Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Morning Ritual

I finish getting dressed and go to collect Lily.  The monitor told me she woke up about the same time I did this morning, a blessing, frankly, since it's been 4:00 a.m. for the past three or four weeks.   Emma's light halos her closed bedroom door and I say, "Good morning, Em," waiting for her answer before pushing open Lily's door.  When I enter her room she is sitting up in her bed waiting for me pleasantly.  I fold down the bed rail and she swings her legs over the side, holding my hand as we walk down the stairs. We walk carefully.  Her socks are slick on the hardwood steps and there have been many near-falls.

I help her into the bathroom and she sits as I start switching lights on.  Bathroom light, office Christmas tree, family room, kitchen, family room christmas tree. 

Every morning I feel like I forget a hundred little things.  This morning I see laundry baskets filled with folded clothes as I enter the family room.  My dad had folded the laundry in the baskets.  I chose not to put them away last night, tired from homework and housework and...workwork.  I forgot that choice until this morning.  This reminds me of the laundry needing to be transferred from the washing machine into the dryer, and the dry clothes waiting to be basketed.

"I'll be right back," I call to Lily, and I walk downstairs to my basement laundry room to pile the clean dry clothes into an empty basket from the dryer.  Then I transfer wet clothes from the washer into it.  Some days I rewash these because I forget they're there for a day or more, but today I judge that they hadn't sat long enough to need it.  I walk back upstairs and deposit the basket of clean clothes on the couch next to the baskets of folded clothes. 

The cat twines himself between my legs and meows softly, reminding me he needs to be fed.  I'll wait for Emma to do that. 

Lily gets up from the toilet and I hustle in to help her get dressed.  She finds the ipad and busies herself with YouTube videos of the Wiggles performing a skit about a princess who falls asleep for a hundred years.

Also forgotten were some dishes I left in the sink.  I start Emma's breakfast then begin rinsing plates to put in the dishwasher as Emma hurries through the room headed down into the basement. 

"What are you doing, Em?" I holler down to her.
"Looking for my clothes!" she replies.
"Did you try the couch first?" I ask her ironically, "I'd hate to see you waste a trip into the basement." 

There is silence for a moment, then, "Yeah, thanks," as I hear her climbing the stairs again.  She briefly rummages through the clothes in one of the baskets before grabbing joggers and a sweatshirt and heading back to her room.

 Something smells like it's burning, and I hurry to check the poptart in the toaster oven.  It seems fine, but I remove it anyway and put it on a plate.  The day before yesterday I forgot that Lily's lunch bag was sitting on top of the toaster oven and smelled it melting before I rescued it...mostly.

Lily is placing her ipad on top of the napkin rack at the kitchen table now.  Each time she places it atop the napkins it is slightly off to her eye.  And she picks it up and places it down again over and over.  Most of the time I can put this out of my mind and focus on what I'm doing.  This morning, though, she's knocked the napkins out of the rack and as she continues to try to place the iPad atop the rack she's scattering the napkins further and further across the table, widening her mess, increasing the entropy in the room.

I tell her to go into the family room and sit down with her iPad, something I'm not spectacular about being consistent with.  She obeys as I clean up the napkins, stacking and tidying them until they're in a neat pile, placing them into the napkin rack.  Lily is back now though, and immediately resumes her placing and replacing, hovering with her face a foot from the screen.  A periodic stream of questions that must be answered cycle from her lips.  I answer these automatically, without thought, sometimes incorrectly.  It doesn't seem to matter, this correctness.  If I'm wrong, she'll let me know.  If I'm right, she'll move to the next question.

"What is Lachey wearing?"
"Purple, like a snurple" (I add the snurple because it makes her laugh.  Now it belongs to the script)
"What color is Emma wearing?"
"Yellow," I reply.
"Like a marshmallow," she continues.  This is somewhat new and surprises me.
"Yeah, baby, that's a good one!  Yellow like a marshmallow."
And so on.

I send her back to the family room, telling her it's because she made a mess of the napkins.  She ignores this but goes and sits down anyway. 

I return to the fridge and get out the milk and cream.  I had forgotten to set the coffee maker to automatically brew, but blessedly did NOT forget to get it ready.  I mentally rejoice that I wasn't too lazy to do this and add one more thing to my growing list of "stuff to do before leaving for work".  I push the button to the coffee machine and the grinder begins to growl as it prepares the beans, scaring the cat, who has returned to rub against my legs, between and around them in a figure eight.

"Your mommy will feed you," I tell him, nudging him gently out of my way with my foot as I get my coffee mug and Emma's glass out of the cabinet.  I pour then set the drinks at the table when they're done and get out our vitamins.

Emma is back downstairs from getting dressed.  She sits.  Lily is back at the table. 

"How'd you sleep, baby?" I ask Emma.
"What's Lachey doing?" Lily asks
"Fine thanks," Emma responds, "How'd you sleep"
"He's waking up the princess," I say to to Lily, "I slept fine," I tell Emma.
"No he's holding her hand," Lily replies.
"Good," Emma replies.

Lily hovers a bit too close to Emma's chocolate milk and I pick it up and place it closer to my side of the table.

"Daddy," Lily says.
"What, baby?" I reply.  But she doesn't answer.
"Daddy," she repeats.
"What, Lily?"  Again no answer
"Daddy," Lily again says, this time drawing the a sound out...daaaaaaaaaddy.
"Ugh...WHAT, Lily?" my answer is loud, my tone irritated.  This doesn't appear to have any negative impact on Lily who simply replies, "What's the prince doing?"
I sigh heavily and respond without looking, "He's kissing the princess, honey"
"No, he's waking her up."
"Em, did you feed your cat?" I ask
"Go feed your cat."
"Is Lachey a prince?" Lily asks.
"I'm eating," Emma replies.
"Yes, Lily, Lachey is a prince," I tell Lily. "Go feed him," I tell Emma.

She gets up from the table with a dramatic (but not particularly irritated) sounding sigh and feeds her cat before returning to the table.

More of the same.  We finish our breakfasts.  Emma mounts the stairs to finish getting ready.  She has Keystone Exams this morning and wants to get there early.  She doesn't know what room she's being tested in.  We worked on her math homework and Keystone review from 9:30 until close to 11:00.  Boxplots and slope, y-intercepts.  I was exhausted when we were done.  I'm sure she was too. 

I ask Lily whether she would like a poptart too, and she says yes.  I cut it with a pizza cutter into 16 easily-chewable bites, learning long ago that she will hold larger pieces in her hands and squeeze them.  Perhaps she gets some sort of pleasant sensory feedback from the act.  Perhaps she's unaware of how easily poptarts are rendered into goo, or how hard that goo is to clean off of fingers, and tables and chairs and clothing.  Regardless, this works.  I prop the ipad against the napkin holder at an angle and help her restart the video.  She begins to eat independently as I finish the dishes in the sink.

Her plate is clean as I load the rinsed dishes into the dishwasher and eventually wanders back into the family room, grows tired of her ipad, and asks for TV.  I join her and cycle through the old familiar options. 

"Apple store" she requests.

I arrow over the options on the youtube apple tv screen, finding what I know to be "Apple Store".  It is a video of the Wiggles performing live at the Apple Store in Sydney.  I sigh in relief.  This particular performance is 20 minutes long, so Lily doesn't require my help to restart it over and over and over again the way she does with the Wiggle princess live performances, some of which only last 3 minutes. 

"What's Lachey wearing?" she asks.
"Purple like a snurple," I reply and she giggles.
"Where's Lachey, daddy?" she asks.
"Right there, baby," I say, pointing to the screen.

 I get her supplements ready.  Her developmental pediatrician has me giving her EFA powder, zinc, magnesium, folic acid, probiotics and Vitamin D.  In the five (six?  seven?) years I've been giving them to her I've never noticed any positive (or negative for that matter) impact from giving them to her or from forgetting to give them to her.  I do it because it can't hurt.  I do it because he says it helps a statistically significant percent of children with an autism diagnosis.  How long do I keep this up? 

I mix the zinc into her 'red drink', pulling it into a syringe from the bottle cap, then pulling in her drink to mix it in.  I hold the tip of the dosing syringe to her lips and she closes her mouth.  I push the plunger in.  I mix the magnesium in a shot glass, dumping a measured 1/2 teaspoon into maybe a half teaspoon of red drink, mixing it with the tip of the dosing syringe before pulling it in and repeating the process.  The wafer, vitamin D and folic acid are chewable.  I give them to her one after the other and she chews them up. 

The EFA powder goes in her yogurt.  I'll do that in a minute, but run upstairs first to get her clothes.  She's asked for "green" clothes, but she doesn't have any green clothes suitable for how cold it is today so I get her a red sweater, a white cami, a pair of white socks and blue jeggins and run back downstairs. 

"I don't like that white dress," she says pointing to the cami.  It must not feel good when she wears it.  I'm not sure.  Or maybe it's just how she has to push her arms through it. 

She's starting to grow, and I don't feel comfortable sending her to school without it, so I simply tell her, "I know, baby, but you have to," fending off her arms as she tries to push it away before finally surrendering and allowing it over her head. 

"Sit please," I tell her, and she sits on the couch while I pull her pajama bottoms off.
"Foot," I say.  She holds out her right foot and I put one leg of her jeggins on her.
"Foot" I say again and she holds out her left.
"Stand up please" I say, and she stands.  I pull the jeggins up.
"Sit down please" I say and she sits.
"Foot" I say again, this time for her sock.
"Foot" I say again to complete the ritual.

I glance at the clock.  The bus will be at our house in 5 minutes.  Still plenty of time to get her on the potty, and get shoes and coat on and...I remember I forgot to pack her lunch but breathe a huge sigh of relief when I see my parents have packed me one, as they (and my in-laws) always do when they get her off the bus for me at the end of each school day.  I open it and see that it's missing water.  Way easier than packing the lunch.  I fill a sippy cup with water, push it into the lunch bag, zip it closed and place it in the backpack. 

"Time to go potty!" I say as I walk the backpack to the front door.

This time she willingly comes with me to the bathroom.  It is her last potty break for at least the 40 minutes it will take to get her to school.  I hear her go.  When she stands I clean her up, help her get dressed, brush her teeth, wipe her face off, then hold her hand and walk with her into the family room to get her shoes on her. 

"Where's Lachey?" she asks me, and this time I glance up to see that Lachey is off-camera. 
I point and say, "Just off camera, baby...there he is" as the camera zooms out to show all four Wiggles on stage.

I grab her coat from the hook and I wrap it around her as she insinuates herself into it.  I zip it up just under her chin, brushing the stray hairs from the front of her face so they won't get caught in it as I do.  I switch off the television and the christmas tree. 

"I want to watch Lachey," she says. 
"After school we can watch him again," I reply, as always.

We walk to the front door to wait for the bus. It's not long, but the bus is late.  I get her on and tell her I love her.  I tell her to be good and have fun.  The bus driver grabs the backpack from me, smiling and telling me to have a good day and the aid helps her to her seat and buckles her in.  She looks out the window at me and I smile at her and wave.  She is saying something.  Possibly wondering what color Lachey is wearing, or whether the princess is asleep, maybe saying goodbye.  Probably not though.  She looks away and I watch the bus drive just around the curve of the cul-de-sac before turning away to head back inside. 

I forgot to give her the EFA powder.  It'll be fine.  It'll keep. 

I go up to my room and make my bed.  I open the blinds to the bedroom and let the light spill in.  I brush my teeth. 

I walk to Lily's room.  The bed is unmade.  On a chair across the room is a stack of clothes that a friend of Emma's gave to Lily.  I need to organize Lily's drawers.  They are already full.  Some of the clothes are too small, but I haven't made time to clean it.  Until I organize the drawers I can't put away the clothes on the chair.  I'm disgusted with myself not for first time.  Not for the twenty first.  They've been on the chair over a month.  It'll be fine. 

I make the bed.  Lily's TSS will be here tonight.  Sometimes that's the only reason the bed gets made.  Because I need people to see that I'm taking care of the kids.  I know I am.  I'm doing pretty well, I think, but I'm aware of appearances.

I go back downstairs to get my coat and get ready to go to work.  I look around the room and see again the baskets of laundry.  Multiplied now that I added the load this morning.  I'm running late.  I curse under my breath.  I think about who is coming to pick up Lily.  It's my dad.  Sometimes the only thing that gets me to put away the laundry is knowing that it's still sitting in the same place it was when my parents or in-laws left the house.  I gather one stack of Lily's folded clothes and run upstairs to put them away in her drawers.  It'll keep.  It'll be fine.  I'll do it tonight. 

I look around the family room and the stairwell and the office and the kitchen.  Christmas decorations are stacked in piles.  I haven't gotten them up yet.  It'll be fine.  It'll keep.  I'll do it tonight. 

I'm aware of how it looks.  The clothes on the chair.  The baskets on the couch.  The decorations on the floor.  The plant in the dining room dead from lack of water.  The box of tshirts in my office from the charity walk in May.  I'm aware.  It'll keep.  I'll do it tonight.

Tonight is enchiladas.  When I get home at 6:30 I'll grill the chicken and preheat the oven.  If I work quickly I'll have it done by 7:00 and we'll finish eating at 7:30.  It's bath night for Lily, so I'll probably pile the dishes into the sink and just run water so that I can give her the bath, dry her hair and put her to bed on time before I help Emma with homework.  And tomorrow morning...well...forgotten dishes and laundry.  It'll be fine.  It'll keep.