Since so many of you have come to love C.J. almost as much as I do, I decided to repost something I first published on December 7, 2011 … back when no one but other authors knew I had a blog. Hope you enjoy getting to know him a little more. And this is my favorite meal. Well, it still is, but ‘real’ dumplings will always be better than the gluten-free version – which I am adding to this one for my GF readers. 🙂
I don’t often see posts on Facebook about Autism, but I saw that a friend had posted this video about a young man with a form of the disorder performing in a talent contest…
I apologize but I can’t find a link that will play on the blog. But if you have the time to watch it on YouTube, grab some tissues. You’re gonna need them.
Wow! Not only for the performance, but the acceptance by the celebrity panel of judges…and the audience.
It’s videos like this that make me wish my office had four walls instead of three. But it’s more like an open family room, only office size. I sat through most of this video thinking, please don’t let my daughter walk out of her room! Yes, it made me cry.
I just thought it was very touching. It made me want to introduce you to my son, who is also autistic.
CJ weighed 1 pound, 12 ounces here. Those are my hands…and I don’t have huge hands. My thumb was bigger around than his leg!
While he’s not as high functioning as the young man in the video, he’s still pretty okay. He can have intelligent conversations with you (though he prefers talking about video games to any other topic).
He loves music, but after he got over his fear of the dark, I don’t remember him ever singing again.
Fear of the dark made him sing, you ask…
Oh yes. For some reason singing seemed to calm him down when he was getting ready for bed when he was little. In fact, he had one favorite song that worked the best:
Oh yeah, Barney was a hit in our house!
I can’t tell you how many nights I heard this song coming from the bedroom. And the closer he got to being ready for bed, the louder he would sing. By the time pajamas were on, stuffed animals ready, and whatever else needed to be done was finally finished, the volume would increase dramatically.
Raising an autistic child has been an interesting mix of sadness, frustration, sometimes anger, and always joy. This kid has given me more laughs throughout the years than I can ever remember. Some do come immediately to mind.
When he was around three years old, he liked to spit. I don’t know why. But it took what felt like forever convince him that it was not right to spit on things and people.
Once, while riding in the car, my oldest daughter yelled that CJ had just spit on her. I turned around to reprimand him and he looked me straight in the eyes, pursed his lips….and made a quiet ‘too’ sound,’ pretending to spit. It was so defiant…yet so cute I had to turn around quickly to face the front of the car again. When I finally stopped laughing, I turned back around and explained to him, again, that he couldn’t spit on people. Not even his sister.
He still tends to be defiant at times. And sometimes ornery if things don’t go the way he thinks they should.
***A quick addition here. When he was about 8 years old, he walked up to me after leaving the bathroom wanting to know why his eyes looked red. I told him that given how close it was to bedtime, they were probably just bloodshot because he was tired. Apparently the term ‘bloodshot’ wasn’t something he’d paid attention to before because he burst into tears, turned around and ran for his bed. No procrastinating that night!***
Moving on now…
CJ is responsible for two chores on a regular basis, one is taking the trash out to the little dumpster we have to set at the curb once a week. I’ve thought for a long time that whatever comes into the house triples in size because there seems to be a whole lot more going out than there is coming in. This phenomenon has not escaped my son.
In fact, it’s only been a few months since he accused my youngest daughter and I of figuring out some way to throw away more trash than anyone else in the world. I’m not sure if he thinks we’ve discovered a way to manufacture it while he sleeps or what, but he was not happy to have to take another bag outside that day.
Not really sure how to respond to that accusation, I did offer to start throwing everything on the floor so the bags didn’t fill up quite as fast. However, after pointing out that if we did that to make him happy, he’d be the one stuck picking it all up, he just walked away muttering to himself. Most likely about how weird his mother is…
Just a few more interesting facts about my son…
He loves…and would be a wonderful spokesperson for…infomercials. He also loves all of our pets, but mostly the cats because they’re pretty low maintenance. He can hold and pet them when he wants to, and they leave him alone the rest of the time. Veggies shouldn’t be, in his opinion, part of the food pyramid. Ever. Except for potatoes. As long as they’re not of the instant variety.
Yes, being the mother of an autistic son can be a challenge. But I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Would I see him ‘cured’ of the disability? In a heartbeat. Except you know what? I’ve found he’s a nicer person than a lot of normal people I’ve had the misfortune to meet.
A picture of CJ taken from a birthday cake. I think he’s a cutie. When he shaves the Shaggy (of Scooby-doo fame) scruff from his chin anyway.
Okay. Yes, I’m craving it again. No, I’m not pregnant. I’ll give you the stove top recipe, but I always cook the whole dish in my pressure cooker. Anyway, if you think you might like Chicken Stew and Dumplings, here ya go…
Brown 4 chicken leg quarters (with skin) in a bit of canola oil. Add a small pinch of sweet basil, 1 small bay leaf and salt to taste. Barely cover with water (I prefer chicken broth) and cook until tender.
While waiting, peel, cube and rinse about 6 potatoes. If you don’t have frozen carrot slices, peel and slice 3-4 of those, too. When chicken is ready, remove it from pan. Strain yucky stuff from broth and wipe pan out. Put the broth back and add veggies. Cook until almost tender.
While waiting for those, carefully separate meat from skin and bone. Be careful, it’s hot. This is also a good time to mix up your dumpling batter. You can follow the directions on a box of biscuit mix, or use the mix and add a little salt and enough milk to make it look right (my preference…hate dirtying measuring cups if I don’t have to).
When veggies are nearly done, add the pieces of chicken and stir. Spoon dumpling batter into boiling broth, cover, turn heat to simmer and set the timer for about 20 minutes.
***Gluten-free version for the dumplings***
I tried just about everything to come up with a dumpling that tasted even a little bit like the real things … and was disappointed every time. Until I tried them with Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix. (this is NOT an affiliate link so I won’t benefit at all from sharing)
I don’t measure anything, just dump some of the mix in a bowl, add a little unprocessed Celtic sea salt, and enough milk to make it like a dumpling batter should look – slightly thinner than a biscuit batter. Then I drop it in maybe 1/4 cup scoops into boiling broth (or the stew), cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until it’s not goopy when you pull one apart with a fork.
Pamela’s is also makes super good pancakes and waffles – if you put a teaspoon or two of vinegar in with your milk when you start mixing the dry ingredients. The biscuits don’t impress me, so I use Better Batter flour and they turn out just like the real thing. Even C.J. loves them! (click the blue ‘biscuits’ link for that recipe)
I always hated chicken stew until I tried it with the leg quarters. Apparently the dark meat, leaving the skin on and browning it really makes the difference. Well, so does the bay leaf. But I seriously love this meal!
Loved getting to know your boy a little bit more. He is SOOO like KT. Barney was super huge in our house as well as the video games. It tears me up too to see others accepting of our autistic kids, treating them as just as they would one of their peers. It’s even better when you find someone else who’s walked in your shoes and understands the joys, pains and complexity of raising a special needs kid. My honey and I have to read each one of your posts about CJ because it reminds us so much of KT, it gives us a smile and a reason to look back and laugh now.
I’m glad you get something out of my posts about C.J. There will always be people in the world who treat special needs individuals bad – one kid at school comes to mind, and there were days I thought I might be arrested if someone didn’t make him stop being so mean. Cause if they weren’t going to, I’d have been happy to take on the job myself. But most people are kindhearted, and I always appreciate that. It’s nice to know we’re not alone as we go through our lives. They weren’t what we expected, but they’re still good lives.
And yes. It’s fun to look back and laugh at some of the challenges that made us want to tear our hair out sometimes. The spitting issue thing in the car was the only amusing thing about that situation. And then there was his thing about dropping food he didn’t like on the floor. I’d finally had enough and told him the next time it happened, he was eating whatever it was regardless. Unfortunately for him, that happened to be a slice of bread and butter … which landed butter side down. It never happened again after that… 😀
Thank you Kristy for re-blogging this post about your son. I had missed it the first time. As trying as it can be, he sounds adorable. Both of you have seen each other through a lot. In the picture, he looks older than I imagined. Although I don’t know really what age I had in my mind. How old is he now? 🙂
He certainly can be trying sometimes, that’s for sure, lol. You’ve seen my post about trying to get him to eat healthier … what fun! (not!) He’s not a little boy, that’s for sure, but will likely always be about twelve or fourteen years old, though he sometimes acts like a grumpy middle-aged man. Life ought to be a lot more fun when he hits that stage of life. 😀