my soft spot

just a mom who plays hockey and knits

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Weekend

We got home from school, grabbed a bag and our suits (and knitting for me), and jetted off to Berkeley. We were late (again) for the meeting but managed to make most of it. This is a Social Skills group at the Berkeley YMCA that is twice a month, and free. The woman who runs it provides pizza and we all chip in some cash to cover that. There is a check-in time and she sometimes brings a book (like More Parts, about idioms, which can be hard for kids on the autistic spectrum to get) or just asks questions. This time, she asked about Halloween costumes.

After that time, we move to the gym and the kids (and sometimes the adults) play some kind of game. Last time, it was soccer; this time, to my delight, hockey. Plastic sticks and a puck-shaped rolling thing. G ate it up but didn't pass well (so of course I forced him to). Fun.

From there, we go down to the art area where they have clay, which delights G (even though we cannot fire the things, so they are brittle). Last time, we didn't know about the swimming, so hadn't brought swimsuits. This time, we didn't know the ins & outs of the pools. Turns out you have to get a little piece of paper with a time slot to go to a particular pool. We initially get passes for the warm pool, which I find dull, as it's shallow and small. We end up giving those away and go back for passes for the deeper pool, in about 15 minutes.

The deeper pool goes down to 7.5 feet, and there is a floating rope (is there another word for that?) close to the shallow end. Turns out there is a swim test required to be able to go into the deeper area. G, having passed three swim tests last summer, is sure he can pass this one. But the lifeguard requires him to have his face in the water all the time except for lifting it to breathe. He just can't do it. It's really not a big deal. His friend who wants to swim with him is only in the shallow area, and there really is enough room to have fun. But he gets caught up in it and frets and wails for a bit. Finally, he settles down enough (I point out that he can choose to have fun or to be sad). He spots some toys on the wall; turns out they belong to his friend. He borrows a sponge frisbee and we play until the time is up. (It really is so fun that I am considering buying one for us!)

After drying off and dressing, we head upstairs to play in the Kindergym for just a few minutes. We manage to create a slope that ended in the ball pit. (FYI: falling in a ball pit can hurt! I got one right in the back. Maybe it was too shallow. Plus, they smell like pee.)

As we were leaving, he kept messing around. This cost him his clay creations. That was one of those "Did I do it because I wanted to throw out the clay, or because it was a good and effective consequence?" situations. Ugh.

We headed out of the house at 9:20, a little later than I had hoped. As we approached IKEA, I realized that the reason I'd wanted to leave by 9 was that it opens at 9:30 and his martial arts starts at 10 sharp. I decide we'll go to martial arts a little late and he'll do 10:30-11:30. But once we get there, I'm having such a good day with him that I decide to forgo the entire thing. I let him know and his face crumples. "I feel guilty," he says. I think it's about missing martial arts until he explains that he thinks it's his fault that we were running late. This has been very true lately and I think I can handle it better (let him have a little less free rein). But today, it was my overt choice, and I tell him so. The cloud lifts.

As for IKEA: someone there is one smart cookie. Rather than spend tons on advertising, they sent out simple flyers saying that breakfast there was free on Saturday (maybe for Fri through Mon; not sure). I've never seen the restaurant so full. It was a nice breakfast, and coffee (including decaf) was included. It is normally only 99 cents, even! G angled for, and got, a cinnamon roll, which was good (but not great, so I just had one bite). They have tables for two that are connected, 4 in a row. So we ate kind of with others, and it had a community atmosphere. I ended up chatting with the couple next to us, the woman next to me having been a teacher. It was really nice.

So after that, we wandered around the store for 3.5 more hours. Wow. Time really gets away from you. As we left, I glanced at the receipt for the time, and nearly took off running. It was 1:19 and I was supposed to drive a coworker from our office to BART at 1:40! We got to the car and took off, getting to work at 1:38. She was in the building and we got her suitcase loaded up and set off by 1:40. She called from BART and said that she'd made the next train by 4 minutes and was right on time. It is so great that BART goes all the way to SFO now. Brilliant.

After that, we had nothing planned, and as I chatted with my sister, I realized I wanted to get in and do some cleaning. I washed some dishes and turned to my room. I worked really hard, getting things organized and moved around... and I can't believe how much happier I am. I look around the room and don't see the piles and leftover suitcase and random crap, and it is so much nicer! I still need to move the air conditioner downstairs, but I have to make arrangements for setting it down every 10 steps or so. That thing is so freakin heavy. (But I'm soooo glad I have it.) I changed the sheets on my bed... I don't know what it is about clean sheets, but there is something exquisite about slipping into fresh sheets that delights me. It actually feels more comfortable.

I got about 4 loads of laundry done, including a dog-bed-cover load. I threw our bathroom rug into that load and it came out all splotchy. It's kind of velour-ish, so I thought maybe it was wet in spots. After I took it out, still damp, from the dryer, it was still splotchy. It's drying now but I think it's going into the garbage. Argh. (Of course, the IKEA label says "hand wash." Right. Hand wash a 6-foot rug. Sheesh.)

It felt so good to get so much laundry done. It's been piling up and piling up. I felt bad for G, as he came to me a few times for clean underpants. This kid has tons of underpants. (He now has tons of them again, phew.)

We watched some VeggieTales together, including the hairbrush song and the one in Spanish about the cucumber who can dance and the tomato who can't. OMG, that one is so freakin' funny.

I had hoped to walk to church, but big surprise, we were too late. We did get there in time for me to practice with the choir, and I knew the song so felt comfortable singing. I also was signed up to teach Sunday School (almost wrote "I had to"), which is good because I feel like I'm helping my church, but ugh it can be hard. Last time was crazy, but this time, even with a smaller group, was about as crazy. There is one boy in that class who just has a heck of a time controlling his body. Cannot stop talking. I hate picking on him, but it is disruptive to the other kids. I have to wonder how he does in school and at home. We did make it through (big sigh) and after coffee hour, went home to have a quick lunch and head out to the zoo.

Two hours later, we headed out. I gave a call to the woman who was going to give me some hockey gear (through Freecycle), to let her know I wasn't flaking on picking up the gear but running late, and she was fine with it. When we got there, though, I had written down a street address that didn't exist! Another time I wish I had my cell phone (still lost). We walked around the short block for a bit, and then a garage door opened. One of them knew the woman and directed me across the street. Phew. I still have to try the pants on to see if they fit. But my pants are slashed and deteriorating. Ugh.

The zoo was good; we started off by taking the Sky Chair. It goes up high enough to make me very nervous but G said I could hug him, which did help. And you get a perspective on the tiger, giraffe, elephant, and lion enclosures that you just can't get from the ground. Also, there is a herd of bison and a herd of reindeer up the hill that you simply can't see from the ground. There were remnants of pumpkins on the hill, too. I am just tickled to see the leftover pumpkins being fed to the animals each year, and most animals get a leftover Christmas tree, too, to eat or just rub up against. After the Sky Chair, we went down the hill to the Children's Zoo, which was completely renovated four years ago. We spotted two of the alligators (it's amazing how hard they can be to spot in the grass, and how fake they can look underwater--I keep thinking there's a fake one down there to make the others feel like they're in a community, except that it moves), and looked at the stick insects in the Insect House. They are freakish, and I hear they reproduce like crazy when you keep them for pets. shudder And Black Widow Spiders? Man, they just look evil. Cool.

They also have a small display on the Hayward Fault in the Children's zoo, with a sign about it, near a rock that is clearly split in two by fault activity. They have a metal pole with two horizontal pipes mounted on it. You can sight through the pipes across the whole Children's Zoo to two reflectors mounted on a post, along the Hayward Fault. Too cool.

We also visited the sheep/goat enclosure. They have bounders on one side that the animals can climb up on, and on which humans are not allowed. The sheep are nearly always there. But one was down and I went to brush it (they provide brushes) and check it out. It had a fascinating coat--black with beige, prickly guard hairs. It would have been an awful fleece to try to spin, with all the work removing the guard hairs. But the black was gorgeous. Unfortunately s/he wasn't terribly interested in being brushed--I'd brush, and then it would let out an unpleasant "baaah!" Finally, one of the volunteers said it wanted to go inside to eat, and was nervous at the group (of volunteers) standing in the doorway. Hm, I think they should train the volunteers better to know how to be around the animals!

I was amused at the rabbit enclosure, at the zoo workers trying to track down some bunnies that needed to go inside for the night. There was a black-and-white one, and a black-and-grey one that would scamper around and refuse to be caught. The b&w one was finally caught and seemed calm, but the g&w one seemed so happy to zip around, just out of reach. I finally saw a bunny in the worker's arms at last--but it was black! I guess it hid well while the others raced around. I hear they chew everything in sight, or I'd consider one for a pet.

We headed home and I did more laundry and cleaning, which just made my little heart happy. G went to sleep crying for "just one more day." I get it, kid.


At 7:54 AM, November 27, 2008, Blogger Dharma said...

Going to a zoo with a kid sounds like a good time to me. Wonder how to get a kid to do that with {G}


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