I goofed on Sunday and set this post for 6:00pm instead of am! So Cathy missed much of the day, and I'm sure readers missed her. Call it Senioritis on my part, the old age kind. So sorry! Enjoy Cathy on a Monday. Tomorrow, Frau Koma Part 2 - as we look into school violence in Adriana Gamondes' chilling three part essay. Thanks.
By Cathy Jameson
One of the contacts we have with one of Ronan’s program called last week. She needed to go over some paperwork that gets reviewed and refiled yearly. I don’t usually dread the conversation I have with her like I do when some other people call. For the most part, it’s simple stuff that she asks about.
How’s he doing?
Any changes in his health or development?
Any hospitalizations or E.R. admits in the last 3 months?
Any problems with medications?
After she asks those questions, we then review goals. I was stunned the first time she’d asked me to make a year-long goal when we enrolled in the program. Goals had always been something we created with therapists and educators, never with medical personnel. I’d forgotten about this portion of the call and was again taken aback when she asked which new goals I wanted to make.
“Goals? Hmmm, I can think of a few, but remind me what I said last time,” I replied.
To become more actively engaged in community outings
I laughed. I laughed so hard. Then I said, ‘The covid lockdown, and then the shuttering of places we’d normally go, shot down any chance of creating meaningful outings. By the time places were open again, Ronan was so out of his normal routine. He didn’t want to go anywhere or do any of the usual things he used to do. He still doesn’t some days. We try to get him interested in things, including stuff his siblings are doing like we’ve always done, but it’s been a struggle.”
The nurse completely understood.
I told her we still try to bring Ronan with us on typical outings, like when I took the sibs to confession mid-week last week. But the kid would rather be home. That’s not usually a problem, since he’s got a sweet set up here at the house. I can’t blame him for wanting to stay put. Sometimes when I leave the house, I find that I’d like to turn around and stay as far away from the hustle and bustle of the world I’m about to encounter. I have responsibilities, though, and need to be out to run errands and to get to meetings. I also need to bring my other children to where they need to be. Ronan doesn’t have those same commitments his brother and sisters have, so I’ve shied away from bringing him to events I know he won’t tolerate. It makes for lots of juggling when he must come along, but we do our best to balance his needs and ours.
That balancing act can happen after we take time to do some brainstorming. Take last Wednesday, for example, when I wanted to get just one of my kids to church. It would just be the two of us going, then grabbing a quick bite out and also popping in the grocery store that was nearby. Ronan’s big sister and my husband were out of town, so I asked the others to stay home with Ronan. Originally, they could. After making those solid, perfect plans, instead of just one teen going to confession, minds were changed. I now had two teens that wanted to go! For how long we’d be out of the house, I knew that it would be too much for Ronan’s youngest sister to watch him. That meant we’d all have to go together.
It would’ve been nice with just me and one of the kids to going out, since that’s when I can catch up one-on-one with them. But when teenagers express that they want to get to church, I run with that chance! So, we decided we’d all go and got ourselves ready for an evening out, which still included a quick run into my favorite grocery store.
Too bad we forgot to tell Ronan.
While we cleaned up and got ready, Ronan fell asleep on the couch. Even though it was after 5:30pm already, he was in a very deep sleep. Confession would go til 8pm, but the church we wanted to go to was 30 minutes away. We had some wiggle room to let him nap a tiny bit longer before we either had to wake him or change our plans for his needs.
Could we wait until the weekend when our church was having confessions? I guess.
Could we go to a local grocery store later, not the one I liked, to pick up the few groceries I needed? I suppose.
Could I jet into that same local store to get a birthday cake for Ronan’s brother? Sure. But I had my heart set on the fancy bakery with the beautiful cakes that cost a tiny bit more at my favorite grocery store that’s down the highway about 30 minutes away not too far from the church that hosts a beautiful adoration during evening confessions.
It was the second day in a row that Ronan needed a nap. The day before, he signed ‘sleep’ to me while walking through the dining room. He’s signed ‘sleep’ before but that’s when I’ve told him we’re going out somewhere. He’d sign that to try to get out of going with me! I loved that he thought he could fool me those other times, but that afternoon communication was different. He’d looked at me, had signed ‘sleep’ and then quietly and slowly walked to his bedroom. A few minutes later, he was fast asleep. When Ronan falls asleep during the day, I let him sleep. I’ve had to break other plans before when he’s done this. Unless it’s an emergency, I won’t wake him up. Going to confession wasn’t an emergency, but I wanted what I wanted that evening. And Ronan falling asleep right as we made plans turned our simple arrangement completely around.
Some balancing act, huh?
Watching the clock tick by on Wednesday evening, we didn’t have to wait too long to decide what to do next. Ronan stirred. He didn’t want to get up off the couch when he woke up, but later, with some encouragement from his brother, he would be ready to go as well. Because of that, we all made out the door with plenty of time to make it to the church. It would turn out to be a successful evening this time, which included getting a quick meal out and picking up just a few groceries I needed, including a delicious birthday cake.
The year-long general goals I have for Ronan aren’t too complicated. Plus, I have a full year to work on them. The ones I have on a daily basis can be tougher. Thankfully, the goal I had for that one night last week was achieved. It took more patience than I’d planned. It didn’t follow the original steps I’d initially imagined it would take. And as expected, too, Ronan didn’t love being part of it. But we got done what we needed to. I guess that’s part of the goal-making process: to see things through from start to finish, even though – and especially when – other stuff beyond our control pops up, like that unexpected, much needed, late evening nap.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.