Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Coolest Dad Ever (for 20 hours):

Couple more Birthdays and we're going to have to
call the fire department!

  David's mother is supposed to take him from the first of June until the first of July, which has always (4 times) sucked because I miss out on Dude's birthday and Father's day every (last 3) year. Dave was really bummed when I told him his mom wasn't coming to get him this year.... about missing out on two plane rides anyway. Right away he told me that the only way to assuage his remorse was to get a Nintendo DS3 for his birthday. Thinking about the extra cash I'd have from not having to buy 3 plane tickets (1 round trip, 1 one-way) and I said I'd look into it. Then I found out that a DS3 was roughly the same price as a one-way ticket to (or from) Kansas City, and started to wonder if I was actually making money on this deal, or not. But all this inevitably gave me the opportunity to become the Coolest Dad in the Known Universe (for roughly 20 hours).
That's right, believe it or not I was, for a time, The Coolest Dad in the Known Universe! Dude's latest (17th) birthday was the beginning of my brief reign as Coolest Dad. It all started the Saturday before with his very first train ride (next blog, sorry), which went over very well, but was long forgotten 2 days later when the Birthday dawned.
   Monday was a working day so I was gone before Dave woke up, but when I came home he was watching movies with Kate (Home Health Aide) who got talked (somehow) into coming back this year, even though she had to know what she was getting into. Dude was sitting almost primly on the couch waiting for me to come around the corner. As soon as he was certain I'd seen how well he was following living room etiquette he ruined the moment by bouncing up and telling me what a good boy he'd been all day. 'He gets good notes!' and 'It's the day for presents!' which kind of gave me a clue as to why he'd been 'such a good boy' all day. Using my ultra-sensitive Dad Powers (yeah, right) I had a hunch that I was feeling the gentle patter of bullshit raining down over me, but Kate informed me that, barring lunch, he had indeed been sitting in that very spot all day, calmly watching movies. He'd even allowed her to pick a few. (a grand concession from the Lord of All Media)

We'd like to thank you Lord, for these presents
we are about to recieve...

   Dave was so eager to show how good he could be he nearly killed us both by trying to help me walk across the room to sign Kate's time sheet. He tangled us together and nearly sent us into her lap, the only time that I've ever seen her frightened. Despite Dude's 'help', Kate managed to make it out the door unscathed, and even promised to see us again the next day. (glutton for punishment, or desperate for money? You make the call) After she was gone, David decided that the front door was a veritable bank vault to a man of my advanced age and decrepitude (is that really a word?) so he took it to himself to shut it, knocking my foot aside as it swept closed. I started wondering how much more evidence of his 'good boy' status I would be subject to, or could actually survive when he, in case (due to my advanced senility) I'd forgotten in the last 2 minutes, informed me 'He's (I've) been a good boy today!' and 'The games are at the GameStop, remember?'. And then, as if afraid to spoil the delicate mood he'd created (?), he immediately started up the steps to his Game Haven.
   What Dave didn't know is that his Dad had absolutely no clue as what to get him for his birthday. I'd gotten used to having the entire month without him around to plan his birthday celebration, and wasn't informed until too late that he wasn't going to his Mom's.  And with him here we'd been running around too much for me to actually plan or get anything. To put further pressure on me, Raine was texting me off and on all day, trying to find out what I was going to do for his Natal Day. She seemed to be under the delusion that because I am his father, that somehow granted me Birthday Omniscience. (poor foolish woman) I mean, can't we just make his Birthday a National Holiday? That way thousands of other people could figure out how to celebrate it, and I wouldn't have to make these important decisions. I couldn't even decide whether or not to have cake. I mean, Dude doesn't like cake, won't eat it, doesn't care about it one way or the other. But it is traditional, a symbol of the occasion and all that. My idea was to bake him a lasagna or a Mac&Cheese and put a candle on it. This idea was frowned on mightily by all the traditionalists in the crowd. Plans of punishments for such transgressions were leaked and I decided to drop the whole thing.
   As Dave was heading upstairs to play his X-box a tiny light of salvation gleamed in my brain. I had gotten him an X-box 360 for Christmas, but it had stopped working a week or so before, relegating him to the 'plain' X-box. In an unusual fit of responsible consumerism I'd actually purchased an extended warranty for it, so it was just waiting for me to find the receipt and take it back. I decided to start with that as more of a Birthday event than a present, and go from there. Basically floundering in a sea of no-ideas I was grasping a string and trying to pretend it was a rope.

Hiding the eyes is easier than wrapping the presents
    When Raine came home (with a cake and candles) we immediately headed to GameStop. Thinking that it would be cruel to leave Raine stuck in a car with Dude while I was in GS on his birthday, and thinking there was no way I was going to survive with him inside the store
 with me, I dropped the two of them off at the Wal-Mart next door. Dave almost ripped Raine's arm off literally dragging her up the ramp and into the store, saying ' Dad's got to go to the GameStop to get 10 games for the Birthday, remember?'. I went into GS, made the exchange with zero problems, and stepped back out without any games!   Knowing that my life could be in danger, I snuck into Wally-World, grabbed the secret present (inspired divinely, or by sheer panic, I'm still not sure), paid for it, deposited it in the trunk, went back into the store, and cooly wandered around to find Raine and Dude.

   I got a couple of strange looks from Raine when I announced that it was time to go home. (I'm certain she thought I'd bailed on the present) But Dude completely trusted that Dad wouldn't let him down on his Day of Days, and immediately started herding the two of us 'old folks' to the front door. I had some trouble convincing him that we wouldn't actually be allowed out the door (birthday or not) if we didn't pause somewhere near the front and pay someone in a blue smock for the few things in the cart. Once we'd paid the nice, but confused (she tried making sense of Dude's ramblings.. never a good idea for the uninitiated) lady at the counter and then we were hustled unceremoniously to the car.
   After many-mini cheeseburgers at Steak and Shake we finally were actually headed home when the Birthday Cake Debate began to rage once again. I repeated my doubts about the efficacy of bringing David something that he wouldn't eat anyway, when Raine underhandedly actually asked Dude what he wanted!  'Yes! Have to have the Birthday Cake for the Birthday to get the presents, remember?' So, due to Dude's slavery to tradition, I was stuck sucking down store bought buttercream icing, and not having any ice cream to hide the staleness of the cake (actually the cake was quite good).
    Dave waited patiently (upstairs) while Raine and I got things ready. When called, he came down to the living room and sat on the floor next to the coffee table, nearly vibrating with repressed excitement. Raine brought the cake in and set it on the table. We sang the traditional Birthday Song, and then Dave said, 'Blow out the candles and get the PRESENTS!' After the Mighty Wind blew all the candles out (3 tries-17 is a lot of candles!) we made him hide his eyes until the first box could be brought in. He nearly went crazy saying 'Xbox 360! It works! It works!' We almost had to tie him down to keep him from bolting up the stairs and trying it out right there.
The coolest present EVER!!
   We finally got him set for his next present, Raine brought it in and put it behind him on the floor. When Dave turned around and looked he was completely speechless for almost exactly 45 seconds, which is almost a conscious record, then he yelled 'COOL!!' and hugged the box. He turned and looked at both of us as if to ask if this was really his, then hugged the box again and tried vainly to defeat the packing tape to get it open. As I stepped over to help him open it up he was practically yelling, 'It's the CHAIR!! He's got the Chair!!' Ah, but not just any chair, it was one of those footless rocker chairs. Which are kind of cool, but this one had SPEAKERS in the headrest that could be hooked directly to his game to give him audio right next to his head, pounding stereo sound directly into his brain. As he caressed the chair box lovingly I heard him murmur, 'Thanks for the party, Dad, and the wonderful presents.' After prying him off the box and getting everything set up I had left one happy Dude playing his games.

I flew on those words all the next day. Repeating occasionally in an awe-struck voice, 'I'm the Coolest Dad in the Known Universe.' Even knowing my reign wouldn't be a long one didn't dim the feeling. I knew that
The Winna' and still Champeen!!
 sooner or later (13 seconds after returning home, probably) I'd have to tell him to turn the sound down and lose my 'Coolest Dad' status, but while I had it I revelled. Hell, I wanted T-shirts and mugs printed up. Moments like that don't come along all that often, and when they do, they're meant to be savored, and I savored that moment even after I got home from work and had to tell David to turn it down. Even the inevitable, 'So this is what a chick feels like.' couldn't cut the glow. Coolest Dad in the Known Universe... Nice title... Good job, if you can get it.

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