Time, tide and the common cold wait for no man…

There is, quite early in the year, a chill in the air.  We are definitely in season-changing mode.  On Saturday we dropped from 82 to 63 degrees in a matter of two hours, and this morning we were engulfed in fog and our handy-dandy we-keep-it-by-the-door thermometer indicated it was 54 degrees out there…

And J is home with a cold.

At the first hint of sniffling, my heart froze.  You know I’m not a coward, but a sniffle means a possible alteration of the beloved, calming, peace-maintaining routine, and -having had a holiday LAST Monday, and having a visit to the psychiatrist scheduled TODAY- keeping J at home is not something I was looking forward to at all.

When I informed him, after checking his temperature, listening to his congestion, and looking at the hang-dog expression that accompanies any shred of illness J might experience, that he’d be staying home today, J complained quite vocally, slapped his hands several times, assumed the “woe is me” position on the couch, and requested (in his best Richard Dreyfuss imitation) that I clean his nose.

After his Sunday-night reading of Ferdinand the Bull, he curled up in bed and turned off his lights.  No sooner had we done the same that he was standing on our doorway announcing COFFEE!!!!  I told him to turn on his heels and go to sleep.  No sooner had I turned over and found a semi-comfortable position for my neck that, once more, he came rapping on our chamber door.  Donning my robe and dragging myself, I returned him to his room, deposited him in his bed, tucked him in, and told him we didn’t want to see him until morning.

And then, of course, the same individual who requires a massive dose of persuading, cajoling, insisting, nagging and clapping of the hands to remove his fanny from bed on a school day, was up and at ’em at four a.m.  I could hear the distant rumbling of J trying to figure out when was a good time to wake us up.  He had the decency to wait until 4:30, and 4:45, and 5:00, and at 5:14 I cut him at the pass, announced he should go downstairs, and noticed his bed was neatly made, and his movies and iPad were ready to go in the red basket he uses to transfer his belongings from his night-room to his day-room, and viceversa.

The day, of course, was in full-swing once J hit the common areas of the house, and any attempts made to -surreptitiously, of course- return to bed for a brief respite were foiled by our very own version of Julie the Cruise Director from The Love Boat.  As my feet touched the carpet beside my bed (for the tenth time in a thirty-minute period) I was ready to deliver a Tony-winning performance of Miss Hannigan’s Little Girls from Annie.  Alas, when J is up and about on a day when he SHOULD be in school but will NOT be, it is impossible to break into song except under the most auspicious of circumstances, and the revitalizing qualities of coffee (the root of the whole “we’re up too early” debacle) are needed pronto…

At nearly eleven a.m. we are settled and content.  J has acknowledged that he has a cold, and that his nose is bothering him, and that he’s tired.  I haven’t yet told him that we are going to the psychiatrist this afternoon, but I’m sure once he sees WHO he’s going to meet with he’ll be fine.  This is the doctor’s office where there are no needles, no tweezers, nothing that pinches…  If his congestion doesn’t improve, well, then we’ll go to the unpleasant place where they’ll take a swab and determine if he needs stronger meds, but for the time being I am not expecting much resistance.

The change in weather, as you might expect if you’ve been previously acquainted with J’s super-power, has been predicted by the gradual appearance of Christmas music, Christmas movies, and snow-themed pictures that randomly pop up on J’s coffee table.  The other day, as we walked home from school in the blistering heat, I said “wow, J!  It’s HOT!,” and my son laughed.  I thought it had been the way I’d delivered this line, or the fact that I was sweating profusely thanks to the combination of mourning colors and the hot sun, but it seems like he was laughing because he KNEW it wouldn’t last.

Ah, mourning clothes…I forgot to mention that.  Yeah, you read right…I -like the aunts who raised me- dress in mourning according to the pre-established rules they (and I) were raised with; in a nutshell, I look like Wednesday Addams but with shorter, grayer hair.  OK, it’s not THAT severe, but it’s mourning, and no one (aside from my husband and children) notices that I’ve been dressing in black for a few weeks.  I am sweating quite a bit out there, and I can hear my aunts saying “do you now understand why we’d say please, God, let so-and-so last until the weather cools?  If it’s Your will?”  Yeah, I understand, and I also understand -because they raised me right- that comfort, fashion and recognition have very little to do with this process.  Mourning, while expressed outwardly in clothing, takes place deep within…I don’t know how well I’d deal with wearing colorful clothing at this time.

The house is not weighed-down by sadness, but there’s a ribbon of it threading through our days.  We acknowledge it, and we move forward with it because sadness and loss are a part of life that our children (not quite children anymore, right) need to learn to accept.  How well J acknowledges, accepts, understands and identifies this feeling of loss is questionable, but he has learned to adjust to the more muted aspects that have suddenly entered our everyday existence as a family.  We do our best to make it easy for him, not because he isn’t deserving of the full-blown effect of emotion, but because we know he doesn’t process grief like a neuro-typical person does.  The database in his mind has a picture of Dada’s father, but it is among many others, and we can’t expect him to react as we are reacting, but we know he’s good for a hug, a quiet sitting side-by-side…  Of all the situations we’ve tried to prepare for, in terms of “how to handle this with J,” the death of a parent hadn’t really, exactly, precisely crossed our minds…

The absence of overwhelming tantrums is very helpful…indeed.  And, at least, the kid knows how to make coffee.

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