Wednesday, November 25, 2015

4 GREAT REASONS TO BE THANKFUL RIGHT NOW

4 GREAT REASONS TO BE THANKFUL RIGHT NOW

On the eve of Thanksgiving, my mind searches for the right reasons to be thankful.  "They're there..." I tell myself but the eloquence of their existence escapes me and I struggle to find just the right words to share at tomorrow's dinner where, friends and family will gather to eat, watch football and clarify the very reasons to be thankful so in a rebellious stance against tradition, I will give my four reasons I am thankful with no forethought, planning or consideration to grammatical perfection.

1.  I'm Alive

Yeah, it's pretty basic but as far as building blocks of gratitude I must say being alive is the most important.  I think it goes without saying that without the benefit of actually living the discussion about gratitude and its subsequent search becomes moot.  It goes without saying that being alive is one of the most underrated things on anyone's gratitude list but just watch this guy who was struck by lightning in the video below:

Sometimes, just thinking about the alternative (theological discussions aside) being alive is a really great thing to be thankful.  With this life, I now have an opportunity to explore what I am thankful for in more specifics as well as giving me pause to think about all those people I am thankful for that have passed on and don't have the opportunity to do the same so life in of itself is a pretty good one.

2. The Time to Type This

In your case, it's the time it takes to read this but think about how much free time we have in the year 2015.  Yes, it seems like we're busier but isn't that mostly because the forty-minutes of websurfing we did during our lunch break while playing Clash of Clans on our iPad just made our lunch break seem shorter...  Studies say the average American (with children) have 4.09 hours of free time a day.  Obviously, people without children have more.    When this is coupled with the fact that Americans average 8.03 hours of sleep a night (they certainly didn't get this stat from my house) the picture of our actual day seems even rosier...  But if you're looking for even more free time then check out this article about SIX THINGS THAT MAKE US FEEL PRODUCTIVE BUT AREN'T.  After you read this article of course....


3. The Internet

Think about it:  You have the entire world at your fingertips.  Right now you can watch the mating patterns of Big Cats, check the folk dances in Kathmandu or just watch dancing cats in of itself.  For all the complaints about what the Internet has done to in person communication its upsides definitely outweigh them...


4. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving

Okay, that's a cheat but it's true.  Tomorrow is a great day that is native to our country.  A day to give thanks, think of others in a way we normally don't do in the course of busy lives, show generosity with a kind word, act or invitation for dinner, and be grateful for all those around us while enjoying a meal surrounded by those we love, like and tolerate.  It's a day with no religious connotations to separate and its message can be lived each and every day.... Give Thanks.   That's what I'm thankful for right now...



Friday, July 24, 2015

10 Sentences That Will Make You a Better Parent


Parenting is tough.  Bookstore shelves (as well as my own) are filled with various books on how to do it better.  Of all that I have read on the subject, observed from other parents, and learned by sheer accident I have found these ten simple sentences to be the most important - and most effective:

1.   HUG YOUR CHILD - Daily.  Don't stop when they get older - teens need love, too.

2.   KEEP YOUR EYES AND EARS OPEN - "Helicopter Parenting" may be bad but so is oblivion.  

3.   CATCH THEM DOING GOOD - Acknowledgement of good behaviour usually promotes MORE.

4.   CONSISTENCY IS KING:  It's hard - but try to stay consistent.  It breeds safety and calmness.

5.   ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS:  How you live your life is your child's greatest teacher.

6.   TALKING IS GOOD BUT LISTENING IS GREAT!  It's not what you say it's what your hear.   

7.   READ EVERY DAY.  Read to them.  Have them read to you.  Read together silently.  Just read.

8.   BE HEALTHY:  Eat good foods.  Get good sleep.  Get your body moving.  Do this daily.

9.   STRUGGLES ARE OKAY:   Not every struggle is bad - Life has struggles.  They help us grow.

10: FORGIVE:  Yourself.  Them.  Often. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

AUTISM & T-BALL

My My Aspie son doesn't like sports - most of his weekend time is spent playing the Magic Gathering - usually with men twice his age and the occasional teen who also finds interest, solace and community inside of the extremely complicated game of dragons, warlocks, creatures and spells.

 But as I also have another son who is "neuro-typical" and his weekned afternoons are spent like most children his age - on the baseball diamond playing T-ball.


Today, in the middle of his game, I observed a young boy on the team that I determined to be on the Autistic Spectrum based on the simple observation that while the rest of the team sat together during the game, talking  to each other - this one boy sat by himself carefully inspecting the dirt in front of him as he mumbled to himself.  Each inning when the team was at bat he woud find that solitary clump of dirt and when it was time to take the field, he father would gently steer him towards right field while calling out for him to, "Pay attention, Jessie!"

When Jessie came up to bat, his team - trying to cheer him - started clapping in unison and shouting, "Let's go, Jessie, let's go" in unison.  Their simple chant turned to something painful in Jessie's mind  as several times during this at bat,  Jessie would step away from the T-ball stand to tell the children to stop teasing him or to be quiet.  The confrontation between Jessie and his teammates came to a head when the father, clearly feeling the anxiety and frustration of a father who simply wants to participate in the American custom of watching one's son play baseball, walked over to the plate,  escorted his son back to the dugout and signalled for the next kid to take his son's turn at bat - Jessie's 1st bat - cancelled halfway through.

I watched as the father lovingly implored his son to "Remember what we talked about... You said you were going to try your best..." and what I wanted to say, "But he is trying his best - that's the best he's got at this time".  This is not any proof of knowledge on my part but rather a shared history with this father as I have - more times than I can remember - implored, urged and even yelled at my son to, "Be good", "Do what you're supposed to" and "Don't be difficult".
"Can't you show some initiative and do it my way?!'"

That's the difficult challenge of parenting an Autistic Child:  They are born, they bang their drum and instead of marching to their beat, we, as parents, urge them to see their beat is wrong and focus all our efforts on changing the rhythm of their lives.

I saw on the father's face the same same fears, frustrations and personal shame that I have felt too many times to mention as a parent of a child on the spectrum.  I wanted to say something to him but discretion is the better part of valor so instead I walked over to his son - carefully focused on the dirt in front of him.

"You think any ants could live in this dirt?"  I don't know what made me ask him that but it just seemed like the most logical thing to wonder when inspecting dirt.

"Yes", he said without looking up at me.

"I don't know", I continued, "It's awful dry dirt - don't they need water?"

"Do you like Toy Story 3?" he asked me.

"Yeah", I replied, "I even cried.  Did you?"

"No.   The hook saved them..."                          

And we were off.... Trading notes on Buzz, Woody and the whole crew - even the alien toys.

Jessie's father looked over and later, I shared about our Toy Story 3 conversation.  We shared a laugh about the tearful end and I think we both realized - sometimes in life we think we're playing T-ball but we're actually looking for bugs or thinking about Toy Story 3...

The rhythm with our special kids may seem off but it works for them and all we have to do - if we can remember - is to not try so hard to get them to march to our beat but keep trying to learn to dance to theirs....

Alan Aymie is an LA-based writer/performer whose current solo play A CHILD LEFT BEHIND addresses autism, education and every child's first teacher.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

30 Shows in 30 Nights... No, really.... No, REALLY...!

"What am I doing?!?" 

This thought has crossed my mind more than once in the past week as I realize I have double-downed on a catchy phrase that is destined to make the month of March (not to mention April) an exhaustive endeavor where I attempt to perform...

30 Shows in 30 Nights...

Two years ago, I was performing my solo show, A Child Left Behind - an autobiographical story about my last year in a South LA school and my son's first year in a Beverly Hills school after being assessed with Asperger's Syndrome - in NYC and Woodstock in concurrent productions... (can't believe I used the word concurrent...) and during those 2 hour bus rides from the NY Port Authority and the Kingston Bus terminal, I realized that this show with all its props, set and costume in my backpack, was about as portable as it could get... So why not try to make it portable?

Last year for Autism Awareness Month, I performed the show that the LA Times called, "Compelling... A first rate education...!" at two different theaters... This year as I started to think, "I should try to do this at several different theaters..."

Then without any real reason why, that thought grew into, "Why not every night of the month of April..?"  That one thought prompted me to make a commitment to perform the entire month of April while raising money for Autism Awareness through my 1POWER4AUTISM donations page.

Currently, I will be performing my show at four different theaters in LA with more hopefully being added, along with schools, libraries and even a hospital community center... For some reason, that I don't know I am now emailing, writing and calling various spaces to host the show for a night or more - I'm not sure why, I'm not sure if I'll actually hit thirty this April but it sounded good and sometimes, that's all it takes...

video
Alan Aymie is a Boston-born, LA based writer/performer.  For more information, visit www.alanaymie.com