The bicyclist

We spent money getting Tristan:

A balance bike (sometimes called a push bike)

A regular pedal bike with training wheels

A Razor scooter

A cheap shitty bike from Goodwill so he can try the size down and maybe be confident

He ultimately prefers the push bike. He’s pretty fast at it – I’ve clocked him going 6mph when he’s speeding along. He also listens like a fucking rockstar to directions while on a bike ride, though he sometimes needs reminders to follow rules like kids do in general. He’s wearing out the soles of his shoes and I’d like to see him train with pedals, but he’s just not ready yet. I have to remember to throw the idea of either of the other two pedal bikes at him when he’s bored out of his skull with riding the push bike, or if he sees his peers riding a pedal bike (maybe).

I’m probably sending Tristan (metaphorically) to the “New York School of Not Getting Squashed in Traffic” It’s pretty concise: keep your ass away from traffic and know where traffic is, I realized tonight that he’s more scared of traffic than we are. This is a good sign; he takes it seriously and probably won’t try to clown it out.

Kindergarten bullcrap is rapidly approaching. We haven’t had Tristan’s IEP meeting yet, but we have a feeling that his impulsiveness will cause him to need to remain in Special Ed in Kindergarten. Perhaps he will choose to ride the bus next school year. But we didn’t get into the school Tristan currently goes to, which has a 10/10 “score” probably on GreatSchools. There are two more possibilities now: the default school for our area or the school that has the Special Education Kindergarten (etc.) classes.

Four and a half

Holy shit, Tristan is four and a half years old!

What does this mean? Well, he’s signed up for kindergarten. His birthday is right on the edge of eligibility, so he will start the 2013-2014 school year in kindergarten. In our school district, kindergarten is full day! That will be good for Tristan and me both; not sure if Kirianna will miss him too much. It looks like he’ll probably still be in special ed, at least to begin with. He’s damn smart but he honestly has trouble not getting up and running around the room whenever he wants. Hell, he’s smart enough that I will look into supplementary programs just to challenge him intellectually if he still has trouble remaining stimulated.

One thing I’ve noticed lately is that if a class size is VERY small (1-2 people including him) he will respond decently, if a class size is large (20ish people) he will also respond well, but if the class is medium sized, he acts out either for attention or for reasons involving stimulation. In a large class, he doesn’t necessarily act like the model student, but he seems more like a little bit of a punk than the kid who won’t stop running around the room. I will need to bring this up during his next IEP meeting. His class at The Little Gym flared up suddenly from 5 to 20, and he hasn’t had a serious discipline problem since.

Tristan has started mumbling or talking like his mouth is full, or my hearing is going to shit. Maybe both. But he understands a request to repeat himself and/or speak louder; it just doesn’t always help.

Lately he seems to have gained a level in all of the neat things one can do on the playground. He climbs to the top of spider webs and he can sort of slide down firepoles, and he finally figured out the spiral pole thingie.

He’s doing very well with understanding consequences of his actions – well, for a 4 year old. He is starting to understand that if he misbehaves in certain ways, there are certain consequences. “No pbbt on mommy or you lose your puzzles” (yes, he still reverses his pronouns). That doesn’t mean he doesn’t break the rules a lot; he still does, but not as heedlessly as he had been.

The beginning of 2013

Hi! Tristan had a couple of weeks off from school, but school has resumed and all is well.

His behavior has been mostly la crapola. He’s apparently 4 going on 13, because his new thing is “let’s see if I can completely challenge my parents, not listen to shit they say, and still come away with all of my toys at the end.”

He has recently discovered our cats (you’d think he’d discover them slightly earlier, since we’ve had them longer than we’ve had him!) and that he likes petting them. Only he does not pet them the way an empathetic adult or older child might, releasing the cat once the cat appears upset. He tries to use cats as pillows, or he pets them hard enough to cure muscle pain a la The Karate Kid where Mr. Miyagi rubs his hands together really fast. In any event, he has trained the cats to be kind of scared of him, which is a shame because when he gets it right, the cats love it. And we have shown him and shown him and even shown him how to pet a kitty so that the kitty will not run away. They put up with a lot of shit from me, since I sort of stim out over the cats as well. But once he has a cat locked in his sight, he tunes everything else out – especially requests to get the hell off of the cat. So, he loves the cats. But he won’t listen to us when we a) show him how to not piss them off and b) stop doing what he’s doing.

He has also discovered that rules are subjective and is calling bullshit on that. For instance, graffiti exists. It’s not covering everything where we are since we don’t live in Gang Central, but some of it exists. Tristan notices that there is writing on the wall. I explain that it was not ok to write on the wall and that whoever did it is in trouble. He takes that to mean that since someone once wrote on a wall, HE may write on a wall. Thankfully, he has not written on any of ours at home, but we take him to a drop-off day care place called KidsPark and he most certainly writes on their walls. (The supervision is lax enough that I WATCHED him writing on the wall, yelled back to him to stop it, watched other kids kind of ganging up on him telling him to stop it, and no adult intervened.) I can almost bet that he wrote “No write on walls” or similar on the wall.

Christmas 2012

This year marks Tristan’s first Christmas where he understood it! Yay! It really made Christmas fun again, sort of like the whole seeing through the eyes of a child thing.

We gave Tristan the toy microwave he asked for (and that he remembered he asked for! Win!), a Razor scooter, a pair of roller skates, a toy hair dryer that he asked for (but that all of us forgot that he asked for), and a pretend tool set. He and Kirianna both got a big outdoor playhouse from one of my sides of the family that we have yet to let them play with due to the rain. Kirianna got an indoor play house thingie meant for babies her age that Tristan enjoys far more than she does. We still haven’t given them the stocking gifts.

We don’t teach Tristan that Santa brings presents to him specifically, but he has been learning about Santa in school and on TV shows. He’s especially been enjoying the Caillou Christmas episodes. (He relates to Caillou because he’s also 4 years old and he also has a baby sister.) He also learned about Hanukkah (fuck my spelling on that; besides, it has about 12 different spellings) at school, and I’m so proud of him – he recognized the icons and asked for some of them we found at Bed, Bath and Beyond today. For those of us we don’t chat much about this to, we are atheists who celebrate secular/cultural Christmas, but I find it very important for Tristan to be aware of other cultures and religions as part of our world, so he gets major bonus points.

Now that Christmas is over, he’s a little bit disappointed but generally ok with it. He’s still excited to see that people have their Christmas lights up, though.

We made a small attempt at Christmas dinner, but Tristan wasn’t interested in it. Not surprised at all.

The best part of Christmas was definitely that Tristan understood it. The worst part is that his sister is teething something awful and we’ve all been sick for two fucking months, so James and I have been sleeping in shifts because she has a bad concept of sleeping through the night.


Tristan is learning how to draw things other than letters and numbers. Lately he’s been working on elevators and microwaves, as well as stick figures. He also draws pictures of some stickers he’s been given. He actually doesn’t remember how to spell some of those words, but he does a good job sounding them out and forming an approximation (he has to label the contraptions, of course). He’s pretty good at remembering the correct spelling once he’s been showed.

Stickers. You can tell which vehicles have kids around Tristan’s age, because there’s a very distinct “sticker window” on one side of the backseat that contains all of the loot procured from grocery stores and the like. Ours desperately needs cleaning, but he has quite a collection.

Tristan’s elevator obsession is reaching new heights, both literally and figuratively. Instead of just being happy to be on an elevator, he wants to ride over and over again. He also wants to explore all of the accessible floors instead of just going where we’re supposed to go, so we’ve seen a lot of parking lots lately.

In Tristan’s new school, he has a buddy named Kingston. They’ve had several playdates; he also has a little brother the same age as Kirianna so she gets a playdate out of it. Both Kingston and Tristan are all about the high energy and wrestling and wear each other out very well. Tristan also plays somewhat cooperatively with him, instead of his usual attempts to get attention through being obnoxious.

Communication gains

Tristan is stating a LOT of observations, facts, and interests.

Today, he asked me if we could stop at Lucky (a grocery store, owned by Albertson’s) so we could get more “Thank you” stickers. Now, we were near a Lucky, but probably a mile away and definitely weren’t in sight of it. I was amazed as hell that he remembered where he got the stickers and that he asked to go there. Later on in the day, he started telling me about a basketball court he saw at a school we were passing. I had no freaking clue that he knew what a basketball court was, so I was rather impressed. (I know that he knows what a basketball hoop is for, but not that he knew any of the vocabulary behind it.)

So, Christmas is coming up. Tristan kind of gets the holidays now, so I wasn’t too surprised when he started pointing out Santa. (We never bothered to talk about Santa to him past the obligatory “Do you want to go get your picture taken with Santa?” offering yearly.) He notices Christmas lights and Christmas trees. We do not yet have our tree up; this is because it’s a small fiber-optic tinsel tree that our cats find insanely delicious. Any other sort of tree would likely be Kittened with insane glee, and to my chagrin. We’ve been explaining to him that Christmas presents are something that you can ask for and receive on Christmas, but I’m not sure if that’s hit home yet. He has made one Christmas gift request: a toy microwave oven that has Numbers that count down! And it Spins! (We promptly got him the toy, which he noticed sometime between the conversation about Christmas and checkout, and kept asking if he could have it now.) We also got him a Razor scooter. I can’t remember what else we got him so far, but we’re trying to keep it small because we have Too. Much. Shit.

Digressively, Tristan bumped the back of his head today so he’s back on head injury watch (someone’s ALWAYS on head injury watch in this house..). So far he seems fine. He was being his koala-self and spin-snuggling, and veered off toward the sidewalk. Ouch.

Trick or treat

We got to go trick or treating this year, and Tristan gets the hang of it! He also wanted to do some more trick or treating after Halloween ended. We did steal a lot of his candy, but he seemed to be OK with that. We dressed him as a dragon; either he really likes dragons (yay!) or doesn’t give much of a shit what his costume is yet (yay for a lack of drama!). But I think that he might be interested in celebrating holidays a little more after this.

Tristan started his new school in the middle of October. He likes it so far, although he misses the school bus a LOT. He asks to go on the bus just about every day when I go to pick him up. There aren’t as many kids in his class, but they all seem to be pretty tight so far. His school day is a little bit shorter than it was and there’s no more social group.

Tristan is now.. gasp.. able to go to sleep without requiring a parent sitting in his room or lying in his bed. He can be told to go to bed, tucked in, and he SLEEPS!!! We have been waiting for this for literally years. Two factors might have affected this, and who knows what else: we turned his bed upside down so that it’s now a loft bed instead of a canopy bed, and we’re no longer latching his door shut at night. Who the hell cares, either way – he can do it! That’s probably the most exciting thing that’s happened in a long time with him.

His usage of language improves a lot as time goes by; we’ve gotten some noticeable gains lately. He’s a veritable fountain of want – “I want to play with the water” and then about twelve seconds later, “I want to go in mommy’s car.” Rinse and repeat. But he uses the full sentences and gets his pronoun right at least half of the time (well, I/you/me – he’s not advanced enough for third person in most cases).

Today we went to two birthday parties for little girls he’s known for a few years. He was very good about sitting still when needed (he got a dragon painted onto his hand!) but got overstimulated and started flying around the yard/room at both of them. Not too bad – nothing I wouldn’t expect from any other four year old.

Four years old!

Tristan is now level four!

We had his birthday party at a children’s playground called Swaray. It’s a place you can rent out for a private party instead of having to go share the party with everyone in the world who’s also out on the weekend. I bring Tristan to play there most Wednesdays, so we’re well familiar with what he can and cannot get into trouble with. We had a handful of Tristan’s friends that we met at the old apartments and everyone ran around, had fun, and killed two hours rather quickly. We had chocolate ice cream cake and Tristan liked it very much. Tristan still didn’t blow out his candles, but he gave it a really good try and was assisted by his friends after he started getting frustrated.

Otherwise, not much has changed lately. School is back in, so we’ve been going with that routine again. He seems to thrive on being part of a group and having a set routine; plus, he isn’t bored by 10am because he’s out doing things. He’s now among the older kids in his class instead of the teeny tiny little 3 year old he was at the beginning of last school year. It’s still the same class, in essence: the same classroom, the same teacher, some of the same kids (whoever hasn’t aged out or isn’t starting kindergarten? I’m actually not yet sure how it works).

Tristan is getting the hang of “I” vs. “me” pronoun usage. I don’t think he’s even ready to explore “we/our” yet. He’s not perfect, but he has certain requests that he makes the proper way. When he’s being conversational or asking for help, he fucks it up a lot more. It will come in time. Lately, he has been asking for a lot of hugs and he says that correctly – “Mommy (or daddy), I want a hug!”

If you give Tristan a puzzle of the United States, he can correctly place California and Texas without any hints. He has also begun to correctly answer some of the addition tables.

The potty and potty mouth

Tristan remains considerably interested in toilets. I wouldn’t call it obsessed, but he does judge particular locations by the quality of the toilets. He seems to be racist against toilets: he will use white ones but not “black” (actually metal, not black) ones. He’ll get over that in time, though. Auto-flushing toilets seem to be difficult for him to use but he will agree to do it after getting to press the flush button a few times.

He is still not especially interested in doing the bathroom routine independently, but at this point he is capable. He either likes the attention or gets so distracted by all of the shiny playthings (hello, sink and bathtub!) in a bathroom, so he will wait for a chaperone. That’s one of the things we need to work on. I reckon he could even wipe his own ass if he was patient enough, but I’m not pushing it because we have such a tentative hold on poop going into the potty. (He asked for a diaper today, but we’re past that phase and I’m not going back.) I am just beginning to use cloth training pants for naptime, but I realize that overnight training will require freedom of the bathroom and I know damn well that we’re not ready for that. We need a “Tristan is awake and needs help” warning alarm so he doesn’t flood the entire house when he takes a sneaky overnight bath.

He can put his clothing on if he focuses on where the labels belong. I’ve had him doing his own shirts for a while and his pants and undies if laid out in the proper direction, but lately I’ve been tossing them down and having him figure it out. He understands that the tag or label goes in the back, and that there is a “pocket” on the front of the underwear. He gets really frustrated trying to figure out how to turn clothing inside out, so it has to be all right side in.

He’s been certainly repeating the swear words we’ve been uttering, speaking of potty-related concepts. He’s spouted out “What the fuck!?”, “I need help with the asshole”, and “Mommy, say ‘fuck me.’ Admittedly, he has learned this while driving in the car with me, because I most definitely have some road rage going on (thankfully, just the verbal kind lately – and hey, I’m from New York!). I’ve been coaching him to use the term “WTF” and being very low key about the swear words – I want him to learn that some words are private and may be said freely at home, but that some other people may not want to hear them. I really don’t want him to get the impression that words have magical powers.

How Tristan is this July

* Tristan has been going to summer school. He seems to like it better than he liked his former classroom during the normal school year. At least he says he wants to go to school now. We had the option to send him on the bus, but the bus schedule called for him to be picked up at 7am for an 8am class. Who thought it was a good idea to keep an autistic 3 year old on a bus for a friggin’ hour? But, I digress. School is going well. He still takes the bus home from school, which is only 15 minutes. And he’s afraid to use the classroom’s toilet.

* Toilets. He loves them. Flushing them, looking at the name brand on them, talking about them, trying to draw them (I cannot draw them much better, either), writing out the words ‘restroom,’ ‘women,’ ‘men,’ and ‘unisex’ while drawing bathroom doors (which he draws far better than I do – I can’t really draw a convincing door), and doing pretty well at pooping in the toilet at home. His fear of autoflushers is getting pretty nasty instead of getting better, unfortunately. He is especially afraid of the all-metal variety. But his anxiety can be worked through if you handle him gently.

* He loves his little sister and fully considers her part of the immediate family. He writes out her name along with his and ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy.’ He is happy when he gets to play with her hair. He still gets jealous if I need to feed her and he wishes I were playing with him instead. He expresses it by going into hyperactive ‘act out’ mode where he touches every single thing that’s forbidden to touch and starts being careless physically.

* He is starting to state a lot of facts. He’s going to say something truly embarrassing soon, I just know it. He will state that “Mommy is peeing in the toilet” or some version of that, depending on what he thinks is happening. But he’s making a lot of comments about what is going on around him, which is awesome. And it’s rather amusing that whenever we’re driving, he comments on the traffic lights – “Red light. Red means stop. One stop, two stops, three stops. Green light. Green means go.” and so forth.

* He has an app on his iPad that is meant to practice writing letters. Troll and ninja that Tristan is, he writes what is NOT being asked for. If the sample letter is uppercase, he writes its lowercase, and so forth. If it’s in cursive he writes it in print. He doesn’t write in cursive very often, but he will occasionally bust it out.. didn’t I learn cursive in fourth grade or so? His fun game of giggles is to draw a broken letter and ask me to say “fiiiiix iiiiit” and he will.