A Matter of Timing: The Witching Hour

Charlie on a late afternoon walk Yesterday afternoon I had one of those "what was I thinking" moments. 

2 – 5pm is what I sometimes call a "witching hour" time for Charlie, when his energy level is low and he's transitioning from one time of the day to another (afternoon to evening, school time to home time). It's a time when there's a tendency for him to have difficult moments.

So don't ask me why wasn't I thinking when I agreed to teach classes at 1 pm and 2pm on Mondays this semester. 

That means that I've not been able to pick up Charlie after school on Monday (his school day ends at 2.45pm). Jim is more than happy to do it, but there's a catch: I've been picking up Charlie after school for almost every single day of his life. Of course it's essential for someone else to do this and Jim has gone out of his way to set up his work schedule to accommodate for Charlie's needs and mine. But still. 

This hasn't been the easiest of school years for Charlie, what with him switching to the Big Autism Center in November, along with the multifarious changes and woes he's experience in adolescence. On the one hand, it's been lots of fun to have dad do the picking up, with random adventures, bike rides, and the like. On the other hand, it's a change, and at a time when Charlie has been doing a lot of changing himself. As illustrated by his reaction on (temporarily) losing his green worry beads on Sunday, he needs his little points of security. Add to this that, there tend to be a few extra transitions on Monday afternoons, when Jim needs to go into his office, when I'm tired and less alert after teaching a day's worth of classes, and when we're often in Jersey City which is a place we all like, but not exactly a relaxing one, especially around the PATH station at Journal Square. Honks and sirens are the least of what you hear. 

I hadn't chosen the 1 and 2pm times, but took over the class when the original (childless) instructor had his own change of plans. And it all makes me reflect on how Jim and I have molded our schedules to Charlie's needs. Of course he needs to know the world doesn't revolve around him, needs to be "stretched" and learn to accommodate for others' needs. And it's only been one day a week. 

Frankly, too, 2-5pm isn't my favorite time of the day, but I usually know how to get myself a "perk-me-upper"in the form of a steaming hot cup of coffee. Charlie often seems ready to down his dinner at 4pm; indeed, doing so sometimes (not always) a way to set him more at ease. Monday he was thoroughly on edge when Jim and Charlie picked me up on JFK Boulevard in Jersey City and dissolving into anxiety when we drove up Journal Square. Jim and I stood on the curb and talked about whether or not Jim should go to speak at the American Irish Historical Society. We decided he should stick to the plan and go. Jim opened the car door and told Charlie he was going and I got into the driver's seat. I made a 360 degree turn and went back towards my college and, through three walks and a couple of sessions of listening to more music while sitting on the beloved (and beat up) old blue couch, Charlie was in good spirits for the rest of the day.

Next school year I'll be able to pick Charlie up every day after school. Jim has been driving Charlie to school most mornings for the past few months. I had thought mornings would be tougher, but it looks like the opposite may be the case. Jim and Charlie have got a nice routine going, helped by regular doses of WKCR and, especially, Phil Schaap—Charlie seems to have become quite the fan and not only likes to hear the music but also Phil talking.

And once again I'm reminded, of how often in being Charlie's mother, it's just when I think I've got it figured out, that I don't and that's quite all right. 

Plus, I've learned that I really like listening to Phil and Charlie Parker, too.

2 Responses to “A Matter of Timing: The Witching Hour”
  1. emma says:

    I hate those “what was I thinking moments” 🙂
    But it was also an opportunity, no? For Charlie and Jim to learn each others “patterns” at that time of day, as in the mornings too.
    One of the biggest problems I had was getting Dimitri home from his old “school”, trucking a tired kid around on unpleasantly busy/noisy public transport (3pm to 4pm) after a busy school day. It is the “witching hour”. Glad that’s over…

  2. autismvox says:

    Definitely no regrets for a new opportunity! Some days there were no problems or ‘drama’; they’d go on bike rides and tell me now to hurry home. The fact that Jim had to leave rather quickly didn’t help though I remind myself, good too for Charlie to learn to deal with that.
    Public transport after school wouldn’t be the way to go for Charlie, that’s for sure!

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