When we were going through the diagnostic blur with Tate, one of the phrases that was thrown out a lot was “in his own world”. Tate spends quite a bit of time with all of us in “our” world, much more than he did when he was younger. However, he does have moments, several times a day, where he retreats. It’s sacred time for him. All of us know that he needs that alone time to process, stim, and cope with the demands from his day. Often, it is hard to tell if he has enjoyed his time with us, or if it is of no consequence to him. He hasn’t been able to really express how he feels…sometimes we can read his actions, but often, we are left wondering. But not this time…
See, this past weekend, we had four days of relative “down” time. With Independence Day on a Thursday, Hubz was home for a long weekend. Tate had minimal therapy. Jake was done with summer school, and Cole had a break from his preschool day camp. We had few plans. It was refreshing to have a break in the action. We referred to it as “vacation” all weekend. It was fun to do things as we wanted, on our own time. Tate joined in our family time, but I wasn’t sure how much of the weekend he was really absorbing, how much he was aware of the family time we were trying to foster.
As it turns out, a lot of it. He was absorbing it all. And he loved it. He enjoyed the lazy time on the futon in the basement when we watched Ghostbusters. (By the way, if you want to feel old, watch this with your kids. You have to explain card catalogs, pay phones, and television sets with knobs and dials. Also, you realize you were younger than your oldest child is when you saw it for the first time…and you want to cringe.) He liked that Hubz was home for dinner each night–grilling out, ordering pizza, getting him a hot dog with french fries. He flapped and squealed and skipped in place as he and his brothers played with the hose, the little wading pool, and the new “kid wash” Hubz constructed from an idea I found on Pinterest. (I’m the project manager…he’s my engineer!!) Tate sprayed his brothers happily, and chased them about. They included him in their plots to rule the world from the branches of our maple tree in the backyard. He led the way at the zoo, instructing us on which animals were to be seen and which he thought were stinky.
In the mornings, he and Jake crept up the stairs (we let them sleep in the basement each night), and they tried to get us out of bed bright and early. Tate loved to banter with us as we rolled over and tried to be lazy. He insisted that we get up and get going. We told him we were relaxing, since it was “vacation”. He’d squeal and giggle and skip away. Once we were up, Tate loved that we lounged about in our pj’s, ate breakfast, and played video games or watched tv. A few of the days we didn’t get dressed until after 9:00 in the morning. He got to go to the tool store, aka Home Depot, with his dad and brothers. They got to see the fans and the faucets and tools–which got their testosterone pumping.
For those four days, Tate got to feel like a typical kid during summer break. He didn’t have hours of therapy. He didn’t have to perform or do the expected things. He could just be. And every afternoon, around the same time, he’d go into the living room, script a bit, and process his day. We let him do his thing, and he’d find us once he was done. Some days took longer than others, but he did what he needed to do. Again, Hubz and I were not quite sure how much of the “vacation” he was taking in…but he was happy.
On Monday morning, Tate sat on the floor of the family room with his breakfast and Jake at his side. Jake was talking through his day–and talked about day camp. I brought Tate his clothes and asked him to get dressed because his therapist was coming at 8. He sighed. He began muttering under his breath and asked me to leave him alone. I moved to the kitchen…and when I looked to see if he was getting dressed, I noticed that he fluctuated between laughing at SpongeBob and crying a bit. I asked what was wrong, and he shooed me away. Once his therapist was here, he was fine…The crying was brief, and it didn’t happen again during the rest of the day. But ever the detective, I was trying to figure out what it meant.
This morning, as Hubz was getting ready to leave for work, Tate started to whine. A single crocodile tear slid down his cheek. He shouted, “No, Mommy!” and went into the dining room. Hubz said goodbye to Jake and Cole, who were playing BeyBlades in the family room while watching Pokemon. I nodded my head at Hubz and told him to go say goodbye to Tate. In that moment, it hit me. Tate is upset that we are back to our “usual” routine. He loved the break and is experiencing that typical vacation let-down!! He gave Hubz a hug and a “Tater” kiss, and sobbed a bit. He asked Hubz if he had to go to work. Hubz confirmed that he did. Tate asked if he could stay home. Hubz said that it wasn’t an option today. Tate’s lower lip jutted out and quivered. But he said goodbye and moved into the living room–to script and process.
I gave him his space, but inside, I was doing a victory dance. Post-vacation let down. Totally. Tate DID enjoy our weekend. He DID have a great time…even if he couldn’t express it with words, his body, his emotions, once again, did the talking. For the first time ever, I can say that Tate was blissfully aware of our “vacation”, and he really had a good time–enough so that he was upset when we had to return to our regularly scheduled programming!!!