The Last 72 Hours

Charlie on walk #2 on yet another big exercise day Thursday, Charlie woke up at 2am, making Wednesday's 3.30am wake-up seem relatively, well, "late." When he was little and woke in the middle of the night, I would insist Charlie stay in his bed and go back to sleep. I suspect he was probably pretty hyper and kicking the blankets around for awhile but I don't have the clearest memory of such nights, which were a rare occurrence—Charlie started sleeping through the night when he was a two-month old baby and, while he started having trouble falling asleep when he was around 8, he usually slept like the proverbial log once asleep. Indeed, for the past couple of years, waking up has been very difficult for Charlie.

Now Charlie has become a quiet light sleeper, though I don't think that's why he woke at either 3.30 or 2am. Sometimes he seems to wake up due to the "call of nature" (I think that was Wednesday) and then has a monumentally hard time going back to sleep. And then, his whole schedule and body clock are off. But he doesn't just get back on schedule the next day: It seems to take about a 3-day period, at least.

First day, something happens to get things "off." 

Second day, consequences

Third day, starting to get back on track.

After that 2am Thursday morning wake-up, two walks, and listening to some music on the computer, Charlie went back to bed and fell asleep. He awoke in a groggy state after 2 hours. I'd been up with him and was in a similarly groggy state. Jim and I thought it'd be best for us both to drive Charlie to school though that would mean I wouldn't be able to teach my 9am Latin class (though I don't think my students were too unhappy about this as I had a quiz planned on the passive voice of verbs and the 4th and 5th declensions). 

Charlie got to school fine if a bit late and Jim and I drove into Jersey City. It was a disjointed day for everyone. Charlie was doing speech therapy and some little thing set him off; it was around 11.30 when that happened and (as I later calculated), just around the time when he was probably starting to feel the effects of two straight days of not so good sleep. (At work, suspecting I wasn't always making the most sense to my students, I got nods of "oh yes we know how it feels"; my students are in college and all-nighters and 5am bedtimes are the norm, as you may imagine.) Groggy or not, Charlie wanted to be in motion, to the tune of walks, an early evening bike ride, and a long evening walk with Jim.

After that last walk Charlie took himself (smiling) straight to bed. He didn't wake up when Jim and I made the usual amounts of morning "noise" Friday morning, and not when I turned on some music. A better-rested boy meant a better time for everyone, Charlie most of all, so I didn't try to wake him beyond using those not-so-intrusive means.

Charlie did wake up around 9am. He immediately got himself dressed—actually, he handles his whole morning routine pretty much by himself these days, and tells us to scram if we "interfere" too much (ok by me, I have to get myself ready, though his late wake-up meant another cancelled class—good thing it is late in the semester and we are in the "final stretch," and very good thing for texting, which has become an almost sure-fire way to communicate with students immediately and efficiently). I drove him to school and then rushed in, just in time for my second class. 

When I picked up Charlie a couple of hours later, I could tell from the way he and the aide were walking that it'd been a good day, and it had indeed been such. Charlie didn't demand long car rides as he's been doing a lot lately and he seemed, indeed, quite satisfied with poking around the house, punctuated (of course) with walks.

He and I did a long one after dinner. It was drizzling but we didn't really notice as Charlie was in the mood to run hard and fast on and off. At other times he stopped and stood still; when I walked too near he turned and looked straight at me and told me "bye Mom." I stood back and trailed him by about 15 feet whenever he turned and gave me that look.

About a mile from home, the drizzle turned into not quite a downpour, but a lot more rain. Charlie kept walking without missing a beat, putting his head down and occasionally touching the back of his head which was, yes, wet. Once home, he wanted a shower and then rummaged through the cabinets and refrigerator. Jim came home and Charlie settled on the old blue couch to listen to some music on the computer before going to bed.

After lying in which for about 20 minutes, Charlie clomped down the stairs and wanted to put on his socks and you guessed it, out went he and Jim on what turned out to be long walk #2, with a similar drenching in the last mile.

Though on hearing the rain coming down, I hurried into the white car and drove (I know the route well, ahem) to find them. And then it was another hot shower for Charlie and then, yes, bedtime, with a big fleece blanket.

And a grin.

And I'm hoping, we're back on track. More or less.

3 Responses to “The Last 72 Hours”
  1. Whew. Now I’m exhausted! We’ve also had the same experiences of having to get back on track after missing sleep. When Jack was younger, it took weeks to recover from a trip.
    Now I need a nap. Not gonna happen.

  2. Louise says:

    Do you ever foresee a time when Charlie would be able to take a walk by himself? You have been absolutely clear about how much you enjoy walking with him – or at least following him. But his “Bye, Mom,” seems to indicate that he wants to walk alone, in some real sense.
    Does he walk or exercise at school? It sounds like it might help him sleep at night. He must expend 5000 calories a day!
    Just reading about all *your* exercise is exhausting. And he’s only getting more active. You’re so fortunate to be able to keep up with an almost-hyperactive 12 year old.
    Hats off to you, Kristina. You have drive, endurance and determination. And a bottomless well of love for your son.

  3. autismvox says:

    I’m not sure about Charlie walking by himself—I’m quite sure he could navigate his way, no problem. But there are too many safety issues involved (what if someone stopped their car and told him to come in and they’d get him Mcdonalds?). Someday, maybe, but definitely not yet.
    In the meantime, I’m starting to think I could do a marathon one of these days (I used to think I wanted to)—ok, maybe a half-marathon.

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