Friday, June 29, 2012

To Heaven and Hell in a day

Ethan & Jake in the Mist Zone

Today was the last day of Jacob's two week break between the end of school-school and the beginning of camp-school (what we call summer school around here so it can feel more like what Ethan does which is capital "C" Camp).

I had planned on having it be a very magical "Mom and me" time for him with special trips and activities, but then things with MY Mom went South and well, I have barely given my poor boy the time of day. Our "big trips" have been to go visit my Mom, first in the hospital and then in the Long Island rehab center.

Jacob doesn't mind of course, he loves to see his Grandma, and in fact, talks about her all the time right now, asks to see pictures of her from our trips. "Let me see Grandma sick" he requests, scrolling through my iPhone for all the recent images of her.

Today though, being the last of the last, I was planning something special. That is until a very loud thunderstorm woke him up irreparably at 5:05 this morning. With Jake out of school and Ethan's camp sporting a 9:30 start time, that meant that he and therefore *I* was up a whopping THREE hours before expected.

And me, seriously under-slept at this point means seriously cranky and no fun at all.

I was seriously cranky and no fun at all.

So instead of a day at a museum and playground, Jake had a day in front of the TV at his drawing table. He got to watch a whole Batman the Animated Series DVD and go though about a quarter ream of paper. He was perfectly happy.

I felt like a crappy parent, but what else is new these days.

We took an exciting trip across town to pick up some medication samples from a doctor for a drug that otherwise costs upwards of $175 a month on our crappy insurance plan, and then exciting trip back to the West Side in time to pick Ethan up from Camp.

It was HOT in New York City today, one of those real deadly summer scorchers we all dread. After pick-up there was a resounding call for lemon ices from the camp canteen so we indulged.

And right near the canteen and shaded sitting area was the "mist zone" - a misty sprinkler you can run through (or stand in) to cool down considerably. It was running full blast today.

Now, in the past, Jacob has had considerable difficulty with getting wet when not in his bathing suit and in a swimming situation (when he is then perfectly happy to spend the day submerged) but that has been changing lately (thank goodness!) and I was curious to see what would happen here.

And indeed, Jacob was seriously interested in cooling down and joining in the fun. What was most amazing was that he observed that many of the other boys had taken off their shirts and he asked if he could take his off, too.

And if you know anything about autism, you'll know how stellar this was, and that I was over the moon. My boy looking to what the other kids are doing and deciding he wants to do things the same way. And then having a great time doing so. (Autism Mom swoon.)

One happy boy

Much fun was had. Ethan was even in a generous spirit towards his brother and played in the mist with him a bit, horsed around under the shade tent.

Yes, that is Jake under that towel
And then? And then? I made the rookie mistake of counting my happiness chickens before they'd hatched. Because walking from camp back to Broadway to catch the bus home, somewhere in the middle of 111th Street, Jacob asked to watch TV when we got home and I did not say "Absolutely yes." I told he we weren't going to talk about TV right now.

Ethan had lost screen time for the rest of the day (don't ask, a third ignoring of my admonishment against doing something) and I didn't want to promise Jake TV right away until I could figure out how to wrangle keeping it away from Ethan at the same time.

And then some combination of the extreme heat and the earliness of the rising and the fickle gods of autism deciding their free pass had expired kicked in. Jake heard a "no" where I had said a "maybe" and he just lost his shit in a way he hasn't for a while.

Screaming crying wailing and shouting, much stomping and rolling around on the sidewalk. Snot pouring out of his nose and mouth and no kleenex or napkin in sight. (Autism Mom sob.)

Ethan stood about a half building away, pretending he didn't know us. He has reached the "age of much embarrassment" about his family, and having an autistic brother in full-on melt-down mode is, I would think, about as top of that list as you can get.

And it went on and on and I realized the idea of him calming down completely before we moved on was moot, so I walked a sniveling and occasionally still sobbing and shouting boy to the corner and we all caught a cab home.

And then it was of course dinnertime, but Jake didn't want me to leave him alone in his bedroom where the meltdown was continuing apace to go to the kitchen and make it (because of course by this time the idea of any TV at all tonight was completely out of the question, and he was all sad about THAT now).

Ethan was hungry and tired and wanting my attention too, and so I had two clingy, wiped-out kids and no screens to mesmerize them into relative calm while I got our meal together.

Eventually dinner was assembled, eaten; baths and showers were taken, pajamas donned. Jake was tucked into bed as early as possible (but not without one more teary mini-melt right as we were singing him to sleep).

And then, Ethan cuddled into me as I read to him from a book I'd been wanting him to try for a while - the first book of Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series - and I got him hooked. He yelled "Noooooo!" when I put the book down, and picked it up to read himself to sleep a few short minutes later.

After trundling him off to his bed, I sat on the sofa in a deep mom-stupor.

What a day.

And I hear there's another one coming up tomorrow.


  1. Boy, talk about a roller coaster of a day.
    I hope today is more up than down.


  2. Just when you think you've got it all sussed you go and say/do slightly the wrong thing and POW! Focus on the great breakthrough with the misty sprinkler - that was awesome.

  3. Hugs!!! Sigh. We get those days too. I just revel and completely soak in the highs to give me strength to weather the lows.

  4. You know, the new/updated version of "So You Want to Be a Wizard" is going to be relased shorty in ebook format. Let me know if you'd like a copy.

    1. Diane, Thank you! Yes, I'd love a copy of the Ebook. (Even though that means Ethan monopolizes more of the family iPad.)

      Tickled you found me! You actually know my husband - worked on a project with him many moons ago - and he says hello. If you contact me privately (email address found under "Talk to the Squashed Mom" button above) I can tell you who he is. (As the kids have his last name and not mine I keep his name out of my blog.)

      Also, I met you once, even more moons ago - in 1979 in the Science Fantasy Bookstore in Cambridge's Harvard Square during a massive thunderstorm. Do you remember handing a 19 year old kid a copy of your book "Door into Fire" and saying "Read this, I wrote it." in response to her query as to whether you knew any good science fiction or fantasy books written by women? (I actually have an unfinished essay about that encounter, maybe I should finish it now!)


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!