The distance between our front door and the spot where we wait for the bus seems longer than it is. J has yet to realize that we will make it down there with plenty of time if we leave here as late at 7:55. I did my best to slow down his prep-time this morning, but J is so full of enthusiasm for the endeavor of going to school that slightly-slower-than-yesterday seems to him like swimming through mud. Tomorrow I’m not waking him up until 6:45 so he has those fifteen minutes to complain…then he’ll want his breakfast, clean the kitchen, grab his snack, get ready and we’ll still be out the door too early.
Such is life!
The note the teacher sent said J’s a great listener and a hard worker. Don’t I know it!!! I didn’t have the heart to tell her he’s a great listener who then discounts what one wants and goes his own way, and that hard a worker as he is, he’s an even better supervisor. I’m sure she’ll discover this by next week when the bloom is off the rose and J decides to hijack the summer program. Never have I seen an autistic individual so capable of rallying people around him…he’s not so much Bluto Blutarsky in Animal House (encouraging others by arguing that the Americans didn’t give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor,) but more like Virgil Hilts in The Great Escape (“I was trying to cut my way through your wire because I want to get out.”) It is not difficult to imagine J as The Brain, trying to take over the world every time he goes to school.
We waited for the bus in the usual spot, and soon it was cresting the hill. J emerged with a smile and a much-lighter lunch bag than he’d taken in the morning. Only half a bottle of water was left, and the note from the teacher. The humidity has risen over the past few days so we made our way home slowly. TGG asked J how his day was and then asked him if he was hungry. BURGER! OK, TGG said, we need to go get my car. We walked some more. FRIES! We couldn’t help smiling at the suddenness of this request, the enthusiasm behind it. OK, we’ll go home and get the car, TGG said. FRENCH FRIES!!! Yes, TGG added, we’ll get French fries. BURGER! Yes, we’ll get a burger and French fries, TGG said with a smile that would have turned into a loud laugh if he hadn’t checked it. No need to make J think he’s being made fun of when, in fact, we’re just happy to hear him say what he wants with such spontaneity.
All the way up the stairs and down the road, BURGER, FRENCH FRIES, BURGER, FRENCH FRIES, BURGER, FRENCH FRIES, and yes, yes, yes, patiently inserted between his requests. Once at home, TGG announced he was getting his keys and changing his shirt, so J sat on the dining room bench and held the PECS for BURGER, FRENCH FRIES, SODA, CHEESE, and KETCHUP on his board. Half an hour later, they returned with their lunches, and J took down BUS and BACKPACK from the board, changed into his grubbies and lunched al fresco. A more perfect first-day-of-summer-program could not be asked for, and we know it.
On the board this morning is the psychiatrist’s photo. J removed the picture of the hospital, but left the one for the doctor. That tells me knows this is the “talking” doctor, and that he would rather have us drive him in through the other street, the one that doesn’t pass the hospital entrance. I can live with that. In its own way, it’s a clear communication from a kid who used to kick, scream, grunt and cry when he didn’t want something, but still would not identify the something he didn’t want.
The missing cat is not back. We know she’s gone, and I try to gently explain to J that she won’t be coming back as we walk around the area where she was last seen. He looks at me intently as I tell him this. I wish I could do the same for the other cat. A cat who used to be so full of vim and vigor that she would run and climb over us to get to a toy is now a languid creature who will curl up in a corner and not move until we do. I hope it is merely sadness, and that she will soon recover some of her joie de vivre because we are worried about her. I’m taking time every day to play with her, tossing the “danger mouse” around (ok, it’s just a plain, old, vibrantly colored mouse we got at the store, but she thinks it’s the most amazing thing and she attacks it like it’s really dangerous) and letting her fetch it back to me. Yes, we have a cat that fetches…we’re convinced that she thinks she’s a dog. Hopefully, in a week or two, some of the sadness will leave her face; she does look sad, even though cats tend to be inscrutable, even J looks at her and pauses, giving her an awkward pat on the head.
I know I always convey the message that normalcy is not all it’s cracked up to be, but these little disruptions give me pause. I wonder what the psych will say today about all we have to tell him…I’m sure he’ll nod and uh-huh; he’ll probably look at my black nail polish, J’s goatee, my husband’s clean-shaven face and TGG’s slowly-growing-back-from-shaved-off hair and wonder if we’re being as candid as we should be. I don’t even want to imagine what would happen if we took the cat and she just languished in a corner, looking glum and depressed. Perhaps this man thinks he’s hit the jackpot and he can get a paper published in a psychiatric journal…all based on us!
You’d think a psychiatrist would understand the difficult art of fine-tuning…well…EVERYTHING!