Thursday, December 18, 2014

Snippets from Autismville

I don't have anything big and profound to write about. We're just plugging away at life here; trying to make it through to the holidays all in one piece (I almost wrote "peace;" that must be a Freudian slip).

In the moments when the house is quiet and the kids aren't home or Chloe's sleeping, I can think over the days and smile instead of huff and puff about things. This especially applies to Ethan. When I'm removed from his quirks and his energy, I have a much bigger sense of humor. Since right now I'm staring at the tree and my house is only a half-disaster, sitting here and taking a moment to actually breathe, and I'm thinking...

...I'm thinking about the math word problems that have come home with Ethan in the last week or so. He's supposed to write a subtraction or addition "story." In typical Ethan-fashion, once he picks a theme, he sticks with it until he's beaten it completely dead. And so, for a number of days now, I've read:

Once upon a time there were 20 lions. They lived in Maine. One went away. How many were left?


Once upon a time there were 17 elephants. They lived in San Francisco. Two more came. How many are there now?


Once upon a time there were 11 owls. They lived in Seattle. Five flew away. How many are left?

I'm pretty sure all of the cities he's used come from NFL team cities.

...I'm thinking about Ethan's complete abhorrence for the microwave being left with any seconds remaining. I tend to heat up my coffee and stop it too soon. Without fail I will always hear, "Mama? Can you please press 'clear' on the microwave?"

...I'm thinking about how Ethan's ideal world is when breakfast is served to him exactly this way: bowl of oatmeal, plate with banana, slice of cheese, and a vitamin, cup of juice or milk, napkin. If I forget the napkin, he makes sure I know. If we are out of an item, the next thing I hear is, "When are you going to Big Y to get more?" If I put too much milk in the oatmeal, he is not pleased. If I give him something else for breakfast, he's not thrilled, either, but I feel I have to sometimes, or he's going to get just too darned rigid.

...I'm thinking about being nagged in the car by the worst backseat driver, EVER. I have been accused of going too fast, going too slow, leaving my blinker on, being in the wrong lane, and running red lights. Of course, he's usually right, but to say after a while this gets rather tiresome would be an understatement.

...I'm thinking about the door to Ethan's room, which is covered with signs. One says "Closed." One gives the "hours" for his room. One is complete gibberish. And then he's taped a "book" up there that he decided to write last week. Its title? "Top Seconds." What is "Top Seconds?" Ethan had me tape a bunch of papers together (yeah, we can't find the stapler right now). And then he took a toy top we'd found at the bottom of the toy box, started spinning it, and began documenting each time how many seconds it took the top to stop. And so, his book contains pages and pages and pages of, essentially, numbers and nothing more. He was quite proud of this accomplishment.

...And I'm thinking of this bundle of energy who is such a great big brother. He's come a long way from the day he found out he was going to have a sister, not a brother, and ran out of the house crying. He calls Chloe "my baby" and wants to play with her the minute he gets up in the morning. In the afternoons we stand at the door and wait for him to get off the bus, and Chloe starts shrieking and bobbing up and down with excitement when she sees him walking up the driveway. Now, if only he would stop considering his little sister an appropriate wrestling partner, we'd be golden.

See, this is good. Now I'm smiling, despite the fact that I woke up at 4:40, Chloe woke up not long after screaming with yet another clogged nose (but she went back to sleep after a while!), and I'm still not ready for Christmas. It's amazing what a cup of coffee mixed with hot chocolate and a perfectly silent house will provide for a least, for Ethan's mom. I think it's called perspective.

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