What a week it was. The Car Trip of the last post inspired a 25-minute naked protest inside Target’s changing room. We didn’t end up at the chosen destination, the beach and the fried clam shack — partly because the weather had changed, but partly because W. spent so much time being naked. The behaviorist’s input of the day before seemed off-topic as the antecedents, behavior and consequences were vastly different. W. didn’t respond to motivators that worked just the day before and a new, defiant, probably typical 18-year old willfullness emerged that may have been developmentally an achievement of chronology over autism, but frankly was a pain in the *ss right about then. What’s more, J. began siding with W. in the battle of wills against Mommy, even attempting to bite me to emphasize, I suppose, that W. really, really does not like wearing clothes.
And I was alone, no hubby to help take a break from the fun – or at least share in the black humor of such lovelies as when your 18-year old strips in public, and hasn’t a clue that this is not a good thing.
Yet here we are, a full week later, as breezes rustle the hair on my writing-arm in the white walled calm of our beach motel at Cape Cod. Nature can be such a reflection of the soul. It reminds me that yes, we did survive last week – somehow – and we will do the same again today – even with autism. To his credit, the following day of Sunday 6/24 for W. was better than the day before. True, we had protest strip-downs whenever I mentioned the word Church (sorry God, I really did try to make it to Mass) and even when it was time to wear the bathing suit prior to the car trip to aforementioned beach. Maybe that’s because these were Mommy’s agenda items, and not W’s. However help arrived (yay!) in the form of a long-unavailable respite worker, one of my absolute favorite, who managed W. and J. at a graduation party of a friend’s daughter. I also felt the love of two friends there who came over to me, shared my commiseration and one reminded me that during tough times, your daily action item list should have Just One Thing. As any of you who know me will attest, my weekend Chores and Fun list is a black-scrawled 8 1/2 x 11 with zero white space in the margins.
Monday through Friday, thankfully, had the structure of 3 field-trip camp days for W. and two at-home days with a beloved babysitter. The first two camp days were OK. The third day never happened because he spent a full hour on the toilet while throwing apparel willy-nilly across the bathroom, for the camps staff to retrieve and plead like a game. The 2 at home days were the opposite – happy, mostly well-behaved, albeit with an amazing new pastime of whipping off the pants, the underwear, then re-donning the pants so fast that no one knew they were gone except me, who’d find them in sensible locations where every other family stores men’s briefs like the magazine bin.
Going Commando – that’s what my lovely new social worker at the state DDS agency called it. The word makes me think of the weapon I’d theoretically wield with him when my beloved naked boy gets like this, only I’m a pacifist, so the only weapon I really use is my voice, which my typically developing daughter will probably tell you can be worse than an Uzi. My mission according to the behaviorist last night, is to spend the next 5 days or so training W. that underwear is good. Of course this sets up the essential conflict, of W. versus Mom – Commando versus Captain Underpants.
My blog is new, so not many readers/comments, but dear reader whoever you are, offer a thread of wisdom if you can. Mine lies in a belief that we all have a deep sense of knowing what is best for us, however flawed our behaviors. So my mission today, and tomorrow and always really, is to help W. find a way to honor whatever is going on with the Commando stuff, while habilitating his behavior in accordance with the real world. Tall order at times, it seems. I just peeked across the corner and asked W., who’s lying in the motel bed, if he was wearing underwear, as I spied one of the new 10 or so pair lying on the floor.
“Can you please put on pants, W.?”
My brow furrows, I snicker at his honesty, and I feel the pang of having to stop writing and start living a life that is often not what I want it to be. I close out this moment knowing that the next time I write – there will most definitely be a story to tell – and somehow, somewhere, a breeze that brings inspiration.