I want to start a whole new blog, but life gets in the way. Then again that’s not true either – we have time for what we prioritize, whether we admit it or not.
To be sure, my life has gotten busier. I’m working a couple different PT gigs now and I just accepted a big writing project from Pearson, which will throw the rest of August into deadline mode. But that doesn’t excuse me from disappearing; one does hate a dead blog.
So I’ll be writing more here, with all the other work going on, even if the new blog(s) of mine must wait. Boo does take top priority, after all.
Sigh. It’s been a summer of disinterest for Jonah. Against all reason, he seems to have lost his love for the pool, although I’d bet money he’d jump in the new swimming hole/waterfall area I found.
I mourn the loss of my little boo-fish and hope he’s not gone for good. I wish I could take Jonah to the ocean again. He was in his element there, and at places like the waterfall at Hyuck Preserve. Maybe he just wants a natural water source.
Nowadays, when my mom and I drive down to visit with him at Andy’s apartment, he mostly asks for car ride. Even wanna take a bath has fallen to the dominant desire for car ride. I understand; he doesn’t get a lot of car ride at his residential school, unless they’re taking the kids bowling or something – and then he has to share the backseat. Hell, he won’t even share the backseat of the car with grandma unless we’re on the short ride from his residence to the apartment. He wants mama in the front and no one in back. Sometimes when he wants car ride he’ll simply say mama in the front?
We’ve learned his language well. We know what he wants.
Car ride is a specific loop Andy invented which passes through and around some of Rhinebeck’s historical sites. Usually at some point during the ride we stop at a gas station where we let Jonah out of the car, walk with him to the mini-mart inside, and allow him to choose a treat (like a bear claw or a donut). The lady in there knows us now – she’s friendly, and nice to Boo. He nearly always agonizes between two or more treats before deciding on something. Then, once in a while, he’ll ask to go back to the apartment. Most of the time he just wants another loop.
Andy gets Boo out to go for a walk, at least. We like to take him to the park where daddy pushes him on his favorite swing for a while. After that we walk down the path to a school’s athletic track, where I try in vain to get him to race me. He walks and cavorts at his own pace. Yet all of it is dependent on Boo’s caprice, which he makes perfectly clear each time. No park! No park! he’ll say, and then we don’t even try. It wouldn’t be worth it to force the issue.
My mom always brings delicious sandwiches on croissants. Jonah will eat one, after a fashion, by pulling it apart, re-arranging the pieces, and putting it all back together Frankensandwich-style. Yesterday he wanted a frozen dinner as well – chicken parm. We indulged him. He doesn’t eat anywhere near the whole thing, and his choice of “dipping sauce” might gross you out, but I did catch the experience on video.
The story of this day has a really shitty ending, so maybe I’ll just skip right to that part now and make it the middle.
When my mom and I left to go home, Andy and Jonah were having quiet time on the big blue bed. It was a great image with which to leave them: Jonah and his daddy lying together… Boo snuggling in for a hug. Mama leans over for soft kisses, inhaling the top of his head. Goodbye, precious boy.
Off my mom and I go to our innocent oblivion, arriving back in Albany, continuing on with our days, a warm feeling nestled inside us because Boo was so very happy and good.
Later Andy called me and filled me in on the rest of the afternoon. When it was time to bring Jonah back to his residence, Andy promised him 2 car ride loops. Evidently Jonah wasn’t counting because when Andy announced loop 2 was done, Boo insisted this was not the case. And the manner in which he insisted involved a quick Houdini-esque harness escape followed by climbing toward the front of the car, grabbing Andy’s hair, and yanking it — hard. I didn’t ask whether Andy at least had time to pull over first.
And I didn’t have to ask what happened next — I’ve seen it go down so many times I can watch it like a film inside my head. Jonah pulls hair with Herculean strength. A wrestling bout inevitably ensues – Andy trying to keep Jonah managed and safe while protecting himself. Andy is still the undefeated champion in these matches, but he comes away bruised, sore, and likely disheartened. We know Jonah doesn’t always love going back to his residence, and sometimes he cries, but there also have been times when he asks to go back. It’s a crap shoot what you’re going to get on any given day.
When Andy tells me the story on the phone it’s with a calm voice, relating the facts in a tone that seems almost rehearsed. Not fake or phony. Just repeated too often, maybe. Perhaps a little hardened by the time of it. Frequency x the passing days/weeks/months = A dull and radical acceptance of a fact.
Like at the airport: The moving sidewalk is coming to an end.
On August 16th, Jonah will have been at the Anderson Center for Autism 4 years. It’s still the best place for him to learn and grow and become as independent as possible. We still know we did the right thing.
It’s just….well, not speaking for anyone but me, I discern a cognitive plateau in Boo. I find it hard to stay encouraged that he’s gaining any ground. His learning happens at a snail’s pace. But maybe I’m off the mark. I can write or call his teachers and behavioral management specialists, but I know the answer they’ll provide: a gently euphemized, politically correct assessment of his progress and its intended path, however slowly, toward gaining skills and learning things sans aggression. I should contact them anyway, and I will. But not now. Not today.
So here’s the middle of my story, now the end. As you can tell I’m always photojournalizing our visits, with a lot of snapping pictures of Boo from the front seat of the car. In this 3-photo sequence you get to see:
A. The light bulb of a “naughty idea” come upon his face, igniting a smile
B. His delight at this idea and the beginning of its execution: snatch camera from mama
C. The resulting photo he took of himself shortly thereafter
I adore his laughter, his happy, the moments during which he is bright and eager and fun – hatching ideas, trying to pull one over on us.
We’ve learned to accept whatever comes because we love him. Do I wish there were a “cure” tomorrow, a magic pill we could give Jonah to make him neurotypical? I don’t know. Should I wish that?
I’d prefer an à la carte menu. Leave out the aggressions & add more interests (in anything besides car ride). A steady, if slow, improvement in skills and cognitive abilities. Some Calm. If I want to get greedy (and since this is an imaginary scenario, what the hell), I also want him to be verbal. Conversational verbal.
I hear Iris Holland screaming in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus, stamping her feet and slamming the table for emphasis: I want to talk to my son!
But it’s a dumb game, even in pretend land. I cannot pick and choose my child’s traits, and to do so would be morally questionable at best. I just want him to be happy. How many times have I repeated that sentence throughout this blog, I wonder? How many times have I repeated myself about other things as well?
If I have, I suppose I should apologize — but it fits in well with the whole repetition theme, after all.
Here are extra pics of Boo to make up for lost time.
I’ll be back soon.
^^^ Daddy helping him out of his harness. Buzz cut!
^^^ He loves grandma. Grandma adores him!
“Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.”
~ John Betjeman
Perhaps Jonah shall never know the dark hour of reason. I think that might be okay.
Mama in the front.