Jul 31 2013
When you are raising a child with special needs, it often feels like the diagnosis takes over your whole life. My daughter has autism and there isn’t a day and often not an hour or a minute where autism doesn’t occupy center stage in our lives.
It’s there, everywhere you go, throwing up hurdles and roadblocks, preventing joy, happiness, and discovery and sending your senses into overdrive at the drop of a hat. In those brief moments that you are not dealing with it, you are likely talking someone’s ear off about it or blogging about it.
For myself I find that any given day with my daughter involves a lot of strategizing on my part. I spend my day anticipating her day, trying to foresee where the trouble spots might be, what might be difficult for her and what might send her into sensory and/or emotional overload. It involves thinking ahead a lot about where we are going, anticipating where the hurdles might be, and trying to find a way to avoid them or at least anticipate them so I can prepare her for it and try to minimize the chance that she will be overstimulated enough to lose control of her emotions and behavior and sink into meltdown territory. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 11 2013
Summer vacation is upon us.
All over Facebook I see statuses of parents dealing with school being out. Grateful posts about not having to pack lunches quickly turn into posts about the hassles of shlepping kids to baseball practice or kids being underfoot saying, “I’m bored” 600 times a day and in between happy vacation photos and day trips and amusements parks.
In other words, the stuff of life. Or at least the stuff of life when you are a parent.
As the parent of a special needs child, I recognize these irritations but honestly, I also do my share of eye rolling when I read stuff like this. It’s tough not to shake my head when some parents’ biggest problems are that they cannot decide how many pairs of flowered underpants their kids need to pack to go to Jewish sleep-away camp for two weeks. It sometimes makes me cringe when I read stuff like this, not just because I think of friends who struggle financially and aren’t in the position to be able to pay to send their child to be cared for by others for two weeks. Or those, like me, whose kids just can’t participate in things like summer camp, because their needs are so specialized and they just need more attention and care than they can get in most summer programs. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 27 2013
Welcome to the Second Annual Jordana Horn Summer Reading List, in which I recommend books for your summer reading pleasure. Some are new releases; some you may have missed because you were “working” or “taking care of children” or some other time-consuming endeavor. If you do get a few peaceful moments this summer, though, any one of these reads would be worth your while. My list last year was deemed “too intellectual,” so I’ve thrown in a few suggestions of lighter fare as well. Please feel free to add recommendations in the comments as I am always reading and always excited to find new books!
1. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler
I read a review before reading this book. While I wouldn’t say the review “ruined” the book for me, it was definitely a spoiler. This book hinges on one key fact which I would think would work better as a surprise, so I will leave you in suspense. Suffice it to say that this book rocked my world: my perception of family interactions, and what a fiction book can accomplish were changed by it. I am so glad I read it, and think you will be, too.
2. Schroder, by Amity Gaige
Beautifully written story of what happens when an East German-born man who has appropriated a new American, Kennedy-esque identity decides to make a post-separation run for the Canadian border with his young daughter. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 21 2013
My little guy, safe in his car seat and not alone.
I have dozens of childhood memories that include me and my siblings waiting in the car for our parents. Most notably, I remember us waiting at the bank and my little brother, probably preschool age, backing the car into an adjacent lot. The story is told in jest now, and my mother was most definitely a helicopter parent of her time. That’s just how it was.
But it’s 2013 and we use car seats and bike helmets and you can’t leave your kids in the car anymore. There is no “running in” anywhere and even going to the bank to deposit a check is a full blown ordeal.
I ran errands one day last week and pulled my two kids in and out of the car no less than 15 times before noon. It was 80 degrees outside and I was taking our cat to the groomer. Here I am holding a 20-pound infant who is diving out of my arms with a cat carrier in one hand and attempting to wrangle a bolting preschooler with the other. Add the diaper bag and I’m a walking circus. Once I finally got everyone loaded into the car I realized that I forgot the checkbook and the grooming salon ONLY TAKES CHECKS. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 20 2013
I walk up and down the aisles of a local discount store, filling my cart to the brim. My kids are chattering happily about swimming suits, beach towels, matching flip-flops, and sand pails. I have an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“Mommy, what does the beach look like?” my 4-year-old son asks. We live less than a three hour drive away from the ocean, and even closer still is the bay, and yet he’s never been to either. “I know how to swim,” exclaims my daughter excitedly. “I’ve been practicing in the bath!” I smile uneasily. I know it’s time I really teach them to swim, to teach them all about water safety. I can’t keep avoiding it. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 11 2013
When my second son was 8 years old, he decided to that he wanted to go to camp. My husband and I were all for it. We went to different camps but we both loved, loved it. Did I mention loved? We both started our camper careers young, me at age 8 him at age 10.
We chose a camp, my husband’s alma mater, made the necessary arrangements early in the year, and talked about how great an experience it would be for him. We regaled him with tales of our camp adventures, boating, color wars, girl boy singalons, trips to town, hikes, camp outs, and ghost stories. Even my mother-in-law got in on the action; she told him about unpacking his father’s trunk when he got home and finding the new packages of underwear that she had sent unopened. Gross…but so campy… Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 20 2012
So, remember when I said that this summer my kids were doing… nothing?
I tried to stick to the plan, I really did. But then, I found out about this free dance camp for my 8-year-old son. (And if there is one thing I love more than making life easy for myself it’s things that are free .
And then, thanks to the articles I’ve written here on Kveller about my Soviet Jewish background, I was contacted by the Marks JCH of Bensonhurst asking if I might be interested in sending my oldest to Camp B’Yachad, a 12-day overnight program happening this August 22 to September 2, specifically for teens from Russian-Jewish families. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 6 2012
“Is this going to be our first fight?” my husband said to me at our friend’s Shabbat table. He said it jokingly–I mean, obviously, we NEVER fight because we are PERFECT–but it did make me think. It might be our “first fight,” after all. And who would suspect the topic of our first fight would be whether to send the kids to Jew camp or not to Jew camp?
Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 2 2012
“And what are your kids doing for the summer?” smiling friends and strangers alike ask regarding my three children, ages Just-Turned-13, Almost-9, and 5.
The smiles fade a bit, to be replaced by a somewhat puzzled expression when I proudly, answer, “Nothing!”
In New York City, home of IQ testing for 4-year-olds, enrichment classes in subjects ranging from Mandarin to Art Appreciation to My First Splitting of the Atom, and multiple websites to help keep track of Junior’s incredibly busy schedule, nothing is somewhat of a capital offense (if not outright child-abuse). Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 19 2012
If my life had followed the statistically expected trajectory, after leaving the Soviet Union in 1976, my family would have settled in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, home of the United States’ largest Russian-Jewish community. (It’s also very possible that I might have gone to Stuyvesant High School and thus met my husband about 15 years earlier. When, we both agree, I wouldn’t have given him the time of day. But, that’s another story for another time.)
We didn’t, though. We ended up in San Francisco, CA, instead. I stayed in California until the last week of 1994, whereupon I finally packed up and relocated to New York City. But, to Manhattan, not Brooklyn. Read the rest of this entry →