After a long, drawn-out silence…

Here I am.

Well, here WE are.  Our family unit is intact, and -in fact- there are more grandkids than there were when I last poked my head out of the cozy cavern that is our family life.

J is doing well.  J is very far now from being a teenager.  He is a full-fledged adult having hit his mid-twenties (officially) a mere week ago.  Where has the time gone?  (Hint: it’s settled in my joints and bones and wrinkles and the roots of my now-decidedly-gray hair.)

I would like to tell you that we’ve found balance, but the thing about balance is that it involves hard work.  A small shift and whoops! There it goes!  So on days when we’re all working at it, we’re balanced.  We do, however, tilt occasionally.  This is acceptable.  This is fine. This is the way it’s supposed to be.

Anyone who says they feel centered and balanced 100% of the time is full of shit.  My dad, who was a wise and exasperating man, used to say that absolute happiness is boring; you need to know what unhappiness feels like to fully appreciate when you are happy.

In general, though, all is going well.  We found ourselves at J’s psych appointment being tremendously positive about things like Twelve Days (which were awesome because they were low-key and as stress-free as any holiday can be) and J’s penchant for treating us like annoying room-mates (which we are…what twenty-something human absolutely enjoys the company of his/her parental units?  I certainly didn’t…that’s why I got married and skedaddled as quickly as I could).

After two years of living in this house (which we all love madly) and getting settled into our routines and roles as we all age and find our niche in life as it is now, J is so very comfortable in his rooms and home that he has become a bit of a recluse.

Allow me now to expound what this means (much in the same way I did for J’s psych who looked mildly alarmed but was very open to my explanation):

J is happy.  J is content.  J is in no way sad, bored, depressed, anxious.  J LOVES his rooms. J moves around his rooms with the ease of one who is surveying his kingdom.  J is like a cat who has found that, yes, any container will hold its body in comfort.

When J wants something, he asks for it.  When J needs something, he asks for it.  When J is in the mood to spend time with anyone, he does.  When J is compelled to protest, he does so.  When J doesn’t want something, he declines it.  He is not hesitant and he is not rude; J is simply firm and direct.  He is also patient with our insistence on wanting to check on him because we are concerned he might be lonely.  The only thing missing is J patting us on the head and saying “you poor, silly people…if it makes you happy to check on me, OK, but you’re annoying…”  We have installed a Ring Indoor Camera in his TV room, and he is very happy to be called through there rather than having us walk in and interrupt whatever it is he does.

We have seen him lounging (quite literally) on his futon with his arms behind his head, his shoulders absolutely relaxed, his legs extended and a smirk of absolute “ah, this is the life!” on his face.  We have seen him roll his eyes when we call him only to smile broadly when he realizes we’re offering him something to eat.

It had been building up for a while, this desire to not go out.  We had noticed a certain degree of anxiety and ill-humor when we had to go to J’s usual haunts.  Little by little, we started asking him where he wanted to go, and he started making sure we knew he would rather be home.

Don’t imagine, please, that J sits in a dark basement sulking.  Quite the contrary.  J’s TV room is light and airy, and his view of the street and the green area is quite lovely.  He sees the deer when they come out (sometimes a dozen of them at a time!), the cars as they go by, the people who go for walks.  A multitude of birds fly by and the neighborhood cats promenade in front of our house much to the chagrin of our dog.  J can see when his pizza is being delivered from his favorite pizza place once a week; he bounces down the stairs happily and greets the delivery person…they all know him by now.  So do the grocery delivery people: they know his likes and dislikes, and they even remember his birthday.

When he wants to go out, he asks to go and, once he has done what he wants to do, he is ready to come home.  There is no fear, there is very little anxiety.  Perhaps it is that the world is loud and that people are…self-absorbed?  People looking at their phones, in a hurry, talking loudly into little rectangular boxes they carry around.  He used to be more comfortable around strangers than he is now.  Now he’s more comfortable with people he knows, and people who are familiar with his quirks.

J doesn’t mind going to his medical appointments.  He does beautifully.  He doesn’t mind going shopping as long as he’s not going to have to spend the whole day out and about.  He likes going out for a purpose.  J is like my great-grandfather, my great-aunts, my father and me…going out is nowhere near as much fun as being at home and doing the things he loves to do.

There are days when he’s “in a mood”, and there are days when he’s relaxed.  The same can be said of anyone.  In spite of what can be interpreted at self-imposed isolation, J’s vocabulary and skills are…growing!

The young man who needed help for absolutely everything now needs less and less help for things I wasn’t sure he’d ever master doing.  Anyone who walks past the bathroom as he’s laying out all the things he needs at bathtime will think “ah, there’s a dude!”  If they walk past again when he’s getting ready for his shave they’ll go “ah!  There’s a dude who is in full command of shaving gel!”  The first day he did that it was a disaster: we sometimes take for granted applying things to our face as we look in the mirror, but we don’t know how that looks to a person with Autism.  He got the hang of it two shaves later…now he’s totally in command of the process.  He’s even starting (with supervision and help) to shave.

J is even starting to commune with the dog.  Discreetly.  Hesitantly.  Gingerly.  But he’s starting to commune with the dog.

For his 25th birthday, and taking into consideration that he’s been happier hanging out in his lair than out of it, we kept things appropriately celebratory and yet low-key: he wanted Chinese food and a cake.  He got both…in his loungewear.  Balloons.  Streamers.  Sufficient brouhaha to declare that 25 was the number…and then he sat back on his futon with his favorite blanket, his iPad, and his arms behind his head and a smile on his face.

That’s where we’re at…it’s not a bad place to be.

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……..

Carpe whatever strikes your fancy!

Yesterday we took J to the movie theater to watch one of his favorite movies on the big screen for the first (and quite possibly only) time.  I don’t know if you are familiar with Turner Classic Movies’ screenings of movie classics through Fathom Events, but if you are not you should check it out.  Granted, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but you might find something to interest you.

We have, so far, watched The Maltese Falcon and The King and I, and J got to experience Singin’ In the Rain in all its full-color, big-screen glory yesterday.  We timed our arrival quite well, and were pleased to see that there were quite a few people there.  Carousel had been removed from the list because, I suppose, not a lot of people pre-bought tickets or showed interest.  I was bummed because I wanted to take J to that one, too.

It is always fun to watch J having fun.  The moment he saw the opening sequence he smiled, but by the time Make ‘Em Laugh rolled around he was bouncing  in his seat and grinning from ear to ear.  His most favorite number (Good Morning) made him positively giddy.

Today he is sitting in his TV room and re-watching the movie with a smile that reminds me of Rex saying in Toy Story 2 “I LIVED IT!!!!”

Friday night was rough.  It was more about J wanting to impose his will than anything else.  My hot flashes didn’t help.  Dada’s work-related stress doesn’t help either.  We all know that it’s not good to “cross the streams” (to quote another big-screen experience J loved: Ghostbusters) but it’s inevitable some times.

Upheaval has come to us without us inviting it in, and we have to deal…there’s no other option.  How gracefully we’ll manage it is up in the air.  With TGG’s baby about to be born any day now things get a little testier still.  Any time the phone rings we wonder if that’s what the call is about.  More often than not it’s someone asking if we want to give money to charity (some of very suspect provenance,) and other times it’s “service calls for our Windows operating system.”  I recently replied to “this is about your Windows,” with “they’re ok as-is…no use giving them a good cleaning until spring.”  The caller was baffled.  Also baffled was the one who called to tell me “I am with senior services,” and got an earful in return.  (For the record: not technically a senior yet, but I still don’t like being rudely awakened by the phone when I’ve dozed off on the couch during a peaceful moment when J doesn’t demand my attention.  That is “Autism-mom random miraculous snoozing” not a “senior” nap.)

The med is doing what is expected of it (cleaning out the cobwebs that were blocking our path to helping J,) and we are trying to do what is expected of us (helping J work through the things that hinder him.)  On the plus side: SIB is at its lowest rate since autumn; on the minus side: that belly is getting bigger in spite of our best intentions and efforts.  No, the pill doesn’t make him fat, but it increases his appetite and sort of slows down his metabolism.  He has gained weight, but we are still working on keeping this particular strain at a minimum.  He exercises regularly, eats his veggies, controls his portions…it’s going to take a great deal of effort and determination, but until such a time as we can take the med away again, we will have this on our plate…

I am happy to report that yesterday morning I managed to get him to keep his bandaids and brace off for over an hour.  He helped make breakfast, and then waited until I called him to come have them redone.  It is becoming an easier thing to do, parting him from those comfort objects, but we still have a long, long way to go to get back to where we were before.

But we’re going with the whole carpe whatever thing.  We cannot just wait until the next good opportunity for anything rolls around.  We need to jump on the bandwagon of whatever degree of progress, calm, fun, happiness is passing by at the moment…

Yes, yes, La La Land is a hit, and it sounds like fun, but Singin’ In the Rain was showing on the big screen where we were and none of us had seen it before.  La La Land was showing, and the theaters were full…but it will be there next Sunday, and -quite possibly- the Sunday after that one, and the one after that…  It was time to carpe…and the smile on J’s face said that carpe was the verb to go with then and there…  In sixty-five years maybe La La Land will be to some kid what Singin’ In the Rain is to J now…and I hope his parents carpe like we carpe-ed yesterday.  Because that moment of happiness has made for a relaxed J today, and that lifts fog and it makes it easier to help him help himself.

So carpe away, my friends…if it helps that is just awesome!



It’s here! It’s here! The First Day of Christmas!!!!




Ridiculously fun Christmas village…check!

Christmas music…check!

Presents wrapped…check!

Twelve Days Countdown Calendar…check!

Snowflakes the size of small hamsters…yeah…check…

Small hamsters…

I kid you not…

But on to other subjects.

It’s the First Day of Christmas!!!!  We are READY for gift-giving, and J is totally into it…FINALLY!

We went to his psych appointment yesterday, and his meltdowns are basically “normal” and “an offshoot” of all the other emotional, psychological stuff that he deals with on a daily basis.  Physically he’s healthy (all things considered, of course…we have to track the effect of the med on his metabolism, of course,) and we have seen a marked improvement in how he handles himself, and how he communicates with us.

I am happy to report that SIB is down to a minimum, and this seems more like a daily dosage requirement J has imposed on himself.  It’s more of an obsessive behavior he must complete than a behavior he engages in to cause harm.  Some days he hits softly, and others he just touches his hand to his head in a very specific pattern.  Gone is the viciousness.

His personality, happily, is intact.  He can still be annoyed by us, and he can still annoy us. He laughs when he thinks something is funny, and he rolls his eyes when he is tired of our attempts to engage him if he’s not in the mood for them.  He insists on things he wants, but he negotiates without doing any violence to himself.  He can be redirected.  He can be consoled if he’s inclined to be consoled, and entertained if he’s inclined to be entertained. We have had our concerns, of course, because having J on a med is not our favorite thing to do, and we always ponder at the deeper meaning of his behavior.  We have wondered how far we can push certain situations before he loses his patience with everything and reverts to angry, incessant SIB.

Many of our fears were laid quietly to rest yesterday.  It was, to put it mildly, a bit of a hectic morning.  It was, to be kind, the kind of morning that perhaps would’ve possibly thrown J for a loop a mere two or three weeks ago.  It was the kind of morning that, when you look back on it, you have to laugh because there is a strong undercurrent of absurdity that can only be interpreted as “meant to be” for the purpose of “testing the waters.”

J’s appointment with the psych was at 8 a.m.  We got there early.  We simply dashed out the door in an effort to miss the traffic generated by the second wave of school buses that pass through the entire area we were to drive in to get to the hospital.  In the process, we basically got J dressed and, without further ado, hopped into the car…leaving the iPad behind.   We got to the doctor with no delay at all, but…the doctor was stuck in traffic, and what was supposed to be an 8 a.m. appointment didn’t start until 8:30.  We had given J his med, but we hadn’t had time for breakfast.  After the doctor, we stopped for a quick bite, and then headed to notarize the end-of-year guardian report to the court.  We got to the UPS Store and, lo and behold, my ID (my new ID which I had renewed in April of this current year) seemed to be “expired.”  I nearly had a heart attack.  I have bought wine with that ID.  I voted with that ID.  I notarized another document with that ID.  Did I have the wrong ID?  Had I accidentally shredded the new one?  Impossible!  How could I vote not six weeks ago with an expired ID????  We dashed home.  Searched everywhere.  No ID anywhere.  I called the DMV office and explained; the kind customer service rep looked at the file online and said “oh, wow…we made a mistake.”  Yep…my new ID was issued with the same date that the old ID had.  She knew this because she could see, and I then confirmed, that my organ donor date was in April of this year.

Off to the DMV office, and -thankfully- no line.  Of course, you realize that this is all completely out of the flight plan we had shared with J the previous night.  “First we’re going to the doctor, then we’ll grab coffee, then we’ll do some paperwork, drop it off, then we’ll go to Target, the grocery store, and the crafts store…”  This had turned closer to “first we’ll go to the doctor, wait a while, grab breakfast AND coffee, do some paperwork, run back home, run to a government agency, do some paperwork…”  Once we got into the car I told Dada “I am picking my battles, dude…let’s notarize these papers, and do something for this happy, patient young man who has accepted all the upheaval without nary a complaint.”  We went back to the UPS Store, notarized the papers, and set them aside for filing today.

J, who had been calm and accepting all through this mad dash to and fro, smiled broadly when I told him “we are going to Target!”  I took J to Target while Dada went to get the few groceries we needed, and then I went to the crafts store while J and Dada listened to music in the car.  When we got home, we put our purchases and paperwork away, and made J’s lunch.  While food was cooking, I went upstairs and changed his bandaids.  By the time he came downstairs, J was happy and relaxed, and you couldn’t really tell we’d been running around all morning with gloomy weather and unexpected alterations to our trip’s design.

The rest of the day went by calmly, happily…we relaxed and did small fun stuff…like adding train tracks to J’s Christmas village, and including some animals we hadn’t found when we first started setting it up.

The morning proved to us that we have broken through the fog, and J is now more in tune with the person he was before his anxiety overrode all other systems.  We can talk to him; we can communicate; we can listen better because there is more to listen to…it is no longer just growling, grunting and screaming that give us cues.  We now see path to working our way to the happier, more relaxed version of the same stubborn child we know and love.  He is happier; he is glad of the little Christmas tree we put together with florists’ foam, branches cut from the bottom of the bigger tree, and little lights…it is in the corner of his bedroom.  He was happily gazing at it last night…and he looked and seemed more like J…

Let the festivities, scaled back as they are, commence…


On the Ninth Day of Christmas, all is quiet and happy all over the place…

Things are going well.  The med is gone, baby, gone, and we’re definitely hanging in there.  Four and a half pounds lighter, and still hanging in there.  A little obsessed with the band-aids, but hanging in there.

Is J a little antsier?  No, not really.  He’s a little more prone to boredom, but he’s also a little more enthused about helping.  He waited patiently for the time when we actually could leave for the theater to watch Star Wars The Force Awakens, and this even though we were supposed to go the (we discovered suddenly) sold-out 10 a.m. show…he also patiently waited when he realized that the 1:50 show was sold out, too.  He was ok with coming home, putting groceries and purchases away, and eating lunch before actually heading out to the theater with a rather long, drawn-out stop at Barnes & Noble.

All this sans Risperdal…

If you had told me J wouldvpatiently wait through reversal of plans after reversal of plans…  Yes, he’s picked at his chin a bit more than usual, but he LISTENS when I tell him we have to wait a little longer.

On the  “not-quite-good” news front, the psoriasis made a comeback, and this time it was next to J’s goatee.  We thought, initially, that it was razor burn, but as soon as we recognized the characteristics, we applied the lotion his doctor prescribed and the patch disappeared in short order.

Of course, I have to point out that first I had to FIND the lotion.  J, seeing a prescription label, assumed this was something one drinks and, based on experience, assumed it would taste like crap and hid it.  He hid it along with my wrist stabilizers (which I’ve been needing and wanting,) and several other items that -to him- are not “friendly.”  Once I explained that the prescription was for that patch on his chin, he allowed me to take it out of the box, and put it in his bathroom.

We are negotiating a lot more.  Today, for example, we negotiated chocolate chips for every task he completed while we baked biscotti.  I’ve never had a more avid helper, or one who can bounce so easily from dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips with such alacrity.  He was disappointed when I told him we were done with the baking for today, and accepted his chocolate chip-less fate with aplomb.

By now, as you may know, we are deep into the Twelve Days.  It is, as I type this, the aftermath of the Ninth Day of Christmas, and this year J has actually sung the song with us…if he doesn’t raise his voice, I can see he’s enunciating rather nicely, but we -sadly- drown him out.  He’s not thrilled about Miss Zelda’s eager participation in the ritual, but he tolerates it as long as the cat sits next to Dada and doesn’t attempt to approach J’s present.  The fact that we now have a cat that, regardless of where she is in the house, hears The Twelve Days of Christmas and runs to arrive in time for gift-giving is yet another sign that this is not a run-of-the-mill household.  If she has not left the room for any transaction in another area of the house, she is calmly sitting under the tree, waiting for us to join her…

The weather has been kind…sort of.  When it’s cold, it’s very cold.  The rest of the time it’s basically gloomy or rainy, or it rains.  Winter begins now, I remind myself, and January will make up for all that we’ve missed so far.  I get the feeling that snow days (or harsh weather days) will abound.  In my efforts to over-prepare, I might have had a hand in the persistence of warm weather, and I think I (and everyone else) will pay for it in the coming weeks.

But J is happy.  J is calm.  J is handling himself beautifully, and I cannot help but be hopeful about everything else.  I will not go out and buy a lottery ticket anytime soon, but I will definitely savor this uptick in goodness that comes from the med being gone and J exercising his most mature self in the process.

I can’t ask for more.  Well, I could, but that would be the same as being ridiculously greedy, and we want to spread around the good stuff to those who need it…

We are happy being happy with the happiness we have…we hope some of it comes everyone else’s way too…



The Last First Day of School Ever…

Today is the beginning of the end.  Sounds grim, huh?  Well, it sort of is.

J started his last year of school this morning.  I made sure to remind him that he is to have as much fun, learn as much, enjoy as much, grow as much as possible from today until the end of May 2016 because then school will be over for him.  He looked at me as if part of him understood, and as if part of him just wanted to dash out the door for the bus.

Yesterday we started talking about today very early.  J was happy for the greater part of the morning; he listened to his classical music, smiled and chilled out for a long time…and then he got taciturn and moody in the afternoon.  Our guess is that he was happy school would be back in session while realizing that some of his classmates moved on last year and wouldn’t be there.

Transitions aren’t easy for people in the Spectrum.  Any change in routine comes with a healthy dash of caution attached to it; parents tend to overanalyze, worry, plan, cross fingers, knock on wood, and so on and so forth.  We’re not just thinking about how WE will deal with an upset child; we are thinking of the upset child.

I had long considered I would slowly introduce the idea of “this is the last year of school!!!!”  This morning I decided I’d be blunt; I decided to go with the same candor that I use on the kids’ birthdays: you will only be this age once…relish it!  Well…this is the last year…make the most of it…

Nostalgia, of course, hits me.  I remember the many first days of school, and how this particular one seemed such a long way off.  I remember TGG’s First Day of School, and I remember his First Day of College…and now he’s had Another First Day of College (and this time I think he means it.)  I remember J’s First Day of School, and every First Day of School after that one.  If at one time he wasn’t thrilled, J grew to love school…to be excited about going…to look forward to it…to dread the long lulls between end-of-school and summer-school.

This, obviously, is the time of year when people proudly display pictures of their kids dressed up for the First Day of School.  Kids in uniforms; kids in kicky outfits; kids driving their hand-me-down car; kids getting their Class Rings; kids transitioning from grade school to middle school, from middle school to high school, and kids leaving for college.  It is a joyous time of year regardless of how it ultimately unfolds academically, socially, athletically, extracurricularly…  The beginning of the school year always smells of possibility, of the future, of progress…

Over here it smells of the beginning of the end, and it’s not a nasty smell.  It’s just a sad smell.  Or, rather, a bittersweet smell.  Once the School Year 2015-2016 is done, school is done.  There’s no college; there’s no vocational training; there’s no buying school supplies, singing the Bus Song…  We reach the end of a road and we don’t have a map to guide us any further.

OK…the truth is I’m sad.  This is the apex, the climax, the swan song of J’s school years, and it sort of says “well, your productive, intellectually-absorbent years are over, kid.”  I know J has a boatload of potential, but I know the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily see it that way (even if they don’t come right out and say it.)  The truth is that the system can only do so much, and the corollaries of the system are equipped to do just a little more.  Both resources are overtaxed as is, and there is a (quiet, secretive, resentful) sector of society that says “WHAT are we supposed to do?  These kids/adults/people are not our problem.  Let the families deal with it.  We can’t carry them forever!!!”

It’s absolutely true.  The school system can only provide services for J until a certain point, and when he moves on it is to make room for others like him who will move up the ranks until there’s no more ranks to move up through.  That’s the way of the world.  I accept that, and I know that much progress has been made by J, and that people have put their hearts and souls into helping him.

But I can still be sad, can’t I?  I can be sad (even if it is a little stupid because I’ve always known) that this is it.  That this is where we get off the train and stay at this particular station.  I can be sad that there is no college, no parties, no Big Game, no tailgating, no college friends, no college sweetheart…  I guess, in some stupid and totally ridiculous way, I am mourning that I don’t get to see my son finish high school and move on to be…someone else?

Of course, I am also mourning the Empty Nest I’ll never have, and I foresee a lot of work in my silver and golden years.  I will miss out on Me-Time, and being a Happy Go-Lucky Empty Nester.  I will have to find time, once school is over and done with, to still be me in spite of J’s constant presence.  But I knew that already, and I’m sort of ready for it all…sort of, but not quite, not yet…

Getting there, though.  That speech this morning was as much for me as it was for J.  Take advantage.  Seize the day.  Enjoy the last year of rushing home to sit with a book while sipping tea on cold winter mornings, going for walks with the camera and immortalizing autumn leaves, napping for 20 minutes after finishing chores, taking a long shower and leaving the conditioner in for as long as the bottle suggests…

It was our Last First Day of School Ever…time to go wait for the yellow bus!

A trip to town…

With a great deal of equanimity, J accepted that we were going on an outing, and he trusted me when I said it was for fun.  What I mean by “for fun” is “no doctors.”  We ran errands.  We walked a lot.  We rode the bus and discovered that it isn’t just the potholes that cause problems; poor suspension in any vehicle will make for a bumpy ride even if the road is (more or less) in good repair.  By the time we reached High Street, J and I were more than ready to get off the bus; I’m sure the other passengers were ready for us to leave, too, because J said GOING TO TOWN a minimum of 200 times during the half-hour ride.

Our first stop was the courthouse.  Because the world we live in has become increasingly threatening and violent, we had to go through metal detectors and empty our pockets before going in to complete the errands we had for the morning.  J had been to this building before, and he was a little taken aback by the new contraptions standing between him and getting in and out of there quickly.  A brief moment of confusion, a relinquishing of his beloved Slinky and kind patience from the security team at the door, but we made it through without problems.

Of course, I had a minor glitch with the paperwork, and we had to do two of the things we had on our list, but leave and return for the third.  J was patient about this, too.  There were a lot of people waiting their turn, and he navigated this fairly well.  I say fairly well because J takes up a lot of space when he sits down, and I had to ask him to “gather his feet” so as not to create an unnecessary obstacle course for the other patrons.

I had promised J we’d go to his favorite store in town when we were done with our errands, but I had to dash to the library to try printing a piece of paper I needed for that pesky third errand.  When I realized the printers weren’t working, I let J walk the Children’s section and I texted back and forth with Dada trying to find a solution.  The proceedings reached a stalemate and, to recover from the stress of the moment, I told J we were going to the toy store.  THIS was the moment he’d been waiting for, and he was so happy that it was well worth having sat down and taken that deep breath.

We walked around the store, looking at dolls, games, plush toys, books, Playmobil sets.  I asked J if there was anything he wanted before we left.  Another turn around the store helped him make his choice: the biggest set he could possibly choose from among the Playmobils, and the little motor to power it!  I explained that, yes, he could buy it, but HE had to carry it around town.  As we were paying, the store owner (we have known her since we moved into town four years ago) helped me figure out how to complete my final errand.  Immense Playmobil set in hand, we went back to the courthouse (and through security, of course) and finalized our official business.

I asked J where he wanted to have lunch, and he stood looking around at the different store fronts.  In the end, he opted to go to a diner that he’s been to when he’s walked into town from school.  I had never been so he guided me to it, and when we were led to our table, he plopped down like a regular customer.  Since it was after eleven a.m. I ordered French Toast and J ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and some chicken strips.  He ordered his food with his Proloquo.

I can understand why J likes the place.  The booths are spacious, and the music was perfectly in tune with J’s tastes.  As we sat there waiting for our meal, J was happily moving around in his seat, following the songs they were playing.  He was so happy, in fact, that he didn’t hesitate to remove his brace to cut up the chicken strips, and didn’t complain when I reminded him that he has full use of his thumb and I expect him to move, curl, wriggle, and command it.

We counted the money to pay our bill, and made a pit stop before heading home.  Dada kindly drove into town and brought us home.  All in all, we were out and about since 9 in the morning, and didn’t walk into our townhouse until shortly after 1 P.M.  It was a very full and active morning, and J was stretching and yawning when we got back.

We spent the better part of the afternoon putting his toy together.  The nice thing about Playmobils is that they’re easy (for me) to figure out.  I’ve grown too old for Legos.  And before you argue that “you can never be too old for Legos” I will explain that I fully agree with the spirit of that, but my eyes aren’t what they used to be, and some of those tiny pieces are hard to handle with my arthritic fingers.  J was especially thrilled when he realized that one of the figures in his new Playmobil Ferris Wheel set looks a lot like him, down to the newsboy cap it’s wearing.

As you can tell, our trip to town was mostly successful.  The one glitch was the red-tape, but we figured out what to do to properly and promptly complete our errands.  I didn’t flat-out lie to J; I meant for him to have fun, but I also meant to get things done, and we managed both.  The rest of the weekend went well because we set the proper tone for errands and fun.

Today is the first day of the two school-less weeks in August.  We are doing a little work, and we are trying to do some fun activities.  The mood is light, and we are determined to sail through the next couple of weeks without too much drama.  And the brace?  It comes off for chores and meals, and I keep reminding J that his thumb works just fine.