Mad weatherman…boo! Mad weatherman…boo!

The weather gods know when I’m home with J and they provide us with a healthy amount of rain to prevent us from seeking entertainment in the great outdoors.  One of the characteristics of Autism that J embraces with the greatest amount of gusto is the desire to cocoon, and he is relishing this weather because it justifies nesting on the couch, covered with a fuzzy blanket and keeping the curtains drawn to add to the coziness of the situation.  As long as J doesn’t do the rounds, gathering every single blanket, bedspread, comforter, afghan and shawl to pile on top of himself, I’m perfectly fine with this.

Don’t worry…the child won’t overheat…it’s less than 40℉ outside, it’s raining, the thermostat is set to 66℉ and he has the ceiling fans on in the family room.  I, quite frankly, am thisclose to wearing a parka and snow boots while I type this, but he’s perfectly content.  I suspect he’s bought stock in Twinnings, Stash, Lipton or Celestial Seasonings and is trying to guarantee a profit by forcing his mother to consume tea to keep warm.  Even the cats are confused by the differing climates: the third floor is warm and cozy, even though the rain and fog are more clearly visible through the windows and sliding glass doors; the kitchen level feels cooler, but still has a certain coziness in the darkened dining area; the basement level is cool, with warm crosswinds being generated by the space heaters set to “rotate” and, on the couch, sits an imposing figure swaddled in blankets, wearing a Rasta hat and smiling benevolently in the glow of the table lamps.  I don’t know if J’s trying to re-enact parts of Lost Horizon, but he’s succeeding quite well.

The rest of the neighborhood is quiet.  I would say it’s because of the weather, but we’ve come to realize that it’s just not one of those “hopping” neighborhoods.  People aren’t unfriendly, but they mostly keep to themselves.  Our theory is that, with the proximity to the hospital, almost everyone works shifts and so, like our son does, they sleep at odd hours.  We seldom see others, and when we do see them they are not the sort of people that greet you with enthusiasm.  This part, quite possibly, comes from the way things work in the world nowadays.  My husband says “they know we’re weird” in a very tongue-in-cheek manner and I think he’s right…we don’t look like the sort of people on whose door you can knock and be invited in for a cup of coffee.  Even if we did look like that, people no longer do that…right?

The only evidence we have seen of the neighborhood not being absolutely deserted during the holiday weekend is the dumpster.  On Friday afternoon it was emptied by the garbage truck and by three P.M. yesterday it was overflowing.  Since we only generated one small kitchen-size bag of garbage, there must be others here.  We saw some remote control toys being played with outside yesterday and on Christmas Day, but we haven’t really seen anyone operating them.  Either they are very agile children leaping from place to place and remaining hidden from us when we step out on the balconies or they are grown-ups guiding these apparatuses from their decks.  Even on our walks around the neighborhood we’ve hardly seen a soul…

Could that be why Christmas didn’t feel the same?  Maybe it’s because Christmas or the holidays in general are supposed to be suffused with a feeling of fraternity and community?  If you don’t really see your neighbors, how can you be…Christmasy towards them?

J doesn’t mind, though…now that the actual gift-giving portion of the season is over and done with, he seems a lot more relaxed.  He looks at the PECS weekly board and sees a long line of PECS related to being at home, being on vacation, relaxing…he personally found the one for COUCH and placed it there, as if staking his claim.  I suppose he knows that we have a whole week of being patient with each other before he gets to go back to school.

He has been very patient with me, I admit.  J reacts to all my exhortations to “hang out” with a benevolent smile; he sits for a few moments, allows me to entertain him briefly and then out trots the BYE! I know so well.  Once in a while he has come looking for me, smiled kindly and hugged me for no reason.  I know it’s for no reason because I have taken my shirt off a couple of times to make sure he didn’t wipe his hands on my back.  Yes, J would be the sort of person who would slap your back and stick a piece of paper that says “WIDE LOAD” on it because he dearly loves to laugh.  For example, he’s been giggling enthusiastically at one image from A Charlie Brown Christmas that he’s frozen on the screen; it’s the moment before Lucy says she waits for January snowflakes.  Once in a while J switches to the scene when Snoopy dances along to Schroeder’s piano playing…or when the kids are all dancing.  If you walk into the room and imitate the kids, J will find this to be the most entertaining thing in the world and you could keep him happy for hours if you continued to do this, but -of course- your knees are no longer 20 years old and it’s hard to sustain such movement for prolonged periods of time.  Once he hears the first loud crack issuing from your joints, J smiles and sends you packing with his BYE!

Maybe he’s trying to make it snow.  Maybe that’s why he looks at the screen with Linus and Lucy and the snowfall.  Maybe J is consulting with the weather gods and negotiating some snow…because there is a small, kind slope behind our unit and he could slide down, or at least try.  Because maybe the kids will come out then, and he won’t play with them, but he can watch them slinging snowballs at each other…  Maybe he’s just trying to change the weather so people will come out and show themselves, taking walks like we do.  Either that, or he’s got some stock in Lands’ End and thinks it’s time for me to buy a new parka…

With J one never really knows…but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if all he’s hoping to achieve is to bend the weather to his will…



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