It would be convenient if Easter fell on a different day of the week. Any day but Sunday would be preferable. Why? Because Sunday is the day Isaac goes to the YMCA for a few hours, and he has had this routine for a year or two. Even if it’s a hot summer Sunday and he has the opportunity to go to the pool (which he loves), he will choose to go to the YMCA 100% of the time. It’s what he does.
This morning he crawled into bed with us at 6:39 a.m. and put his ear next to my mouth so I could whisper, “YMCA.” He has known for a while he would be going with me to the YMCA this morning. As I tried to go back to sleep, his hand repeatedly pulled my face over to his side of the bed so I could repeat again, “YMCA.”
Isaac ran into the living room, screaming a joyful scream. “YMCA,YMCA, YMCA OPEN!” No matter how many times he was told earlier in the week (and today) that the YMCA would be closed due to Easter, he said, “YMCA open!”
It doesn’t exactly work to say, “Christ is risen! That’s why the YMCA is closed.”
Before we headed out of town for Easter, I drove him to the YMCA. There were a few cars in the parking lot. We walked up to the building. He tried to open the door. It was locked. He pushed the button to open the door. Nothing.
“Is the YMCA closed?” I asked him.
“Essss,” he said, sounding disappointed. I asked him if he wanted to go to the grocery store, and he said yes, so we were off. I was happy the transition was smooth. Years ago, it could have taken 30 minutes to leave and would have required me to lift him while he was kicking and screaming. We went to the store (we needed nothing), bought one item, and came home. He did a fabulous job, and I told him so.
Isaac stepped inside our home and got teary. “YMCA open!” he cried.
We drove about 45 minutes to have lunch with my cousin and her family. We had a nice time. Initially he sat in the mud room/breezeway to eat. It was cold out there, and he finally came inside. He did well. He ate his lunch. He was intrigued by their two dogs. He never got really upset; however, he was obsessed with the YMCA and where he should have been.
After he opened and shut their garage door a few times, he poked his head inside and yelled his version of “Noah, Henry, time to go!” but nobody moved. After we had finished lunch and dessert, he grabbed the veggie tray and ran outside towards the van.
I said, “Wonder what the neighbors are thinking? They are probably wondering what that kid is doing outside screaming while carrying a veggie tray.” I laughed. He just wanted to get the hell out of there. He wasn’t having a bad time, but at that particular moment, he should have been playing racquetball or ping pong. Since we were close enough to home, he knew there was a chance he could still make it. The boy is smart. He packed up our van. He was done. We left fifteen minutes later.
Before we stopped at our house, we drove to the YMCA. Isaac tried to open the door. It was locked. He pushed the button to open the door. Nothing. “YMCA open please!” We drove home.
The next few hours, he repeated again and again and again and again that he wanted to go to the YMCA. “YMCA open please!” Tears.
We told him he was going Thursday with Sam, his respite provider. Tomorrow we will take him to the Rec Center, where he goes almost every night. Somehow it’s not the same as the YMCA.
At times when Isaac is very anxious, I sing to him. The song is
always this one:
YMCA Thursday with Sam
Thursday with Sam
Thursday with Sam
YMCA Thursday with Sam
Play ping pong and racquetball.
(You can change it up by adding different days of the week or people. That's by design!)
He loves to hear it and loves to sing it. It is a reminder of his schedule and an affirmation that the plans are still on track. Everyone needs something to look forward to, right?
Tonight after dinner, Chris took him to do errands. Isaac loves to go. Even as a baby, he loved to be on the move constantly. They went to the post office to mail a few letters, to the video store to take a movie back, to the grocery store, and to the office so Chris could drop off a few things (and Isaac could ride the elevator). They dropped off a box at UPS, and they put gas in the van. Then they came home.
That’s what we do because that's what he needs.
This is what a lot of holidays are like at our house when the routine is disrupted. Autism never takes a day off because of a holiday. I’m not complaining. I recognize how far he has come and how much easier it is now that he can better communicate with us about his needs/wants. Today he never really had a meltdown. He hugged his relatives. He had fun hunting for eggs. He entertained himself pretty well by playing his Nintendo DSi. All things considered, he was pretty happy while we were at someone else’s house for lunch, but he was preoccupied. Obsessed.
I estimate he said “YMCA” 300-400 times today.
Tonight as I tucked him in bed, he said, “YMCA open!” I told him tomorrow is when it opens. I told him Thursday he would go with Sam. Isaac smiled. I thank my lucky stars that Sam is dependable. I can’t work with anyone who isn’t.
Tomorrow morning will come, and Isaac will snuggle up to me. He’ll put his ear next to me so I can whisper, “YMCA Thursday.” Then we’ll do it some more.
Easter Tuesday 2014 sounds pretty good to me.