Winter danced around us yesterday just as I was leaving to wait for J’s bus. The morning had been overcast and cold, with random light flurries that did little to leave their mark. As I was walking out the door, snowflakes the size of corn flakes started swirling around me. Half an hour later, as J and I walked home arm in arm, the snow had stopped and the sun was shining as if I’d dreamed the previous burst of precipitation. With the clock moving ahead one hour on Sunday, the arrival of spring is now imminent.
The early-release brought J home by one o’clock. He then took over the basement level and, from a tolerable 65 degrees, we dropped to what we like to refer to as J’s Frozen Tundra. No matter how hard we try, the child will insist on having the ceiling fans on and running at full speed. People who are walking around the kitchen in a t-shirt, sweatshirt and yoga pants are required to change into a jacket and beanie if they wish to sit downstairs with J. We suspect this is his way of marking territory and keeping us at bay.
I am happy to inform that, while he is not particularly enthused about the exercise we impose on him, J has learned to manage the snack box rather well. Many nights he goes to bed with snacks remaining in the box, even when I’ve reduced the amount of food I put in there. He is now concentrating on dinner. Sunday night it was gnocchi and chicken, last night we had chicken enchiladas with yellow rice. J doesn’t like enchilada sauce (red OR green) so I made him a quesadilla with chicken and using only one tortilla folded over. He ate it with gusto, and he asked for seconds on the rice. Because the rice was yellow, of course, J kept asking for CHEESE and had us stumped for a while.
This morning I told him that he will soon be switching to a lighter jacket. J has this unbreakable habit of wanting to wear the heaviest jacket he can find, even when it’s not cold. Every jacket, of course, is red, and I will soon have to take the heavy winter jacket (the one that makes it look like he can’t bring his arms down from a certain position) away. I showed him the red hoodie for slightly warmer weather this morning, and he looked unconvinced. I had to explain that he is not wearing his heavy snow boots anymore, that he has insisted on wearing his slip on sneakers and that it’s time for the bottom and the top to be in concordance. The look I got was withering.
The dynamics have changed around here. Not in a negative way. Not in a strange way. It’s just unfamiliar, in a sense. I am starting to observe J with a less clinical eye, and I’m noticing that some of the things I took for granted about his habits are the result of my acquiescence to the apparent necessity of those habits. J is a lot more flexible than I’ve been giving him credit for…can I get a hallelujah????
So here I am. I feel like I’ve had a birthday and I should feel different but I am just a little older…and wiser. Yesterday J brought out an old atlas that has been in my husband’s family long enough to still show the USSR, and -as he used to do when he was younger- he happily sat looking at pictures of the Balkans while listening to, of all the unusual choices, Haydn…a composer he’s never been interested in, but who was making him smile from ear to ear last night. And then he switched to Bette Midler singing the Rosemary Clooney songbook. And then he moved on to something else he found on TV.
TGG and I had a disagreement yesterday and I raised my voice. I raised it quite a bit. I was angry (and menopausal) enough to not give a gosh darn about whether J was going to be upset about my tone of voice. I actually got angry at TGG, set forth on a tirade (I was ranting and raving, I admit…with quite indecorous language, I admit) and J walked up the stairs, realized that TGG was getting the third-degree and, instead of getting upset and trying to save TGG from mother’s anger, he looked at his older brother with an expression that said “you’re on your own, buddy. I’m skedaddling out of here PRONTO!” The next thing we saw was the tail end (not a small one, either) of J as he motored down the stairs and back to his lair in the basement. TGG, Husband and I froze on the spot. We exchanged looks and listened for any angry, anxious, upset, nervous, volatile noises traveling up the stairwell from the basement. The only thing we heard was J giggling at something he was watching on TV.
Another looked traveled around the room, from person to person, and I continued my speech.
Five minutes later, once I was done expending my discontent, J came upstairs and met his brother in the stairs towards the bedrooms. Well, gee, dude…thanks for a whole lot of NO BACKUP!, TGG said. The most comforting sound in the world is when you realize your severely autistic teenager is basically laughing at his older brother and telling him, with a peal of laughter, “screw you. I wasn’t going to hang around and get some of THAT, thank you!”
I have visions of normalcy (of a sort) dancing around in my head…