Post-incident of the red brownie box or, life must go on

Charlie putting on his coat prior to an evening walk

Life goes on: The truest of the truisms.

It's one thing to say and know you can't go back to the little local grocery store for a bit, another thing to figure out what to do when repeated requests come from the back seat to do just that.

I wasn't surprised, Tuesday afternoon, when Charlie asked to go to the store. For the past few years, dating back to when we were living in my in-laws' house, trips to this or that store in the later afternoon/early evening have become commonplace. Not so much now, but there was a period (especially after Charlie had been on Risperdal for a few years) when, if there was food around that he wanted, he had to eat it immediately, no matter how much he might have just eaten. So frequent trips for a few items just seemed to make more sense. And, as it became more difficult to find and to keep going to afternoon activities with Charlie (when he was 5 – 7 he went to a weekly gymnastics class; as he got older and it was clear he needed my shadowing him to participate, it became harder to find a class that was both suitable and welcoming)—as Charlie got older, we needed things to do to fill that late afternoon/early evening space, and a little shopping seemed a good activity. We got outl Charlie had the chance to practice some receptive and expressive language skills; there was the chance of (limited) social interactions with clerks and other customers.

But the incident of the red brownie box changed that. Or maybe, what happened on Saturday was the final message, gotta change that overly ordered order. Charlie's teachers have been working on him making a shopping list and shopping and he's doing well with that. Perhaps his and my supermarket junkets had become more of a routine/ritualistic practice that was far beyond their original purpose.

Charlie was cheery when I picked him up at school, and then got (understandably) impatient when I ran out of the car to chat with the aide who'd brought him out. She was once an aide in his room when he attended a public school autism program in our town (he was about 6-7 years old then) and, as I learned, she's now working at the Big Autism Center. On a walk, Charlie slowed down as he passed a neighbor's house where two dogs were barking loudly, but not ferociously (to my ear). The crossing guard vigorously directed him to cross the street but Charlie paused, I think because he had sighted a car in the intersection and he's learned so well to stop when a car is nearby. As there are some quite large puddles on the sidewalk now that the snow is melting and the water has nowhere to go amid the frozen ground and snow piles, Charlie had to vary his path, sometimes a little too late to keep his shoes from getting more than slightly soaked.

He didn't want to use the computer as he usually does when we came home, instead asking soon to go out. We went in a different direction than we've often gone, stopped at the bank, picked up a prescription at the pharmacy. (The psychiatric nurse at Charlie's neurologist had called earlier to tell me she'd get the prescription for one anti-anxiety medication in particular refilled; we are very lucky for her help, that's for sure.) Charlie asked to go the little local grocery store.

He didn't ask frantically, though he did ask several times. I responded with "yeah" and "uh-huh" and, when he said "no," echoed him. I paused and in as blasé a voice as I could, I talked about what happened Saturday and why that meant we had to change things up and do things differently.

As I was saying this, I thought through the times Charlie has had a neurological storm in the car. These have tended to happen when we didn't drive according to some set route (set according to Charlie) and, too, sometimes when we've gotten him what he asked for.  Having not done either of those, I decided to drive home and not say more than I had to.

(I also had, in true Sneaky Mom fashion, bought a pack of sushi and another of watermelon and hid them in the secret compartment of the white car.)

Charlie said "no" to finding himself in the car in front of our house, but his voice was calm. I said "ok" a few times and texted Jim that we were fine (only, because I was writing fast and in shorthand fashion, I gave him the mistaken impression that we were at the grocery store. So much for my writing ability). I was getting ready to tell Charlie I'd just go into the house and start to make him some dinner when Charlie said "open door."

"You can stay in the car," I said.

"Open door," said Charlie.

"Ok if you want to," I said. And opened the door and out he came and into the house. I took advantage of Charlie busying himself making sure his jacket was "just so" on the floor to bring in the sushi.

It didn't take Charlie long to find or to eat it.

(And don't tell. I've got another pack stowed away for his lunchbox Wednesday.) 

10 Responses to “Post-incident of the red brownie box or, life must go on”
  1. emma says:

    The hidden sushi sounds a lot more healthy than the chocolate croissants I’d stowed in the back of a cupboard yesterday:)
    I feel really quite frustrated that I can’t find more things to do out of school which can accommodate Dimitri and me (as his shadow). The shops start to seem like a cliche, but on the other hand, we have learned a lot from it and we do have a “link” to people in the neighbourhood. It would just be nice to have a little variety to chose from!

  2. Linda says:

    Clever mama!

  3. Regina says:

    Interesting. Good.
    Keep in touch with how it goes.
    ‘Hope Charlie, you and Jim have a good day today.

  4. Louise says:

    You say that you “talked about what happened Saturday and why that meant we had to change things up and do things differently.” What exactly do you explain? And does Charlie respond?
    And is the reason that you “can’t” go back to the grocery store because you are trying to break the routine? Or some other reason?
    It sounds like Charlie is handling it well, though. Sushi is better than brownies.

  5. karen d says:

    I find it so interesting (and strangely comforting) that I am not the only mom whose child sometimes has great discontent when I’ve given him exactly what he asked for. I think Pete, too, gets in a rut of sorts and “no” actually means “yes” sometimes. I’m glad you got past it yesterday. Sushi is a favorite of Pete’s, too! Wish we were closer and we could eat sushi together. xo

  6. Club 166 says:

    Oh, the power of suggestion.
    After reading this, I had sushi for lunch. 🙂

  7. autismvox says:

    Ok, I am just going to say it:
    I could really use some sushi now!
    I made a fast grocery store run before picking up Charlie but alas, the A & P no longer makes their sushi “on the premises,” but has pre-made packets with rice that looked a bit gelatinous. (shudder)
    @Louise, I noted to Charlie that we’d had trouble at the store on Saturday and that can’t be. I kept it really simple as always. Charlie sometimes echoes a few words but he doesn’t get upset or frantic.
    He wasn’t even eating the brownies, actually, just tasting the batter!
    @Emma, “Cliché” is the word. I felt like it was Charlie AND me who were stuck in a rut. Today (since I’d done the grocery run) we ended up on a local state highway (2 lanes each way rather than 4 or more) and did some driving—we used to drive on this road a lot to some of Charlie’s therapy sessions when he was younger—it wasn’t the most exciting ride, but it was different, and not unpleasant.

  8. Susan says:

    I love the way you describe the details of your life with Charlie so well daily…it helps me as a professional to remember to be humble and that I do not walk in your shoes. And I know from experience that ‘what to do after-school’ frustration with the older kids…lots of parents have told me.

  9. Susan says:

    I love the way you describe the details of your life with Charlie so well daily…it helps me as a professional to remember to be humble and that I do not walk in your shoes. And I know from experience that ‘what to do after-school’ frustration with the older kids…lots of parents have told me.

  10. fanofyours says:

    You are inspired in your handling of all these tricky moments.
    May I say how much I appreciate these daily posts? The dose of gracious, thoughtful, upbeat realism I get from you every day is so helpful as I face my own tricky moments.

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