A Bigger Boy Makes a Big Difference (#500)

There’s been a seemingly minor but seismic-shift-size change going on in our household.
Diningroom_2
After some five years of me making sure the shoes are on the right feet, the tag is in the inside back of the shirt, and the precious lunchbox is safely stowed in the backpack, Jim has been putting Charlie on the bus. This is enough to warrant a quiet revolution: Because Jim putting Charlie on the bus means I can leave early for work.

For the past five years, I have set up my teaching schedule so that I can get Charlie off to school, dash into my car, wedge into the last parking place on the gravel, teach, dash back to the car, and pick Charlie up (from the bus or at school). Until a few months ago, Jim’s office was in the Bronx; at once point a few years ago, he had a minimum 2 1/2 hour commute each way and it went without saying that it was my job to see Charlie off to school and be ready to hurry to get him if he were sick or too much of an “incident” happened.

In truth, I wanted to be the one to help Charlie start his day, to rouse our sleeping boy, get him dressed, see his teacher, give him a kiss and a hug good-bye. Sitting beside my just-stirring child in the morning light and watching him come to consciousness have always been especially precious moments for me, I don’t know why. Some deepset maternal indulging instinct often impelled me to delay my wake-up call and let Charlie sleep. I used to half-lift my half-awake child to stand and that was the one moment of the day when Charlie was sure always to lean his face into my left shoulder, smelling of blankets and bedsheets and little boyness. In our old house, Charlie saying “up Mommy” was the next part of the morning routine, and I would pick him up, stlll groggy, and walk carefully down the stairs with him in my arms.

But as Charlie got bigger—too big to carry, and so big he can hold himself in such a way that it is not possible to move him (out of his bed, for instance) except abruptly—the pleasant morning routine unravelled, as I now see so clearly. Charlie has become an older boy and (as I now see also so clearly), mom’s good-bye kiss and generally hovering have not been welcome—-have indeed been cloying and annoying and nagging.

(Moms can be that way, you know.)

Charlie woke up at 6am today, giggling and chatting, ran into our bed and fell back asleep. In the past this has spelled a tricky morning send-off, as Charlie has tended to fall back into a very deep sleep. This morning I found myself tucking the blanket over him as I hoisted my bag and reached for my keys. “I’ll get him up at 8,” said Jim, his nonchalant tone a contrast to the nervous thoughts in my head: How groggy would Charlie be? Would he be mad to be woken up? Was this the signal of a tough day at school, as had happened too often in past years?

I was already in Jersey City when I called to ask “how did he do?”

“Fine,” said Jim.

“How do you do it?” I asked. “He used to always get so mad at me.”

“I talk to him.” (Shrug.) “He likes to know what’s coming next—you know, ‘hey pal, geddup!, time to get your pants on.'” (Said in a tone devoid of any worry or anxiety.)

Indeed: I tend to hover, and I suspect many people do in regard to Charlie who, for all that he is a big boy, both age- and size- wise, has the speech and (at first thought) the understanding of a much younger child. Charlie, a bigger boy, knows what he needs and what he likes. And so, this evening, he issued a resounding “No,” when both Grandma and Grandpa told him not to eat one of his long-time food and sensory-pleasing favorites, frozen vegetables.

I thought of how, earlier in the car, Charlie had told me “all done” when I played a song</a> he had liked last summer, and then “turn on” as we drove back home (listening to a CD of songs I like).</p> <p>It just takes a few words from a bigger boy to make a big, big difference.</p> <p><span id="more-521"></span></p> <div class="wpcnt"> <div class="wpa wpmrec"> <span class="wpa-about">Advertisements</span> <div class="u"> <div style="padding-bottom:15px;width:300px;height:250px;float:left;margin-right:5px;margin-top:0px"> <div id="atatags-26942"> <script type="text/javascript"> __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-26942', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '26942', width: 300, height: 250 }); }); </script> </div></div> <div style="padding-bottom:15px;width:300px;height:250px;float:left;margin-top:0px"> <div id="atatags-114160"> <script type="text/javascript"> __ATA.cmd.push(function() { __ATA.initSlot('atatags-114160', { collapseEmpty: 'before', sectionId: '114160', width: 300, height: 250 }); 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That would be a far shorter commute …</p> <div class="reply"><a class='comment-reply-link' href='/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/?replytocom=1440#respond' onclick='return addComment.moveForm("div-comment-1440", "1440", "respond", "521")'>Reply</a></div> </div> </li><!-- #comment-## --> <li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 highlander-comment" id="comment-1441"> <div id="div-comment-1441" class="comment-body"> <div class="comment-author vcard"> <cite class="fn"><a href='http://profile.typekey.com/KChew/' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Kristina Chew</a></cite> <span class="says">says:</span> </div> <div class="comment-meta commentmetadata"><a href="https://autism.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/#comment-1441"> 04/11/2006 at 08:50</a> </div> <p>He’s at Lincoln Center now—much shorter commute time!</p> <div class="reply"><a class='comment-reply-link' href='/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/?replytocom=1441#respond' onclick='return addComment.moveForm("div-comment-1441", "1441", "respond", "521")'>Reply</a></div> </div> </li><!-- #comment-## --> <li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 highlander-comment" id="comment-1442"> <div id="div-comment-1442" class="comment-body"> <div class="comment-author vcard"> <cite class="fn"><a href='http://www.autismsedges.blogspot.com' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>mothersvox</a></cite> <span class="says">says:</span> </div> <div class="comment-meta commentmetadata"><a href="https://autism.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/#comment-1442"> 04/11/2006 at 18:15</a> </div> <p>OMG Kristina, We just made that same shift around here . . . and now Fathersvox is putting Sweet M on the bus in the morning. Maybe it has to do with them turning 9, Sweet M and Charlie both. A sea change.</p> <p>And it has revolutionized my life, because now I can wakeup and start work right away . . . And if I’m exhausted from a late night, I can sleep that hour that makes the difference to being coherent or not for the rest of the day.</p> <p>Hooray for dads putting little (getting bigger) ones on the bus!</p> <div class="reply"><a class='comment-reply-link' href='/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/?replytocom=1442#respond' onclick='return addComment.moveForm("div-comment-1442", "1442", "respond", "521")'>Reply</a></div> </div> </li><!-- #comment-## --> <li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 highlander-comment" id="comment-1443"> <div id="div-comment-1443" class="comment-body"> <div class="comment-author vcard"> <cite class="fn"><a href='http://compostermom.blogspot.com' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Daisy</a></cite> <span class="says">says:</span> </div> <div class="comment-meta commentmetadata"><a href="https://autism.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/#comment-1443"> 04/11/2006 at 21:56</a> </div> <p>We did a switch that was actually the opposite. Dad used to get Amigo on the bus so that I could go to work (school) early, and I oculd meet his bus after school while Dad worked later. Now, in high school, his bus comes earlier, so I wait for the bus with him and then head off to an early start myself.</p> <div class="reply"><a class='comment-reply-link' href='/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/?replytocom=1443#respond' onclick='return addComment.moveForm("div-comment-1443", "1443", "respond", "521")'>Reply</a></div> </div> </li><!-- #comment-## --> <li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 highlander-comment" id="comment-1444"> <div id="div-comment-1444" class="comment-body"> <div class="comment-author vcard"> <cite class="fn"><a href='http://profile.typekey.com/KChew/' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Kristina Chew</a></cite> <span class="says">says:</span> </div> <div class="comment-meta commentmetadata"><a href="https://autism.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/#comment-1444"> 05/11/2006 at 03:21</a> </div> <p>Team work!</p> <div class="reply"><a class='comment-reply-link' href='/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/?replytocom=1444#respond' onclick='return addComment.moveForm("div-comment-1444", "1444", "respond", "521")'>Reply</a></div> </div> </li><!-- #comment-## --> <li class="comment odd alt thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 highlander-comment" id="comment-1445"> <div id="div-comment-1445" class="comment-body"> <div class="comment-author vcard"> <cite class="fn"><a href='http://gretsblog.blogspot.com/' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>gretchen</a></cite> <span class="says">says:</span> </div> <div class="comment-meta commentmetadata"><a href="https://autism.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/#comment-1445"> 06/11/2006 at 17:17</a> </div> <p>It’s nice when the dads can help, although hard to let go of the mommy control.</p> <p>When Tommy was a newborn, Bill started waking Henry up in the morning by playing music- ingenius!</p> <p>Bill and Kate do a good job meeting Henry in the evening, except for the day last week when they lost him 🙂</p> <div class="reply"><a class='comment-reply-link' href='/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/?replytocom=1445#respond' onclick='return addComment.moveForm("div-comment-1445", "1445", "respond", "521")'>Reply</a></div> </div> </li><!-- #comment-## --> <li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 highlander-comment" id="comment-1446"> <div id="div-comment-1446" class="comment-body"> <div class="comment-author vcard"> <cite class="fn"><a href='http://profile.typekey.com/KChew/' rel='external nofollow' class='url'>Kristina Chew</a></cite> <span class="says">says:</span> </div> <div class="comment-meta commentmetadata"><a href="https://autism.wordpress.com/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/#comment-1446"> 06/11/2006 at 23:19</a> </div> <p>“Mommy control”—yes, I do have it!</p> <div class="reply"><a class='comment-reply-link' href='/2006/11/03/a-bigger-boy-makes-a-big-difference-500/?replytocom=1446#respond' onclick='return 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