Give me an O! Give me an H! Give me a C and R and A and P!

If it’s on the board, it gets done.  This is a fact, plain and simple.  If it’s on the board it’s going to be a priority.  If it’s on the board, there is absolutely no room for mother to finish her much needed cup of coffee because there are things to do, do, do, do…

Serves me right for putting things on the board.  (Can you hear me growling?  Can you hear the muffled expletives?  Donald Duck, where are you when I need you?  In fact: Caffeine!  Where are YOU when I need you?

As I type this it’s almost nine-thirty in the morning.  The kitchen floor has been swept and mopped, the dishwasher has been loaded.  Trash has been collected.  The master bathroom has been cleaned and you’d think we’re having an inspection because The Supervisor was very thorough.  The beds have been made, and if there was any way we could have combed the deep-pile carpeting to make it look more lush, J would have insisted it be done.

For all his hard work, J has been rewarded with the suggestion that he take over the basement-level deck.  That’s the deck with the nice chairs (as nice as plastic chairs bought on sale can be,) and the footstools (which are really cheap cube-cushions I covered with a vinyl tablecloth I found on clearance.)  The overall effect is charming and comfortable, and -since it appears J is quite happy there with his iPod and the umbrella and the plants blocking the path for any animals other than ours- we will never get to use the deck ourselves except for grilling.  It is a small sacrifice…so long as J is happy, comfortable, enjoying himself and not forcing me to barrel into yet another chore that I had the absurd notion to put on the board.

Before anyone mentions it, because even I would mention it, I have tried peeling things off the board and telling J “we’re not going to do that today.”  Of course, these are the moments when J’s eidetic memory kicks in and he can locate the exact PECS I’ve removed and he insists (autistic individual that he is) on maintaining his routine.  The other side of this particular coin is that, if I don’t put the schedule down early enough, J doesn’t appreciate what he thinks is unnecessary spontaneity on my part.  The soothing effect of the schedule for J goes hand-in-hand with how subjected I will be to his idea of when things need to get done.  It is a small price to pay…just like losing the deck because he is happy sitting there.

TGG has taken J for a walk.  There has been protesting involved.  The walks purpose is merely to get J out of the house and moving, and we’ve told him (because it’s on the schedule) that he’s going to check the mail.  That the mailbox will be empty is quite possible, but that’s a good walk for the morning and will make him happy once it’s done.  Yet another PECS we can remove from the board.

This afternoon’s main project is to make cornbread for tonight’s chili dinner.  This will take us about an hour and a half  from gathering ingredients and equipment to pulling out of the oven and letting chill.  We will also work on a more extensive grocery list that we need to buy tomorrow; I generated a good variety of PECS for the family shopping list, and J has been eyeing them with curiosity since he saw them on the pouch that hangs in the kitchen.  My plan is to read the next week’s menus off the board and call out what we need to buy so that J can select the PECS and put them on the list.  I could do this in five minutes, but where would the fun be if we couldn’t stretch it to nearly an hour and work on some more signs, right?

My days are now filled in spots that used to be quite lax and empty.  I have promised myself that I will take half an hour to read after J has had his lunch and we’ve cleaned the kitchen.  I have promised myself that I will use the timers and trust that they will do their job nicely.  How many of these promises I’ll be able to keep remains to be seen as J is more aware and involved now than he was a year ago.

The walk to the mailbox yielded a ThinkGeek catalog (out of which I’ve made two selections for the Christmas baskets where things are already piling up in the hallway closet) and coupons from the grocery store.  At least one of those things will serve later to keep J busy and improve his fine motor skills with a pair of scissors.  Every little bit counts.

As I hear J listening to Annie Lennox, Dave Edmunds, Liz Phair, Elvis Costello, Plain White T’s and Rickie Lee Jones, I’m glad that he’s found the great outdoors compelling, even if it means I don’t get to read outside while sitting on the deck.  I will get the BYE treatment if I try.  I will be asked to go WASH something.  I’m cool with that because it truly is a sign of easing into summer that J has settled so nicely into the cheap plastic Fake-dirondack chairs and the cheap vinyl-tablecloth covered cubes.  For now, the timers are sitting on the window sill facing him, with the screen blocking his fingers from messing with the time I’ve scheduled before we go into lunch prep…yes, my customer has made his intent clear, and I am willing to negotiate, but I won’t let him take advantage of my desire for peace and harmony by imposing his will…

We are testing the waters.  Dipping our toes and nudging each other closer to lines that we’re not ready to cross or erase for the time being.  It’s only the first full day…so, yeah, it’s oh, crap! time.  Maybe by this time next week we will be patting ourselves in the back and saying “see!  That wasn’t so bad, was it???”


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