Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A vacation saga Anand home alone- Part -2

The first part of this story is here
Monday was a day to make a group chat with Anand and my friends, posting his volunteering schedule and drop off and pick up were taken care of.
Tuesday morning, while leaving for school he didn’t show any emotion, see you Friday I said.
The plane took off and my heart skipped a beat. It was Tuesday afternoon and for next 4 hours I had no idea about anything. Plane landed and first thing I noticed was the text – “Mom, the microwave is broken for no reason, how can I fix it” and then a response from my friends, finally one of them went home and showed Anand how to fix the trip and fuse and just like that one thing was done. She responded, “he is all set, happy and gave me a hug” she made him turn on the porch lights and Anand was all set to spend his FIRST night alone at home.
A very close friend of ours, whom we lost 20 yrs ago, used to say – you plan 100 things, only 101st will happen, these words never left me just like his memories. We did try to plan everything we could imagine but we didn’t for two hour delay the next day. The icy road delayed the school. I was concerned about Anand being on time for school bus, little I could imagine was delayed school. Anand got the texts from me and friends and remained in the bed for another hour and half and got ready and went to school. Just like that Wednesday was done too. During the day, we exchanged some texts about his exams and school work. I could see the string of texts in group chat how he managed his time for drop off and pick up for his volunteer work on Wednesday. I got a response “love you too mom” for my text that I am so proud of him and love him. That made my day. He asked how’s is New Orleans. Thursday, he asked what time was our flight back to MA. I didn’t get many texts but between shorts calls and group texts and text I could figure out that he was OK. The friends took care of Wednesday and Thursday drive for after school activities so I heard from them too. Friday morning, I told him I am excited to see him soon and got a reply – “me too” We came back home and I walked in, he was playing videogame in the basement. Usually if I call his response is – “Let me focus” but this time someone came running upstairs and I got a very long and tight hug. “I missed you mom and I love you” I think these words made me feel the happiest mom at that very minute. He went back downstairs again soon and I could see the pizza boxes, empty sauce bottles, cups and what not. But I decided to ignore all the mess and live the moment, happiness and pride. At that time, I was in awe that Anand could spend 3 nights on his own.
That Friday night I went to bed with a feeling of pride, satisfaction, gratitude and smile. My son is growing and making me prouder every day. I will still be a pushy and demanding mom to make him an independent person. I am so looking forward to another trip and this time he will have to clean too.
In summary, he had a really nice life for those 4 days. He could get used to it and wished mom should go on vacation often. he didn’t have much homework, two half fays and one two-hour delay so he practically had very easy school days. He ate pasta and pizza for 8 meals, 6 cupcakes and 6 cokes. And played video game like there was no tomorrow. We all are spoiled I think. He enjoyed his freedom and I loved my vacation. Looks like I am ready for another one soon.

Below are the images from past - Anand in two different moods. I loved how his eyes are focus on that delicious sample. 
This picture was taken in Capecod, he went on his own to explore the shore line and found his way back to us.. Life is so much like this.. try and figure out what works and what doesn't.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Independence – How we define it.. and what it means for any of us.

When I was packing last Sunday (1/21) this post could have been a story of apprehension, worries, gratitude, preparation and what ifs. But today after a week it is just all about pride and gratitude. So proud that we have come a long way and so thankful to have people around who helped us in many way to reach this far.
A dear friend visited New Orleans during Christmas break and I got a text very next day – “you should go to NO with Ashish, your kind of place. Fun, Music, food and lots of booze.” And when she got back she kept sending me the airline deals and rallied around with two other friends that Ashish and I should take a break... Untill I booked the tickets finally on Jan 13th, I knew between 3 of them Anand will be fine.
During this time, I have been having those conversation with Anand about us going away for couple of days and every time it wasn’t a happy conversation. He was stuck with the idea that I should go alone, “don’t DRAG dad”, yes he exactly used those words.
Ashish and I went away last year to Vegas, first time without kids. Ajey was home for his break so It didn’t interrupt Anand’s life at all but this time it was totally different. We thought he would stay with one of our friends. When he heard, tickets were booked, he was angry but not beyond control. That was a good sign.
Finally, during those conversation, he said he will stay at home, alone. I didn’t know how to react. That was the idea overall, Anand being independent but was I really ready for this? From school to homework to dinner prep and lunches everything in my mind. But who was I to decide what my 17 years old would do when I am not around. And the plan began to take shape.
Anand decided he will stay home and make his dinner. I wasn’t to decide what to eat during those 4 days. And I agreed even if that means he eats Pasta, frozen pizza and instant noodles. By this time, I was a worried, proud mom who wasn’t sure if going away was really this great idea it sounded. But soon things got settled and we went over the back up plans, his rides for after school activities and text msg rule. He even arranged a ride back home after his leader’s program for Thursday night. When I was packing on Sunday I wasn’t sure what to feel. But here we were going away leaving Anand home alone. And Guess what - Anand watched that movie on Sunday night :)

When I met my friends on Monday I was grateful more so ever, to have them around and make my world wonderful and full of joy. And I began to feel the excitement for a city we have never been before..
Stay tuned for what happens next..
Below is the image of our plane to New Orleans on Tuesday.. A rainy afternoon in Boston. perfect image of my mind -  foggy, wet, soothing, cold and breezy and hopeful for bright sunshine.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Independence Story

When we have kids, we have different wishes and hopes for them.
It is interesting how our dreams and vision changes time to time. We adjust our expectation and sometimes raise the bar. We push our kids and sometimes step back when needed. It’s not easy but we do whatever feels right at that moment. 
We keep learning, modifying our parenting style based on situation and kid. It stands true for any kid but in special need world these things have names, one of them is transition planning. When the kid is 14, we officially start planning for their transition to adulthood. And the biggest take away from all the discussion is “independence” how will the child do when the parents are not around. We have been working on these goals and step by step one thing after another. Our vision of independence is for sure different than Anand’s. he would like to have no restriction over wifi, junk food, soda and access to whatever he wants J
Last week this picture defined one major step of independence for us.
Anand has been member of YMCA’s leader program and they hosted a prom night. It was basically an overnight fun stay. We have been working on noting everything on family calendar so it was there for couple of weeks now. On Thursday I got a text “ help me pack this Friday” the prom was on Sunday. I loved the idea of getting ready in advance. By Friday I just had to remind him to make a list if things he would need for an overnight stay. We went through what he needs when he spends a night away. Saturday morning Anand had everything on the side of the wall ready, and I am very proud that most of the things were perfect
By Sunday morning, the sleeping bag and comforter were packed and brush and tooth paste were in the bag. The phone was charged and the backup battery was ready.
Later in the day I could sense he was nervous but thank goodness for Video games, soon he forgot about everything.
Dad dropped him and then we realized it wasn’t just Franklin YMCA it was from many. We got a text in the night how good he was doing. Next morning, he was to be picked up by 8.30 I think he was ready by 7.30. We got to know that only 6 of Franklin people were there. I couldn’t stop wondering that Anand spent the night with people he didn’t know. Except those 6 kids. It is such a big step in every way. He could sleep away from home among strangers and not made a fuss about it. He came back home happy and with tons of pictures. I got to know some details, about music, dinner and how they could hangout till 1.30 AM and the boys slept in gym and girls were in another room.
It takes a lot to be away from comfort zone for anyone, my heart swells with pride thinking Anand could do it and enjoyed it. One step at a time mamma, you will get there.