Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's Just a Christmas Show:

    About 3 weeks before it actually happened, on the second to the last day of Dude's Thanksgiving vacation, I was sitting at my computer not paying much attention to anything when Dave came downstairs and stood behind me. I thought he was there to exchange the movie he'd been watching for a new one. Boy was I wrong. When he'd been standing behind me for a few moments I turned slightly, looked up and said, 'What's up, buddy?' He sort of looked at me and said, 'It's just the Christmas Talent Show, on December 18th! The school is open so all of the parents will be there. Parents are authorized to be at the New Horizon for the Talent show.' He put his hand on my shoulder and spoke softly. 'Are we going to be at the Talent Show at the school on December 18th?' He waited a beat, but I was laughing too hard to answer. 'I love you, Dad' He said in that soft butter-up voice he uses sometimes. 'I love you too, Dude' I managed to choke out. He was persistent, I'll give him that, 'Are we going to be at the Talent Show?' (Translation: Are you going to be at the talent show? Dave has a problem with pronouns). I shook my head, still laughing as I hugged his waist (I was still sitting down), 'Yes, David. We'll be going to the talent show.' 'Okay! Meet you at the Empire State Building on the 86th floor!'
     This is his latest Big Trip Ploy. Someone at school introduced him to a pamphlet about the Empire State Building. He was very excited when he brought it home and made a special effort to point out that the elevators went up to the 86th floor observatory. And that we should, at our (his) earliest convenience make our way to this paragon of tourist activity. Yeah... good luck with that, kid.
      Of course along with The Christmas Show, and plans of Empire State observatories, 'tis the season of Christmas Points. Something I had not considered is that decorating is the inaugural event of the Christmas season. Specifically the tree. Dave isn't concerned with the religious aspects of the holiday, the symbolism of the tree, or the ornaments. The twinkling lights are cool-ish and green is an okay color, but that doesn't enter into the equation either. The main and sole purpose of the tree is to provide a space and a center for the most important, or actually only reason for the holiday. Because
until that manufactured representation of a blue spruce pine is erected there is no place for presents. It is the visible representation of what he's accumulating all those (millions of) Christmas Points for.
     And once again, those Points are accumulating at an astonishing rate. One Monday (the first Christmas Points day of the week) Dave informed me that he had somehow managed to obtain 500 Christmas Points in that one day. I refrained from asking if the Christmas Points Police were going to be knocking at the door. Well we didn't get a visit from the CPP, but Dave decided how he wanted to cash in on the seething horde of Points he had... He wanted a new PS4. It's the same thing when he brings yet another $4.00 check for 2 weeks at BCRC and he decides he has enough to afford a PS4. I love my son... I really do, but plonking down nearly a week's pay for the 5th gaming system on his floor is something I have a bit of a problem with. Mostly because that just makes one more different system I'd have to buy games for...
    Two weeks before the show he gets a (mostly) random call from his mother. I've never been able or interested enough to determine how she schedules these calls. We talked briefly and then I handed the phone to Dude. After a very short exchange he asks, 'Are you ready to go to Vegas?' Which is pretty much standard fare with him. She replied with something, and I guess it must have been the wrong thing because he quickly said, 'Only Dad's can go to Vegas.' and while she was replying he hung up on her! I stood there stunned and automatically held my hand out for my phone as he handed it back. I looked at him for a second and said, 'Yeah. 'Cause Dad's are cool like that.' As I turned to head out of his room he asked me, 'Is Dad ready to go to Vegas?' (Okay Dad, how cool are you? Really. I looked my youngest son in the eye (I'm about the only one he'll make eye contact with) and said, 'We'll see.'  'Yes!' He crowed, 'He gets to go to the Vegas with the new games and the Christmas Points!' Uh.... yeah... Not sure you can trade them in for that.
    Slooooooowly we edged ever closer to the Show. One thing I didn't quite realize when I'd agreed to the whole thing is that the show would be during school hours. Yeah.... missed that when he said that, too. 'Parents are authorized to be at the New Horizons for the Talent Show'. I didn't initially understand that he meant that literally. Like most schools, to gain entry to NH you have to be authorized by someone in the office to enter. So parents would have to be authorized to enter to watch the show. And parents who weren't bright enough to pick up on the am start time would have to scramble to get permission from their employer to be at the show..... Yes... that would be me. Luckily for me my bosses are pretty indulgent when it comes to Dudestuff. They'd better be, because there's a lot of Dudestuff...
   The night before the Big Show, Dave lurked a bit more than usual. Actually, most of the time he leaves a vapor trail upstairs once dinner is done, but he waited and waited for me to notice that he was hovering. I may have made mention, at one time or another, that Dude is the Least Stealthy Being in the Universe. Going right along with that is his complete lack of unobtrusiveness. He could obtrusive for Gold at the Olympics and take the Bronze for Obvious. So, it wasn't his Ninja like skills (he doesn't have any) that kept me from acknowledging his skulking somewhat closer to me than the shirt that I was wearing. It was just pure Dude-Dad meanness. He finally edged so close to me we were practically in the same chair and said, 'Is he going to the New Horizons and the Talent Show?'
He twitched a half-step closer, which should have been physically impossible, 'Is he going to be there at 9:30, to watch the Talent Show? Parents are authorized to be at the school.' I looked at him and raised an eyebrow. 'It's only the Talent Show.' he said somewhat defensively. 'All parents are authorized to be at the school at 9:30 to watch the Christmas Show.'
    You can't tell the players without a program. Dave was actually trying to make sure that I was going to be at the Show. I put his fears to rest. 'Yes, David, I'll be going to the New Horizons to watch the Christmas Show.' (I've got to watch that. I'm starting to talk like him.) 'YES!!' He crowed. 'And after the Christmas show, we can go to the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING, and ride the elevators to the 86th floor observatory! With the Christmas Points!' My mind takes sudden left turns occasionally, which comes in handy when dealing with Dude. 'Just how many Christmas Points do you have?' He looked at me with a steady eye and in a firm voice said, 'FIVE BILLION Christmas Points!' That's 'Billion' with a 'B'. I was a bit stunned, to say the least. How could this dramatic escalation of Christmas Points have taken place without my noticing it? Dave did not wait for official validation of the Points, he just turned and went upstairs.
     I know my son is actually a Rock Star and I'm his chief Roadie, but I didn't understand that I was also his limo driver. Okay... I know I'm his limo driver, I just didn't realize fully what that meant. The morning of the Christmas show I woke David up to get ready for school. He was really excited. So excited that he was downstairs in record time. I wondered about that for a moment, looking at him sitting there in his coat, with his shoes and socks on. Then I looked a little closer and realized that he was still in his sleeping clothes! I sent him directly back to his room to change, and... once again when he came back down in his jeans but the wrong shirt. Once he was actually dressed for school he grabbed his 3DS and headphones and sat on the end of the couch. Just as if we were getting ready for a road trip. 'What are you doing?' I asked him, 'You can't take the System on the bus.' 'No bus today!' he returned firmly. 'Uh... what?' I reviewed my spotty knowledge of the notes that were sent home. There was no mention of me chauffeuring the 'Superstar' to his gig. 'You put that away, you're taking the bus to school!' I said firmly. He reluctantly put his game away, but by the time he'd turned he decided to take a different tack. 'Dad can drive him to the Christmas Show and as when it's over, to the Empire State Building and the elevators to the 86th floor!'
     So... let me get this straight. I'm supposed to let Dave hang around the house an extra hour, ditching school, and then limo him to the gig, and then once the show is over, pile him and his stuff into the car and drive 300+ miles to my least favorite city in the country and then take him up an elevator 86 floors just so he can record it? Yeah... Pretty sure that ain't happening... like, ever. He went to school on the bus. I'm sure he was very disappointed, but I'm the only Roadie he knows, so he's stuck with me.
   NH, as in most schools I've been to recently has a buzzer system to gain entry to the school itself. When I get to the school, there's a nice lady (whom I don't know) by the automatic doors letting people in and directing them to the office to sign in and get name tags. As Alexis and I walked toward the office a very frazzled looking Ashley came darting down the hall. 'Oh good, oh good, oh good, oh good, you're here!' I didn't know what was going on, but it was evidently.... good. 'I wasn't sure you'd be able to come.' When she'd first seen me at the Talent Show, she was paranoid about whether or not I'd remembered my camera, so I slid my camera sling around so that she could see that I had it without her having to ask. 'Oh good! You brought it!' Then she grinned like the pixie she resembled and started off while saying gleefully, 'You're gonna love this, he's gonna be soooo good!' As I watched her leave, I thought that at least it wasn't the 'You're gonna be so proud!' thing I got from everyone at the Talent Show.
     Alexis and I waiting in line in the office to sign in and get our name tags, and I told her that Dude had already made me such a known man in that school, that I didn't need a name tag. She thought I was just joking until we had reached the front of the line, and the secretary already had my name on a sticker and was trying to hand it to me before I'd even signed the book. She, on the other hand, had to tell her her name twice and wait for the known person behind her to get his before she got her sticker. To further prove my point, 3 more people stopped me in the hallway, calling me by name (I had almost no idea who they were) to tell me 'He's going to be soooo good!' Do they get together to choose 'The Phrase of the Dudes' every morning, or what? The five or so other people that I stopped and talked to before the show all said the exact same thing, including the guy I'd startled the crap out of at the Talent show by yelling at David, was seated in front of us again, and once again he'd parroted the 'He's going to be soooo good!' line of the day. These people know their lines. I'm starting to have 'Truman' moments, you know, where I look for the cameras hidden wherever I go.
     Once again we were waiting in the cafeteria spaces for the show to start, and again, we were
trudging through cute kids doing cute things waiting for the Star of the Show to make his appearance. Only this time the show wasn't quite as polished, and we didn't have any programs. But, like I said, the kids were cute, so we didn't mind waiting all that much. As the show went on I suspected more and more that Jill Mosura, a big fan of the Dudeness, had put David in the final act of the show. So in Roadie parlance he was the 'Headliner' or main act of the show. I shook my head and told Alexis my suspicions, adding, 'He's going to be impossible to live with now.' Which was a lie... he's always been impossible to live with.
     Sure enough, the very last act of the show saw my youngest child walk downstage center, with a spotlight and a mic of his very own just like the Rock Star that he is and a chorus of about 20 behind him. The music started and he began singing 'So This is Christmas' and everyone went 'Awwwww!'. And I agreed, it was soooo good, just like everyone told me it was. Now at the end of that particular
John Lennon song, the refrain is repeated several times with a pause between each one. During that first pause Dave yelled into the microphone, 'Okay! Now everybody sing it!' and went on to repeat the refrain. I think that thing repeats 5 or 6 times and between each one Dude tried to encourage the audience to sing along, waving his arms and shouting, 'Okay now, one more time!' Which was cute... even after he'd done it for the third time. I was laughing so much I couldn't even take pictures of his wild gestures to the crowd. Once again he made his triumphal march down the center aisle (I'm not sure if this one was planned) accepting his accolades and high-fiving the crowd as he went. Throughout the entire show Dave had tracked me and my camera as we roamed the crowd shooting pictures. So he made a beeline toward me as soon as he shook off his fans. We hugged (which he very rarely volunteers to do) and I was telling him what a good job he'd done when he said, 'Yes! It's after the Christmas Show, is he ready to go to the Empire State and the elevators to the 86th floor and the Observatory?' So he wasn't hugging his Dad, just his chauffeur/roadie.
     After he moved on to his dressing room (you know, the one with the big star on it) I made my way through the edge of the crowd to see Jill and tell her what a great job she'd done. On the way I was
stopped 3 or 5 times by aides and teachers so they could express their delight in David's performance. I may have muttered 'hambone' a few more times than was strictly necessary, but I made sure they knew I appreciated their appreciation. Before I'd made it to Jill, Ashley stopped me and started (at high speed) telling me how wonderful she thought Dave had done, and how great it was that she finally got to work with him again in a classroom. She was using up so much of the available oxygen all I could do was smile and nod. She stopped suddenly after she'd said, 'I can't believe this is his last year....' She looked up at me, mournfully, and said 'This is his last year!.... what am I going to do next year?' She repeated several variations of this, and her eyes started to well up as she stared off into space. Honestly, I was a bit unnerved. I hurriedly, if flippantly told her that I'd randomly waylay a bus and send him to school occasionally. She smiled and chuckled, and then we moved apart.
    I finally made it to Jill and gave her a big hug, thanking her and telling her what a wonderful job so much! I don't know what I'm going to do without him.' I was flattered for his sake, really flabbergasted. I've been hearing variations on this all year.
she had done. She hugged back and thanked me for showing up and almost crowed about how wonderful Dave was. I couldn't argue with her... he had been wonderful. She was concerned about the lack of polish in the show. I was quick to reassure her that the show was for the kids and the adults would just have to take what they could get. Besides, I told her, it was a cute show! Jill also took this time to confess something. It seems she had recently made a trip to New York and had given Dude the pamphlet for the Empire State building!  She was the reason Dave had been bugging me for weeks about going to the 86th floor Observatory! I was almost too stunned to speak. She then immediately wanted to talk about David singing during the Graduation ceremony. She mentioned several songs she was considering and I noticed they all had one thing in common... They were Beatles songs. I'm not sure what it means that Jill seems to always want Dude to sing Beatles tunes, but I have noticed it. Jill then got a conspiratorial look in her eye and leaned in and said, 'I know I'm not supposed to do this, but in 14 years of teaching David is, hands down, my favorite kid' That was not the first time she'd said something similar, but coming right after was, 'I'm going to miss him very much!' I immediately shelved whatever complaint I might have about the New York Plan.
     I want to put this right out in front: I love my son! I really do. But he's a tremendous pain in the butt. He really is. I think about all the thousands of kids that have been through that school in the last 12 years, the hundreds that each of these professional teachers have had to deal with, all the problems and trials and tribulations, the notes and meetings and genuine trouble that my son has been and still these women are genuinely
going to be sad when he's gone. To the point of catching breath and watering eyes. While parental pride would have me certain that my son is indeed special (and he is) these people feel bad about every one of  'their kids' that leaves. Seriously. If they could keep them all, I know they would.
     I know for a certain fact that a large percentage of them have offered to take home/steal/adopt David at every opportunity. It's given Alexis and I an idea that we worked on as we headed back out to the car. We'll rent Dave out over the next year or so to build up interest and accentuate the DudeCraving and then we'll take him off the Market for several weeks to build up the Craving, and then we're going to auction him off to the highest bidder. We figure we'll make a bundle and eventually they'll bring him back and possibly even pay us to take him back! We'll make a killing!
     Okay.... calm down. We all know better than that. Anyone who's been around here knows that I don't know what to do with myself when Dave's gone... I guess I'll just keep him and we'll go visit every once in a while.

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