Friday, May 02, 2008

The Easy One

Oliver is the easy one. That's how we characterize our children at the moment. RT, of course, having just turned fifteen is in full teenager mode. He is sometimes sullen and withdrawn, he is occasionally argumentative, but mostly he is just on the go and we don't see him much except when he is asking for a ride somewhere. Or when he tells me at 8:30 pm on the way home from Karate that he needs to take guacamole in for a class the next day and we spend the next forty minutes driving to grocery stores looking for ripe avocados.

And Sami? He just wants to argue, debate and TALK about everything. EVERYTHING. Here is an almost verbatim dialog that he had with our neighbor tonight:
"Excuse me, Hannah? Well, thank you so much for this radish that I'm going to take home and put water on and slice up and eat tomorrow because, well, I really like radishes a lot."

"You like radishes?"

"Yes, I actually do like them a lot. And thank you for inviting us to come here and have dinner with you because you prolly didn't know this but I really also like those cheese crackers that you have over there. And, well, we have to go home now but we can come back tomorrow night if you have some more radishes for me to have."

Lately I've been resorting to requesting five minutes of silence: "Let's have five minutes of silence now because the trees are so pretty and we need to think about that a little bit. Without talking. OK?"

But Oliver? He is the easy one. He is usually very happy and full of life. He listens so well and is just happy to be doing what everyone else is doing. This is a real change from just a few years ago when everything was such a struggle, so we appreciate now how easy he is.

Unfortunately though it isn't always this way with Oliver and the last couple of days -- today especially -- have been a test. Why are the moments of explosive growth always followed by days like this? Yesterday and today were definitely filled with moments that didn't feel anything like growth. Oh yeah, these moments remind me, Oliver has autism. It's not that I forget, exactly, but I mostly just think of Oliver as Oliver. But yesterday, for example, he and I were in the front of the house enjoying the weather. I was pulling random weeds and Oliver was walking along the wall that runs along the sidewalk the length of three houses. Then, apropos of nothing, Oliver threw himself down on the sidewalk and started loudly crying. The neighbors were out on their stoops and all eyes were on us. Even though I love my neighborhood and know all of our neighbors, this made me a bit uncomfortable because I think we -- Oliver -- are sometimes the subject of talk amongst the old ladies on the block. I hate giving them more fodder. Anyway, when the crying began I moved in and sat down on the wall just a few feet from him and said softly: "Come in my lap sweetie and I'll give you a hug." So he did and it was all fine. But it wasn't fine because the next day and a half were punctuated with similar moments. The most frustrating thing about Oliver's lack of language is that I have no idea what is bothering him at moments like this. All I can do is soothe him with whispers and kisses and feel totally inadequate.
I know that children -- people, really -- can't be in a constant state of growth and development. They need time to internalize growth. But why does the swing of the pendulum have to be so dramatic?

On a happier note, however, tonight I received an early Mother's day gift. RT and my brother gave me a three person glider (that converts into a bed!) for the yard. I couldn't have been more surprised when they showed up and started building this thing in the backyard. They finished about a half hour ago -- at 11pm -- and it was so dark that they were looking for all the pieces by flashlight! If I remember tomorrow I'll take a picture and post it here.


  1. Anonymous6:52 AM

    "These moments remind me, Oliver has autism." Christine, this rang so true for me. In terms of my son, I don't forget either, but I do tend to think of GP as just GP. So when unexpected behaviors crop up, I am often blindsided.

    I wish Oliver could tell you what troubles him. Sending you a hug. (And I'm a little envious of your mother's day gift!)

  2. What a wonderful Mother's Day gift!

    Without knowing Oliver, I just wanted to throw out one thing. Oliver has been making so much progress lately! I've noticed with my kids (especially S. -- my kid on the autism spectrum -- when she was younger) that when developmental leaps are being made, there are more meltdowns. It is sort of like the growth -- and the blossoming of certain abilities -- upsets the balance for a while.

    Hugs to you.

  3. Anonymous10:28 AM

    i tell you, fluffy will be soaring along and i'll be cheering alongside him and then we hit a wall, not like the walls of yore but a wall none the less, an on and off wall, higher and lower in parts, crumbling but also tough and i'll scratch my head, like, huh, what's THAT about? and then, like you, i say, oh that's right! the aspergers! it's so odd, isn't it? to forget?

    i can't know the frustration of having little language to describe what oliver feels but i think it's so incredibly moving and lovely that he accepts your lap, your murmurs, your comforting.

    and your mother's day glider sounds DIVINE!

  4. Christine, this rings so true for so many of us, I think. It's like we're learning to surf in a current where --oops!-- someone forgot to tell us about a tidal bore and then all of a sudden we're getting wiped out as the water rushes in reverse. It eventually returns...but it's jarring.

    I see when Nik is making tremendous strides in one area he tends to have difficulty in another —attention, tolerance, ability to communicate, SLEEP.

    I love that Oliver will come and sit on your lap and let you soothe him; Nik's just started to do that consistently and it melts my heart every time.

  5. So you can sleep out in the yard???!!! Awesome!!!

  6. Happy Mother's Day! Thank you so much for commenting and visiting by blog. I am going to take some time to read some of your past posts as this is my first time to your blog. I am so glad you commented so I could find you and Oliver. I see a lot of fellow bloggers here!

    "Oh yeah, these moments remind me, Oliver has autism." I know what you are saying here. I often feel this way. Never ceases to amaze me.

  7. happy mother's day!

    definitely have noticed those super-good days followed by really tough days for Charlie---sometimes I think Charlie has to exert extra energy to get things all together (talking, focusing) that the next day, he is wiped out and his defenses are down. love and patience are golden, no?

    love the thought of your present!

  8. You had me at "prolly", Christine.

    I see those ups and downs - it's so hard to accept the downturn that can happen temporarily after a big upswing.

    And speaking of "swing" - Happy Mother's Day!