The unbearable overwhelmingness of being…

J and I have reached the love/hate point in our relationship.  If a sudden snowstorm strikes and we are stuck here on Tuesday, rather than he on his way to school and me using the bathroom without interruption, I think we will both scream.  Yes, we’ll scream at the weather gods, the sky, each other…  It sounds horrible, I know, but we’re pretty sick of each other by now.

Bad momma.  Bad, bad momma.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore the kid.  I’m pretty sure he’s fond of me, but we’ve pretty much exhausted every venue of togetherness we could come up with, and he’s ready to head back to the social opportunities provided by his classmates.  We’ve had fun, but did YOU enjoy being with YOUR mom 24/7 when you were almost seventeen?  How about me?  Did I ever, in my wildest imaginations, think I’d be hanging out with my nearly seventeen year-old all day, every day, during Xmas vacation?

I know this is a sick fantasy, but there are days when I would love to just stay in bed.  Tell no one…I am ashamed of my sybaritic inclinations on this one.  A dream of a day in pajamas (not with a coffee stain on the front, an ear thermometer in my robe’s pocket, tissue in my hand, mismatched socks,) lounging pleasurably in bed while sipping tea, reading a book (War and Peace seems a lot longer when one reads it in spurts here and there,) maybe painting my nails, taking a nap, stretching like a cat…not because I am sick and I need to stay in bed…just because I want to stay in bed.  Shhh…tell no one I fantasize about this…I’d have to find you all and smack you upside the head for it.

I tried this on Monday.  I had asked for “a morning in bed” as a Christmas present.  WHAT was I thinking?  The whir of the coffee grinder, the in and out of people (on the loudest tiptoes EVER,) the whispered “do you want your coffee now or later?” in my ear.  Let’s just say I crawled out of bed and kept going only to be met with “but why are you UP?”  I’ve always envied people’s ability to arch ONE brow and give a glare…the closest I could come to achieving the look I was going for was holding my eyebrow up with one finger (blocking that eye because twisting my arm behind my back to not obstruct the eye would have been uncomfortable) and shooting arrows from the other eye.  And I wonder why they don’t take my grievances seriously around here…sigh!

J has discovered his athlete’s foot.  In keeping with his obsessive habits, he’s been looking at this foot with fascination.  It’s not gross looking, but he knows it itches, and I suspect he’s trying to “see” the itch.  Fresh socks (from a brand new package) are handed to him whenever his feet are washed, thoroughly dried and the cream is applied, and he looks at his foot as it hides within the confines of the sock, waiting to see if what he’s feeling has an outward manifestation, like little movements under the sock indicating that little creatures are running around causing mayhem on there.  This morning the trend has been one sock and slipper on and one foot completely bare…plus the pant leg on that side gathered up, exposing the ankle and part of his calf.  J looks rather dashing like this…maybe because he’s smiling so broadly?

The last Friday of the year finds us gathering Christmas decorations and getting ready to clean the house from top to bottom.  I like to start the new year with a clear idea of what I need to get done for the next 365 days (366 this time around) and with a clean house.  The blank slate, as it were, must be truly clean so we can write on it…

There is a restlessness to today and tomorrow.  We are recapitulating, assessing, remembering, doffing the vestments of the old year and getting ready to don the new.  Yes, we’re all getting a year older and we’re all getting -hopefully- wiser…and, for some strange reason, this fills me with trepidation.  J, of course, is looking at it in terms of getting a new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue calendar which I’ve yet to locate at any local store…and we don’t want to start the new year on the wrong foot…on the wrong, bare, athlete’s foot plagued foot…do we?

So, yes, we’re both overwhelmed with the status quo.  I don’t think that my awareness of what would have been an alternate status quo makes my feelings about it any more valid than J’s.  I feel for him because he doesn’t know that, in an alternate set of circumstances, he could be at a friend’s house playing video games, heading to the mall with someone other than us, taking the car and going for a drive, planning a movie date with that cute girl he sees in the hallway between bells…  I’d still be at home, relishing the peace and quiet of choosing what to do next, but J could be Mr. Man-About-Town…if he ever realizes this, he’ll be crushed by the fact that it’s not in the cards for him.

There are THOSE moments, you know, when it’s all ALRIGHT.  Take, for instance, the Great Whoopee Cushion Incident of Tuesday night.  As I sat at my desk, I heard a loud fart.  This was no whoopee cushion fart…this was the real deal.  As I turned to look at the source, already laughing because when you live surrounded by males it becomes a competitive sport and you’re the judge (or running out of the room in horror,) I saw J standing in front of the couch, holding in his hands a flat whoopee cushion.  “J!  What was THAT?!” and my son, my child, my darling boy moved his hands up to show me the whoopee cushion.  At that moment I knew the dog we don’t have would have been blamed.  I said “no, J…THAT was not a whoopee cushion fart.”  And he laughed heartily…

Yes, there are THOSE moment when it’s ALL alright…

And this goes here…and this one here…and THIS one goes there…

Sometimes I have to wonder why Legos are so complicated.  J’s older brother can put them together in less than half an hour, and that’s the really complex ones with a gazillion pieces, some of which don’t quite make sense.  You know the pieces I mean…the one little square piece with only one nub on it that goes between two rather large pieces with nine or twelve nubs on them.  Somewhere in the Lego design department someone went “and THEN this one teeny-tiny, minuscule piece is integral to keeping the whole thing together!”  The other Lego designers/engineers nodded thoughtfully and said “Sven, that is absolute genius!  If you had skipped that one teeny-tiny piece, well, the whole thing would have been as wobbly as a house made of toothpicks and straws in the middle of a Category 5 hurricane!”

J and I put our heads together (literally) and pored over the instruction booklet for one of his Lego sets yesterday.  I won’t specify a time because this started sometime after ten a.m. and continued until after dinner.  We had to look through all the pieces, count nubs, check shapes and then -when one such search proved fruitless- we had to resort to the big bin-o’-Legos where all the sets go to rest when we’re done with them.  Do you know what “big bin-o’-Legos” means to an autistic individual?  It means “all this has to be sorted by color or shape or category.”  There isn’t a Rubbermaid, Ziploc, Glad or generic food container left in the household that is not occupied with Lego pieces.  If I want to save a chunk of cheese, I will have to consume all the butter to have an empty container to put it in…yes, even the Ziploc bags have been pressed into service.

For one glorious hour, J was emitting sounds that meant nothing more than “oh joy!” and “Eureka!”  Every little inexplicable piece found a place in a plastic container, and there was much rejoicing when -at the end of the whole sorting process- we finally found the pieces we couldn’t locate for the one set we were working on.  I would write an angry e-mail to Lego Customer Service, but it seems rather petty to say “there were TWO white, flat, square, four-nubbed pieces missing from my son’s lighthouse.  How dare you???”  That they manage to not miss one single circular clear “headlight” is a miracle itself so why complain about two pieces that are available (in a whole array of colors) in that vast Lego wasteland we sorted through yesterday?  J, of course, knew they were supposed to be white, but (as we worked our way through the Legos) he seemed to realize we might have to work with another color.  Me?  I still don’t know why the two particular pieces I speak of were necessary at all, but then I’m not fluent in Legolese except when I step on one and I become eloquent and rather colorful…

We didn’t mind the hours-long process of building the lighthouse or of sorting through Lego pieces.  I did mind, however, that fake-Elvis came back into rotation and I was subjected to brain-crunching activity while listening to O Holy Night being abused by a singer who turned out to be (much to my chagrin and sadness) Brian Setzer.  Yes, as a Stray Cat fan, I was appalled to realize that I like Mr. Setzer much better when he’s “stray” rather than when he’s “pedigreed.”  J’s sense of humor got a chance to shine when, as I realized who was singing (because he handed me the jewel-case for the CD so I could insert it into the machine,) he said “OH NO!” in mock horror and then started laughing as if to say “take THAT, mother lady!”

The weather continues to not cooperate.  Yesterday’s rain is supposed to fade away as the day progresses, but right now a very light snow is falling.  I would have preferred heavier snow so J could see his Xmas tree (which is currently resting on the deck, waiting for proper disposal) covered in snow as it would have been out in the forest.  I think he’s still waiting for a closer approximation of winter to materialize, but I suspect this will not happen until significant snowfall interferes with everyday, regular activities.  As I said, there’s a lot more sense of humor flowing through the cosmos than people give credit for…

We approach the end of the year with two monkey-wrenches thrown into the mechanical aspect of our lives.  On Christmas Eve Day, J’s bed was wet.  I firmly believe this was an isolated incident as it has not repeated itself, but -for the sake of prevention- I am constantly reminding him to take a bathroom break.  The second monkey-wrench?  J has athlete’s foot…on ONE foot.  You’d think both would be equally compromised since they are usually together, but no…one is pristinely unaffected while the other looks like the ugly step-cousin three times removed.  So, from time to time, there is significant squealing related to the unpleasant feeling of “I can’t believe you put that stinky ointment on my foot to stop the itching” and to “I can’t believe my foot itches and you’re not here putting stinky ointment on it!”

I am often criticized by the male population (I am outnumbered three to one here) because I still insist on people spending a great deal of time drying themselves after a bath; I’m that mom who insists on people using a towel thoroughly and not leaving the house with a wet head of hair.  I also believe in baby powder; left to my own devices I’d make sure everyone left the bathroom looking like a freshly-baked sweet roll covered in confectioners’ sugar.  But, of course, teenagers and adults of the male persuasion are not particularly inclined to use baby powder, especially when it is suggested by someone who says things like “if you have the hiccups, drink water upside down,” “come here so I can put some Vicks VapoRub on your chest and that stuffy nose will be gone in a flash,” “witch hazel will take care of that pimple,” “can you throw some uncooked rice in the salt shaker so the salt doesn’t clump up?”  Since the isolated case of one-foot athlete’s foot was discovered, people have admitted that they often ignore my warnings because, even though I grew up in a tropical climate and am more familiar with the devastating effects of humidity, they are men and they believe they know better.  The way it has been explained to me sounds a little like it’s related to the presence of gonads connected to the “I know everything” portion of the brain.  I wonder if there’s an ointment for that…