My house is a shambles. The bed is made. The pillows are askew. On top of my comforter sits a stuffed monkey toy in shorts, a remote control for the TiVo, My Little Counting Book and another smaller counting book. On the floor of the carpet I just vacuumed yesterday, are ground-in cookie crumbs, my attempted wipe aways of spilled strawberry milk stains, a toy ambulance, a large Thomas train, a Penguin’s fishing game, a remote control car, six books, a Little People’s grocery store and a Leap Frog radio. That’s after I picked up and put away other things. A lot of other things…
Can you tell? My son has been home sick. He has that stinkin’ virus that is rampant throughout, apparently, all of the free world! So many people I know are sick right now. And I am home sick with him as his nurse/hostage. And no matter if you are on the spectrum or not, this is what we do as parents. For me, the virus is compounded by the asthma, which requires that I nebulize him four times per day. This means holding a stream of vaporized medicine under his nose for a variation of between 12 to 24 minutes at a sitting. Did I mention this was while he is sitting still? And my kid is 4? And he has ASD? I must admit that despite his screaming “NOW,” in response to my request that he come over to the nebulizer treatment, he is pretty good-natured about the whole thing but I do have to contort myself around like I’m playing Twister as he moves during the treatments.
Illness is weird in my son. Most times when he comes down with a flu or virus, he still has boundless energy to play and scream, eat, and ask me an unending stream of repetitive questions. He has vacillated this time between hyper energy and flopping down on the bed or bean bag chair, exhausted. His congestion is of epic proportions right now and his upper lip is raw from wiping his nose.
During the energetic moments, as his hostage these last three days, he has made certain demands of me. First, I must repeat certain words for him. He says: “Mommy to say ‘red’”; “Mommy to say ‘penguin’”; “Mommy to say ‘ABC’”. It’s easier to comply than ignore or argue so, taking the easy way out, I comply. Second, I must provide him with an unending supply of drinks: water, orange juice, strawberry milk, cherry juice, all of which remain half-full. Third, I must follow him into his room, and then the closet to get his toys, to the bathroom, to the kitchen, etc. “Hold hands, mommy,” “Come with me, mommy,” he orders. His orders cannot be refused.
The background music for today was not too bad. A lot of blasting iPad music from games and from the iPod which, lucky for me, has all the music I like on it. When he touches something, I know it and like it, because I put it there. Only problem is that when he touches it, I hear just the first few measures of the song before he stops it and then repeats those same few measures again. I have heard the first lines of the song “Savior” by Red Hot Chili Peppers enough times today for it to be stuck in my head now. “Dusting off your savior / You were always my favorite / Always my man.”
Next, we have the “accidents”. My son has barely gotten through his “refresher potty training course”. Since he got sick, we have had plenty of soiled underwear, sheets, mattress pads, etc. and I had to give up on his little undies for yet another round of pull-ups. He broke down in tears once too often when he had an accident, and I felt so sorry for him feeling bad, I had to let the setback happen.
And speaking of setbacks, the worst is that he is missing all of his therapy sessions and his gymnastics classes this week. I’m trying to fulfill some therapy duties with him but I am not a therapist and know only a limited amount of programs. We are making up games and, strangely, he seems to be making more eye contact with me. Also, without any prompting, he said he was hungry. This was fabulous! Why? My son usually tells me he is hungry by asking me, “What would you like to eat, mommy?” This is his prompt for me to ask back “What would you like to eat?” and then he will answer. This is the first time – in his life – that he told me he was hungry. I was thrilled.
The other good part of the whole illness thing? Even though, I was a hostage, I got a whole lot of love. There were snot-filled kisses and hugs. Usually, to tell me he loves me, again, he asks “Do you love mommy?” But today, the best part of all was that he got in a repetitive mood with the words, “I love you, mommy.” I heard that more than 20 times today, each followed by hugs and kisses.
My little boy can take me hostage any time he wants. I love you too, my little captor! I love you too!