29 April 2013

Clueless White Girl Post

I recently started reading more feminism by First Nations women and black women. It's very different, and very educational. I'm intrigued. And a bit baffled at times about how to be a good ally.

Okay. I admit FULLY to my ignorance. From the start. That's why I'm writing. Because I want to be clued in. I'm not so clueless as to expect one person to speak for their whole race, but I figure the only way to get the perspective of native people is to ask them. But I know some white people are just that clueless, and asking questions often gets me accused of this. So I don't ask. And then I'm still clueless. :)

 Let me give you an example. I saw a tweet from a woman who was angry about a quote about her reserve. The person in the article (or documentary? I don't remember) talked of the mindblowing poverty there. The FN woman was very offended by this. Or possibly just pissed off at the cluelessness of the speaker. She regularly posts that she doesn't need saving. I guess some people think she does. I don't know. From my perspective, on my privileged white ass, the poverty on some reserves is mindblowing. The water is undrinkable. The houses aren't winterized, even if they have electricity. I don't know how to wrap my brain around that. That's not racism. That's utter incomprehension. I know how it got that way, but I don't know what, if anything, I should be doing about it. The lovely lady who tweeted about it was clear she didn't need saving. Okay. But the Idle No More folks seem to be screaming for help. So how can I help? I vote for the party most likely to be helpful. But what else? How can I be a good feminist socialist who is also sensitive to racism without being That Kind of Person? You know, the kind who wears dreamcatcher earrings...

Speaking of that, the idea of cultural appropriation is another thing I don't understand yet, but want to. What's the difference between appropriation and appreciation? I utterly adore the handcrafted beaded barrette that I bought from a FN artisan downtown. I love the handmade moccasins I got for Pop. Am I being culturally insensitive having my very white kids wear these things? Or am I contributing by buying local?

I studied FN languages in University (mostly Cree and Assiniboine Nakoda), and spent a fair amount of time with some FN people. I was pretty good friends with a Cree woman from Manitoba. (No this isn't a "but some of my best friends are native"). She helped me be less racist. I had a best friend in high school who was Métis, so I thought I already wasn't. Ha. I had a lot of ingrained racism that I wasn't aware of. Probably still do. I'm working at it though. Pauline was pretty no nonsense, and one hell of a joker. She utterly adored when I spoke to her with her accent (and showed me off to her friends. "Hey! This is the white girl I told you about who can talk like an Indian!"), but called me out on it fast if I said something idiotic. Which was often.

So, now I don't have Pauline to run shit past. And of course, she didn't speak for everyone. She was pretty clear that I shouldn't ever speak with my Cree voice unless she was there to tell everyone it was okay. And even then, I got a few looks. :D So... I don't know how to ask without risking offense. But I want to be more sensitive. Help?

12 April 2013


I don't have time for much blogging these days, but I don't want to lose all of my regular readers, so dear comrades, here is an old story of mine. It's perfect for today because today I had to attempt to order replacement parts for this.

June 2010

Saturday: Got up, went to the Farmer's Market, got the very best cherry tomatoes in the world and ate two pounds of them in two days. No, really. Myself. Also got some sugar snap peas. Ate them, pods and all. Crackle had a few, Tony had a few. OYG YUM. Then we went to Canadian Tire and bought Crackle a trampoline. Brought it home and then Tony suggested a walk at Witty's Lagoon. He suggested this because he loves me. He hates hiking. Being allergic to everything doesn't help. Also, Crackle loves hiking and it tires him out nicely. So we walked the beach trail from the parking up in the left corner down to the beach.

Crackle and I walked in the water a bit and then we all walked back. Bit of a hike, that. I got a bit of a sunburn on my arms. Pop on his cheeks. Not much though. Thanks be to sunscreen.

Sunday morning, I got up early (for me on a Sunday), skipped church, and set to work on the trampoline

Okay... so it took me 7.5 hours. And why? Because I'm an idiot, that's why. What happened? First thing is to set up the ring around the outside. Basically, it's 6 curved pieces, joined by t joints. You just cram the curved pieces into the t on each side. So, that is so much easier said than done. Why? Because when one gets to the last piece, it doesn't want to go in very easily, and forcing it just pulls the previous one out. So I duct taped them (after swearing, getting Tony to help, sending Tony away for saying, "It's shit. Let's take it back" after 5 minutes of trying, trying again, swearing some more). That let me force the last piece in.

Perfect. Next, is the legs. Put the legs which are vaguely W shaped. Really low middle part of the W though. KWIM? So, these go in with one of those push-button latch things that you push down, slide the two poles together, and then the button pops up into a hole. So I start and WTF? The holes don't line up!

Tony: I told you, it's a piece of shit! Take it back!.
Me: No. This is stupid. It... SHIT! The T joints are turned around.
Tony: *laughter*

Unmentioned by the instructions, the T joints must be all turned in the same direction, and the hole must face inward. So I took it all apart, turned the T joints around, forced all the curved pieces in. Put the legs on. Flipped the thing over, and got the jumping mat out so I could attach the springs.


The curved pieces were on upside down. The spring holes were underneath instead of on top. O.Y.G. (aside: Oh Your God is my new favourite thing to say.)

So, I took it all apart again, turned the Ts upside down, effectively turning all the pieces around. Cram the rounded pieces in again. Put the legs... SHIT! When I flipped over the Ts, I inverted them. Stomp around swearing. Death glare to the laughing Tony.

Okay. So at this point, I'm mad, but this thing is NOT going to get the best of me. I took it apart again, carefully made sure all the Ts lined up, put the legs on, flipped it over, got the mat out and started on the springs. So... I'm not a very strong person, and the "Spring Hook" was missing. So I put on 4 of them and Tony did the rest. He used one spring to pull the other on. Worked well enough, and the good people in China provided us with two extra springs. YAY. So, Tony got those on, and I got the spring pads and covers on.

Break time. I got Pop down for a nap, and got a bit of lunch. Mostly those cherry tomatoes and some almonds I roasted too darkly the day before.

All right, Trampoline... let's get the enclosure on.

Now, the way the enclosure is attached is the poles of it are clamped to the legs of the trampoline about half way down. The enclosure poles don't touch the ground. They're clamped with a U bolt, with self-locking nuts on the prongs of the U. The bottom of the U is on the outside, so all the nuts are on the inside. PITA. So I grab the ratchet and socket set. Well shit. The sockets aren't deep enough. The instructions say to use an electric screwdriver. HUH? All I've got is a wrench. There are twelve nuts to attach, from behind. With a simple wrench? That won't go all the way around because it'll hit the other prong of the U? Forget it.

To Canadian Tire! Well, first to Rona, because it's easier to get in and out of. But the person there though that a vice grip was the only possible tool. Okay, so she's a possible tool. Anyway, I left and went to Canadian Tire. Stomped around the sockets grumping that there were no "long ones". Who knew? "deep" is the right term. Not me, apparently. So... finding help in Canadian Tire is like usually finding something at the bottom of a pool. You think you see it, but it slips away from you. And if you do grab one? Slimy. Well, I found one after some time, and behold, he was really REALLY good looking. Must be new. So I told him what I was doing and what my problem was. And he looked at me with this combination of amusement, pity, and respect that I found quite amusing myself. So, he took me over to the tools in automotive and found a deep socket in the right size. Not quite deep enough we thought, but it was the only possibility because the racheting wrenches didn't come in 11mm and the deeper sockets didn't either.

Home we go with my new 11mm deep socket for $6. YAY! Much better than the vice grip idea. Tony helped me get those on, because by then, I was a bit tired. Got those on, got on the net, and VOILA!


Woke up Monday morning and moaned in agony. Muscles I forgot I had hurt. Oh well... took a couple of Advil (after trying the herbal stuff that generally works)
Me: "Crackle, let's go jump on the trampoline!"
Crackle: No
Me: *silence* No seriously. Let's go jump.
Crackle: No
Me: Oh. Your. GOD!

(Note from now: Huh. Crackle still had the word "No" back then. I'd forgotten that!)

It all worked out in the end. Crackle adores the trampoline. He spends all summer on it. He spends half the winter on it. I bought new pads and a new net for it today after spending some interesting time on the phone with the Canadian Tire rep who insisted it had to have 4 legs, despite my staring at it telling him it for SURE had 3, and then locking myself out of the house - and the kids IN it - while trying to get the "version number" off the 3 year old tag on the mat. Thankfully, I'd left the front door unlocked.

04 April 2013

Adventures in Autism, part 2

Today, my 7 year old pooped in the the bathtub full of water. And he looked at me with more meaningful eye contact than I've ever gotten from him. He spontaneously signed 'sing' at the new volunteer. He's screaming happily at another volunteer now.

My 4 year old told the SEA to get away from him. He also did some really cute things like tell the dog to 'stop sneakin'. And he calls the character from Cars named Francesco Bernoulli "French Cannoli".

And my 18 year old got a work experience job. If she does well for 6 weeks, it'll become a paying job. She also had a bunch of bloodwork and her stress levels are insane. Got the results, and knowing what I know, it'll mean a bunch more bloodwork. Poor kid.

I did 1.5 hours worth of paperwork relating to their funding. And bleached a tub.

03 April 2013

Adventures in Autism

Today in Autism Awareness, Mommy nearly lost her mind. Crackle was so loud today. OMG. The shrieking. The random, ear-piercing shrieks that literally make my eardrums throb. And for reasons I can't begin to fathom, other than God hates me, Pop picked today to get extra sound-sensitive. As in, even before Crackle was screaming, I took Pop out to the garden store to get seeds. We got about 10 minutes into the 25 minute walk, and he started to cry that the cars were making too much noise. So I carried him back home, and we got into the car instead. He's been whiny and miserable. Snap has been utterly miserable because she needs to get blood work, and has been taking it out on me. She has an interview for a work study program tomorrow, so I hope she smartens up and doesn't rip their heads off if they ask her something she deems rude, like why she wants the job. Crackle pooped in the backyard. I guess he figures if the dog can do it, so can he. Ugh. So gross. He's shrieking and running and jumping and getting into everything. He's like a toddler on coffee and chocolate, except he's 7 and big and smart.

And to top it all off, I am hungover today, because apparently Flexeril is the one and only drug (to date) that works TOO well for me (I took half a dose). My neck is so sore and seized up. I have myoclonus and dystonia, and for some reason it doesn't respond to alcohol the way it is supposed to. I'm just not coping as well as I'd like.

02 April 2013

Autism Awareness is every day!

It's Autism Awareness Day once again. At least, it is everywhere but Canada, where we inexplicably celebrate it in October. *facepalm*

I wanted to say, "Is anyone still not aware of autism?" but a quick look told me that many many people aren't aware of what it is, even if they know it exists. The ridiculous prejudices that autistic people experience are still pervasive, even if the refrigerator mother theory isn't (though I've still actually seen this one spouted!).

Exhibit A. Autistic kids are:
 Yes, autistic kids are all of these things. Except when they're not. And FFS, can we stop using the word "retarded"? Don't be so lazy. If you want to insult someone, there are plenty of other words that aren't hateful toward those with intellectual disabilities. And if you mean 'intellectually disabled', say that.

Exhibit B: Autistic people are

Yes, autistic people are all of these things. Except when they're not. Well, I'm not sure anyone is a flash blog, but you know what I mean.

Some kids are smart. Some aren't. Some people are rude. Some aren't. Are you seeing the pattern? If you've met one autistic person (child or adult), you've met one. They're all different. Just like you and me.

And then there's the hatred and fear
Exhibit 1:

 Autistic kids should be killed?! That's the first hit on "autistic kids should"?! Do you see a glimmer of why I was so angry when I heard the media blaming autism for the Newtown shooting? I knew this would happen.

So, let me give you an awareness of autism on an average day in my house:
6am Pop wakes up, wants breakfast. Tony is the morning person, so he gets up with him.
7:30 Tony wakes up Snap for school. Snap cries.
7:40 Tony wakes up Snap again. Tells her to get up NOW or she'll miss the bus.
7:50 Tony yells at Snap that she MUST leave now. Snap gets up, puts on dirty clothes, either puts on makeup and does her hair or does nothing at all, leaving with bedhead and sleep in her eyes.
8:00 Tony tells Snap if she doesn't leave this instant, she'll miss her bus, be late, and will lose her computer for the evening. Snap calls Tony an asshole. OR Snap cries and screams. OR Snap curls herself into a ball and says, "I am so stupid and useless."
8:05 Snap leaves. Maybe makes the bus. Maybe doesn't.
8:30 Snap phones from the bus to apologise for yelling at me last night.
8:45 Tony wakes me up and then leaves. (Yes, I sleep in. You'll see why soon enough. Also, this only happens on the days Crackle sleeps in. But these are more often than not lately, so...). I drag my ass downstairs and make myself a triple espresso.
9:00 Crackle wakes up. This varies between 6am and 10am. But 8:30-9 is about average. When he wakes up, he gets his medicine. This involves me mixing up about 12 supplements into a nasty concoction and having him drink it. He does. Like a champ. Then he gets his seizure medications.
9:15 Crackle eats breakfast. Pop is either playing trains, watching Cars or Super Why, or running around after me telling me to sing him the ABCs in French. I check Google Calendar to see what my agenda is for the day. Check for appointments with occupational therapy, speech pathologist, counselor, behaviour consultant, school representatives, Snap's teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, dentists, specialists of various sorts. Call the autism funding unit to fix whatever the latest fuckup is.
10:00 The SEA arrives and takes Crackle upstairs for therapy. Pop has Second Breakfast. We think he's a hobbit. Or maybe a leprechaun, because his feet aren't hairy, and he only weighs about 30lbs, even though he's 4. Throw in a load of laundry and sit down and try to read FB or Twitter for a few minutes.
11am Pop and I do housework, or play trains, or go to the garden, or hiking, or grocery shopping.
12:30 Lunch
1pm I take a turn doing therapy with Crackle. Pop and the SEA do play therapy. Some days, like today, I have another SEA here. These days are rare, and I use them to catch up on laundry or chores that require going downtown. And somedays, I sit on my ass and read Twitter. Or blog.
3pm Get snack for the kids. Prepare a bunch of stuff to make for supper - all meals are from scratch. There are no convenience foods. At all. Nor are there restaurant meals. Maybe cram in picking up Snap from school if she's had a rough day.
4pm SEA leaves. Some days, another one arrives. These ones need training, so we do some training work.
5pm Start making supper unless it's a day with no late SEA, in which case, play with the kids.
6pm SEA leaves. Tony gets home from work. Start making supper.
7pm Supper is ready. Fight with kids to get them to eat something. Or, try to stop them from fighting each other to get the last piece.
7:30 clean up, get Crackle his nighttime meds. Put Jeopardy on the TV and call it brain nourishment.
8:00 bath time.
8:30 While ears are ringing from bathtime screams, wiggle kids into pjs. Brush teeth. Hold kids until they fall asleep. This usually involves some playing, fighting, arguing, singing, books, popping in on Snap to remind her  to do her homework, because otherwise it won't get done. Yes, she's in Gr12. Yes, it's still necessary. Threaten to shut down computer privileges. Listen to her call me a fucking bitch. Calmly respond that if being a bitch means making her do her homework, then yes, I will wear that with pride. Walk out and mutter swears under my breath.
10:00 Watch a 10pm TV show while cleaning up, baking food for tomorrow. Try to catch a few more minutes of FB and Twitter.
11:30 Fall into bed.
12:30 Crackle wakes up for the first time. Crawls into bed with me. I can't go back to sleep. Neither can he. Go crawl into his bed, which is too small and brightly lit. Let him play.
1:30 Fall asleep.
2am Crackle falls back asleep.
3:30am Get up with sore back and go back to bed. Be unable to go back to sleep.
4:45 fall back asleep.
6am Pop wakes up. Start over.

Every time they eat, they get supplements. So in there somewhere, I'm usually ordering new supplements.And, every time they eat, I go through a "well, what do you want?" "EH!" "I don't know what that is. Can you point to it for me?" "EEEHHH!" repeat cycle with Crackle. It's very hard to tell someone you don't want hamburger but you do want the ketchup when you are non-verbal.

 Yes, they work. No, I don't want to argue this point. I know, because we ran out, and it was awful. Every time I go into my bedroom, Crackle has a temper tantrum because he wants in there too, and he's not allowed during the day.

On top of all that, there's the usual stuff. Cleaning, paying bills, keeping the van filled up, taking the dog to the vet, going to the chiropractor for my messed up back. The usual.

And you know what? I'm not complaining. I love my kids. I love my life. It's crazy and hectic and awesome. Doing therapy with the boys is FUN. Really. Playing with them is fun. It's just different and a LOT of work (the cooking is really the hardest part). I do wish Crackle could sleep. That would help us all a lot.

Now, if you want to help, there are a few ways to do it.
1) You can send me money. I'm not kidding. I will use it to go back to the Autism Treatment Center of America for more courses. They're the best thing I've ever done in my life, other than actually having the children and marrying their awesome father. Any leftover money I raise I will donate to them so that they can give a bursary to someone else.
2) You can donate money to the Autism Treatment Center of America. Or the Victoria Society for Children with Autism. Not Autism Speaks. Never Autism Speaks.
3) You can offer to babysit a child with autism so their parents can go out.
4) You can offer to do free housework for a parent of an autistic kid.
5) You can volunteer in someone's Son-Rise playroom.