Stalker and micro-manager all rolled into one neat package…

Anxiety.  You can read the word wistfully if you’re so inclined.  Go ahead…try it.

Doesn’t quite work, does it?  One tries to read it wistfully and it still comes out with a slight “ugh” at the end…  Anxiety…ugh…it’s a word.  Someone needs to call the OED and have it inserted in there.

This morning J had the decency to wait until 4:46 to wake us up.  Actually, that is when he rustled us out of bed.  I had awakened when he started his pilgrimages to the bathroom.  (There’s nothing wrong with his tummy, by the way…he’s just a big bundle of holiday-related? anxiety…ugh.). With chagrin, but also with deep understanding that this is part of the nature of the beast, I was ready for the COFFEE summons.

It came promptly.  And I took a deep breath before I went to check on our son’s needs.

He was fine.  Happy.  Awake.  A bit of a stuffy nose.  Ready to go WATCH TV!  That’s what he said.  He also went downstairs, following me closely, to get his snack box lined up for the day.  As I made coffee, there was my pilot fish…one step behind.  It’s stayed pretty much the same way all morning since.

I’ve been followed to the mailbox (where I put an outgoing letter), the bathroom (where I had to point out that there are things I need to do by myself, and without any instruction on whether they’re being done correctly…), to the closet, to the fish pond, to the closet where we store the ladder, to the garage.  In every instance, except the bathroom where I drew the line and closed the door on him, J has wanted to tell me what I’m doing wrong.  I’d like to point out that he was RIGHT OUTSIDE THE DOOR when I stepped out of the bathroom.  Yes, it’s been that kind of morning…

He has also, oh joy, found a cardboard tube that used to hold gift-wrapping paper, and he has used it as a megaphone.  He’s pretty good at barking orders that way.  Perhaps some rowing crew somewhere could put him to good use.  Would they row effectively while the words COFFEE, BATHROOM, GOOD MORNING, HELLO, CHRISTMAS are being called out through the cardboard tube?  Maybe…maybe not.

Today the plan is simple: keep J busy and engaged, and try to work through some of that nervous energy that seems to have accumulated when I wasn’t looking.  It’s a good day for it, too.  Clean the house for Christmas, put together a couple more crafts, do a little baking…hopefully we’ll both be satisfied by all this hustle and bustle…

and he will sleep until 5 tomorrow…  Asking for 5:30, let’s face it, is asking for the Moon because anxiety…ugh works that way.

 

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And on the Eighth Day of Christmas…

J was up at 4:30 this morning.  Not sort of awake.  Not dreamily awake.  Not lazily awake.  Not lingering-in-bed awake.  Not we-could-hear-him-over-the-baby-monitor-cooing-to-himself awake.

No.

J was up and in our room, alarming the bejeezus out of us with a militant, hearty, enthusiastic, LOUD “COFFEE!!!!!!!!!”

To no avail we tried to get him to go back to bed.

No matter how many times we tried.

He was up.  UP, UP and AWAY!!!!

We tried a timer.

He came into the room five minutes into the timer.  COFFEE!!!!!

We tried telling him to wait until we came to get him.

He was in the room again not two minutes later.  COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!!

We checked his temperature.  It was normal.

We checked his ears.  Waxy, but not more than is acceptable.

We checked his teeth.  Dirty, but no cracks, chips, irritation, swelling, or other reason why he might be up at 4:30 in the morning.

We listened to his tummy.  No more gas in there than there should be.

He was just up.  Up and insistent.

We were up, too.  Up and exhausted.  Up and irritated.  Up and annoyed.  Up and insufficiently caffeinated.

My guess, because he didn’t complain about not getting his PIZZA today (it IS Wednesday, right?), is that J is having not-particularly serious tummy issues.  With this in mind, I amped up the stuff that might help move things along for him in that department.

In the meantime, J is being stubborn.  He won’t tell me if I’m right or wrong.  He won’t explain what is bothering him.  I’m left guessing.  It’s exhausting for both of us.

The sudden outbursts of energy and enthusiasm taking place when I am not in the room confuse me.  Is it me?  Is he sick of me?  Am I annoying him?  Am I the typical roll-your-eyes-at-her mother????

What little energy I have left after being up so early (and sleeping so poorly…have I mentioned I’m a middle-aged woman????) is being expended worrying about whatever is bothering J, and whether I am what’s bothering J.

And it’s the Eighth Day of Christmas…eight maids a-milking and all that other good stuff…if I manage to stay awake for it…

Sigh…..

The Second Day of Christmas has arrived…

J’s enthusiasm for Christmas this year is legitimate.  He has been happy, engaged, and fully participant.  Last night, as I was putting the finishing touches on our dinner, he motioned for Dada to get the Twelve Days board ready.  I then sent them to the closet upstairs to each pick a package for last night’s round of gift-giving.  No sooner had they returned to the kitchen that J wanted his shirt changed…apparently the color was wrong for pictures.

Off he went, burnt orange shirt in one hand, and returned wearing an oatmeal-colored one.  He was happy and photo-ready.

The night before we had been standing in front of the PECS board while J went through his schedule for the next day.  Wednesday is PIZZA day, and J was happy about this, but moving quickly towards the card that showed the First Day of Christmas.  We made a chant out of it…EXERCISE, PIZZA, SODA, SWEEP, FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS!!!!!!  By bedtime it had evolved into something longer (involving other activities), and always ending with FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS!!!!!!

Last night we had to do the same, only switching over to SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

Methinks this will be a “thing” now.

Yesterday, J’s new neighborhood companion stopped by to keep him entertained while I wrapped Dada’s presents.  Yesterday was, as it were, the true test of if this arrangement is to J’s liking.

It is.

The young man is amenable, kind, and very patient.  We have made a point of explaining that J might not interact in a proactive manner to start with, but will eventually relax into it as time progresses.  The kid (a teenager) is totally fine with it; I can hear him talking to J even when J doesn’t answer back.  It is not forced, stilted, or stressful…he just talks about whatever he has on his mind.  This all bodes well for the recommendation letter I will write for him in a couple of years when he starts applying to colleges: so-and-so exhibits an open-mind when dealing with individuals who are different from himself, and patience in situations that are unfamiliar and potentially stressful for the uninitiated.

When I told J about his new friend stopping by in the afternoon, he was fine with it.  When his new friend walked into the room, J was fine with that, too.  I went off to wrap presents and could hear the gentle monologue being conducted by his young companion.  J was giggling and humming.  Even with Annie playing on the TV, and J’s music playing on the iPad, our Dashing Young Friend kept his cool beautifully.  The letter of recommendation progresses nicely:  DYF can focus on a task while being presented with often-clashing stimuli that would turn the spine of a grown person to jelly.  (On a personal note: I am often tempted to start climbing walls like Spiderman when confronted with this type of overstimulation.)

The interaction was so successful that I asked the DYF if he would allow us to take his picture for J’s PECS board.  With the solemnity of one who understands he has been accepted as part of a tight-knit clan, he stood in the kitchen and posed.  When told it wasn’t intended for a WANTED poster in the P.O. he relaxed and smiled genuinely.

It is that relaxed and kind demeanor that J now has on his Proloquo2Go, its chosen voice announcing DYF’s name, and on his tray of PECS in the kitchen.

All is as it should be, and the Second Day of Christmas progresses nicely…  So does the note-taking for the future college-application recommendations…

A tree! A tree! A Christmas tree!!!!

We have, earlier than usual, acquired the annual Christmas tree.

Actually, Dada was the one who went to get it yesterday while J and I changed sheets, aired out rooms, and worked through a difference of opinions on whether he was ready to eat cheese (after his recent bout with illness), or not…

The tree came as a surprise.  Dada had sent a message letting me know that he’d bought it, and as soon as I heard the garage door open I sent J downstairs to “help Dada”.  The joy in his face was something we had not seen -in a Christmas-related scenario- in quite a while.

J has always been a Christmas person.  He likes the decorations, the ornaments, the lights, the Twelve Days of gift-giving, the music…  He had, however, lost his yen for participating in the tree-decorating routine.  He wanted the tree decorated, but he didn’t want to be in the thick of it as it happened…

Yesterday afternoon he couldn’t wait to get the lights on the tree.  Last night he wanted to rush through dinner to decorate the tree.  We thought he was going to leave the room, and were pleasantly surprised when not only he didn’t leave (thus delegating the tree-trimming to us oldsters) but stayed and started grabbing ornaments and placing them where he thought they’d look best.

This was all done with a smile, giggles, and Christmas music playing in the background.  It wasn’t done in a hurry, and he even stopped to pose for photos, and wore a Santa’s hat while sifting through the boxes.

Of course, my friends, we hadn’t MEANT to decorate the tree last night.  We had brought it into the house so that it would be here ahead of the bad weather they’ve predicted for our usual tree-buying excursion day.  That J became enthusiastic about the whole thing was a happy development.

Later in the evening, as we relaxed after cleaning the kitchen and taking our showers, J emerged from his TV room once more and went downstairs.  Dada followed him to make sure all was well, and found our son with a canister of tinsel in his hand.  On the tree went the tinsel, with more smiles, lights, music to punctuate the process…

Twelve Days is just around the corner, and the recent chaos has prevented me from being fully ready for it, but J is ready.  J is happy to be home, feeling better, and having his Christmas tree in the house…

It feels good……..

From the bad, good comes…

J got sick.  Really, really sick.  It was sudden, and it was brutal.  Poor guy went from Whee!!!!! to a holy-cow-wow fever in less than two hours.  And then came the stomach issues…

We went to Urgent Care.  No flu, no infection, no strep…  We came home.  It got worse.

We ran to the ER.  We hadn’t done that in quite a while.

J was feeling poorly enough that he didn’t argue.  He surrendered to all the ministrations of the healthcare professionals without so much as a peep…and one of them was the nurse version of Columbo..

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without the redeeming quality of sharp intelligence behind the apparent bumbling.  Ok, not even the bumbling was apparent.  It was real.  She freaked us out, but we couldn’t say anything because we needed J to stay calm.

The urine sample left on the counter for the whole time we were there was a wee bit much (no pun intended), and the trail of used alcohol wipes was not particularly comforting.  I kept thinking to myself that we need to time these things better and get a fresh shift when we go, but one cannot really time these things…

So we had to let J get his vein poked four times…twice for blood, and twice for an IV.  He was not stoic about it, but he kept the anxiety to a minimum.  He wasn’t feeling well, but he understood that he needed to let himself be poked so he could feel better.

And then came the part where they suggested an abdominal scan.  I had wondered if maybe it was appendicitis, but I wasn’t sure they’d take me seriously.  They did.  The kindest tech in the planet came over to get J, and had the most soothing, comforting attitude without being condescending.  I took the Proloquo and immediately added a picture of the scanner so J could start understanding what was about to happen.  He wasn’t happy, but he let us take him.

J doesn’t like laying flat.  I think it makes him dizzy.  He sleeps at an angle…always has.  His sit-ups are more like lean-forwards.  If you ask him to lie down the immediate reaction is to kick himself upright with his legs.  Being moved from a gurney to the bed for the scan was not something he wanted to do.  He sat down, yelped, and got up again…

BUT…

He let me persuade him to relax and lie down.  He had his head propped up, and his legs propped up.  He wasn’t happy, but he did it.  We took a moment (thanks to the lovely, lovely technician) to look at each other, breathe deeply, and calm down.  Then J let me position him, saw how I got the gown on to cover my sensitive bits, and I stood next to him, holding his hands over his head while he listened to his iPad and breathed.  He breathed deeply.  He breathed calmly.  He would move his eyes and look at me.  He would squeeze my hands…

It was all very quick.  He was as good as gold.  I was close to tears with gratitude for the moment.  When I went to let go of his hand so I could go around to help him get up, he squeezed my hand again, and wouldn’t let me go.

The beautiful thing about this moment is that J wasn’t freaking out.  He was calm.  He was relaxed.  He had done something (to us) extraordinary, but he was fine with the whole process once he took those deep breaths and we connected.  The beautiful thing about this moment is that J TRUSTED me, and I could tell that he was wanting to prolong it for a little while longer.

Six hours after we got there, we got sent home.  It’s just a nasty stomach bug.  A REALLY nasty stomach bug.  J arrived here with the intention of going to bed, even though the sun was out.  He accepted that he was to eat according to the list provided, that he had to take one medication to help him stop throwing up, and that he could only drink water in smaller amounts until he was feeling better.

Today he has improved, and is more himself.  Loves me one minute; hates me the next.  Wants me around, hounds me, kicks me out of the room.  He has FINALLY learned the ASL for SICK, and now says it over and over.  SICK?  SICK?  Not quite so much as yesterday, son…not quite so much.  He’s slowly been recovering from the ugliness he was feeling, and little by little he is eating more things from the list, and accepting still that his regular diet is a no-go.

Dada, of course, is now thinking he’s ready to get sick.  I, of course, am equipped with gloves, Clorox, Lysol, and the caution that comes with the realization that I cannot let this go around and around and around.  You pick up a water bottle, you write your name on it…it’s yours and yours alone.  Time to change sheets?  Time to wash towels?  Time to check if a butt is properly wiped?  GLOVES!  I am a one-woman cleaning crew on a mission…

In a few days, when everyone is better, I will swap out the toothbrushes, deep clean the bathrooms all over again…and we will, maybe, get down to the business of Twelve Days.

Right now we are just trying to get back on track, and helping J recover from this nasty bout of whatever viral thing it is he found and brought home randomly.  The cart-wipes they offer at the stores?  We’re using them.  The antibacterial goo that doesn’t really do anything?  We’re using it.  Seeing J sick is grueling emotionally because it’s so hard for him, even with the Proloquo, to put into words some of his misery…

But we’re getting there…we’re getting better.  We’re dealing with it…and our son TRUSTS ME!