Old Habits Die Hard or Not At All
"Home brown house," Charlie said on Wednesday night around 6.45pm. He was sitting in the middle of the back seat of the white car, his usual post. He was in the car because he wanted to go to the "brown house" which, as you may have gathered, doesn't refer to our house which Charlie calls the "green house," though it's not, or most of it is not, green.
The brown house was more or less brown, or rather a lightish brown-tan. It was not, strictly speaking, a house. Brown house is the condo/apartment we lived in for two years in central Jersey, so Charlie could attend their in-district autism program (until it was clear this wasn't the right placement for him). It wasn't an ideal spot for us at all as the apartment was on the second floor (and the neighbor below let us know that we were noisy from the get-go) and, as it was in the back of the complex, it was impossible to see the parking lot (so if Charlie ran down the stairs, one of us had to follow; this created some interesting arrangements when he occasionally woke up at 3am).
While we were living there, my parents would often stay in our ("green") house. Charlie got used to leaving one place to go to the next. There were many nights when he was perfectly comfortable in the good old green house and a maximum amount of coaxing was required to get him up and out so we'd get back to the brown house before it was too late (Charlie's old school started at 7.45am and he was never able to wake up early enough). Since we were in effect living in two places, we spent a lot of time of driving around. No wonder, as I think it over, that Charlie got used to constant rides as a a regular feature of the evening.
And no wonder that, yesterday evening and most evenings, Charlie still asks for a ride after dinner. And also maybe no wonder that he's had a history of trouble at certain stations on a certain main road: Who knows but Charlie must have been feeling and thinking a jumble of things to find himself constantly transported from one house to the next. We didn't so much live in both places as inbetween them, in the car.
Having divined all this, on Wednesday night it seemed to me best not to go on any rides. We weren't going to drive in the direction Charlie was thinking and who knows but his disappointment at not having some pattern played out was a reason for a seemingly "out of the blue" behavior squall?
So Wednesday night I stood on the grass and Charlie and I talked. When he said "home brown house" I said, yeah, we didn't live there now, we are back in the green house. Then Charlie started saying "white house"—Jim's parents' split-level with its acre of yard—and I talked about the "ladder to the attic" and the big garage and the long driveway where Charlie and I, once it was moderately warmer, spent the majority of our time. I also mentioned Portia, my sister-in-law's dog. It was dark, but I could see a glimmer of a smile at the corners of Charlie's mouth. I ended my little historical overview of our domiciles past and present with "and now we live here in the green house, it's home."
A few minutes later, Charlie who'd been adamant about a ride, was asking for me to open the door and in he went. He stayed up late, almost till 11pm, but he was in a smiley, easy mood, twirling his green worry beads and asking to hear some music via the computer while I wrote up sheets about Charlie's medication and what to put in his lunch box, organized a pile of paperwork for the trip, packed a backpack full of clothes and necessaries and books, put together a visual calendar for Charlie and showed my dad and mom the social story of "Mom in Greece" his teacher had put together.
Nine nights without my guys. Believe me, I'm not going to know what to do without myself at times. I fully expect to find myself planning what to put into Charlie's lunchbox while looking out the window in Meteora.