A New Year, Old Memories, and Good Friends

Charlie looking at the beach from the back of the white car  MMX (can't resist using the Roman numerals) started with something more than a bang. Charlie got up and emptied a cabinet of dishes, cups, and containers. Jim and I came into the kitchen, looked around nonchalantly, and went about our morning business. Charlie sat on the couch and within a half-hour, was stacking bowls, plates, cups, plastic lids and (at my pointing) placing them all in a cabinet.

Is cabinet-emptying becoming an OCD thing?

Charlie said "no Barney, no Alphabert," after the contents of the cabinet were on the floor. His stuffed Barney and toy computer Alphabert were two of his favorite things some years ago. But when all of his play seemed ritualistic and play sessions often ended with head-banging, it seemed best to tell him, time to say good-bye to Barney and Alphabert. This is probably an over-interpretation but I have to wonder, had Charlie been thinking of his old toys as he woke up (he used to sleep with them on his bed), remembered why he no longer has them, thrown stuff (our stuff, not his stuff) around?

I don't know. I do know that, if I knew then what I did now, we wouldn't have simply said good-bye so irrevocably to Barney and Alphabert. Concerns and, truly, fears about head-banging motivated us to do what we thought we could and had to do. Charlie talks a lot about Barney and Alphabert but generally seems ok that he no longer has them. But who knows what he might dream of?

After that noisy start to the new year, and the ensuing clean-up job—and no further "behavioring," Charlie was quiet and quite readily assented to picking up the mess—we went to the beach. It's, as I've oft written, one of Charlie's favorite places—and also one of Jim's and mine.

No traffic on the Garden State Parkway going down the shore on New Year's Day MMX
 No traffic going down on the Parkway.

Street signals flashing yellow down the shore
 
No traffic at the beach town streets either. The signal lights were all set to flash yellow.

The beach in winter
The beach in winter (with surfers, not that you can see them)
  

The beach in winter.

Charlie at the beach, amid wind, waves, sand, surf
 
Beach + boy, together for the first time in MMX.

Charlie was all smiles the whole time we were at the beach, and especially when we drove up and down past the beach house we've rented for a couple years and, too, other places where we've stayed. Jim has a good memory for every rental which is good, as some of these have been torn down and far larger, and pricier, structures built on the same lots. 

One such house was where, indeed, Charlie once left Barney and Alphabert in the closet. He was seat-belted in the backseat of the packed-to-the-gills black car, and—as we couldn't figure out where his favorite toys were—we kept asking him, "where are Barney and Alphabert?" To which came the vehement reply: "No Barney! No Alphabert!" Whereupon, Jim ran back into the beach house and voilà, found Barney and Alphabert in the closet of the room Charlie slept in. Had Charlie been thinking, if he left Barney and Alphabert in the beach house closet, we'd have to go back and get them and, therefore, never have to leave the beach house? Did he think he was laying claim that this was his beach house?

Charlie's smile did not fade even after looking at the big shiny beach house that had been built where the one we'd once stayed in had been. He was clear-eyed and calm as we drove away and for the rest of the day which involved not one, but two, visits with friends. After we'd been home for about a half-hour, friends from St. Louis drove up. Charlie sat quietly as we all talked and looked a bit forlorn when Jim went to show our friends some sights. After some putzing around, Charlie and I got into the white car and, after some driving here and there, ended up meeting Jim and our friends and seeing them off to the next stage of their trip.

Then, we went to another friend's house. We'd been invited for dessert and we'd noted that Charlie, who's been averse to going into anyone's house, might prefer to stay in the car. He did at first and then cautiously crept inside, saying "dog" and looking around big-eyed. Our friends don't have a dog and, after dashing out, Charlie came back in and stayed for a good hour. Our friends have a child who also attends Charlie's school and Charlie seemed to (in his way) enjoy his company, even imitating some things he said. No one minded that Charlie kept opening the refrigerator door or that he shook out the better part of a container of green sprinkles onto a plate.

Maybe the sugar, or green dye #something, made for a lot of giggles coming from the back seat as we drove home. 

Or maybe, it was the happy commentary of a boy who knows he's done (minus the initial bang) good on the first day of the new year.

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Comments
11 Responses to “A New Year, Old Memories, and Good Friends”
  1. Jen says:

    What a great start to the year…I don’t think that you can ever go wrong with a beach trip!

  2. emma says:

    The beach looks cold! Brrrr. Sounds like a good start to the new year, it’s great that Charlie can explain as to why he is cautious of other peoples houses, he really dosesn’t like dogs! It’s also great when you can visit someone who is not phased by sprinkles:)

  3. Stimey says:

    Wonderful! Happy New Year!

  4. karen d says:

    Some of our best “friend” moments are when I can clearly see that my friends accept Pete and allow him to just be himself. 🙂
    Beaches over there looks so different from the West Coast — interesting. I really need to get out more — lol.
    Happy new year!! xo

  5. autismvox says:

    I knew these friends would be super welcoming. Left with that nice glow-y feeling!

  6. autismvox says:

    I knew these friends would be super welcoming. Left with that nice glow-y feeling!

  7. Jill says:

    I wonder what Charlie would do if he were confronted with a similar Barney and AlphaBert? Are you curious?

  8. autismvox says:

    We’ve seen Alphabert at the YMCA daycare—the door was locked so we couldn’t to in. But he seemed ok just looking at the door. We used to see some stuffed Barneys at a eye doctor Charlie used to visit. He definitely had to hold those toys but (gradually) understood that they stayed at the doctor’s office.

  9. autismvox says:

    We’ve seen Alphabert at the YMCA daycare—the door was locked so we couldn’t to in. But he seemed ok just looking at the door. We used to see some stuffed Barneys at a eye doctor Charlie used to visit. He definitely had to hold those toys but (gradually) understood that they stayed at the doctor’s office.

  10. Club 166 says:

    Buddy Boy had a crying jag the other night when he was going to bed regarding an old stuffed rabbit he had as a kid (her name was Annabel, from the movie Annabel’s Wish). He has new stuffed animals, but that one was a “special” one that he loved to death.
    Joe

  11. autismvox says:

    Mind if I asked what happened to Annabel?

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