Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Inmates Running the Asylum:

There are times when even Dude-Dads have to be gone from the Dudiverse for a time. Recently I had to hie back to the Homeland for my Father's funeral. This very sad occasion would have been even sadder except for one thing... My family is insane. The funeral home limo driver agrees. Don't get me wrong, there was solemnity and tears.. we just couldn't sustain it for very long. But that's a story for another day and another place.
  After I 'abandoned' the PA crowd things seemed to go along smoothly for a time, but trouble was brewing. Raine and 'Layna were doing a stellar job caring for David, but without a lifetime of dealing with Hoffman children they were ill equipped to understand the depths of deceit that they are capable of.
   Things went along very well for a few days until Raine, after a late night arguing across the ocean about internet availability, missed the bus and had to drive Dude to school. A place where they do not let him play video games, therefore it is a place he'd rather not go. For one reason or another Raine does not take David to, or pick him up from, school very often. So, while she has a basic idea of where the school is, it's not deeply ingrained enough in her memory to recall it acurately in times of stress. (Being an hour late for work and having to drive in the wrong direction to drop off a protesting autistic kid is one example of a time of stress) So while driving Dude up the (correct) road she kept asking him, 'David, is this the way to the school?'  To which he would ernestly reply, 'No.' The turn into the school is kind of tricky, and easy to miss because the school is actually part of a larger complex of mental health facilities and they don't list them individually. They also have recently PC'ed their name to the point where you can't tell that this is where they keep all the wackos. (I don't put a sign on my door either, so I can't complain) So as Raine comes up to the sign for Friendship Ridge (It's actually on Big Beaver Ridge, but I guess that wouldn't look good on a sign) and she asks David, 'Is this the turn?' Her DPS reply? 'No!' She takes the turn anyway and after topping a small rise in the road, and seeing the school ahead of them asks, 'Isn't that the school?' When Dude starts a story he sticks to it. The immediate reply? 'No!' Deciding to treat Dude like a GPS when it sends you to Bangladesh when you wanted to go to Sonic, (translation: She wanted to kick him in the butt to recalibrate him) Raine ignored David and pulled up to the front of the school and tried (operative word 'tried') to get David out of the car. He resisted saying 'No!' repeatedly. Once out of the car he did, however, take her to the correct door.
   Once the Portal of Education was breached Raine dragged a very reluctant Dude to the office to sign him in. Once he had been entered into the log, the secratary told Raine that David knew the way to his class and she should just follow him. Dude immediately took her out of the office and turned right toward the front door of the school. When Raine asked him if this was the way to his class he replied, 'No.' Much to his dismay Raine immediately turned around. This is where David's celebrity status worked against him. Not only did everyone know him, they also knew were he should be at any given time of the day. After being ratted out and escorted to his designated cell (Mrs. Yarosz's room) the prisoner was left to his fate. Raine's fate, however, was to be something a bit more agrivating than school.
   Teachers sometimes live in their own little academic world. They toil, removed from any direct feedback for their labors. So when the oprotunity presents itself to get some of that feedback it can blind them to the realities of the situation at times. Despite the fact that Raine was obviously very late to work and anxious to leave Mrs. Yarosz insisted on showing her around and telling her all the things that David was doing in school, how he gained or lost computer time, and possibly even what he was having for lunch the rest of the week. But even a tightly wound clock runs down eventually and Raine ducked out and raced to work.
   Now events could have stopped there and it still would have been considered a fairly interesting day. 'Interesting' does not begin to describe what happened next. I began getting hints of it the next day, some odd texts: Threats to dispatch my son, deprications thrown at his father, that sort of thing. But since Raine was being very careful not to tell me anything that might upset me, I really didn't know what was going on until I got home.
  I had to think for a while before writing this next part. Because while some funny-ish things happened, it wasn't funny. It was kind of frightening actually. More so because I wasn't there.

   Thursday night, about 15 hours after my father's funeral, while I was drooling on my sister's futon, Raine woke to a strange voice coming from 'Layne's bedroom. A strange male voice. Thinking rather fuzzily that strange male voices shouldn't be coming from her daughter's room at 3am she got out of bed and made it to the bedroom door just in time to see a form pass by on it's way to the head of the stairs illuminating its path by the light of a cell phone screen. 'What the hell are you doing here?!' Rain nearly screamed. The male voice she'd heard earlier answered with the calm of the nearly drunk, 'I came looking for Joe.' the form barely broke stride to answer, continuing to decend the stairs. 'Who the hell are you?!' Raine asked, her voice rising higher in both volume and pitch. The voice remained calm, but he paused on the steps for his answer, 'I asked for Joe, he said he was upstairs, but he's not here.' Then he began to decend again. 'Who said what? Who let you in here?'  The figure didn't pause this time, merely turned his light toward the couch 'He did.' He sounded almost betrayed as he reached the bottom of the stairs and opened the door, 'He said Joe was upstairs, but he wasn't.' He paused slightly, halfway out the door, 'Do you know where Joe lives?' There was only one response to that question at 3 in the morning, and Raine made it. 'Get the HELL OUT OF HERE!!' She yelled wildly. And without another word, he left, closing the door behind him. Raine quickly decended the
steps to re-lock and bolt the front door and then turned to the couch to see Dude sitting there, placidly watching the commotion.
  Being more scared than angry and knowing that she couldn't trust herself not to scream maniacaly into my son's face like an insulted fishwife, Raine showed an immense amount of restraint that I couldn't hope to duplicate in a similar situation. She took him up into our room, closed the door, went back downstairs and spent a terrified 4 hours awake waiting in case the mystery guest (or possibly even Joe) made a return appearance.
  It's always a bit disorienting to return home by plane. One moment you're in no responsibilities mode (or at least different responsibilities mode), and the next you're back to reality. I generally like a little time after I get home to detox and get into 'home/dad mode' but I was completely understanding, and more than a bit frightened Saturday morning when I heard most of this story on the way home from the airport. Dude was very carefully being very quiet in the back seat. It's like he somehow knew that a loooooong talk and a trip to the hardware store were in his future. It was almost uncanny. I, on the other hand, was wondering if  getting him to let me into the house all those times I'd locked myself out was such a good idea after all. I mean, I could have just waited 4 or 5 hours for Raine to come home, right?  I mean, what's a few hours of blizzard in shorts and a tank-top against home security?
   With the Warden back from his vacation, and after a visit to her sister's birthday party, Raine felt comfortable enough to catch up on the sleep she had missed the last couple of nights so she missed the Long Talk With the Boy (I feel so like Jed Clampett sometimes). After a trip to the hardware store and some minor mechanical miracles with power tools and wood shavings a semblance of security and what passes for normalcy around here decended on the Casa de Dude again.
   One thing I've learned while in Dudeworld... You never ask 'What else could happen?' because it probably will.

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