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The Two Little Piggies

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I have a love-hate relationship with teaching. The hours are horrible. The pay is a pittance. The work never stops – nights, weekends, vacations. There are times where it is as if no one wants to hear a word I am saying, and all I am doing is putting out one behavior fire after another. Not to mention all the times I have had to tell  the Three Monkeys that I can’t do something with them or for them because I have had something to do for the class.

It is EXHAUSTING.

And then there are times when it all is so incredibly breathtakingly amazing.

This is the story of the two little piggies – guinea piggies that is – and how an act of kindness lifted my heart in so many ways.

Way back in August, my students and I decided we wanted to get guinea pigs for our classroom. We had everything we needed. Cage? Check. Food? Check. Hay? Check. Guinea pigs? Ummm…

It’s not that I didn’t want them. I did! But, guinea pigs cost money. And with the pay cut I took in order to work at this little piece of academic heaven, I never had the spare change to go get them.

That damned empty cage sitting in my classroom mocked me every single day.

And then this week something serendipitous happened. I came across a listing for two male guinea pigs (cage included) FREE to a good home. Needless to say, I jumped on it. FINALLY we were going to get our piggies! I went to school the next day and excitedly told my class the news. The squeals of delight filled the room. We couldn’t wait!

That evening I took Monkey #1 (now 15 1/2, if you can believe it) and The Middle Monkey (almost 14!) to go pick up our new furry friends, Sergeant and Lieutenant – AKA Sarge and Louie. Together, the boys and I loaded the cage into the car and headed home. Upon arriving, we unloaded the cage to the kitchen table where they would wait until the next day when I would move them to their new home – my classroom.

There was just one little hitch in the plan. Something unexpected happened. In the span of about 10 minutes, Monkey #1 fell head=over-heels-hopelessly-in-love with Sarge and Louie. The very guinea pigs that were destined to go to my class the very next day.

All Wednesday evening, Monkey 1, my sweet little Aspie Monkey, was crouched on a kitchen chair, arms wrapped around his knees, gazing through the open cage door at Sarge and Louie.  He was so calm. So peaceful. Nothing, not meds wearing off, not his brother being very 13, was ruffling him. Occasionally he would tentatively extend one finger and stroke one of the piggies.

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“But, I love them,”

And then came the words that broke my heart. “I wish I could keep them,” he quietly whispered.

“But, baby, I’ve already told my class about them, and they are very excited about the piggies coming. You know they are meant to go to school.”

“I know,” he sighed. “But, I love them. I know I just met them. I can’t explain it. I love them.”

Oy.

I tried to make light, but I could tell, this was no ordinary love. This was a deep piggy love, and I – the worst mother in the whole wide world – was ripping them away from him. Not that he told me that. But he might as well have, because that is exactly how I felt.

The next morning, I brought the piggies to school. More squeals of delight. I told my school kiddos the story of Monkey 1 and his love of the piggies and how he had wanted to keep them. I don’t know why I told them. Except that maybe I have a case of verbal diarrhea and just talk even when I shouldn’t. But I did.

Today I got a message from one of my parents. Her daughter had told her about Monkey 1 falling in love with the piggies. Then the sweet girl asks her mother if there was a way that we could get other pets for the class and return the piggies to my son. Because obviously God wanted my sweet son and the sweet piggies to be together. The piggies belonged to him. Not the class.

I didn’t know how to respond. I was literally speechless. All that came were tears.

In the hours that followed, that mother asked and searched, and has now located another pair of guinea pigs for my class to have. All so my sweet Aspie Monkey can keep Sarge and Louie.

His response when I told him was to bury his head in my shoulder and repeatedly say, “I get to keep my boys. I get to keep my piggies.”

Yes you do, my sweet boy. Yes you do.

So while it means there will be more living things in my house, every single time I see those little furballs, every time I see that little smile on Monkey #1’s face, I will think of the sweet girl who knew it was meant to be – even when I didn’t.

And I’ll remember the time my student and her family taught me a lesson in kindness and compassion I’ll never forget.

Being a Mother Can Suck


There. I’ve said it. Being a mother can suck.

Please understand, I am not saying that it sucks to be a mother. I love the monkeys with all my heart and soul.  But, there are times when it sucks to be the mommy.

This morning was one of those times.   One of those mornings when I wanted to throw in the towel and just give up.  One of those mornings when I want to call the Monkey Daddy or the Nonna Monkey (my own mother) and admit my defeat and beg for them to simply raise them.  One of those mornings when I found myself envious of the childless.

Even as I write this, I understand how horrible that sounds. I understand there are those who are childless who desperately want to not be.  I understand there are those that due to custody issues would kill to have time with their children. I understand there are those who as they read this are looking up the number for Child Protective Services.

But, I also understand there are those who as they read this are thinking, “Finally!  Someone who has the guts to say it!”

This morning I found myself asking what I had done to deserve this. What kind of bad Karma I had brought upon myself?  What god had I angered to incur such a punishment?  And for how long was I to endure it?

I felt like Nancy Kerrigan, after she had been whacked on the knee, crying out to the heavens, “Why? Why? Why me?”

And the question wasn’t just rhetorical. I really wanted an answer, damn it!

Alas.  None came.  And I am fairly confident none will come.

So, I’ll say it again. Sometimes motherhood sucks.

But, I also know that when the Middle Monkey comes and sits next to me after Sunday School, he will snuggle up next to me, and say in that sweet little lisp, “I am sorry for screaming at you this morning.  I love you.”

And my heart will melt and I once again be reminded how much I love him and all will be right with the world.

At least until the next time.

*sigh*

The Middle Monkey and me, in a time where being a mother did not suck

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Milestones

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wpid-CAM00120.jpgThis has been a week of milestones here in Happy Monkey Land.

The Middle Monkey crossed over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, earning his Arrow of Light.

He also “graduated” from elementary school.

One of my favorite classes EVER graduated from high school.

The group of students that I “looped” with for three years, “graduated” from middle school (as I watched some of them at their ceremony, all I could see were the scared little third graders that walked into my class on that first day of school six years ago).

But, on this, my 100th post (such a milestone in itself), that I write about two HUGE milestones happening today.

1.)  Monkey #1 is turning 13 today.

2.) Thirteen years ago, I started this magical mystery tour of motherhood.

Both momentous in their own right.  Yet, neither one could have happened without the other.  And ironically, both of them almost did not happen.

The day of his birth was a difficult one.  Very difficult.  His labor wasn’t easy.  For two and a half hours, I tried to push him out.  I can remember watching the monitor and seeing his heart rate drop dramatically with every contraction.  The nurse was busy with two other births.  So, she was not as vigilant as she could have been.  I was a first time mother.  So, I didn’t know what was normal.  But, for two and a half hours, this continued.  Finally, the nurse sees what is happening on the monitor, and decides to get the doctor.  And with a little bit of help, my monkey was born.

My baby was here!  Finally!

But there was a problem.  His cord was wrapped around his neck.  Four times.  It had been impeding his progress – as well as slowly choking him.

And now my sweet monkey was not crying.  And he was bluish.  And he was limp.

For 20 minutes the team worked on him.  Suctioning.  Pounding.  Massaging.  Thankfully, I remember none of that.

All I can remember is saying, “Can someone please bring me my baby?”  Over and over and over.

And then after 20 of the longest minutes every recorded, his cries became stronger, and my little bundle of monkey was brought to me.

And he was pink.  And he was healthy.  And he was strong.

In the past thirteen years, I have frequently thought about the bullet that was dodged that day.  I think about the what COULD have beens.  But, each time I do, I thank God that all of the could have beens didn’t happen.  And that my sweet monkey is everything he SHOULD have been.

Quirky.  Creative.  Brilliant.  Curious.  Active.  Asperger-y.

Some think of the number 13 as a terribly unlucky number.  One to be avoided at all costs.

I chose to think of it as very VERY lucky.

So, happy birthday, my dear Monkey #1.

Rawr, rawr, baby Dino.  I love you more.

Where Has the Time Gone?: Part 2

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My goofy Monkey #1 - letting his freak flag fly

My goofy Monkey #1 – letting his freak flag fly

Monkey #1 will be 13 on the 25th of May.  *sigh* I will officially be the mother of a teenager.  And not just any teenager – one with Asperger’s.  Teenage hormonal issues are enough, without the addition of Asperger’s.  Puberty has just started to hit here in Happy Monkey Land – making things not so happy at times.  Of course, it is a little hard to figure out which is a hormone meltdown, and which is the general run of the mill Asperger meltdown.

Tomorrow is his “Rite 13” ceremony at church.  It is a time when the church welcomes all of these burgeoning teenagers in to the adult fold – and they transition into the youth groups.  Kinda like the Episcopal version of a Bar Mitzvah – without all the chanting.  😉  But it is a part of the service, where they figuratively move from their families to the youth.

Tonight, there is a dinner for the Rite 13ers and their families.  As a part of it, their parents are to write a letter to their child.  Lovely little sentiments giving pithy wisdom about entering adulthood.  Reflecting on memories of their childhoods and the adults they will be.

And for a person who has so many words running through my head all the time – I am stumped as to what to say to him.  I am drawing a complete blank.  Nothing is coming easily to me – at all.

I could tell him about the challenges he will face as a teenager – but I don’t really know what they will be.  His challenges will be – make that are – so different from mine, simply because of his Asperger’s.

I could tell him about what his adulthood will be like – but, I don’t really know what it will be.  His experiences will be different from mine.

(Of course, my block isn’t helped by the fact that The Middle Monkey and The Girl Child are currently screaming at each other.  But, I digress.)

I guess I just don’t know how to take all the words I want to say to him as a mother and put them down on a piece of paper.

I want to tell him how proud I am of how he deals with his challenges.

How I love the fact that he isn’t afraid to let his “freak flag fly.”

How I love the way he will still crawl into bed with me and snuggle.  Or rub my feet.  Or scratch my back.  And how he will still hold my hand IN PUBLIC!

How through all the trials and tribulations of his life, I can’t imagine my life without him in it.

Huh…I think I just found my words.

Hey! Check it Out!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: From Above. From Above. Change your perspective on something. Share a photo of a subject which you shot from directly above. Last year, during a visit back home to Florida, my brother surprised Monkey #1 and me with a deep-sea fishing trip.  I virtually grew up with a fishing pole in my hands […]

Where Has The Time Gone?

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Eleven years ago, right at this very moment, I was sitting in my OB’s office VERY pregnant with Monkey #2.  The next day was his due date – and he was getting BIG – and I wasn’t progressing very far.  So, I was sitting still (which is very hard for me to do), for an hour, pressing a button every time he moved.  Of course, my silly little laid back Middle Monkey moved hardly at all.  Must have been asleep, thumb in his mouth.

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And now – 11 years later, to the minute…I have a My Sweet Huggy Monster.

Where has the time gone?

Little Monkey Love

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Two Little Monkeys

Two Little Monkeys

I haven’t posted in a few days.  My muse had left me, and I had nothing to say.  Very unusual for me.  I usually can write about SOMETHING.Then something happened in church today that made me say, “Well, there’s a blog post!”

Today at church, it was just me and the Little Monkeys, AKA The Middle Monkey and The Girl Child.  Monkey #1 was not feeling well, so he stayed home.

During the musical offertory (which the choir was not doing, so I was actually sitting WITH the kids), The Girl Child left to go to the restroom and when she came back to the pew, instead of letting her slide past me, I pulled her down on to my lap and started snuggling with her.  A very difficult feat these days – one that I know I won’t be able to do much longer – she is getting soooooo tall!  Not to be outdone, The Middle Monkey scooted over and put his head against my arm.  We were a tight little bundle of bliss, just letting the beautiful piano solo wash over us.

We stayed like that for a bit, when Middle whispers, “I love you, Mommy.” (in that sweet little lispy way)  I whispered it back to him.

He whispered, “I love you,” again.  So I said it back.  That is when he said, “Oh I know, that was for her.”  Meaning his little sister.

Everyone all together now… AAAAWWWWWWEEEEEE!!!!!

Ever since they were little little, they have been the most volatile mix to have out together.  They are either FIGHTING or getting insanely silly together.  Even when they were 2 and 4!  But, I don’t think I have EVER heard them say they love each other.  Well, maybe when she was a baby and he would kiss her and say it, but not since then.  She is usually busy bossing him around and he is blaming her for everything (even this moring getting out of the car at church when he yells, “What did you do with my book?!? Oh…there it is.  I put it under the arm rest.”)  They are so free with their I Love Yous to me, but not to each other, so this was particularly heartwarming.

I whispered into the Girl’s head, “Did you hear what your brother said?”

“Yes,” she replied.  “I love you, too.”  She was so quiet I was pretty sure he didn’t hear her, so I asked her to say it again.

And she did.  Very quietly.

“What did you say?” stage-whispered Middle Monkey.

“I said I love you, too,” she said – just a bit louder this time.

And then The Middle Monkey with a little twinkle in his eye, states, “I heard you the first time.  I just wanted to hear you say it two more times.”

I nearly busted out laughing!  I literally was shaking with silent laughter.  It was such a big brother move!  He says it once – and then has her say it three times.  Priceless!  Where do they get these things?!?!

They both asked me why I was laughing.  I didn’t know how to put it.  I just told them to always remember to say I love you.  And to mean it when you say it.

By this time, the music was over, and the congregation was about to stand up, so, the Bossy Girl just said, “We have to stand up now.  Get up,” and climbed off my lap.  The moment was over.  Not sure when we will have a spontaneous moment like that again.  But, it sure was one I know I will remember for a while.

Silly Little Monkeys.