My youngest child is at her senior prom. I'm at a local pub not drinking, eating good pub food and I'm desperately hoping she's having fun.
She'll never know how beautiful she is, not just to me but to everyone who sees her. I wonder if it scared her a little to see herself in makeup, with her hair up, in a formal floor-length gown. It didn't scare me. I see her as a incredible young lady whether she's dressed up or she's in grubby jeans and a stained sweater.
Meanwhile my eldest child is finding out about the work world in a way that no one likes to learn--through the frustrating process of endless job hunting in a bad economy, where people with no experience are forced to compete with people who are overqualified and desperate for any kind of income. And he's met someone his age. A couple of years older, actually, but how different she must seem from his high school friends. She has a job, is old enough to drink ... yeah.
I seldom thought this far ahead when I had kids, and I only could think that way in unfocused abstracts, especially since we had autistic kids. I think that turned into such a blessing in so many ways. I was never tempted to pigeonhole them or force them onto a track. Everything was up for grabs. Would they go to college? That was nothing--I wondered if they'd be able to make friends. Would they participate in team sports? Let's just worry about whether they would be able to stay in a mainstream school.
I don't think I ever set the bar low, or decided that they couldn't do anything they wanted. They did surprise me a lot, but that doesn't mean I didn't think they were capable. It was always about what they wanted to strive for, and I was never sure what they would want to do with the resources they had within themselves physically, mentally and emotionally.
My kids taught me how to be a supportive parent by unveiling the difficulties and exceptional capabilities given to people born with autism-spectrum stuff. If they'd been born 'normal' I wonder if I might not have turned out to be a crummy parent, that terrible combination of helicopter and controlling that only allowed them to be all they could be as long as that being was within the realms of my vision for them. I did too much of that as it stands. But they didn't, and I had to immediately let go of any kind of planned future for them.
And that turned out to be a very good thing. I'm not going to stress about my daughter going to the prom without a date or a gaggle of friends. She wanted to go to the prom, and she went by herself, and I did everything I could to make her prom night special within the context of her desires. Just between us, I'm proud of her, because I wanted to go alone but I chickened out and went with someone I didn't like so I could conform. Unlike me when I was her age, she is a true individual, and her high school class is full of like-minded kids. Amazing. I doubt they will bat an eye at her showing up by herself.
I'm not going to stress about my son not finding work either. He's taking a community college course on his own dime and looking and learning and discovering so much about what happens to a plan when it meets up with the real world. There's time yet to learn about how to work at a real paying job. Right now he's in the middle of plenty other lessons, and I can see his mind spinning and working and going into overdrive trying to figure out how to make things work. Part of that learning will involve trying to hold onto or fall back onto old habits that made life comfortable for him at home, and figuring out how well those habits serve him now.
None of this is about me, of course. But I'm going through a process too, not so much of letting go but seeing my children in a whole new way. Not as independent beings--they've always been that--but as rapidly changing beings. Like seeds growing into trees, they stay little for such a long time, and though they're growing at the same rate on a cellular level they seem to suddenly explode into so many branches and leaves that it's beyond counting.
I finally get to see them as the trees, and not just an assortment of leaves and twigs that I feed and water and nurture as best I can.
These weren't the pics I originally planned on posting. I've been going through my pics and I found these. I'd forgotten that I took them. The top one is of our beloved Nikita and goofball Beast, and the lower one is of our sweet girl Dakota who passed away so recently.
The kewl thing about chicks is that no matter how wound-up you are when you get home from work, they're reliably themselves. They live their lives under a warm red light eating, pooping, and sleeping. Oh, and peeping, of course. They peep in a similar fashion to sparrows, a very sweet, uplifting sound that relaxes me unless they're peeping in my bedroom at 2am, but we're not raising them in the master bedroom this year. I do vaguely remember how that peep cut through layers of blankets and pillows like well-aimed bullets. In a sweet, uplifting way, of course.
I'm still concerned about their health, but the fact that they made it through the night and they're all active is encouraging. They're also all eating. And eating. And eating. I think they're in a race to see who doubles their weight first.
I'll post pics soon--possibly tomorrow. This may be as cute as they get, though you never know. They may turn out to be very beautiful birds despite the rather plain-looking pictures I found on the web of their adult forms.
We got three black sex-link chicks and three barred rock chicks today. No ameraucanas this time, but they may have some next Friday, at which point we may pick up three more. We'll see. We didn't pick out the prettiest chickens in the universe, at least to my eyes, but they're tough, reliable breeds and they'll be good layers. Not that we need a gizillion eggs.
I still miss my original birds desperately, especially Cleo and Hero, and Henry, and that may be why I didn't decide to wait for ameraucanas and get only that breed. I don't want to think of these as replacements--they're their own birds with their own lives.
Of that original flock we still have Beatrice and one of the Wyandotte roosters. They're doing very well, although they're a bit perturbed about not being able to roam around the garden freely like they used to. Beatrice lays one lovely pink egg every day, despite having a mere quarter of an acre on which to roam. She's good at making due. The rooster seems more surly lately, and attacks me when I start to leave. I figure he's trained himself not to attack when we come in, because that might deter us from providing treats ...
I'm really anxious about introducing our babies to the older birds. In theory they'll all be hens (the feed store changed companies after customer complaints about having too many roosters) so the rooster probably won't object to them, but still. Fortunately that's a long ways away. They have to get all their outdoor, grownup feathers first. They'll still be peeping, though, when they move into the big coop, and I hope that will help the adult chickens look at them as non-threats. They'll look almost grown-up, but they won't really be mature birds until winter has come on, at which point they should be completely integrated into the flock.
They're fast asleep right now. Why is there always one that has to sleep with her head over the edge of the waterer? Her beak isn't dipped into the water and she's breathing fine, but still. Sheesh. That can't be comfortable.
We have a better chance of having all females this time around thanks to the change in company, but I don't know if the quality of bird overall will be better. I'm having my doubts. I've had to clean up two pasty butts already. I had only one sick bird last time out of the seven, and she ended up doing famously. I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope that these all survive to become big, healthy, happy biddies. It's not all hope, though. We'll take the best care of them that we know how. So far, so good.
It's all about living and loving in the Pac NW with all me aminals, especially the human beans. A husband, two kids, three dogs, two goats, two cats and five chickens (I should dress Beatrice up as a partridge for ... er, never mind) make for a busy life, even if I didn't like to write and paint. Did I say like? Obsess. I obsess to write and paint.