Most mornings, Jonah wakes up and loiters near his bedroom doorway, making little noises until Andy or I extend an invitation for him to come in our room. We didn’t teach him this; it’s not like with the potty, where we dangle the ‘black soda carrot’ to elicit a desired behavior. I have no idea what makes him wait at the threshold of his room when he clearly wants to jump in bed with us (and when this kind of self-regulation appears to be lacking entirely in every other instance of his life). But wait he does. This morning:
“Where’s my bunny?” I call out to him. It’s 7:15am, kind of late for Jonah to be first waking and uttering his jabberwocky. He comes running in and around to my side of the bed, where I pull back the sheet so he can get under the covers. It’s awfully early but I’m an early bird by nature, and the truth is I love this time with Jonah, when I get to hug him close and kiss the top of his little almost-blonde head, when I get to squeeze him tight and sing “he’s the best little boy in the –”
–and hear Jonah’s little voice finishing the phrase: “– whole wide world!”
Today, though, I am particularly tired when he comes bounding in. “Let’s go back to sleepy bye,” I whisper in a not-so-convincing excited voice. For a while he cuddles but then gets restless and begins his daily litany of requests, repetitions, rituals…
Sighing, I mutter a phrase we say jokingly at work all the time: “Dear God and little baby Jesus help me.”
Reliably, Jonah repeats what he thinks he has heard. “Help me, baby Jason!”
Laughing, I sit up. “Wanna go see train?” I ask, figuring he’s going to ask me anyway so I’ll beat him to the punch.
“Moneycoin?” he asks. So it’s going to be a moneycoin kind of day. I get him a Tupperware container with maybe an inch or two of moneycoin inside; he is delighted. “Moneycoin!” he shouts in gleeful agreement. Then: “train?” he asks. “Yes, boo, we can go see the train too,” I generously concede.
On the way, we turn Guster up loud – and Jonah’s Tupperware container of moneycoin is a fine percussion instrument. “So go… on! If it’ll make you happier!” he sing-shouts, shaking his moneycoin around to the beat. During the next song, a quieter tune, he gently swishes the moneycoin inside the container with his hand. Never let it be said my boy can’t break it down.
We even see two trains – something spectacularly fortuitous. Later, we go with Grandma Jane to the park and Jonah brings his moneycoin along; for a while he just sits on a picnic bench and lets it run through his fingers in a miserly fashion.
Then he carries it to the top of the slide and dumps it down, a great rain of moneycoin falling into a shiny scattered pile at the bottom. A couple of two-or-three-year-old kids try to talk to Jonah at one point.
“Hi!” the little girl says brightly. I prompt Jonah, who is so engrossed in the world of moneycoin, he probably doesn’t even hear the kid.
“Say hi, boo,” I tell him.
“Hi,” he says without looking up. The precocious girl is indignant. “I”m over here,” she insists.
“He’s not much of a talker,” I explain. My mother-in-law has already told the parents that Jonah has autism. The little kids quickly lose interest and run off, laughing at some shared tidbit. They’re awfully cute, those kids.
My boy, on the other hand, is completely grimy, dirt coating his hands, his grubby clothes, most of his face, and of course, his bare feet. Jonah hears a train horn and goes tearing off toward the car. We spring into action and actually catch the damn thing at the tracks. Sweet.
After the park and the bonus-train, we visit Grandma Jane and Grandpa Jim’s house, where Jonah dumps the remaining moneycoin, this time in their driveway.
We got home a little while ago. Now he’s in the bath, washing off round one of what will likely be two or three rounds-worth of dirt he’ll acquire today.
Dear God and little baby Jason help us.