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.

 

A return to calm seems iffier than expected…

The national mood is far worse than the mood at home.  J is still iffy, but he’s trying very hard to improve.  The country?  Not so much.  And, no, this doesn’t mean people need to “get over” Trump being president-elect…it just means that I disagree with the way this is being handled.  The unpleasant rhetoric hasn’t really stopped (it’s just shifted,) and now there are acts of violence sprouting in places.

I keep asking myself if this is productive.  I keep telling myself that people are THAT upset (it’s not like I’m bouncing through a field of wildflowers singing to the sky either,) but I wonder…does this advance the cause of disagreeing with the process?

Yesterday we walked to the mailbox after J exercised with the elliptical (while watching Meet Me in St. Louis) for an hour.  The small boards I attached to the fridge with magnets seem to be helping him, too.  He focuses on that part of his day with a healthy degree of attention.  On one is I WANT with all the food he gets that day, and on the other is ALL DONE.  In the morning we put up the snacks he’s getting, and as the day goes by he moves them to the other board.  It’s easy to forget sometimes, in spite of the abundance of pin-up girls on his bedroom walls, how visual J is.

The SIB is abating.  There are sudden and unexpected flare-ups, but the intensity seems to be lessening.  It is becoming easier to redirect him, too.  I don’t think we’re out of the woods, but we might be approaching a clearing where things will be clearer and safer for a while until we can move on to the next stage of our progress through whatever this is.

Of course, our worries will never disappear.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it is that we just change what makes us fret, or it gets bigger or smaller, but it never really goes away.  Maybe I’m just not enlightened enough?  I’ve heard people say “I don’t worry,” and I feel compelled to check their pulse…it seems such a foreign concept to us this “not worrying” thing!  I don’t know if they mean “I don’t agonize” or “I don’t let it overwhelm me.”  They just say “oh, I have no worries.”  In my book that is a non-existent utopian neighborhood in the realm of La-La-La-Dee-Da Land…perhaps I’m wrong, and it’s not, but I doubt it.

J, yes, is happier.  His digestion seems to be good, but I do keep a closer eye than I did a couple of weeks ago.  He is starting to accept my knocking on the door and saying I need to check before he flushes with a little less mortification.  He rolls his eyes.  If we can reach a point where he tells me if he’s having trouble this will become easier.  I am hoping that we can achieve that soon.  I understand how difficult this is for him even though he is pretty much used to being child-like in certain aspects.  Mind you, it’s not that J is a child, or that we treat him as such…it’s just that there are things where his independence is still in the early stages, or where -because of his difficulty communicating his needs- I have to intervene as if he is still a child.

J has discovered the joys of an adjustable massage roller we bought him during a shopping trip a couple of weeks ago.  He wasn’t keen on it at first, but he let me try it on his back a few days ago.  He was OK with that first try.  When I tried it on his feet he realized “hey, I like this thing!!!!”  He now asks for it…in the morning, before getting out of bed, he wants his feet and legs massaged; after his shower his back and shoulders get attention, and he will randomly request it during the day for his arms, shoulders and feet.

The variety in exercises we have introduced is helping J be happier.  I know that sounds stupid, but he feels the social interaction more than he does the actual physical benefit of working out.  His form needs work…lots of work, but he smiles and gets into whatever it is we’re doing each day.  Granted, he is still wearing his brace and bandaids while does this (which affects his form somewhat,) but he is varying his routine.  He likes to sit on the balance ball (even though his balance is not stellar…in spite of the attachment to keep him in place,) but there is just no way he will ever be comfortable while flat on his back.  We don’t know WHY he dislikes this, but it is a fact of life around these parts.  You can put J at a 15% angle, but you will never get him to lay down flat.  He will scream and struggle, and I suspect it harks back to when an ENT messed with some earplugs that had become wedged in his ear canal because someone at school had the brilliant idea to cut them in half before putting them in…  When I tell you there was blood coming out of his ears, and I discovered that -small though he was at that time- he could turn into the Incredible Hulk I am not hyperbolizing.

That was the day he discovered The Disney Store…I had to do SOMETHING for him to forgive me, no??????

Anyway…

We keep plugging away at our checklist of options.  We want to help him.  We are on this like hairs on a gorilla.  If anyone has any suggestions, please, feel free to chime in.  I will try everything.  At this point he seems to be cheered by his mother imitating Rip Torn’s Zeus from Hercules when he coos at Baby Hercules…

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and he also finds it hilarious when his mother lip-syncs to Mary J. Blige’s Work That or Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl or Rich Girl (featuring Eve.)   The Monkees’ Little Bit Me Little Bit You is another favorite…because I do all the Monkee parts except Davy Jones.

Well…off I go.  Working on less iffy…regardless of how ridiculous things might get around here.