Michael started a new job last week and his very first day on the job was a rocky one. He really didn't feel well and struggled through the day. When he arrived home, we talked briefly about his day and I could tell that he was trying to be a trooper, but I finally sent him upstairs to take a shower and go to bed. (Now I ask you, when was the last time that I didn't feel well and was the first person in the family to go to bed? Hummm…I don't seem to be able to recall. Well anyway, I digress.)
I had gotten him something to drink, checked on him a couple of times and even brought him dinner on a tray. I may need to remind you that I have had a sore hip. (Thank you, by the way, to everyone who has called to inquire about my old person injury. I must admit that I sometimes need to be reminded that this isn't really my own personal journal. I send these comments out into cyberspace forgetting that there are a handful of people who read them, some of whom I actually know. So, I appreciate you checking on me. But, I digress again—what is wrong with me today?)
Anyway, my hip is somewhat painful when climbing stairs, sometimes one at a time like I am 90 years old. So, when I heard Michael calling from the top of the stairs, "KATH? Could you come here?" I was somewhat annoyed and may have even been muttering something under my breath as I clomped up the stairs, something understanding and loving, something like, "What—do you want me to get you a little bell to ring?" And then I saw it billowing out of the upstairs bathroom. What is that? Smoke? Steam? Fog?
Surprisingly, it took a minute for the smell to hit me. It was Andrew's Old Spice Pure Sport Body Spray. David sprayed so much of it that you could barely see from the door to the striped shower curtain, and I assure you that it is not that big a room. It took several hours of running the fan to get the fog to dissipate. Unfortunately, we do not have a window in that room, although on a day where the high was 12 degrees, I am not sure we would have opened it anyway.
That very same night Andrew asked a question that he has never asked me before. "Mom, will David ever be normal?"
I am sure it is a question Andrew has been considering for a long time and it hit me like a ton of bricks. It is a question that I have asked myself, although I hadn't wanted to admit it. Will David ever be normal? It was followed in short order by a second question from Andrew, "Will he be successful?"
We had a long talk about what "normal" and "successful" really mean. What if your job clearing tables at the corner coffee shop allows you to be self-sufficient with many friends and you are extremely happy? Is that successful? Andrew thought so. If we are being honest, there was a time where I probably didn't, but it is amazing how perspective can sometimes change.
It has now been a full week since the incident in the upstairs bathroom. Of course, the fog has long since lifted, but the smell still lingers. I used to think that we would be able to "cure" David. You hear about "curing" kids with autism all the time and I really thought we would find the one intervention that would make him snap out of it. I now realize that is not going to be the case. In a sense, we are helping David through the fog. David has made great strides, but the scent of autism still lingers and probably always will.