Early this morning, J insisted on several very specific things: that TGG’s car be parked in the garage and Dada’s car be left with easy access to the road, and that we not dilly-dally. The board stated, quite clearly, that we had places to go and things to do. This kid has a future as a tour guide, a drill instructor or a schedule compliance manager. We made it to the Farmers’ Market before nine in the morning. The only thing J didn’t like about our early arrival was the presence of the early-morning contingent of the Twilight Bark; dogs in every size and degree of furriness surrounded him…Indiana Jones took the wall-to-wall snakes in the Well of Souls with a little more composure.
We navigated. We successfully navigated in spite of the sudden appearance, here and there, of canines of every size. Oddly enough, it was the dachshund (low to the ground and concealed my a sea of human legs) that gave him most pause. The West Highland Terrier startled J, but we found a safe and dog-less area where we could observe the “enemy” without a blind spot.
Our mission was accomplished: big, luscious, juicy organic tomatoes were purchased; Havarti was acquired (last week we’d been denied this pleasure by our late arrival,) and FINALLY a beekeeper was selling his wares. A few more steps and we got bread and a cinnamon roll from the stand-alone bakery. All this, thank you, before even nine-thirty in the morning.
The library was next. The librarian now recognizes J and smiles at him quite kindly. He seldom borrows anything, but he stands happily in front of the VHS tapes that he can’t watch at home, but which remind him of his youth. I know…to us it was yesterday, to him it was many appliances (and much technology) ago. As he approaches the desk at the end of our visit, he has the same happily nostalgic look that old men have when they run into the first pretty girl they kissed…there is no longing, but the memory still pleases them.
Cheese doesn’t wait patiently in the car so we drove home and dropped our purchases off. The plan for the morning included the Farmers’ Market, the library, taking our recycling to the bins at the mall, going to the movies and then having some lunch. Car loaded up with plastic and cardboard (which reduce our trash to virtually nothing!,) we headed out to the movies. I had signed to J “Snow White” and he was excited at the prospect; the schedule, thank goodness, was being followed to the letter…
A voice floated from the backseat of the van, rising over the music being piped through the speakers. “What did he say?,” my husband asked me. It’s not that he doesn’t understand J; we have simply reached that age where our hearing isn’t what it used to be, especially when it has to compete with Pink Floyd. The expanding hum of the music made me wonder if Id’ heard right, so I turned to J and asked: “what was that, J???” GOING TO GET FOOD????? He said that, yes, spontaneously and with the lilt of the question mark at the end. J, sitting in the back of the van and aware of the general plan, had decided to float a change in order.
A parent who has never experienced the languor of an autistic child who seems uninvested in the world around him/her cannot possibly imagine how good that GOING TO GET FOOD????? felt. It is inevitable that we will be humorous about it, that one of us will say “gee, J, it was so much easier to stick to a schedule when you didn’t say anything!” The charm and novelty of J’s newfound desire to make himself heard and understood isn’t wearing off. Sometimes we think it might, but, nah, not happening. Rather than lunch, my friends, we stopped for breakfast, and J happily ordered a Number 3 with a soda, enthusiastically pointing to the Coca Cola sign. Yes, we let him have his soda…he’s done for the day. J then ate his biscuit sandwich with egg, cheese and bacon by deconstructing it and using a fork, that is a good day right there.
We went to the movies and watched Snow White and The Huntsman. This is the first “grown-up” movie J has gone to see at the theater. By “grown-up” I mean not animated in any way. It is perfectly suited for his age group, but we’d never risked taking him for fear he would be bored and there would go the significant amount of money going to the movies means these days. Even when the popcorn had been consumed (before we reached the half-way point in the movie,) J sat and watched. He had smiled at the previews of Katy Perry’s concert movie; he had enjoyed the trailer for Pixar’s Brave. When the movie started, J watched with a smile; perhaps it was Charlize Theron’s gorgeous face or perhaps it was Kristen Stewart beautiful eyes, but J was happy and interested. He loved the dwarves…I think he recognized Bob Hoskins’ voice from Roger Rabbit because he sat up and squinted at the screen. He loves the special effects. He enjoyed the music. We have a winner, ladies and gentlemen!!!!
Our trip to the movies was successful, and as we walked out of the theater J stood looking at Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman appreciatively. “Oh, yeah, we’ll come to see that, J!,” Dada said. Then my husband leaned over and said “do you think he now wonders when we’ll bring him to a movie with boobs in it???” I couldn’t help laughing. I’m sure the thought crossed J’s mind when Kristen Stewart’s dress drooped from her shoulders, and I could almost hear him thinking “turn around, turn around, turn around, please, please, please!!!!” when Charlize Theron took her robe off to walk into a tub. Alas, he was foiled this time…but, like with any normal seventeen year-0ld, this state won’t last for long.
J is happy. J has seen a whole new world open to him at the movie theater. I could take him to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but I think that would ruin the experience for him…he’s not ready for movies about “old people,” he wants to watch what his friends at school, his age-group is watching.
TGG will be so relieved! They can now go gaze lovingly at Anne Hathaway together. And they can have some popcorn, too…one is never so grown-up that one can skip popcorn.