Thunder. Lightning. Not necessarily in that order, but all night long. It isn’t any wonder that J woke up in a grumpy mood. I admit to being grumpy too. The flashes of lightning were close enough to be immediately followed by the rumble of thunder. Even with the curtains closed we could see the sudden bursts of light…sleep wasn’t impossible, but it wasn’t easy either.
The day is wet and dreary. The only plus to this is that the world has turned green and lush in short order, and J knows it’s coming up on shorts and sandals season. The snow boots and jackets have found their spot in the garage next to the Xmas decorations. The cotton sheets are back in rotation, and we will soon talk J out of putting the red fleece blanket on his bed when he does his Sunday morning sheet swap-out.
We understand that J is trying to make sense of the world through his random acts of, for want of a better term, self-aggression. He was moody and irascible because the world (in flashes of lightning and rumble of thunder) came in through his closed windows and drawn curtains. He is touchy because he senses change in the air (maybe it’s all the AAA maps, the Zillow home searches, the piles of things we are discarding or giving away forming in the garage.)
We would love for him to take up painting to express his concerns, but that’s not his way. J’s way is to flick his chin, hit his head, and apologize profusely.
It will all wind down…eventually. Right now he is wondering where all this subtle upheaval (yes, there is such a thing…you try to discreetly proceed through the waves of change while whistling and twirling your umbrella in your hand) is leading. If I am to be honest, we are wondering, too.
In the meantime, we try to make life interesting. We take our cues from him. We accept that there will be stones in the road, pebbles in our shoes, and moments of doubt about how to handle them. J, I think, trusts us. I like to think he does, and I like to think that he will be as excited (albeit cautiously) about it as we are.
I confess that there are moments when life, people, surprise me. Or, rather, when the way people see my life surprises me. A neighbor stopped by today; we share a house-sitter/J sitter. This is the lady who recommended J’s companion to us. She is a nice lady. She is about our age, obviously a little higher up on the socioeconomic slippery slope, and educated. I like her. I wouldn’t want to be stranded with her on a deserted island, but I like her.
The purpose of her visit was to drop off her keys so our mutual sitter could pick them up. She is going away for a couple of weeks to supervise the refurbishing of an oceanfront property that her family owns. I asked her in (I was still in lounge pants and not at all looking like a lady of any degree of leisure) and she sat to chat for a while. The chat was, for the most part, about how difficult my life is.
I tried to explain how, in the great scheme of things, this situation sort of sucks sometimes, but it’s not at all bad. J is a congenial (if prone to asshole-ish-ness) individual who isn’t as much work as one would suspect if one has never had a child with a disability. The words “sacrifice” and “burden” came up, and I let them slide because the alternative would have been to be holier-than-thou. I said that, when you boil it down to its essence, J is just a demanding roommate.
Dada was in “I’m hiding in the sitting room” mode. A) He was in his pajamas, B) he didn’t feel like socializing because he was playing some computer game (per his version he was looking at job boards,) and C) he would have been drawn into this conversation and he would have, as often happens, said something he’d later regret. (See, please, my reference to the time we visited a couple of our acquaintance -foodies of the highest order- and they were talking about “that guy from Dallas” in reference to a chef, and Dada chimed in with “Oh! Larry Hagman????”)
He heard the exchange over the baby monitor. When we were once more alone and I returned to the living room, he looked up at me and said “wow…burden!!! I could hear your teeth gnashing through the floorboards. I could also hear your face cracking from the “I’m a civilized human being” smile you had painted on your face.” I shrugged and said “if it makes her feel better, who am I to explain that this is annoying, irritating, overwhelming, and absurd, but not really as much of a burden as refurbishing a coastal property???”
He laughed. He gets it. He knows that I have gone past the point of responding to that sort of condescension. Like J’s flicking his chin or hitting his head, I know it serves some sort of purpose for the person saying the stupid thing. It annoys me, and I wish it would stop, but I give it time to fizzle out. J knows this, and he looks at me and slows down the behavior that is “off” and then it’s gone. He apologizes. That is because J understands that we cannot communicate properly if he is doing something that is counterproductive to the process. When he has no control over his actions (that is: during a meltdown,) I have to accept that he needs help; when he is throwing a tantrum or being an asshole, I have to let it go.
This lady, in a nutshell, was being the most well-intentioned kind of asshole there is; she wanted me to know that she felt my life was framed in very unfair terms, and that she felt for me. To correct her would have been unfair of me; she doesn’t -aside from the superficial sharing of a sitter- really know me. She is not a bad person; she is just not working with all the data that she needs to properly assess our situation.
People sometimes talk for the same reason that J randomly hits himself. It stimulates them; it gives them the impression that they are empathizing, that they can interact in a way that we will value.
It’s just another stim thing…annoying, unnecessary to the casual observer, but present nonetheless.