Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ajey and his college search

I grew up with many cousins and have many stories to share about that time. But one in particular pops up time to time.
Today on this rainy and gloomy day after reading Ajey’s face book post I felt weird and felt compelled to write. as a mom I want him to be happy and do what excites him but at the same time I want him to successful by his meanings and by society standard.
I am very close to all my cousins and today remind me of one in particular (who is 4 yrs older than me). I remember once we were talking about life we want. I was thinking I would want a simple, ordinary and traditional life and she was full of adventure and she would have loved the ups and downs of life. Fast-forward 20 years later she is living in a 100 miles area she grew up and went to school, living a typical life with her husband and two great kids. Having all her family around. And here I am continent away from all of them, living absolutely non-traditional and adventurous life.  My husband is such a different kind of man, a great husband and partner and kids are different thinkers. Our life and values don’t fit in a typical Indian or non-Indian style. Today’s ajey’s blog on facebook made me think. What do we do as parents to create such kids. I am a proud and worried mom today.
Next year this time he would be somewhere navigating his way around on his own, Hope he finds his path and achieve the success he wants not a traditional world.

Ajey - Oct 11th, 2014

I’m having an existential crisis about college. As I (haphazardly) vet colleges for curricula, research spots, and that mystical fog they call “school culture,” I keep asking myself: Is college worth hundreds of thousands in tuition? Is it worth the crushing stress I keep hearing about? Are my only two choices student debt and poverty?
Do I have to go to college?
Sure, college gives me an education. But I don’t need to pay $60,000 a year for that. There’s OpenCourseWare, Coursera, edX, and Khan Academy. I can learn multivariable calculus, mechatronics, cybersecurity, or whatever else my heart desires for free. I don’t have to endure cramped seats with near-useless desks. I don’t have to struggle not to sleep in an 8AM lecture. I don’t have to panic about missing material because I zoned out for a minute. I can learn whatever I want, whenever I want, with just the Internet and an open mind.
Oh, but then I can’t talk to professors! I can’t work in labs, where the real learning happens! Actually, I can. I can contact professors -- their emails are all online -- and ask for unpaid work in their labs. If I ask around enough, at least one person will say yes, no matter how inexperienced I am. I’ve done it, and I have a now-defunct college ID and some rudimentary coding experience to prove it. And eventually, after a few online courses and unpaid internships, some lab might actually pay me, thanks to something called “job experience.” Sure, the check would be small, but it would sure beat a tuition bill.
And no, I would not miss out on college life. I could still eat out, talk to people, go to clubs, and do...whatever else sociable people do. Dorms don’t have the monopoly on friendship. Campus centers don’t have locked doors. And frat parties probably don’t check for college IDs. Why should I drain my parents’ 401(k) to have a social life? Coffee shops abound, food is already inevitable, and no one turns down Super Smash Bros. And that’s all *I* need to find friends.
So the only reason left to attend college is, “You need that diploma.” But do I? I’m going into engineering, not medicine or academia. Instead of college, I could take lab work and side jobs, which would still give me the experience, skills, and contacts that would help me get a *real* job later on. Why get an embroidered piece of paper that says I can engineer when I can get a resume that says so instead? Employers won’t care about college after my first job, so why not replace college with real work?
Honestly, I could skip college and spend those four years as an educational nomad. I could jump between working in labs, moonlighting in retail, teaching remedial writing at a community college, contributing to a local magazine, learning Python or calculus online, making music, and simply observing the world. I would still get a solid education. I would still have a rigorous curriculum. And I would still set myself up for a solid career. But instead of walking out with a cloud of debt and vague memories of boring lectures, I would walk out with money in my pocket, real experience to build on, and the freedom that comes with being beholden to no one.
Which begs the question: Why am I still applying?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The canaries - a tale of inquisitive Ajey

Last night we watched “Zero Dark Thirty"
Ashish and I watched it in theaters but many a times watching at home helps and this was one of those movie. Ajey loves history so he sat with us too. My rule follower son Anand refused because it was rated R.
So we started movie and it took longer than its course. So many side references and we had to talk about it. Ajey was 4 when 9/11 happened but he amazed me with his knowledge. I know he is similar to me in many ways. ( though I am so glad he got his dad's Math and Science brain) we both love to read things which are useless and have nothing to do with us. Google and Wikipedia links have the power to take us anywhere. We both wander around and when we come back to reality we realize how much time we “wasted”. 
Last night was one of those reminders that it is never useless, we gain knowledge, it may seem useless at times but it is indeed some information.
So we were watching the movie and talking. He knew many details and events, but the most amazing detail for me was " the canaries" those were the special planes that took the seals to kill Osama Bin Laden.
And I just said why name them canaries- Ajey replied - the canneries are the bird used in coal mine to assess danger. If they stop chirping you get out. And we moved on to the movie. But this one thing got stuck with me. Those tiny little references, minor details they all have those Wikipedia, redit, twitter and face book stamps on them, he not only reads, he remembers and uses them when needed.
I know it might sound like I am bragging about my son. Please, believe me we had been through enough of fights when we both didn't agree on anything. We both thought the other one thinks I know nothing or I know everything and you don’t understand me :)
But this time I do think my 17 yrs old does know many things and I have no idea about them.

PS- People who are new to my blog - Usually I post about our life with Anand - my 14 yrs old son on Autism Spectrum. I feel Autism is what defines us as a family. Ajey is my older son, he is 17 (going on 40) and loves Math and Science, words are his strength. He wants to be an Engineer. Today I thought I should write about him here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What does happy look like...

We lost a very dear friend 17 yrs ago, pain and memories faded but one of his statements is still stuck to me – "you plan 100 things but only 101st thing will happen. We can dream and imagine all we want but end would always be something different."
 My weekend trip to Boston with Anand was just a reminder of it. 
I spent my Friday with Ajey in NYC and thought I should spend my Saturday with Anand in Boston. As you know we cannot MAKE him do things, we had talked about it and planned. Things were OK till we reached train station. It was a beautiful Saturday and I was so looking forward to a nice day in Boston with him. All of sudden he just didn’t want to go. With the Aquarium pass and a train ticket in hand I just didn’t know what to do. I tried all my options, bribes and “if not” finally he gave up so he wouldn’t lose his videogame time.
A very dear friend just suggested me last week not to talk to him at all when he is angry, pacifying the situation with autistic kids is just not a good idea she mentioned. As train left the station I took a deep breath and just reminded myself to leave him alone for the next 3o minutes. He was very angry so sat on the other seat and just looked outside the whole time. I think that helped him, he loves the train.
Meanwhile I helped a tourist couple to find attractions in Boston and plan their trip, when we reached backbay he asked for Dunkin coolatta to “calm him down”. I told him we would help those guys to find the stop and then we can do whatever he wants. He agreed and I knew we are in a better place.
A large Coolatta was a blessing that day, he was much better and asked what is the plan for the day.

We sat outside the station and talked what we can do. The sun was shining and it was much happier by then. We talked, said sorry to each other and promised that we will have fun. And then one extraordinary day began; we went to Aquarium, spent time on Kennedy way and went to Hay market. That was the high light of my day. My son who hates shopping spent his 25 minutes shopping with mom and helped her carry the stuff. The next stop was Boston public library. He was HOME. He loved reading book for an hour and I was soaking in the happiness. I enjoyed just watching him and pondering what was going on just few hours ago in his mind. I had to remind him that it was time to catch the train back home and without a word he packed the book, stacked them in right shelves and picked up our bags to help me carry my stuff. We talked, laughed and decided we should do it again.. …a mom son time... I guess we will do it again without the meltdown .. 
and yes - the HAPPY looks like this -

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Meeting nightmare

We all, as a parent, wonder if we are doing the right thing.
We falter; stumble upon and many a times struggle if we are on the correct path. We do what is best for our kids, but we always question too if at all we are doing what we can to our maximum capacity? Can we do more?
We always meet parents who are doing lot more than us or sometimes we feel lot better ourselves compare to others. But we all know there is no right or wrong when it comes to parenting. It is custom made and for Special Parents it is doubly custom made. What is right today could completely go wrong tomorrow. And you question your own decisions and thoughts and rituals and feelings.
I am in that roller coaster ride these days.  Anand is almost 14 and it is a special number in Special Need world in Massachusetts. The transition services kick in. Basically you are planning a future for your child officially.
Now here I am visiting 100s of sites, meeting everyone I can, ask questions and read as much I can. Meanwhile job, cooking, laundry, home and social need of life still awaits you. You try to do everything and realize you are not doing it at all.
Its been going on for days and I wonder if at all I did the right thing for his special education all these years. Did I not research enough, did I not think it through, I could have taken him for  more therapies he needed, could have done more to see if he needed more help. I should have spent more time with him. I trusted his teachers for doing the right thing, let the school district find the best solution. For me they are the ones who know everything not me. I always felt they guided us in a right direction. He loves them and happy in school for the most part.
Then you meet other parents, listen to stories about fights for services and question your own decision.
We meet  for Anand’s transition meeting in couple of days and this time I am not going  the the way I used to go. I want to read more, learn more know more but this is making me so unhappy so uncomfortable. I feel sad and wrong that I am questioning what will happen tomorrow. And for me it is so heartbreaking. But looks like this is called parenting and for me it is the state of being indecisive.
But for now I will hold on to one - here is my inspiration and will keep me going ..
( Anand with his Science Project on Science Fair day in school)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Time to move on

Today I thought of writing about Ajey, my older son. “Time to move on” that's what he said and a part of me just couldn’t believe.
 He has been playing violin since he was 7+. It all stared in Third grade with Franklin String school then private classes and High School Repertory orchestra and many more fun playing. Since he moved to Math and Science Academy in his junior year we knew it will be a difficult balance but he managed till December. But his c term changed everything. We talked, tried and finally we realized that it would just not work. Violin is not a very forgiving instrument it is very demanding hobby. He just didn’t have that one extra hour or energy for violin every day. I still feel he could have done it but whom I was kidding with. He is almost 17, he would spend his hour chatting, facebooking and texting rather than violin. So this morning he said he cannot think of continuing his private lesson anymore and doesn’t want to do violin. He will still play for fun and make music but not structured class anymore. As a mom I knew that I couldn’t stretch anymore and have to respect but at the same time I was sad. I was always proud of his musical abilities. I never played any instrument but seeing him play was rewarding enough for me. But I guess I need to let him explore new world. He stared listening to Indian Music that should be enough to hold on for now. I hope he will be able to pickup somewhere in his life but for now mom will have to be happy with the memories. Time to move on my son, spread your wings and learn something new but don’t forget what you learnt and had. some times it is good to come back to that.

Photo of Ajey - Playing in Symphony Hall with his Repertory Orchestra last year. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Where is my god and what is my religion?

When I thought of writing today I was not sure if I should write about this. But that’s all is going on in my mind. I am sure I am touching a very sensitive topic but please bear with me, because if I cannot speak what I feel, or if I worry that my friends will judge me what is point in telling my story to you anyway.

I stopped writing few months ago thinking it was becoming my monologue about our life. I got few emails and messages asking about my next blog and I conveniently ignored it. I thought my main purpose was to let my close friends and families know about our journey, was it really helpful? During my recent trip to India I realized that many of the people around us see “Anand and Autism” just a tiny part of our life. I couldn’t explain to them that it IS our life now. Our life revolves around that and nothing matters more than our kids.
Anyway, those discussions are topic of another blog. Today it is all about God and religion. I have given many advices from medicines to prayers to fasting to charity and do many more things to ”cure” Anand. I am sure many thinks that its all god’s plan. But here I am, thinking where is GOD in this plan?
I was born in a religious Hindu family; my dad is very strong believer of dharma. I grew up having all festivals, rituals, prayers, mantra and sholkas but did I really believe in those? I guess not. I questioned those believes many a times. Having been married to an agnostic for a long time  I think I started thinking like him. So when I am having days like today I go back to the original thinking – Why us. (

Today I was reading about the book "The Secret" and "Laws of Attraction". 
The article talked about faith and believing in the positives. But somehow I feel like questioning. What kind of faith and what kind of God. All these years I did ask those question, went through many cycles of emotions. I didn’t find any answer or comfort but figured what I needed to know. God or no god.. I guess motherhood is my religion now.