.
There is a stigma about posting depressing status updates on facebook, but sometimes you just need to scream to the world I'M NOT OK and leave it at that.

I don't need pats on the back and 'keep-your-chin-up's.
I just need you to know that if I seem distant and quiet, it's just that maybe I'm enjoying the peace.
If I don't talk much, it's maybe because I'm afraid I'll drive you away with negativity, or start crying.

If you are depressed, find an outlet.
Write, journal, find an online forum with like-minded people.
Read their stories and share your own.
Reach out to people in similar situations.
Talk to a therapist if you can.
Tell your family you need help.
Accept help.
And even though you really really want to, never give up.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Minecraft Blocks

I've had a hard time being 'present' lately.


It's easier to get my stuff done when Toby is playing Minecraft or watching Youtube tutorials, but then I feel guilty for not spending actual time with him. However when I do try to organize an activity he takes very little interest and counts down the seconds until his screen break is over.

In the midst of our rut I came upon a post in our Facebook homeschool group that someone was selling off a bag of 90 wooden craft cubes. I love building blocks, and as a result we have LOTS and no reason to get more, especially when they're all cubes and you can't necessarily do much with all cubes.
And then I thought - Minecraft is cubes...I could paint them.

I dragged Toby along when I was picking up the blocks and I can tell he's looking at me thinking "Whyyyy???" So I hold up the bag and say "I'm painting these. To look like Minecraft blocks. So you can play with them."
His eyes lit up for the first time in a long time and he began listing off which types of blocks he wanted me to make.


The project begins.


Lots of stones.

This project quickly became more about me doing something creative for myself, than about making a toy for Toby.
37(?) blocks had to be stone coloured for various types of ore and stone. After painting them grey I used a sponge and a darker grey colour to add the store textures, but I don't think I got a good picture of that part.

First batch: Lapis Lazuli, Redstone, Gold, Emerald, Diamond,
Cobblestone, A furnace, and TNT  brick to blow them all up


Some of them evolved into reversable blocks to reflect things you can do in the game.
Working furnace, large chest, lit jack-o-lantern, and snow bricks have
spots so they can be used with the pumpkin for a Snow Golem.

Crafting box with the chest.

The beginning of wood planks so we can build a house.

Toby, at this point, sits at the table and watches me paint and counts the seconds until the paint is dry enough for him to snatch up and play with. He says "Mom, this is so cool casue it's like I can play Minecraft, WHEN I'M NOT ON THE COMPUTER!"

...Yes....Yes, that's the entire point there Toby... ;)


Dirt and grassy dirt blocks, and the set is complete,

Toby approved.

Homestead nestled by a hill with a jack-o-lantern to mark our location.

 Minecraft geology.

Final brick count:
1 Crafting table
1 Furnace
1 TNT
1 Pumpkin
1 Emerald ore
2 Chests
2 Snow blocks
3 Diamond ore
3 Lapis lazuli
4 Redstone
4 Gold ore
4 Mossy cobblestore
6 Coal 
6 Iron ore
10 Cobblestone
10 Dirt
10 Grassy dirt
22 Wood planks

While we still have small battles over computer time, it's nice to see him enthusiastic about something again. Grampa and Grama sit and play with him so he can talk endlessly about Minecraft without them all staring at the computer. Grampa invented Duplo Creepers which I haven't grabbed a picture of yet, but I will.

All in all it was a fun project which everyone thinks I should mass produce now. Pretty sure there is all kinds of copyrights involved with doing stuff like that, we we'll see what comes of it.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Carl

Toby has…. a friend.
He's not invisible. We've just never met him.
And apparently he's not imaginary… but… he is.

Toby started talking about 'his friends' when he was just over 2. He would tell long stories about 'his farm' and all the animals that lived there. We would see a tractor in a field and he would immediately pipe up that "I had a tractor JUST LIKE THAT on my farm!"

I generally ignored the stories, recognizing that it was a way of saying "Wouldn't it be cool if…"

However the stories kept getting more detailed and stayed consistent. I began asking vague questions about the things he was telling me, like how many chickens he had and what types of veggies he grew.
Eventually a reference to 'my friend' started showing up in the stories.
"My friends at my farm, they used to drive a combine."
"My friend has a game just like that, but theirs is PURPLE"
"My friends at my farm like to do that too"

Over that next year or so the stories of his Farm began to branch into a tale of a big fire in the barn.
He would tell the same story over and over again, about how all the cows were mooing and mooing and wanted to get out so they had to help them.
I heard the story so many times that my replies became repetitive and un-interested.
"Oh my, that's too bad."
"I hope the firefighters came to help"
"Oh no, poor cows"

Once when my sister was watching him, and hearing the stories many times herself, she began to quiz him for more information aside from the rehearsed story.
"Do your friends live at your farm with you or just visit?"
"One of them lives there with me. Sometimes. He helps out in the barn."
"What does he help you with?"
"Ooooooh you knooooow….moving wooood…and giving food for the cows…but he doesn't live there with me anymore"
"Oh? Why not?"
"He got sick...... So he can't live with me anymore."
"….I….see…"
"One time, there was a fire in the barn, and the cows were mooing and mooing and running running running to get out and the BIG fire trucks had to come and we were helping find all the cows. But he's sick. And now he can't live there. *Continues playing casually with cars, unfazed by what he's saying while my sister quietly panics and tries to memorize the story to tell me*

We started thinking along the lines of him remembering some past life or something, because he would talk about things that were not part of our household discussions or play.

For about a year it stopped. I hardly remember hearing stories about his farm or his friends when he was around 4.

But then when he was 5 and a half it started again. EVERYTHING we talk about somehow gets related back to something his friends did.
We started quizzing him on names again. He started calling him Carl, and his brother's name was Carol.
And again, I can recognize that it's his way of taking part in the conversation. We talk a lot and he's trying to fit in. But it's become incessant.

Anth:"I was working on a truck today that had to have it's entire hood replaced-"
Tob: "Carl one time was working on a truck that had to have it's hood replaced AAAAND all the wheels AAAAND all the windows"

Me:"Uh-oh, i think the cookies are burning-"
Toby: "One time Carl and his mom were making cookies and they forgot about them for too long and there was all kinds of smoke in the kitchen, and they thought, 'what the heck?' and then went 'OH NO THE COOKIES' and they were all BLACK…like BLACK…and burnt."

Grampa:"Well, I got that tree all cut up today-"
Toby:" One time when Carl was cutting up a tree, he couldn't hear because he had his ear protectors on, but waaaaaaaaay up in the bush there was ANOTHER tree that fell and it ALMOST landed where Carl was, but then it didn't, but then Carl had to cut up ANOOOOOTHER tree"

..And on…and on… and on…
We've learned that Carl is 7.. a year-ish older than Toby. His brother Carol is 6. They live just around the corner from the Toronto Zoo.
Toby knows all this because he talks to him on the phone all the time.
Sometimes Carl seems like an adult because of the jobs he's been said to do. Sometimes there are stories of Carl and his mom… because Carl is really only 7.

So… if Toby ever starts a story for you with "My friends" or "Carl", it's usually from somewhere inside his head.

I never had invisible friends growing up, so I don't know how to react or if I even really need to react to it more than any other phase. Is it a phase? Is it something more?


Monday, May 25, 2015

Can-do

For a long time I've been going through a phase (is it a phase??) of constantly picking out the things that Toby CAN'T do and that I CAN'T do as a result.
I know I've talked a lot about being frustrated, and Toby's frustrations with dealing with day to day life (like putting on clothes).
I am constantly frustrated that we can't just get in the car and TRAVEL, because I know an hour in, things will go downhill.
I get frustrated sometimes with homeschooling, and wish he would just be ok going to school.
Though he's never been screened for anything, he displays many 'signs' of Aspergers, which in one way has made me take a different approach to dealing with him, but also frustrates me because there's still a long list of things we can't do.

So, what I'm attempting to do, is create a long list of all the things he CAN do. And maybe somehow the positive can outweigh the negative...

He can count by 2s, 5s, and 10s.
He can look at a set of items/dots (like a dice or Lego bricks) and instantly tell how many there are, up until about 8.
He knows odd and even numbers.
He can tell left from right.
He can tell horizontal from vertical.
He knows the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
He can visually identify over 30 species of birds.
He can identify about 10 bird calls.
He can (more or less) make himself a pot of macaroni to eat.
He can read.
He can name the planets.
He knows the sun is actually a star.
He can tell you how clouds are formed.
He can dress himself (even if it's not weather-appropriate..).
He can talk for almost an entire day straight...whether this is a positive or not I don't know, lol.
He can identify eight shapes.
He can readily identify four 3D shapes, but knows more if we're talking about them.
He can negotiate. Which again, is not always positive in my favour, but it's a skill...
He can play really really well with other kids, if he's in the mood.
He has a really good memory.
He can identify a good handful of insects.
He can readily identify about 5 types of tree, but knows names for many more.
He can plant his own garden.
He can name almost any fruit or vegetable I show him.
He can be very observant, and often picks out tiny details in random things.
He can manipulate Lego into almost anything.
He can count to 100.
He can count backwards from 10.
He can tell you the difference between synonyms, antonyms and homonyms.
He can draw very detailed pictures (even though they're still very 'pre-school' looking, there are TONNES of included details).
He can play soccer really well... but mostly just wants to play it with me.
He can use a hammer.
He can use a drill.
He can use a screwdriver.
He can ask really interesting questions.
He can colour really well.
He can help out at the store (when he's feeling helpful).
He can identify most car makes by logo.
He can identify all large truck makes by logo.
He has become rather adept at Minecraft…whether I like it or not…
He can build a campfire (minus actually lighting it).
He can eat at a restaurant without causing a scene.
He can leave a store without throwing a fit.
He can operate a camera and take pretty good photos.