Stack That

You know the part of the circus where a performer stacks cups? I’m quite certain that Jacob could do that. The kid loves to stack stuff. The more of a challenge to get the stack to remain in place, the more determined he is to see it through.

Take a cup and set it here. Grab an item that is near. See if you can balance that. Watch to see if it will go splat.

My toys make music, that is true. But it is fun to see what else they can do.

Whether it’s breakfast for me or a snack at 3:00. Take something I would eat or drink. Then balance it to make me think!

Random things are fun to stack. My mom says I have quite the knack.

But, don’t sign me up for a circus act. And, that is that!!

On the Third Day

Last week’s post was about Jacob returning to his day program after being out a year.  You can check it out here: https://problemfreephilosophy.blog/2021/03/11/one-year-later/

History told me that the 2nd day could, more than likely, be difficult for him.  I was prepared for battle if you will, but it wasn’t necessary. 

We had decided on a transition of only attending 2-3 days a week at first so after Monday and Tuesday went great, we decided for him to go one more day.  Let him sleep in on Wednesday as he was obviously tired from this new routine. 

The new plan was he would return on Thursday, making it his third day back. 

I went in and woke him gently.  Had Alexa playing music he likes, opened the blinds, etc.  I returned to the kitchen giving him space and time to get up. 

Shortly afterward, he came in (with crooked pants).  I had some breakfast ready and went to open the refrigerator to grab him something to drink.  

Here’s where everyday life gets painfully real. All of a sudden, he went crazy on me.  In his trying to stop me from getting the juice, he grabbed a shelf off the door and gave it a yank.  And it went flying.  Yes. It. Did. You know how unexpected things can happen so quickly and yet be in slow motion.  That’s how this felt, plastic hitting the floor, breaking and pieces bouncing, shelf contents on the floor, and me frantic to keep Jacob from stepping on a sharp piece. 

Mike was outside but heard the commotion and came to my rescue.  There’s a saying ‘things went from bad to worse’.  Well on the third day, they started out at worse. 

Once the kitchen was back in order, I went to get Jacob’s clothes changed.  He stripped to his birthday suit.  And was determined to stay that way.  Anything I approached him with to wear, he snatched and tossed it across the room.  His dad intervened. Pretty sure we were both thinking it sure would be easier to let him stay home.  Except my determination wasn’t willing to let his behavior be the reason. 

I had to pull out what I feel is a last resort and it was a chill pill.  He was so rattled by then, it was the best way to give him some relief. I gave him half and waited for him to calm down.  Offered him breakfast multiple times but he refused. 

Go back with me an hour before I woke Jacob. I had read a devotional early that morning and it really spoke to me. Mainly because I thought it might be helpful to a friend. I sent it to her and we had a sweet text exchange. I had no idea how these words from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp were needed for me on that day:

Yes, your life is messy and hard, but that’s not a failure of the plan; it is the plan. It’s God working to complete what he’s begun in you.

Paul David Tripp

I had wanted so badly to not do anything that would cause Jacob to have a crummy start to his day.  I didn’t.  That is autism and bless his heart, it is how he deals.  How he communicates and I have to listen with my heart.  I had texted a few people asking for calming prayers.  He needed time and space to be able to do that. 

It often comes in the form of something we never would have chosen to go through if we were controlling the joystick.

Paul David Tripp

I thought about how brave he was to return at first so seamlessly. In all reality, I am fully aware there will always be hard days. Have had plenty and there will be plenty more.

He willingly got in the van a while later and willingly got out at the center.  I didn’t hear from the staff which was a good sign. 

I wasn’t prepared for battle on the third day.  But God was and gave us what we needed when it mattered.  

God is faithful; he will use the brokenness of the world that is your present address to complete the loving work of personal transformation that has begun.

Paul David Tripp

When we picked him up, he had had another good day.  I even got a handwritten note that said:  We are so happy to have Jacob back at the center.  We sure did miss him!

One Year Later

We are at the year mark since Jacob started staying home.  The virus had not shut down his day program yet.  But we had the time change on our hands so mornings were a struggle. 

Since Jacob was around 4 years old, he has been in various types of Special Education programs.  That means that during the last 37 years or so, there has been some structure to his weeks.  There were summers he didn’t have something every day, but few. 

If we’d been told in early 2020 that he would be home for the next 12 months, I would have wondered how we could possibly survive with our sanity intact.  In all seriousness, even knowing he is a homebody and so am I, it would have sent me into depression I feel sure. 

That’s one of the nice things about not knowing the future though, right?  At first, we took it a week at a time, then a month at a time.  And while there were some challenges, having him with us all the time worked great.  That time period taught me that we would be okay regardless.

We were hoping for him to return to his day program in the next month. I touched base with the manager and felt good about the answers I received to my questions plus the additional information shared. Returning to a familiar place should make him comfortable. Many of the same staff would be on campus plus some new folks for him to figure out and them to get to know him.

I had no idea how he’d feel about that. My guess, somewhat happy to be there the first day and then somewhat disappointed when he went back the next!  We would probably need to ease in and get back into a routine.  It may be that returning at the same pace he was at before would no longer suit him well.

Whatever his return entails, we are ready for him to have some time away from us and think he’ll enjoy getting out more each week. Even though he is in the anti-social category, being around others was bound to be positive.

We picked a day and notified the center that Jacob would be returning after his year’s sabbatical. They were prepared with some of his favorites in place and the key to the snack closet where it has always been so he could find it easily. (The boy loves that snack closet.)

Day 1: I woke Jacob and gave him time to slowly get moving.

Once it was time to get dressed, I told him where we were going. (We knew better than to mention it more than 1 hour prior to leaving because he would want us to repeat the sentence a jillion times!) He was super cooperative about getting dressed and seemed all ready to go.

Upon arrival at the center, he quickly got out of the car and walked up to the front door like a boss! Headed straight in, never looking back. My heart was in my throat. I felt like I was dropping off my kindergartener on their first day of school. A year. He’d been away a year. And he acted as he’d just been there the day before. We had texted several people asking for prayers. We saw the answer play out before us. And it was amazing.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

Isaiah 65:24 NIV

Shortly after leaving him, I got a text: “So far he’s smiling and exploring.” How fantastic?!?! Now I was smiling, and I bet you are, too.

It was such an odd feeling. I had the day before me and couldn’t decide what to do – head to the grocery store, soak in the silence, go for a walk, read a book? All the above!

Jacob’s grandparents were recently able to attend a birthday lunch for a grandson which made them feel like they ‘had gotten out of jail’! While we’ve all been able to do some things and go some places, so much of our lives have been put on hold leaving us feeling isolated, even under house arrest. It was nice to have the freedom to do as I pleased without making sure someone had their eyes on Jacob.

Six hours later, I could not wait to pick him up. It was so nice to hear, “Jacob had a great day”! “He went everywhere looking in everything”, “I was so glad to see him.”

He may have been more ready than I was for him to start back. He was super chill when he got home (busy day wore him out) and enjoyed just listening to music:

Day 2: I woke him up with an hour to spare. Not a minute after walking out of his bedroom, I heard him slam his door. Uh oh! He was in a good mood, though, and was cooperative getting dressed. Until his shoes.

He snatched them throwing them in the closet and quickly shutting the door. Hmmmmmm……. back to his old shenanigans already. I was able to get his shoes on soon after and he ate a large breakfast and was ready to go again.

Once we got to the parking lot, one of the workers saw him and came over saying how very happy she had been to see him the day before. He got out without coaxing and again headed inside.

At pick-up time, we were met with a staff member giving us two thumbs up and saying, “Jacob had another great day!” “He explored more and opened every cabinet in the art room, pulling out all the books.”

I am happy to report that I was somewhat off in my second-day prediction! We didn’t see disappointment about returning which was another huge answer to prayer. If anything, he seemed eager to be back. Being content at home was such a blessing but the cooperation in him going back was phenomenal!

Thank you Lord for giving Jacob peace and a large portion of peace for us, too!

Pick Your Battles

There are a couple of things that Jacob does that I’m always trying to ‘fix’. 

I’ll start with crooked pants/shorts/underwear.  One of the first signs indicating he has been to use the bathroom is crooked clothes.  Sometimes it is so bad, he will come to get help.  Or bring extra underwear or shorts to replace the ill-fitting ones.  But very often, not bad but needs adjusting.  And he does not, I repeat DOES NOT, want me to straighten his clothing. 

Note, there aren’t many pictures of Mr. Crooked Pants – I’m too busy wanting to get him picture perfect! Shame on me! In the grand scheme of things, this is minor, right? But it looks uncomfortable, agree?

I am wondering if he takes after his daddy. Not sure if it was because he was the youngest child and nobody noticed him or if he didn’t care but in photos, he often looked disheveled. Seems looking ‘gooooooood’ wasn’t based on whether or not his clothing was straight!!

Some days I just can’t ignore and determine to fix his appearance.   And then I’m met with him grabbing my forearms and holding me at arm’s length away.  I need to walk away and let it go!  Unfortunately, it often becomes me wanting to win that silly battle. He doesn’t care—why should I? You’ll be happy to know that on the day I composed this blog, I let him wear crooked pajama bottoms all day. Yes. I. Did.

The other thing is wearing socks in the winter months.  Much of our house is ceramic tile.  It feels COLD to bare feet.  I am constantly putting socks back on my boy.  Because his feet will be very chilly to the touch. He has never, brought me socks needing help or wanting them back on.  And often when I’m trying to get socks on him, he makes it a test of my patience and endurance!!

I’m in the cold feet could lead to a cold, camp!  I read that virus doesn’t enter through your feet so having cold feet doesn’t make you sick.  I also read that if your feet are cold, your nose is and cannot fight germs as well.  And, that cold feet increase the likelihood of catching the flu. As with everything, information is conflicting; and I must choose which I’m going with.

Some days, my sole mission is to keep socks on him. Isn’t that one of my jobs as his mother to do everything to ward off cold and flu? As you can see, he’ll toss socks anywhere and everywhere! I will put socks back on his frosty feet multiple times a day. Not always easy but it’s a battle I haven’t surrendered yet.

I thought about instituting a policy – NO sock, NO service. But that didn’t seem fair since it would change with the season. Here it seems he is trying to appease me with one sock on and one-off.

Now that spring is here, maybe there will be a break in the sock battle.  I’m sure he is as tired of my demands as I am at keeping his feet warm!

Obviously, on the parental battle hill, neither of these things is of life-altering importance. Not rooted in anger, a misunderstanding, or even willful disobedience. One I think I can let slide and the other, I’m not so sure. It is comical that I could even call them battles, but they are to me.