Monster House (#400)

It’s a house that swallows up children’s toys; a house whose doorknob rattles on its own; a house whose shades go up and down, and no human figure stands in the window. It’s a house that snatches away the dog that tarries on the lawn, and the cops who come to shoo away some kids, whose story of a “MONSTER HOUSE” they’ve pshawed away. It’s a house whose owner is the stereotypical ornery old man, berating the “mentally challenged” kid who dares step upon the grass. It’s a house with a secret encased in the very bowels of its basement.
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“That’s the monster house walking,” I whispered to Charlie after we’d been sitting in the theatre for over an hour.

“House!” said Charlie (no one could hear; houses on the move and backhoes operated by prepubescent boys can be noisy, and both were involved in a fight-to-the-finish on the movie screen). Charlie turned to me: “Grandpa house.”

“We’re going home afterwards, after the movie is over,” I said. Charlie settled back in his seat and watched, wide-eyed.

I settled back too, pleased not only that we would get to see the end of a 90-minute movie, but that Charlie was so interested.

We had gone to see Monster House rather on the spur of the moment. Despite another slow start to the morning—-the bus was already waiting when he ambled across the front lawn—Charlie had a “great day,” even with a field trip to get pizza. Charlie is allergic to wheat and dairy and has celiac disease, plus he breaks out into a rash when he eats tomatoes, so he does not eat pizza. I have bought pizza pans, mixed and rolled rice- and tapioca-flour crusts, shredded soy cheese, and come to the conclusion that there is no point to pizza without a good wheat-yeast crust, good tomato sauce, and real mozzarella. So we don’t eat pizza (despite being surrounded by too many purveyors of a good slice) when Charlie’s around.

Charlie did fine at the pizza parlor. He ate his usual rice-and-vegetable lunch and did not try to grab pizza from the classmate sitting next to him. Charlie stayed late to do a speech therapy session and sampled some blueberries while Grandpa reminisced about the blueberry pie Grandpa used to make. Charlie’s ABA session was cancelled due to the therapist’s being ill and he went on a five-minute swim—he did not want to swim more after I reminded him that we were not getting French fries (after Monday’s flying fries).

It was 3.30pm when we got home and all I could think was, what are going to do for the rest of the afternoon? It was occurring to me, how repetitive and routine the activities that Charlie and I tend to do in the afternoons have become. We have been going to various stores, and getting various things to drink or eat, or swimming. We have tended to fill the time by constantly going out, out of the house. The reason for this is that, over the past two and three years, Charlie has had a harder time with what I’ll call “leisure skills.” When he was preschool age, he had his playsets and blocks and Barney and videos but, as he has become older, he has been “growing out” of these. He has little interest for the computer (I coaxed him to use it for a few minutes this afternoon); he is curious about children his age but can only sustain the briefest interactions, with me standing nearby; he has not been interested in watching the TV (except when Jim is watching ESPN). Today Charlie and I worked on his sight words, and I read him some books, but he is a long way still from reading on his own.

Consequently, Charlie spends much more time with me, MOM, at an age when the boys and the girls his age have discovered each other; I think this may be one reason why Charlie has been less interested in the pool, where prepubescent flirtation is the norm. And so has our house become “the house” or “that house”—the one on the block with “the boy with.” “The special boy.” “The boy who takes the little yellow school bus.” “The different house.”

Kind of like a monster house, I suppose.
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Though we don’t mind at all if some kid traipses on the lawn, or someone else’s basketball gets cast on our lawn, or a red kite gets tangled in one of the pine trees that could use a pruning. We’re not scarey, not at all. Just a little different.

“Move-ee!” Charlie’s face lightened up when I proposed that we go after dinner (sushi and salad; nothing thrown today). At the movie theatre, we both picked up a plastic booster seat; Charlie plunked himself down in the last row. We ended up deciding not to use the boosters, which were made of hard plastic; there were only a few other people in the audience, as it was. After thirty-seven minutes, Charlie was ready to go. I told him that we’d stay for twenty more minutes, then fifteen, then twelve, then ten, eight, five…….

Charlie was staring up at the screen an hour into the movie, and I hoped that, since we had gotten this far, we could stay to the end: By that point, I wanted to find out what the secret in the Monster House was without having to look up reviews on Google. (This movie has a similar secret at its heart, as well as an autistic character.) And to the end we sat, Charlie grinning at the heroic antics of the three prepubescent main characters, D.J., Chowder, and Jenny.

By the end of the movie, the monster house is a monster no more. At the end of his day, Charlie was visibly relieved to see Jim come home from work and to hear Grandpa call out “Good night, Charlie” from his bedroom (we had gotten home late).

Charlie fell quickly and soundly asleep in his–Grandpa’s–our home house here.

To which you all have a very special welcome.

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Comments
7 Responses to “Monster House (#400)”
  1. Now you have me anxious to see the movie. Sam doesn’t even like the poster advertisements for it, he screams with fear when he see’s it. So, it will be a “big brother” movie, of which I hope I get the honors of seeing with him. Glad Charlie made it to the end.

    Sam has been obsessed with ants for a loooooong time now, so we will be seeing the “Ant bully” this weekend. He is so excited.

    Have been in the middle of our travel adventures, but have been enjoying catching up with Charlie. Have a nice weekend.

  2. Laura, it was pretty scarey—9-year-old me would have been pretty worried about what was coming out of the floorboards!

    Charlie was very game and really enjoyed it. What was harder for him was a few scenes that were more “talky”—he was really watching when there was a lot of action, stuff flying, etc.. I think we both got a bit exhausted just from watching.

    I saw the ads for “Any bully”–that may be next—hope you are having good times on the road.

  3. tara says:

    “Monster House” seems to be too scary for Littleman, he saw the trailer recently and said “no way.”
    I on the other hand will probably see it. The “Ant Bully” is probably more our speed, since Littleman is my budding entomologist.
    Good for Charlie for sticking with the movie. We went to see “Cars” with Littleman and 45 minutes into the film, he promptly got up from his seat, turned to me and said “I’m done”, and headed for the exit. I had to laugh he was so clear and determined!!

  4. Meg says:

    Fin has just come into the world of movies. He seems completely desensitized to anything visual that might trigger a fear response. Scary tv, or movies have no effect on him at all (we are working on this). Maybe the next movie on out list is Monster House!

    I can relate to your post, there are tons of kids on the street, and Fin has zero interest in participation in playing with them. I think the Autism Awareness stickers on our car don’t help.

  5. Charlie doens’t seem to get scared from the conventional scarey things—-these days, he’s been more alarmed to hear that the “yellow school bus” is not coming.

    I’m glad to see an Autism Awareness sticker or magnet on a car–that’s me, of course, and I guess some other people might see it as a sign for “keep a safe distance…..”

    I wasn’t sure that Charlie would like Cars. We saw the preview and it was really loud—-and he’s had trouble with motorcycle noise lately—-it was just as well that it was sold out when we went to see it.

  6. Rebecca says:

    Does anyone have problems with their child reciting the movie after you get home? Chris will spend hours reciting movie scripts complete with sound effects and theme songs. It’s a repetitive behavior that we try to limit, but it seems to be his “baseline” when nothing else is demanding his attention.

  7. Charlie doesn’t “script” movies but he does that with videos and DVDs seen at home, and even with things that have happened to him. Some of his most difficult behaviors have occurred when he has felt that some part of the script was broken. And, when he is scripting, it is very hard to get him out of it.

    And, he does the sound effects too!

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