September 5, 2012 by whirlyjoy
Aida turned 14 last week. This means nothing to her, as far as I know, though as with every assumption I make about her, I could be completely wrong. Someday maybe she’ll learn to communicate more complex and abstract ideas than “dinner cheese sandwich 6:00” and will instead berate me: “Mom, I’m really pissed that you blew off my birthday every year!” And my utter joy and profound mother’s guilt will be complete.
I set up a celebration the Sunday before, at the last minute. Dinner at her favorite pizza restaurant, and with my favorite friends since of course she doesn’t have any of her own. At some point as we moved through that day I realized I had no coffee for brewing the next morning. This was completely unacceptable in many ways but posed a real dilemma, because Aida had “Elmo video… Swinging at the park… Pizza restaurant” on her schedule and definitely no stops to buy mom’s coffee. Nor any motivation to work with such a change.
I tried out the thought, “why am I always so negative?” It’s just five minutes, in and out, to get coffee ground and bagged and paid for. Maybe I could even leave the girls in the car together and Aida would stay calm. “IT COULD SO HAPPEN!” I told my Nervous Nellie self.
I anxiously checked the coffee tin again but it was staying stubbornly empty.
Aida’s calm afternoon stretch broke precisely as we prepared to leave, which follows both Murphy’s Law and the Law of Autism (Any anticipated pleasure will generate a meltdown, usually before actual enjoyment has even begun). As we pulled away in the car to head for the playground, Aida was shrieking and banging her head against the back seat.
Mimi, as ever taking her big sister’s quirks (and my coffee addiction) in stride, said “Maybe she’ll calm down at the swings in the park. Then I could watch her for a few minutes, while you run and get your coffee.” I must have looked dubious, because Mimi added, “It’s okay if she bites me. I don’t mind.”
Mimi’s acceptance of Aida’s autism is absolutely clear-eyed and straight from the heart. My acceptance is shaky, bitter, and very, very complicated – not least by the need to protect Mimi from being bitten or otherwise injured. And that damned coffee tin was still empty when I went to bed.