Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What remains possible

Some days are more possible than others, more seeming infinite in nature. Others shrink down into a nubbin, a hard, mean little kernel that sticks in my throat.

It doesn't help to have a raging headache. It doesn't help to be worn down so thin from autism that I am surprised I can't be seen through, more apparition than person. (My spirit, that is, my waist is thickening like pudding.)

I love my son to pieces but some days can barely stand to be with him; and by bedtime it has been one of those somedays. And it's no one thing, just every little thing. From the moment I greet his bus, on - late today, so I am granted a fifteen minute reprieve, fifteen minutes of sitting in my lobby watching neighbor children arriving home, chatting brightly with their moms or nannies, willing myself to not let envy poison me down to the bones.

I know what Jake-off-the-bus will ask: "Can I pet Cocoa? Where's Cocoa? Can I pet Cocoa? Where's Cocoa, Mommy? Let's go see Cocoa, Mommy!" over and over, and over and over. The same every day these days, his obsession wearing a groove in my soul.

It's nearly all he will talk about, day and night: the cat. The cat, the cat, the cat, thecatcatcatcatcatcatcatcatcatcat; the bloody cat.

I love the cat but I would toss her out the fucking window if that would make Jake stop talking about her. And chasing her around the apartment. And dragging her into his lap to pet her. And petting her sometimes gently and sometimes too roughly, so I never know which it's going to be.

I never know if it's safe to leave her alone with him, and so I have to hover and watch and all the YEARS I've gained of being able to trust that he's pretty much safe in the house so I can watch him loosely and go about my business have to be heaved aside.

I can't leave him alone for a minute or the cat may get inadvertently strangled. Strangled by love and Jake's hands that do not understand you can't carry a REAL cat by the head like you can a stuffed animal.

And Jake? He really is a good, compliant child. Jake doesn't want to, but he does his homework. I work hard to maintain a cheery exterior, to praise and smile when inside I am weeping that it is pretty much the same homework he has been doing for the past four years. That he needs a number line to add and subtract, while his twin has moved on to geometry and equations.

And then he sculpts this incredibly interesting "cat-dragon" out of thera-putty on his five minute break between math and reading.

And then he reads so beautifully but it is so clear in his cluelessness at answering the questions that he retains so little. And I am now getting envious of all my autism mom friends with "little professor" aspie kids who have no social skills, but boy are they academically advanced.

And then I feel guilty for wanting my son the be someone other than who he is, and stupid for feeling envy which is the world's most useless emotion and dangerous, too.

And then it's time for dinner which I have to make in the kitchen while listening hard for signs of cat torture coming from the living room, but Jake can't find the cat tonight which is somehow worse.

"Kitty? Kitty where ARE you?" comes his frustrated cry. "I can't find Cocoa! The kitty is missing! HELP! HELP!" he yells, running through our tiny apartment. But Cocoa? She has her hidey-holes for when she simply must get away from Jacob's obsessive love. Lucky cat.

A bit later, Ethan has been picked up from Hebrew school, dinner been wolfed down by hungry growing boys, and Jake is in the bath while Ethan tackles 4th grade math.

Jake is having a loud, growly day and I don't know how much more animal-boy I can take. Every answer I give that he doesn't like is met with a loud snarl and hands made claws, his face a grimace. "I'm a scary monster" he says "I'm a vampire." Halloween can not fade fast enough.

"Can I watch TV?"

"No Jake, it's bed-time; after your bath is BED."


"Can I watch TV?"

"No. Bedtime."


"Can I watch TV?"

"I am not going to answer that, Jake, you have asked me TEN times in the last two minutes and you know the answer. What's the answer?"


"Can I watch TV?"  

And tonight in bed, for maybe the first time in nine years I do not sing to him, I tuck him in and flee. Because he is growling and giggling alternately with every step up the ladder to his top bunk and I know how it's going to go: I will start to sing and he will giggle and growl and I will tell him I can't sing to him if he is isn't quiet and he will stop for a moment and sound so contrite, only to start again a beat later and it will go on and on and on.

So tonight I don't even begin.

My head is pounding and I can't. I just. can't. do it.

I call out that I love him on the way down the ladder. I tell him I don't sing to animals and monsters and I leave. And cry. And paste a better face on before entering the living room to snuggle with  Ethan and Harry Potter on the sofa.

This I can do. Tonight.

Just Write

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