Sunday, CVT day 35 could only have gone up for Will, given Saturday’s day-long disrobe fest and at least 5x of trashing his drawers and Jeff’s in a furtive search for Pants That Feel Good. I took brilliant sunshine as a sign. At least the weather would let me deliver what he loved – a walk to a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee – and a semi-structured agenda between church and chores that could gentle encourage him toward normative. Whatever that is.
What’s normal pant-wearing for a 26-year old profoundly sensory-challenged man in a pandemic?
It’s hard establishing “appropriateness” for any behavior for those who are unfairly challenged. I don’t live in his skin. Why at age 19 did underwear become a non-starter? Why did waistbands need to swim far from his midsection so they didn’t touch? Why a kid who aged out of sensory integration therapy at age 13 suddenly had an explosion of it that dominated his life, and certainly my attempts at clothing him?
Our family rules pre-pandemic were made easier by daily out of the house schedules. Rise at 6:50 am, day program bus at 7:30 am, home after the day, change into shorts from long pants if we weren’t walking outside. It was fine.
Pandemic life however has meant Will wants to sit around in silky boxer shorts all day long.
In the past I’d be grateful his junk wasn’t showing, or that he was parading around upstairs buck-bottomed. Yet as pandemic life drags on the we look at potentially months more of house arrest, I have to draw the line. My new rule is that silky boxers are OK first thing in the morning when you come down from your room, but after shower and daily routine we have to wear long pants or shorts. At night after dinner I try to be flexible but when he’s hanging out in the family room with the rest of us, it does not feel right to me for him to entertain us with Kohl’s finest red hot chili peppers on a black background. Or royal blue paisleys.
He’s resisting, particularly on days where I can’t deliver the walk I promised because it rains. Where I sleep because my insomnia catches up with me and I can’t read more than one newspaper article on the sofa before my eyelids close and slumber wraps me.
Will’s also back at emptying drawers, including Jeff’s in some form of search I guess for either hiding pants he no longer wants to wear or asserting there is nothing in his drawer he likes – because there’s nothing in his drawer. He’s also massively “reorganizing.” Order-seeking behavior when life is disordered? Devious annoyance for his mom whom he knows will blow up when I see this despite my efforts to understand and be calm, since I have no idea if the overflowing dirty clothes hamper is truly dirty?
Such Will from this Will. – But the happy news is we made it. CVT Day 5 included a brunchy breakfast of cottage cheese pancakes, a shower, watching Mass on TV from his recliner chair, then a fabulous 8-mile walk – our usual 5.8 mile round trip to the Dunkin’s, plus 2.2 of a hill overlooking it where new condos with a pool at a view reminded us that single-family Colonial with a grubby lawn the neighborhood turkeys love to de-grub, and a swimming pool we have to clean, is not our only option.
When we arrived at home, our daughter whispered two words of joy in the boys’ vocabulary: Ice Cream. She loaded them up in her car after ordering frozen yogurt at one of my favorite joints, allowing me a blissful hour to take a yin yoga class. Deep stretching for 2-6 minutes per pose was the cherry on top of the day.
I watched the boys return from the ice cream run while prone on my yoga mat. I suspected there would be more pants-disrobes and drawer trashing to come, as night suggested silky boxers, and I tried to hold firm to the no-underwear-downstairs-during-the-day rule. I debated about how best to support this – social story? video model? – whether it was fair, how best to reinforce correct performance. – No matter. The look in Will’s eyes suggested we have a relationship, that today was not the end, and yet -. And yet.
Some days it all comes together. Today yesterday reminded, gave new trails, and smiles. Tomorrow beckoned. Today was sunny with abundant pants. I’ll take it.