And it stretches a little further…

I have the nasty habit of not reading newsletters that arrive in the mail.  It’s not that I’m not interested, but they are not at the top of my list for reading material on the way out of the mail room.  The first thing I do is open the bills and read those; if I’m going to feel faint, I’d rather do it in a narrow room where I won’t be exposed to the elements.  The second thing I read is any personal mail that arrives (which is NONE because people no longer write letters,) and then I leaf through magazines or articles while I wait for J’s bus.  After all that, I might pick up a newsletter and glance through the pages.  I admit I do not sit down to pore over them with too much interest.  THIS has to change…

On Saturday, as we were out and about running errands with J, my husband popped out of the car to go into a store J wouldn’t be interested in and I stayed with J in the car listening to the radio.  Ozzy Osbourne was playing and, to tune him out, I picked up a school district newsletter I’d left in the car over a week ago.  There were the usual articles about notable students earning scholarships and awards, plans for construction, a detail of Special Education laws as they have been amended in recent months (something I was unaware of and promised I’d read this week,) and the district calendar for the rest of the school year.

Remember Spring Break?  

Remember how it was last week?

Remember how today is Monday?

There’s no school today.

Yeah.  The look on J’s face when I told him was priceless.  You’d think I’d told him that Tigger had gone postal and killed every living thing in the Hundred Acre Wood.  You’d think I’d told him that Mr. Potato Head did, in fact, leave Mrs. Potato Head for Barbie…  He had the same look we saw on Luke Skywalker’s face when Darth Vader let drop the bomb that he is “HIS FATHER!”  

And then Dada climbed into the car and asked “why the long faces?”  I showed him the calendar.  He looked a lot like Bob Hoskins in that last scene from The Long Good Friday…(oh, just go to youtube if you haven’t watched the movie.)

This morning I sat down (quite early) and updated the entire family calendar using the school district calendar as reference.  I am currently composing a note to send tomorrow asking if certain dates (that seem suspiciously unclear) mean “early release” so that I can be ready for them.  I need to strategize this issue more finely…I don’t want to sit in the car giving bad news to a kid who already feels he’s been put-upon enough by having to hang out with his mother.

Oh, J loves me.  I know this.  He’s just reached the point of saturation, and I’m cool with that…there’s only so much one wants to do with one’s mom when one’s seventeen.

Easter was generally quiet.  J spent a whole four hours (spread out throughout the course of the day) without his hats on; he also walked down the stairs and asked for BREAD without anyone having mentioned the word.  He got Hawaiian Sweet Rolls for his trouble…when he wanted more, he didn’t get any because we now expect him to accept NO with as much grace as he’s been showing.

J wanted to go out on a drive yesterday and we took him to the bookstore.  I think there were only five other people there so J was comfortable with being able to move around at his leisure.  He went to the Children’s Books section and, spinning one of those little display carousels, he found a Barbie book that appealed to him.  Barbie and the Disney Fairies and Princesses are his favorites because they look…well…bodacious in their cartoon-like way.  He has his swimsuit calendar in his room and that’s all well and good, but J lives in a world where there is a built-in childlike wonder…hence the crush he has on Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid (when she has legs…oddly enough the sea shell/mermaid’s tail thing doesn’t really appeal to him.)

J chose the Barbie book and wanted me to carry it; he was saving face by handing it to mom.  I told him “dude, you want a Barbie book and that’s totally cool, but you’ll have to carry it yourself.”  He rolled his eyes at me and wandered away for about 25 feet before turning around and heading back to the same display.  Barbie dressed as a rock star might have struck him as kitschy because he put that book back and opted for Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.  After ten more minutes of exploring bookshelves and tables, we headed to the registers.  

Has anyone seen the book The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism by Kate Winslet, Margret Ericsdottir, and Keli Thorsteinsson?  As a general rule I am skeptical about celebrities putting out books about disabilities.  If they are fundraising for their own non-profit, I tend to arch an eyebrow (ok, I CAN’T arch an eyebrow…I push my brow up with my finger…and try to channel Vincent Price or Christopher Lee to very little effect) and move on.  I stopped for this book…I leafed through it…I bought it…

My suggestion: go to and take a look.  Read about Keli and his mom, Margret.  I am going to look for A Mother’s Courage: Talking Back to Autism which is a film about these tremendously exceptional people who, in essence, are not terribly different from other families with an autistic individual in their midst.  

You all know how much I worry about whether I’m doing enough.  That won’t stop.  I’m going to worry until my last breath, but now -thanks to the past week’s progress and this book that I cried over last night- I know J’s listening as I’ve long suspected and hoped and feared and wanted and encouraged and…

Yeah…you know what I mean.


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