Archive for October 5th, 2011

Another poem today:

Snozzberry Tulips

Willy Wonka dreams
in five fruit flavours
(mostly snozzberry)
grown on mint grass hillsides beside fizzydrink fountains.
Awakening, he plants a zillion bulbs.

PI poem – 3,1,4,2,8, & 6 words per line.

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For those of you who don’t read the Capital District Parent Pages, in which I write an article every month (even though it’s undoubtedly the “bummer” of the monthly magazine, surrounded by articles about harvest and hay rides and Halloween fun), here’s my October article.  I wrote it in early September; the deadline is the 10th of the month for the next month’s issue (which means I’m working on November’s article right now):

Normal is a Dryer Setting – October 2011

As I write this, Jonah’s been living at an educational residential facility for children with autism (what they used to call a “home”) for almost a month.  The day we dropped him off and drove away was perhaps more agonizing for us than it was for him.  At least that’s what everyone kept telling me.  At least that’s what I needed to believe.  The last glimpse of my boy’s shirt was the most difficult thing to see; the impulse to run after him was the most difficult thing to fight.

Of course we called that first night to ask how he was.  I wonder if the staff hides the worst of the news when they tell parents what happens after they drop off their child.  “He cried for a little while, but then he was fine,” they say, probably perceiving we don’t really want to know the details anyway.  We’ve played out the details in dozens of different scenarios since the day we found out he’d been admitted.

Honestly, the anticipation of Jonah’s leaving was by far the worst part for me.  The countdown.  Once he was there, I hoped he’d get more comfortable and acclimated every day.  He even talked to me on the phone the day after he’d been admitted; “I love you mommy,” he said. “I miss you.”  I could hear a care worker in the background prompting him, but it was so good to hear his sweet little voice that I just relished the words.  Jonah’s never been a phone kid and, at best, tolerates whatever you’re singing or telling him for maybe six seconds before handing off the receiver.  It’s not like he will hold a conversation anyway.  We’re just now celebrating the fact that he’s starting to say “yes” when he wants to answer in the affirmative instead of merely parroting back what you’re offering him. 

I miss him.  I remember his hugs and kisses, his scent.  I remember how his eyes lit up when he saw a train go by.  I remember chasing him down a path in the woods and letting him throw woodchips and tiny pebbles into the air. Gleeful Jonah.  Unable to bother anyone, and away from all the rules.

I have to remind myself of the bad things.  We couldn’t help him on our own.  He was going to hurt someone, or himself.  Bad.  He’d already kicked his leg through a glass window during a tantrum.  Scratched and bitten and bruised Andy and me, over and over.  Screamed in our ears.  Broke our glasses repeatedly.  Threw plates and spit soda, escaped from his car harness to attack us when either of us was driving alone with him.  Shoved my mom’s TV over, smashing it to pieces.   I have to remember.

Andy or I call every night to see how his day went, and for the first few days Jonah was unsettled, but now he seems to be getting on board with the routine of the place.  His caregivers seem like genuinely caring, invested individuals.  They say he eats very well, works puzzles, smashes clay around, and is fitting in at the house, where his room is blue and he has two windows overlooking the pretty grounds. 

 He likes to take long walks around the entire campus, they tell me, and he adores the playground.  They e-mailed me two pictures of him with big smiles.

He’s been swimming, of course, and has had only a few aggressions (and one dinner-throwing incident). 

So far I’ve been to visit him twice, and as heartbreaking as it is to leave him behind, it is wonderful to look forward to seeing him again the next time.  I trust we’ve done the best thing.  Not for us; for Jonah.  To give him the best chance for independence, growth, wellness, and learning. 

 And, most importantly, for happiness.

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