What a walk will do

Jonah woke up yesterday with The Crazies. On days like these, he can hardly stay in his own skin. He rocks in his chair at the breakfast table. He falls off his chair at the breakfast table. Getting from the breakfast table to the bathroom sink for a teethbrushing requires three or four redirections as he stops to take a couple of jumps off of the couch, scales the indoor climber, dons his ninja eye mask and does a dance in front of the full-length bathroom door mirror making his customary looking in the mirror (or iCam) face. Below is a fair representation, but imagine his arms extended, which they almost always inexplicably are, as if to say, “I love being me!”

I thought to write a note to his teacher (who thoughtfully created a journal through which we can communicate with his several teachers and therapists and helpers) only after we had wrangled him into the car and were on our way to school. The week wears on him–the amount of energy it takes for him to stay focused on a task (especially non-preferred ones) and the stresses of constant social interaction in a world that he only understands on his own terms. Jonah is incredibly outgoing (especially compared to his parents), but kids his age are alien. When he’s anxious he usually does one of two things: 1) asks a great number of questions about what is going to happen next, and in what order, sometimes repeating the same question 10-15 times, or 2) seeks some kind of sensory stimulation by which to calm or somehow physically order his anxiety. He rocks, he rolls on the floor, he flops over the top of a table, he spins. I was thinking about him in school all day, thinking about his teachers learning how to focus his energy. We only live about eight blocks from the Montessori he attends, so at three I loaded up Gabriel in the buggy and thought we’d experiment with walking home from school, to see what a walk can do.

Jonah was very pleased by the surprise. He pranced beside me before falling behind in order to count the steps leading up to various homes on our route. And he chatted. I learned more about this one day at school than I have several weeks of days combined. He told funny stories, in his funny way. I’m kicking myself for not being a better texter (I don’t really text at all) because I was trying to transcribe one story that he called “The Two Dirties.” Here’s what I got, but the way he wrapped the story up was the funniest, and I lost it in the midst of trying to get the story part down. Next time I’ll just turn on the iPhone mic. Live and learn.

“I made two big messes today. For one: I made a mess of my hands and a mess of my legs. I tripped and got my hands and legs all dirty. I had to clean up and get all tidy so that I could be tidy and work and make some dinosaurs and be absolutely tidy. And for one: the mess of the lunch. I dropped my lunchers all over the floor. That was a big mistake. And they were all over the floor everywhere! My touch was ruined. My touch was ruined all over the floor!” He then proceeded to climb a light pole.


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