The Sonia Show

Writer. Mocker. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.


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Halloween and the cutest UPS driver

Yeah, so, this was the first year that my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin actually got a little excited about Halloween.

I mean, it wasn’t your typical nonstop talk of costumes and candy. BUT, for the first time, he put on a costume, understood it was a costume and actually liked it. In previous years, we dressed up Calvin in shit we wanted him to wear, because he didn’t care. And the “costume” had to practically not be a costume. It just had to a shirt and pants. No crazy hats, no masks, no weird superhero padded suits. So, he was Captain Kirk a few times, and last year he was Batman, because I found some cute Batman footie pajamas at Target.

This year, my mighty, mighty good man David came up with the brilliant idea of really trying to pick something that Calvin would like. Calvin is not into comic book movies or Pokemon, or any lot of the other costumes that kids want to wear. He likes Curious George, Daniel Tiger and the “Toy Story” movies, but he doesn’t want to dress up as those characters. Believe me, we tried.

Here’s what Calvin loves: trains, buses, cars, trucks and ceiling fans. Finally, David settled on getting Calvin a UPS delivery man costume. Calvin knows who that is, and he likes them. I knew he would never carry a package around with him, so I ordered him a little UPS truck to carry around.

On Halloween, I walked him to the school bus. I had the costume and truck in his backpack for the school’s Halloween parade. While we were waiting for the bus, I decided to give it a shot. I took the UPS truck out of his backpack.

“It’s a mail truck! Can I have it?” he asked.

“Of course. AND, I have something else you might like,” I told him. I took the UPS shirt out of his bag and asked him if I could put it on him. “It’s a mail truck driver shirt.”

He put it on, and he started jumping around excitedly.

“I’m a mail truck driver! I’m a mail truck driver!”

He even wore the hat, you guys!

He wore the costume all day. He walked in the school’s Halloween parade. He trick or treated that night.

We trick or treat on Chenery in Glen Park. It’s just a few blocks from our house, and the entire street goes all out. Tons of decorations, eager people on their porches with tons of candy (and wine for the adult trick or treaters like me).

Every adult loved Calvin’s costume, because all adults love to see the UPS delivery person. And, he’s such a polite trick or treater. At every house he said says, “Trick or treat,” and takes one piece of candy. He smells it before he puts in his bucket, because he wants the chocolate. (Sadly, that means no Smarties for me. Dammit!)

“Thank you very much,” he says. Most of the time, because he is so polite, people give him extra candy. Maybe that’s part of his master plan.

Then, after a few blocks of trick or treating, he decided he had enough candy.

“Let’s go look at the fans,” he said. “I’m all done.”

So, we walked over to the businesses on Diamond and checked out a few ceiling fans. Some people offered him candy, assuming he was still trick or treating.

“No, thank you,” he replied. They would look at us so confused. They looked like this.

What kid turns down candy? Our kid. It’s one of the many things that’s so fuckin’ awesome about him.

A few other random Halloween things …

We went to our friend Roger’s birthday party/Halloween party, and we dressed up as the carpet from “The Shining.” It’s probably the scariest costume I’ve ever worn.

But on Halloween proper, I decided to wear this cute Halloween dress I bought on Think Geek for about $25. It’s got black cats and pumpkins on it. I decided to wear a wig, and it turned into a Sonia S. Pumpkins costume.

The UPS driver and Sonia S. Pumpkins. Any questions?

Close up of the wig, glasses and dress (dress from Think Geek).

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The Sixth Sense

Yeah, so, today is my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin’s 6th birthday. He’s 6 years old, you guys!

Let’s all celebrate by re-reading the story about how I evicted him from my uterus.

#priorities by David

People assume that when you have a kid that you’ve always wanted a kid. The truth is I wasn’t one of those people. I wasn’t really interested in having children until I met my mighty, mighty good man David. He said he wanted kids, and I said, “Yeah. You’d be a great dad. Let’s do this.” That answer surprises people, but really, what the fuck else was I doing that was so important? “Meh. I’ve got a DVR full of ‘Law & Order’ reruns to watch, so good luck with that whole kid thing, David.”

I’m so glad I said, “Let’s do this.” It’s the smartest thing I ever said along with “OH MY GOD, YES!” when David asked me to marry him.

Calvin is THE BEST. He is so smart and funny. He is autistic, which means he has challenges, but doesn’t every kid? He is working really hard, and he is so patient and always tries to understand and be understood. He’s got the kindest heart. One of the aides in his classroom said to me, “Calvin is not only a good kid, he’s a good person. You’re raising him right,” which brought a tear to my eye.

Oh, and he’s got a smile that will knock you on your ass. I mean, COME ON!

I couldn’t be more proud of him. Happy, happy birthday to my mighty, mighty good boy!

 


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Word To Your Mothers

Yeah, so, during the Fourth of July weekend, my mighty, mighty good man David and I decided to take our mighty, mighty good boy Calvin to an Oakland A’s game. It was a fireworks night, and we thought he would enjoy the fireworks. [Narrator’s voice: He didn’t.]

At one point I went to the ladies room, and there was a mom behind me in line with a toddler in a stroller. The toddler was probably about 2-2 ½ years old. The big handicap stall opened up when it was my turn, but I told the mom behind me she should take it since she’s got the big stroller.

Well, she still couldn’t get the stroller in there. The stall wasn’t that big. Another woman offered to stand with the baby while the mother used the restroom, which I thought was really nice of her. Then the mother noticed that her baby was wet through her clothes, so she tried to navigate through the crowded restroom to the changing table. Another woman and I helped her with her stuff. “We’ve all been there,” I told her.

Just then a younger woman pushed her way through: “I’m just trying to pee. Get out of my way! GAWD!” And basically, every mom in the restroom gave her a dirty look. We practically hissed at her.

Yes, it was crowded in there. Yes, I understand when you gotta go, you gotta go. Still, shut up, dummy. Be nice.

This isn’t the end of the story.

By the 7th inning, Calvin said he had to use the potty. Actually, what he really said is “Uh oh. I went poo poo.”

Eeek!

So, I grab my ginormous mom purse, and we headed to the ladies room. I’m not going to get too gross here, but let’s just say … this shit was messy. I probably shouldn’t have let him eat an entire bag of popcorn.

Anyway, we’re in the stall, and I’m trying to get these pants off of him and clean him up, and Calvin is apologizing over and over.

“I’m sorry, mommy. I’m sorry, mommy.”

“It’s OK, sweet boy. Accidents happen. We’re going to get you cleaned up,” I told him.

He said sorry so many times that other women were chiming in:

“It’s OK. It’s just an accident.”

“Don’t even worry about it. It happens all the time.”

Then I realized that I forgot the wipes. I always carry backup clothes and wipes even though he’s 5 years old and potty trained, because the one time you don’t is the one time you’ll need them, right? That’s what happened here.

“OK, I forgot the wipes, honey. Let me get some paper towels,” I said.

I open the stall door to get paper towels, and there are none.

“OK … There are no paper towels,” I told him. “We’re going to have to do this with a ton of toilet paper, I guess. Don’t worry. We will get you cleaned up.”

And that’s when all the ladies in the restroom sprang into action.

“I need to change my baby anyway. Let me run back to my seat and get her and the diaper bag with wipes.”

“I’m going to run to the nearest food stand and get all the napkins.”

Another woman just ran out without a word, and returned a few seconds later with a bunch the napkins and paper towels from their suite.

“Thank you, ladies. Thank you,” I kept repeating.

“Oh, this always happens to me – the one time I forget the wipes,” one of them said.

“Or you remember the wipes but then you forget backup pants,” another chimed in.

“This happened to me with my son just the other day,” yet another woman said.

I was so grateful to these ladies. I thanked them repeatedly, and I went back to my seat to tweet my thanks, because that’s what I do.

When I’ve shared this story with some of my mom friends, they all have similar stories about their children having accidents and every mother within a two-mile radius chipping in to help out. Good job, moms. There’s a lot of mommy shaming out there, but I’m happy that sometimes we’ve got each other’s backs.


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Beach Talk

Yeah, so, we are back from our annual family trip to Santa Cruz.

In the past there was a big group of us, but this year it was just the three of us – just us MansTracys. The truth is we always end up doing our own thing anyway. My mighty, mighty good boy Calvin usually has his own autistic agenda, and it involves finding all the ceiling fans in the area. It definitely doesn’t involve going on roller coasters at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is fine by me. I don’t want to ride that stuff, either.

We started our trip with a stop at the Roaring Camp Railroads to ride the steam train. If you have a kid who loves trains, this is a must-do. The steam train winds its way through a redwood forest and stops by Bear Mountain, where everyone can get out and do some exploring.

Come on, ride the train.

Two bumps on a log.

When in Santa Cruz we like to stay at the Dream Inn, because we’re so fuckin’ fancy. Actually, I’m pretty sure we’re the opposite of fancy, but we do love staying there. It’s right on the beach, and it’s got a heated swimming pool. Every morning we order room service for breakfast and eat on the balcony.

Meh.

After breakfast, we usually walk the wharf, stopping into every shop and restaurant that has a ceiling fan. We usually tell the hostess, cashier, etc., what we’re doing and why. “He’s autistic, and he loves ceiling fans.” I realize that we don’t have to tell them, but I think it’s a good idea. This way, if another autistic person comes in, they will recognize it. Maybe it’s a silly thing to do, but I think it helps raise awareness.

We walked the wharf a few times a day, so all the employees in the shops and restaurants started to recognize us, and they always had a smile for Calvin. He’s really into naming shapes right now, so we walked the wharf and listed shapes: “square, circle, oval, rectangle, parallelogram, rhombus, star, arrow, heart.”

After we walked the wharf, we would go to the beach. We had a great time just playing in the waves and walking along the beach. During one trip to the beach, Calvin and I held hands and walked along the water until we ran out of beach. I got a little teary. The two of us have faced a lot of challenges in the past few years. Calvin received his autism diagnosis about the same time I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time. But here we were, walking on the beach together – healthy and happy.

Beach boy.

After the beach, we would head to the pool. Calvin loves to be in the water, and he’s getting braver and braver. He’s been working on his dog paddle, which he calls “dog piddle.” The Dream Inn has a nice pool. It’s packed with families, and there’s a bar (beer!) and a taco stand.

Pool boys.

One afternoon, we were in the pool, and employees came around and told us that we needed to get out because they had to clean the pool. It turned out someone dropped a turd off at the pool.

“Hmm, maybe setting up a taco stand next to the swimming pool wasn’t the Dream Inn’s smartest decision,” I told David.

“Mr. Hanky decided to go for a swim, too,” David replied. “Howdy ho!

Some folks nearby overheard David, and they started cracking up and talking about Mr. Hanky. It wasn’t long until we could hear the Mr. Hanky impressions going around the pool.

So, yeah, that was pretty gross. And I was so, so, SO thankful our kid wasn’t responsible.

We did walk through the Beach Boardwalk one day, but Calvin didn’t like it. He thought it was too loud, which was a change from last year. He loved walking through the boardwalk last summer, looking at the lights and watching (but never riding) the rides.

This year, he was more interested in watching the boardwalk from the comfort of our room. He referred to the boardwalk as “hockey island.” “Hockey Island is too loud.” “Oh, Hockey Island is closed.” Pretty impressive “Inside Out” reference.

We also hit a few Santa Cruz breweries, including Seabright Brewery, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and Humble Sea Brewing Company.  We got the Easy Money IPA and Blur IPA from Seabright. Very drinkable and perfect for the beach. I had the Devout Stout, because I’ve been drinking a lot of IPA lately, and I was ready for something dark. It was delicious, but the real winner was David’s Dread Brown Ale. We got a couple of growler-cans to go. On our way out of Santa Cruz, we stopped at Humble Sea. I got a stout based on Girl Scout thin mint cookies, and David got a northeast-style IPA, and both were pretty good. I was really impressed with all three places. They were terrific, comfortable spaces that were all dog and kid friendly. I’m always surprised by how kid-friendly other restaurants and breweries are outside of San Francisco. Other cities recognize that human beings have children, and that’s a part of life. San Francisco would prefer you get a sitter. Personally, I think some of the breweries in San Francisco could learn something from the ones in the East Bay and beyond. Children are a part of life. Get with the program.

So anyway, we had an awesome time on our trip, but it was nice to come home. We missed our animals. Toby spent the week with my mom. She told me that he really missed me, and he spent a lot of time staring longingly out the window. Our neighbor took care of Kubo for us. She said she’s not really a cat person, but Kubo has won her over. Kubo did the same thing with David. I think it’s her super power.

One of the smart things we planned with this vacation is we got back on Thursday, so we have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to recover. Most of the time, after a vacation, we feel like we need another vacation to recover from our vacation.

I’m so glad my double chin decided to photobomb our nice family pic.


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The Graduate

Yeah, so, Calvin is graduating from preschool.

I know, right?

His last day is Friday. He’s been there for three and a half years. He has grown so much since he first started. He was about 2 1/2 years old, and he could barely talk. He wasn’t even diagnosed with autism. Transitioning from a nanny-share situation was tough at first. His first day didn’t go super awesome. And for months, he cried when dropped him off.

Look at that little guy!

But the preschool and the teachers were/are awesome. Kaiser, the Golden Gate Regional Center and the preschool all worked together to get Calvin diagnosed and get him the services he needs. And as his communication improved, his enjoyment level improved. Now, he loves preschool. He loves the teachers, and the other kids are really sweet to him. He is clearly different than the other children in his class, but he’s very popular. He also has specialists from Easter Seals working with him almost every day at the school, and the school has been very patient and accommodating.

It’s going to be really difficult to leave. It’s going to be sad for Calvin, sad for the teachers and sad for us. The teachers adore Calvin. He is a really good kid.

We might be in for a tough transition. We’ve been trying to prepare Calvin, telling him that his last day of preschool is coming and then he will start at a new school. There’s an episode of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” about going to a new school, and we’ve been watching it a lot.

The preschool had a graduation party on Saturday. Calvin is never a fan of the preschool events, because it’s strange for him to have his parents at the school. We probably embarrass him, right?

Oh, and there’s a lot of people and commotion, and that’s not really Calvin’s favorite. Plus, there were bouncy houses, and Calvin thinks bouncy houses are bullshit. I know he would love ’em, if he would just try it, but he won’t even get in ’em for a second.

We knew that we may not get to stay very long at the party, and we knew that he may not wear the graduation robe or participate in the ceremony, but we always try, because you never know.

We were able to stay for a bit. When it came time for him to put on his graduation robe and walk with the other kids … Well, that didn’t work out. David waited with all the other parents for the photo op, and I went to the room to try to get Calvin into his graduation robe. I asked a few times, and the answer was always “No, thank you.”

I could tell he was getting agitated, so I just put it on myself. We stood in line with the other kids and did the graduation walk together.

I wanted to get our money’s worth from the graduation robe.

So, this week is going to be a little emotional for us in the MansTracy household. Leaving the teachers who have done so much for Calvin these past three and a half years is going to be a tough one. BUT, in an attempt to make the transition a little easier for Calvin he is taking a few weeks off before starting kindergarten. He’s going to spend four or five days with my parents. Then, we’re going on a family vacation to Santa Cruz, which will make us all happy.

 


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What’s Calvin Watching

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin caught a nasty cold.

The cold got progressively worse as the week went on, so by Thursday and Friday he had to stay home from school. He’s in good spirits, but I feel bad for him. He’s feeling cooped up, and in between playing and lining up his cars and buses, he’s been watching some uninspiring movies and TV shows.

Every once in a while Google Play offers a free movie. Earlier this year it was a movie called “Bunyan & Babe,” an animated movie about Paul Bunyan and his big blue ox. It’s not very good. It’s boring with very video-gamey animation.

“Bunyan & Babe” is one of those kids movies where the bad guy wants to destroy a farm or a town to pave the way for some big project that will make him a lot of money. I suspect most kids cannot relate to that and don’t give a shit. Although I bet Trump’s kids would watch it and think the property developer is the good guy who’s just misunderstood.

So anyway, now Google Play has kicked us “A Stork’s Journey,” which is about a sparrow raised by storks. It’s also got a gay parakeet that sings “I’m Coming Out” over and over, and a goth owl voiced by Jane Lynch.

The animation looks better than “Bunyan & Babe,” but it’s not a very good movie either. A stork family adopts this orphaned sparrow, but then ditches him, and he spends the entire movie trying to find them. WTF?! The storks are terrible people.

Oh, and in order to be accepted by the father stork who raised him the sparrow has to save another stork’s life. It’s kinda like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It’s not about people acknowledging how prejudice their way of thinking is and making it right. It’s more about the outcast proving to be useful in some way, so he/she is worthy of being accepted.

I’m pretty sure I know why these movies are free from Google Play.

Calvin has also been watching a TV show on Netflix titled “Tayo the Little Bus,” which is basically a South Korean “Chuggington,” but with buses instead of trains. Of course, “Chugginton” is just a ripoff of “Thomas the Tank Engine.” It’s the same shit. Here’s the plot of every episode: Bus or train character doesn’t listen to instructions, which results in confusion and delay. Oh sorry. Spoiler alert!

I really love it when Calvin watches “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” because I like watching it, too.

In other news, we have ditched overpriced Xfinity-Comcast and got a Roku. We love it so far. We can watch our local baseball teams through Sony Vue. Plus, we got the FilmStruck app, which has a TON of old movies and the Criterion Collection, so we’re stoked.

And speaking of old movies, we have a new episode of Old Movies, New Beer up for your listening pleasure. Inspired by “The Mummy,” starring Tom Cruise, we decided to watch the originals from 1932 and 1959.

We’re drinking Bravo, an aged imperial brown ale with a really high alcohol content, so you can listening to me get drunk and bash the Tom Cruise movie when I should be talking about the old movies.


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Miss You Much

Yeah, so, working in a new office with new people is a big change for me. But I kinda forgot that this is a big change for my mighty, mighty good kid Calvin, too.

For five years I’ve been driving him to nannyshare or preschool and picking him up, because I’m the one that drives to work. Mighty, mighty good man David takes him to school and picks him up sometimes, too — once a week, at least. But, it’s mainly been me.

Well, last week I was taking BART to work, so David did the dropping off and the picking up. On Thursday, David picked up Calvin, and he seemed a little sad. When they got home, Calvin saw I wasn’t there and started crying. And when I came through the door, he ran to me and we hugged, and he cried and cried.

He missed me.

All week long I was feeling like I was getting less time with Calvin because I wasn’t driving him. We have a nice, little routine. We listen to songs on his playlist that I made for him, and we talk about all the buses, police cars and trucks we see. I was missing that time, too, but I’m such a clueless dope that it didn’t occur to me that maybe – just maybe – my son was missing me, too.

What a dum-dum I am.

So anyway, one of my mom’s best friends, Jeanne (they’ve been best friends since kindergarten), lives just a few minutes from us, and guess what? She got goats! GOATS, you guys! GOATS! Look!

They are so goddamn cute. They are totally sweet and friendly. I want a goat so bad. But until that day, I will be visiting Jeanne more often.

 

 


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I Know You Are But What Am I

Yeah, so, the other night I decided to introduce my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin to “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” because I want to raise him right.

I remember my niece Lorelei loving this movie when she was Calvin’s age. Plus, I love it, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It beats watching “Bob The Builder,” which he has been asking for more often lately.

The trick with introducing a new movie or TV show to Calvin is to start the movie or TV show when he’s not paying attention. If he asks to watch “Curious George,” and I respond with “Let’s watching something new,” well, he’s not going to go for that.

This time, he was playing with his buses in the living room, and I started the movie without any fanfare. It wasn’t long before he did a double take. The beginning of the movie is so clever and colorful with really fun music. He was instantly hooked.

By the time, Pee Wee starts dancing to “Tequila” on a table, Calvin was fully invested.

And, just like me, he thinks the pet store scene is hilarious. He asked me to rewind it a few times to he could watch it over and over.

Since he liked the movie, I think he’s ready for “Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” so we will be trying that soon.


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Spaceball

Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good man David and I love to watch baseball. We want to go to more games together, and we want to bring our my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin.

He hasn’t been to a baseball game since he was a baby.

Gaaah! Was he ever that small?

A crowded and loud baseball game isn’t necessarily Calvin’s favorite place to be, but we want to try. Unfortunately, San Francisco Giants tickets are kinda expensive. We’re not sure we want to spend $50+ on a ticket for Calvin, if he demands we leave after 10 minutes.

Luckily, we’re a two-team household, so we can go to Oakland A’s games, which are waaaay more affordable.

Just a few days after talking about it with David, I got an email from Easter Seals Bay Area, offering us free tickets to the A’s game. They were hosting a “A Home Run For Autism” event at the game: free tickets, free sodas and free food. We had to buy our own beer, because duh – we’re not going to drink soda at a baseball game.

This turned out to be the perfect opportunity to reintroduce Calvin to baseball. We had an awesome time. He got a giant bag of popcorn, and he was as happy as can be. Plus, there were a lot of airplanes and helicopters flying overhead, and he loved that. He got a little nervous with the giant head mascots showed up, but that had more to do with all the people running over to get photos than with the mascots themselves.

We made it until the ninth inning, and then Calvin was kinda ready to go. Unfortunately, the A’s lost the game, but we still felt like winners because we got spend a beautiful day in the ballpark with our boy. We asked him if he liked going to the baseball game and he said, “Yes. I like spaceball.”


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You Drive Me Crazy

Yeah, so, I was driving to work and thinking about all the things I need to do once I get there.

“I need to send that email. I need to work on the video script. I need to fix our Google Plus page.” You know, a bunch of silly to-do list things.

Right as I was getting on the freeway, I noticed I was listening to the “Cars” soundtrack.

“Why am I listening to this crap?” I thought. “OH SHIT!”

And sitting the back seat was Calvin.

I forgot to drop him off at school! I was completely on autopilot and was driving to work without even thinking.

“I’m not going to school,” he said.

“You’re going to school. I went the wrong way,” I told him.

Every morning I drop Calvin off at preschool and then drive to work. Why today I skipped the preschool I have no idea. I’m so glad I didn’t get all the way to the office with him.

Actual footage of me driving.

Have you ever drive somewhere on autopilot? I’d love to read your stories in the comments.