Monday, October 25, 2010
This is, officially, Halloween Week, even though Halloween is Sunday, but most of the events and activities (at least in our neck of the woods) are this week, and it is the last week in October. So I decided to Theme Up or Shut Up, and this week focuses on subjects related to everyone's favorite Fright Fest.
Leading up to this week, I've been growing restless and uncomfortable, not because I'm afraid of the dark (OK I am a little), but because I know what's coming. I have to write about something that is very difficult for me, a loss suffered this year that was nearly unbearable. I've held off talking about it because it's taken a long time to figure out exactly what I want to say. But, I also knew I wouldn't, I shouldn't, wait beyond this week. That just wouldn't be right.
You'll understand why when I get there.
In the meantime, how's this for scary? Today's topic is about, essentially, being forced to confront one of your fears, as I had to spend my very first weekend with Bennett...by myself.
Well, sort of.
Last week (the week before Weekend Vomitus), Jennifer's sister Mandy had her third baby. They named him Maximo, and this weekend Jen decided to make the pilgrimage to Cleveland to see him and she was gonna take Carter with him. But she decided to leave Bennett.
Yes...I was scared. But eventually, it had to happen right? It is part of my responsibility as his Dad after all. Truth be told, the thing I was nervous about, and maybe the only thing, was the sleeping part of it.
See, not sure I ever mentioned this but Bennett took my spot in the Master Bedroom a LONG time ago. I sleep in the guest bedroom now. Actually I should correct that. First Carter took my spot. Then Bennett took Carter's spot. Now Bennett keep's that spot because, frankly, Jen is nervous about Bennett wandering off in the middle of the night and hurting himself.
It's a completely legitimate point.
Anyway, so the overnight part worried me the most, because during the daytime hours on the weekend, and on evenings during the week, if we request it, we get help in the form of a Home Health Aide. For a limited amount of hours per week, a person comes here and assists with Bennett. It's a GREAT benefit we get from living where we live. If we lived somewhere else Bennett might not qualify for the Medicaid Waiver that pays for it.
I guess I should thank all of you, dear readers, and myself...that's U.S. tax dollars at work, and I appreciate it. HOWEVER, one of these days I have got to write about the amount of waste and multiple people doing similar/same jobs I see in the programs. But that is another blog entirely.
So I wasn't THAT worried about the daytime hours. I knew I'd have some help for some of the time. And Bennett had not, in this past week leading up to the weekend, been losing it all that much with the exception of what ultimately led to the Stuffed Monkey Incident. So my stress levels have been fairly manageable.
But I was super freakin' out about how Bennett would be when he realized that instead of some silken, golden locks to run his fingers through while he sucked his thumb and slipped into the sweet oblivion of Dreamland, he'd be slapping his palm up against the prickly 5 o'clock stubble on the top of Daddy's bald head. Which, while it fascinates him sometimes in his waking hours, probably does NOT provide a soothing transition from consciousness to Sleepytime.
It wasn't THAT bad.
Yeah, it took a while. And yeah, there were a couple of false starts, so we came back downstairs and I basically decided to just let him hang with me on my lap until he reached Maximum Exhaustion. He was a little weepy for a couple of those evening hours, but he never went nuclear, which really, really surprised me, because it was what I had been waiting for.
Not then, not even the next day.
Ironically, he NEVER went nuclear, not until later the following evening when Jennifer was here. There might be something to that. Only went Nuclear when the two of use were here together. Is it really an Autistic/sensory/behavioral reaction to some stimuli like I have been led to believe or instead is there some intention here? More study required.
Now I didn't get a wink of sleep, but that's because I wasn't used to having Bennett be my complete responsibility. So any movement, any cough, any sound, anything...and I was alert. You could say I dozed my way through the evening.
But I got through the weekend intact, as did the boy, so the ATTABOY Prize belongs to me. It was a very big deal, though it might not seem like it to you. In six years, I've had Carter by myself once. In 3 years, I've had Bennett by myself, well, now...once. Not counting in the hospital on nights when I took shifts.
In the grand scheme of things, it was a good fear to finally face and overcome. It was a good monkey to get off my back. Maybe it marks another turning point in my familial relationships, it certainly opens up some things as far as making Jennifer feel more comfortable with leaving the house overnight.
Though leaving Carter here with me and Bennett is a whole different ballgame, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
And I should point out that in addition to my own Fear overcome, something wonderful has happened between Bennett and me. It happened for the first time about a week ago, at which point I collapsed and cried like a baby, and so I hadn't reported it yet (because I wanted to make sure it 'took', that it was 'real'). But since it happened again this weekend a few times, I think it can now be considered the real deal.
Bennett will now come over to me, with Cheerios or Cracklin' Oat Bran or Mini Wheat or Cracker in hand, say 'Ahhhhhhh' to get me to open my mouth while smiling and looking at my mouth, and when I open wide he will place the food item into my mouth and anxiously await my chewing and gracious 'THANK YOU!'.
He will do this repetitively.
For those of you who do not have kids with communication problems, that is as huge as it gets. It is a MAJOR step in interaction/communication skills. It is something that most kids start doing VERY early in their development, it is a huge building block of communication, like rolling a ball back and forth, and it is a piece of the puzzle in his brain that yes, Heather, gives me a tremendous amount of hope about the possibilities of where he can go, cognitively.
So...let's re-cap, shall we?
Fear conquered, major communicative MILEstone (not INCHstone) reached and (I would say) mastered, father-son bonding in abundance, only slight lack of sleep, no major nukes came falling down, the Baltimore Ravens managed to improve their record to 5-2 and avoid an embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills and Jennifer/Carter got to spend some time with Sister/Cousins and 'get away' for a bit.
Sounds like a pretty damn good weekend to me.