Another Christmas, another New Years……..

Wow. I can’t believe that tomorrow I can’t say anymore that my husband died last year. Not that I want to “say” he died at all…. but time has moved forward whether I like it or not. I feel in some ways that the last seventeen months has really felt like seventeen years. Funny, because when people ask me how long ago it was and I tell them, they say “Oh my God, that long already? How the time has flown.” Time stopped for me the minute his heart stopped beating. Half the time I only know what day it is because of school and work, and I really just get up to go through the motions of life…. cause I have to. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a miserable piece of shit most of the time. I hear some of the other Widows/Widowers online and I think, “My life ain’t so bad.” I am not estranged from Trenton’s family, they are not trying to take any of his things off me, or cut his children out of their lives…… and although we all have our disagreements, we love each other and I hope that will always be the case. I have my family who have been amazing and supportive… and my friends are the cement that hold my shattered life together on a daily basis. Oh, and then I do get to snuggle in a king sized bed with my sausage dog each night. I mean these things are not to be frowned at right?! I just miss that feeling of wholeness I had with the big man by my side. I would try anything, go anywhere, and every event whether it be big or small was enjoyable with him…. now, I struggle to get through it in one piece. I am so proud of the girls and I for getting through his family Christmas with mostly smiles. His extended family are just beautiful, and really I only wish I saw them more than once a year. The kids behaved for once, and seemed to really enjoy the night. Phewph. A lot of dread leads me up to these events. I never know just how I’ll be feeling once I’m there…. Tonight, I am looking forward to seeing in the New Year with close mates at home. It’s safe, I have a bedroom to escape to, and although having your Hubby buried in the garden is not your ideal way to be close to him, it is nicer to be by his side that to not I guess. I will certainly have many a drink in his memory. The girls have been so different…… Ruby has grown up so much this year, and is fully behaving like a teenager (lying on the floor in her room for hours on end, listening to music, writing in her diary….. oh God!) And Poppy is beyond her seven years. I guess that’s what happens when you lose your Dad so young. Ruby is still happier pretending he never existed, as it is simply too hard to talk about, or think about. Probably a classic Aspie way to handle it……. But Poppy has hit a point where she is talking about him non stop. Someone recently lost his Dad and she said, “At least he wasn’t six when he lost his. He got much longer with his Dad, didn’t he?” Then she’ll talk about him, and ask questions about him, trying to remember all the things he used to do first hand, instead of having to be reminded of the details. It’s sad, but I know most of her memories of him will soon be implanted into her brain by me on a daily basis. I don’t want her to forget, but at six, you kind of do. Or at least it becomes hazy. She is exactly him…. so I am constantly reminded of his inner kindness and humour, and his utter quirkiness. Thank God that has not died with him. Ruby inherited his dirty jokes and inappropriate timing for talking about things! Oh well, at least there’s pieces of him in both of them! This coming year I do want to look at the world differently….. I cannot forgive the incompetence of the Hospital, or the three separate fully qualified Doctors that let him down on three separate occasions, and ultimately overlooked the simplest of things that lead to his death. I mean how could anyone? But I want to get back to my viewing the world through “grateful eyes.” I am grateful for what I do have….. I know I am lucky in comparison to so many families on this Earth. I know my girls will have the opportunity to access an education if they desire, I know they’ll never go hungry…… I think they’re as safe as you can be walking the Earth, and they certainly don’t go without, apart from the obvious. I am grateful that I completed my Diploma with the love and support of my husband while he was here, it was a tough slog, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. I am grateful for the family and friends I scored, and the beautiful home Trenton provided us after he was gone. I am extra grateful to have a workplace that has dragged me through this time making sure I didn’t lose the one main thing that is keeping us afloat financially. And the bonus is, I love my co workers. I am looking forward to traveling this year with one of my oldest and most beautiful friends (the trip that we had planned twenty years ago, but life kept getting in the way…..) and I am excited that my parents are taking my girls so I can experience it as Emma…. the person that once existed before kids, before Trenton, before life got so tough. So instead of a depressing, morbid, cutting and angry last day of 2014, I have decided to say goodbye to a tough year, probably the toughest I’ve had, and embrace what 2015 has to offer me. Whatever it may be. Just remember, it is almost “never” ultimately what you had in store for yourself……. so be prepared for the worst, but enjoy whatever life has to throw at you that’s not shit. Happy New Years. xxx

What it’s like to become a Widow………….

It’s been almost exactly seventeen months since Trenton was ripped from my life. The age Rubes was when he met her and I. So, a mini lifetime. It’s been the hardest, strangest, most exhausting and draining thing I’ve ever experienced. It makes your amazing friends and family members shine, and it shows you who has the stamina to cope and who doesn’t. There certainly were a few surprises in that scenario… but I guess it’s part of life. It challenges your strength every day….. People often tell me how strong I am, but am I aloud to be otherwise? Really? Would you all tell me if I was not being strong? Or not coping well? It sounds a little harsh…. but how do you not do what I have done? If I’d not had children I would have run away from it all. I’d have backpacked around Europe or Asia….. left my debt, problems and the thousands of forms and paperwork one is forced to go through and fill out for six months following the death, just to prove over and over that this person would want you to have their super, their belongings…… and I’d have pretended my life had not screeched to an almighty holt, possibly putting the “you are about to experience the most painful thing on Earth” thing aside by drinking myself into oblivion day and night until I ran out of money or my liver gave in. Does it make me strong to have chosen not to do this to my kids? If I’d actually been given a choice, maybe that’s exactly what I would have done. But I wasn’t. From the night he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance and I had packed him his favourite trackies, a good book and an iphone charger along with his toiletries thinking he’d be at least in overnight…. to the very next day driving home to our empty home, our empty bed, all our personal items, his dirty undies still on the ensuite floor…. his medication, his toothbrush, his musical instruments….. but not with him. Instead with two distraught children only six and ten who believed that what we had just experienced had not bloody happened. It’s like walking along hand in hand and then losing that person into a black hole that has just opened up and swallowed them whole, taking with them only the clothes they were wearing and leaving everything behind that they ever owned in exactly the spot they had left it. Not knowing that he would go to bed happy and wake up one last time, only to die. There’s nothing admirable about getting up each day, sometimes screaming and abusing my way through the day at my poor kids, who grieve so differently and can have really happy days and weeks sometimes, where I cannot. I am not the Mum I once was, and I didn’t even adore the Mum I was pre-loss. I hated my short fuse with Rubes’ behavioral issues then, and I only loathe it even more now. I hate my armadillo shell that allows nothing in anymore, and only lets things out selectively, and always alone. So I lay awake at night fuming at what this world has done to me and my family. It affects everything from that second they have gone to probably forever I’m guessing. You become a shell of yourself inside, you get anxious in big crowds, you can’t go out if you can’t get home to your “safe haven” where you can howl all night from the bottom of your guts because the pain is unbearable…… You are half of a couple, not single. You are the right side of a once full body that used to get in on all the couples jokes and enjoy trips with other families, and lap up every minute of it because you were a part of something amazing. A little club that not everyone gets to join, and you LOVED being in it with your best mate, that didn’t shit you, abuse you, forget you, or belittle you. The exact relationship you know people envy if they don’t have it, when you so obviously do. And in the click of one’s fingers, all that you had is gone. So it doesn’t just change your every day routine. Sure, your work load is instantly doubled. But that’s not the kicker. The kicker is that you are no longer the same confident, happy person you were when you had him by your side. You question how you were before you met….. but you can’t remember that version of yourself either. I’ve become harsher, more cutting, less forgiving and more brutal with my thoughts. I don’t let them sit overnight, I just let them out. And it’s clear some people don’t like the new you. If only they knew you didn’t like it either. It’s not a choice…. you just do what you can do…. to survive another day, another event, another Christmas without the best part of your life. So losing the actual person is the part you see as the easiest part to deal with now…… That part you had no control over….. but the life you have that follows should be in your hands, yet it feels like you cannot get it right no matter what you do. If you’re lucky and you can act, then you can “seem” to have it all together even if you’re dying on the inside. This saves you lots of unnecessary conversations that you don’t want to have if you can help it.”How are you going?” “Good thanks.” But it certainly doesn’t change what you are feeling in your mind. Widowhood is so much more than proving to your friends and family that you can bury or cremate your husband, and then get up the next day and do the shopping list and cook the dinner, listening to one child do their school reader while the other throws questions at you about the world and what it’s all about. It doesn’t end after that first year of “firsts…..” nor does it get “easier…..” just different. The new me is lonely as hell, empty, sad, angry and sometimes hysterical over almost nothing. But I can’t live a life showing these emotions to my kids, who are doing the best they can to see another Christmas without the funniest and silliest guy there….. without the drunken “fun” version of their Daddy who they know full well will let them stay up way too late and eat whatever they like, throwing them both on his shoulders and wrestling them to the ground in their good clothes proving to everyone looking on that it doesn’t matter cause it’s supposed to be the happiest day of the year for these kids. And it is, for a bit…. when they are showered with presents and food and love….. but I know there are times when they look on and see the other Fathers, even me with my own beautiful Dad…. and they get that longing look in their eye to feel that unconditional love from this giant strong superhero like man that will protect them from anything life has to throw at them, except the one curve ball that they got. Losing him. It’s a fucker of a new position I’ve been given, that no person would ever apply for….. but here it is, for life. I will carry it till the day I die, and so will those girls and his family. An unwanted change in the story that was our beautiful life together. Fuck.

Living with ODD……..

So, you think your kids annoy you, like they get on your nerves, don’t do what they’re told…. don’t listen, talk back, “It’s like talking to a brick wall” you say….. but unless you’ve lived with someone with ODD you’ve really got no idea. My Rubes was diagnosed by the fifth pediatrician I’d taken her to, two weeks before her sixth birthday with High Functioning Autism….. but the issues I had with her behaviours started from around thirteen months of age. The first thing I did was start reading…. at the library. I read all the parenting books I could find. She was certainly going through stages that kids go through, but they seemed to be months, and sometimes up to a year in advance. Yet she didn’t walk one step till she was eighteen months old. She spoke in sentences before she walked. I did my first parenting course at night when she was just eighteen months old…. most of the parents there had kids that were five onwards. They all seemed really aggressive and violent….. mine just seemed to want to not do anything that we told her to do. She would run up and slap you in the face with a giant smile on her face and laugh. Even if you pretended to cry…. she would laugh. If I knew then what I know now about kids on the spectrum, damn life might have bee a little easier on the four of us. Trenton and I battled for years to gain control of her, we tried every typical parenting guideline, we even bought the Super Nanny boxed DVD set. We had a “naughty chair” in the hallway by aged two. We used it all day every day, and had multiple rewards charts going, ironically we’re still using rewards charts now at the age of eleven. With no end in sight other than her turning into a teenager and telling me to go fuck myself. But the whiteboard has gotten bigger… the list of do’s and donts much longer…… and the consequences harder to threaten. She got the Adhd diagnosis a couple of years ago….. that was no surprise, but even after trying everything else other than medication…. out of desperation we tried the medication. Unfortunately no Adhd medication works on her. She has been medicated for her anxiety for nearly five years because her OCD and anxiety was through the roof…. and we recently tried to wean her off it, only to realise just how much it was helping her. She immediately went back to thinking everyone around her, including close friends and family were trying to poison her…. and that everything she touched had bugs and dust on it that she would then inhale and it would slowly kill her. Big mistake. At least I know the anti anxiety tablets are still working for her. So over the years we all agreed that a diagnosis of Aspergers was much more spot on. She was incredibly bright, had the odd OCD tendencies, would say all the wrong things in public, and would laugh when her sister fell over and cried, or when others were clearly hurt. No empathy….. a fairly good sign. She had strict rules for how things were to be done, but they had to be done her way, and no other way…. and she could change those rules to suit herself if necessary. She took over games, and ran them the way she thought they should be run. Even if the kids were ten or eleven, and she was a six year old in prep. It was often seen as funny or sweet…. and she rode that wave for a couple of years. But the older kids get the quicker they cotton on to the fact that they don’t need to do what Ruby tells them, or play the games that she’s invented only, and they can also choose to go and play with other people too…… without listening to the threats from her about what she would tell the teacher they had done if they didn’t give her their undivided attention. This was around about the time that parents, even of good mates started to call the school and request their child not sit next to her, and then eventually that she not be in their class the following year. In prep, halfway though the year she had her own table, alone, at the front of the room next to the teacher. She didn’t understand why…. and used to cry her way home every day after school asking me what was wrong with her. Why was she not the same as the other kids. I didn’t know her diagnosis yet, but we both new that it wasn’t right. The diagnosis changed everything. Suddenly there was a reason she didn’t listen, or stop when I demanded it… or treat her sister with more respect…. or give me some affection. She was on the spectrum. Thank God! Trent and I celebrated, and we explained it to her that same day. She was even relieved that “it” had a name now. She went to bed and I stayed on the internet all night until I was suddenly not feeling so positive any more… this thing was forever. It was a disorder, not a disease that might go away. It was never going to be easy for her, it was probably never going to be easy for us. The enormity of it sunk in, and with it sunk our hopes of a normal happy life together, the four of us. It is one thing to have an answer…. but what do you do with it? Firstly I went to the school who still treated her like a naughty kid, and explained that she now had a diagnosis, so what would they do about it to help her through her everyday schooling? Turns out, not a bloody lot. By the end of grade two, it occurred to me after reading her reports that it was clearly not even common knowledge that she had Aspergers. Her Grade two teacher would call me at least once a week and say “I just don’t know what to do with her Emma….. I am at a loss…..” My mum and I made visual charts for him to use, but he just didn’t follow through with them because she could read, so why did she need pictures to show her what was happening next that day? They just didn’t get that her terrible behaviour was because of her anxiety and feeling of no control over where every minute of every day was going. He didn’t understand that instead of punishing her for everything, he needed to send her on an errand, get her involved in handing out papers, ask her to read to the class….. anything that deflected or distracted her from playing up and getting agitated. I hassled the principal until he agreed to pay a measly $150 for a close friend of my Mums to come all the way to Ferny Creek to do a professional development class for the whole staff on teaching kids with disabilities in mainstream schools. It was brilliant. i sat in on it, and the teachers around me were looking excited to be gaining these skills and getting these hot tips from an absolute expert. It wasn’t meant to be that the teacher had to waste their time on the special needs kid, they just had to change the way they taught the whole class so that tat special needs kids got it, and the neurotypical kids knew no different. Simple and brilliant. The amount of teachers that walked out that night thanking me for the best PD they’d ever gone to was incredible. Tanya made it sound doable too…. not difficult at all. Maybe things were about to change for the better? Well like I said in my last post about the other side of the hill….. they weren’t about to change the way I’d hoped. The distance between myself and some of the other Mums was becoming further apart, and although I didn’t know why yet, it sure was making life in the hills tough on me, knowing that all my lifelong mates lived in the west, an hours drive away in good traffic. The rest of the year didn’t change sadly…. I dug the visual chart that Mum and I had spent hours laminating and making for Ruby’s teacher shoved down and in pieces at the bottom of her backpack in the same week that I discovered that the idiot principal had forgotten to tell the teachers that she was set to get the teacher we’d talked about in one of our numerous meetings in his office. So this was the week I pulled her out of that school, and we officially moved to the North side of the hill. We already lived over there anyway, I had no reasons now to keep driving through those hills morning and afternoons to get her to a school that couldn’t even see her disability. One night I had an email sent to me from Footprint books, talking about this 20 year young disorder caled PDAS that some scientist that studied Aspies from the eighties to the noughties had discovered. It was all about these kids in the younger primary school years that were diagnosed with Aspergers initially, but over the years the way that they presented started to change…. and they became more oppositional. They would blatantly lie to your face day in and day out, but would have a mega meltdown and fight you to the death over the fact they they were not lying at all….. I started taking her to psychologist after psychologist because Aspie’s didn’t lie. They also didn’t oppose everything you asked of them, and in fact were rule followers not rule breakers right? It just didn’t fit…. and the PDAS disorder that this guy had discovered in these twenty odd kids that were now all adults, just seemed to tick EVERY single box instead of just most of them for once. PDAS (which believe it or not stands for Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome) is where the child is pathological in their lying, demanding beyond the abilities of any normal child, and would avoid anything and everything that you asked of them unless they wanted to do it or the idea came from them in the first place….. and I mean avoid you like you weren’t even there in front of their face begging with them to listen to you for once. Once again the relief flowed. There were reasons yet again for this uncontrollable behaviour that tortured her daily, that tortured us daily, and made it difficult for any of our family to look after her without having their wits about them. She was never going to be smooth sailing that’s for sure. The only wonderful thing that we all had was Trenton. He took it in his stride, he didn’t treat her any differently than Pops, he had a really special relationship with Rubes, and most of the time he didn’t want to throttle her like I did. He had a short temper with her, but who didn’t? They also had these intense D&M’s where he was pissed and is tough exterior was exposed, and they’d go into the bedroom and talk for hours about how she was extra special because he chose her to be his daughter…. unlike most biological Dad’s. And they’d come out hours later, her on his shoulders, me trying to get him to put her to bed, and her giggling away because she knew she’d gotten to stay up way later than she should have, but she had this amazing Dad who loved her, even with all her little idiosyncrasies. How much better could life get? Just before Trent died, we discovered she had ODD. A much more common disabilty or disorder than PDAS which will stil not be recognised for a long time, if ever. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Same thing really. Opposes everything, defies everything…. and it’s forever. We didn’t feel the need to tell her. She’d already had to come to terms with the Aspie diagnosis over the years, and the Adhd, and had even selectively told people she trusted at one time or another…. which had sometimes backfired in her face, and sometimes not. She had to be told about why she needed to take medicine for her anxiety, and therefore medicine to help her wind down at night and actually sleep. She took all of this in her stride, which was always amazing to me. God I think about what that kids been through in her tiny eleven years on Earth and I am astounded at how she tackles life every day. Yeah she keeps screwing up friendship after friendship…. I have no idea how on earth she’s going to ever keep one down, especially in High school where there’s even more bitchiness than now (hard to believe…) but I really do wonder how she’ll keep on going. Especially if so called friends demand that they no longer have to associate with her outside of school hours. Because she is a bad influence on their kids. Gee, Id expect that from a stranger in a park…. she swears, she says highly inappropriate things, she tells young kids things that scare them, she shares information about sex and other things that most kids shouldn’t even know about……. but she can’t help it. Why did there have to even be a disability that presented this way? Wouldn’t it have at least been more straight forward to have a missing limb? Something that was obvious and right in font of your face. Because just like a mental illness, ODD and Adhd, and the enormity of the Autism spectrum is a little taboo now that every man and his dog has it. Isn’t it just an excuse to let your kids do whatever they want and isn’t it my fault cause I immunized her? Or didn’t feed her organic grains as a baby? I know if I’d taken more pre natal vitamins the chances of having a tainted child would be so much less wouldn’t it? Faaaaark. For anyone that knows me and actualy gives a shit, they know that I do try everything under the sun to get some kind of control of this girl, but a couple of years ago, I decided to be a slightly more chilled out Mum instead of just a demanding, abusive, threatening Mum because I was so exhausted at riding her arse day in, and day out that I decided not to have a nervous breakdown, and decided to re join the normal human race. And then my husband died. Then I guess what little control I had of her went out the window because this was new territory for the three of us. It was not a situation I’d even wish on my worst enemy. And we’re still here sadly. Because time moves on, but people don’t necessarily follow at the same rate. Rubes has handled it like someone on the spectrum. She said pretty much three months into our mourning, “Mum, you need to stop talking about Dad or I’ll never survive my childhood.” Out of sight, almost out of mind. Pops and I would talk about him daily and bawl our eyes out together…. we still do every other day. But I’m not stupid enough to believe it’s any easier on her. As if any other man will understand her so well. You’d have to have been through her childhood and diagnosis and failed friendships and three hour meltdowns and threatened suicides to really know this wonderful creature. So of course no one else ever will. Probably not even her biological father who is attempting to create a relationship with her at the moment. But that’s okay, because the mates and family who have been there either from the beginning, or through the trials and tribulations of her earlier primary school years and then the loss of her dad, would never give up on her or us, because surely that would be even more reason to stay and support us right? You don’t leave when it just gets too hard…. unless you are not worthy. And then of course there is no loss for us. Because you weren’t worthy from the beginning. Either way, next time you say “Oh yeah, my kids like that too, does all the same things, talks back blah blah…..” think about it. Is it that dissimilar to the other kids around you? If it is, maybe you should have them assessed!!! Fuck you Universe, I’ve had enough for this lifetime thanks.

The other side of the hill…….

So once upon a time, when Trenton and I decided we’d make the big move to the hills, we decided on Tecoma. We fell in love with the Belgrave area after we’d taken Rubes at the age of three on Puffing Billy and she absolutely loved it….. and that was when we fell in love with the Dandenongs. I had always felt like a westie, even though Ascot Vale had actually been north west (only slightly west I guess……) so much of my life was spent in thenFootscray/Yarraville/Seddon/Williamstown areas because that’s was where my heart was. I agreed to move to the East if it was far East…. and the hills was really the only destination I had in mind. It was the November of 2006 when I was four months pregnant with Pops that we finally got a rental (no easy feat with the commuting to open for inspections) and it was in Tecoma, a place I’d once visited a friend…… and that was all I’d seen of it! We moved in and quickly started driving all over the mountain discovering as many off the road places that we could find. It was bloody lonely to start with, as three year old kinder didn’t start until the following year for Ruby, and I had a baby due not long after she would start. And I literally knew no one….. I started visiting playgroups, and went to around eight before I found one that I felt remotely comfortable at. They were too clicky, religious, too structured, too old, too young….. then there was Ferny Creek. I fell in love with this suburb because just as it sounds, it is luscious green and ferny! The hall was big, old and freezing….. but the kids just came rugged up and could ride their little three wheelers around and make lots of noise. We’d have a craft table going where they’d cover each other in glues and glitter, and us Mum’s and one Dad would stand in the kitchen drinking coffee and offloading! Just what the Dr ordered. I slowly started meeting some of these people outside of playgroup and my new little group was formed. Because it was in Ferny Creek, most of the kids were going on to Sassafras kinder, so we did too. Great move, it was cut into the side of a hill with a little man made sandy creek that they could turn on for water play, and the most incredible outlook. I just loved this time, making new friends and meeting other people with kids (my Westie crew were mostly non kiddie peops, which was fine, but made it a little hard to keep up with them.) Pops joined us in the March, and the Mums and I started coffeeing during three year old kinder for two hours before we’d head back for them. Our little group grew and grew. The following year it only grew again, as the playgroup got bigger, and by this time Ruby had a great group of little mates, and I was feeling supported and not so alone. So by the time school was going to start, I knew enough people to feel ready to send off this child of mine. For the two years that I’d known these people they had witnessed changes in Rubes alongside me, and by age five she had been assessed over and over, had IQ and Wisp testing done, and I had already met with three pediatricians who couldn’t see what I could. Prep started and so did the troublesome behaviour. I had an exhausting 18 month old, and a 5 year old with major issues. Anxiety that would melt your heart, aggression that would terrify even the likes of Trent, and OCD so bad that she would wash her hands until they bled, and then again and again. The rigmarole that Trenton and I went through each night, was hours upon hours of reassuring Ruby that everything was fine, that there were no huntsmen hiding in the corners, nothing in her cupboard (we would have to hold it open till she was sure) that no one was hiding under her bed, and that the roof would most definitely not cave in and kill her in her sleep. She would tap the rungs of her ladder as she climbed into her bed, always an even amount of times or she’d have to start again. If we didn’t say “Goodnight, Love you, See you in the morning…” in exactly the right tone of voice we would have to start the whole rigmarole again…. from the beginning. This began the toughest few years in Trent and my relationship. Bedtimes which were supposed to be our alone time, turned into our worst nightmare. It was hell. We would both yell each time she got back up knowing we’d have to go through it all again, and then again…. until we’d fall into bed feeling desperate and useless….. and she’d come out bawling saying the voices in her head made her get up again and that she was told she’d die if she didn’t listen to them. As much as this information scared most people, I knew instinctively that it was her OCD not Schizophrenia or something similar. Two weeks before her sixth birthday I stumbled upon this pediatrician that specialised in behavioural difficulties. By this time I had read an entire book on Adhd, knowing some of the symptoms fit, but some were just not listed. I met Dr Luke, the absolute greatest Dr I’ve still met to this day. He was a little quirky and just spoke so lovingly towards Rubes and I that I was instantly comfy with him. Rubes went out and played with one of the nurses and I explained her behaviour since she was born……including how intelligent she was, talking whole conversations at the age of two. (Even using reverse psychology on people!) He asked me if I felt like I’d been ramming my head into a brick wall for six years, and I burst into tears. He understood…. he didn’t think I just had a mini me that was loud and crazy and assertive. He told me to sit down and then he started talking about Autism. I was gob smacked. Not because she might have it, but because there was finally a reason for this behaviour that didn’t mean I was a shitty Mum. Which was how I felt day in and day out about my fuse becoming so short. Every coffee date and play date from about three and a half, her behaviour was obviously different from the others. She would walk into kinder and scan the room…. she would pick a kid and they were going to play with her come hell or high water. And they were going to play by her rules. And they had no say in it. She would manipulate the situation, she would convince them that it was their idea…. she was incredible at it. But there was no saying no. That was unacceptable. It started to make life in the hills a challenge…… my family were understanding, Trent’s family were understanding, but you can only expect friends to put up with so much. By grade two, it was creating space between myself and some of the closest mates I had on the hill. I sensed that sometimes when I would turn up somewhere a couple of the Mum’s would suddenly have to leave…. it was heart breaking. I couldn’t be sure, so it went on for six months or more. I had no idea what I’d done wrong…… I felt like I was in school again and was not getting picked to play on a team. I felt embarrassed around them, but I wasn’t sure why. Five solid years of friendship and these ladies were pulling away, and not in a really lovely way either. Every time I approached it, they said I was imagining it, and there was nothing going on. The amount of times I cried on Trent’s shoulder I can’t remember…. he kept telling me to talk to them about it, or stop seeing them. He got angry and was going to talk to them on my behalf. But they had me convinced that it was in my head. So I fought it a little longer. Till two weeks before the end of grade two. I had had nothing but difficulties getting the teachers and particularly the principal at Ferny Creek Primary to even see Rube’s disability….. let alone treat her or teach her accordingly. On the day where they put a sign stating what kid goes into what class and with who the following year, Ruby came over and told me who she had. Which was a little strange, because the principal and I had had three meetings, many emails and a lot of discussion over what teacher she should have the following year….. and the one teacher he had told me that didn’t have much experience with Autism was the teacher she had gotten! So he had actually forgotten to follow through and tell the teachers about his decision. Between this and the great lack of support I was getting from my once very close knit little group of friends (granted some of them had gone back to work and didn’t have time to socialize anymore) I made a rash decision and called the principal at Montrose. The first thing I said was, “I suppose I should tell you that my daughter has Adhd and Aspergers, and general behavioural problems.” He said, “Come tomorrow for a tour, then maybe we can get Rubes into a class for a few days before the end of term to see if she likes it.” JUST LIKE THAT. I had no idea there were supportive schools out there for me. How wrong I had been. My closest mate on the North side of the hill had boys there and they adored it. So it was within 24 hours that I decided it was time to move on from the other side of the hill. Just before I left, I approached a mutual friend of the two that had been avoiding me….. and she broke down admitting that they just couldn’t handle Rubes anymore. You could have torn my heart out with a spoon and it would have hurt less than hearing it was her…. my baby, my very challenging baby….. but my baby none the less. She tried so hard, and never quite got it right. She said all the wrong things, talked about everything in an inappropriate way, had to be the centre of attention, was mean to her sister, had her own set of rules for life, none of which she herself followed…… but she had Trent and I, and we had her back. the kid just craved a good friend, and struggled to hold one down for more than two weeks. Turns out these bitches had decided they didn’t want their kids associating with mine anymore. And all the years that I had told Ruby and Poppy to try harder and be nicer no matter how rude these kids were that belonged to one of these women….. Turns out she was telling them to only give their energy to people that deserved it. Not sure she quite explained that in the right context, cause they were little moles to everyone else’s kids, particularly mine. No one could stand them, but of course no one piped up to say anything about it. Except of course yours truly….. I had a nasty call from one of the Mums one night demanding to know why I’d been asking her close mate what was going on when it was none of my business…… I may have just hit the realisation that I was moving schools and not coming back to this side of the mountain…so I thought it was time someone put her in her hippy place, and so I told her what I thought of her rude, snobby, picky and very ill mannered daughters……. which went down as well as you can expect. I may have gone as far as to say that no one else really liked them anyway, but didn’t have the balls to stand up and say it. A few sentences too much as I’ve always had a lethal tongue on me, and I made sure that the friendship was not salvageable. For life. You can’t insult someone else’s kids…… as I know only too well. I made 200 business cards one day to hand out in public places, parks, shopping centres….. anywhere that was high anxiety that stated “This is my daughter, and she has Aspergers. She is funny, very smart and witty, and will make you laugh so hard. She misses social cues, can take things literally and sometimes need to be led in the right direction and away from the wrong…. but your life will be all the better for knowing her, if you just give her a chance.” It had my email and mobile number in case there were any questions. There often were questions. So it was a ripper of an ice breaker! We moved the kids to Montrose kinder and primary school and never looked back…. and so began our new life. Again. This one I was hoping my daughters would adore. Its the least you can offer them really, happiness and good friends. They have done, and they will continue to do so. I stayed in contact with some incredible Ferny Creek people by the way, that proved themselves to me time and time again after Trenton died. I look forward to lunching with them often. I just hope I never get to experience good friends turning on me because of my daughters behaviors, after all If you know me, it’s a three for the price of one deal. Peace out. x