February Vacation Week
Last week was hard, and I still feel it.
The final week in February, our school system gives everyone a week off. I think of it as February Flu Week. People use the time to recover from the onslaught of Northeastern viruses.
School vacations are hard for autistic kids and parents. The lack of structure and break from routine makes me twitchy and obsessive. I hoped one of our two respite workers would give me a break. I need time to regroup. No such luck. One took off to visit with her parents and the other’s daughter had pneumonia.
That is disappointing, but not overwhelming. The overwhelming part came later.
My Husband Leaves on Business
Earlier last week, my husband flew to a faraway state to do laser physics stuff. I had a mini-meltdown before he departed. Unknown trip schedules, uncertain respite care, and inadequate preparation time left me disjointed and forsaken.
I obsessed over shopping. We were down to ketchup, oranges and pickles. I winced, thinking of taking Tyoma to the store. On a good day we have fun. On a bad day, I haul his writhing form out of the produce department, leaving a trail of pulpy fruit behind us (most meltdowns occur over using the scales).
Preparations for the impending snowstorm worried me. Our neighborhood loses power easily and for long periods of time. I imagined starting our generator and re-arranging circuitry for house power. I further visualized clearing our driveway of the 10 inches of expected snow. What was I to do with Tyoma? Duct tape him to his pushchair? Send him to the neighbors so he could flush their washcloths down the toilet? Sigh.
Finally, I worried over Tyoma’s sleep issues. He often wakes once at night, but with the changes, I expected multiple awakenings and agitation. When Papa is away, I average 3-4 hours of sleep a night.
I needed schedules. I must have a picture in my mind of expectations or I disintegrate.
Pen and paper in hand, I got it together. I made a plan to entertain Tyoma, at home, for five days. I shopped extensively before my husband’s plane took off. I called the neighbors for help with the driveway. I moved Tyoma to Papa’s bed for a campout.
Many things worked out spectacularly. We kept busy for most of our break. We visited tall buildings with elevators, made iron-on number shirts and explored the bathtub with his very first mask. We played with balloons, bubbles, and building kits. Tyoma even halfway enjoyed the snow.
Not everything was flawless. If I needed to be reminded that shopping at two stores in a row is not a good idea, the mega-meltdown at Michael’s (No! Don’t buy the Shrinky Dinks! NOOOOOOO! NOT THE SHRINKY DINKS!!!!), refreshed my memory.
I am still deciding if it was wise to let him camp out in our room. Past business trips left me camping in his room. Multiple night awakenings seemed longer when he was in his own room. I slept on the floor, uncomfortable and harassed. This time, I was comfortable, but twice annoyed.
At two in the morning on Saturday, Tyoma decided to measure our bedroom using various sizes of footsteps. He recorded them faithfully in a workbook, which suggested the foul activity. I requested a quieter game. For the next two hours he excitedly practiced division and remainder problems.
Papa and respite care returned. Life is better. But more than that, my life improves by documenting what I have done. I have transformed self-pity and anxiety into pride.
Digital elements by Rebecca McMeen.