My Writings. My Thoughts.
Stacheman works at a fast food restaurant that is walking distance from our house. He loves it so much that he goes to work no matter how sick, sleepy or sad he feels that day. It’s an unexpected behavior from someone whose every instinct is to hide in the safety of his room. Only one of his teachers ever expressed belief that he was capable of this. Every single day that he goes to work is a personal victory for him.
I hate that he walks such a treacherous route between home and work. Less than two weeks ago, there was a hit and run on the path that he walks. The land is uneven and littered with animal fatalities. The roadkill upsets Stacheman far more than the twisted ankles he gets when he steps in holes hidden by overgrown weeds. I admit that I overreact to the frequency that his falls tear and ruin his work pants. Since Stacheman doesn’t drive and we have more drivers than cars, walking is a frequent necessity. Stacheman is like a postal carrier, undeterred by extreme cold, heat or rain during his walks to and from work. He HAS called the city to complain when knocked over street signs were left blocking his path for months at a time.
Sometimes, Stacheman says things that make me not like his job. “You know that guy that got shot a hundred times after he shot a policeman? He worked at our location.” It’s not that I think Stacheman would ever do anything evil. He knows the difference between video games and reality, as do all of his friends with the same diagnosis. My concern is someone taking advantage of Stacheman or him being victimized by nasty people. He thinks everyone at his work is wonderful. He recognizes that they are not perfect and that’s perfectly okay with him.
Since he has outlasted almost every employee and manager in the store, I have to guess that he does a good job at work. I know he gets called in whenever somebody else doesn’t show up for a shift. I know that his manager drives him home when Stacheman works a late shift. I know that his manager sometimes picks him up and drives him to work. What I know with certainty, is that Stacheman has to talk for a full hour at the end of every shift. In his effort to blend and look neurotypical, he quite literally holds in everything. As soon as Stacheman is home where he knows it is safe, he talks and talks and talks. Even with the breathless recanting of his workday, he uses enough self control to stick to our agreement that he will never tell me anything about the content or preparation of the items on their menu and I will never give him a lecture about what is and isn’t actually food. He isn’t interested in journaling his day. He isn’t venting angrily about his day. He simply talks about his day and his behaviors. “She screamed and yelled at everybody working registers and then the manager gave her the number for corporate so she could yell at them.” Stacheman comes home from work like a shaken soda bottle that has to release the pressure before it can resume being a functional soda.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit how much I look forward to listening to Stacheman after his work shift. There’s some kind of karmic balancing taking place for all the things he didn’t say when he was young and couldn’t express what he was feeling. Instead of crawling between his mattresses, he talks to me. Instead of angrily emptying every drawer and toy bucket in his room, he talks to me. He talks to me. The child who had to practice scripted conversations in school, is now a man who willingly talks to me.
All of this is an overly complicated way of saying that Aspergers doesn’t mean you don’t feel. It means that you have to struggle with every fiber of your being to control your feelings. Feelings are an on/off switch with no filters. It also means that deep inside people with Aspergers there exists unpredictable potential. Be patient. Recognize the triumphs. Talking is a triumph.
As many people do, we went to the movies the day after Thanksgiving. Choosing a movie that everyone would enjoy required some negotiation. Sawyer wanted to see something that I don’t think he is old enough to see. Starving Artist already saw the movie that SuperTween wanted to see. RenTeen and Dad wanted whatever made everyone else happy. We went to see Frozen.
Without being too spoilery, Frozen is one of Disney’s best movies. Disney is finally creating self-rescuing Princesses. They are doing away with tropes like ‘true love’s kiss’ and ‘happily ever after’ and replacing them with possibilities and potential. Syrupy sweetness is becoming sincere compassion and love. Yes, the songs are catchy and there’s a cartoon character to over-merchandise. This is still a movie for children to watch. It’s also a movie that teens and young adults are going to embrace and use as their own anthem. They should. The sister in the movie who can sing is presented just vague enough to make her an icon for anyone shaking off the weight of expectations and acceptance of reality. The prison that is inflicted upon you and the prison that you inflict upon yourself are deeply introspective concepts, yet Frozen remains hopeful. Optimism, the defining characteristic of the main character, is what this generation needs. It’s what we all need. This is the Princess movie that you want your children to cherish. It’s also the movie that will remind you some things you already knew, but needed to hear anyway.
After the movie, we walked across Gay Street to Krutch Park. The city’s tree was freshly lit, a choir was singing and SuperTween smiled an earlobe to earlobe grin. “It’s like we walked into Frozen.” We drank Cheerwine punch, ate Krispy Kreme donuts and wandered toward Market Square. A band played before an audience of people dancing and laughing. Small children pointed at an old man with a white beard and whispered, “Santa.” The man winked and smiled. It was impossible to watch with a dry eye.
Sometimes, everything is so perfect that you want to freeze the sights, sounds, smells and feelings in your memories forever. This was one of those times.
Sweet, snuggly Buttercup’s heart, lungs and bloodwork are perfect. The vet refuses to diagnosis Buttercup with dwarfism until tiny Buttercup has been sedated, x-rayed and scanned. Since Buttercup got snarly when the vet yanked on her paws, the vet has decided that Buttercup’s legs are causing her pain. Buttercup climbs up and down the cat condo, chases the red laser dot, attacks toes under blankets and purrs constantly.
Do we really need to subject her to tests when nothing is going to make her legs any longer?
SuperTween: “*Hey, Mom. Do you know how people dressed in the *80′s?”
*My children think my name is HeyMom. I’m Stacee Jaxx’s monkey.
*They also think I have only existed exactly as I look, dress and behave at this moment in time.
He: “Would you like a pink fitbit?”
She: “I’m really more of a black girl.”
He: “Why does the wall calendar say Doctor Who on the 23rd?”
I know that my role in this family is to make holidays happen. Not because they are holidays, but to create traditions for framing memories and celebrations to avoid getting lost in the mundane. I honestly don’t enjoy Thanksgiving. It’s a meal as a family. We eat meals as a family every day. Some of those meals are straight from cans and boxes, but some of them are pretty amazing. Thanksgiving feels like a manufactured day to buy the mandated groceries.
As a child, Thanksgiving at home was the required meal of turkey, cranberries and dressing. It was delicious, but so was everything that my mother cooked. Thanksgiving at my mother’s parents was the required foods with something new that my grandmother found in a magazine and venison. Venison was what they had in abundance, so that was what we always ate. Again, it was all delicious, but my grandmother cooked an obscene amount of amazing food every time we visited. Thanksgiving at my father’s parents was the required foods plus duck. My father’s mother loved duck and it was her holiday treat to herself.
It was food. It is food. I like food. I eat it every day. Eating food doesn’t cut it as a ‘holiday’ to me. It’s more of a stopwatch that declares it socially acceptable to get out your Christmas decorations.