The Price of One Blue Glove (#200)

Charlie being her only grandchild, my mom buys 90% of Charlie’s clothes (though since he has grown a lot taller this year, more than a few items she has bought have been too small). She always wants to make sure “he has enough–what if one’s in the wash?”–so Charlie ends up with mulitples: two fleece jackets, two hats (plus the three his godparents gave him), more shirts than we can rotate, drawers stuffed with pajamas, socks, and underwear.
And out of it all, aside from the yellow-brimmed fleece hat, the clothing item Charlie has shown the most attachment to is a pair of green gloves I bought a couple of years ago for 99 cents at K-Mart. After some washings in the washing machine, the gloves have developed holes so, on finding myself at a discount drug store, I bought Charlie a blue pair for 79 cents.

“Mom got you some new gloves!” I said with triple enthusiasm. I got the expected rejection.


“They’re new blue gloves.”

“No bue g’oves.”

The subject was dropped due to the oddly 55 degree weather of this week and to Charlie’s putting on his gloves right before running onto “red schoolbus”—not a good time for a discussion about change.

This afternoon, as we were heading out for a walk after a good day at school and an ABA session (that was not as good as it could have been only because it was the last session for one of Charlie’s therapists; how we will miss her), I noted that Charlie was wearing the green gloves and carrying the blue gloves. Scenting a potential stim and a repetitive routine developing, I reminded him that he did not need both.


“Let’s leave the blue gloves on the sofa.”

“No.” And Charlie put them on the sofa arm and off we went for a walk to see a certain “tree.” We went very far, over to the north side of our town and Charlie was in his peaceful, easy-feeling mood the whole way.

“Daddy bwown noodles!” Charlie called out as we neared home, just as it was getting dark. Jim had spent the day helping his parents and Charlie was excited to see him drive up. The two of them waited for me in the black car; when I got in, the first thing Charlie said was,

“Bue g’ove.” He was wearing the green ones and must have gotten out (undercover of dark) with the blue pair–or one of them, at least. I looked all over the backseat and could not find it.

“It probably fell on the grass. We’ll get it later.”

Charlie ate every drop of his rice noodles with shrimp and vegetables. He pulled on his coat and vest and hat and green gloves and said,

“Bue g’oves.”
“At home,” we said. We drove past the discount drug store where I had bought them and Jim and I had a five-second debate about stopping to get another pair.

“Nah,” said Jim.

The blue glove was not on the lawn and not on the first floor of our house. Charlie ran upstairs to look, thoroughly nervous.

“This is a stim,” I said to Jim.

“Yeah, he doesn’t need it,” said Jim. Charlie cried out and I ran up the stairs. He turned to look at me with huge brown eyes filling with tears. “Bue g’ove! Mommy! I want!”

I stammered. Don’t give into the glove stim, we can tackle this one before it gets elaborate and we have a real problem. “Jim, he’s crying,” I called down.

“He doesn’t need the glove,” Jim called back up. I thought about how Charlie’s face loses its open, peaceful look when he is trapped in a stim.

“Charlie, if you really want another blue glove, we can get one tomorrow,” I said.

“Bue g’ove.”

“We’ll get it tomorrow.”

Charlie stood like a tree in the rain, lower lip trembling, and I helped him brush his teeth. He took off his shirt and got into the shower and slowly smiled as the hot water came down his back. PJs on, he settled himself on our bed with a couple of pillows and his green rabbit and asked for me to turn on his latest favorites, “In the Evening” (Hooter the Owl from Sesame Street), “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” and “Ho-ho-ah.”

I could tell from the tones he used for the last one that he was singing the refrain to Chuck Berry’s “Havana Moon” and turned it on, after Charlie had said “Hawanah Mooon.” He was at ease, freed from developing some odd ritual about some object; from worrying about one 39 1/2 cent blue glove.

And that to us is priceless.

One Response to “The Price of One Blue Glove (#200)”
  1. gretchen says:

    You and Jim are so good at this. I hate the stim-dance. I feel like I never “get” that it’s a stim until it’s too late. Or like I’m tormenting Henry by not giving in to him. But you are helping me realize that the stim is what torments him. Not the lack of it.

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