Happy Friday everyone! Today’s boy mom is Teresa from Embracing the Spectrum. She’s a mom of two sweet boys, Squeaker and Big Guy!
Squeaker 10/06 & Big Guy 03/11
Describe your sons.
Squeaker is my oldest son (he will be 7 in October on Halloween). He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder on June 14, 2011 by the fine people at TEACCH. He is has lots of needs, hates loud noises, and is easily frustrated. We are often dealing with meltdowns, but his good days make up for his bad days. He very much enjoys making his own little noises. We often joke that for a kid who is often afraid of loud noises (until he gets used to them), because he makes a lot of his own noise! Squeaker is a loving, energetic, silly kid, which makes it super easy for us to love him through all his challenges. He enjoys cars, especially his “guys” (from the Cars movie), trains, and books.
Big Guy is actually a little guy right now (born March 2011), but he is my big guy because he was such a huge contrast to Squeaker’s size at his age. He is 2 years old and already into some of the 3 year old clothes. In contrast, Squeaker was wearing some of his 3 year old clothes still at the age of 5. For such a little guy, he has a BIG appetite. This kid loves to eat! He is generally a very happy boy and has a huge personality already. He has an infectious laugh, is very ticklish, and loves to watch movies. He also likes books, cars, and his big brother.
How do you stay calm when surrounded by ALL that energy?
I try to take walks as much as possible, join in on their fun, and, if things get really crazy, there’s sometimes a glass of wine waiting for when they go to bed.
How do you instill gentlemanly behavior, actions, thoughts?
Ever since they’ve been old enough to utter a syllable, I’ve made them say “please” and “thank you” for everything. We’re all about manners around here. Squeaker is over the moon if he’s done something and we tell him that “that’s good manners” because he knows he’s done something right. Sometimes things get rough around here and it gets hard to really push those manner words, but we really think it’s important to treat others with respect and when things calm down, after the meltdowns and the crying and the screaming, we talk about why it’s important not to hurt people’s feelings. Maybe one day they’ll even understand (I’ll be especially pleased if I can get Squeaker to understand).
How do you maintain close relationships with your son(s) as they age?
They’re still young, so it’s still kind of simple. Hugs and kisses and playing games. I read to them, watch movies with them, tickle them, and just have play with them. It’s all about spending time with them at this age. I think as they get older, it’ll be about not annoying them, but we’ll see.
What do you like to do with your boys?
We’re big readers here (if you can tell from all my other answers), so I love to read to them. I also like to take them to the park and walk with them, play silly games, dance with them, tickle them, and chase them around the house. I love to do anything to make them laugh, because I love the sound of their laughter.
What type of sports/activities do you boys like to do?
Squeaker participates in karate. He’s currently a Little TaeGrr Yellow Belt (he’s still in the little kid’s class). We just started a couple months ago, and I’m so excited that he’s participating in something. We’ve tried soccer and gymnastics before this and he had no interest. This is a huge sign of growth in him.
Where do you like to shop for your boys?
I love getting clothing at Children’s Place or, if I really want to splurge, at Gymboree. Oh my Gosh, the stuff at Gymboree is so adorable, but I just cannot afford it. Children’s Place is usually pretty good, though, because of the amount of shorts/pants with adjustable waistlines. That’s really, really important for Squeaker, especially, because he’s so scrawny. Regular pants just fall right off of him.
What are some books/series your sons like to read?
We have the whole How Does a Dinosaur series. We loved reading those! They also love The Monster at the End of This Book and now we have Another Monster at the End of This Book. The Duck and Goose series by Tad Hills are also really cute and Big Guy really seems to like those a lot.
How do you handle violence in play? Some of this is normal “boy” behavior, but when do you feel it crosses the line? How do you guide them?
Honestly, I don’t even allow violence in play because it’s too much of a gray area with Squeaker. If I allow it in play, he will think it’s allowed other times. He doesn’t understand the boundaries. We used to have trouble with him tackling kids at preschool because of him and his dad rough-housing at home. He didn’t differentiate between those kids who were smaller than him and his dad, who was bigger than him. So, we just decided that we don’t do that here. No play-fighting.
Biggest mess your sons have made.
So, having a child with Autism, our messes can be pretty messy. Sometimes when he gets angry he tears his whole room apart. I walked into his room one morning to find all of the drawers out of his dressers, clothes on the floor, pages from a book torn out and on the floor, the bed unmade with sheets and blankets everywhere, and he had taken off his pull-up, which he had pooped in, and gotten poop everywhere. It was one of those times that you wish you could call those little scrubbing bubbles in and they’d just do all the work for you. Oh, the magic of the mess being lifted right before my eyes. Instead, it took me hours to clean up.
If you have a fighter, how do you handle?
I don’t have a “fighter,” but Squeaker is what you might call an “explosive” child. He is easily frustrated. He hits and bites himself and bangs his head when he gets upset. He has even begun hitting, kicking, and biting us when frustrated or angry, which is new for him. We have tried everything, as far as handling it goes. Consequences don’t seem to work. Reward systems don’t work. There’s no rationalizing with him. He’s on medication and we communicate with a therapist for him. She’s suggested a book (The Explosive Child by Ross Greene), so I’m going to try reading that and see if the things in that book help.
I love being a boy mom because______
my boys are so much fun and they give the best hugs.
Give us your best boy mom tip!
Don’t follow the “boys will be boys” mentality. I hear people say all the time that boys fight and that it’s totally natural. I refuse to allow my children to physically harm each other. I have the additional struggle of dealing with impulse control with Squeaker, but being a boy has nothing to do with it. They are brothers, and they should protect each other. This is what I want to instill in my children. There will be enough people in the world who may try to hurt them without them trying to hurt each other. For the most part, my children do not hit each other.
Teresa’s Something Special:
Teresa wrote this beautiful poem about her son with special needs and situations they are faced with daily.
You see us in the grocery store,
Or in the parking lot.
He’s screaming, hitting, even more.
You think that he’s a snot.
Parenting skills are what I lack;
That’s what goes through your mind.
That’s not how YOUR child would act.
You’d beat this child’s behind.
You judge me as you watch my strife,
Thinking the worst of me.
And you don’t even know my life;
You’re blinded by what you see.
What’s worse is that you judge my son,
not giving him a chance.
You think that he’s a rotten one,
without giving a second glance.
He’s screaming, hitting, biting
and he’s making quite the scene.
You don’t know why he’s fighting.
It’s the world that makes him scream.
This world that he cannot control
is too bright, too loud, too crowded.
The store is not an easy stroll
When you feel like you’re enshrouded.
He has a really gentle heart.
It makes him sweet.
We know he’s smart.
He can be such a treat.
It’s a shame you never knew him
To see what was inside
His charm can flow over the brim
When he’s not cast aside
Thank you Teresa for sharing that special poem and for allowing us to get to know your boys a bit better!
You can also chat with her on Twitter at @embracespectrum.
Make sure to read about the other boy moms and their little men!
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Thanks for reading!