Laziness is not part of my operating system, and yet I find myself wanting to succumb to it more and more often these days. I think it comes with being middle-aged (although I read somewhere that sixty is now the new forty, and this -quite honestly- is disturbing,) and wanting to not be on the go all the time. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I am fully aware that J has only one more school year until we find ourselves in each other’s company most of the time.
I will have you know that J is now a ‘linger in bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings’ person, and this has allowed us to wake up startled by the amount of sunshine streaming into our room. This does not extend to those days when everyone else must go to work and J has no school, of course, but we’ll take the weekends and embrace them as “mornings we don’t have to leap out of bed.”
Of course, if you are familiar with The Byrds or Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes, you know that everything has its season and its time, and some of J’s obsessions (like being up at 4 on a weekend) have been replaced with other quirks we could live without. The way we work around this is by weighing which is worse, and then we find a way to compromise.
The snow boots, my friends, have GOT to go. I say this as our weather has been acting rather treacherous, but I don’t think snow boots are the thing to be wearing these days. We’ve dispensed with the forty pounds of heavy jackets, and we’ve accepted that we don’t need the four blankets on the bed, but we’re clinging to the snow boots. This is, of course, a lesser “evil.” I could think of infinitely worse things that he could be clinging to, and I’m glad it’s the boots. I don’t want to see them linger well into sandal season, though…my feet would suffer.
We are two months away from J’s next appointment with his psych. We were supposed to go on Good Friday, but the weather wasn’t cooperating and -thankfully- the doctor called to let us know that we were his only appointment that afternoon and could we come earlier. Since this would’ve been a problem for us (because J was set on “we’re leaving at 2:30”,) the doctor and I discussed J’s current needs and determined that all is well. Yes, the obsessions are annoying, but no, they don’t interfere with his day to day living. We agreed to come back in late June to discuss that last .25 mg of med that J is still taking once a day. (We are no longer splitting pills, and we are not giving him a placebo in the evenings…he knows that his morning dose of med is IT, and he’s totally fine with the situation.)
We have, however, noticed little obsessions that have cropped up recently. Nothing like Jack Nicholson’s Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets, but obsessions nonetheless. Light switches get pushed down (even when they don’t need it) three times; closet doors get opened and shut repeatedly, and in quick succession. The Bus Song gets sung (from Sunday to Thursday) no less than twenty times a night. “Good morning” is said in the afternoon some thirty times before J finally transitions to “good afternoon,” and then “good afternoon” gets repeated some thirty times before he switches to “good evening,” and then -for one last hurrah- he keeps saying “coffee…yellow bus…” through his closed door until he hears each night’s reader reach his/her bedroom. There are doors that MUST be open. There are drawers that must be opened and then closed, even if there’s nothing of interest for him in them. Nothing is overwhelmingly obtrusive, and yet there it is…happening until the need is satisfied.
We are being patient with all this because we know part of the issue is J’s autism, part his OCD, and part the reduced amount of medication coursing through his body. The one thing that has worried us all along is that the SIB and the aggression will come back and, so far, this has not happened. We can’t, obviously, assume it never will, but we have to trust that J has learned -over time- to manage the anxiety that used to cripple him to the point of lashing out to let it be known he was upset. It is easier for him, especially if one is paying attention, to let his feelings (and the source or antecedent) be known. Which takes me to last week…
I think sometimes I don’t quite get across to the people who work with J. I try. I also try not to be Ms. Know-It-All-Pushy-Mom, but I’m pretty sure people get that impression regardless of how hard I try to prevent this. For example: when I say that “NO” is the best answer when J wants something that he’s not usually allowed, say “NO.” I will be the first person to tell you that he will get upset, but I also will tell you that he knows when you mean “NO” and when you’re hesitant. He picks up on that vibe and he runs with it…that is his superpower.
J occasionally goes on outings during the school day as part of his integration into the community. Some of this trips involve going shopping. I have absolutely no problem with this because it is our policy to encourage independence, and tolerance of the word “NO” when it comes to certain purchases. I had to reiterate this last week after J was sent home with the dire warning that “he might hurl” because they allowed him to eat anything and everything they had in sight, and they allowed him to buy a 2-liter bottle of soda which they then wondered why he’d be insistent on drinking.
Long story made short: J didn’t throw up, but his entire routine was thrown off by two snacks (one store-bought and another from his snack bag he brings from home,) and two lunches (one of the cafeteria and another from double servings of the teachers’ potluck,) plus 2 liters of soda, and another random snack he demanded and was allowed to have. I kept him home the next day just to get him back on track. Why? Because after a full day of asking all and sundry for a snack and being told YES, J needed a healthy dose of NO.
I explained to J’s teacher that J is hardly deprived in the food department; J gets a healthy, hearty breakfast, two snacks for school, and comes home to a snack, his soda, his cookies at 5 P.M., his dinner at 7:00 and his cereal before bed. We do put vegetables on his plate, but this kid actually eats chips (not diet…his beloved Pepperoni Pizza Pringles, thank you,) cookies, pizza, cake, cookies, donuts…just not all on the same day, and not in uncontrolled ‘gimme, gimme, gimme’ amounts. When he’s had his serving of chips and his soda for the day, he is DONE with chips and soda. He can have a soda with his meal at a sitdown restaurant, but he has to finish it THERE; like I told his teacher: I wouldn’t walk out of a restaurant with whatever’s left of my wine or beer, so J doesn’t get to walk out with his soda either. And there’s no buying a soda as we wait to pay at the grocery store. One of the greater achievements of the past year (and I admit that this is probably ludicrous to other people) is that I can now say “no, we have -insert item, food, product here- at home, and you don’t need another” and it’s not the end of the world.
I will accept the small obsessions as long as I can continue to have the balance of NO in our lives, the stay-in-bed-a-little-longer of Saturday and Sunday mornings, the smaller amount of medicine. I can deal with three pushes of the light switch, drawers opening and closing, closets being inspected and hangers pushed to far corners for no good reason. And the day that changes, we’ll deal with it, but -for the time being- NO works, and the rest is something we have to ride while it lasts…