Summer is on its way. Not just the summer weather we yearn for, but also the long days of having to come up with things that will keep J interested, focused, stimulated, entertained and happy. My to-do list seems to be sprouting pages spontaneously. I am seriously considering using a poster board or, better yet, a banner roll to properly convey to myself the extent of my upcoming busy-ness.
At the end of the school year, we usually negotiate a few days of J being the only kid still showing up in his classroom. This year, with all else that is popping up on the agenda, the wisest thing (in our slightly deluded opinion) is to keep him home for finals week and declare the school year DONE! What possessed us to reach this conclusion is beyond me. We agreed on it; we made the decision; we then said “what the hell are we THINKING!!!???” and still didn’t put the brakes on the whole thing…
I think we’ve lost our minds. Worse than that: I think I’m certifiable because, instead of letting reason and self-preservation prevail, I actually agreed to this cockamamie scheme with very little hesitation.
This is the way the calendar is looking right now…from a distance, of course: May 23 is the last day of school, and J’s dental procedure at the OR is scheduled for May 31. June 17 is the first day of ESY. July 18 or 25 is the last day of ESY. August 15 is the first day of school for J.
Hover a little closer and you will see that in May we have a medical check-up on the 22nd; in June we have a visit to the psychiatrist for the 4th; ESY is only four days a week from 9 to noon, which means J will leave here at around 8:15 and be home at around 12:30; August has J’s first day of school, and that’s the same date our new townhouse might be ready for move-in… Don’t get closer. If you look too hard you might get dizzy and realize that, yes, I’ve lost my mind and should not be allowed to handle the family calendar anymore. Through all this, Dada has his project at work (which has developed more arms and heads than any mythological creature should be allowed to have,) TGG is working AND still going to school, and I have to pack our entire lives with the precision of a surgeon so that by Labor Day (if all goes as planned) we will be settled in and J will have adjusted to his new abode.
Every afternoon we approach the construction site and take stock of how quickly they’re working. We look at the roof, at the rooms as they are being framed, at the area that will be the kitchen. We walk down the “street” and I tell him how it will be one long, flat road leading directly up to our doorstep and garage. My ASL vocabulary has grown quite a bit, and J is jumping on the bandwagon with all these new words and concepts I’m trying to convey to him. Just like he now initiates the Bus Song we came up with last summer, saying NEW HOUSE, MOVING TO NEW HOUSE, LIVING IN NEW HOUSE, BIG ROOM is becoming more and more spontaneous. Every day I remind him, and every day he seems to remember it a little more.
More and more, J is telling us things. His enunciation is improving, but he still often says words that sound a lot like each other…this morning panic ensued when he said BRUSH TEETH and we thought he’d said COOKIES. I admit this might have been the result of an insufficient amount of coffee in our brains, but still…we had to ask him to repeat himself, and we got from him the same “you’re kidding me, right?” look and patient, excruciatingly slow enunciation that the neophyte masses use with HIM when they think he’s dumb rather than just challenged in terms of how easily he can communicate with the rest of us. BRUSH TEETH came with a sigh, a stare and sign language attached, and was quickly followed by COFFEE in a rather bossy tone, sort of like GEEZ, PEOPLE…REALLY???
I hesitate (but ever so briefly) to admit I have high hopes for this summer. I don’t know if our goal of reducing J’s med will be met, but I’m sure crossing fingers and toes that it will happen. We are realistic, though…we know that the dental crises that have been cropping up since February probably have heightened the sense of anxiety that J has built into him. He’s hardwired for that, I think, and it’s one of those things we’ll have to deal with forevermore. We know that he gets “stuck” trying to tell us things from time to time, but we can deal with this (as we have been) more easily if he’s not melting down in the process. We’ve witnessed more meltdowns since February than we had in a long, long time, and that’s part of the day-to-day reality we have to face. As I write this, we are less than a month away from going back to the psych to discuss the meds…I simply don’t know how that is going to go this time around.
This is the thing: I’d rather not have J on the meds, but I worry about HIM without them. For J, boredom is akin to an excuse to act out, and this is something that doesn’t really leave my mind at any time. I make every effort possible to keep him engaged and busy, but I -sadly- am NOT Wonder Woman. I’ve planned several changes for the summer months, and I think they will work towards our goal, but I also have to factor in that J is a teenager that doesn’t always want to do things with his mother (regardless of how cute and earnest she is,) and that I cannot entirely make myself responsible for his happiness.
Have you seen Silver Linings Playbook? I feel like Dolores in that movie; watching Jackie Weaver navigate the quirks and crises of her husband’s and son’s OCD and bipolar disorder made me realize that I, too, spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to make the daily grind not suck. The scene where Bradley Cooper’s Pat Jr. obsesses over his wedding video to the point where he melts down explosively reminded me of those nights when J would get up and rant ceaselessly until dawn, and through the next day and night and through the following day and night and so forth. Like Dolores, I do my best to even out the surfaces of our lives, and I accept those that I can’t entirely fix with a shrug and a heart that deflates a little, but there’s always the next day and the one after that until something (big or small) clicks…
Yes, we’re hitting the ground running with sneakers that have little tread, but that’s par for the course around here. The important thing is…it’s what has to be done, right? There’s no alternative. There’s no way to suddenly turn our calendar into a string of fun events that will make life easier…
And now to work on that banner roll-sized Pinky and the Brain scheme disguised as a To-Do list….