24 May 2011

Language Matters: That's so retarded!

It is not acceptable to use the word "retarded" in a derogatory manner. It does not mean "foolish" or "stupid". It is hurtful, rude, and just plain assholish to use this word. It is even more assholish to try to defend it. So just don't. It won't fly.
 It doesn't matter if you "don't mean it that way", any more than it matters that your best friend is gay when you call someone a fag. It doesn't matter if you have nothing against the disabled, any more than it matters that you're really not a racist when you joke about how cheap Jews are. It doesn't matter. What you're saying is hurtful. And never acceptable.
And you know what else? If you hear someone say it, or read someone who uses it? CALL THEM ON IT, every bit as much as if they said 'he's such a nigger' or 'she's such a cunt' or 'what a fag!'. Those words hurt. And so does "retard". 

So just stop.

23 May 2011

Autistic cats? Or feline people?

The more I learn about Autism, the more I'm convinced that all cats are autistic. (Or all people with autism are secretly cats.) The similarities are astounding. And if you're in the right mood, hilarious.

1) Cats and PwA (people with autism) both like affection. Sometimes. On their own time and schedule. Surprise hugs will usually result in tears. Yours.

2) Cats and PwA tend not to like vacuum cleaners. It's best to have them leave the room before turning one on. Surprising them by turning on the vacuum will usually result in their screams. And then tears. Yours.

3) Neither cats, nor PwA, appear to be listening to anything you say. Mention treats offhandedly, and you may discover that both hear quite well.

4) Both find doctors' visits traumatic. These usually end in tears. Yours.

5) Come between at a cat or PwA and his favourite toy at your own risk.

6) Just try to feed your cat or PwA something they don't like eating. I dare you. This will almost certainly end with your tears.

7) Transitioning your PwA or cat to a new activity requires planning and something new to distract them with. Forget this at your own peril. However, if you are prepared, they will either hate your new toy, or have absolutely no trouble transitioning at all, making you feel ridiculous for worrying.

8) Cats and PwA prefer to sleep when it is inconvenient for you. The middle of the night is a good time to play. Ignore them at your own peril.

9) Baths will either be appreciated as the best activity ever or considered torture worthy of UN protection. There is no in between.

10) Do not expect consistency. Just when you think you have them figured out, they will confound you again. Any statement starting with, "But I thought you..." will be secretly mocked.

Did I miss any?

20 May 2011

I hope Telus is right and the future is friendly...

Spooky. I got a notice on my door on Tuesday that DHL had attempted a delivery. It was marked only with the date and an X in the box "please contact us to schedule another attempt".

There are two problems here:
1) I am not expecting a package.
2) The date is 11/16/11. Um, I'm really not expecting a package from 6 months in the future.

So I went on the DHL website and rescheduled it for Thursday. Nothing. Friday 3pm rolls around. Nothing. So I phoned them. They have no record of my address or the Delivery Notice Number.

I feel like I'm in the first scene of a sci-fi movie.

17 May 2011

Playgrounds and the Mommy Brigade

You know, I'm starting to think that insecurity is the cause of a good chunk of problems in the world. Or at least in the 1st world. The Mommy Brigade seems to be a huge ball of insecurity that just rolls over people, adding them to the ball. I try to duck and cover.

This morning, I had Crackle to the playground while Pop was at his play therapy group. I was once again struck by the snooty parents. When did adults stop talking to each other and start just sizing each other up? Or is a local thing? First, there's the check out look. You know, the look up, look down, look up again, sneer. First they do that to you, then to your kid. And then they watch, for the slightest violation of the rules of the playground. The unwritten rules, that is. The written rules can be violated at will. For example, there are two structures at that playground. One is labelled for kids 5-12. The other, for kids 2-12. Crackle was on the bigger one, and he passed by a little guy of about 18 months. He sorta winged him with his arm. The toddler didn't budge, didn't seem to even notice. But his mom's head snapped my way to see if I was going to say anything to Crackle. I didn't, and she gave me the disapproval look - pursed lips, impatient sigh and then shook her head at me. WTF?

It's really hard not to be a bit of a misogynist when these are the only women one meets in a day. But then there are the dads. And they make me realize that it's not just women. Parents, in general, suck. FFS. If I speak to you because we're standing there together awkwardly, and I say, "Sure is nice to have a warm day, finally, isn't it?" the correct answer is "Yeah, it is. I like getting out to the park". The incorrect answer is "I have a wife". I like to reply, "So do I. What's your point?" I don't, obviously, but it tends to throw them for a bit of a loop.

And for crying out loud, if you're teaching your kids to share, and take turns, and all those other good socialist things, try to model it. If you're reading a book with your kids and another kid comes by to check it out, it would not kill you to turn the book so the other child can look too. Shooting his mother a dirty look for allowing her child to intrude on your teaching moment will earn you a snort of derision and little more. (And seriously? A book at the playground? A book about the dangers of strangers? Okay... go to it. Yeah, I can judge too, but at least I wasn't an asshole to her or her kids).

And people wonder why I don't like to take the kids to the park.


At least one of my regular readers is having trouble commenting. The blog eats the comments. I never see them in moderation. They're just gone. Anyone else having trouble? Email me if you are. It's selenie at that google email (TRY TO GET THAT ONE, SPAMMERS!). I haven't declined a comment in at least a year.

16 May 2011

Religious education in public schools

There's a fight brewing in Quebec about religious education in the schools. I think it's utterly ridiculous.

The gist, if you're not inclined to click the link, is that there is a new religious education course mandatory for all students in both elementary and high school in Quebec - both public and private schools. Its curriculum includes all major world religions, but it about 90% Christian oriented.

The religious opponents are grumbling that they're not allowed to indoctrinate their kids in school any more with the idea that their religion is right and all the others are wrong. The secular opponents are grumbling that they don't want their kids learning about religion at all.

The two have something in common: they want to keep their kids ignorant. How scared must they be of their children not having the same belief system they have that they would keep their children ignorant of the beliefs of the people around them. Knowledge is never a bad thing, unless you're scared of power it gives. How horrible to be scared that your child might choose to be a Muslim or Christian or anything different from you! It really points to how insecure people are about their beliefs.

Snap is agnostic. She thinks this religion stuff is a load of crap, but she's not quite arrogant enough to flatly state that there is no God. This bothers me just because I feel like she's missing out on the relationship with the divine that she could be having. However, she's 16 and needs to go through this to get a firm belief. I hope it comes.

Now, if she comes out the other side of it and decides she is called to follow the path of the Baha'i faith, I'll be fine with that. I'm pretty much okay with all religions. I figure the path to God is pretty huge and looks different from wherever on it one might be. I also figure that if I ask 20 people who know me well to describe me, I'll get 20 different and contradictory answers. So why would I expect everyone to describe God exactly the same way?

Femininity = maternal?

A number of years ago, a colleague told me that I was the most feminine woman he had ever met. I took that with amusement, confusion, and a little bit of offense. I asked him what made him think that, and he just smiled and walked away. He was weird, no question. (He once told me that the Jews were right to prohibit men from having sex with women during their menses. Not because it was dirty, but because women hold too much power during that time of the month. o.O)

I've wondered off and on what made him think that, and also what made him actually say it. And it always comes back to what is femininity? If it's being quiet and demure, that's not me. (Anyone who knows me in real life can stop laughing now. This means you, Erin). No one could think that. If it's wearing pink dresses, again, I fail. I'm a jeans and t-shirts with a plaid flannel over top. I regularly wear comfy sandals. I abhor makeup, and perfume is of the devil. I mean, I could easily be mistaken for a lesbian if we're going to play the stereotypes game. So I'm assuming it wasn't my appearance. So what the hell?

I think now that he was talking about how maternal I am. I am a Mom. I have been a Mom since I was 2 and was given dolls to play with. They were NEVER my friends. I was always the mom. I took care of them like they were my babies, and if my brother ever got hold of them, I pounded him. I fretted while my teddy bear was in the washing machine. When my friends and I played house, I played the mommy, every time. I hated being the baby. I didn't know what to do.

Now I have three kids of my own, and I am fiercely protective of them. I try terribly to let them make mistakes and learn from them, but it's different with autism. Learning from one's mistakes doesn't really work for them. Crackle has fallen off the coffee table more times than I can count. One would think he'd learn not to climb up there, but no.

And also, it's dreadfully easy to take advantage of or abuse a kid with autism. So I'm vigilant. I'm keeping Crackle out of Kindergarten and putting him in a Distributed Learning course (it's responsible to the Ministry of Education, lest you think I'm a crazy homeschooler with no curriculum plan, teaching about how God makes the tide come in every day). The school board pretty much admitted they couldn't keep him safe in a classroom full of gluten (He has Celiac Disease and a wheat allergy), so he's staying home with me. Which, frankly, sucks. I love my kids, but I could use a break for a few hours a day. My house might stop looking like a hurricane ran through it. And I might relax a tad.

And you know, it's not just my kids. There's a young man of 21 who is terribly sick. He's had a number of health problems growing up, his Mom died when he was fairly young, and his dad is an asshole of EPIC proportions. I mean, think of the biggest SOB you know and then give him the arrogance of a doctor. That's his Dad. This boy, and he really is a boy, is sick. I mean, he just got out of ICU where they had him in a coma. He weighs about 65 lbs. They sent him home because they didn't want him to get an infection, and hey, his dad is a doctor. Except that his father left him alone and fucked off to Las Vegas for over a week. I am shaking with rage about this. And I have never met the boy. A dear friend of mine is looking after him (his dad is her ex-somethingorother) because he texted and asked for company. I'm dying to help. I want to get him out of there. I want to bring him here and just mother him. Heal him, feed him, fatten him up.

So if my former colleague meant that I was the most maternal woman he ever met, I'll take that as a compliment. I like being a Mom.

06 May 2011

Fuck You Friday

WARNING: I'm pissed off. My language will be saltier than usual. I do not intend to be particularly fair or nice. Deal with it or go away.

Today's Fuck You (tm) is going to the Neurodiversity crowd. The gist of this bullshit is that Autism is simply a natural difference in one's brain, and should be celebrated, not cured. "Autism is a gift". Yeah, and a shit sandwich is lunch. Listen, I get it, you're a happy camper with your excellent memory. You have no use for social norms and niceties. Fine. I'm ever so happy for you. But I have a kid who is five and can't talk, sign or otherwise communicate his basic needs. He can't go to the bathroom himself. He can't go to school because they won't be able to keep him safe (he wanders). My daughter is almost crippled by anxiety - she terribly wants this to go away. That is not a gift. It is not a gift when Pop refuses to eat because I haven't figured out that he wants a different bowl - he'd rather go hungry. He's a little guy and gets anemic. It is not a gift that he'd starve to death rather than eat off the white plate.

And you know what? My kids aren't nearly as badly affected as some others. My kids are doing okay. Snap will graduate from high school and probably get some sort of post-secondary education. Crackle's receptive language is pretty good all things considered (I asked him to put away the milk into the fridge for me today. He did it. I just about fell over from surprise). Pop is rocking his ABA therapy - he's learning words and signs and letters. It could be so much worse. I'm not cleaning shit smears off my walls. I'm not taking my kids to the hospital for the injuries they've caused themselves. Snap is a little bit self-injurious, but nothing I have to worry about. Only Pop is in diapers, and that's normal for his age.

I see this as somewhat analogous to the cochlear implant controversy. If you're happy being Deaf, and can manage just fine with sign language, lip reading or interpreters, great. I'm genuinely happy for you. But if you're going to scream that *other* people shouldn't have them either, you can join the Neurodiversity crowd in my Friday Fuck You. Especially if you're saying it to people without sight or hands. If you've got high-functioning Autism or Asperger Syndrome (but don't call it a syndrome!) and you can get by just fine without being able to read facial expressions or whatever your particular issues are, good for you. But STFU, because there are plenty of people who would really like a cure for themselves, and your constant "It's just a happy opportunity for butterflies and rainbows" crap isn't helping. Legislators are saying that it's not a disability and that they won't cover therapy for it because they keep hearing this shit. SHUT. UP. If they find a cure, I promise no one will make you take it.

Is Cancer just cellular diversity? Oh, but Cancer will kill you! Yeah, so will Autism if you wander off in the woods and are unable to respond to your name. So will Autism if you're unable to understand the inherent danger in a shallow lagoon. So will Autism if you wander into traffic.

So have a great big bowl of Fuck You Flakes and just be quiet and happy with how you are and stop trying to stop the rest of us from trying to get help for our kids.

03 May 2011

The bright moment from last night

I was pretty inconsolable last night. It pains me to think that the majority of eligible voters either don't give a shit or voted for what I consider to be active evil. So I didn't expect a big smile, but Mr. FCS called me from upstairs last night and said, "Come quick! And bring the camera." This is why:

They're both sound asleep. They were on opposite sides of the bed when I left the room. The book beside Crackle is a Company's Coming Cookies cookbook. He looks at the pictures and falls asleep holding that book quite often.

01 May 2011

Christian Voting

The minister at my church today, a guest speaker, said, "Some people will say that politics and religion don't mix. Hogwash. If that's true, there's something seriously anemic about our faith, or something seriously suspect about our politics. Vote for the candidate or party who can do the most for your neighbour. Jesus told us to love our neighbour as ourselves. So think about your neighbour when you vote." He stopped there and let us decide who cared about our neighbours most. 

I'm thinking about all the parents of kids with autism, all the parents who have jobs and need childcare, the people we're shipping asbestos to, the poor, the imprisoned, the people who just want to smoke pot in peace, and so so so many other people. The Conservatives don't have your back. They don't have your neighbours' backs. They care about their own power and nothing else. Please, vote for the party that will help out the most people.

DrDawg discovered something that utterly infuriated me today. A Con cabinet minister, one James Moore, says that people with Autism aren't disabled. They're a special interest group, and therefore the government will not allow them to have EIBI covered by medicare.

That. Ignorant. Fucking. Bastard.

Yeah, I know there are some lucky high-functioning people with Autism who are happy to be who they are with the abilities they have. That's nice for them. But for many others, autism is a big disability. Crackle has a vocal stim he can't control. He can't go to the bathroom by himself. He's a danger to himself. He can't talk at all. Moore's going to tell me he doesn't have a disability? Please. Snap is so affected by the anxiety that comes with her autism that she had to hold my hand to make a phone call until she was 14. She still doesn't like to make calls. She has trouble in school. She has trouble making and keeping friends. She can't make eye contact. She's undergoing extensive therapy to help her get ready to be able to hold a job. This isn't a disability? Puhleeze.

Moore and his ilk don't care about my kids. They don't care about your kids. They don't care about you. They don't care about your neighbours. They care about power and nothing else.