Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Self-Driving Tour:

The Wearin' of the Grin
     I sometimes think that people in the Midwest are both less and more able to cope with the Dudeness than Pennsylvanians. Less, because, while friendly and courteous, Midwesterners are sometimes more easily startled  by anything that breaks their routine than people on the Atlantic Seaboard. And once brought up short, it tends to take a bit of time for them to get back on a roll. I've seen David make genuinely crazy people wander off shaken, confused and looking over their shoulders in wonder. Typical people generally have no chance at all.
     I say more, because they are friendly and courteous and anyone with those traits will almost always at least be given a listen-to. And despite whatever else Dude is, he is very friendly.
     Case in point: By now, anyone who's ever read one of these stories (and if you haven't, get to it! There are only 89 of them so far) Dude invites anyone and everyone to Vegas wherever we go. Sometimes he invites them 2 or 3 times in one sitting. The other day we were heading into a place called Vintage Stock, a used game/music/movie store with a bit of game/movie memorabilia and paraphernalia, and when we drove up we startled a small girl and her mother parking next to them in the lot. The bike is kind of noisy. After we concluded our business we were followed out by this same pair. When the woman explained that the girl was especially sensitive to noise (picked the wrong Dude to follow out of the store there, didn't ya?) So I kept the bike silent while Dave and I patiently waited for the two to get into their SUV. When the little one was secured and the woman was getting into the Land Tank, Dave, once again, asked if she was going to have fun coming to Vegas with us. She turned with a smile, and said, 'I'm sorry, I won't be able to make it to Vegas. We're going to Scotland and Ireland this year.' Dude could care about the Gaelic Homeland. The woman said she wasn't going to his Mecca, so she was instantly shuffled into the 'nice, but beneath notice' category.  I was almost instantaneously interested... and jealous. Seeing my interest, she pretty much gave me her entire itinerary for the trip. You know, so I could catch up, if I happened to be in the area. The whole time Dave was hawking Vegas like a carnival barker and occasionally drifting off subject (if there ever really had been one) to various movie quotes and restaurant choices for dinner that evening. This woman was genuinely delighted by both Dave and my interest in her Adventure Across the Pond. She spoke to him when he butted in with his questions and then switched back to me when he was done....ish.
     That's one of the things I truly love about the Midwest. You can meet a total stranger in a parking lot, accidentally start a conversation with a polite gesture or phrase and end up knowing more about them in 15 unhurried minutes than you do about some of your relatives. I never got this woman's name, nor she mine, but by the time our brief exchange was finished I knew the Where, What, and Why about her trip to the Old Country (Ireland and Scotland: Self-driving Castle Tour; and because they're descended from some of the Royalty in that area). Hell, I don't know where anyone in my family is going on their vacation. But that may be just because they don't want me tagging along. Come to think of it, I don't even know where some of them live. (it's a big family)
     The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that, in this one aspect at least, David is perfectly suited to the Midwest. This is the only place I've ever lived where a wrong-number call can lead to an hour long conversation with a complete stranger (it happens more often than you'd think). Anywhere you can start an hour (day/week/month) long conversation with complete strangers is just the place for a Dude to be. He's already found cheeseburgers, 2 favorite game-stores, public buildings with elevators, 2 malls and a steady supply of Mac and Cheese, so all of the essentials are covered.
     Pittsburgh people try to be polite in the face of all that Dudeness, but it's really not in their nature. There was always that startled pause whenever Dude would ask, 'You ready to go to Vegas?' A quick look at me to assess the danger and then another look at David. They rarely ever seem to smile as quickly or as easily at David as do the Midwesterners. Of course, smiling is about the only thing that
Midwesterners do quickly. (Mostly kidding) But the smiles are sincere and the courtesy is genuine.
     At any rate there was an unexpected hazard resulting from this chance encounter. It seems that Dave's dreams of Vegas Glory have become just a tad more organized. I mean, he's always wanted to go to the 'Big V', but it was more of a 'You ready to go to Vegas?' way. Now he's talking about specific places and things we have to do and see once we're there. I mean, now there's a buffet, complete with elevator, (I mean, how they hell am I going to find one of those?), he's evidently entered into a multi-million dollar Talent Show, we're going to a pool....  on a roof! We seem to be visiting either the Luxor or CircusCircus, depending on what day it is, and we seem to be bringing along everything (including the cats) except Suzi. Not because she isn't allowed to come along.... but because we're sending her on a Spa Cruise. I'm pretty sure, except for the gondola ride at the Venetian, and the sinking ship at Treasure Island there's just not much Cruise action in Vegas. Of the ocean going variety, that is.
     Dave does, however, want to take Suzi's car to Vegas with us. He says it's the 'Best, perfect way to get to Vegas!' Suzi drives a BMW Z3. A 2-seat convertible sports car. He's always saying, 'We've got to take the racing car to Vegas!' How we're going to get 3 cats, 5 gaming systems, about 300 game discs, 2 Dudes (regular and Super-sized), clothes, Mac and Cheese, ketchup, ranch dressing, and a long, long list of other things into a vehicle with the total passenger and trunk space of an airplane bathroom I have no idea. Maybe we'll just leave the top down? I just haven't been given the specifics on that one. Dude is beyond such things.... It's probably just my job to figure it out.
     Right after I wrote this I found out that I'll have to find room for one more package for our Quest. It seems that Suzi is indeed invited along on our Adventure. When I mentioned that she was the only thing in the house that I hadn't been asked to find room for in the Z3, she corrected me. It seems that it's her job to figure out how to find a Spa Cruise in the midst of the Mojave Desert. Maybe a Spa Bus Tour? I'm not really sure. Perhaps Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is making a World Tour from the deserts of Australia?  Maybe they'll take along a non-Drag Queen guest with a personal Dude-request?
     Also, he's been reminded that I have relatives in Chicago. So now our 'Vegas Road Trip' (his words) is somehow supposed to include a swing by the Observation Deck of the Sears Tower. I think he even knows what floor it's on. Once again, the logistics of fitting in a 350+ mile trip (in exactly the wrong direction) into our 'little road trip' is entirely up to me. I'm evidently capable in ways that boggle the mind... My mind feels boggled, anyway.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Wake up, Suzi:

 As some of you may know, Dude and I have managed to con.. uh... coerce.... uh... Blackmail is such an ugly word, we prefer extortion. Or, Long Distance Hypnotism. Anyway, somehow or another Suzi has come into our lives. She quickly became Dave's buddy and he looks forward to the days that Dad has to go to work. They have a (sort-of) routine when I'm gone, and it all starts with the wake-up.
   When he was much younger (and the Games were in my room) David would often climb into bed with me early in the morning. This was pretty much self defense, (mine) as there was no way in hell that I was going to get out of bed at 7:30 in the am on a weekend. As he got older this practice was pretty much discontinued and a moratorium was placed on most Dude traffic in Dad's room. You see, Dad likes to stay up late, but David has a firm bedtime, and 9 hours or so later he's going to be awake at some ungodly cow-milking hour, whether or not any cows actually need milking. His dad does not care if the cows ever get milked. As a matter of fact, his dad would sell or shoot the cows and buy his milk at the store at 1:00 in the morning.
     When this happens when Dad is home, Dave will stay (mostly quietly) up in his room except to come down for his pad, or to get a drink. I think this is a defense mechanism similar to the small animals that sometimes share the cave of a hibernating bear. Yeah sure he's warm, and nobody is going to come after you in the cave of a sleeping bear, but it's probably not a good idea to play Metallica turned up to 11 either. So we'll just be quiet and let that grumpy old bear sleep. When the grumpy old bear works, however, this is an entirely different story.
     On the evenings before I work, (I have an odd schedule) Dude will, after his before-bed drink, stop and say either, 'Dad will go to work tomorrow', or 'Suzi will be home tomorrow.' I've come to understand that these are not questions. He's actually ordering me out of the house for 13 hours. When we agree he'll happily exclaim, 'Then we get the Ipad time tomorrow?' and won't take another step up the stairs until Suzi agrees. Which she does, every time.
      Suzi, like me, is an habitual night owl. When given the opportunity either one of us will stay up into the wee hours. And, also like me and most other half-vampires, she doesn't particularly care to see the fresh sun peeping in the windows at that proverbial ungodly cow milking hour of the morning. David has no respect for those who would burn the daylight and often comes into the room before 8 o'clock and sits or lays down in the bed peering at the coma victim on the other side.
     Occasionally he takes a couple of running steps into the room, leaps into the air, and lands on the bed in the classic Joe Namath panty hose add pose. 'Suzi, are you awake yet?' he chirps brightly. 'Is it time for the Ipad time yet?' Why she hasn't killed him I have no idea. I mean. The kid doesn't even bring coffee, or a pastry, and he's bright and cheery? He'd better be glad he doesn't do this to me, because I'd start throwing things at him, and some of those things would be large and weighty. Pillows, books... cats... convertables. You know, whatever is handy. Suzi, on the other hand, doesn't even get upset. Weird. After an initial squinty eyed look in his vague direction, she often just smiles and gets out of bed! I mean... what? Oh sure, sometimes she tells Dave that it's too early to get up, and then he goes in the kitchen to make himself a 'grilled' cheese sandwich and juice. The breakfast sandwich is his own invention. It's cheese, on bread, microwaved for 15 seconds, so no actual stoves are harmed in the making of breakfast. But other times they get up and go into the front room for 'Ipad Time'.
     This has become a really big thing for David. Once the French has been Pressed, and the Elixir consumed, they sit in the front room with their pads (neither made by Apple) and... just each do their own thing. Dave has his YouTube videos that he searches and watches, and Suzi has her stuff that she does, including a Singing Monsters game/app that is pretty cute, but completely incomprehensible to me. Sometimes Dave leans over her chair to watch what the monsters are doing, and other times he shows Suzi the cool vids he's found. It's cute and cheery and homey and just between the two of them. No Dads Allowed. I can't even be jealous, because Dave's normally glad to see me when I get home, and, if you substitute a book for YouTube, that's pretty much the same thing that Suzi and I do. There's usually an hour or so every evening when we just relax in each others company quietly with our Pads.
     I got Dude his Pad a couple of years ago for Christmas. I've had to open it up several times because he's dropped it and disconnected the battery, but other than that it's worked pretty well for that whole time. The big reason for that is, I don't let him have a charger. Now, before y'all get the wrong idea, there's actually a couple of good reasons for this. A: Battery powered devices always draw power from the battery, even if it's plugged in. And the way Dude uses it, that would seriously cut down on battery life. And B: If he wasn't limited by the life of the battery, he just wouldn't do anything else. No other games, or playing on his keyboard, or coming downstairs. None of it would happen.
   Recently, as sometimes happens, we've had a rash of Micro-USB cable meltdowns. We are death to interfacing technology. In fact, Dave and I were down to two, and then I bought two more and then both of the older ones fritzed. (see what I mean?) So we were back down to two cables and 3-4 devices to be charged. So what would happen usually is that Dave would plug in his pad when he went to bed and I would unplug it and steal the cable to recharge my pad and phone overnight and then plug his back in when I left for work in the morning. I just don't have the capacity in the morning to remember to take it into the other room.  Of course, this left his pad in my room, which, since he was in there waking Suzi up in the morning, wasn't out of his way to get.
     Until the fateful day when Dude was (cue Dramatic Music) banned from Dad's room again.
Actually, he was just told to get out of my room when he started looking for something in the closet. Don't ask me what, I have no idea. At any rate, David was banned from the bedroom for the evening, although he took that to mean for-ev-er. Or at least until Dad forgot that he was banned from the room. Which amounts to the same thing, in Dude-time.
     So... now you see the quandary. That Which Must Be Had at Any Cost was now locked away in the tower of Don't Go In There or Dad will Kick Your Butt, along with his Ipad buddy, The Suzi. Something needed to be done. And Dude was just the dude to do it.
    Being Dude, the first thing he did was try to sneak his prize out of the room. Suzi woke up the next morning to see the butt of the Least Stealthy Being in the Universe bob slowly around the corner of my side of the bed and make its way out the door. I'm sure she wondered for, oh well... a pico-second (one trillionth of a second) who that wandering posterior could belong to. Suzi laughed as Dude crawled out the door, apparently unaware that his Ninja skills needed a bit of brushing up. Even though Dude thought he was breaking a Dad-rule and could have gotten busted, it was no big deal. What was kind of a deal was that he'd snatched the cable and taken it with him up to his room. A strict no-no. Of course, if he hadn't absent-mindedly forgotten to put the cable back (or at least downstairs) until after I'd gotten home, it would have just been another silly Dude-story. As it was, I had to talk to him about taking the cord up to his room. During this discussion, I may or may not (no recording exists) have said the words, 'Just wait for Suzi to wake up to give you your pad'. It could have happened. Like I said, there's no actual evidence that it did.
     If such a conversation had taken place, that might explain what happened the next morning.
     Suzi was snoozing mightily, early (very early) the next morning when her slumber was interrupted by a persistent repetitive sound. She knew the sound, but in her befuddled state, couldn't quite figure out what it was. After more than a few repetitions of the semi-recognizable electronic noise, she cracked a bleary eye open and scanned the room to see what was up. Of course, what was up, was Dude.  David was just barely outside of the bedroom door. Nothing strange there. He can be very patient... sometimes. What made the situation strange (to me when I heard it later) was the fact that he had Suzi's electronic kitchen timer in his hand. Brows furrowed in confusion, she just stared at him for a few seconds. 'Thank goodness it worked!' He exclaimed, shutting the damned thing off. 'Suzi, are you awake now?' I would have killed him quickly at this point. I'm serious. I would have quickly fashioned a prison-shank out of a pillow, or pulled the pin on a cat-grenade and pitched it at him so I could get back to sleep, but Suzi just smiled and said, 'What do you want, Dude?' The Pope will call any day now about her ascension to Sainthood.
   'He needs the Ipad, to watch the videos!' Suzi looked at the clock's dismally small numbers and even without the aid of caffeine still managed to smile while she said, 'It's a little too early, David. Why don't you go back to bed, and we'll play with the pad later?' And you know what? He didn't even gripe! He just said, 'Okay, we'll get the Ipad time later.' and went back to bed.
     I'm sure I was no help. When she told me the story later that day I admit that I probably missed the point. 'Wait. You mean that he figured out how to program the kitchen timer?' Probably wasn't the first thing she expected to hear. She took the whole thing in stride as one of the hazards
of Dudeworld. I, on the other hand, had another talk with my youngest offspring on the hazards of rogue kitchen-timer usage. Really. Those things are not toys, you know.