The Meetings.

Back in early summer I began a new journey which I talked about here.  Well, since June 25th, with the help of Weight Watchers, I’ve managed to shed 22.2 pounds.  Yeah, hold your applause.  I’m not done.

Deja vu, I’ve been on this road before.  I go.  I lose.  I stay a while and then I think – oh, ok, I’m done.  I can do this on my own.  Slowly, I take a bite of this, or a sample of that, and before I know it, I’m lost.

I need to look someone in the eye, each and every week.  Someone who will read that number on the scale with me and hold me accountable.  Someone who will not brush the fat under the rug with me.

I’ve learned something this time around that I did not listen to before.  Something that, I’m sure was said, but I never chose to hear.  When they tell you, it’s a lifestyle change, hey, guess what?  They mean you need to commit yourself- for life.

I have to go in the building.  I have to be weighed.  I have to stay and listen to my amazing WW leader, Teresa, who inspires me to continue.  If I don’t, I’ll falter.

So, knowing all this, I pack up the kid and his iPad and go each and every Saturday to “the meeting.”  I do not do this with delight.  I dread this.  Why?  Because, despite how much I love and understand my son, he is still a 5 year old boy who must remain relatively still for the 30-40 minute meeting in which he has no interest, once a week.

Now, here’s the deal.  Other moms bring their kids. Why is it that I attend the meeting with all the other “perfect” kids?  Seriously.  There is one little girl who actually speaks during the meeting.  She is articulate and cute.  She’s polite.  And she’s quiet.   I’ve seen a little boy there too.  I barely noticed him because – yes, you guessed it – he’s quiet too.

My kid?  He’s got the volume on the iPad turned low.  He’s engaged in self-talk throughout the meeting related to whatever game he is playing.  He stands up.  He sits down.  He lets out little “whoops” when he gets excited about his game.  He’s sneaky and slowly inches up the volume on the iPad until I have to turn it back down.  I’m constantly shushing him and threatening to take away the iPad.

In order to make myself as invisible as is humanly possible under these rather humorous-if-you-really-think-about-it moments, I walk in to the meeting slightly late (I have to minimize his time there so he can actually sit through it.)  I always pull out a couple of chairs and make myself a new back row so I can be as far back as possible hoping for less disturbance to the rest of the group.  I sneak up to the front desk where someone nice will weigh me while I am close to the little monkey so I can be within intervening distance, if necessary.

I do all these things so I can have a chance of keeping myself healthy for my son, and minimize impact to others in the room.

Inevitably, I miss part of the dialogue in the meeting but I do my best to keep up.  The meetings are all about participation.  My problem?  If I participate, the kid is going to perk up and perhaps, engage in some participation of his own.  I don’t need that.

I do not have child care for these meetings.  Don’t try to talk me into going at another time, when the kid is in school because I’m working (and I get little enough time to do that).  The hubs cannot watch the little guy because he’s always working.  If I went on a Sunday instead of Saturday, I’d have a different leader and there is no way I’m giving up my leader.  She is too good, has known me since before my son was born, and she’s awesome.

To me?  The little guy’s eccentricities in the meeting do not bother me and I don’t think they bother most of the people who attend.  There are always a few though, who just don’t get it.  And I don’t expect them to get it.  They don’t know me.  They don’t know my son.  They don’t know my son has autism or what that means or why he must be with me during their meetings.

And, that means I get the evil eye.  Today, especially, I had my space invaded.  A woman I’d never seen before decided to sit next to me with the little guy on my other side.  She went so far as to look around me and at my son as though, by doing so I would engage her and apologize or look at her so she could tell me to keep him quiet.  Instead, I ignored her.

I just have to learn to ignore the looks.  I know that some people will consider my presence a disruption.  Overall though, it’s an accepting place or I could not have kept it up and lost this much weight.

It’s all a matter of priority.  I love my son.  I have to stay healthy for him.  I have to bring him to meetings.  People will stare.  I will suck it up and stay. End of story.

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About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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20 Responses to The Meetings.

  1. ElizOF says:

    Oh girl, you already gave me all the answers to the questions I had planned to ask. I suspect your WW leader already knows what you shared here, right? If not, let her know and then let the haters go to her for answers… What to do? The program is working and you are doing the best you can. It would be nice if you could get here on time even once in a while so you can enjoy the whole session… Can hubs cover even once a month/every two months? 😦
    Hang in there and congrats on your weight loss. efforts! 🙂

    • solodialogue says:

      Thanks Elizabeth! My WW leader is wonderful but she has a whole room of women who she leads each week and I don’t expect or want her to take on anything for me. I do get there within a couple of minutes of the beginning of the meetings usually and this timing is just right. Maybe someday, the hubs will take the little guy… but then I’d probably just miss his whole little disruptive self! 🙂

  2. Kelly says:

    Hey Karen! You know what? We get to have lives. Our kids are part of society. If people cannot be open minded, or tolerant, than forget them. Like you, I have very limited childcare options. They aren’t in school right now, The Hubs is deployed, and it isn’t Alex’s responsibility to watch the boys in all her spare time. I have taken them to (my) doctor appointments, out to restaurants, the grocery stores…all with varying degrees of success. The kids get better the mor they are exposed, as, I hope, do the judgey mcjudgers!

  3. Teresa says:

    Years ago when Matthew was little I talked to our Pastor’s wife about his behavior in church. (He did not like to go at all…too many sounds, rustling of people as they stood and sat, loud organ music, etc.) Pastor’s wife confided that when her kids were little she would always sit next to the worst behaving kid in church, that way her kids looked better. I remember laughing…because that was my kid.
    As others have shared, we can’t expect society to be understanding or tolerant if they never have the opportunity to see our children. Go to your meetings. Expect people to look. But just smile at them. Maybe they’ll want to sit next to you 🙂 If they do you’ll know why.

    • solodialogue says:

      Ha- the Pastor’s wife had the same idea as me – except my kid is the only one misbehaving in my environment! Hmm… I’ll have to use Lana’s stare, with Lizbeth’s “what?” and your smile. I only hope the hubs will come pick up the kid when the guys in the white coats come to take me away. 😉

  4. Lizbeth says:

    I’m glad you’re going and going with T. It’s hard though–to keep him engaged in something, to keep him from wiggling and to keep everyone from noticing you. I don’t get why the woman sat right next to you guys. It’s like going to the toilet at Sam’s or Costco and out of the 20 stalls, someone ALWAYS goes to the stall right next to me even when all the other 19 are open. I don’t get it. Next time just look at her and go, “What? What???”

    • solodialogue says:

      This is the reason I adore you!! You are so funny. It’s true! Why did she sit next to me when I had my own row? There were lots of empty seats. I think I will combine the stare Lana suggested with your “What?” and see how popular I am next week… 😉

  5. I hate the evil eye. I know I should be used to it, or be able to ignore it, or even say something productive when it happens, but it just makes me angry. Good for you for keeping on, and really good for you for those 22 pounds! I’m impressed and inspired. 🙂

    • solodialogue says:

      Look, I’m not running around an air conditioned track, like some people I know… 😉 but I’m trying! The evil eye is pretty disconcerting but I will not be deterred. Maybe by being stared down by a donut or some candy but not by the evil eye!

  6. Kara says:

    How awesome are you!? I know it’s hard (so unfreakinbelievablycandylovinhard), but you’re doing it like a freakin’ Rocky Balboa champ. I was (still am) so inspired by you I started working out with the geriatrics and was doing really well. But that picture of the sweeper guy you got up there…yeah, I only wish that was my fat he was sweeping under the rug. I digress…I think you’re awesome.

  7. Lana Rush says:

    First of all – congratulations on your weight loss! I’m a WW drop-out. In fact, just cancelled my monthly pass last month. I love it but unfortunately, I’m no longer bothered by weighing in front of the check-in ladies! I’ve got to do something, though…

    Anyway – I think you just keep on keeping on. You can’t live under a rock. My goodness, you’re doing just about everything but sitting in the outer room! And honestly, I don’t know why people can’t just be nice and cut everyone a little slack.

    I hate to reply with a post link but if all else fails, you can try my husband’s unique way of dealing with the stares:

    http://alongcamethebird.blogspot.com/2011/01/hes-got-look.html

    Hang in there!

    • solodialogue says:

      I loved the post link, Lana! Gave me quite a laugh. Nothing better than staring them back down…

      This is not my first time around the block with WW but I plan to stay this time! They better just get used to those slightly louder 11 a.m. meetings (lol!) Most of the crowd is wonderful. There are always one or two anywhere you go though.

  8. Amand says:

    Been there, done that. Even now that he’s 10 years old a meeting/restaurant visit/etc will be exactly as you describe…

    I hope you can find a mom to trade child care with, I found one and the exchange is vastly unequal (her kids are 10 time more “here” than my son is “over there”) but it’s worth it.

  9. Teresa says:

    22.2 pounds down is genuinely the large sucking sound of weight loss. I thought that you were looking svelte. BRAVO!!!
    There are people in that meeting that consider me a distraction too, “just give us the facts mam!”
    Someone had the nerve to give YOU the “stink eye!” She probably wasn’t feeling good about herself and was looking for someone to dump on. You and your traveling companion are easy targets. LOVE that you ignored her. Not once has there been enough noise from the “Back Row Babes” to warrant even a “stink glance.” I make more noise. I am sorry that happened.
    The 11:00 is your meeting and you navigate it in whatever way works. It never occurred to me that you were not part of the group; your nonverbals are priceless and quite vivid. You must be amazing in the courtroom. However, I understand the pull that you may feel having to do Mommy duty. Another meeting that you might feel comfortable at is my famous Oh! Dark-30 aka the 6:30am Saturday. It’s an amazing meeting full of extremely high-functioning folks. No need to shower, just show up. Childcare might be easier at that time.
    You are the best Karen. It’s wonderful to see you feeling able to take care of yourself.
    To goal and beyond, my friend.

    • solodialogue says:

      Haha! You are sooo funny! How could they possibly think of you as the distraction – you are the “attraction” there!! You don’t have to be sorry. You have been nothing but wonderful throughout. I would love to come to the Oh! Dark-30 but my trek to the temple of weight loss is a long one (35 minutes from home) so I come at that time to take the little guy on all the shopping rounds before we head back up in the hills to home…

      Mutual admiration society, my dear – you are the best!! To goal and beyond! Cheers! 🙂

  10. Denise says:

    Way to go Karen, even with the Crabby looks you get! I’d call it “The Stink Eye!” You give ’em hell girl!

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