30 March, 2010

What my Little Eye Spies

I have always been a people watcher, on the lookout for future story characters, or friends, or mates (less of that now Honey, I swear). Lately I feel like I've seen more young adults on the spectrum out and about. It may be that I am searching for them now, slightly more aware than by pure subconscious perception, but not quite actively. I look for taller versions of my son as I watch Jake sprout up, knowing he will be 6'5" before I know it. I've been able to spot the little kids for awhile, sometimes before their own parents recognize the signs, but I realize now I've slowly been looking for those tweens on the spectrum, those kids who are just a bit older than Jake (that picture of Jake over there? I think he's not yet 2?)
*****

I like to be prepared. My sister, Demanda, laughs at me sometimes when we are about to embark on an adventure of some sort. She can see what others may not notice: I am assessing a situation to figure out what disaster could/will befall us. Then she laughs a little more because she knows what disaster I'm going to say because she quite often thinks the same way (perhaps a product of growing up under my "Lives like Y2K is around the corner" father's roof). Being prepared makes me feel safe, and calmed somewhere in my racing mind. I do however understand the joy of spontaneity, which is why we have snacks, sunblock, extra clothing, diapers, wipes, medication and water in our car. I want to think I can just switch plans at a moment's notice, but still take care of the basics. This, by the way, is actually not spontaneity, but it's as close as I get.


My point here was, uhm, oh yes, my point is, I want to prepare for Jake getting older, but he is one thing I have a hard time preparing for. We never thought he'd walk, and he did. We never thought he'd hold his own cup, and he does. We never thought he would engage and he does, more and more each day. I don't know what kind of older person to look for as a guide for us for Jake because, thankfully, he is growing and changing and learning every day.

What's really hard is that I don't want to be pessimistic, and research options for living and care that are too restrictive or overly supported. I also don't want to be unsure of my ability to care for a 180 pound 16 year old, or a 220 pound grown man.

Many of the resources, the good ones, with peers and outings and support and a safe environment are small, hard to find, and harder to get into. I am going to need to pay attention now or soon if I want Jake to have "independence" living apart from his parents when he's 19 or 26 or 33. Of course, I also can't bear the thought of someone else not caring for him properly.

I'm realizing right this moment, as I write this, that I am not really ready to think about any of that yet. I want to. I want to have all the facts; have all the files ready to go. I want to prepare for his future, but it triggers so many other things, like money and health care, and we need to make a trust, and a will, and ugh, I forgot to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer, so hopefully they haven't soured since this morning.

And more than all that, if Jake is grown up than that makes Lucy grown up, and there I go into the rabbit hole: we aren't having any more kids, and here I am crying again, because there is something I just cannot let go there. More kids...no, that would be irresponsible.. but wait, no, but wait...

Everything is JUST. SO. BIG. so many things to think about, emotions to sort through, financial decisions to make. I feel like I need to start so many things, but in so many different directions.

So for today I will go as far as seeing older kids on the playground or at the gym, or at the store, and I'll stop there for now so I can prepare to prepare.

28 March, 2010

How a Person's Name Becomes an Adjective.

Have you ever thought about how language changes? How much faster it changes now that we have all of this technology and life moves so quickly. We add new words to our vocabularies every day, and sometimes words come about because of the actions of a person, eponyms, which I find fascinating.

The word lynch? Comes from Charles Lynch (1736-1796), a planter and justice of the peace from Virginia who "headed an irregular court to punish Loyalist supporters of the British during the American Revolutionary War."

Etienne de Silhouette was a French finance minister whose name became associated with these simple pieces of art, and "anything done or made cheaply" when he had to make some very tough decisions during a particularly bleak economy in 1700s France.

An abducted child became the "Amber alert", a legislator from 7th century B.C. gives us Draconian law, and

I'm afraid the name Smockity Frocks may have just become synonymous with someone who judges our special needs children unabashedly, and someome who, even when told of their grave error in mistaking autism for bad manners, has no room in their heart for apologies, only defensiveness. 

There has been quite a hullabaloo in the last few days over Smockity's post, "In Which Smockity Considers Jabbing a Ball Point Pen Into Her Eye" (which she has since taken down, but is available through a Google cache also: I am not the Jennifer that commented on her post), and with good reason I think. Her post basically describes an encounter at the local library with what I can only see, by Smockity's own description, is a girl with autism, and her caretaker. It's obvious by the way that Smockity openly mocks the girl and her grandmother's behavior, (while praising her own virtue),  that she must not have any idea she is making fun of a disabled person, because who would do that, in public? on their popular website?

And I probably would have read the post, possibly commented, then shook my head, knowing that the battles ahead will be many, and that just as we are no where near being color blind in this country, we sure as hell aren't close to tolerating people with disabilities.  I would have let it be, and signed it off to ignorance, but the comments! Agh the comments, many, many readers extolling her virtues, her patience, her parenting skills. And perhaps, is it possible that none of those people have ever seen someone with autism either? Or perhaps they think they all look like Rain Man? I doubt it, but perhaps. But when Smockity is gently, very gently, presented with the idea that the child may have been autistic I thought I would see a turn-around, an apology, a paragraph at the top of the post with something like, "I have left this post up, as a perfect example of how we judge each other without knowing and without love, and perhaps a quote from Matthew 7:
 1"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Perhaps a quote from one of her readers "There are so many lessons in this one experience." Or maybe something about how she learned a little bit about herself, and about autism, and about how blessed she is all over again with her beautiful family, who has apparently been untouched by anything outside of the norm neurologically.

I know I would have come up with a few, more than a few, humble words to apologize for hurting so. many. people. And it's not just that she judged this one day in the library, but you know what myfriendConnie? We already don't take Jake to the library because of Smockities like you. And now it makes me wonder where else you are? and it's not just that you hurt us once, but now it is just one more story I sadly add to the mental file labeled "Painful moments I wish had never happened, or at least I wish I'd never heard about, because now I will always wonder if that's going to happen to me."

When we took our last big family trip to Hawaii over the holidays, there was a big old Smockity on the plane. He and his wife were sitting four rows from the bathroom, and on the way back to our seats, in the last 45 minutes of our flight after waiting, waiting for the bathroom and being cramped in there with me, Jake just could not take it anymore. As we tried to navigate back to our seats, I was holding back his arms, so he wouldn't touch anyone. I was telling him what a great job he was doing not touching anyone, when he clearly was touching everything he could when he got the chance. Jake broke out of my grip and in his effort to run (CP and all) down the aisle of the plane back to his seat, he put his left hand on that Smockity's shoulder, grazed his arm, touched his newspaper and made a really loud whoop-de whooo. Descartes heard Jake's distress call, got up and guided him the last few rows to his seat.

As I was running past the man who Jake had touched, not injured, just touched, the smockity man bellowed "What's wrong with that boy? Why can't you control your son?" His wife grabbed his arm and said something quickly, but he pulled his arm away from her and continued to glare at me, because of course I was so stunned that I was still standing there. He had decided there was something wrong with my child, and that I was a bad parent all in one fell swoop.  I apologized, of course, because I always apologize for my child's genetic and unalterable neurological condition, because even though we are not supposed to blame ourselves, of course this is my fault, everything about it, because he's my genetic code and I gave birth to him, and I left the house with him. So, I told the man that Jake is autistic, and asked the man if he was okay. Instead of *any* sign of grace, the smockity man harrumphed at me and went back to his paper. I went back to my seat and sobbed.

He saw us again outside, when we were waiting for Jake's wheelchair (which they inconveniently take to the curb in Honolulu). Jake slipped out of my clutches right as the man stepped through the sliding doors. I caught the sleeve of Jake's shirt and yanked him back to me, terrified that two more steps and he would have been under a car rental shuttle bus, or under the smockity man's foot. That man looked right through us. His wife, right behind him, smiled a half smile, which was the probably the best attempt she could make to apologize for her boorish husband.

Want to hear more stories? I have more. We all have them, any of us who have children that are outside of the norm, and these are just the stories of the people who said out loud their disgust or displeasure of having us in their presence. I don't know how many other people we've nearly made poke out their eye with a pen. Smockity's post makes me think there are hundreds, if not thousands more people who have been thinking ill of us and on the verge of self-inflicted blindness.

But lest you think that the whole world is filled with Smockities, on the return flight home from Hawaii, when Jake was *not* patiently waiting, and just wanted to go into the bathrooms that became available, a woman next to us, and next in line, said, "Would it be better for him to go next? Would that be better for him?" and of course I got all teary eyed, because it was the nicest, thing, said in the nicest way. It was also easy for her to give, and probably in her best safety interest since he was beginning to flail, but she didn't need to offer, and she never really even made eye contact with us. She wasn't trying to be friends, or even be the knowing mom, she was just trying to be a decent human being who could offer me this one thing during what was an obviously difficult moment for my kid.

It doesn't take much to help families like mine feel like we are welcome in the world. Let's start with being more kind. Let's take a deep breath. Let's think about how someone else's life might be very, very, different from our own.
1Corinthians 13:12-13 "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known. And now faith, hope, charity, these three remain; but the greatest of these is charity [love]."
What about this? A little less smockity, and lot more charity.


***********************

post script to my post. On March 30th Smockity Frocks posted this apology on her blog. I sent her a note thanking her for what I believe is a sincere apology.

An Apology

by Smockity Frocks on March 30, 2010
From the very beginning, I have always wanted this blog to be a blessing, something to help others, and never to hurt. I wanted to make people laugh, even in the midst of parenting trials.
It has become evident that I have not achieved that goal. I have unintentionally caused hurt and pain and for that I am truly sorry.
When I described a situation I observed recently, I was seeing in my mind and describing on my blog behavior that I have witnessed dozens of times in my own seven children and hundreds of students during my eight years as a school teacher.  The behavior I described was nothing more to me than childishness and impatience, but I can see now that the words I used were viewed as symptoms of autism and many people were offended.
The most grievous part, for me, is that this has brought dishonor to the name of Christ, and that is wholly the opposite of my life’s mission.
It is my sincere hope that this apology will bring healing and peace.
Given the nature of many of the emails I have received, please understand why I feel it is necessary to close the comments on this post.








24 March, 2010

I Spy with My Little Eye

two and a half weeks ago...
I went to the gym for the first time in over a month. I had the blessing of time combined with a brief moment thinking that I was strong enough to exercise.

It was pretty darned funny. I ran a 15 minute mile (actually 1.05 in 14:30) but basically a FIFTEEN MINUTE MILE, and not miles.. I mean ONE MILE because I was tired out. It was very strange. I know I will be back physically in a few weeks to at least my previous sorry state, but it is still amazing how weak I got after not really moving for a month. If nothing else that month of sick has taught me that I never want to be that person who sits around like that... ever. I want to be able to run under a 10 minute mile for most of the rest of my life, and hopefully it will look more like 8? Don't think I am signing up for marathons any time soon, way to trendy for me.

Then when it came to weights I had to take ten pounds off of every set. I probably could have pushed through it, but I found myself needing to rest between sets, and I encountered some strange random coughing fits too. All very distressing, but another time in my life where I am thankful for the experience because now that I know what sloth can bring, I do not want to be a part of it. I need to be strong for my children, my husband, and my future home repairs.

So while I was on my Super cross-fit tangle your legs and watch CNN while you measure your heart rate and BMI and how far your little man has gone on a mountain or a track or around an island... machine, I heard the differently-modulated voice of a young man come in the weight room.

He is probably 17, and I've seen him once before with one of the YMCA staff at his side. The first time I saw him it was his first visit there, and I watched before how he had entered the room, scoped out a machine and been visibly distressed by the fan, which was on behind me. I turned it down for him, and later as I was leaving I complimented the young YMCA employee for working so well with him. This time was no different.

He has been coming here for months now, and I can tell he has his "regular machine" because he waited for someone else to finish their workout, and used the one on the end (away from the fan) when there were other open machines. He is more comfortable now, and doesn't scan the room as often with unsure eyes. He presses all of the buttons on the machine and they light up consistently, but the employee sticks with him while he works out.

This time they are having a conversation, and I am not eavesdropping but I do overhear several snippets. Okay fine... I was listening.

"I would really like it if you could call this woman before my I.P.P." (which is really why I started listening, because this young man is perhaps his own advocate, and has an Individual Program Plan, as my son does, and anytime someone uses jargon that applies to my kid, my ears tune in.)

"Well, I can do that. You can just give me her number."

"What time of day would you call her, because the number I give you would be different, if you were calling her in the morning, than if you are going to call in the afternoon. What time of day will you call her tomorrow?"

"Well, I'm not sure."

"Maybe you can think about that."

"You could give me both numbers?"

"Yes. I could give you both." And he starts to tell her the numbers. She has to stop him and remind him that she won't be able to remember the numbers, that she'll need something to write them down. He laughs a little, and says something about how both numbers are in his head, "all the numbers are in my head, really."

He cross-trains on his machine a bit more, his legs are jerking in a rhythm that is so different than mine even though we are on similar machines. I realize he is walking on his toes, but on an elliptical trainer it makes the legs swing in an odd arc. I can't replicate his movement even though I try. I can't spin plates like Jake either.

The trainer says she is going to Chicago next week, so he will need to work with someone else.

"Where in Chicago?"

"I don't really know. Somewhere in the south side? Something like that."

"Well, if it's the south side, there's Wrigleyville, which isn't really a city, but a place, like South Beach in San Francisco."

"Have you ever been to Chicago?" she asks him.

"No"


When I told this story later to my friend Seymour, he noticed easily that the young man has probably mapped the location of every baseball field and their surrounding areas.

21 March, 2010

My Life in a Pencil Box


Eagle Marker. I took this from my dad when I left for college. I found it on the dining room table under a stack of mail that looks so much like the stacks of mail I have now. I never understood how a person could have that much mail, or how you could lose a check made out to you, or how something might get sent in late or not at all. I could not imagine ever having such a complicated and messy life. My empathy has taken so long to develop.
Pink eyeliner pencil I took this from my mother's makeup drawer when I left for college. I'm fairly certain she didn't really use it, as I recall her wearing a smoky blue/black, but I also took a Clinique dry/wet eyeliner set too, just in case. My mother is beautiful and I always hoped I would grow up to be as pretty as she is. When I first tried makeup in 7th grade, the only comment she made was "In a little while you will see that you are wearing way too much makeup and that you're much prettier with much less. Come to me when you want me to teach you how to put makeup on." Three days later I learned how to use a soft sea sponge to put on foundation...
Gap pencil This one is before they even changed the logo, so it must be from 1989 or 1990. I started working there in 1989 and didn't leave for 11 years. I met some of the most wonderful people and learned a lot about business, management, communications and how to make friends and influence people.. no seriously, I did.
U.C. Berkeley ballpoint I bought this pen when I went to ASUC for the first time as a student (that's pronounced AY SUCK for those of you who didn't go to Cal). I then went and bought a gazillion dollar Shakespeare anthology and realized I would not be able to afford another pen until 1994 at the earliest. I still have that anthology. The first flowers Descartes ever gave me are pressed in that book. We were just friends when he gave me those flowers, it was more than a year after that when we started dating, and they are the only flowers I have ever pressed in my life.
Montblanc (totally fake) I bought this for myself around Christmas my freshman year of college when I was a) feeling sorry for myself and feeling dramatic. or b) having a moment where I just knew that if I had the right pen I would be the best poet/storyteller/novelist on the planet. Probably a little bit of both. I have a small blue-papered journal somewhere that "goes with" this pen. I carried them both in a leather mail bag that weighed 20 pounds empty. I carried these items everywhere, and pulled them out to furtively scribble poems and essays while on BART, all over San Francisco, and back in Berkeley at one of my favorite people watching spots, Cafe Milano or Caffee Strada.
Posterman pen from my sorority days. That place was more polarized than the U.S. House of Representatives on Health Care Reform vote day. I was the song chair at one point, and made all sorts of posters with the words of ΚΑΘ songs on them. That pen smells so much that I nearly passed out while making those posters, even in my most beautiful "fishbowl" room (I shared with an older girl who was in an a Capella singing group with me. She had more 'points' so we had an awesome room).
Waterman pen (with my maiden name engraved on it) I worked so hard for this pen. I was in the Internship program at Gap. It was fairly new, like perhaps I was the second or third year that it existed? Basically if you followed all of the rules, learned all your stuff, performed magic tricks and smiled all the time, you would graduate college and become an Associate Manager. As a graduation gift our Regional Manager gave us each a pen with our name on it. I always liked that regional manager, even when others didn't, which is kind of odd considering she was very tough, super exacting and had expectations for us that were above and beyond what was expected for our level. When I graduated I was an Associate Manager for three weeks before I got my own store. It was not a prestigious store, but my District Manager told me flat out, "jennyalice, sometimes you gotta take one for the team." So I did, and I learned a LOT, mostly about myself.
Google pen I stole this one from Descartes. (It seems I am thief when it comes to pens?). It used to have a cool light in it with red, blue, yellow and green (Google logo colors), but it must have burned out some time in the last 10+ years I've had it. Perhaps it was the first piece of Dot.com swag in our house? It reminds me of my Life With Endless Possibility that was before. It helps me remember things like Big Promotions, being newlyweds, and drinking late into the night on the evening Inktomi went public.
CMD pen I briefly worked at CMD after I left Gap. There were some very talented people there, but I never really fit in with the company personality. They are a Portland based company, and it was the height of Dot.com-everything-moves-very-very-quickly. I could never figure out why I was so frustrated until Descartes described Portland once after driving around for six hours waiting for me to finish my once-a-month meeting in the home office. I asked him how his day had gone and he said, "I feel like a tiger in a cage full of bunnies."
Waterman pen Descartes bought me this pen the first year we were married, for my birthday. I was so surprised and happy that he would know exactly what I would want... I also couldn't find my Gap pen at the time...I remember that the blue Waterman box was actually wrapped and had a bow on it. He took it out of his Cabella's mail bag, the green canvas one with the brown leather accents. That was back when his bag was really just his bag, and he wouldn't have dreamed of ever needing to get something out of my purse. We still had parts of us that were completely, completely, separate. It also reminds me that we used to actually buy presents for each other. I mean buy presents for each other that the recipient didn't know about until that person unwrapped the gift. Sadly, as good as my memory is, I cannot remember the last time I received a wrapped gift, and I know I have not wrapped a damn thing for Descartes in years, except perhaps a sandwich in some plastic.

There were other pens and pencils in the ratty zip top bag, including colored pencils which Lucy needed for her art project this morning. Grabbing for those pink and silver wooden sticks, her hands pushed past these little flashes, these pieces, past my very own tranche de vie narrative. I was sort of stopped there in each of those moments, thinking, then listening to the little voice in my head,

"Oh my God, jennyalice. You really need to clean out that desk drawer more often."

13 March, 2010

Thank You.

Before I left for the book reading tonight I kissed Jake in that sweet spot behind his ear, and half way down his neck. He still smells like my baby in that spot, though he is so tall now, and I can already see where his peach fuzz will turn to soft brown hair on his face.

I kissed him and I thanked him for making me the mom I am today. It is never a life we would have chosen, but it is a better life. I am a better woman.

Jake, my perfect child, is the reason I know so many great people and have done some very interesting and satisfying things. He is the reason I am president of the Special ED PTA, have edited and published two books and why I was on an esteemed radio program this morning. He is the reason I wrote a story that was good enough for publication in someone else's anthology, and why my precious Momster drove several hours to see me read that story.

It is a hard life. We will not get to do so many of the things I dreamed I would do with my family. Our plans are different, and our opportunities don't seem as limitless as they once did, but we are in a good place tonight. This family is healthy and happy and I feel blessed for all I've been able to witness and all of the events I've been a part of, all of the life I have now that I never would have seen without my boy, without Jake and all of his disabilities.

My dad once thanked me for teaching him how to be a father. He sweetly told me that I was the person who changed him from a man to a father because I am his first born. I get that now.

Jake has changed me forever, and I can never thank him enough, except to continue to advocate for him, and to love him deeply.

12 March, 2010

Did I hear You on the Radio?

Why yes you did!

Just had the most amazing morning. I have a great life, have I mentioned that lately?
Sarah Talbot, Shannon Des Roches Rosa and I were on KQED's Forum with Dave Iverson this morning, talking about our stories in My Baby Rides the Short Bus!

Here is a podcast link:


It was such a great experience. Dave Iverson is a very kind man, and he is an excellent host. He asks such thoughtful, interesting questions which always transition very easily.

I felt so supported today by my family, my friends I see in person every day, and the greater community from my past and those I've met online. I know some wonderful people, and I am always surprised and grateful when people read my blog/buy a book/attend a book reading/listen to me on the radio ('cause that is totally going to happen again..like, all the time!)

I am so proud to be associated with such a great book, and thankful to co-editors Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman and Sarah Talbot for including my essay in this great anthology.

and now I need to make sure my shirt doesn't have any schmutz on it so I can go to our reading in San Francisco at Modern Times Book Store. Hope I see you there!

08 March, 2010

Bay Area Readings for My Baby Rides the Short Bus

Bay Area Readings for the Groundbreaking Anthology:

My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities

Friday, March 12th, 6:30 p.m. at Modern Times, 888 Valencia St., San Francisco
Featuring local writers Kathy Briccetti, Thida Cornes, Kim Mahler, Jennifer Byde Myers, and Shannon Des Roches Rosa followed by a Q&A session with the authors and co-editors Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman and Sarah Talbot.

Saturday, March 13th, 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
Readings from contributors Marcy Sheiner and Andrea Winninghoff and editors Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman and Sarah Talbot.

Sunday, March 14th, 5 p.m. at Green Arcade, 1680 Market Street, San Francisco
Book release event with editors Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman and Sarah Talbot along with Tomas Moniz (Rad Dad) and Jeremy Adam Smith (The Daddy Shift).

05 March, 2010

Road Trip

This morning will be hectic, and I will feel scattered, and a wee bit guilty, and rushed and hurried and will desperately try to sort out and fold the rest of the laundry.

I will leave an empty dishwasher, a fridge with both lasagna and 2+ pounds of bacon, cooked perfectly, and in the pantry there is every form of cracker/chip munchie one could desire. There is beer and milk in the fridge, and an empty garbage can under the sink. I made 2 pounds of home made chicken nuggets.

The children will have proper care this afternoon, and they both have clean hair and clean socks today.

and so,

I
am
outta
here.

road trip with girlfriends...*wooooooooot*


it's been years, in fact the last road trip with girls was to the California State PTA conference, and while I did have a great time.. that is not exactly a choice destination... Sacramento?

01 March, 2010

The Man at the Door

The knock was firm.

KNOCK. knock KNOCK. KNOCK.

When I opened the door, the gentleman had leapt back off the top stair, and stood on the landing two stairs below the stoop. He is probably my age, maybe a little older, and between his two hands he is grasping a piece of paper very tightly, and holding it almost at chin level.

"Hello ma'am. I paint the numbers on the street, because it is very important if there is an emergency that the fire or the police know exactly where you live. I can paint the numbers. This is my business license. If you have any questions you can phone the city, but this is my license."

His intonation and affect on the wrong words throughout his pitch immediately quell that annoyed feeling I had, the one I always get when someone peddles at my door. I smile earnestly towards him, then he jumps up one stair and hands me the license. The edges of the paper are grubby, and wrinkled, but the center, where the information is, is perfectly, perfectly, clean.

"How much?"

"Thirty dollars ma'am."

"That sounds like a great idea. We really need to have that done. Do you take a check or just cash."

"I can take a check."

I tried to hand him back the business license but he was bounding down the steps with his grey tool box, and without turning around he said, "No, you should keep it. It has my name on it because it's my business license, and you can get my information for your check."

right.

I read his first name "Hendry" and sort of half-yelled down the stairs at him, "Is this correct? Hendry?"

"Yes ma'am Hendry H E N D R Y. My name is spelled correctly on my business license."

bet that hasn't made life any easier, huh, Hendry?

I closed the door to head upstairs to get my checkbook. I couldn't hold it in any more and I started to cry, sob really.

I went up the stairs and Lucy rushed over, "Momma, why are you crying?

uhm. deep breath. I never know quite how I am going to respond to her questions that have *really big* answers, answers that might shape her whole opinion about her brother or his classmates, or the entire world. I must somewhere be practicing speeches, in my restless sleep perhaps...

"You know how Jake is a special kind of kid? Well, the man at the door came to paint the numbers on our curb so the police and firemen can find our house in an emergency. The man at the door is a grown up who was probably a little bit like Jake when he was little. He was a special kid, and when mom sees a grown up who was probably a special kid like Jake, all grown up with a job, it makes Momma so happy that I cry." (She understands the happy crying thing.)

"You know how it's tough for Jake to do chores at our house, to do jobs at our house? Well, when Jake grows up he will want to have a job, and so it makes Momma really happy to see that kids like Jake can grow up and have jobs."

I write the check. Lucy stands next to me.

"Mom, Jake has jobs at school, right now. He has jobs Momma."

"That's right baby, I guess he does."

I finished the check for Hendry and walked it down the three flights of stairs to him. He was sitting in the street, painstakingly painting numbers on my curb.

"Here's your check. Thank you very much. Do you have a business card, I could recommend you or do you go door to door?"

"No ma'am I go door to door. I have my business license."

"Yeah, that's a great idea to have that. It makes it very official."

"It IS very official. I got it from the city."

"Thanks again."

and I made it back into the house before I started to cry again. This time I went to my room, where Descartes and I had been resting (since we were both sick). I crawled up on to the bed and sobbed. Descartes put his arm around me and pet my hair a little.

"Do you know why, [heave], I'm [deep breath] crying?"

"Yes dear."

"I'm sorry, I can't seem to stop."

"I know. This is why I don't Twitter."

"Why, because you would have to say something like "Grown man with autism comes to door, steroid-induced hysterics by wife ensue?"

"Something like that."

"I hope he doesn't get run over while he's painting the numbers. That's all I need is to explain to Lucy all about the grown up guy who was like Jake as a kid, who had a job, but is now dead in the street. That would really make me cry."

"Yeah, probably."

"Hey, you know? I would be crying even if I weren't on steroids."

"I know. I know. Take a deep breath. It's all good. We're all good."
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