We go for a walk…I paraphrase Michael Corleone…

To start,  please, imagine a long string of expletives muttered under my breath as I stomp back home leading a screeching J, and maneuvering a rather large, heavy, and full wheeled trash can.

…..

OK, so here goes the Michael Corleone paraphrasing: Just when I thought we could go out again, I have to pull him back again.

There we were, two happy pedestrians taking the trash on a for-now sunny day, and out of nowhere came the famous “he’s on a shock collar” German Shepherd.  The loud, sharp squeal and the sudden tensing of muscles (even though the dog was about 100 yards away) made me turn, mutter and paraphrase with enough alacrity to belie my chronic joint pain and difficulty in moving.

The change in direction and acceleration had to be achieved while checking for vehicles (those two STOP signs and one speed limit are doing nothing to help matters with the shitty driving around here,) and guiding J towards our garage while soothing his nerves.

We waited a few minutes.  I took this time to text the landlord and tell him what was going on.  He responded to me with the same concern and interest that he responded to all you lovely readers when you texted him on the same subject.  (HUH?  I didn’t text your landlord, crazy middle-aged mother of J who is on The Spectrum…oh…wait…I SEE!!!!  Ha ha ha…I get it…he didn’t reply because we didn’t text him…get it, get it…go on with your soapbox performance for today.)

J had been happy.  Seriously happy!  He was wearing his new Panama hat, the sun was shining, the breeze was warm and lovely.  Suddenly we were back in the garage and he kept shuffling his feet, looking anxiously at the street where the dog had been.

We ventured out once more.  In J’s hand was our gas bill, crumpled.  He ironed it out hurriedly on top of the trash can lid so I wouldn’t be upset.  I told him that didn’t matter.  We just checked for the stamp, that it hadn’t been torn, and I returned it to him so he could put in the mailbox.

We looked around, saw no dogs, and back we went.  Of course, by this point J is just super vigilant.  Any bark from a distance, garage door opening, sudden step makes him look over his shoulder.  We deposit the trash in the dumpster, look before crossing and head to the mail room.

As we go along I remind J that I have his back.  I will do whatever it takes to help him if he’s anxious.  I will wait, or I will walk faster.  I will take out our dreaded iPhone and (with my too-big fingers and thumbs) shoot off an angry text at the parties in charge of the rules being followed.  I will stand between him and dogs, cars, wild horses…you name it.

I feel his arm and shoulder begin to relax, and we stop at the corner to check for traffic.  “Look left.  No cars.  Look right…” His shoulder and arm tense and he grips me…there is not ONE dog…there are now TWO.  What are these people doing?  Lying in wait?  Did the first guy call and say to his buddy “hey, the freaks are out…bring your German Shepherd out, too?”  I take a deep breath, tell J to walk and not look.

He walks.  He tries not to look.  He fails miserably.  We speed up and make it back to our garage (with J frantically hitting the remote’s button so that it starts to open, closes, starts to open again, and I ask him to take a deep breath and relax because we’re on the concrete of our driveway, and that’s a sanctuary.)

J’s heart is racing.  He looks at me as the garage door closes and we finally find ourselves separated from the world of dogs.  I tell him it’s time for Wii, and he nods.  He takes off his Panama hat, and hangs it in the hallway.  He gets his step stool, and he turns on all the necessary equipment while I change my shoes.

By the time The Monkees are halfway through I’m a Believer, J has relaxed.  He smiles at me, says HAPPY, and then I LOVE YOU.  I smile, say HAPPY and I LOVE YOU, TOO.  I add “I have your back, buddy…I will protect you.”  He lets go of the step stool and, still running, hugs me.  We are actually running while hugging, and this makes us both laugh…

It is, in the great scheme of things, a rather fantastic moment.  J laughs heartily as I lip-sync to Huey Lewis and The NewsDo You Believe in Love? (I’m always The News…doing all the eeehoooohs and such…)

As we make lunch I ponder what people think this is like for him.  I know the property manager told me (with much fanfare) that she used to volunteer with kids who have Autism.  I also know that she, too, has let her dog rove around leash-less.  I know she addresses people not picking up after their dogs, but I also know she never tells them that the lease states dogs have to be on leashes. I know, heaven help me, that I come across as an annoying whiner who thinks her kid’s rights override the rights of the other tenants.  I can hear her saying “the lady in unit such-and-such complained that…”  If the issue had been addressed as “the terms of your lease state that…” this wouldn’t be such an issue; because it is “the lady that lives in unit such-and-such” it becomes sour grapes from a hag who gets disability checks for her son.

I decide to let it go.  Well, not really.  I decide that I have documented it, and I will use this when it’s time to break our lease to move away.  Not in a combative manner, but in a “hey, there’s this that I have expressed concerns about, and hasn’t been addressed” manner.

The moment that was bad is gone.  The moment that sucked is over.

It doesn’t mean it wasn’t bad for J, or that it won’t suck when it happens again.

 

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I would sing you a song of medical insurance…

Oh, well…

There is NOTHING like getting a call from the hospital telling you “by the way, Mrs. J’s mom, the medical insurance says they won’t cover J’s dental procedure because the policy states it has to be an ACCIDENT for them to cover OR and anesthesia.”  OK…wait…maybe there IS something: hearing that, unless the medical insurance covers it, you will have to find eleven-thousand and three-hundred dollars to cover a procedure that is, oh, ten days away????

Kids nowadays can text at breakneck speed.  I am from the good ol’ days of written letters, rotary phones…and yet I dialed every number necessary to get in touch with the medical insurance company at a speed that would have impressed even the most world-weary Instagramming and Twittering fifteen year-old.  I pressed those buttons and got through to a rep as fast (nay…FASTER!) than a Kardashian or a POTUS.

(Let’s just say I’ve realized that I’ve got the talent when it counts, and I’m grateful for it.)

Of course, the call could have gone better.  I can dial back the sarcasm (such as when I told the rep that taking a hammer to my son’s face and calling it an accident was out of the question,) and I can not hyperventilate into the phone.  I am pretty sure that I said (rather emphatically) that the use of the OR and general anesthesia was not elective, or to prevent J from having to go through pain or discomfort.  I remember being cool-headed while hyperventilating, and saying “help me help you help him.”  It was all strangely Jerry Maguire, but I didn’t launch into Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’…thankfully.  Now the ball is rolling in the right direction and, hopefully, we will have a positive result in the course of today.

If not…well, to quote Sally Field’s Emma Moriarty tells the bank officer after being turned down for a loan in Murphy’s Romance: “I’d go out on the streets, but you’ve only got one.”  We would, somehow, figure it out, but it wouldn’t be easy.

J is feeling the anxiety.  It’s been a bit of a week around here.  For one: TGG’s youngest was born on Friday after a rather long and difficult labor.  She is healthy, and she is very sweet.  We met her on Saturday, but left J at home with his sitters because going to hospital is not a favorite activity, and being surrounded by toddlers and nurses overstimulates him.  We will wait until the baby is older, and J has had time to get used to pictures of the family together, of his brother holding a baby and sitting with other kids.  Overprotective much?  Maybe, but it all depends on how you look at the situation; we don’t want TGG’s stepchildren to feel intimidated by rather imposing figure that is J, and we don’t want J to feel like we’re forcing him to interact with children he doesn’t know well-enough.  Dribs and drabs will have to work for now.

The weather has improved and soured, improved and soured, and seems to now be improving.  I am hopeful of a walk to the mailbox and to take the trash later, but I am not counting on it as a certainty.  There are still plenty of dogs out there, and J knows it.

The primary care physician cleared him for surgery because his heart seems to have an issue that doesn’t preclude general anesthesia.  This doesn’t mean we’re not anxious.  We try to cover it, but it’s still there.  We exercise and tweak the diet, but the anxiety lurks under the normalcy of our days.  One day J runs 2.5 miles and another he does 5; other days he does the Island Lap on his Wii Fit, and there are days when he is on the elliptical.  He doesn’t lose weight, but he doesn’t get winded while exercising.  He does, however, get anxious and that makes him breathe rapidly.  This, of course, doesn’t help matters for us.  One week away from the surgery, and we are a ball of carefully camouflaged nerves…

How well we do with our attempts at looking as cool as cucumbers is anyone’s guess.  I think we fail miserably because J suddenly gets into “hovering” mode.  How realistic is it that we are completely denuded of anxiety?  It isn’t.  We can’t help it.  Even in the best of circumstances we will know it’s there, and once you know it’s there…well…

So what do we do?  We don’t lie to J.  That’s one thing.  We will not tell him “this is all good, and we are not worried.”  We tell him that there are things we need to work on; we tell him that we are doing our best, and that it’s perfectly fine to not be 100% sure of anything all the time…

Stress is a given in our lives.  Everyone, regardless of how Zen they think they are, has stress.  How it is handled is up to each individual.  We have our own stress factor built into our home life.  Autism isn’t a factor to be taken lightly, and it is an inescapable one in our household.  The stress factors we do have a degree of control over are outside factors, and we are (carefully, thoughtfully, after considerable reflection) doing more and more to pick and choose our battles.  We now go over stress factors with tweezers and a magnifying glass, holding them up to the light for inspection.

A lot of things are going.

This is not an easy (or painless) process.

All we need right now is to make it through next Friday, and have J’s wisdom teeth out, and then help him make his way through the convalescence that ensues.  This won’t be easy…or painless.  Maybe it will be a temporary step back.  Maybe it will be a couple of temporary steps back.  Maybe we will regret it for a brief period of time.  Maybe it will spring us forward.

Who knows?  Who ever knows how these things will go?  All we can do is try to figure out the best way to handle J’s needs and take the best care we possibly can in fulfilling these, and soothing his anxiety (and ours) in the process.

I wait for the phone to ring as I continue to look for change between the cushions of all couches we own…

 

 

Well…it’s Wednesday!

As Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Thomas Jefferson so aptly puts it in Hamilton “the sun comes up, and the world still spins.”  Contrary to popular concern, we didn’t dissolve into stardust while we slept.  It might FEEL like it, but here we are…

Yes, ladies and gentlemen…the colonoscopy is over and the results are in…polyps.  We go back in four years to see how things have developed…there are things we can do to deal with this and make it better, but keeping to a healthful diet, etc. doesn’t always come easy.

To paraphrase Mr. Miranda’s lyrics one more time: Can we get back to real life?  The same problems we had yesterday we have today.  It might not seem like it to some, but THIS is the real world.  The election was real, but it works on a different level of reality.  How many of us will be screwed over or will benefit from the result is yet to be seen.  So we move, unenthusiastically perhaps, on…

J is calm-ish today.  He wasn’t so much last night.  An unexpected call from Dada’s office came in during dinner.  J’s eyebrows arched as he saw the change in demeanor from everyone else around the table.  Dada went into work mode, and nothing I could do to mask the development helped.  Is this why Bruce Wayne has a Bat Phone?  That way the urgency of the call is masked by the fact that it rings elsewhere in the house?

Of course, the phone is a problem regardless of what I try to do about it.  Full disclosure: cell phones are turned off when we are home.  Our landline is IT.  And, yes, we screen calls.  We answer for TGG, the doctors’ offices, a few non-stressful relatives, and Dada’s work.  If a person has been identified as a stress factor who will alter the mood for any or all of the key players, they will not get through to us.  They can, if they are so inclined, leave a message.  If the message is basically wheedling, needling, nagging, inciting an excessive and unnecessary emotional response, we will not return that call.  If the person leaves a message that is derisive, insulting, angry, melodramatic…no call will be returned.

Yes, we are chicken shits.  Yes, we like it just fine.  Yes, we know we’re assholes.  Yes, we can totally live with ourselves.  Is that what “narcissism” means?  Putting J’s peace of mind and well-being first?  OK, then…narcissism it is.

Last night we put J to bed (after he had a meltdown in the shower shortly after the unexpected phone call,) and went to bed ourselves.  Dada fell asleep.  I read and checked the election results occasionally.  By the time I decided to turn off the light the result was glaringly obvious.  At that moment I decided that the only way is forward.  I have no control (I did until my vote was counted) over what comes next outside of these four walls; in fact, I have little control over what comes next within them, but what little agency I have in this particular environment I will use.

Our plans alter a little.  We now have more to think about because, let’s face it, the mood in the country has shifted to some dangerous expressions.  We are all on tenterhooks, sensitive, scared, worried.  We have reason to be.  The democratic process hasn’t quite lived up to its hype this time around; anger and recrimination have become the two basic food groups, and we all look at each other with our eyebrows knotted into question marks.

What do we do now?  We keep going.  In spite of the stress this might be causing, we stay focused on the important things we face every single day.  We have to move past the headlines long enough to look around at what is ours every single day. We go back to the business of being alive and living.  That’s all there is to it…

For us that means continuing our efforts to help J work through whatever is causing him issues.  We cannot relent, and we cannot get distracted from our purpose.  We will, as we have been committed to doing as long as J has been around, fine-tune, adjust, refocus.  We will continue to dodge the phone calls that are counterproductive to what we’re trying to do here.

At the end of the day, or the start of each new one, we have choices to make.  Yesterday a panoramic picture was taken, and the space each of us, our family units, takes up in it is very small.  We like to think it’s bigger, but it’s not.  In the end, the people we put in office (at every level) have more say about what happens than we do, and we have to stop fretting about it until we get the next opportunity to have our say.

I have a say on my phone, my home, my circle (a very, very small one) and I will not give up on that say.  The rest will happen whether I want it to, or not.  People don’t like that.  People don’t lie that I have a say and exercise it freely, but -again Lin-Manuel Miranda speaks for me as I paraphrase him: I have no control who lives, who dies, who tells my story.  

That doesn’t mean I’m not going to write the version that works best for us, and for J.

Peace out…democracy still lives.  It is far from perfect, but it lives…

 

 

 

On the plus-side, we are not any of the people in Breaking Bad…

In the nearly-fourteen years we’ve been married, Dada has been the guy who gets home from work and is home.  He will tell you how his day went, what he’s got on tap for the next day, mention whatever project looms in the near future, and let it go…

I will now switch to the past tense: that’s the way he WAS.  Now, suddenly (and justifiably,) at the age of 51 he is the guy who is ALWAYS working.  Mind you, I say justifiably because the project they’re working on is pretty friggin’ important, and I understand this, and I’ve been trying to do my darned best to be an asset and not a liability.

This is the way the week is going lately: leave for work, work, work, work, call at lunchtime (IF he takes lunch) sounding overwhelmed, come home (later than usual,) walk in looking overwhelmed, eat overwhelmed, walk around overwhelmed, sit down to work at my desk being overwhelmed, sleep fitfully, wake up, do it again.  The weekend is pretty much the same, except he’s not leaving the house, just working from here and not really coming down from the ARGH level his project provokes.

Neither the kids nor I are used to this.  We’ve been, up until now, a family that works to live, and not the other way around.  Coming home is a time to leave work behind, and now the darned thing is stuck to Dada’s shoes, hair, clothes, nostrils, and we can’t seem to get it off him.  His focus is stuck.  We understand it’s necessary to be focused, but we’re worried about the part where he can’t be shaken back to normalcy.

I know what you’re thinking: “is he really WORKING or is he preoccupied with something (someone) else????  Hmmmm.”  He’s really working.  If this is the way he would have an affair, I pity the woman who would get involved with him.  He eats with a pained expression on his face, and we can all tell that he’s thinking of the long list of things he has to do when the meal is over.  I’ve caught him scribbling notes about what needs to be addressed once this project is launched and fully operational; not even Grand Moff Tarkin looked as focused during construction of the Death Star.  In fact, there are moments when Dada reminds us more of Admiral Motti in the midst of being choked by Darth Vader’s command of The Force.

So…last night I had to do a reality check, and we both went to bed angry.  This is something we never do.  We might go to bed miffed, but we do our best to hash it out before going to sleep.  This morning we woke up miffed.  It seems, or so I’ve been told, that I’m not “getting” how hard Dada is trying to not be so focused.  I had to explain, as calmly as a woman having a hot flash can manage, that when you get home and don’t even kiss your wife hello, march upstairs to change and come back to have dinner still talking about how much you have to do is not, in fact, “trying.”  And then I got the word again: “I’m trying to help you as much as I can!!!”  That’s when I said, quite simply, that I DON’T need his HELP with the house or the kids or the trash or anything else.  I can DO the housework and then some (I AM, after all, a WOMAN and highly-trained to do all this) by myself.

Men will very likely take Dada’s side on this, and women might say “oh, but the poor guy is trying!”  I know that, but I’m going to tell you the same thing I told him so, please, bear with me.

A database is an ethereal space in which concrete information is stored and manipulated.  Ultimately, we are ALL expendable and replaceable in a work environment.  We might be easy to replace, or it might take a little longer to replace us, but…we ALL are replaceable.  No one should do their job in such a way that their job security is so iron-clad that time off is out of the question, that illness is more of catastrophe because of our absence from a work obligation.  You know where you’re not expendable or replaceable??? In the Real World.  Do you know where the Real World is?  Where the people who love you and live with you are.  Yes, yes, you do what you do for your family, to give them what they deserve…what good is a house, nice furniture, a car, vacations,  nice Christmases if the person you want to share them with is not there?

We’re poor.  That is: we have enough money to live on, and we -from time to time- gasp for air with a lot more desperation than we would like.  However…I’ve never really felt like this is what defines us as a family.  It used to be that was defined us as a family was that outside that door (of B-88, or 52, or 145, or 517, or 1207) work stopped.  We talked about it, but we came home to be at home.  We were here; we were present; we didn’t dwell.  I understand this project is HUGE for Dada, but…I don’t want Dada to be over before the project is done.  Does that make sense????

I explained to Dada this morning that, ultimately, if something happens to him because of this relentless whirlwind of work- AND self-imposed stress, he will have achieved nothing.  “I can’t be in love with your insurance for the rest of my life.  Your co-workers will initially offer their support, but they’ll have to go back to their lives.  And I’m going to be REALLY pissed off that you didn’t listen when I told you that you need to disconnect for at least half an hour a day, and allow us to help you be yourself, and not just Work Dada.”

We can do this. I am 100% behind getting the work done and doing it efficiently, but I’d like my family to be fine when it’s over.  I’ve put my foot down, and perhaps I’ve also put it in my mouth, but I am sort of madly in love with the man, and I’d like to see him get very old over a long period of time, and not just get very old because he’s stressed himself out over THIS.  And the kids (who are no longer “kids”) miss him, and wish he would be his usual self long enough that they could get a little bit of what he usually brings to the dynamic of our family.

I guess this is what I get for living in the La-la Land of “we don’t live to work, we work to live,” huh?  I’ve taught my family one philosophy, and now another one is being pushed down our craws.  Yoda said “there is no try; there is only do,” and now I am expected to try to unplug this wonderful man from his “work brain” long enough to enjoy a meal…  I guess it would be a lot easier if we didn’t LIKE him so much…

Day Three…and we like it anti-climactic, thank you very much

As transitions go, this one is being smooth.  I would say “too smooth,” but I’ve come to realize there’s no such thing.  I don’t care who’s holding the other shoe, I’m just glad they don’t look like they’re going to drop it any time soon.

Did I just sort of jinx us?  Maybe???

I don’t want to spit in Fate’s (or anyone else’s) eye, but so far, so good.  Nothing that J has done since Monday, when the Risperidone started going from 1 mg a day to .75 mg a day, has been even remotely alarming.  There have been little shifts here and there, but none of them concern me much.  Yesterday’s quieter (when compared to Monday’s) demeanor was what I suspected: he was a little tired from not enough sleep.  When it was time for bed (which has been pushed back all the way to ten-thirty,) J complained but acquiesced.  TGG, cautious and observant to fit the current situation, walked into our room and asked why J was so whiny about going to bed.

Me:  How old is J?

TGG:  18

Me:  In general, what was your reaction when I told you not to stay up late at that age?

TGG:  Pissed off…

Me:  Precisely…

End of story.

I want to tell you my fear has abated.  I’d be lying.  I still worry that, when we least expected, the unnamed source of the unnamed shoe that is yet to drop will not only drop the shoe, but do it with force and defiantly.  I am stressing about this, but quietly.  It’s not fun.  It’s not good for me.  I’m working on not being so wired about it, but I can’t promise that my work will yield any results in the next 24 hours.  Being busy, being engaged in this process is important to me, and -I think- important to J, but I do need to rest and relax soon or I will be useless to him.

The whole point, though, is that I seem to be worrying for naught.  J is fine. J is easily dealing with that .25 mg that he’s not getting each day, and -unless something happens to prove otherwise within the next 108 hours, we’re in a lot better shape than I worried we might be.  I will have run myself down to the nub of my resistance for no good reason.

What am I doing?  I am giving room, and jumping in his path from time to time with tasks that he can complete.  I am teaching him new words, and making sure I slowly sign them so he can learn how to do it himself.  I am talking to him face-to-face, enunciating like Eliza Doolittle in front of the bunsen burner.  I am doing my best to keep him tethered to our calm, balanced existence while chemically egging him on to change.

I am doing my yoga every day.  I am taking deep breaths and not pricking up my ears if I hear a noise from wherever J is sitting.  I am walking, not running.  I am trying to be graceful in my reactions when I really feel like saying “oh, come ON!  If you’re going to blow a gasket, DO IT ALREADY!!!!”  By the time I climb into bed, it takes me a while to fall asleep because I need to go over the day to make sure that I didn’t miss any signs that might be important.

Do you want to hear about my med journal?  The weather is recorded there because I want to make sure I can catch if J is reacting to that or to the med.  The hours of his bath, bedtime and arising from bed are there…because I want to make sure that I’m not imagining how well he’s adjusting to his own new rhythm.  I record his moods, his reactions. I record what he ate and, one thing is certain, he is requesting less carbs and he’s being more accepting of NO when I issue it…

I am going to write myself a note, a reminder that this is not a hurricane one prepares for days ahead.  Coming down from being on red alert all the time is not easy, but I have to have faith that J can handle the little crises without going like Mt. Vesuvius on me…

We’ll see what tonight holds…

 

 

Learning from a manic morning…

If, on a morning like this one, I have to leave the house with J and my husband, J sits in the back channeling Bob Hoskins in that last scene from The Long Good Friday.  In the mirror I can see a full gamut of emotion being displayed in quick succession…only, of course, there’s no Pierce Brosnan in the front seat and the resolution of our car trip is much happier than the one we (and Harold) know is awaiting him at the end of the movie.

I had a doctor’s appointment.  The usual rigmarole where I get told “well, Ms. So-and-so, at your age…”  Now I have to go in to have myself poked and prodded, stuck with needles and, in general, told that the chemistry of my body is OK considering that I’m slowly inching towards my fifties and what do I expect.  Par for the course…

J, however, thinks that when I get dressed and hop in the car with them, it’s about him.  This morning, just to prove that he can be the monkey wrench thrown in the midst of the gears of any well-oiled machine, J decided that he was going to get dressed as slowly as humanly possible.  Had he been able to put his toes into his socks one by one, he would have.  Had it been possible for him to brush each hair on his head individually, he would have.  And the process of choosing between TWO pairs of shoes made me wonder what Imelda Marcos went through every morning considering the amount of footwear she owned.

I tried to be reassuring by saying “come on, J!  I have to go somewhere this morning.”  He wasn’t buying it; he came into the bathroom as I was trying to put my face together, and he turned off the light.  “Do you REALLY think I don’t know how to do this in the dark???,” I asked him.  He switched the light back on and sighed.  He then proceeded to put away every single piece of clothing I’d laid on the rocking chair in my bedroom.  I whipped off my robe and showed him I was fully dressed under it.  “Should’ve checked for a bra strap, sir!”  He half-heartedly stomped away to the kitchen.

I am so settled into a particular groove that any alteration to my routine is nerve-wracking.  It’s the Autism, I tell you.  I have become accustomed to the usual rhythm of life and, if I have to get dressed and leave the house, I want to do it so efficiently that J has very little room for anxiety.   This makes ME more anxious.  I walk into the doctor’s office telling the nurse “I was yelling at people and running around this morning so my blood pressure is high!”  It’s usually true; it’s never alarming, just high enough to prove that I’ve been rushing around at home.  The doctor, bless her heart, tells me that’s not bad for all the anxiety we face.

Do we face anxiety?  Are we stressed out?  Lately I’ve been wondering about this, and I’m not really sure if I’m just being ridiculously optimistic about things or if, in fact, things are as I imagine them to be.  J, thank goodness, seems to be doing well in general.  He is happy enough; he is annoying enough; he is antsy enough; he is discontented enough.  On my desk I have the list the psychiatrist wanted me to make with the instances of anxiety or impatience that J experiences until our next visit.  It’s not as long as I feared it would be; it’s a list, but it’s not a long one, and I am left wondering if I should even worry about when J gets upset.

Let me rephrase that…I DO care if J gets upset, but I care in the same way about when TGG or my husband get upset.  If something is bothering any of them, of course I want to soothe, comfort, please, encourage, console, etc.  The psychiatrist’s request, though, made me feel I should be fearful of when J is unhappy, as if unhappiness is something so horrible that it needs to be addressed immediately and stomped on like a cockroach.  And then I ask myself, is unhappiness a bad thing?

I know that J needs to see the psychiatrist.  I know J’s medication has worked as we wanted it to, and now we’re probably ready to start transitioning to less of it until it fades into family memory, a period of our lives that we’re done with and which we can hark back to in years to come.  Has the medication helped us be happier?  No, I don’t think it has contributed to our happiness per se, but it has allowed us some latitude by removing the anxiety that made J want to bash his head in with his fists.  Is that happiness?  No, I think it edges closer to balance, to peace of mind…if happiness springs from those things, that’s just icing on the cake.

I want my children to be happy.  I want my husband to be happy.  I want to be happy.  Not especially in that order, not alphabetically, not hinging on chance or outside factors.  We can’t provide happiness, we can only hope that we will find it and enjoy it, but this cannot happen unless we know the polar opposite, right?  Isn’t trying to make J happy all the time counter-productive, then?

As J hopped out of the car at school, he didn’t even glance at me.  I called out to him and he rolled his eyes, turning to face me.  “I told you I was going on an errand.  Don’t be sore because you were wrong, J!  You can be sore all you want, but don’t hang on to it and don’t waste it on silly things.  OK?”  (Yeah, I used J’s trigger word…it flew out just like that…)  He looked at me, still somewhat miffed, but more relaxed.  I love you, I said, and he repeated -grudgingly- AH WOV EWE, and turned away towards the building.

You buy a ticket for the roller-coaster, you can’t expect a ride on the merry-go-round, can you?