Life’s (in a manner of speaking) a Beach
On Sunday Charlie woke up at 3.30am or thereabouts. This proved to be a good thing—we got in a good run/walk around 6am—as a cold, sometimes freezing rain fell for the rest of the day. Charlie has definitely rediscovered the YouTube search engine and, I confess, a bit too much time was spent sitting on the old blue couch watching videos (did get in some typing practice). We also made one of our (way too frequent) trips to the grocery store (though we did go to a store, Trader Joe's, that Charlie has refused to set foot in for the past year). And, with buckets of rain falling down, we visited Jim's mother in the nursing home, where Charlie pauses for a long time at the door to make sure there's no (therapy) dogs; I have been pausing myself every time I see the Santa mannequin by the player piano. (This Santa is more than size of 6-year-old Charlie.)
Throughout the day, Charlie was in good spirits and communicating lots. There were about two minutes when that wasn't the case, when I tried to explain why we couldn't find all of the video he wanted to see on YouTube due to "copyright restrictions." Jim looked at Charlie, I shut the laptop and placed it on the floor. Charlie stayed where he was and moaned, sniffed, asked for the computer. And that was that.
A little stir-craziness has to be allowed for.
It was, despite the bad weather and being cooped up in a relatively small space, a lovely day, the three of us together. That's not much to report and yet I can't say it enough, especially as one still reads too often about how we should fear a "silent tsunami" of autistic adults, about how unbearable and awful life with an autistic individual is, and especially if that individual has "behavior problems" of the sort Charlie has had. About how raising an autistic child must be a "burden." Life raising Charlie is for sure rife with challenges, setbacks, moments of worry/despair/fear/more worry/you name it. And I can never say it enough: For Jim and me, life with Charlie is good, so good—maybe not the proverbial "beach" exactly, but something pretty close to it—that it's something we would never want to miss out on.
I mean, I've no idea what we would do without Charlie sitting with his legs tucked under him on the old blue couch, typing letters one by one as I realize I've forgotten, yet again, to remind him to wash his hands. And how important it is, really. Keyboards can be washed and laptops turned upside down to be decrumbed, but Charlie all attention to type with his index finger, is a sight I can never tire of beholding.
One new sight I did see on Sunday evening was in our bathroom. Charlie had brushed his teeth and, prior to turning on the water, ran out and reentered with a plastic beach ball. Earlier (as in 5am-ish) this morni
ng he'd found an old case of Hot Rod cars and, I don't quite know why, put all of them into the tub, turned on the water, and had a nice splashy time with the ball too. (I know, it was 5am Sunday morning, but I divined that Charlie would be fine with this activity, and went briefly back to bed.) I wasn't surprised when, in the evening, Charlie asked to take a shower and then went to retrieve the ball and all the toy cars.
But I wasn't expecting to see him standing, ball in his hands, in the tub while wearing his swimsuit. "Are you playing you're at the ocean?" I asked.
"Yes," said Charlie. And told me to go out, which I was happy to accede to. I relayed what Charlie was doing to Jim, who said,
Something I'd have a hard time contesting, at any hour of the day.