Hear ye! Hear ye!

Once in a while, when I wake up in the morning, I dare to not think anything is going to come out of that particular day.  Mind you, it’s not that I don’t look forward to “results” days, but I have wised-up enough to know that it’s not always possible to achieve something on a daily basis.  Besides, the definition of “achieve” around here is very realistic…if we make it through the day without J consuming a whole roll of toilet paper and finding it wadded up in the trash can in their bathroom, it’s a good day.

Please, don’t think that my expectations are low, but I am a realist and I know that, after a long chain of successes, it is not unusual to hit a wall…even if it’s a low one, or even the foundation for a wall that will make us trip up.  When you have an autistic individual in your household, you develop a sense of humor about what constitutes “achievement,” and you revisit the definition over and over again because that is part and parcel of the whole gig.

I know what you’re thinking: get to it, woman!

Well…one of the things that has been predominant in these rambling entries of mine has been the presence (ubiquitous) of J’s hats.  One of the goals we have set for ourselves through these past few months has been getting J to not constantly wear his hats.  He does, after all, have a lovely head of hair and we do love seeing it.  J has made huge progress thanks to his timers, hasn’t he?  We’ve documented this progress with as much humor and enthusiasm as anyone can show…

Over the past few months, I’ve tried to also document how J has been slowly emerging from his shell.  Perhaps he is less funny than he was a while back, but he is also more verbal and willing to interact with the whole world.  That he can now go to Market every Saturday, and if not interact at least co-exist with dogs is huge.

J now happily announces what day of the week it is, calls people by their names and manages his schedule board with quite a bit of self-assuredness.  And today…

I’m getting to it, I promise.  I know, of course, that to many it will be anti-climactic, but to me it’s been worth sitting here and savoring.  I don’t even know where to start because, quite honestly, there isn’t much to tell, but it feels (to us humble J-parents who often wonder “what the hell are we doing?”) like quite a monumental achievement.

I wish I had some drums to roll…

Shortly before 3 P.M. J made his way to the kitchen and promptly removed his hats.  I was sitting in the living room and heard the Velcro strap on his scrum cap so I know he took his hat off.  I could hear him singing to himself as he got ice from the refrigerator door.  Then I listened as he sang to himself a little while longer.  Of course, I looked up and, noticing the time and the clouds rolling in, decided to gather our things to go check the mail.  J’s singing and hatlessness had been going on for about fifteen to twenty minutes by then.  At around 3:10, I found J -hatless and happy- in the kitchen, and told him we were going out for the mail.  Without the slightest hesitation, he followed me downstairs and, giving him time to change his mind if he was so inclined, I made a big spectacle of getting my sandals, my hat, an umbrella (it looks like rain,) and my keys.  Hatless, his head naked and free, J followed me…

I walked slowly, mind you.  In part I did this because of the stupid weakness the anemia has made a fact of my everyday life for the past few days; in part, I was giving J a chance to turn around and go for his hats.  Nothing.  Not a move.  Not a frown.  Not a bit of looking over the shoulder and wondering.  On he walked, head held high and smiling from ear to ear.  Past the construction site, past the little dog that sits with its mistress on the stoop, past the last row of townhouses and to the mailboxes…J was happy and hatless.

When we arrived, the mail carried told us that she had just then arrived and it would be a while.  I told J “we can come back later,” and we turned towards the office.  Since the other day he’d been upset about the manager not being there, I took him to the door even though I could see her car wasn’t parked out in front.  “The door is locked,” I told J.  He smiled, and we turned towards home.  Not twenty yards from the door, we heard the little convertible pull up and I told J “would you like to go visit the office?”  He smiled, took my arm and we approached the car.  The manager stepped out and smiled at him, then opened her eyes very wide and said (with her lips pressed tightly together) “where are the hats?”  (It actually sounded more like wherarrhehhaahs?, but I knew what she meant.)  Into the office we went and J asked for his candy very nicely, thanked her (using her name, which he hadn’t done before…he used to crunch Amanda into Anda,) and then walked over to the gym where he climbed on the treadmill for about a minute.

Of course, at this point I am already so proud of J that I could dance all the way home with butterflies flying around my head, but that, my friends, is not the end of it…

As we stood there talking, the manager and I saw a neighbor approaching with his Golden Retriever.  It is a well-known fact around these parts that nothing makes Jack nimble and quick more than a dog…candlesticks are child’s play to this particular Jack when a dog is around.  The owner, having witnessed J in what can only be described as his own version of parkour, calmly waited outside for the manager.  The dog, lovely thing that she is, sat and watched us watching her through the window.  J said DOG WOOF WOOF several times, and calmly observed her from the safety of his position.

And then…

J took my arm and walked me to the door.  I told him the DOG WOOF WOOF was still out there, but he still allowed me to open the door and step outside.  He stayed inside the building, but he was neither cowering nor expecting fire and brimstone to rain upon him.  I approached the dog and let her sniff my hand, she licked it and stayed calm as J looked at her.  When the owner started walking away with her, J stepped out the building, as calm and relaxed as if he’d never disliked a dog in his life.  He wasn’t trying to seem calm.  He was calm.  The dog checked the mail with its owner, and J wanted to follow, but I told him we would wait until they were done.  Once the dog had cleared the area near the entrance of the mail room, we walked over there and got our mail from the box.

We walked home, hatless, having been near a dog, having used a person’s name and happy.  I don’t know what you think, but I would not have dared to imagine such developments for this particular day…

And what a happy surprise this day has been…

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