It's been one of those weekends that seem to last weeks. Xander got up Saturday and ran to see Mommy, who immediately noticed he felt quite warm. He was - 101.5. Much dosing commenced. We ended up rotating ibuprofen and acetaminophen on 3 hour timetables to bring the fever down, 'cause it would just level out on one dose, not drop. For those of you like me in math, there are 8 blocks of 3 hour spaces during a normal day. Some of these blocks, no matter how much you don't want them to, happen at the 'jeez-I-should-be-sleeping' block of time from midnight to four a.m.
Since there appears to be a cosmic law that nothing is simple for us, during the times he had a high fever, he didn't act sick at all, barring one huddling session that lasted two hours. He would run around to where I had to use the dad voice to get him to sit down, he would ask for all kinds of food and eat what was given to him and then ask for some more, he would laugh and play around and talk and yell and do everything he normally does. Had he not felt warm to the touch, we never would have known he was sick at all.
This is one of the more obvious mysteries we get to deal with. After a few days of this, he's back to his usual 98.6 degree self and back to school. Don't know what was wrong, got no idea if he was hurting, and couldn't guess when it started beyond sometime Friday night, probably. But it got better, so all's well that ends well. Unless it hasn't ended yet.
For parents that have autistic kids who also happen to be nonverbal, you get used to navigating parenthood with a blank map. Having less information than that contained in a Reader's Digest Twitter blurb seems to be an overwhelming amount to deal with. Displaying almost psychic abilities at the most minimal signs of trouble is not just normal, it's necessary. And sometimes just taking a wait-and-see, or even a let-them-scream-it-out, attitude is not the best or worst option - it's the only option.
On the one hand, it's quite bonding. It's a shorthand code only you and your child know, a personal ENIGMA connection that others can only marvel at. Many parents may say, "Only I get my child." For us, that's not exaggeration or a hope, that's as close to a law as you can get.
Of course, that limits things as well. As I've said, we don't - can't - use babysitters. Xander's been left with someone else twice, and one of those times the babysitter watched him in our new home as we moved into it, always nearby. The other time was for two hours. It would take reams of paper to explain some of the things we know instinctively now and leaps of logic and fancy to explain it.
And beyond that, there's even more mystery.
For a while, when he was younger, he'd watch the usual PBS stuff: Sesame Street, Arthur, Clifford the Big Red Dog. Now, at one point - I want to say when he was three to four or so, quite young - PBS would run a bumper ad from Chick-Fil-A of a child dressed in a cow suit trying to moo.
For some reason, and your guess is as good or better as mine, that just upset Xander no end. Pealing sobs, hysterical cries. We got very good at recognizing the first few musical beats of that particular ad and switching the channel as fast as we could. On the other hand and mood, a current favorite of Xander's is the Kermit the Frrrrooooooggggg T-shirt bit. Lots of laughter and us trading lines. You haven't smiled wide until you've heard him go "I am NOT emotional!" in his own way with perfect timing and stress.
How about music? He's been tending more towards my tastes, a bit louder than Tracy's. But even as a baby, one of his favorites was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, or at least certain songs of theirs. Tracy and I weren't into them at all, so that's all him. Why? Who knows? Why does he like certain parts of songs more than others?
All of this is pretty minor. What about when he comes home from school upset and the teacher doesn't know? Or, as I started this missive, when he's sick? We have to be really careful and almost paranoid when he starts acting like he feels bad, checking his temperature, his mouth (he's prone to bad ulcers), seeing if he's sneezing or coughing, checking to see if he's asking for food or eating what we give him, all kinds of vigilance.
It's tough and has to be frustrating for him. He knows something's wrong but has trouble telling us. Back when Tracy and I were in college, we got to go to Austria. Our first week there, Tracy got horrible stomach pains, to the point I was afraid she may have appendicitis. We actually tried to figure out a way to tell a doctor what was going on if they didn't speak English. Xander probably has to go through something like that whenever he feels sick if we don't notice or can't figure it out.
It has to be maddening, and not just for him. Because he's intelligent enough to TRY to tell us, and just can't get the message across. He probably has as despairing an opinion about my parenting skills as I sometimes do.
Thankfully, Tracy has a vibe with him and that goes a long way to helping. But everyday, we go through mysteries that would boggle Sherlock Holmes himself.
Whose BBC series, by the way, Xander really likes. Don't ask me why.