Reading People

The little boy has a crush on a girl in his summer school class.

He walked up behind her this morning and tried a sly one-armed hug.  It sort of worked.  She didn’t hug back, but she looked at him sweetly and didn’t seem to mind his very forward gesture.  He didn’t notice her response.

A few days ago, my son’s aide told me that he is the class clown.  He loves funny sounds and music and goofy toys and he likes to laugh, so I guess the other kids watch him sometimes.

He is always recognized by his schoolmates when we’re out and about.  Even the kids who are older and have never been in a class with him will point him out to their moms and say “hi” as we walk by in the grocery store or at the mall.

My kid is kind of a rock star.

At the park, the other children are always fascinated when he doesn’t respond or even seem to understand that they are talking to him.  He has the best sand toy collection, so they are very motivated to figure him out.  They ask me a ton of questions.

My son takes in a lot of his surroundings, maybe even more than most kids, but he doesn’t quite know how to read facial expressions or body language.  He typically just stares when another kid talks to him.

People amuse, entertain, and befuddle my son.  He likes their oddness and their quirky mannerisms, but he doesn’t always know what to make of their efforts to communicate.  Or my efforts to communicate, for that matter.

Today, we went to the store after his swim lesson.  I bought him a big bag of Ruffles, his current favorite snack.  As we drove home, I extended my open hand toward him in the backseat.  Without a word from either of us, he placed a chip in my hand.  I said “thank you” and reached back twice more before we turned onto our street.  He gave me a new chip each time.

I really didn’t consider the miracle of that until I pulled into the garage.  He could have put anything, or nothing, in my hand.  He could have kicked my hand, like he has done before.  Or he could have become agitated and yelled “no Mama’s hand go backwards!”  He has done that before too.  😦

Instead, he did what any ordinary person would do.  He read my body language.  He understood my gesture and complied with my silent request.  Ordinary?  Extraordinary.

The chip experience reminds me of this post from Into The Woods, Living Deliberately.

It’s the little things, you know?

Happy Wednesday!

P.S.  We’re spending a lot of time at the popper fountains this summer.  What are you up to?


Good Job and Some Music

My husband stopped at Home Depot on his way home last night.  He picked up a carton of fireplace logs and a deep pink potted miniature rose.

When he walked into the house, the little boy looked at him and said “A log!  A rose!  Good job!”  Considering where the day began, that made us chuckle.  Smart little boy.

He went to school this morning.  His initial protest was predictable and annoying, but he seemed to snap out of it when I told him I would take him to school in his pajamas if he didn’t put on his clothes.  I guess he figured I was serious.

Clearly, he has developed some sort of social anxiety about being in his jammies outside the house.  That part actually makes me a little sad.  He’s only eight.  Kids should feel comfortable being in their jammies, whatever the scenario.  But he doesn’t, and it’s no surprise.  It’s worth repeating, he’s not like other kids.

Tomorrow starts a four-day weekend.  My swollen eye and I can’t wait.  I need to stay in the house as much as possible.  We have a few things planned, but I can’t really handle the brightness of the sunny skies until my eye gets better.  It’s hard to drive, hard to walk, hard to do anything but just sit still.  My eye is more sensitive to light than usual and today’s chilly air is downright painful.

This afternoon, I was lucky enough to catch up with some friends for a long lunch in a dark restaurant.  Sitting there, with my back to the windows, was the best break my eye has had since the stupid balloon popped on Monday afternoon.  Thank you, friends!

The little boy is home from school and planted at the table with a book of mazes.

He is obsessed with mazes lately.  I spent $25 on three books full of them yesterday and he has already finished the little one.  I don’t quite know what I will do when he finishes the last of them.

He also makes me draw mazes for him.  It exhausts me.  You try it.  It’s not as simple as it sounds.  The maze has to be tricky, but not defeating.  My son is very crafty and sharp-eyed, but he’s still autistic and he frequently displays escalating and sometimes explosive frustration when he can’t figure out a solution to something.  Mazes are a challenge for us both.

There are plenty of mazes on the internet, but my printer doesn’t work right now and I’m not too keen on dropping all my toner on that anyway.  Mazes are sort of ink-laden.

What to do?  More books, I guess.

I remember liking mazes and other brain teasers myself when I was his age.  I wonder how my parents kept my supplies well stocked.  I don’t remember ever doing without them.  Hmmm.

The husband and I are constantly working on crossword puzzles at the dining table.  I guess that’s our grown-up equivalent of what the boy likes.  Maybe there is hope for his interest in reading.  Language is a maze too, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, not sure how much writing I’ll get done over the long weekend, so I’ll catch you back here in a few days.

Happy Thursday!

P.S.  Evil husband tried to plant bad 80’s pop music in my head as we were drifting off to sleep last night.  I countered with Hank Williams and some Donny and Marie.  He sang some Rush and Scorpions and I responded with a Partridge Family tune.  We both got stumped trying to remember the Billy Joel song from Bosom Buddies and then were equally tortured as it seemed the theme to The Greatest American Hero would never escape our addled brains.  Luckily, I remembered this Elvin Bishop song, one of my all time teenage favorites.  I happily drifted off with it spinning in my mind.  (Enjoy that video – there wasn’t anything official, so I figured I’d choose something a little off the wall for you.  😀 )


Home Again

I ate cereal for dinner.  And I might have dessert.

My back is achy, my eyes are tired and I need to color my hair.

The little boy stayed home from school again today.

Don’t know why.

I asked, but as you know, his answers don’t always help me.

I gave him the start of a sentence:  “I want to stay home because…?”

He finished it with “I want to sit on the couch.”

So I said “I want to sit on the couch because…?”

And he finished it with “I want to stay home.”

This conversation happened after an impossible ten minutes of agitated, shaking, teary meltdown.

And it was the high point, the most effective part, of our communication about school.

The relief on his body when I finally gave in and told him he didn’t have to go?  It was visibly  heavy, deeply physical, and kind of heartbreaking.

He’s not missing calculus.  I can’t feel guilty.

Sigh.  Harumph.  Snort.

Honestly, I don’t mind having him home with me most days.  He’s a sweet companion.  It’s just that he needs constant attention and I get tired.

I do nothing active.  I do nothing overtly taxing to my intellect.  I do nothing another person might consider particularly difficult.

And yet, an unexpected day with the eight-year-old ball of energy and will, and I am whooped.  Done.  Pickled.  Over.  And.  Out.

Today, we went for pancakes with Grandpa Lou.  He’s flying solo this week while my mom is in Indiana for my uncle’s funeral.

The little boy was pretty good at Aunt Emma’s.  He was pretty good when I took him to grocery store a few hours later.  And he was pretty good all the time in between and after.

It was the little battles over the hose and the water table, his snacks and a milkshake, the computer, a bunch of cardboard building blocks, and a long list of other teeny little nothings that drained me of my will to remain upright today.

He’s asleep now.  Little angel.  I think he understands he has to go to school tomorrow.  I think he’ll go.

Maybe I can get him to wear a sweatshirt.  Maybe that will help.  I think he’s just cold, you know?

Jackets are another battle.

It’s always something.

Happy Wednesday.

P.S.  I let Rusty hang out in the back yard with us today.

He is one of the three most annoying life forms in our home, but sometimes he cracks me up.

He attacked the sprinkler water…

and reveled in a cool concrete sensory session.

P. P.S.  I still haven’t finished my book and it’s killing me that I never have time for it.

It’s the first thing I’ve read since The Firm that makes me feel like the characters are pacing in the room asking each other when I’m going to pick up the book again!

I’ve read a lot of great novels in my life, but this one is compelling in a familiar, agreeable way for me.  I know I’ll want more from this author when I finally finish.

I also have a huge stack of other books waiting and I feel anxious about getting to them too.

When I was a teenager and reading every minute, it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t actually have time to read every book I wanted to before I passed away.

Isn’t that a sobering thought?  Even if I live to be a very old woman, I still might die before I get to finish reading everything.

Of all the zillion things I might ever put on a bucket list, maybe half of them are books.


Are you buck blue?

The little boy is sick today.

He crawled into bed with us this morning and promptly started barking like a seal.  Not in a good way.

He took longer than usual to jump up and head downstairs.

And he kicked me when I asked him a simple question.

Definitely sick.

Today might be a pajama day.  A sockless-shoeless-underwearless-braless-not-leaving-the-house pajama day.

For both our sakes, warn me if you decide to come over.

Normally at this time, I would be standing at the door of the car asking the little boy “are you buckled?”

He would answer “yes,” then I’d check anyway.

Yesterday, before I had a chance to do that, he asked me “are you buck blue?”

It took me a second to make the connection.

I guess he had been hearing “are you buck gold?” when I asked him about the seat belt.

On the way to school, he went through every color.

“Are you buck red?”

“Are you buck yellow?”

“Are you buck green?”

“Are you buck orange?”

Why yes, as a matter of fact, I am a little buck blue.

It was supposed to be a breakfast-with-Mom#2 day.

I miss Mom#2, but breakfast will have to wait.

Yesterday, I cut my lip on crusty sourdough bread.  (Or nachos the night before.  I’m not sure which.)

Today, it’s annoying, unattractive and kind of clown lippy.

And the little boy is sick, doesn’t know his limits and still wants candy.

Sigh.  I am buck blue.

Changing colors.

I am buck red, because I have been eating a handful of these from my yard everyday this week.

They are GOOD.  So good.  I can’t wait for the big plum tomatoes in the background to ripen.

Speaking of plum, I am buck purple.

We’re going to need a ladder to reach this one, assuming the birds don’t reach it first.

I am buck pink and buck orange too.

And with the very first Morning Glory we’ve ever had in our teeny yard, I am back to buck blue.

The little boy is buck blue too.  Just not himself.

Though you’d never guess it from his gymnastics.

What color are you?

Are you buck blue too?

Happy Tuesday.


Lime Means Go

This week, the white nightlight in my son’s room became vanilla.

The orange light in the hallway outside his door is now the cheese light.

When we approached a traffic signal this afternoon, he said “lime means go, lemon means slow and strawberry means stop.”

When I suggested that broccoli might also mean go, he tried it out a few times and quickly went back to “lime light.”  Smart boy.  “Broccoli light” isn’t half the fun to say.

“Apple means go and stop.”  That one took me a minute.

At the store a few days ago, he was elated by the giant baseball diamonds made from towers of soda can cartons.

“Hug a shape?” he asked, pointing with his thumb.

Of course, I said “yes.”

He also performed a very meaningful series of calisthenics in front of the chilled wine section.

There were hand gestures and several “beeps” and “whoops” involved in that.

I think he was reenacting a scene from one of his video games, but I’ll probably never know for sure.

On the way to my friend’s house tonight, we went to the store again.

We were supposed to be in and out in ten minutes, but we had to spend an extra five looking at light bulbs.

We didn’t need any light bulbs, but the little boy needed to see them. And not because we happened upon their shelf.

He sought out the aisle.  He led me to them.

And he could name them all…vanilla, water, cheese.

At Walmart, he hugged the clocks.  He needed to do it.

I felt compelled to point out the display of digital models he’d yet to see.

He started jumping up and down and flapping his hands.  Then he paused and hugged those too.

Before we could move on, he had to say the name and color of every digit on the packages.

The most exciting event of the week was the repair of our street light.

It has been flickering right outside his window for over two months.

(I’ll need a completely separate post to address the total malfunction of our HOA and its utter failure to fulfill simple requests from its residents.  Insert heavy sigh with a lining of disgust and a dusting of fatigue.)

The repair guy talked to us from his ladder perch.

My son was mesmerized.

We couldn’t wait for darkness to fall that afternoon.

When it did, he told me that the street lamp is a cheese light too.

My kid loves numbers and order.  When I’m not looking, he makes his own math problems.

This week, he’s enamored of fives.  He hasn’t learned to carry the tens as yet, hence the 99 + 44 = 1313 on the top row.

He can name all the planets and tell you that the sun is a star.  He can even waffle over the inclusion of Pluto as the rest of us do.

A few days ago, I asked him to tell me that he was sorry for throwing things.  He said “I’m sorry for throwing stuff.”  It pretty much melted me to hear his spontaneous word substitution.   “Stuff?”  Totally appropriate synonym.  Amazing.

He’s been out of school for just three days.

In that short amount of time, we’ve had some very dark intersections between hunger, fatigue, stress, boredom and miscommunication.

I’ve yelled.  He’s screamed.  I’ve had unreasonable expectations.  He has hurled bananas across the kitchen.

But, in taking these blurry pictures on my crappy outdated phone, I have been reminded what a joyous little creature I get to raise.

I sure do love this boy.


Morning Tantrum

My son had a huge tantrum this morning.


I don’t have it in me to describe the details.

I’m exhausted, my stomach is tied in stress knots and my eyes are red from sobbing.

Same crap, different day.

I let my husband take my morning to sleep in because I was wide awake at 5:15 a.m.

And a tantrum is what I got for that.

Oh joy.

Here are the very bad drawings I scribbled out to illustrate two house rules that were broken today:

And here is the reward chart of the hour (also desperate and poorly done, but what can I say?  Drawing isn’t my thing.):

We skipped to step two so that the little boy could get some grub in the tum before needing the calm for steps one, three, four and five.

For step one, it helped for me to tell him which colors to pick up first, second, etc.  He was paralyzed by the task until I did that.

He eventually finished everything and even gave me a hug at the end.

He made all the check marks and drew the ovals on the computer monitor to represent the river rock background image on his screen.

Now he’s playing some ridiculous game from Miniclip, a site I absolutely hate and try my best to censor.

I absolutely will not let him play any games with images of real people in them – particularly U.S Presidents – Republicans, Democrats, whatever.

Those games just bother me – especially the one that shows Obama with a machine gun shooting up aliens.  So disrespectful.  Grrrrr!

I don’t have it together enough to write a really great post today, so this will have to do.

Gotta go trade my jammies for some clothes and run to Home Depot this morning.

Our microwave blew up this week and we’re a bunch of big babies without it.  😦

See you tomorrow?

Happy Saturday.  🙂