And so 2013 begins…the ball is rolling, and we’re hopefully slightly ahead of it…

The New Year arrived quietly.  For the first time in his entire life, J was up and about when the clock struck the midnight hour on a New Year’s Eve so we all made a big deal of integrating him to the (as usual) low-key merriment that takes place in our household.  We consider ourselves fortunate if we don’t fall asleep at ten and wake up at one, when the rest of the world has folded up their party hats.  J was unimpressed with our exertions.  One by one we went up to him, hugged and kissed him and, without much ado, he told us all to take a hike and leave him alone…

He was asleep within minutes…

Monday was a slightly frustrating day.  Not only did the weather stick to its by then tried-and-true pattern of clouds, cold, mist, snow, breeze and general mild unpleasantness, but I had a chat with the attorney.  Surprise, surprise…on the last day of the year, the man answered the phone himself!!!  He was, he told me, taking care of some “end of year stuff” and -lo and behold- I had just been on the tip of his brain.

Uh-huh…

Anyway…in spite of my better efforts, I have only received one attorney-initiated phone call in all the time we’ve been dealing with each other.  You may recall our interaction began in September, and I’ve e-mailed, called, left messages and only received a call from him on, precisely, the 6th of November.  To hear him tell it, he has been on this guardianship thing like hairs on a gorilla.

Uh-huh…

Well, he said, I’ve yet to get a  hard-copy, signed and on letterhead, of the letter that we need from the psychiatrist.  Well, I replied, the last time we spoke you told me you would be consulting with a colleague to determine if the letter, as written, was sufficient.  Well, he replied, I DID!  Well, I said, you never TOLD ME you did, and I left a message the day before I went to the psychiatrist earlier in December and never got a follow-up call.  Well, he said, you need to get those documents to me by the end of the week.

Uh-huh…

At this point, I am ready to grab the man by his ankles and whirl him over my head like a sling and toss him a great distance.  I, who have worked for attorneys, know what they REALLY do when they think no one is going to notice…and this one has been doing just that.  In other words, he has been setting to one side what to US is an important matter because it pales in comparison to others.  Worst of all, he thinks we’re not smart enough to understand that this is what he is doing.  When I asked if he had received the e-mail I’d sent -per his request- with the last known contact information for J’s bio dad, this attorney (who earns a lot more money than we do each year and who is, for all intents and purposes, more academically prepared and proficient than we are) said to me, and I quote verbatim, “well, if you sent it, I received it.”  I closed my eyes and sighed soundlessly (yes, we all know -as parents of autistic individuals- that sighing soundlessly is possible as we do it constantly during IEPs, tantrums, therapy sessions, etc.,) waiting for him to tap away at his keyboard and confirm this…

“Well, I’m NOT at my computer!!!,” he interjected into my silence as I waited.  The words that came to mind were “it figures,” but I said “if you can’t locate the e-mail, please DO let me know and I’ll stop by your office…because I WILL BE IN TOWN THIS WEEK…and drop off a hard copy.”  I think I heard his skin crawl, but our phone has been doing weird things lately so it might have been a malfunction on the line.

To all this J remains oblivious.  I wonder how he’d feel if he knew how much of our current mental energy is being expended in his upcoming 18th birthday.  The list of things to do and to look into grows with every passing day.  I have already set up a phone appointment for his Social Security benefits.  In accordance to the law, he has also been registered for Selective Service, an iffy, but necessary formality.  The thought of J being called up for service and showing up to prove he can’t serve is quite daunting…or hilarious…as long as he doesn’t strike the same note as Klinger did in M*A*S*H.  J wouldn’t do very well wearing women’s clothing…he’d be rather matronly and yet charming.

In light of all the red tape I’m having to cut through this morning, I have started the year like the poodle with the hula hoops.  In my particular case, the poodle is not punctiliously groomed (I removed my nail polish, but not very carefully, and I buzzed my hair again, but we know that’s standing on end even as I type this,) elegant in its exertions (oh, please…not even CLOSE,) or skilled at timing.  One or two phone errands clipped along nicely, but the one that I was hoping would be fairly cut and dried is taking forever…I don’t know if I’ll get off the phone before J gets home from school.

Yes, yes, yes…J is at school.  The joy with which he looked at the board, with its profusion of BUSES and BACKPACKS was similar to how he reacted to the 2013 swimsuit calendars at the bookstore.  He didn’t spring off the bed this morning, but his enthusiasm bubbled as soon as he was given his lunch bag and instructed to go to the pantry for his snacks.  He dressed with a great deal of dancing involved and also checked his wallet to see if he had money…it is amazing how happy a five-dollar bill can make one person.

On the first day of the year, J finally decided that he could spend more time in his bedroom.  Here we have been, all through the holidays, wondering when -if ever- we will get to sit on our couch, and yesterday morning our young friend decided that his room was a good place for hanging out.  I had taken time on Monday to help him clean his room from top to bottom, and we rearranged his furniture (yet again!)  Over the holidays we discovered that his DVD player wasn’t working and that was part of the reason he preferred the family room; last Saturday, armed with a gift card sent to him by his grandparents and with some financial back-up from the parental units, he bought himself a blu-ray player.  It took him until yesterday morning to figure out the remote control…not that we didn’t offer to help, mind you, but J is a little too independent for his own good sometimes…

So we are back in some sort of groove.  It’s a slightly different one…it is, after all, a new year and -this doesn’t cease to amaze us- J will be 18 in 29 days. If that isn’t some sort of different groove, I don’t know what is.  TGG has made a point of mentioning things like “you know he’ll be able to purchase pornographic material” while we are either chewing or drinking something.  Lord, help us!  I mentioned to Dada this morning that it seems rather absurd sending an 18 year-old to bed at 10:30 on a school night, and that gave him more pause than the whole porn thing…  “Oh, GOD!  It IS quite silly, isn’t it???,” he said, sipping his coffee more thoughtfully than usually.  For a moment I thought the cream had curdled because he was taking a while to say anything else…

“Our baby is going to be 18!!!”  And that’s when I started to sniffle…

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