Back to Business

Jim and Charlie go for a bike ride on a really warm April afternoon 4.30am on Monday:

Chatter in the other bedroom.

Thump, thump of feet on the carpet.

Clomp, clomp of feet running down the stairs (ours are wood).

Beep signaling that the front door was open.

All adding up to Charlie was  up and ready to go to school after a week of Spring Break.

I grabbed my shoes and ran out after him and we had a lovely peaceful walk under the stars. 

An hour and 15 minutes later when we went out again—I had made coffee and put in a load of laundry; Charlie had yawned a few times but shown zero signs of going back to bed—the sky was getting brighter and the air already felt warmer. 

After that second walk, it wasn't yet 6.30am. I set the timer on Charlie's iPod Touch and said he could get into the white car when it went off. He was ok about that and I stretched out briefly on the couch, looking up every five minutes to check on Charlie who seemed (surprisingly) not tense about having to wait. When the timer went off, Charlie said "I want" and I told him, ok, he could go sit in the car which he duly did, clutching his green worry beads. I set the timer for 45 minutes and Charlie again waited for Jim to get up and get some things together. Jim was in the car with 4 minutes to go on the timer and they had a pleasant ride up to the Big Autism Center and Charlie went right inside.

(Forget the iPad hoopla, there might be magic enough in the iPod Touch.)

Jim and I both had Monday off from work as it was Easter Monday and we both teach at Catholic colleges. After being busy from literally dawn till dark while Charlie was on Spring Break, having a day off when he was in school gave us both time for some serious catch-up:

Work emails, that call to the insurance company I kept forgetting to make, writing up some syllabi for summer and fall classes, returning library books, making a trip to an Asian food store, even translating a little Seneca

Next fall I've set up my schedule so I'll do the bulk of my teaching on Tuesdays and Fridays, 4 classes in a row starting at 8am. I am really looking forward to this (yes, really): Since we've lived in New Jersey (since 2001) I've been working full-time (Jim too, of course!) and I've always set up my classes so I could drop off and pick up Charlie. This has meant that I've had to spread things out over five days (resulting in incredulous stares from other faculty members: "you come to campus every day of the week?"). With my new schedule, I'm planning on staying home one day of the week to do my own work (translating and maybe even my book, ha). Jim will be in charge of getting Charlie ready for school two days a week as I'll have to leave early on the train to get to that 8am Latin class, but I'll still be able to pick Charlie up from school every day. And, my new schedule means that, if Charlie needs extra time for those three days in the morning (especially Monday after the weekend and Wednesday the "hump day"), we can take our time.

Yesterday Jim and I both picked up Charlie. He walked out and smiled at us, and was in good spirits all the way home. He immediately asked for a bike ride and then a walk. The landscapers had shown up for the first time and parked their truck in front of our house. Jim moved the white car to across the street and moved the black car back in our driveway so a lawnmower car could go through to the back yard. First, though, the landscapers were busy with two leaf-blowers to collect all the pine cone 'carbuncles,' dead leaves, and a branch in a pile. Even after they had mowed our lawn they also had to leaf-blow and mow some other neighbors' lawns meaning that, Charlie had to spend a few hours in the midst of some of the most sound-sensitive-unfriendly noises possible.

He managed fine, even temporarily installing himself with a container of soy vanilla ice cream on our front porch, where it was less noisy (but then the landscapers had to return to the front yard). He wanted one more walk with Jim after an early dinner of rice noodles and ride past a local park. We made a last quick run to Quick Chek for sodas and then Charlie used the computer, carefully using the delete key when he typed the wrong letter. He told us "bedtime" at 7.30pm.

Charlie didn't wake up early (well, really really early, as in 4.30am) during Spring Break. I do anticipate another early morning on Tuesday.

I'd say he's back on his schoolboy schedule. 

And, at, some thoughts on how my schoolboy has taught me to look at education, and specifically the "college admissions game," with a different perspective.

3 Responses to “Back to Business”
  1. Jen says:

    Your schedule for next year sounds wonderful!

  2. Jill says:

    Do you ever get a chance to relax completely and enjoy a deep sleep or is the best you can do is a light doze while listening for the door alarm?
    If Charlie got out of the house early in the morning where would he go? Does he understand that it’s not safe to walk around outside in the wee hours?

  3. autismvox says:

    Yes, he doesn’t go out without us—opens the door and stays in the front yard.
    I don’t need a lot of sleep—I suspect Charlie doesn’t always either; made up for it today as he slept ‘in’ till 7.15am.

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