26 September 2011

28 book boxes unpacked.

As I put the novels on the dining room shelves, I could see that I was never going to shelve all of the books I had unpacked. I felt panicky. Silly, yes, I know, but unsettled. And overwhelmed.

2 boxes of film books repacked for Linde or Sarah or the second hand store.

6 boxes of books repacked the second hand store. Many of these books are David’s bought for teaching or researching some topic he intended to write about, but I am also letting go of many of my books. Books that I have no interest in reading again, and also would not recommend to someone who would ask to borrow something interesting. Funny that. Good criteria for me. Lots of science fiction that I generally love but am usually disappointed by.

To quell my panic, I pulled books from every pile and shelve that I did not need to keep. Suddenly, huge unwieldy piles looked more manageable. It was the third that I predicted I needed to get rid of. And I could reduce further, maybe another 10-15%, but I think these will all fit. Maybe when I pack these up for some further adventure, I cull just a little bit more.

Most problematic are theater books. I got rid of the how to books of my theater life and who needs “directors on directing,” but the scripts? I cannot seem to move them to a discard pile even though I cannot imagine a use for them. I would not deprive myself of play scripts that I had used for performance, but all those others? The scripts plus a few theater history books, mostly about 20th Century theater rest in the long shelve on top of the living room windows.

And after the worrying that I’d have more books than space, I will have at least one empty shelf, and some room on other shelves to expand. Breath a sigh of relief.

I sit on the couch. It is late and I need to walk the dog one more time and get to bed. As I look at the books on shelves which to me says home more than any of my other possessions, I want David to see this. I want to share this. And then, I let go of that thought and take what is here as it is here.

Julia got through her first week of spelling words. At least, the home work involved with those words. She learned 10 -ar words -- bark, dark, car, star. One of the exercises was to draw pictures of six of the words. She does not grab onto the easy words. She chose dark and bark and drew scenes in the little boxes on a page that captured each word. There was a dog barking, but also children who were afraid, one who had his hands over his ears, and a tree with a squirrel looking at the scene and wondering why the dog barked. Maybe this is a kid with ADHD at the end of the day with her meds worn off or maybe it is a marvelous imagination at work.

As I continue to work hard and on a number of fronts on Julia’s picking of her skin, two new behaviors emerge. She is rubbing her thumb and pointer finger together obsessively and then smells her fingers. And the newest behavior is a compulsive perfectionism in the way that she makes her letters as she writes in cursive. It shows up when she plays with cards and has to touch and arrange discard piles perfectly. Watching these behaviors emerge, I recognize them as habits of older autistic people that I have met. I am scared that managing behaviors is like putting out brush fires, like herding cats, like trying to put the milk back into the bottle after it has spilled. Catching the underlying anxiety as it spills and oozes out. Scary.

I was at clinic early today for a number of reasons, I sat as parents came to pick up children. A boy, about 12 or 13, big enough to be hard to handle if he wanted to be, was having trouble transitioning from his therapists to his father. His father wanted to leave “on a good note”, he said. Oh, I so recognize that attempt at parental control. Doomed to failure. The boy was angry because another child had put some lego together in a way that this boy considered “stupid.” The therapist mouthed the familiar mantra of “friends have different ideas” -- so much a part of Julia’s training right now -- but this boy was hearing none of it. He was saying mean things about never wanting to talk to his therapists again, about ripping the clothes off his father, about teaching that other kid a lesson -- and all this for using lego pieces in a way he considered stupid. (Although different in content, I recognize the impulse to talk about hurting others. Julia does it at times, although she isn’t as creative with her punishments as this boy was.) The grownup around -- father and therapists -- never really calmed him down before he left. He had no ability to calm himself. And he was no longer a little kid that could be picked up and carried out. Again, scary to see, to contemplate, to wonder if I will find myself in that position in a few years.

And yet, Julia is not that boy. She is learning control. I have no idea what puberty will be like and it is a worrisome time for kids who are developmentally disabled. Heck, it is a worrisome time for NT kids. I am still putting bows in her hair, I still wash her hair and bathe her, and these days, I am still dressing her. I can’t even remember when it was that I stopped doing those things for Cheshire.

I am just worrying tonight. I need to sleep and think anew tomorrow morning.

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