Life can take its toll. Just making it through the day can be brutal. Take yesterday for example. On Wednesdays, I have to get my daughter to her fifth grade study group by 9 a.m.. This means I have to leave the house at 8:30 but to complicate matters, I have to get my husband to the trolley station at 7:30. So, I feed the kids at 6:45 to 7:00, my daughter is diabetic and so I have to test her blood glucose, measure out two insulins, give her an injection and fix her breakfast.
My son eats something totally different. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, he is obsessed by the number 3. He has to eat almost everything in threes. So, he gets three pieces of Cinnabon toast. It has to be Cinnabon. No other brand of cinnamon bread will do. It cannot be 4 slices. It cannot be 2. It MUST be 3.
My Aspergers kid is not capable of dressing himself. He can set up a computer network. He can figure anything technical out. He plays the piano and guitar. He can remember dates, names and places almost photographically. He can not dress himself. He knows we are leaving at 7:30 to drive his dad down to the trolley station and yet, he never, ever puts his shoes on without being instructed to do this at least 11 times. “Put on your shoes.” I walk through the room, he is not moving toward his shoes. “Ian, get some socks and shoes and put on your shoes.” I walk through again to collect my laptop, power cable and make sure my daughter’s diabetic kit is packed correctly. Ian has not moved toward his socks and shoes. Instead he stands in the middle of the room asking; “Where are my shoes? Has anybody seen my shoes?”
I am trying to get my dog to come in from the yard where she demanded to go a minute earlier. She stands, nose in the air, sniffing the animal smells in the canyon. “Tiki! Come here Tiki!” Tiki comes trotting in. She is the easy one to deal with. If Tiki wore shoes, she would have them on by now.
Somehow, I get everyone in the car. My husband gets ready all on his own. I am so proud of him. He does however think I should get him a cup of coffee to go. I do it so much better than him, he says. I drive us all to the trolley station, drop John off and head back to the house. We have 30 minutes left for me to take a shower, get dressed, put on makeup (don’t want to scare the public) and get both kids back in the car. Ian has a phone, an iPod and a laptop that he feels he must take. He waits until we are walking out the door to tell me he needs to put his laptop in its case and he can’t find his phone. I try not to scream like a maniac. I realize, he hasn’t brushed his teeth. I have to take them to the dentist to have x-rays and get their teeth cleaned later in the day. He really needs to brush his teeth. I hate being late but he needs his fucking teeth to be brushed. He cannot put toothpaste on a toothbrush without a major intervention from me or his sister. I try to let him do this himself but time is of the essence. We need to GO. I get his toothbrush prepared and he has to also have a specific type of disposable, plastic cup. It has to be clear. It MUST be the right type of cup. He has to time himself using a phone or an iPod. He breaks from tradition and always brushes his teeth for exactly 2 minutes. This is the only thing he does in twos. He has it fixed in his head that teeth are brushed for 2 minutes. He sets his timer and he brushes for two fucking minutes.
I get my own crap in the car, my laptop, wallet, pens, paper, phone, my own iPod, wipes for dirty hands and the ever-present bottle of ibuprofen. We almost make it out the door again, when I realize that Ian needs to comb his hair. If you don’t know a kid with Aspergers, you may not understand this. He has no clue how to comb his hair. He combs it with the wrong side of the comb. He holds the comb by the teeth side. It’s maddening. I get a spray bottle of water and proceed to comb his hair into some form of neatness. I have no idea how we did it but we got to school with 5 minutes to spare. We actually walk in and look like we are normal people. All of us dressed, hair done, clean teeth and all wearing shoes.
So. I am a magician. Fuck David Blaine and Fuck Criss Angel. When they have an Aspergers kid and they can get to a destination on time, then tell me about being amazing.
We get through the morning. My daughter stays on her own with her 5th grade class. I take my really nice, neat looking son to the computer lab where he settles into his bailiwick. Here he is the master of time and space. He is one with the machines. If there really were such things as Terminators, he would make friends with them. At 11:00 he takes his math benchmark test with the counselor, he does a lot of his testing one on one. It’s in his i.e.p. (Individual education program) and so he lives through the test. At noon, we set out to find some food before the dentist appointment. The kids want to try something new, let’s try vietnamese food. It’s a disaster. I wont discuss how bad it was. I had nightmares last night, starring the food we tried to eat. If Gordon Ramsey reads this, here’s your next Kitchen Nightmare.
We make it to the dentist, exactly at the time of the appointment. This was a new dentist and so we had to find the office... In one of those giant, behemoth, mother of all mothers of a medical complex. That’s when I got handed 4 pages to fill out. That’s 4 pages per kid. I was filling out papers through their whole cleaning and x-ray fun. I signed less paperwork when we bought our house. Taking kids to the dentist is akin to going through escrow. After the exam and cleaning it’s time to hear about all the shit they need to have done to their teeth. No wonder people don’t go to the dentist as often as they should. It’s absolutely no fun at all.
Then we make it home. Finally. Through crazy, bad traffic. We get in the door at 4:00. 7.5 hours has elapsed since I saw my chihuahua. She wags her tail when she sees me and all is right with the world. I know I am going to grill hamburgers for the boys. My daughter, the diabetic, is a vegetarian. She hates vegetables. I know. Don’t even say it out loud. I make her some frozen waffles for dinner out of sheer desperation. Oh, and she has to have another insulin injection. And... Did I mention that at 7:00 I have to pick my husband up from the trolley? Oh, shit, he needs to come home, at least that’s what he tells me. I also realize I need to stop at the drug store and so we leave a few minutes early and I run into the store and have to wait in a line of 7 people. One cashier and 7 people in a line.
I keep thinking about the happy, little chihuahua. I know she will wag her tail again when she sees me. We pick up the father of my two kids and make our way back up the hill to our house. My house looks like I am trying to star in an upcoming episode of “Hoarders, Buried Alive.” I haven’t had time to clean my house. I have to fit that in between science experiments and art projects. I manage to pull off making dinner. I don’t bother eating. I’m still disgusted by that Vietnamese food. The food I could not eat. I do however make myself a vodka and grapefruit juice and watch everyone else eat.
But that’s not all. My daughter’s blood sugar takes a dive 2 hours after she ate those waffles. At 9:45, I am giving her apple juice and making a quickie baked potato in the microwave to get her some complex sugar (starch) into her system to bring up the blood sugar and sustain her through the night. I was up until midnight, at least, watching her and checking her until her blood sugar came up to a safe 151.
And then. Today. It’s another day. Pretty close to yesterday except instead of a dentist appointment, it’s guitar class from 2 to 3. I’ll take guitar class any day over a dentist appointment.
But when I get home at around 3:30, I know, for a fact, as sure as the sun came up this morning, my chihuahua will wag her tail when she sees me.