A pig flies by the window…

Yesterday evening you could have scooped me off the floor with a plastic spoon and very little effort.  (OK…a lot of effort…I am working on shedding the holiday pounds that I would LOVE to think I didn’t gain.)  J, while helping with drying and putting away the contents of the dishwasher, ate TWO SPINACH LEAVES!

He did this without gagging.

He also did this without saying “FIBBY” which is his verbalization of “FINISHED.”

He also did this without putting down the dish towel, the plate he was drying and without using only his two front teeth to bite.  I saw molars…I saw tongue…I saw the leaves disappear.

After that I don’t remember much because I pretty much fainted…not true: I almost cried, which made J roll his eyes a bit.  Tonight I’m aiming for four leaves.  I’m multiplying all my attempts by two, thank you very much.

It’s a good thing that my state of consciousness was not impaired by J’s unexpected and voluntary consumption of vegetation because, a mere ten minutes later, I was totally awake, aware and in awe of the fact that he ate his entire dinner using a fork.    When I say a fork I mean an actual piece of flatware, not a plastic one…not a salad one either.  He did not once attempt to switch said fork for a plastic spoon or to make do without any type of flatware and eat with his hand.

So far, the only people who have been equally excited about these developments have been my husband (who witnessed it,) my oldest son (who has been praying for it on a daily basis for years,) my ex-husband’s ex-wife (who also has an autistic child and KNOWS,) and J’s teacher.  Other people will certainly look at me blankly when I tell them, but I don’t rightly care…my kid ate two leaves of spinach and used a fork…

The sanctity of the shoe box full of snacks was respected after the unauthorized excursion to extract cereal.  The box was placed on top of the counter this morning (with several different items) and J walked past it with a quick glance and smile.  He had a hard-boiled egg for breakfast (out of the two we served) and I know he will have his snack and lunch at school, so I think we’re working our way to make some positive changes at a pace that is conducive to success and J-cooperation.

I know there are books out there that teach how to “sneak” veggies into kids’ meals, but I don’t want to hoodwink J as much as I want to teach him to be mindful of the need for all sorts of food items.  Like a goofball I fantasize about the day when J absent-mindedly picks up a tangerine or a banana and walks away eating it while looking at a book, holding a puzzle in his hand or just heading to his room to change his clothes.  I know, perhaps, it’s a pipe dream, but it could happen.  HE ATE TWO LEAVES OF FRESH SPINACH YESTERDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At times I fear my everyday life is too ordinary and lackluster because of my excitement at these developments.  I swear to you I actually read books and pursue other things, not just J’s vegetable consumption.  I have hobbies…of sorts.  I spent a great deal of time -just two days ago!- poring over maps of Napoleon’s movements in Russia in 1812 while reading War and Peace.  When spring rolls around I will plant a container garden and I will make more catastrophic attempts at completing sewing projects, but for now…in the spirit of striking while the iron is hot…I am going to run with J’s acceptance (or humoring) of my exertions to improve his health.

This morning, while running along with the Wii, I switched channels and found the last 20 minutes of Mona Lisa Smile playing.  If you’ve never seen this movie, I’ll give you a brief synopsis: young, idealistic female teacher goes to teach at women’s college during the Fifties and encounters the up-and-coming Stepford Wives among her students.  She influences them (some instantly, others in spite of themselves,) and learns lessons about herself while teaching Art.  It’s your typical Julia Roberts movie; she looks luminous; she looks determined; she plays Julia Roberts in your typical Julia Roberts movie (I think it would have been more interesting if someone like Diane Lane had played the role, but that’s just me.)  I like Julia Roberts…but she’s always Julia Roberts.

But I digress…

Sometime in the last ten minutes of the movie, Julia Stiles gives a little speech to Julia Roberts about her decision to forgo law school in order to become a housewife.  That’s my favorite part of the movie, and I will quote it for you because it sort of encapsulates how I’ve been feeling lately: “You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t.  To you a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.”  I live a very active inner life, and -because I am surrounded by complexities and nuances- it spills out and breathes on its own on a daily basis.

I love my son, but I don’t forget who I was before he was born and things became a little more convoluted.  I don’t feel like I’ve given anything up; I rather feel like I’ve taken up something else and run with it…recklessly…with scissors and going “LA LA LA LA LA LAAAAAAA” all around the house from time to time.  I am the Jane Goodall of flying pigs…and, because I am a very lucky and very blessed creature, they seem to be taking off  from an airstrip very close to our house these days…

I am expecting a flock of them to start migrating towards us very soon…on a daily basis.

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…