You can go your own way…

Yesterday’s note from the teacher read “we tried to turn left and J threw a hissy fit.  We thought we’d mix things up.  We ended up turning right, and he was happy then.”

You KNOW I read this as soon as he was off the bus.  You KNOW we had a “conversation” on the way home and, to top it off, I changed the route to one he usually dislikes, and I -in no uncertain terms- told J that what the teacher says goes.

I heard a lot of grumbling, but he followed me as I lead him on the alternate route.  When we got home, I once more gave the “you don’t get to choose for the whole class” speech.  He was only repentant enough to elicit an outing to get lunch from TGG.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, J puppy-eyed his brother and got a burger out of it.

You must be saying “WHAT????” to yourselves right about now, and you’re probably calling me a coward.  Well, from yesterday morning until Saturday morning it’s all about picking battles carefully.  Dada, you see, is out of town for training, and that is stressful enough as is.  I am walking a fine line here, and I need to keep my balance.

I slept with a rather anxious cat on my feet last night.  This, of course, didn’t happen until after TGG had left for work and I’d had to tell J that, unequivocally, it was bedtime and he needed to turn his music OFF and crawl into bed.  I got a big AW out of that from him.  He had turned off his light and TV earlier, and he was “in bed.”  No sooner had I crawled into my bed and tried to tire myself by reading that I heard the distant thumping of Brian Setzer jitterbugging his way through a Christmas song.  I got out of bed and played bad guy.  It was probably 11:00 P.M.

If I can get J to somewhat understand that Dada is away working and he’ll be back this weekend, I do not have such powers over the cat.  Both J and Miss Pipa are still waiting for Miss JuJu to return.  They sit anxiously waiting on the deck, and J is a little more resigned to the empty chair beside him than Miss Pipa is.  Day after day she goes out to sniff around, searching for her former nemesis and now long-lost friend.  That the cat has become our shadow is an understatement; I have found her curled up on the toilet seat when I step out of the shower.  Last night, when she realized that darkness was falling and the tall guy wasn’t home yet, she started pacing around and going to the garage to sniff at the van.  She would come back to the kitchen and do something she seldom does: MEOW!  I tried to explain, in as easy-for-a-cat-to-understand terms as I was capable of, that she’ll be fed, watered and petted while Dada is gone, but that he won’t be home until late, late on Friday night.

J listened to this one-sided conversation as he ate his dinner, and made a rather awkward attempt at playing catch with the cat.  Yes, our cat thinks she’s a dog and she plays catch.  She also sleeps on her back and likes her belly rubbed.  She also runs to the door or window if she hears a suspicious sound and acts like she’s ready to protect us.  I never said this cat was sane, I just said she’s ours.

Some sort of semblance of calm had settled over us when, in what seemed like an out-of-the-blue development to Miss Pipa, TGG started getting ready for work.  J is accustomed to this.  The only thing that threw him off last night was the absence of the garage door’s noise and vibration, but he accepted TGG’s “see you in the morning!” and was relaxed about the prospect of Dada being back on Friday morning and TGG coming back this morning.  Miss Pipa, on the other hand, went into a very accurate imitation of Anthony Quinn’s Andrea in Guns of Navarone.  If she had been wearing a shirt, she’d have torn it off and pounded her bare chest with her tiny paws.  It was THAT melodramatic.  As I spoke to Dada on the phone before going to bed, Miss Pipa hovered over me, sniffing my hair, crawling under the pillows, scratching at closet doors (does she REALLY think he fits in there with all those clothes?,) and bringing one of her “danger mice” for me to toss and toss and toss to entertain her, she settled down at the foot of the bed, and proceeded to meow rather loudly until she felt it was enough.

The alarm clock rang loudly at six a.m. and Miss Pipa leaped towards me as I leapt out of bed.  I made the worst cup of coffee in the history of my world.  I am no longer used to making coffee for one.  At six-thirty I gave Dada his wake-up call and then I finished my coffee before setting about getting J out the door.  Dada’s absence seems to have been forgotten overnight.  J, too, was looking all over the place and went to the garage to check if the van was still there.  After he found the van (not that he could miss its presence at all…it IS big and red!,) he went upstairs and looked for Dada.  I explained, again, that he’ll be back late on Friday, and I showed him the calendar and counted with him.

I am sure I will have to help everyone settle in once more as the day progresses into night.  That I have time to spare is something that nags at me.  I miss Dada tremendously, and the days go by very slowly when he’s not here and yet I seem to get everything done earlier, and then I’m left to mark time until it’s bedtime.  I think it’s because J’s not much of a conversationalist.  This morning we had an awesome time singing our bus-waiting song, and we’ve added stanzas and he actually vocalizes enthusiastically, but the rest of the time our exchanges are brief.  Dada, on the other hand, is quite the chatterbox (even if people think I’m the one who can’t seem to shut up.)

On the way to the bus, I went over the “you do as the teacher says” thing, and I wrote a note (which I read out loud to J) saying that if he needs to stay behind while the other kids walk due to his lack of cooperation, so be it.  J rolled his eyes and said YES.  We’ll see how he fared today when I read the book again.

Here we are…day two of the altered environment.  I have a cat on my feet as I type this.  J is at school and TGG is sleeping.  Is it Friday yet?

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…