Saturday, July 18, 2009

Friends And The Guys Weekend

This is a photo from one of those wonderful playdates. I picked up Liam after his last day of NOCCS camp on Friday. We had a playdate scheduled with Kai (right). But at the last minute, I offered to take Eli (center) home as well. This constituted almost half of the NOCCS Star Wars club. Note that each kid separately wore a Star Wars shirt to camp that day. 

This might be something that most parents would take for granted. But not me. Not that long ago, having a playdate with more than one kid at a time was a challenge for Liam. As a kid diagnosed with high functioning autism, Liam's primary challenge remains his social skills. In a playdate with one kid, he does fine. But add one more to the mix, and he tends to fall out of sync and withdraw. 

So it was great to see the three of them really groove together. They came home, at the gluten-free cupcakes they baked at camp, and then dug right into the Lego box for two hours to build all sorts of Star Wars related ships. And naturally, at the end, I was called into to film yet another Star Wars Lego Movie Adventure. (see our YouTube channel for several choice episodes in this ongoing saga).

On the most fundamental level, it's simply wonderful to see that Liam has friends, real friends. I suppose that every parent worries that their kid won't have friends. But this has been heightened for us, given Liam's long-time social issues. It's not that he doesn't still have challenges, but it's still a wonderful site. 

The playdate was the start of our guys' weekend. Jen took Kalian out of town for the weekend to a music festival. Liam and I hung out, watched The Incredible Hulk on Friday, and Indiana Jones on Saturday. We built our own version of the board game Battleship and played several rounds. And in general, had a nice, mellow time together. I only wish that life could always been this easygoing. 

Warning to those with sons under the age of 6: Prepare for the onslaught of Star Wars/Comic book mania that hits at the start of kindergarten. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Liam Deals With Emotions

Like so many things about parenting, watching Liam learn to handle his increasingly complex emotions has been a mixed bag for me. Lately, when he gets upset, he retreats to his room, gets out some paper, and writes me an elaborate note with illustrations to express his anger with me. So that's healthy, I think. He recognizes he has strong feelings, and wants to express them. He's still just learning to write, so he tries to sound out the words, though the actual note is impossible to read unless he reads it too me.

Unfortunately, the notes usually explain in some fashion why he wants to kill me. And the illustration includes some drawing of him stabbing me (see above) or some such thing. So, not so good, right?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Welcome To Oakland

Comedy troupe Killing My Lobster recently posted this fake travel promotional video for Oakland. Hey, I love Oakland, but sadly (and sometimes hysterically), much of this is true. And worse: we live near the fabled Temescal District mentioned near the end. But no, we are not hipsters in the least.

Back From Family Camp

This just might be one of my all-time favorite pictures of Liam. He usually hates having his picture taken. But he spent several days at Berkeley Family Camp hanging out with his friend, Ben. They've known each other for five years, but during out time at Family Camp, he and Ben really bonded. As we were heading back to our tent cabin, Liam put his arm around Ben, and asked me to take their picture. Wow. That has never happened.

In recent months, Liam has become often sullen, moody, and grumpy. I can barely remember the infant and toddler who almost never stopped smiling and laughing, and just seemed joyous all the time. I'm sure it's natural as he gets older that his emotions become a challenge to balance. But still, he gets so morose at times that it breaks my heart.

Which was why it was so amazing to see him having so much fun at Family Camp. He was constantly asking to go do stuff like fishing, swimming, or going to play with Ben. They made up a game called "Miniature Ping-Pong Golf" which involved building an obstacle course in the dirt and then using the camp's ping pong paddles to knock a ball through it.

In general, we all had a great time at Camp Tuolome, even better than last year. I'm going to post more later in the week, including a slideshow. But I'll just share this one for now. One of the great things about Family Camp are the meals, which are served family style in a dining hall with the camp counselors singing. But here's how you know that you're at Berkeley Family Camp: Dinner the first night was sushi.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kalian's Musical Taste

During the morning scramble of drop-offs, I left Liam at his camp and then jumped back in the car with Kalian to drive to her pre-school. I popped in a CD of Bob Dylan's "Good As I Been To You." The first track, "Frankie & Albert" kicked in, and from the back, I heard Kalian giggling.

"Daddy, he's singing funny," Kalian said.

Ooof. Thus I must step up my efforts to indoctrinate my children into my mania for all things Dylan.