Hump Day (#416)

Today was a Total Transition Day, smack between the end of ESY and two weeks at the beach. “Two weeks,” said Charlie looking up at me from his bed after waking at 8.20am (as if to meet the schoolbus). “Yes, we get to go tomorrow!” I said and reached for the calendar of white houses, beach and oceans, and red school buildings that Charlie’s ABA consultant made to help him count off the days.
Charlie looked at the calendar and pulled on his clothes. “B’ack car!” I asked him if he wanted breakfast and got a “no brek-ghast,” a fast glance upstairs to the kitchen where my in-laws were eating before Charlie headed out. (Their house is a split-level, and we sleep on the lower floor.)

Grandma’s being back home is another transition for Charlie, and one not nearly as carefully rehearsed and planned for as “we’ll be back” to the beach. I think the hardest part for Charlie—for all of us, actually—–is how Grandma herself has changed. She is much thinner, her face—once grinning and with a fleeting twinkle to her eyes—-now craggy and frequently confused. She used to read four newspapers and send Jim a fat envelope of clippings about politics, Jack Kerouac, jazz, the 60s, every few weeks; now the newspaper sits in front of her, crisp and neatly folded. Grandma needs to work on her walking and she is rather resistant to self-motoring from one part of the kitchen to the other.

Grandma has more than a few humps to get over, I am afraid to say, and I spent some of the day on the staircase, calling up to my in-laws (“do you need me to get anything? you can do it!”) and then down to Charlie (“Mom’s coming, she’s talking to Grandma; yes, I’ll cut a green apple for you”). And absorbing this transition, along with the end of summer school and the impeding, long-awaited, TWO WEEKS ADDA BEACH HOUSE, had something of a physical effect on Charlie who was uncharacteristically quiet and energy-sapped though not (overtly) anxious.

And why not? Charlie has been going full throttle with school, ABA, speech, OT, daily swims, mega-bike-rides all year. Since last summer, he has had six different teachers (he will have his ESY teacher in the fall, very happily) and been in four different schools (and he will be in another school building come the fall). During a piano lesson, Charlie took a good two minutes plus to walk over to the piano and play “Rolling” and “Balloons,” though he played with a smile; he sprawled on the big blue pillow during his ABA session and the therapist ended it early.

I remember how, the summer after I graduated from college, I went to my parents’ house and just slept, and slept. (I also had my wisdom teeth pulled and came down with such a spectacular case of the flu that my mother had to half-carry me into the doctor’s office, several Augusts ago.) I suppose I could call that August my “hump period,” as after that month had passed I went straight onto graduate school in a new town in a different state (Connecticut), in my own apartment, among new faces and accents.
So who knows why I drove Charlie, eager to get into our stationwagon, down to where I went to college. I wanted to check out some books from the library and was also scheming to visit a certain toy store that has a good supply of puzzles (and I had found some Chinese New Year money in a red hong bao envelope from my grandmother, Ngin-Ngin that I had stashed away). Charlie followed me dutifully as I walked my familiar routes around the campus and up the library steps; at the toy store, he stood stunned at the embarrassment of riches and ended up learning his face into a gigantic stuffed tiger. Then we went to a restaurant I know as the St. Louis Bread Company and shared a chicken salad (lettuce for both of us, chicken for Charlie, roasted red peppars and sunflower seeds for me.)

When Jim called from the Bronx I said, “I’m doing something great with Charlie—eating green salads in a restaurant!”

Charlie went straight to bed at 8.30pm and I think you can guess what he is dreaming of.

3 Responses to “Hump Day (#416)”
  1. kyra says:

    aw, what a wonderful scene, the two of you at the restaurant! and, wow, talk about the generation in the middle: you on the stairs mid-way between grandma and charlie, calling, encouraging, guiding! you are amazing!

  2. “Lunching with Charlie” was too much fun—-there was a family speaking Mandarin with 2 kids spilling soup and making “noise” right next to us and I said myself, “don’t worry, I’m not looking, my boy has had worse moments in public.”

    I’m feeling very much a part of the sandwich generation, indeed!

  3. mom-nos says:

    Remember, you’ll always enjoy the sandwich more when you remember to add the chips and pickles! But I think you already have a good handle on that.

    Have a great trip!

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