Have I ever mentioned that Andy’s landlord looks like George Clooney? I call him George every time I see him – so much so that I can’t recall his real name at this writing. Last Saturday when mom and I visited Jonah, I saw “George,” about to strap on his helmet and take his Harley for a ride.
I didn’t even KNOW he had a Harley. You could have knocked me over with a feather.
He promised that next time he’d take me for a quick spin, so you bet your ass I’ll be leaving an old pair of jeans and socks & boots at Andy’s for the mere possibility of such a cool occasion.
Jonah was good – funny and sweet – for most of the time.
Jonah had one serious aggression at school since then, and Andy has blessedly volunteered to take the calls from the school about such things, because I think he can “shelve it” better than I can, at least right away. A call to me from the school almost always results in my imagination taking me, sharp-focus, into the classroom where he has perhaps just taken a chunk of his speech therapist’s hair in his fist and is kicking mightily and thrashing around. Where it takes another caregiver to help the first, to keep Boo safe and everyone around him as well.
And then I inevitably tear up, and can barely thank them for calling, and when I hang up, I usually cannot but allow myself to cry, and for so many reasons, some of them stupid. I cry because I am upset that someone – anyone – got physically hurt, and that my son was involved in any of that. I cry for the grueling everydayness of it all for those who have chosen direct care or special ed teaching or just working at Anderson…and how amazing they are, and how the last thing they deserve is to be kicked, scratched, bit, head-butted, whatever. I cry because I’m helpless. But really I don’t want to write about why I cry anymore when they call. I just do, and it’s easier to hear the news from Andy (always slightly sugar-coated, I imagine) — unless of course it’s an emergency. I’m grateful Andy’s willing.
Tomorrow he’s driving Jonah up to grandma’s house (near me) and so he will get to see train, take baths, eat everything in sight, and go swimming in the next door neighbor’s pool. No diving anymore, at my mom’s insistence, even though I know Boo could easily dive in the 4+ feet of water in that pool & I’m (admittedly, perhaps foolishly) unafraid. He always knows where he is in this world – in the car, in the water, while climbing rocks or waterfalls – he never falls, never fails. But he likes jumping in too, so that’ll be good enough for him.
At least at Anderson, the deep end is deep and I’m sure he’s honing his diving skills (and swimming along at the very bottom of the pool like an undulating eel). I wish I could watch him more. Astral project into his room and hover just above him, singing him silently to sleep or wakening him with mamalove.
Perhaps certain portions of the school and residences could have 2-way mirrors, so parents could come and just watch their kids. I want to see him in what is now his own environment, his turf. Maybe I can talk to his behavioral specialist about taking a day and coming down to “spy” on him. Or something.
With Jim I could eventually even come down and take him to the park or bowling or to the movies… of course after Jonah gets comfortable with him. I think Boo will love him, and I think Jim and Andy will get along just fine. I hope Jim loves my Boo, but I’m so in love with my boy that I can’t imagine how anyone could not love him.
We’re coming up on the third anniversary of the day we placed him at the Anderson Center for Autism. At 12 years old, that’s nearly a quarter of his life. What if we hadn’t done it? What if we just kept dealing with it, like those people on the severe/classic autism group on Facebook who seem to also need (but can’t, or won’t, or don’t want to) seek residential care?
There are undoubtedly parents who pour every ounce of sweat and every penny of finances and seek out the best of therapists, doctors, and care workers for their child, to keep their child home, and they are to varying degrees successful. Every family is different. Every kid with autism is different.
We went a different route, but it didn’t feel at all like a choice. It felt like a life vest, thrown with two seconds to spare, to save us all from drowning. And now it feels right for Jonah, which is of course what we wanted – for him to experience every single piece of knowledge and caring and socialization and fun they could safely offer him.
What a strange life we live, Andy and me, in our separate worlds, broken and pieced back together, he and I.
Miss Jonah a lot tonight. I can’t wait to see him smile and splash, to catch a train and a bath and some loving from us all.
Sleep tight, Boo. Mama is right here loving you.