Introducing…My Son (and a recipe)

I don’t often see posts on Facebook about Autism, but I saw that a friend had posted this video about a young man with a form of the disorder performing in a talent contest…

I apologize but I can’t find a link that will play on the blog.  But if you have the time to watch it on YouTube, grab some tissues.  You’re gonna need them.

Wow!  Not only for the performance, but the acceptance by the celebrity panel of judges…and the audience.

It’s videos like this that make me wish my office had four walls instead of three.  But it’s more like an open family room, only office size.  I sat through most of this video thinking, please don’t let my daughter walk out of her room!  Yes, it made me cry.

I just thought it was very touching.  It made me want to introduce you to my son, who is also autistic.

CJ weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces here.  Those are my hands…and I don’t have huge hands.  My thumb was bigger around than his leg!

While he’s not as high functioning as the young man in the video, he’s still pretty okay.  He can have intelligent conversations with you (though he prefers talking about video games to any other topic).

He loves music, but after he got over his fear of the dark, I don’t remember him ever singing again.

Fear of the dark made him sing, you ask…

Oh yes.  For some reason singing seemed to calm him down when he was getting ready for bed when he was little.  In fact, he had one favorite song that worked the best:

Oh yeah, Barney was a hit in our house!

I can’t tell you how many nights I heard this song coming from the bedroom.  And the closer he got to being ready for bed, the louder he would sing.  By the time pajamas were on, stuffed animals ready, and whatever else needed to be done was finally finished, the volume would increase dramatically.

Raising an autistic child has been an interesting mix of sadness, frustration, sometimes anger, and always joy.  This kid has given me more laughs throughout the years than I can ever remember.  Some do come immediately to mind.

When he was around three years old, he liked to spit.  I don’t know why.  But it took what felt like forever convince him that it was not right to spit on things and people.

Once, while riding in the car, my oldest daughter yelled that CJ had just spit on her.  I turned around to reprimand him and he looked me straight in the eyes, pursed his lips….and made a quiet ‘too’ sound,’ pretending to spit.  It was so defiant…yet so cute I had to turn around quickly to face the front of the car again.  When I finally stopped laughing, I turned back around and explained to him, again, that he couldn’t spit on people.  Not even his sister.

He still tends to be defiant at times.  And sometimes ornery if things don’t go the way he thinks they should.

***A quick addition here.  When he was about 8 years old, he walked up to me after leaving the bathroom wanting to know why his eyes looked red.  I told him that given how close it was to bedtime, they were probably just bloodshot because he was tired.  Apparently the term ‘bloodshot’ wasn’t something he’d paid attention to before because he burst into tears, turned around and ran for his bed.  No procrastinating that night!***

Moving on now…

CJ is responsible for two chores on a regular basis, one is taking the trash out to the little dumpster we have to set at the curb once a week.  I’ve thought for a long time that whatever comes into the house triples in size because there seems to be a whole lot more going out than there is coming in.  This phenomenon has not escaped my son.

In fact, it’s only been a few months since he accused my youngest daughter and I of figuring out some way to throw away more trash than anyone else in the world.   I’m not sure if he thinks we’ve discovered a way to manufacture it while he sleeps or what, but he was not happy to have to take another bag outside that day.

Not really sure how to respond to that accusation, I did offer to start throwing everything on the floor so the bags didn’t fill up quite as fast.  However, after pointing out that if we did that to make him happy, he’d be the one stuck picking it all up, he just walked away muttering to himself.  Most likely about how weird his mother is…

Just a few more interesting facts about my son…

He loves…and would be a wonderful spokesperson for…infomercials.   He also loves all of our pets, but mostly the cats because they’re pretty low maintenance.  He can hold and pet them when he wants to, and they leave him alone the rest of the time.  Veggies shouldn’t be, in his opinion, part of the food pyramid.  Ever.  Except for potatoes.  As long as they’re not of the instant variety.

Yes, being the mother of an autistic son can be a challenge.  But I wouldn’t trade him for the world.  Would I see him ‘cured’ of the disability?  In a heartbeat.  Except you know what?  I’ve found he’s a nicer person than a lot of normal people I’ve had the misfortune to meet.

A picture of CJ taken from a birthday cake.  I think he’s a cutie.  When he shaves the Shaggy (of Scooby-doo fame) scruff from his chin anyway.

*****

Okay.  Yes, I’m craving it again.  No, I’m not pregnant.  I’ll give you the stove top recipe, but I always cook the whole dish in my pressure cooker.  Anyway, if you think you might like Chicken Stew and Dumplings, here ya go…

Brown 4 chicken leg quarters (with skin) in a bit of canola oil.  Add a small pinch of sweet basil, 1 small bay leaf and salt to taste.  Barely cover with water (I prefer chicken broth) and cook until tender.

While waiting, peel, cube and rinse about 6 potatoes.  If you don’t have frozen carrot slices, peel and slice 3-4 of those, too.  When chicken is ready, remove it from pan.  Strain yucky stuff from broth and wipe pan out.  Put the broth back and add veggies.  Cook until almost tender.

While waiting for those, carefully separate meat from skin and bone.  Be careful, it’s hot.  This is also a good time to mix up your dumpling batter.   You can follow the directions on a box of biscuit mix, or use the mix and add a little salt and enough milk to make it look right (my preference…hate dirtying measuring cups if I don’t have to).

When veggies are nearly done, add the pieces of chicken and stir.  Spoon dumpling batter into boiling broth, cover, turn heat to simmer and set the timer for about 20 minutes.

*****

I always hated chicken stew until I tried it with the leg quarters.  Apparently the dark meat, leaving the skin on and browning it really makes the difference.  Well, so does the bay leaf.  But I seriously love this meal!

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Introducing…My Son (and a recipe)

  1. Aw, CJ sounds like a great guy. 🙂 And… yum, I know what we’re having for dinner one night this week. 🙂

    • He is, thank you very much. At least most of the time. Some of the time he’s a typical kid (in other words, a brat!). I hope you like the stew. We’re having on Friday…poor kids, lol, they think I make it too often (3-4 times a month…in the WINTER). But they could eat McD’s or tacos several times a week, week after week, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂

  2. asraidevin

    Love it Kristy. This is close to my heart as I used to work an educational assistant and I have a niece with Down Syndrome who loves my son and puppy so much she just explodes with joy when she sees either of them.

    The spitting story is priceless. I can’t recall the number of times the little guy I worked with would make me laugh when I was trying to reprimand him.

    I learned so much in the two years, I imagine you have learned enough for several lifetimes.

    • I’m so glad to hear that, Asrai. So many people avoid special needs kids, and they don’t need to. With few exceptions, they need to interact with people who care about them, not people who shun them. And aww about your niece! I loved the kids in CJ’s class with Down Syndrome. I think because they love everybody back, no questions asked.

      LOL…yeah, the spitting story IS priceless. NOW. When he was three, though….not so much. Except for that instance in the car, and I always laugh every time I remember it.

      And yes, I have learned a great deal. Patience and tolerance being at the top of the list. 🙂

  3. CJ sounds so sweet – thanks for sharing & let him know that we also seem to have trash that multiplies!

    I’m definitely making the stew! It might even go over with my picky 5 yr old. 🙂

  4. He is sweet SOME of the time, Karen. And sometimes he’s….not. Glad we’re not the only one the trash fairies visit. If something had to multiply in this house, I’d much rather it be money. 🙂

    I hope you like the stew. I was completely stunned with how it turned out because I’m not kidding….I used to dread making it. On a scale of 1-10, 1 being the best and 10 being the worst, I rated chicken stew a 50. But switching to the leg quarters and browning it…wow. Seriously, I could have it a couple of times a week now and not get tired of it. The only thing stopping me is the fact that my kids would likely start making calls to have me locked up somewhere. 🙂

  5. We all feel our way to things that work for us, from spitting to singing in the dark to chicken stew and dumplings w/ leg quarters. After living in this world for 43 years, it still feels odd to me that some things that work GREAT for me emphatically do not work for the people around me. I empathize w/ CJ’s singing, your stew, and–of course–with the trash proliferation issues. Even when I was composting, our recycling and trash bags held more than we ever brought into the house. One of life’s mysteries. 😉

    • Hi, Shelly…
      Yeah, one of life’s mysteries that I’d like to figure out. I’ll be dropping a couple of 30 gallon bags off at the recyclers tomorrow because the ‘dumpster’ I rent (holds 4-30 gallon bags) is already full….and has been for a couple of days. Pretty sure we haven’t carried IN the equivalent of ONE bag in the past week so I honestly don’t have a clue where it’s coming from. Hmm… 🙂

  6. It sounds like you’re raising a wonderful son (and the chicken sounds delicious too). Thanks for letting us take a peek into your life.

  7. Hi, Marcy…yeah, I kind of like him a little bit. I’d like him more if he were a little more social. LOL..not really. He’s just already complaining that we have TWO Christmas parties to attend and, “No one should ever have to go to more than one.” Scrooge. 🙂

  8. Beautiful Kristy. Written from the heart. ❤ I understand what you are saying when you say you would cure him in a heartbeat but that he is much nicer than some of the normal kids you know. I see that, too, with my son. Mine didn’t spit so much but had a biting problem, and he loves to sing. But it’s not what you hear most kids sing. He sings movie scores and scores to the video games he plays. And he sings them over and over and over. But they have hearts pure as gold, don’t they? My ❤goes out to you Kristy. You’re such a good mom!

  9. Thanks, Debra. 🙂

    I don’t envy you having to deal with a biting problem. It was hard enough trying to explain the whole spitting thing to strangers, lol.

    Love the movie/video score serenades. I don’t get to hear that, but I swear CJ can remember dialog from so many things he’s seen that it drives me nuts. He’s forever coming out to my office and rattling off a line (or twenty), then asking me to guess which movie it’s from. The only problem is, I don’t watch nearly as many as he does so he’s often quite disgusted with me.

    And yes, they do have good hearts. The compliment means a lot, Debra, coming from the mom who spent a day at school a week or two ago helping kids learn about Thanksgiving. You’re a good mom, too. 🙂

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