Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Friends Are So Important

Dear Friend,
Thank you for checking on us as the world faces unfathomable challenges. We are actually doing quite well, thank you.  Never in my life have I felt less alone than I do right now! This pandemic has certainly leveled the playing field by which we all play! Every human being on the planet earth is facing many of the same obstacles, which makes it difficult to complain, therefore, I won’t.

Also, never in my life have I felt more prepared to get a 90% score on a test in my life! It’s kind of like I know what to do for 90% of the time, and the other 10% will be learning and growing.

You know Jake and Joe, so you know that hubby and I have worked our butts off for the majority of our life to make theirs one of quality and happiness.  These past 10 days have been no different.  As is true for almost everyone in the U.S., we are now approaching day 10 of no stimulation outside of our own homes.  We’ve made it work, but it certainly hasn’t been without our share of tests.

You may remember, we started over 12 years ago building a work/life routine for the boys. We made sure to include areas of the community so that they could have a full range of choices. Well, without their work, movies, the mall, the library and the rec center, this makes a small-but-full world even emptier.  So, we’ve resorted to using the small range of choices we have and offering those more often.  They’ve always loved eating out, but now we’ve made the highlight of a few nights a week to be getting a “bag” from a restaurant and bringing it home. This seems to be working as a highlight, so we will continue to do that.

I made our usual monthly calendar, but I’ve already had to change it three times in the month of March—highly unusual. It’s so tough to plan ahead right now, even for me, so providing guidance to them is nearly impossible. One of Jake’s favorite activities is the one day a month where he gets his haircut.  He adores his Stylist, Miss Lisa and looks so forward to seeing her, getting his “cut” and “poo” and paying her for the service.  Well, that one went by the wayside, twice, so I removed it from the calendar. This situation fell within that crazy 10% of learn-as-we-go. He managed to work himself up into tears after asking us 1,000 times for “cut”. We no longer knew when it would happen definitively, so I resorted to cutting it myself, which seemed to settle him down. Needless to say, I am NOT a hairstylist, but I didn’t screw it up too much.

It’s very comforting to know that all the work we put into helping the guys trust and understand their routines has paid off. They trust us implicitly. We still see it as a blessing even though right now it’s tough to project anything.

We’ve reestablished some of our old routines that I used to use during summer break from school. Back then, when I didn’t know how to fill their time, I got really creative with outdoor activities, but it’s winter here in Colorado, which poses its own challenges. Luckily, we’ve had highs in the upper 60’s 3-4 days a week, which allows us to grill outside and enjoy some time outdoors. I resorted to putting the beach chairs on the patio just so we can sit outside several hours a day and get some fresh air in between the snow showers. I added it to the visual schedule hoping that the boys are more accepting of these transitions from the “normal”. They’ve done a fantastic job. I’ve tried to add one additional new item to the visual schedule each day over the past week to expand their horizons gradually. Chores are still a part of everyday life with no exception. I know eventually we are going to run out of new choices, but for now we are moving forward.

The boys usually earn $1 a day in their normal routine, so we've continued to do that. We thought about raising it to $2 a day, but Lord knows we don't want to start something we can't continue long-term...hahahahahaha.  I'm so thankful that I have always kept a "stash" of prizes that we can draw from when needed.  You never know when you might need a new Mister Rogers DVD or a Doodlebops DVD to appease the shopping urge.

I feel like we’ve really been preparing for a situation like this for many years. I have another friend, you know her, that always asks me if I ever live in the now or am I always projecting forward? You know the answer….always projecting forward. I am thankful for that now! I had ordered Joe’s beloved peanut butter cracks in bulk several months ago, thank goodness, now we won’t run out. He's such a picky bugger. I’m also glad that we have the RV if we need to “get away” LOL. Chris thinks it’s his personal “man-cave”! Thank goodness for Rocket!

As always, Chris and I are practicing coping and calming ourselves so that we can try to project that on the boys. It doesn’t always work, but it seems to be manageable right now. Even though we both have lost a bit of sleep over worry, we are trying hard not to project that worry on the boys. We decided to minimize the tv news, allow each other a break each day, and take turns doing massage on each other as a method of relaxation and deep pressure. You know that giving the guys deep pressure has always been such a calming method for them, so now it’s just part of that routine. We also put together two different music playlists that we can listen to—one for dancing (good gross motor) before dinner each night, then one for quiet time. We all love this small but powerfully effective element in our day.

All in all, we are not putting too many new demands on the guys in order to keep the peace. I’m so happy that we are beyond the school years so that we don’t have to try and be Teachers too.  We are not that talented. We’ll just try to continue to meet the physical and emotional needs of all 4 of us while using those resources in our immediate proximity. It’s all going to be ok. As with everyone, the most frustrating part is not knowing when it will end. 

I am so happy to write to and chat with friends. The guys miss their friends so much—we all do. Please keep us posted on how you're doing and let us know if you need anything. We wish you all the best with you and your family. We cannot wait until a day when we can hug you all.  By the way, we are totally NOT practicing social distancing at home. It cannot be done in Joe's world. 😜😜😜

To learn more about Cindi Rogers, her book or follow her family, please visit mrsrogersworld