Yesterday evening, as we sat on the deck that J had graciously allowed us to occupy for a while, the sky was pristinely clear, and the ice cream truck (a franchise truck that drove around tinkling out Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer) drew the entire youthful population that was running around the grassy common areas. Rain was far from anyone’s radar even though the weather forecast called for it today, tomorrow, the day after and well into Monday. The evening was so pleasant, warm and clear that we could have shrugged off the rain that was announced. Had we done this, the overcast morning that we can’t seem to shake off would have been a disappointment.
As of this moment, J is sitting outside, listening to his music while the sky still holds back its desire to burst into the continuous drizzle that NOAA is predicting. From the looks of it, puzzles, Legos and movies will be the order of the day for a while. Of course, chores will be a part of our schedule, and they will get done first.
I have decided to surrender to J’s management strategy. There is, after all, something in it for both of us. The housework gets done and J’s vocabulary is growing. He now pronounces TOWEL and WASH a lot more clearly, and he knows the proper signs and uses them as he says the words. In this weather, and as J basks in the opportunity to be outside while I sit in the family room, I am working on finding more PECS for more items and tasks that I’ve thought of since vacation started.
Aside from the early-morning dash to get things done, we’ve found a groove. J wants time alone; he also wants time with me, and he wants me to sit and be close enough to respond quickly, but far enough that I don’t cramp his style. The only thing he has been quite adamant about is not letting dishes pile up in the sink, and judging by the amount of ants that seem to come out of nowhere at the slightest provocation, I’m happy to follow this particular instruction.
All in all, we can’t complain. We can’t even grumble half-heartedly because we have been busy, but not so much so that we can’t think straight. We have been entertained, but each in our own way. We have collaborated (some of us more in the role of manager than others) in keeping the house habitable while it is constantly occupied. Not bad for the first few days of the newfound groove, I have to say.
The question keeps coming up: has J changed as much as I think he has, or have I changed? As much as he has learned to ease up on the things that trigger his anxiety, I have learned to ride the waves (some of there with more marked crests than others) that come my way. The word NO has become easier, less fear-inducing for me, less “you don’t love me” for him. This seems to have permeated the whole household. It is so much easier now than it was last year to simply state a fact that, before, we’d express with a certain degree of apprehension. And J no longer reacts as if he wants to elicit a negative reaction from us; he is willing to wait…all those timers, he is putting them to good use.
The rain has arrived as I wrote this. J has brought his stuff into the house and has had his lunch, then has come to sit in the basement. He is happy. He got his outdoor time; he watched people arrive and leave and come back to their homes. He looked over the railing and assessed the growth of the morning glories (which have, I kid you not, grown a minimum of four inches each day) and watered the squash and zucchini plants.
The afternoon will be spent folding laundry, sorting PECS, printing and laminating more pictures we’ve found, and we have a whole hatbox full of crayons and a rather big stack of paper we’ve recycled from old packages. We will make bread for tonight’s panini and we will sit on the couch and watch old cartoons. He barely realizes that it’s Friday because every day has had a similar quality this week, but we keep changing the board to announce TODAY IS and, eventually, J too will find the texture of the vacation-time weekends different from the vacation-time weekdays.
I am going to persuade J that it’s time for a lovely bath, with the scented soap he chose at the store yesterday. Coconut. That’s what he wanted, and that’s what he chose. Maybe we’ll trim his hair so that it doesn’t fall too low over his eyes. The rest of the afternoon is open…we will set the pace as we go along. Being without a hat for prolonged periods of time is no longer an issue for him, so we let him decide the when and where, and he is accustomed to always taking his headwear off while we’re eating. Little by little, learning happens…
Tomorrow we’ll go to the Farmer’s Market very early, then we’ll stop at home to leave our purchases and off to the movies we’ll go. Snow White and The Huntsman. I hope J likes it; J can sit through any movie with the right amount of popcorn to persuade him, but I hope he will also be interested in what takes place on screen. I would love to watch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but I really don’t think J would enjoy it; if we can transition from purely Pixar and Disney movies at the theater, three grown-ups in this household would be tremendously relieved. TGG has never let us forget that HE was the one who had to suffer his way through Space Chimps, and -because of this particular sacrifice- he still can negotiate things by making us feel guilty.
If change has been in the air and has started to settle over us, perhaps movies that are more apropos for the rest of us are in our future??? Maybe??? Hopefully!