Whose turn is it to play, now?

Another thing my kids loved to fight about: who has to have the first piano lesson. We have two half-hour slots back-to-back and they both wanted to go second. After several months of trying to remember whose turn it was to go first, I had wished that I had started the year with a set time for each of them.

I thought about trying to set a specific time slot for each when I could no longer stand the bickering. But assigning  my Aspie the dreaded first slot would have meant him treating his sister badly for the rest of the year. His perception of being treated unfairly by that assignment would have overrode his ability to stop himself from getting into trouble every week, even if I gave him a consequence every week. Giving into his sassiness and making his sister take the dreaded first slot wasn’t fair to her, nor good for him. So I had to come up with a different plan.

I guess we could have went month-by-month on that, too. But after praying fervently one day on the way to piano lessons while the kids were arguing in the back, I ended up coming up with the odd/even schedule. My son picked, “odd,” so he goes second on odd-numbered days, and first on even-numbered days.

When we switch from one month to another someone has to go first twice in a row at times. This caused some screeching, and feelings of being tricked the first time it happened to my Aspie, so that caused some trouble. But after learning that fussing will earn you the first time slot for the month, I don’t hear anymore fussing.

At first I had wished I had not agreed to the odd/even schedule because of the possible repetition of going first, but it has turned out to be a good lesson on learning flexibility for my Aspie.

Keeping the stress level down in the kitchen

Here are some things that I have done over the last year that have helped keep the stress level of my Aspie down, which have, in turn helped keep my stress level, and the stress level of everyone else in the house, including the pets, down.

My children must empty the dishwasher as part of the weekly chores. My Aspie really hates to work together on it. Sometimes there are reasons where he just needs to suck it up and empty it with his sister, but there are plenty of times where one can do one rack and then the other can do the other rack. Well, it takes less work to empty the top rack, so after spending several frustrating months of having them alternate who did the easy rack and trying to keep track of whose turn it is, this is what I came up with. They alternate at the beginning of each month.

We also used this same system for setting the table. The person who empties the top rack of the dishwasher has to set the plates and cups on the table, because those take more effort right now, as the kids need to stand on chairs to reach the glasses. The person who empties the tougher bottom dishwasher rack gets to put on the silverware – no climbing on chairs involved.

Tee Hee Hee…

Yet again, not knowing as much about music as my 10-year-old paid off.

My aspie son has a real gift, and it is not just proud mom-speak. After just one year of piano lessons, his teacher, who is a gifted musician herself, and a degreed music educator, let me know that in the not too distant future she will need to recommend that I find other avenues of learning for my son, as he will be beyond what she can teach him.

As this second year of lessons has progressed, she has found that, while he does have an innate gift, there is still a lot she can teach him. So thankfully, she is planning to keep us around a bit longer – she is so good  with him! Not everyone would be willing to put up with his abruptness, how easily he can become overwhelmed, and all of those other traits that make Aspies who they are.

Well, a week or so ago he didn’t want to try his new music. I guess he told his teacher it was too hard and he was just going to have to give up the piano. Up until this point he had been able to play a song almost perfectly the first time. So needing to practice something was a new frontier.

Knowing how much he hates my playing, and how competitive he is, I decided to give the song a try. Sure enough, within a few measures I was summarily dismissed, and after a day or two, he had the song down!

Wings for My Aspie

Several Sundays ago my 10 -year-old Aspie wanted to sit alone in the front row, several rows ahead of us. I was a little hesitant, because when he sits with me while my husband is up front playing electric bass guitar I have to remind him to stand for the songs. I’ll tickle him to get him to stop pouting and sing – he has perfect pitch and an amazing voice, as does his sister, so there is no reason why this should be such a chore.

Surprisingly, while up front by himself he was fully engaged. He sang his heart out, dancing and clapping his hands where appropriate, giving it all he had.

It looks like my guy is starting to grow his wings.

Big Dreams!

My ten-year-old son was causing me some concern last week. For the past several weeks he has been going on and on about his favorite Batman character, who happens to be two-face – a guy who can’t decide whether he should be good or bad, so flips a coin to see. Then he added in his favorite Lego Wii Star Wars characters, and all of  them were the baddest of the bad: Emperor Palpatine, Darth Mal, etc.

Usually I take the direct approach when I am concerned about something, but this time I decided to try a different tactic. This is how the conversation went:

“So, son, I have a question for you. What are your plans for when you are an adult? I mean, it  seems that all of your favorite characters are bad guys, and so I am just wondering what do you plan to do when you are grown up?”

“Mom, I promise, I am going to have a good job. I am going to mow lawns. I will work really hard mowing lawns every day. I will have breakfast, lunch and supper and mow lawns.

(Note: About six months ago my son was asking for jobs to make money for a toy he wanted. I told him that next summer he would be old enough to mow lawns for us or maybe even for the neighbors, and that he could make good money that way, for a ten-year-old!)

And, Mom, I am going to have a wife, and when I come home from mowing lawns there will be chicken fries waiting for me at the door. Well, not right at the door, but you know what I mean.”

(I’ll have to let his future wife know about that – hopefully Schwans will still be making his favorite food!)

“Well, that sounds like a great plan, son. I’ll stop worrying.”

Later that evening he started talking about his favorite Star Wars character again, but this time, he was talking about one of the good guys.

Thanks, God, for the wisdom I needed to help him think things through without being a nag!