I’m done with today. Done. People may say that 2020 was a long year, but today has been much longer. There are a million things to do and, every time I do one, there’s still a million things to do. How does that work?
The best way I can describe days like this is that my hair hurts. Every nerve in my body is on edge and I feel it from the bottom of my feet up to the tip of my noggin follicles. I don’t remember if I ate. I keep forgetting what day it is. I’m like Michael Keaton halfway through Mr. Mom. I’m losing it.
Rather than woobies, my son is strung out on iPads. He looks for them constantly and knows that my bed is a prime hiding spot when charging. So, if I am not around, he goes in, tears the covers off, and pulls the drawers out of my dresser. Yesterday, he spilled orange juice on the mattress. I added laundry to my “million things” list today.
Lucas has two iPads, although the smaller and newer one is his usual. Although, the old one came back out of retirement recently as ol’ Usual was having some charging issues. It lead to having two on hand, which sounds like it would be helpful…at least it seems that way on paper.
As he has started to do recently, Lucas wakes up at 4:45 in the morning like a kid on Christmas every day. With his eyes half-closed, he darts immediately to his doorway gate and begins throwing things onto the hard wood hallway floor below to get my attention. When that doesn’t work, he starts running his hands along the bars like a prisoner in an Old West movie. Exhausted and startled awake, I stumble to his doorway and plead for his return to sleep. It goes unanswered. He makes the loud baby elephant whiney noise. It’s hell.
On school days, I just get up at that point. Maybe he gets a bath, maybe he gets extra TV time, but there’s no iPad for those hours before school. I know that if the bus pulls up and he has to put that tablet down, it’s going to be a war that carries on all day. On non-school days, though, I just give him the damn thing. I try to coax him back to bed, but when that turns to screams and howls, all the while yawning in between, I give up the ghost. Here. 4:45. IPad. Have a good one, kid. You broke my will. You won this battle.
I’ve been giving him the old iPad during most of the morning time this week. In my dumb dad mind, they are the same. The big one is almost always dead by noon and after making him decompress for a few hours, he eventually gets the other. He’s been good. Why not? Here you go, kid. Another round of fun. Hooray, right? Wrong.
He doesn’t want that iPad. He wants the other iPad.. Cue the whining. Before long, he’s waddling to me, one iPad tucked under the arm, using his hands to request “iPad.” When he heads to his talker device, he uses it to press the “iPad” button. I was so confused at first until I realized he was asking for the one that isn’t charged. The answer is no. He can’t be plugged in from dawn to dusk. He’s already wired enough. Either he keeps this one or he gets none. By now, though, he’s tossing the little one on the floor in protest.
I beg. I plead. I try to explain. Nothing works. Three. Two. One. Meltdown.
It lasts hours. Whining, crying, unhappiness, but I can’t relent. When you have a child with autism who, in the case of my boy, is non-verbal, this happens. He’s overstimulated, overemotional, and needs to get it out. So, he does and I have to ride it out. Handing him his precious tablet at this point would solve everything in the moment, but ruin his patience long term. I must endure it.
There’s dinner to make, beds to make, and sense to make of all that is happening around me. On days like this, things can get chaotic and, for someone who loves routine, it can get a bit overwhelming. Plus, for some reason, every phone message I ever put out decides to return my message on days like this. Suddenly, I’m the most popular guy on Long Island. I get more calls when I’m drowing in responsibilities than I get during some weeks combined. Everyone’s calling.
Some calls, like a horror movie, are even coming from within the house. As I am at my most frustrated, I usually wind up getting a Facetime call from my daughter upstairs…so I can talk to our family cat.
I kid you not.
This is both adorable and consistent. I get a video call from Tipsy every other day or so. There’s no reason for it either. The phone vibrates and I press the green button. There she is – a cat nose taking up most of the screen and a somewhat high-pitched voice singing:
Aw! Tiiiipsy. Say hi, Tipsy. Aw, Tipsy.
I always start off ready to be stern and end the call right away. I mean, come on! Is this kid for real? I am a grown man with things to do here. In my head, I am saying, “Are you kidding me with this? Again?” Of course, that is on the inside. On the outside, though, my voice says.
Aw, Tipsy. Hi, Tipsy! What are you doing? You’re a cat! You don’t use the phone. You don’t even have thumbs!
I put up with a lot from her brother, but I endure a lot from this little girl too. Keep in mind I already watched a two and a half hour Harry Potter movie today as Olivia has deemed it necessary for me to see them all like homework. If I peer down at my phone at any point during this insanely long fairy tale, I look up to see her glaring at me with an upturned eyebrow. She tells me every part is very important and, if I say one word during it, she tells me I missed something important. In all fairness, I do ask pretty insane things.
Yo. So, those candles are floating over the cafeteria, right? Somebody must have been the one to put the magic spell on them that makes them float. What happens if that person dies during the meal? Do they all fall down and burn all the witches alive? Do they have some sort of backup plan, you think? That would be like a scandal. Hogwarts accidentally burns all their students. Right? You think?
So, I do. My hair still hurts.
By seven at night, I am not only still wearing my pajamas, but my hair is still sticking straight up on the left side as it did when I peeled my face off the pillow this morning. My phone is still ringing from messages and cats. Lucas is still screaming in between yawns and I still need to do the exercise bike. Plus, I’m not even sure what day it is. What is it? Sunday? Sunday.
Oh, man. Sunday? I still have to write the blog too. Ugh. It’s definitely been a terrible, horrible, no good, very Dad day. But they say that those happen everywhere.
Even in Australia.