A few months ago when Isaac had no school and I took the day off from work to care for him, our DHS case manager was scheduled to meet with me for a review. She needed to make sure Isaac still had autism. I opened the door at 9:30 a.m. wearing my dark blue robe and said, "I'm sorry, but if I shower, we'll need to go somewhere, and I can't start that before noon." She seemed okay with my non-showered appearance (I was dressed underneath the robe and had brushed my teeth and applied deodorant). But frankly, I didn't care what she thought (we have known each other for about a decade) because it wasn't about her. It was about me and my sanity.
It might be hard to imagine what "going" looks like, but it could easily consist of trips to the following, all in one day: the library, the gas station, recycling (but only if it were a Wednesday), the grocery store, the car wash, the coffee shop, Target, and the Rec Center. Once home, he wants to go more, which is why a) I'm exhausted and b) I have gray hair.
It is difficult for Isaac to entertain himself. He won't sit and read a book for hours. He doesn't like watching TV, and he doesn't want the TV on. The only exception is during the evening news because he likes to watch the weather report. He doesn't watch movies. He will play the Wii but certainly not all day long.
This morning I wrote a schedule for Isaac, so he could see what was going to happen. He is quite anxious to go back to school. Early this morning he pointed at the garage and yelled, "Car, car!" He had tears running down his cheeks. The highlight of the day was at 4:00 p.m. when he was scheduled to go to the YMCA. It is his favorite place in the world, and it absolutely has to happen because he is anticipating the trip. I told him, "You must take a shower before you go to the YMCA."
He said, "Mom take a shower," as he looked at me, standing there in my robe with my crazy hair.
In protest, he crossed off the item from the list.
I didn't really want to go anywhere because it is bitterly cold outside (high of 3 degrees) and snowing. Plus, I didn't really have to go to the gas station or Kohl's. I had to return a movie to the library (due today), but I could do that by myself much later when Chris got home from work, if needed.
I took my shower at 1:30 p.m. As I was getting dressed, I reminded him he needed to hop in the shower. He wouldn't do it. He laughed and said, "No, no." Chris says sometimes Isaac and I butt heads because we are both stubborn. (Not sure I believe it.)
Finally I said, "You can't go anywhere -- even the YMCA -- until you take a shower." He was laughing. I was serious. He's too heavy for me to carry into the shower these days.
He climbed into the shower around 2:20 p.m. He defied me and took a bath instead, which I found amusing. It didn't matter to me. I was glad his body odor was under control, even though I had to scrub his armpits.
As he was in the tub, I received a text from the person coming to get Isaac. She had a flat tire on her way to the ER. Can we reschedule? No, no, no, no, we cannot. It's a holiday vacation. He hasn't been to school in ten days! The last thing he needs is for his already-disrupted schedule to be disrupted! I texted her back, I called her boss and left a voicemail, I contacted a few people who usually work with Isaac and asked if they could work. Nobody could. What to do?
I looked at the schedule and off we went -- library bound. We were there when I got the phone call that a new person, Carrie, would be coming over at 4:00 to pick up Isaac. I considered it a holiday miracle. She had worked with Isaac at group respite a while back but didn't know him well. He packed up his shoes, a banana, and a dollar bill for a bottle of water from the vending machine. He had almost climbed into her car before I was done explaining the YMCA routine to her. Then he was off. I am grateful, but even more so, I'm glad for Isaac because his routine wasn't disrupted.
I received a message from Carrie that said, "He is people watching. I've asked him to pick one thing for us to do, but he hasn't yet. He's completely content drinking his water and watching right now. Ha ha." Perfect.
I'm not sure if he'll want to go to Kohl's or the gas station tonight. I can put it on tomorrow's list, and we can start "going" before noon tomorrow if the weather warms up. I have some legitimate errands to run.
He will come home, he will be happy to see his dad, he'll wheel the garbage cart to the curb, and all will be right with the world for a while. Then I predict he will start the dishwasher, watch the news, and then he'll request to go to the Rec Center.
I think I'll stay home and wear my robe.