4.30 – 8.50am (#413)

The ceiling light turned on at 4.30am and I had a blurry impression of a figure scurrying through our room. “It’s Charlie……” I heard Jim say. There was the sound of porcelain on porcelain and I shuffled into the bathroom to find a very serious-faced Charlie who next ran to my spot on the bed.
And stayed up, and immediately called out,


It was a moment for something concrete, like an analog clock (not that there is one in my in-laws’ house that I could find at 4.35am), a picture schedule outlining what Charlie (and we) were going to do in the four more hours until the bus came at 8.50am—especially as Charlie kept saying “bus” louder, at more frequent intervals, and with a rising pitch in his voice.

“Later.” “Let’s go back to sleep.” “It’s so early.” Said Jim and I.

“No,” said Charlie. Pause. “BUS!”

This was the first time that Charlie had gotten out of bed from sleep to take himself into the bathroom and we were so pleased at this (and so sleepy) that we nodded our way for over an hour of Charlie saying “bus, BUS.” Charlie at first assented to lie down then insisted on sitting up, then standing up beside the bed and looking at us with pleading eyes: What kind of parents were we not to produce the bus within the usual 40 minutes after Charlie had woken up?

We both gave up our fitful-not-sleeping and just in time. Charlie, apparently concluding that the bus would never come, exploded into very loud and high-pitched wails and yells and was on the verge of flinging himself backwards into his old familar back arch when we got him back onto the bed. Charlie had already entered “fight or flight mode”—-not merely feeling, I think, but believing that the bus would never ever come again—and knocked the back of his head loudly on the wall. And then he stopped, starting sobbing, and rubbed the back of his head.

“I think we need to begin a how-to-tell-time program,” said Jim. I grabbed my cell phone and showed Charlie the (too small) numbers—I didn’t think this was particularly effective, but sometimes just going through the motions—-acting as if Charlie understands what evaluations and assessments say he does not—is enough to restore confidence in Charlie, and so in us.

Charlie knelt beside me on the floor and did a dinosaur puzzle, got happily dressed (shoes and socks and all), had some breakfast, then followed me back down when I suggested—we had 90 minutes to go—that we practise piano. “Pay-ahnno!” smiled Charlie. He is learning four songs and also the C major scale; he is learning to read music, as his teacher has printed out the songs with the notes very large, with their letter names in the round part of the note. Before playing, Charlie velcros the letters C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C onto the keys (starting at middle C); he reads the notes on the page and looks down to touch the corresponding keys. This morning, he read and played fast enough that I could hear the first glimmer of a melody.

At 8.30am, Charlie was to be found under the covers, eyes closed, and I knew that if he stayed that way for a minute longer, I would have to carry him out to the bus. So I roused him and we went to wait in the front yard, where Charlie, wearing his backpack, lay down on the grass. When the bus pulled up, Charlie sloshed on and fell asleep for the ten-minute ride. He was slow-moving for the rest of the day and so sluggish that his speech therapist and I decided to leave him be, face into the couch. Charlie only perked up while swimming in the pool and standing with the shopping cart. He went to bed at 7.30pm and, while he did not actually fall asleep until 9pm, Charlie seemed very content (if not relieved) just to be lying in bed.

It was a good day, with yawns all around and most of it pleasantly busy, once we all got through those first four hours of the day.

Does Charlie dream of a magic schoolbus—or is his schoolbus magic enough?

2 Responses to “4.30 – 8.50am (#413)”
  1. liz ditz says:

    Poor Charlie! My deepest sympathies! I am still having disordered sleep times from the hot weather 10 days ago. I can get up, get a cold drink, and read in bed…but it is still 4:30 am that I am awake, and I can’t get my clock back on the right time to wake up.

    A whole bunch of analog clocks might be in order — I wonder if you have Goodwill (or similar) nearby.

    I’ve hear this teaching story: you get a really loud kitchen timer (that goes, TICK for each minute) and manually move the minute hand for each tick.

  2. Thanks, Liz! We’ve tried to teach Charlie with one of those toy educational clocks, with no results. But I think now that he is older he may be ready for this concept.

    And he slept long and well and got on the bus with a smile this morning.

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