November arrives…

If the seasons had been sluggish in trading places, they’ve caught up with a great deal of enthusiasm all of a sudden.  Sweaters and jackets are now in the rotation, but no snow has yet materialized in our area.  We’ve seen that other areas not too distant from ours have actually seen snow, but we’re still waiting.  We will be glad to wait a little longer; scraping frost off the windshields is enough for the time being.

Flu shots have been checked off the Autumn List, and J has switched hats for the season.  A nice tweed newsboy cap has replaced his panama hat when he leaves the house.  In of doors, of course, he still lounges about looking like Don Corleone in his summer garden.  That the Rasta hat and his rugby helmet have become “nightwear” kept exclusively for sleeping is a fantastic development.  The boy who seemed permanently attached to his boxing gloves and his two hats is now a young man who will switch hats to suit the weather, and whose boxing gloves are mere decorative touches in his bedroom.  He is leaner (thanks to his new eating habits and his hour-long trip to the gym each evening,) and he is happier…

I would like to give you a detailed timeline of how we got “here,” but I’m not entirely sure I can map things as simply as I’d like.  There has been a lot (A LOT) of trial-and-error, and quite a bit of frustration and back-to-the-drawing-board.  J has helped significantly in this whole process.  I don’t know if it’s as simple as “he’s matured,” or if it’s more a “he’s decided to trust our wisdom.”  I don’t know if we’ve just created a collective wisdom from the shared experience of being up to our shoulders in emotional muck.  Being J’s parents is exhausting; I’m sure the parents of other kids on the spectrum will concur.  It IS rewarding when it goes right, and it is tremendously frustrating when it goes wrong.  That it’s going mostly right reduces the hamster-on-a-wheel feeling.

The year has been challenging.  Our fathers’ illnesses have added another weight to our emotional baggage.  Losing Dada’s father was a hard slap in the face, and we’re still working through getting used to that new aspect of our everyday lives.  My father is improving within the scope of what is expected for a man his age who has suffered a stroke, and my stepmom is working very hard to keep him going, to help him heal as much as he can.  It is, as with all these situations, a good-today-not-so-good-tomorrow-better-the-next-day scenario.  My father’s memory is better in some areas than in others, and it is those who have been physically closer to him over the past fifteen years who fare best at being remembered.  One cannot fault the man; familiarity, proximity, intimacy make people less ethereal and abstract in such circumstances.

J, meanwhile, seems more sure of himself, and responds much better to things that would have caused a meltdown a mere few years ago.  On Halloween he came home with a good selection of candy provided by his classmates, and I felt no trepidation telling him that he could only choose two pieces to eat on that day.  He looked through the container carefully, made his selection, and put the candy away without any complaints.  He didn’t think of the candy again until last night; he asked for candy after dinner and, since he doesn’t like apple pie, I told him he could have two pieces.  He looked through the container once more, made his choice, thanked us, and went to check the laundry.  There was not a hint of the kid who used to stamp his foot, scream his head off, hit his head…

In January we will go back to the psych to reduce J’s med again.  Now that we are more settled and there is less travel back and forth, the time is finally right to prepare for this next step.  The only travel we see in the not-too-distant future is TGG striking out on his own to study in another state.  The move is still a few months away, but I’m sure that it will be a testy transition for J because he is so used to having his brother around.  The decision has come about because the time for evolving to a more independent state of adulthood is right, and the only thing we’ve asked from TGG is to make sure all his proverbial ducks are in a row before he strikes out to the Big Wide World…

Dada’s job situation is evolving, too.  It’s all for the good, but that doesn’t make it less exciting.  The HR group he works under is being transitioned to IT, and with this comes a move to another office, another building, another traffic route.  Different responsibilities, more people to interact with, a different stage of his professional life.  What travel was expected for the end of the year is now pushed back to a possibility for the month of March, and we’ll deal with that when the time gets closer.  I am happy for him; I like seeing him excited about challenges that await him, about prospects that open up.

As for me…well…let’s just say I’m about to turn fifty.  I have discovered that there’s a great deal of rediscovery that comes with this rite of passage.  I have discovered that there are things I still want to do, and that I can still do them.  I remember my aunts saying that a time would come when I’d gladly say “you know what?  NO!”  I think that time is approaching.  I find myself more and more interested in helping other people, doing things for others, finding ways to contribute, and there’s a great deal of pleasure in not being acknowledged for it.  Whatever degree of excitement I glean from the little things I manage to do for people I don’t even know is the kind of thing I hug to myself.  Well, Dada gets to hug it to himself, too…we’re sort of co-conspirators in those little moments that shine brighter because they are meant for someone else.

With J’s emotional stability we seem to have found a center that eluded us before; we are off-center by nature, but now we seem to be purposefully so, and we are making it work in other ways to benefit other people.  J’s happiness and comfort go a long way to helping us achieve tranquility, and actually make everyone in the household more productive.  The difference between our productivity during the rougher spots in the process of raising J and our productivity now is that we no longer feel guilty when we lay aside a task to simply be for a while.  Everything gets done, but not frantically…

Not a bad development that’s been many years in the making, I say…

And with that I leave you until tomorrow.

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