Tag Archives: birthdays


Hello, it’s me, Nigel.
My plans for my 16th birthday, which actually is today, are of going to the Family Fun Center with my friends to have the party there on Friday. The Family Fun Center is where you can play video games or do some stuff outside like the batting cage, mini golf, or my favorite thing to do, in my opinion, is the go-karts. I’m really wanting to get my learner’s permit in driving, because I feel free, when I have my own ride.

Things at school are going fine for me, I have Algebra I, Video I, Theater Arts II/III, English 10, Life Science, and two study periods. As for my favorite class, I have two favorites, Video I and Theater Arts II/III. Speaking of which, for my theater class, I wrote a script for a musical play that I suggested to them. The homecoming dance was fun and exciting. But not as much as my uncle’s power washer. This is what I call empowering.

As for how I feel about my autism, I feel just fine about it. Earlier in the month, I saw the Temple Grandin film and it showed me someone else’s life that was sort of similar to mine. For when I grow up, I’m just wanting to be a filmmaker. Here’s one of my first short films, “Allosaurus Attack”:

Thoughts on My 15th B-Day

This is Nigel. I am 15 today and I have big plans for my future. I want to be the first of my family to be in space and on the moon. I want to be the first human being to set foot on Mars.


But for my birthday party plans, I’m planning to invite all 3 of my bestest friends for a sleepover party. For Halloween I’m going to be Ash from The Evil Dead Trilogy, the Ash with the chainsaw hand and the boomstick.

The things I like and dislike about getting older are these two things: one positive effect of it is I’m getting closer to getting to drive a car. The negative effect of getting older is that I have to discontinue trick-or-treating on Halloween.


Well, I’m going to watch Edgar Rice Borrough’s At The Earth’s Core. Bye for now.

A Letter to My Son on His 13th Birthday

We interrupt the Nepal travelogue to bring you this shocking news: I am now the mother of two teens! How is that possible?

photo taken March ’08, at Great-Grandma’s 90th Birthday Party

Dear Aidan,

Some parents will tell their teenagers that “it seems like only yesterday” that they were born, that they were learning to sit up or walk. And I’m sure it’s true for them – I’m not knocking it. But you and I both know that it’s been a long road in this family. And while I can’t believe you’re 13 (!), it doesn’t feel like yesterday that you were little.

Of course I remember holding you, rocking you, singing to you. But I also remember that soon after you were born, Nigel began exhibiting signs of autism, which we didn’t know at the time. And then both of you exhibited extreme sensory distress and significant language delays. For a while, I thought I had two boys with autism. And while you were never officially diagnosed, you also had special needs that had to be addressed.

But whether you had special needs or not, you have always been special to me, and important. I just want to make sure you know that. Because in spite of having your own needs, you have often had to take a back seat to someone whose needs overrode yours. And you have always done so with love and acceptance. I know you often felt like you were the older brother, having to look out for Nigel. When you were younger, you wondered why your brother acted the way he did. I know you still do. And I know it’s been hard for you, especially at school, to carve out your own identity separate from your brother’s and to deal with the comments of small-minded peers.

I so admire you for your perseverance, and your courage. You faced a scary health problem earlier this year, and I know how that worried you. I was worried too. I’m so relieved that the surgery was successful and that you’ve recovered. Your best friend moved away a few months ago, and that’s been hard for you too. But you started hanging out with other kids and made the best of it, and I’m so proud of you. You’ve even started eating new foods. You are resilient, responsible, and resourceful.

I love your amazing, intelligent, creative mind. I’m in awe of the questions you pose and the deep, philosophical discussions we’ve had. I enjoy curling up on the couch with you and watching movies. I’ve missed that so much this summer! And I’ve missed you. I’m sorry I can’t be with you on your birthday, but you’ll be home soon, and we’ll make up for it. I’m glad you’re having this time with your dad, because that’s important too. I know you miss him a lot during the school year, and you do the best you can with that. Like I said, it’s been a long road in this family.

Happy Birthday, Aidan. I’m so happy that you’re my son, for so many reasons. I hope that your first year of your teens is way cool!

All my love,


P.S. Being a teen has its privileges. You’ll be happy to know that I’m finally getting you a cell phone.

38 . . . um, Special?

I am thirty-eight today. And rather than discussing anything else with that number (revolver cartridges or bands), I’ll write about something more important to me.

When I turned twenty-two, I was in college, scrambling to finish in one more year, working full time and taking eighteen credits a term. It was nuts. I don’t know how I stayed on top of it. I realize now, of course, the if-I-knew-then-what-I-know-now, that it was nothing like the issues that came with having special needs kids, the single parenting, the working, the just-trying-to-get-through-the-day. But I certainly wouldn’t say that working my way through college was a cakewalk compared to parenting. At the time, it was a lot. It would be a lot at any age. And I’m sure glad it’s behind me.

So on my twenty-second birthday, I got up early, went to class, came home, worked on a paper, then went to my job as a clerk at a large chain drugstore. I walked into the back to clock in, and my boss called me into her office. “I see it’s your birthday today,” she said. “How old are you?” When I told her, she waved me off and said, “Aw, you’re a baby!” I walked out of there thinking, Hmm. How old do you have to be to get some respect? 25? 30? 40? I thought at that stage of the game, working my way through college, I’d earned at least a little of it.  

And now, sixteen years and a degree, a divorce, two kids, and a house later, I think I know what she meant. I feel like calling up that old boss, or walking into her office, and saying, “I’m 38 today. Am I there yet?” I’d like to think so. Because I finally realized that she was right. I didn’t get it at the time. I didn’t understand that it isn’t how busy we are or how old we are that earns us respect. It’s who we are. “Thirty-eight” might precede “Special” if you’re a band or a gun, but me? I’m singing with Aretha. She had it right all along.

Happy Birthday, Aidan!

Aidan\'s BirthdayAidan turned 12 on Friday, and we had his party yesterday, complete with a trip to the local water slides. Let’s hear it for summer birthdays! Then we came back home for pizza and a 5-kid sleepover. Needless to say, we’re all a little tired today!

Every year Aidan’s birthday is our kick-off for getting ready to go back to school. After his party, we have two weeks to buy school supplies and clothes, get in one last camping trip, and get our collective brains in gear. And that last part applies just as much to me as it does to the kids because I’ve got to plan Nigel’s homeschooling for the year and get back into academic mode.

So we’re enjoying this birthday weekend as much as we can, because we all know what it ultimately means: Back to the grind!

I can hear the groans already . . .