Every morning, at around 9:30, I ask J to help with the books. The project is simple but tedious, and J seems to be enjoying both things.
As I have mentioned before, we have a lot of books. Those books are catalogued in a spreadsheet, and they are assigned a cube in our library. We have them listed by title, and by author; we have a list of which book is where. That’s as far as it goes; I have not succumbed to my inner frustrated librarian and gone Dewey Decimal on the whole thing.
When someone (namely Dada) takes a book out and doesn’t put it where it belongs, I end up with a pile of books on a table in the Diogenes Club (don’t ask), or with books that have been shelved in the wrong cube…a mistake that usually goes undiscovered until I am looking for the same book and cannot find it anywhere.
J’s job is to stamp each book with the cube number it’s assigned to, and to tamp it with a letter G to indicate it is ours. Ex Libris stamps are lovely, but we couldn’t make up our mind as to what we wanted on it so we went with just a regular old G.
Depending on the type of book that populates each cube, J can do anywhere from 6 to 11 cubes in half an hour. He loves it. He sets up his rubber stamps and ink pads on the dining room table, and he helps me move whatever batch he’s working on next. When he’s done, we carry the books back, and grab another batch.
In the afternoon, after his bath but before his snack, he does another half hour of book-stamping. His smile broadens and gets brighter as he progresses with this job he’s been given.
I’m pretty sure that he feels included in something that seemed very much outside the realm of his participation before. He has always liked books, and he enjoys being read to, but the books in the general library didn’t seem to interest him much. That we have great independent and used-book stores here helps matters. J has more than B&N to choose from, and he really likes the opportunity to explore these places freely.
Dada says that once J is done with the books we already have, he can take care of doing the same for whatever books come into the house. I am sure that he will not run out of things to be involved in with the library anytime soon. Books are to us what shoes were to Imelda Marcos: we can never have enough.
Of course, there are always more books that belong to J, and that he keeps in his TV room upstairs. He can stamp those, too, but with a J. This is something he recognizes so keenly that we have to remind him he’s not the only J in the world. Perhaps I will have a custom stamp made with his handwriting so he will be even happier with the project.
On Tuesday we went to J’s psych appointment, and he did very well. It was the first time we rode a cab here, and he was relaxed in spite of the more complex traffic patterns in this town. Because the appointment was later in the day, we met with some hectic driving (including our driver’s), and it was already getting dark by the time we got home. I made the next appointment for early in the day as I think it will make it easier for J.
The transition to cooler-weather clothing has been easier than expected; the fact that he now will gladly wear a polo shirt voluntarily has been a happy surprise.
We are hoping that we will soon find a group activity for him outside of home. We think he’s ready to meet some peers and interact with them, even if it’s once every couple of weeks. J is a person who loves his routine, and he feels comfortable when he’s allowed to ease into new things. Since school ended he hasn’t had a group of friends, but we know that he like it when he finally finds one. Because this takes adjusting and learning other people’s rhythms, we know he will come home the first few times wanting to cocoon and relax. This is the pattern…
J’s life, like ours, is about adjusting to what is new, what is new again, what crops up unexpectedly, and what slowly unfolds announcing itself. We are all working on being the best current version of ourselves, and we feel we are succeeding. We expect a lot from ourselves, and from each other, but we’re taking our time in building the life we want.
A year ago we were falling apart. A year ago we didn’t understand a lot of things. Now we are in a better spot, looking at things from a better angle.
Little things give J a better grasp of what permanence is. Rubber-stamping books, drilling holes in walls to install shelves, painting rooms, standing outside discussing next spring’s plantings, and talking about how to make the garage better… All this tells him we’re here to stay, and it gives him peace.
We work on it everyday…and it seems to be working…