Adventures in Autistic Parenthood
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Norman Rockwell Never Met My Son:
Somewhere there are Christmases that look exactly like Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post cover. Family all gathered around a table. All smiles and gleaming faces, looking as if presents were the furthest thing on their mind. Just happy to be in the circle of their family's love... We've never even met any of these people.
Minor case in point; Our tree is nearly nude for the first two feet from the floor. There are no dangly ornaments hanging from the lower branches, no delicate stars or glass bulbs, no tinsel or popcorn strings grace the bottom two layers of our artificial pine. Only solid, sturdy, well secured decorations (you know, the 'ugly' ones) are brave enough to fly at the lower altitudes. It's not Dude's tendency to root under the lower branches with alarming regularity and appalling lack of concern for consequences that causes this. Dexter, our resident mountain lion, refuses to admit that he's no longer an 18 ounce ball of fluff instead of the 15 pound rampaging predator that he's become. He doesn't climb the tree when we're home, although I have had the crap startled out of me when I came home unexpectedly and found an ornament that looked suspiciously like my cat's head peering at me from out of the false pine needles. He has no shame, however, in batting at any 'interesting' ornament any time that strikes his fancy. So we make a concession to the eccentricities of a member of the house, and the bottom branches stay lonely and under the couch is periodically swept for ornaments. The addition of roasted feline to the Holiday Menu is only (mostly) mentioned in jest.
El Gato Diablo (The Cat Devil) is not the only threat to our Sacred Tannenbaum. I think my son has landshark DNA. I mean it. The kid who only comes downstairs under threat of imminent dehydration or possible cheese assault, spends the last 3 weeks before Christmas circling the tree like a Great White around a whale carcass at ever decreasing intervals until he's nearly constantly downstairs and has to be threatened with grievous bodily harm (also at decreasing intervals and increasing intensity) to get him out of the room. But like a mosquito when you're trying to get to sleep that won't quit coming back with that sonic whine that keeps fading in and out, every time we thought we could get back to whatever it was that we were doing (watching hockey) he'd traipse through the space between the ottoman and the TV. (Also, incidentally, between us and the TV) He'd circle the tree for the umpteenth time and start saying 'He's getting the Pokemon 'X' Version for Christmas!' Or; 'He's got the Christmas points to get the games!'
And so we would stumble on towards the Big Day, pretty much as we always do, trying to hide the (hopefully) cool gifts from each other, shooing Dave and the cat away from the tree, re-setting any
Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is pretty much a non-holiday for Dude. Other than the extra days off and the predominance of things covered with tasty sauces and gravies, he could mostly care less. Everyone else takes the rest of the day as a time to visit with family, argue about how crappy the Lions played, and why do they always get the T-game? David is above it all. He wanders through the room occasionally to get a drink of water, or molest the cat as he meanders. Oh, he says he's all about the holiday, but I think he's just all about the mashed potatoes... Oh, that and Thanksgiving heralds the start of the Christmas points season. The most important season of them all.
Just for a lark I once asked him, 'How many Christmas Points do you have, anyway?' He quickly (and very enthusiastically) replied, Two hundred forty three thousand and seventy eight!' I was stunned at the precision of this rather large number. Since I was in charge of Christmas Point distribution and did not remember that many slipping through my fingers I asked, 'Who have you been stealing Christmas Points from?' His reply was, shall we say...snippy. 'NO! ALL the Christmas Points are mine!!' By his tone and the amount he had expressed I had to assume that by 'ALL' Christmas points he meant every Christmas Point available to every child in the Free World to date. And I'm sure interest on all these points was accruing daily at roughly the same speed at which my bank account was draining. As I sat trying to translate such a huge number of points into an actual dollar amount, Dude happily spun and trundled back up the stairs to calculate how much his hoard of games and movies would be increased. Since his totals seemed to be spinning up like a gas pump filling a Hummer there seemed to be no limit to the increase. (at least in his mind)
Now the only thing New Years means to Dude is that he only has 1 or 2 more days before he has to go back to prison... uh...school, I mean. He spends New Years Eve and day cramming as much game and video goodness into his system as he can stand. He does like watching the ball drop, but he doesn't make it a point to be there to see it. One year he did come down to tell us about the fireworks that a neighbor was shooting off. 'What is all that noise? He heard bombs going off!' But once we pointed out the window and he saw the fireworks he was over it and went back upstairs. Mystery solved, Dad. I need to get back to saving the world, one Megabyte at a time. Evidently if there wasn't actually a full on incursion of mercenaries, he couldn't be bothered.
It goes without saying that MLK day, Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day only have significance as it pertains to an extra day of weekend gaming. Snow Days are just as revered in his mind, and for the same reason. He is sometimes almost impressed with Independence Day...but once the explosions are over it's just a day that Dad is home to mess up his perfect gaming Summer.
To Dude, the real Holidays are his Birthday, when he gets to go to State Special Olympics and when he and I go back to the Midwest. (But only when it involves a plane ride or a hotel stay) Included in that would be anytime he gets to ride new elevators or when, like recently, I have to replace one of his gaming systems. Times like that he's not sure that the banks are going to be open. is a National Holiday, isn't it?
All in all Dave is pretty cool with that. Paring the Holidays down to their essential basics... Food and Stuff for David. What else could the Holidays be for?