I Banned a Book

Ever since my oldest began his love of reading, I’ve opened my book collection to him. He’ll finish a book, draw the cover in his reading journal, and head to the bookcase to trade in for a new one. Oh, and let’s not forget adding a leaf to the reading tree. 100_4650

My teen with autism has read everything from (most recently) Kirby Larson’s Hattie Ever After to The Old Man and the Sea. After he chooses a book, he brings it to me to share. If he’s gone for something like Caddie Woodlawn’s Family, I’ll first steer him to Caddie Woodlawn, explaining that this books is about the same family, but it’s best to read this one first and he’s fine with that. But the other night I had to say no to a book.

Not just any book—a special bookcase book. (That means one of my favorite authors. No, they don’t all fit in this little area, but many do.) 100_2048

He wanted Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson and I said no.

He’s not ready for it.

Is he old enough? Physically, yes. Emotionally/mentally, no.

I adore tough books. They’re awesome springboards for conversations and I have oodles of books I can’t wait to discuss with my kids—when they’re ready.

So, yes, I banned a book. Temporarily.

I pointed to the other Laurie Halse Anderson novels he could read and he went to bed that night with the first Vet Volunteer book instead, but I think Laurie will understand.

Speak Loudly

When I asked for ideas for a hundredth blog post, a friend thought I should have my hundredth on New Year’s Day. Sounds like a good plan, even though it means seriously kicking up my blogging habits. After all, I’ve been at it four years this month and only have ninety-three—now ninety-four—to my name.

But, as my previous post mentions, now is a time of reflection.

One of the changes in me this year has been vocalizing my opinions. This could be seen as good or bad, depending on your own ideals, but for me it has been freeing. If I merely listen to or read other people’s thoughts, I tend to obsess over the situation. But if I share my side, I am able to move on. It’s not about converting others to my way of thinking—the act of giving voice is empowering in itself. I’m shy and have held my tongue for most of my life but this year I found my strength. What I have to say is important—even if just to me. The people around me don’t have to agree, nor I agree with them, but each of our opinions is valid.

I’d like to apologize if I’ve come across as rude over any given topic, in person or in writing. I’m the first to admit my social graces are lacking, so please forgive me because I never mean offense. Discussion is open, so please tread respectfully. After all, differences make the world what it is—varied and beautiful.

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Christmas Apologies

I hear the song “Christmas Time is Here” several times a week—almost daily—during the month of December. My special needs son is a Peanuts head. He has perfect pitch and a great talent for mimicking voices. Next time you want to hear Charlie Brown music, just ask. He serenaded my friend thing morning… No, the singing isn’t what I want to apologize for. (Unless, uh… it really hurts your ears.) I would like to confess a prior judgmental attitude. I’ve freed myself of it and wish to publicly say I’m sorry. I came to the realization of the errors of my thinking a couple years ago, but still held on to that “it won’t be me” attitude. I’M SORRY TO ALL THOSE PEOPLE OVER THE COURSE OF MY LIFETIME THAT I THOUGHT REALLY DIDN’T CARE BECAUSE THEY ONLY GAVE ME A CHRISTMAS CARD WITH THEIR NAMED SIGNED IN IT! There. It’s out. I judged. And now I am guilty of the same offense—even worse! This year I handed out/mailed a pre-printed Kodak Christmas card (with my kidlets picture on it, of course) to 98% of the people on my list. I didn’t even have to sign my name on it—I only addressed the envelopes! And I didn’t do a year-in-review family letter to go with it. Yes, it’s been sneaking up on me. Here’s my sad tale: Once upon a time, I mulled over a personalized paragraph for each recipient of a Christmas card. After one child, the cards just had a couple lines—and a wallet-sized photo of the darling kidlet. Two kids = bigger photo and maybe a sentence in greeting/closing. Three kids = a half-way decent picture of the three of them or all separate on a collage picture card if they weren’t cooperative… and about half the people on the list got an actual paper card as well. Here’s a sample from 2009, doctored to protect the innocent:

This year is the year of the photo card, with few exceptions. Maybe it’s the wordsmith in me, but I used to think that if someone didn’t care enough to at least write me a little note, why bother to give me the card. I showed them love and appreciation by writing them a few words of reflection or hope—wasn’t I worth that effort on their part? So, yeah… Life happens. My daily list of tasks to accomplish swells. As I mature, my ability to love grows and my circle of family and friends expands with that love. AND I DO CARE, EVEN IF I DIDN’T SIGN MY NAME! In closing I want your thoughts. Is it better to keep a circle small in order to pad a Christmas card with words or share a short greeting (or three smiling faces) with a wider group of people?