We could get used to this…

Do any of you remember Abdul the Bulbul-Ameer?  I don’t just mean the poem which is, in fact, Abdul Abulbul Amir and was written in 1877 by Percy French; I mean the Fred Quimby cartoon from 1941 which is based on the poem.  If you google the name of the cartoon you will see a picture of good ol’ Abdul…and that’s what we used to think we saw across the table while J was having dinner.  Not so much the size because J is taller, but definitely the bulk of the headwear…sans feather, of course.  (Thank goodness he never wanted a feather…can you imagine scrum cap, Rasta hat AND feather???)

J now removes his hat for meals.  J also removes his hat for periods of up to 35 minutes at a time.  J also gets ready for school in the morning while bareheaded.  This is a development we could definitely get used to, and we wholeheartedly plan to get used to it, indeed.  That J now laughs and coos and babbles happily while hatless is just icing on the cake.  That all I have to do is point to his chin and he removes the hats without so much as a hint of hesitation is a lovely cup of coffee with the slice of cake that has icing on it…

Leafing through photo albums and looking in the computer files, we have very few pictures of J without his hats on; there’s Christmas 2010…hats.  There’s Spring 2011!  Hats.  Oh, look at this one from Summer 2010, and that one from Halloween 2011, and the road trip to move out here last summer and our trips to the pumpkin patch.  Hats.  Hats.  Hats.  Hats.  J sitting by the Xmas tree.  Hats.  J showing off his new bedroom.  Hats.  J riding in the car or sitting on the swings or watering the plants or playing with his Legos.  Hats.  Hats.  Hats.  J sitting on the couch for a family picture.  Hats.  J going off to the first day of school.  Hats.  Sixteenth birthday.  Seventeenth birthday.  Hats.  In fact, many of those pictures are populated with hats, boxing gloves and Slinky (in all the generations we’ve seen rise and fall.)  And, I must amend, in the early stages of the Hat Phase, we had the boxing helmet on rather than the lower-profile scrum cap…

We’ve come a long way, baby!

I often wonder about how to explain to people what we do every day.  I mentioned yesterday we are “real people” and our lives are just not that outwardly exciting to those who observe us.  It takes some “knowing” or “walking in the same shoes” to fully comprehend how thrilled we are about slowly phasing out the hats that J’s been wearing.  I’ve met people who have said, point blank, “I’d just take the hats away and that’s that.”  These are the people for whom our explanations are worthless; these are the people who not only have “normal” children, but who wouldn’t have their children any other way, as if a developmental disability was a choice one makes.  These are the people we refrain from telling how we’re in the midst of removing J’s hats…what’s the point???

Remember the visit to the psychiatrist last week?  On that day we were told that J was tipping the scales at 262 pounds.  I called bull on it when we got home.  Unless the young man has a rather heavy tumor somewhere, gaining ten pounds while eating less and moving more is pretty far-fetched.  His pants, if anything, are looser…he’s actually wearing shorts that should, by all accounts, be one size too small…and they fit comfortably.  So at home he weighs exactly what he’s weighed whenever we’ve taken him for his checkup every three months.  The next time we go in, not only will his weight be better assessed (since he will be wearing lighter clothing associated with warmer weather,) but he will also (and this I vow at this moment) sit at the doctor’s office for his session without his hat.  The gauntlet is thrown…and stomped on…yes…

You may ask how I intend to achieve this and all I can say is patience and an egg timer, and boundless determination.  I’m sure J will cooperate because he is now more willing to accept that we keep our part of whatever bargain we’ve struck.  I think a level of trust has been established that wasn’t there before…we like to refer to it as “yes, you’re getting your hat back” trust.  We don’t move the hat from where it’s taken off, and we don’t try to persuade J to leave it down a little longer once the timer has rung and he asks for the hat back.  I don’t know if this was in Kissinger’s playbook, but it’s working for us.

The truth is we haven’t had to negotiate with things that are beyond the scope of what is acceptable, and we’ve somehow managed to strike a happy medium with J.  Snacks now stay in the box, unconsumed, overnight.  He can go a whole day without drinking his 8 oz. soda, as if he has completely forgotten that he’s allowed that.  He now shops without the urge to buy, buy, buy.  He now spontaneously reminds me of things that I have mentioned as we walk home from the bus…I no longer have to say “what do you have to take to school tomorrow?  Do you remember where you’re going on Wednesday?”  Yesterday I read on his book that they are going on a field trip tomorrow and he needs five dollars for his lunch.  When we got home, I took out the money and left it on the dining table; while J was putting away the dishes and cutlery we’d just extracted from the dishwasher, he motioned towards the five dollars.  I thought he meant something else, of course, because I am always underestimating the kid who will happily walk around without his hats on.  MONEY, he said, and he pointed at the quarters and bills.  I asked (like a dummy) “money?” And I got a roll of the eyes and MONEY!!!!!

“OK, ok, ok…I said.  I’ll put the money in your room.”  And up the stairs I went.

Below me, the sound of flatware being sorted into neat little piles was laced with a mumbled and mocking OK, ok, ok…meee mee mee…

And all the while, as he mocked his poor old mother, J wasn’t wearing his hats…

THAT is progress.

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