As summer comes we have a higher number of children with autism that get lost, run toward bodies of water and sadly many do not make it. In honor of all the parents with runners, I fully understand, I was that parent once. I understand how hard each second of the day is as you try to carry on and do normal things. This was written years ago when John was exceptionally difficult. This is one of the days that I look back on and cannot believe we made it. Smile, I do, laugh, humor keeps us going. Cheryl
It’s getting near supper time and you need to make something to eat. Hold the hand of John as you pull him into the house with you to search for a quick fix.
Unlock the locks on the refrigerator, wait stop, when you took your hand off John he ran, go get him, haul him back in. This time, lock the back door and set the alarm. Try a second time to check for left overs. Take out a container of left over rice, put it on the counter as you run out the back door, as the back door alarm screams to let you know the locks didn’t slow him…much.
Haul John back in, relock the back door, set the alarm, reach for the wok as you head over for the container of left over rice. Look for green onions while holding John’s hand and asking him to be your little helper. Carefully attempt to chop onion while holding John with one hand, give up and reach for olive oil, put some in the wok dump in partly chopped onion, turn the stove eye on as you run out the back door for John.
Notice the fence alarm is screaming, turn it off as you pass by as you run toward the road to get John. Haul John back from the edge of the road, notice cars blowing their horns at you, smile, wave, do resist the desire to shoot them a bird. Smile at the neighbor watching John run to the road, but remaining on the lawn chair drinking sweet tea and talking about you as you pass. Second chance to resist shooting someone a bird.
Turn on the gate alarm, double check the gate locks, head for the back door and notice smoke coming from the kitchen window. Dang it you hit the high button not the low. Go in forget to lock the back door, grab a broom and use it to shove the batteries out of the smoke alarm that is now going off. Listen, no back door alarm going off, everything is okay, wait why is the gate alarm going off, no, you forgot to set the back door alarm and now the gate is open…again.
Run like mad and find John at the neighbors swigging down forbidden sweet tea while the neighbor has gone inside. Snatch the glass from John, refill it with sweet tea from the pitcher and hope she doesn’t notice John was there, march John back home, relock the gate set the alarm, march John into the house lock, dead bolt, chain, flip lock, set alarm. Wipe sweat from your head with the back of your hand and march John back into the kitchen. Toss out the burned olive oil and start over.
Find a new onion, praise John for sitting nicely beside you as you work. Breath and foolishly think the worst is over. Unlock refrigerator and reach for boiled eggs and a carrot, hear alarms going off. Glance at wok pray it does not overheat, run like mad snatch blaring gate alarm off the post and throw it into the swimming pool as you run. Pass neighbor who says they would like a word with you about that alarm, and tell them later, ask if they know what direction John went, watch them huff off in a snit. Guess which direction John went and cuss under you breath as you run down the road. Spot an orange tee-shirt on the porch swing of furthest away neighbor, know in your heart it is John. Pray he stays in the swing. Reach into pocket for cell phone to call neighbor and ask them to hold John for you, get voice mail. Heart sinks, run, run, run, run.
Catch breath as you hit the porch and slump into the swing beside John. Hold his hand until you think you can no never mind, he is up and going again.
Haul John down the road, stay clear of cars. Walk in mud puddles and ditches, wish you had shoes on. Get back across the street, face neighbor. Remind them that the illegal fire works they set off last month for the 4th sent John into a massive crying jag that lasted twelve hours so the alarms are pay back. Make a mental note to replace new alarm on gate. Get back into the house, notice more smoke coming from the kitchen. Notice open refrigerator door and cat sitting in the crisper eating your personal stash of Hebrew National hot dogs. Say nothing to the cat at least someone will not be asking for food tonight. Still holding John with both hands ask him to stand by you while you try to get you both some water. Turn around from getting John a glass of water and find him eating hot dogs with the cat, eating plastic wrapper and all. Wonder if you should laugh or cry. Turn off the smoking wok, open all the windows turning off alarms as you do, make a mental note to turn them back on.
Sigh really loud and hard. Go lock up back door while John is still snacking. Get shoes from beside the door. Check to make sure John is dry and does not need his pull-ups changed. Put shoes on John, put shoes on you. Tell John we are going to the grocery store for dinner. Leave the front door wide open as you drive off, who cares anyway. Having to unlock and open the door when you get back home will only give John the chance to run.
Get to the grocery store. Smile as John holds your hand and skips with joy into the market. Stand in the frozen food area looking for gluten free, dairy free, yeast free something to eat. Get a couple of Annie’s meals. Run into Mrs. Has-not-got-a-clue-what-your-life-is-like-but-thinks-she-does and strike up a conversation. Smile as she remarks that some days us busy Momma’s just have to pick up convenience foods and she tells you not to feel bad about buying frozen junk from time to time, after all, she is sure you have been busy helping John learn or whatever today. Resist the urge to tell her how many times you have hauled his butt home today, keep smiling, nod, say something nice about her son making all stars again this year.
Walk the store until a check out is open with no waiting. Toss two frozen boxes at cashier, toss a 10 at her and tell her the change is a tip, grab up meals and you run after John who has made it pass the automatic doors. Find John banging on the coke machine. Tell him you have no money for a coke, which is fact as your money is still inside with the cashier who is busy telling everyone she got a tip. Think in your head how you would like to give her a tip, a tip that vaccines damage brains. See example the running boy of Amory.
Remove John’s hands from the coke machine. March him back toward the car. Open car door, buckle him in. drive home. Smile a little evil smile at neighbor as you get out of your car. Pray that a frog jumps into her pitcher of sweet tea, no really do it. Smile as you picture what it would be like. Take John in, place meals in oven, turn it on and find John resting quietly on the couch. Fall madly in love with this child all over again, so you go to tousle his hair and snuggle by him. Notice how nice is it when he is still and quite and suddenly he vomits on you. That plastic hot dog paper, oh well at least it’s up.
Answer ringing phone as you get towel to clean up John. Speak to spouse who wants to know what is for dinner. Tell them fried nerves and hang up. Wait for them to call back. They do not. Answer the front door. Find the smiling pizza boy standing there telling you there is no charge, someone named help for you called in a pizza and paid via credit card and ask for it to be delivered. Thank the pizza boy. Take the box to the table and find a gluten free cheese free pizza, smile, becuase no matter how bad it is, he gets it. Make a mental note to reward spouse the next time he is home.
Turn on the alarms on all doors and windows, sit on the couch with John and eat pizza, let Annie’s meal burn in the oven, don’t care. Wonder what else can be done with that left over rice. Smile and breath. Life is good. It’s now dark and you have made it another day, can anyone ask for more? No, I think not.
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