Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

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?

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