Yesterday it snowed all day. It snowed horizontally, copiously, and incessantly. If the wind had not been blowing as vigorously as it did, we would have significantly more snow on the ground than the 8 inches measured by the weather experts. Kierkegaard called sometime before 5 a.m. to let us know that it was fine to not drag ourselves to the corner to wait for the school bus. J did us the courtesy of not waking up chanting COFFEE COFFEE until 6:25. After being fed a hot, hearty breakfast, those of us who had to face the elements (namely Dada and TGG,) left the house with all precaution knobs turned to HIGH. Those of us who were to be confined to the Great Indoors did our best to wait patiently for the call that said “we made it ok.”
The roads were plowed with less than stellar skill, but the trip to work and back was fairly safe. In the face of all the snow that had fallen (and was still falling) at around 4 P.M., Kierkegaard called again and I was at liberty to inform J that, once more, we’d be spending a fun-filled day at home. That makes, since the beginning of the year, six days when the weather has conspired to push back the Last Day of School. If statistics are correct, we’re in for a doozy next month, and we might as well say we’ll do our Back-to-School shopping on the Last Week Before Summer Break. This, my friends, does not bode well.
I am a “keep it in perspective” kind of broad. I know it doesn’t seem that way, but I do factor in the size of the glass (height and width) before I decide to view it as half-full or half-empty. That our main occupations are laundry, reading stories, watching movies, cooking, cleaning and watching the barren landscape left behind by all this precipitation (because not a creature out there stirs unless hunger reaches critical mass,) my mind tends to wander. At one point yesterday I walked up to the thermostat because I felt “cold.” The temperature inside the house was 67 degrees. The temperature outside was obscenely cold. So I marched down to the basement and found one of the books we have that depict polar exploration. Sixty-seven degrees turned into comfortably warm in that context.
Half an hour later I was in the throes of a hot flash. Perspective…it’s easy to have it when the conditions are right.
Around this time last year I lost my Shackleton book. I need to get a new one. I have to get yet another source of perspective that I can leaf through when the weather turns nasty. For the record, I use Lawrence of Arabia as a perspective provider in the hot days of summer. Ok, that might be just because I love the now-late Peter O’Toole…and My Favorite Year is not good for hot-weather perspective.
The other reel of thought that unraveled was this blog. It suddenly occurred to me (or, rather, it was suddenly at the forefront of my thought process) that J will be 19 years old in a little over a week, and that will render the “my teenager is autistic” thing totally moot in a little over 365 days. I suspect that the possibility exists that all this (meaning the recounting of all the loops and ups and downs and bumps and dips and rapids leading to rocks) might have run its course by then. Maybe what I’m wondering is if the confluence of adolescent autism and menopause will have petered out, and whether this will make our lives less worth talking about.
There have been times when I wish our lives weren’t as “interesting” as they are. I wonder if all this smacks the reader of fiction peppered with realistic touches to make it more appealing. I say this because I have noticed that Out There (in the vast blogosphere) there are those who write heart-wrenching accounts that turn out to not be true, and so starts the backlash, and those who tell the truth and, because it is heartfelt, are misinterpreted and criticized for being trite or melodramatic. Sometimes, after I click Publish, I wonder in which group people place me as they read my entries.
This is a fact: while I appreciate and respect everyone’s opinions, this is about me thinking out loud, and hoping that it makes anyone who reads feel a little less isolated in their experience with a kid like J…IF their kid is like J. It’s also about me saying out loud, and to others, what I often don’t say to people who think they know but don’t bother to ask for clarification or confirmation. I also hope that my ruminations result in enlightening those who don’t know, but have managed to stumble into these entries without any initial curiosity about Autism, what it feels like to be…us. I don’t think our experience is unique, but I do think we approach certain things about our life as a family with perspective. I hope, even though I don’t hold my breath, that this helps someone…anyone…other than just us.
And now to the “scholarly” portion of this entry. I’m reading Temple Grandin’s The Autistic Brain. If you want to get a more scientific slice of what is being done in Autism research, pick this book up and read it. I try to work my way through books that will help me understand J’s situation better. Mind you, not J himself because that’s another kettle of fish, but his situation…where all this might come from, and how it might be affecting him on different levels. I always walk away from Temple Grandin’s books realizing that I’ve made an enormous amount of mistakes, I’ve overlooked things, I have mishandled situations, but I can keep plodding on to make things work better. I am not an expert, and I will never be, but I’m curious and I try to be engaged and informed.
The next moment when I paused in my daily routine to hatch a hybrid thought that had been rattling in the nest: how much longer do I have to work with a malleable J? If he is nearly done with adolescence, and pretty much set in his ways, do I get an indefinite amount of time to tweak all these things and make him more functional, or am I reaching the limit of his tweak-ability? Or am I reaching the end of mine?
Have I mentioned that my M.A. is in Liberal Arts and that I spent and inordinate amount of time reading Philosophy, pondering bullshit and agonizing about stuff to earn that???? It seems like whatever “degree” this whole process results in is far from completed…I’m still pondering bullshit and agonizing about stuff, am I not?