Sensitive Snow Day Boy

snow day, written by Charlie
 I dictated "s-n-o-w d-a-y" to Charlie and the result is above, with the B-ish squiggle Charlie's rendition of "S"; "w" a bit smooshed; "y" minus its tail.

Hey, the Romans used "v" for "u" (and pronounced "v" as "w" when it was at the start of a word—got that?) and they didn't have a letter "y" (the "i" of the Roman alphabet begets our "j" and also "y"). The "s" is a tricky one to form from a fine-motor perspective; I'm thinking that Charlie is trying his best to get in the two curves, and then leaving some of it to wherever the marker will go.

I taped the "snow day" paper to the front door Thursday morning, hoping I'd be able to take it down. But Friday morning we awoke to several inches (8 or something more) on our porch, in our small front yard, on the black and white cars. Charlie got his shoes thoroughly dusted in snow just by taking two steps out the door.

Fortunately, it was light and fluffy stuff and Jim and I made fairly short work of clearing it away and off we went, with more snow coming down for much of the day. Most everybody who could had stayed home for the day, including the office of Charlie's neurologist. As his office is an hour and a half/45-minute ride away, it wasn't a bad thing not to go (and there's that blood testing we still have to do) but we do need some of Charlie's prescriptions refilled and I can call them in. But nothing like talking to the doctor and the very kindly psychiatric nurse (who had a developmentally disabled daughter who passed away) in person. 

The cancelled neurologist appointment and my own worries about how Jim and I would be able to manage keeping Charlie going with a total of four days off from school fueled some anxiety in me, I'll be honest. Charlie was very patient about waiting to get the walkways and car undug and an absolute trooper about walking with his feet all cold and wet from stepping into piles of slush. He is  tremendously sensitive especially to people's—our—emotional states and after a quite quiet day, there was drama  when he and I stepped into the house from an evening and some really loud yelps and flying objects. It passed in a half-hour, Charlie picking up what he'd thrown unasked and Jim getting him swiftly out the door for another walk.

I guess I needed to work harder at maintaining my own peaceful easy-feelingness. I know "we're all human," we can't be perfect parents, we get tired and worried too. And then sometimes one finds oneself caught in a maddening circle in which the unexpectedness of a snow day leads to parental anxieties about keeping Charlie's anxieties at bay and that leads to, how shall one call it, family drama.  

On the other hand, it says a lot that Charlie is so aware. When I say we're a "tight team o' three,"  it also means that the three of us are all very attuned to each other's emotional and internal states, as much as some might not believe that about Charlie. 

Jim and I got a good laugh later at reports of equal amounts or more or some such falling throughout the weekend, and how it's going to take who knows long to dig us out, meaning Charlie's snow day sign may remain taped to the door for quite some time. Shoes drying on the heater, Charlie was smiling and glad to curl up to sleep and I reflected, I need to follow his peaceful-easy-feeling lead.

I think that phrase will be on the next sign I'm going to ask Charlie to write, so I can post it on the door. However you write it (animus serenus?) it's a good motto.

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Comments
14 Responses to “Sensitive Snow Day Boy”
  1. emma says:

    I also have problems maintaining my own peaceful easy feelings. I used to have a perfect calmness regarding doctors appointments, but for some reason I seem to have lost it.
    Thinking about you all shoveling snow (very good exercise for Charlie too if he’s interested).

  2. autismvox says:

    We’ve tried to get him too but he’s (surprise surprise) not interested. Am thinking the best thing to do might be to start him scrape the car.
    I was doing better about doctor’s appointments till last December when we ended up in the ER! Though I think it’s really the waiting rooms I’d “prefer not” to deal with.

  3. Isn’t amazing how our kids pick up on our unspoken emotions?
    But I also always hate the idea that I’m “causing” the anxiety in my child.
    Bother.

  4. autismvox says:

    It feels like a fine line to talk about this sort of thing, between noting how our kids pick up on our emotions, to finding ourselves being pegged as “causing” their problems.
    Bother, yes.

  5. karen d says:

    Oh how I can relate. My anxiety almost always causes trouble for Pete, even when I’m doing my best to hide it.
    Hope you have a peaceful weekend! xo

  6. karen d says:

    Oh how I can relate. My anxiety almost always causes trouble for Pete, even when I’m doing my best to hide it.
    Hope you have a peaceful weekend! xo

  7. Louise says:

    Don’t you remember your own childhood telepathy? Kids only need the smallest of emotional signals to interpret all sorts of parental states. (And sometimes to invent states, as well.)
    It seems like Charlie wants your faith. He must be so frustrated, since he’s been trying so hard, and so *good*, that he hasn’t convinced you yet that he can handle snow days. It must be tough going for him to deal with all his frustrations missing something he loves.
    But he’s doing a great job!
    How much snow did you get? We got perhaps 15 inches here, but the next town over got 20. And my sister Jan up by West Point got 27!

  8. storkdok says:

    The change in routine because of something unexpected is hard to accommodate. My boys feed off each other. They can amp up fast. Yesterday was one of those days, school cancelled. By the end of the day I was in emotional knots from trying to keep them from fighting and from bugging the animals. Today was better.
    Now we are going to watch the tsunami hit…

  9. autismvox says:

    @Louise,
    I find it important to point out Charlie’s sensitivity to others’ emotions as this very quality is so frequently assumed to be lacking in autistic individuals. After one has heard again and again “oh, he won’t notice that” or seen people do things and profess shock if we point out that Charlie notices, I can’t help remarking on his awareness of emotional states in others!

  10. Regina says:

    “this very quality is so frequently assumed to be lacking in autistic individuals”
    What’s that homily about assuming? Our experience is that that’s faulty – daughter’s radar was so honed that she was better at cluing us into our rising tension level or behavior than we were ourselves (the family saying was “detecting a disturbance in the Force”). Sometimes that realization was enough to “snap out of it”, and other times when there was no easy out (I’m not that good of an actor), I just tried to explain what was going on and that it would be okay. Seemed to help over the long haul.

  11. Regina says:

    “this very quality is so frequently assumed to be lacking in autistic individuals”
    What’s that homily about assuming? Our experience is that that’s faulty – daughter’s radar was so honed that she was better at cluing us into our rising tension level or behavior than we were ourselves (the family saying was “detecting a disturbance in the Force”). Sometimes that realization was enough to “snap out of it”, and other times when there was no easy out (I’m not that good of an actor), I just tried to explain what was going on and that it would be okay. Seemed to help over the long haul.

  12. autismvox says:

    @Regina,
    I’m not of course referring to you and people ‘in the know,’ but to a number of teachers, therapists, and others who have been surprised when I told them “Charlie senses your emotions and that’s one reason we think he gets upset.” I like the disturbance in the Force phrase……..
    I’m suspecting some have not noticed Charlie’s sensitivity as he tends to react slowly and doesn’t verbalize about how he feels. Guess I just feel I need to keep pointing that out!

  13. Regina says:

    You should keep pointing it out – I was in agreement; it’s an unfair assumption.

  14. autismvox says:

    I could mention some specific people who made that assumption including (sigh) Charlie’s former teacher.

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