Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Do You Want to Go to Vegas?:

 It's no secret that David wants to go to Vegas. I'm pretty sure everyone in the Free World, or at least all of Southwestern Pa knows about it. It's a common theme that every 6 minutes there has to be a Sin City reference or the world will come to an end... Or at least the Dudeworld will. Mostly the constant Vegas references are a grind. Every other time his mouth opens: 'It's only Vegas!', 'It's only the Casinos!', 'We have to make it to the elevators in the Casinos.' or: 'You ready for the Slot machines in the Vegas, buddy?' (that's the newest one) I haven't gone a day in the last two or three years without hearing some reference to our proposed Sin City Vacation Destination.
     I actually made a mistake a couple of months ago by telling him he couldn't go into a casino until after he was 21. Now he's convinced we're leaving for Vegas the day after his birthday. I'm pretty sure I said nothing of the sort, and I'm not exactly sure how he worked that out, but his schedule goes something like; Special Olympics Beaver, State Special Olympics, Birthday, Kansas City, Vegas. The rest of his year is kind of fuzzy, but he's very clear on that part. I'm pretty much doomed.
     This sometimes comes out in some strange ways. Anyone who's been anywhere around Dude will know that he incessantly quotes movies, games and sometimes even songs. The other day we were coming out of Target or Wal-Mart, or somewhere, when he started quoting The Lion King. Nothing unusual about that, he recently found his talking storybook CD-ROM collection and that's one of them. I was half listening to the quote when I noticed a certain edit of Muphasa's lines. The quote is supposed to run, 'Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars, the great kings of the past are up there, watching over us.' What I got was;'Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars, the great Kings of Vegas are up there, watching over us.' I was shocked for a second, and then I completely lost it. Laughing so hard I'm sure I was making the people in the parking lot nervous. Then Dave almost started a panic with his, much louder raucous laughing. 
     So there we were, two hysterical Dudes walking across the parking lot, laughing our fool heads off heading into Wal-Mart... nothing unusual there. Hey... I've seen some things at 3am in Wal-Mart
that would curl your nose hairs. If that's the weirdest thing they had happen there that day, they need to give us a medal. And a cheeseburger. Each.

     Dave's fairly magnanimous about going to Vegas, he even has the airline picked out. It's Southwest, by the way, and now every time we go by Pittsburgh International Airport (it's 10 miles south of us) and we see a plane, He points to it and says, 'You know what that is?' The first few times I fell for this I answered, 'It's a plane.' (Oh, foolish Dude-Dad) He immediately jumped on top of that, saying, 'It's the Southwest Airlines.' I peered at the plane and couldn't tell. 'We get on the Southwest Airlines and it takes us to Vegas.' 'Oh lord.' I mumbled and realized too late that a face-palm maneuver probably isn't a good idea at 70 mph. 
     That better be a big frickin plane too, because Dude doesn't think that anyone should, or would want to be, left out of his trip to Vegas. 'Are you ready to go to the Vegas?' is his normal form of greeting if 'Hi buddy, how's it going?' doesn't seem to fit the situation. 'See you in the Vegas.' is what he uses where most people would put, 'goodbye' in a conversation. The whole thing also seems to be becoming more pervasive. Even dinner has been 'Vegas-ed'. 'We have to get the pizza at the Vegas.' or 'They have the Mac&Cheese at the Vegas.' To which I inevitably reply, 'Why don't we just worry about the pizza/Mac&Cheese/cheeseburger in Aliquippa for now?' He always says, 'Yeah', but I don't think his heart is really in it, because the next thing that hits the table, 'Does the Vegas have the ketchup?' I immediately have to assure him of the certainty of his favorite condiment's inclusion in the Haute Cuisine of Sin City, and then I go someplace quiet for a while and lie down.
     Of course Dude, being Dude, isn't satisfied with just one trip to one place. He'll also bring up... other things. Like his, now yearly, trip to State Special Olympics. 'Time to get ready to go to the Penn State! The City Bus is almost here!' The school charters a bus every year to take them to State College. 'He has to go to the Penn State to take the 3DS to record the elevators!' He doesn't ever talk about the events, or the medals, just, 'It's only the Penn State!' or 'It's just the elevators at the Penn State, he has to record with the 3DS!'  And then there's always, 'We have to get to the Western Beaver High School for the Special Olympics!' I usually just put my head down at that point and stay quiet until he goes away. (He never does)
Would you like to go to Vegas, Mr. Bond?
    He's getting a bit more diabolical and intricate in his 'Vegas' campaign. The other day we went to buy him shoes. We have to do this quite often as the way he walks wears down the inside of the heel quite rapidly. When we picked his new shoes, he asked, 'How fast are the shoes?' I, unthinkingly replied, 'As fast as your little feet can make them.' He paused for a minute and then asked, 'Are these the super fast shoes?' Realizing that I had unwittingly found myself in some sort of shoeware cusp moment I replied more firmly, 'Dude, those are turbo booster shoes.' 'YES!!', he shouted, (in the middle of a crowded Wal-Mart that we suddenly had a lot of room in) 'He takes the turbo shoes to the Western Beaver, to run in the Special Olympics and goes really fast!' What could I do? I said, intensely, 'Yes!' and we went about the rest of our business. Dave wouldn't let the 'Turbo Shoes' out of his grasp and almost snatched them from the checkout girl before she could ring them up.
     When we got home, I told Raine, 'Ask him about his shoes.' She did, and he was off... 'He has the super fast Turbo Shoes! And he wears them in the race at the Beaver Valley High School and he goes really fast!!' She looked at me in confusion and I just shrugged and said, 'They're Turbo Shoes.' and shrugged, as if that explained everything. I was wrong. 'Turbo Shoes' explained many things, but I was to learn what 'everything' really was.
     During the course of the day Dave would often repeat his new 'Turbo Shoes' mantra. But by the time I was tying them on his feet to get them ready for school, I learned that Penn State was also to be conquered by the mighty Turbo Shoes. As this was not only a natural progression, it was also completely expected. It didn't startle me at all when I heard, during his shower, 'He uses the Turbo Shoes to go fast in the raced, and win the medals at the Penn State.' As a matter of fact I portentously intoned, 'It will be so.' Then the bomb dropped, 'And then after Penn State we take the Turbo Shoes to Vegas and the Casinos.' Dude-Dad, ever on top of this sort of thing, said, 'Huh?' He leaned in, ingratiatingly, with that Used-Car salesman look on his face, and said, 'It's only the slot machines at the Vegas.' I cocked an eyebrow at him sternly. 'He takes the Turbo Shoes to the Vegas?' He said, with a smile. Obviously falling back I said, 'Why don't we worry about the shower in Aliquippa first?' He laughed and said, 'Yeah.' And we went back to shower things. 
     Why not? He could afford to be magnanimous. In the holding-action that is our Vegas War, he had obviously won this skirmish, hands down. I did the only thing I could do, as a defeated Dad/General. I rallied my troops and sent the opposing forces to bed. I may not have won the battle, but at least I was holding the field at the end of it.... Or at least the towel. Either that, or I'm just the towel boy at the Dude-spa.... yeah.... that's probably it. I wonder what kind of job I can get with that on my resume'? 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Are You Sick?:

 In all the annals of history there has never been an epic tale of such magnitude. Never has one man, so incredibly intelligent, been bamboozled so thoroughly.  Read on if you dare.

     In the normal course of events Dave doesn't tell me that he's not feeling well very often. I have to pick up on the clues. Falling asleep early, doesn't finish his dinner (big clue), a lack of energy, or he doesn't want to go anywhere. If he ever doesn't want to play his games, I'm just going to build a box and dig a hole. Now once I've noticed one of the 'unhealthy indicators' it's my job at that point to ask the question, 'Are you okay?' Now I can't always trust the answer he gives, which varies from 'Yeah, I fine' to 'We have to go to the hospital building'. I have to listen to the tone and the energy in his response to judge his relative health. And once I've done that, there's the definitive test. Time hallowed and used by generations of professional parents throughout the world. I put my palm on his forehead and then the back of my hand on his neck below the ear. It's a nearly foolproof system, depending on the fool who's using it, especially when that fool's battery powered thermometer's batteries have ceased to function and he can't find his mercury thermometer.
     So, one Sunday, when I went to get David for dinner, he was rubbing his eyes and looking as if he'd just woken up and then, when he didn't finish his corn-dog nuggets and cheese Pizza Rolls (Both on the list of Ranch-dipping favorites) I started to get concerned. I immediately administered the Palm Test and there was a bit of extra warmth there. I asked him if he was okay, and he said, 'He has to go to the Doctor, and can't go to school tomorrow.' I just said, 'We'll see.' and sent him off to his room. The weather was kind of dicey that night, so I figured on a 2-hour delay in the morning to give me a little extra time to make up my mind.
     Such was not to be, however. The promised snow and freezing temperatures didn't happen until well after school started the next morning. So, with a brain fueled on 5 hours of sleep (there was a really good late movie) I took a bleary look at my Kindle at 6 am, flicked it to the local news station site, and, when I noticed there was to be no delay, with my un-caffeinated brain I decided that I would, indeed take Dude to the doctor. I remembered to text my boss and tell him I would be late, and why, but forgot to tell either Raine or Dude that I was sticking around or the reason. So when I once again opened my bleary eyes it was nearly the time the bus would already be there and I hadn't called to tell them what I was doing either so I didn't even have time to check Dude again before they showed up. The upside was, that still gave me plenty of time to get Dave and I dressed and to his doctor's walk-in clinic shortly after it opened.
     Dave was suspiciously energetic when we got to the doctor's office, but mostly that could be due to his general excitement about going to the doctor. It's kind of twisted, but in his mind, the Doctor's office is the first step to going to the Hospital, and that's where the Hospital Elevators are. And since we no longer have any reason to go visit anyone at a hospital I think he figures that's his only route to get to them. It's one of those things you almost have to be a Dude to understand. At any rate we were seen fairly quickly, and when the doctor started asking me questions it hit me that we were there on very slim evidence. I shot a look over at David sitting merrily on the exam table, kicking his feet and babbling about something, and then turned to the doc with an embarrassed look on my face. Trained
by hordes of no doubt hysterical parents Dr. Dan (I think), through a series of questions and responses to my answers, seemed to be pushing the idea that there was little he could do. As the interrogation went on, I assured Dr. Dan that I understood that there was, indeed, little to be diagnosed from a patient with no symptoms.
     You see, it had just occurred to me that I'd been had. Completely and totally had. Which makes twice in the last month that I'd fallen for one of his schemes. Much more of this and I'd have to turn in my All-Knowing-Dude-Dad card. He'd engineered the whole thing, starting the night before. He'd come down stairs to dinner, rubbing his eyes as if he were suffering from a lack of sleep. He had then strategically left 3, count them 3 pizza rolls on his plate and said he was done. I hadn't taken any special note of the fact that he had cleaned out his little dip-bowl of ranch dressing. As to the warmth I felt when I checked his temperature, that was completely my own fault. I had been holding my Kindle, reading a book before I checked him and my hands must have been a little cold when I'd done it. So, I had come late to the Smart-Party, but I was catching up fast.
     We left the doctor's office and walked to the car, with the Mini-Anarchist cheerily babbling away. Certain in his belief that we were headed home, he even asked if we were going to stop at McDonalds on the way! Shadows started to cloud his cheery day three blocks later when we made the right turn to go up the hill to school. As we got closer and closer to the school the passenger seat of the car got quieter and quieter for some strange reason. Another thing the little chiseler hadn't counted on was that when the doctor sees us in good time we actually get to school before they start letting the buses unload. So, not only didn't he get to stay home, he actually got to school before any of his bus-mates. I guess Poetic Justice isn't just a band name any more.
     When it came time to put down his system and get out of the car all I heard was 'NOOOOOOOOOOO!'  Actually, the lady directing the buses at the other end of the parking lot probably heard it. Then when we were walking in the (open) door, he grabbed the edge of the door firmly and shook as if some invisible force were trying to propel him into the Jaws of Doom. Which was a pretty apt description if Dad's authority was the invisible force and the Jaws of Doom was the school. That's what I thought when I was a student anyway. When we went to the office he further declared his reluctance to go to class; When the secretary asked, 'Are you signing him in?' Dave said, 'No! He's going home with the games and the McDonalds' Everyone laughed. Except me. I knew he was dead serious and didn't want anything to do with that school. He had followed all the steps and had been cheated out of his sick day, and he was pissed. I signed him in and then peeled him off the door frame and walked him to his class.
     When we finally made it to his classroom I walked a couple of steps inside the door, but Dave was having none of it. He walked straight for the edge of the outward opening door and held on to both sides as if he were expecting a tornado to whisk down the hallway and propel him into the room. He was getting fairly agitated at this point, talking loudly and hanging on to the door for dear life. Then a HUGE dramatic scene ensued. All about bank vaults (?) and police being called and going to jail. I think there was even something in there about a ship sinking. I can't really be sure. But he was for certain he didn't want anything to do with the aftermath of his plan falling apart. I can't really blame him. After all, I kind of cheated, at least in his eyes. I hadn't brought along, or even gone back for, his school backpack. Without the backpack school does not exist. We finally got him talked down and in class, though Ms. Yarosz, who wasn't there at the time, e-mailed me later to tell me that it took some time for him to calm down enough to actually participate in the class.
     So who cares that the Villain (me) won out this time over the intrepid hero? We all know how this
turns out in the end. We've all seen enough James Bond or Jackie Chan movies to write the script. The Evil Overlord (me again) sits chuckling in his Mountain Lair (suburban house), pets his Evil Cat (Dexter), chuckling at his victory over Our Hero (Dude) after sending him to his Doom (school). Just when he thinks victory is in his evil clutches, Our Hero (Dude) breaks away and gets free with all the cheese. Or something like that. I wonder if we could get a movie deal?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Double Naught Spy:

    All week David bugged me about what he wanted to do with his 'Game-Points'. Even on Monday he was already planning to get 5 good notes and already knew exactly what he wanted to do with them. (More on that later) He wanted me to 'Take him to CD Warehouse in Boardman to get the Paper Mario for the Nintendo Game Cube.' ..... Uh huh.
    Okay. Three different 'hiccups' present themselves here. Firstly:
     Pre-planning: I have a bit of a problem with the fact that he already knows that he was going to get 5 good notes. Which, to me, indicates some premeditated control over his actions when he wants to. It's the premeditated planning I have a problem with. It pretty much tells me that he could be good whenever he wanted to be and therefore implies a certain decision about being bad all those times he didn't get good notes. It's worthy of noting, however, that decision also keeps me from becoming completely destitute from buying metric tons of games every year. So I'm really torn about complaining too much about that one.
     CD Warehouse:  CD Warehouse is a company that buys used movies and games and then resells them at a modest mark-up. I love this idea. As a matter of fact, almost half of my extensive movie collection came from CD Warehouse or like businesses. The problem? That particular store is no longer a CD Warehouse. In fact, CD Warehouse no longer has a store in Boardman Ohio, or anywhere else in Ohio for that matter. My son, who can tell you how to get to any GameStop in the Tri-State Area hasn't adjusted to the fact that BuyBacks is the name that particular store has had for the last 4 years. 4 or so times a year we've gone into that building, and every time I've got to tell him that it's BuyBacks, not CD Warehouse. He can take correction on a mispronounced game title in a heartbeat, but Stores are forever. I really think that may just be a 'growing up in Pittsburgh' thing. I'm only now getting to the point that I know where 'stuff used to be' enough that I can take driving directions from the natives.
     Specific Game: This is a two-parter. Firstly I'm almost dead certain that Paper Mario didn't come out until well after the Game Cube was no longer a viable gaming system. I'm willing to admit my specific ignorance on the matter, but it seems to me that PM is a fairly recent game, mostly for the 3DS system and was never written for the Game Cube platform. Secondly, it's been a couple of months since the last time we were there. How the hell would he know that specific game is there at all? Was there a disturbance in the Mario Force? What sort of Game Jedi-mind-powers is my son actually employing? Does his brain get Game-Alerts the same way I get Penguins updates on my phone? Is there actually an App for that?
     Despite my misgivings and the 50 mile distance, when Saturday came away Dude and I went. Since it seems to be traditional, David was telling Raine that she should 'remain here' and 'You can find us at the CD Warehouse in Boardman' when she'd already said goodbye and closed the front door to go back to the couch.
     I have to admit that I left a part out when I told Dude of our trip. The part where we stopped on the way so that I could take some pictures of the completely frozen Buttermilk Falls. I had been up there the week before taking pictures when it was only mostly frozen, and I was curious about how it looked a week later. Dave is monumentally indifferent to Nature in all it's Wonder and Glory, and he's less than pleased whenever I come up with anything that gets in the way of his game conquest that doesn't involve cheese or Ranch dressing. He especially doesn't like when the camera gets involved, because he knows that whatever we're doing it's not only going to involve walking and probably nature, it's going to take quite some time. I'm pretty sure he's hidden my camera a couple of times. He was pretty good about it, at least at the beginning. We got out in the parking lot, with Dave only inviting one family to Vegas this summer, and made our way to the falls, stopping 3 times along the fairly short path to take pictures.
    Dave is kind of funny about some things. He's fairly good at picking out motivations, but absolutely terrible about understanding when I want him to bring me my sneaks. He'll bring me his boots, the wrong shoes or just stand there looking at our shoe rack and just not understand which ones my tennis shoes are. He can however, without anyone actually telling him, grasp the objective of just
about any trip, and pick up on just when we've reached that juncture. That's just when he inserts his own agenda. Now, if he would wait until the activity were complete, he would be golden, but such is not ever to be with Dude. Just as soon as we'd reached the falls, which were entirely encased in ice, he started pushing his own agenda, 'Now we can go to the GameStop in the Boardman and then get the lunch.' I just gave him the 'Dad Stare' (pat pend) That dead-eyed, one brow raised, 'you're kidding me' look that your mother gave you when you asked for desert before dinner was started. Again.
   Needless to say, the objections of the minor-partner in this endeavor were summarily ignored. Ice falls were pictured and Dude-photos were snapped as well. Of course, once I was done the only thing that kept him from galloping back to the car like a gazelle chased by a cheetah was the fact that the path was entirely covered in snow and ice. With several 'Woah! Careful! It's slippery here's and a couple of actual Ice-Capades moments we made it safely back to the car and were on our way.
     I've said it before, but Dave is actually a fairly good car-companion. He generally plugs himself in to his system and tunes out the world, but even when he doesn't he's pretty good in a car. So, half and hour and a sing-along 'Bad to the Bone' moment later and we were opening the doors of 'CDWarehouse'. (BuyBacks) This is where my son's Game-Jedi mind skills would be put to the test. He failed that test miserably. Not even close. Not only didn't BuyBacks have the game he was looking for, but neither BB or the GameStop next door had the game he wanted. As a matter of fact, neither place had any Game Cube games. None. Not one. I was beginning to doubt my son's Game-Jedi powers.
We wandered both places looking for a substitute game. Because there was no way I was going to drive that far and have to listen to Dude whining all the way home about not getting a game. Once we'd purchased the non-Paper Mario game, however the true nature of our trip became readily apparent. As soon as we'd started walking toward the door of the GameStop I heard, 'Now we can have luch at that Golden Corral and get the buffet and the Macaroni and Cheese.' Mystery solved. The fact that I didn't even know there was a mystery is only a tribute to the Puppet Master cunning of my opponent. I was played so well, I couldn't even complain that there were closer buffets to my house than the one in the neighboring state. He left me no where to go. He's just that good.
     Dave's obsession with all things cheesy is known far and wide throughout the land. A big part of this lactic OCD takes place in buffet style restaurants where the Mac and Cheese is, well... endless. He often asks/tells me to take him to a particular buffet, which I generally ignore because they're nowhere near where we are going. So my son, fueled no doubt by 007 villain's nefarious schemes, had completely and totally played me with the 'Paper Mario' scam. It was all just a ploy to get to the Golden Corral buffet's Mac and Cheesy goodness. And he got me, I admit it. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. Like any unwitting hero in an adventure-comedy I stumbled through, unwitting and unknowing and ended up right where the Supervillain wanted me to be. In line to pay for 2 buffet lunches half a hundred miles away from home.

   One thing about taking David to a buffet. You're going to get your money's worth. He ate two generously loaded plates and then about a third of each of my, not quite so full, plates, given to him to keep him busy while I replenished his supplies. He also killed a pretty good sized helping of cottage cheese and ranch. Okay. Foodies, food-purists and those with squeamish stomachs should skip this part. I got Dave started on something he's decided he loves very much. For years I've been putting salad dressing on cottage cheese, so Dude started eating cottage cheese with dressing. Dave likes it because it tastes just like you're eating a big bowl of Ranch dressing. Which he approves of.
    So, we drove the 50 miles back home with the 'wrong' game. But I have the feeling that Dude got the thing he actually wanted on that trip.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Are you Here?:

     After more than a year and a half, my niece, Alexis is leaving us. I think the noise that is Dude
finally just ran her out. Not really, but whenever possible I try to blame stuff on Dude. He doesn't care, and who knows? Some of it could actually be his fault.... No, probably not.
   Anyway, Alex is leaving, a situation that Dude has no real concept of. To illustrate: Alexis is often leaving about the same time that Dave is waiting for, or Raine is putting him on the bus. This happens several times every week. Since she works quite some distance from the house, and she sometimes works a bit later than strictly necessary she often gets home well after the time Dude has already eaten and has lost himself in GameLand. He acts shocked almost every time he finally sees her. Often gushing over the fact that she's managed to find the house yet again, and hugging her like he only makes the reunions once every 20 years or so. I know she's not from here, but after the first time, I pretty much figured she had it down. Dave takes nothing for granted though, and is surprised every time.
     One of the few times we were out of the house when Alex got home, we walked in and by the time I got in the house Dave was already hugging her. Hanging all over her neck and saying, 'Alex! It's been so long since we've seen you!' She smiled. 'You made it! It's so good to see you again!' Alexis laughed and looked at me. I shrugged, 'It's almost like he didn't just see you 12 hours ago.' She laughed again, 'I know, right?' Of course, once it had been established that this was indeed his cousin and that she hadn't somehow been substituted by Pod People from the Planet Mars, or at least one of his other cousins, (pretty much the same thing) he completely ignored her for the rest of the night.
You see, Dave sometimes condenses his affection and worry and then gets it all out at once in a waterfall of emotion, and once it's used up... that's it. You're done. Next!
     Other times, it's as if he can't be bothered to check with his senses what's actually going on right at that moment. Most of the time when we leave the house it's just he and I, and he'll stop at the door, shoot out an open palm toward Raine, 'You stay here! We'll be right back.' Not that he's trying to confine her to the house... No one has to do that, she could be under house arrest and never know the difference. He forges ahead anyway, 'You can find us at the Game Store!'  She stares back at him in sweat pants, slippers and sleep shirt, obviously (to anyone but a Dude) not planning on going anywhere. She just raises an eyebrow and flatly states, 'Okay then... I'll just stay right here.' Of course by this time David's trying to shove his slow father into the car, so I'm not even sure if he hears her.
     And then there are times when he is exactly on point. When he's even more observant and in the moment than anyone around him. I'm not exactly setting any standards for observational awareness, but I can't count the times David has brought me up short. Once we went to a department store called Boscoff's at the mall. Now we've been to the mall and that store any number of times. I've been upstairs and downstairs and to every corner of both floors. It's a pretty good sized, but I was pretty
sure I'd been to every corner of the place at one time or another. I was not correct. As we were walking toward the store, Dude said, 'We'll go into the Boscoff's and take the elevator to the second floor!' 'Escalator' I said, automatically. 'He takes the Elevator.' He stated emphatically. 'Dave,' I explained patiently, 'There's no elevator in Boscoff's. We're taking the Escalator.' He looked at me earnestly and almost pleaded, 'It's only the elevators, around the corner... in the (something) Department.' 'Dave,' I said, flatly, concentrating on whatever silly crap I was there to pick up, 'we're taking the escalators and that's it.' Me? Stubborn? Nah!
      And so we went in and used the escalator. Damn it! Although he did seem to be a bit reluctant to follow me when we first entered the store, but we went upstairs and fruitlessly searched for whatever it was that I wanted, listening to him bitch about the elevator the whole time. 'It's just the elevators.' and, 'He uses the elevators for the Field Trip for the Beaver Valley Mall!' I looked at him darkly, still secure in my knowledge that there were no elevators in Boscoff's! We then wandered around the store for a minute or two and then when it was time to leave, and after 15 minutes or so of deranged rambling, I finally said, 'Okay, time to go. Lead us then to these elevators of which you speak so well.' (yes... I actually do speak like that occasionally. Dave's not the only Drama Dude) Dave shot through the length of the store, dragging his large parent with him, directly to the little 4 person elevator underneath a discrete, but quite large, lit up neon sign which read elevator Elevator in 1 foot high, bright blue letters. I mean, what were they trying to do? Hide it? If they wanted anyone to find it, why did they hide it under all that glowing neon? I mean, c'mon! What do they think we are? Bloodhounds? 
     Two weeks before Christmas Alexis moved to live with some friends in Cali. It's a week after Christmas and Dave still mentions that 'He has to wait for the Alex before he locks the door.' or 'When Alex gets home..... ' It's sometimes (always) hard to tell what he will and will not pay attention to... unless it has cheese on it. He always pays attention to cheese. Or Ranch Dressing... that'll get his attention. So I guess all I have to do is... no. That's just too silly to contemplate. There's no way I'm going to carry Ranch and Cheese wherever I go just to get his attention.