Are you ready for some holidays????

Yes, my friends, it is THAT Friday that precedes the weeklong Thanksgiving Break…the expectation leading up to the Battle of Helms’ Deep comes to mind, and I’m not among the Orcs advancing; I’m waiting for the Orcs.  They come trimmed like Christmas trees, trussed up like turkeys, and with sides of cranberry sauce, gift-wrapping, and days and days of J being at home.  Did I mention that J had a runny nose this morning?  Did I mention we start the holidays by going to the lab at 9 a.m. (on an empty stomach) to have some blood work done?  Timing, quite obviously, is NOT my forte…but here we go anyway.

I have lined up all my ducks.  There are plenty of chores to do, plenty of Thanksgiving prep work to complete and a healthy dose of crafts projects to keep J occupied and honing his fine-motor skills.  The weather forecast calls for cold and snow, but I think that’s the lesser of my concerns at this point.  Being home isn’t really the problem, but finding being home tedious can always pop up unexpectedly from a harmless-looking corner.  The schedule I’ve come up with changes up the order of things every single day so that J, who loves routine, isn’t bogged down by it and refuses to segue from one task to the other, from one day to the next.

A part of me is dreading this upcoming weeklong break, and another part is taking it as an opportunity to work on the things that J has been tripping over at school.  We keep wondering why J gets upset at school, and why he reacts to routine there with less pleasure than here.  If one place should be boring for J, it should be home.  We are the ones who offer very little by way of variety, who put demands on his time, and who make life one long snooze-fest.  I honestly think J’s anger or dissatisfaction would be more apt to come out here, at home…but it seems that it’s only at school that he feels like something is “off” and he needs to act out.

No, don’t worry, my intent is not to bring the same sort of misery to his home-life over the course of this week.  What I’d rather do is re-direct some things so that, maybe, I can send him back to school with a new strategy.  (If you’re going to wish me good luck I will be eternally grateful…I think I’m going to need it.)  The school handles a much larger population than I do, and I think (given time and doing my best Jane Goodall) I can figure out a way to help J tell me what it is that bothers him so much in the early morning hours that he feels he has to act out.  Maybe what I need to do is create a new schedule for him in his mind, re-structure his way of looking at the school day and what’s supposed to happen there?

There are times when I wish I could be a fly on the wall.  Those times usually come when I hear J has been acting uncharacteristically at school, and I’m left pondering whether the “uncharacteristic” behavior is here, at home.  Maybe J is the way he is “there” and not “here?”  Maybe they get the genuine article and we get the nice, reasonable facsimile?  While I wonder about this, I can’t quite believe it…the degree of intention that would have to go into maintaining this illusion sounds exhausting.  And while I know that J can think about certain actions and realize that they are to his advantage, there really isn’t any malice in him; this, of course, would mean that J doesn’t have it in him to say “I’ll be nice at home because then they can worry about what I do at school.”  The thing is that J hates the attention he gets from us when we hear that he’s been acting out at school; he is self-conscious about being told “what happened at school?  Why were you upset?,” but he loves the attention of getting an ice bag if he has bumped his head a little too hard.

Maybe J is outgrowing school.  Maybe J feels that it’s all too childish for him.  Why, then, does he leap out of bed and bounce out the door to go to school in the mornings?  Is it wishful thinking on his part that he will have fun and do something that satisfies him?  Is it that he finds me, us, home incredibly dull?  Is it that he LOVES that routine, but now dislikes its minutiae?  Or, worse yet, he looks forward to the anxiety that he can cause over there?  As I said, J can think things through, but there’s no malice in him so I doubt that he kicks the covers off and thinks to himself “ah, what horrible stress can I rain down on the poor minions that serve me at school?????”  No…that doesn’t quite seem possible, does it?  J is no Saruman, that’s for sure…

Maybe what is required is a fresh look.  Erase all that has been worrying us, and tackle the issue from a fresh perspective.  Nine days ought to do it, don’t you think?  Nine days of trying to convince J (as one does with one’s children) that there’s no wrong or right answer to the question “can you tell me what’s bothering you?”  We know J listens, but we also know that J doesn’t always like to tell us things.  We know this is, in part, because he’s a teenager and teenagers are inscrutable; we also understand that Autism plays a part in all that impedes his progress in spilling the beans on his worries.  J lives in his head a lot, and sometimes he is more willing to talk than others…mostly through his music and the way he reacts to it.  I hope, during the course of this Thanksgiving Break, to find a way to get him to talk…

I guess I get to be the Orc then…




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