My friend Jade changed addresses last year. Apparently this fact has been lost in the vast bureaucracy of the school transportation system, as the school bus is still driving by my house (where it used to pick up her son/my sorta-nephew) at 8:00 a.m., while no bus is appearing at her current address.
We know from our experiences last year that getting a bus stop set up involves a lot of perseverance. Jade is calling them two or three times a week to prod them to action, because that’s apparently what it takes. Meanwhile, Romi drives the little guy in to school, and I go pick him up after I get out of class.
Today I got to the school around 4:20. All the other kids were long gone, of course; school lets out at 3:45. I parked the car and strolled in to the office to find The Kid. As I went by, one of the administrators summoned me into her office.
“Carpool is over at four o’clock,” she said sternly.
Hell, I knew that. “Yeah, I’m coming from Wake Tech and my last class on Wednesday is over at 3:50,” I replied, and breezed on over to the library media center to collect the little guy.
He was quietly reading a book, but as soon as he saw me he hopped up and the torrent of words began: “Hi Bertha I’m hungry can we go to Burger King have you ever gotten to the end of Warcraft III they have this funny movie with the outtakes and in one of them the demon lord is trying to launch a boulder from a catapult…”
Within ten minutes I was flooded, but I tried to maintain interested responses since the little fella had obviously been holding back this verbal tidal wave all day, and was just dying to get it out. We stopped by Wendy’s (couldn’t find the Burger King) and got him a hamburger, and by the time we left the chatter had subsided to a level mere mortals like me could process. I played him a recording of Fish Heads and King of Spain the rest of the way.
Then I went by the grocery store. I didn’t want to go by the grocery store, but it was either that or send the kids cocoa packets and toast for lunch the next day. When I got out of the store it was almost 6:30, and my cell phone informed me that someone had left a message for me. It was my own little guy:
“Hi, it’s me. We were just wondering where you were, because it would be nice if you got home before midnight.”
Yes, my twelve-year-old is very good at sarcasm. With us as parents, even the sixteen-year-old learned the art. I’m told many autists don’t get sarcasm at all. Maybe they just need more practice.
I’d told him I was going to be driving the nephew home for the foreseeable future, but he hadn’t realized the amount of time involved in this activity. He’s feeling a little neglected because his dad and I have both been crazy busy since school started; the boys get home an hour before I do most days. Last night I just took their word for it that they’d done their homework, too tired to follow up and make them show it to me. I can’t make a habit of that if I want them to graduate.
Today I should be home a little after 3:00, so I can spend the afternoon with the guys until my 6:00 appointment.
I’ve noticed a pattern over the years: you get things set up so that you’re getting a reasonable amount done, but you’re not overwhelmed. You say “There, that’s just about right. Not too much, not too little.”
Then Life says, “Nonsense, you’ve got plenty of room!” and heaps on a bunch of other things. The kid wants to start sports and requires a chauffeur. An appliance breaks and you have to spend a day waiting for a repairman to not show up. Someone gets the flu and must be driven to the doctor, whose office moved as far across town as it could possibly be. Someone else’s prescription ran out and you need to make an emergency run to the drugstore to refill it.
When you manage to pull all that off, Life just smirks and says “See?” and ignores you when you give it the finger.