Dead Computer

Sunday, The Boy had a computer go down.

I can usually get things up and running, or at least figure out the problem. That day, the problem turned out to be a really old computer that just wasn’t going to turn on anymore.

He had found it high up on a shelf in my closet, and had been using it for awhile, primarily to watch videos. Why can’t he watch videos on the portable DVD player he has? You’re asking the wrong person. It was a Gateway computer (I don’t think they even make them anymore, do they?) that his dad and I had bought, possibly before he was even born. It wasn’t even capable of accessing wi-fi. Yep, OLD.

pexels-photo-51415But to him, it was like watching a friend die, and that core piece of The Boy’s autism, attachment to things, reared its head again. He insisted he had damaged it by dropping it, which he hadn’t. He insisted that it couldn’t possibly be replaced. We kept focusing on the fact that he is getting a new computer – a delayed Christmas present to replace the brand new one that crapped out on us the day after Christmas. He didn’t want to hear any of it. His old friend, the Gateway, was toast, and his world was ending.

The Man turned to me at one point in the day-long drama with utter disbelief that he felt so strongly about a thing.  “I don’t get it,” he said. I tried to explain about attachment to things, but it is difficult for us NTs to understand.

I do know when The Boy is hurting, though. We made the best of the day, tried to be gentle and talk him through it. By evening, he was making peace with himself and the reality that the computer was not going to turn on again. And the next day he was searching online for a new one.

It’s not going to go away, this attachment to things. Or maybe it will. I don’t know. It’s hard to predict and prepare for, though. So in the meantime, we just have to try to understand, get some perspective, and be gentle. Poor kiddo.

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Under the Surface

Kiddos on the spectrum process emotion differently than us neurotypicals.

“Duh,” you might say. And I would agree, but sometimes I forget how deeply this runs through my own kiddo.

Last week, I got notification from Fantastic Babysitter that they were most likely going to have to put their kitty down.  She was getting old and not feeling well, and not getting any better, and she was worried about The Boy.  I was too, because sometimes the death of an animal seems to hit him harder than the death of a human being, which is typical for those on the spectrum (“kitty” was his first word, after all).

One of our old kitties who is in kitty heaven now

One of our old kitties who is in kitty heaven now

I approached the subject with him and let him know that the kitty in question would probably be going to kitty heaven soon.  He asked why, and I explained that as animals and humans get older, their bodies fail them, and they start to get sick.  Sometimes, when animals get so sick, we put them to sleep so they can go play and run and chase mice with their friends in kitty heaven.  We talked about how it would be cool for Fantastic Babysitter’s kitty to go play with our old kitties in heaven, and that she would be happy there.  He had some questions, and I answered them to the best of my ability.  He seemed a bit bothered, but also seemed to handle it with grace.

I reassured Fantastic Babysitter that The Boy was ok, and we were sad for her. It’s never easy to let a pet go, but we had been through it a couple of times, so it shouldn’t be too Earth-shattering for The Boy.

And everything seemed ok.

But then, some other things went wrong in The Boy’s world last week, and the death of the kitty seemed to come back up to the surface and tip the scales, sending him off the edge.  You see, taken by itself, the absence of his friend-who-is-a-girl on Friday would have been upsetting, but not on-the-verge-of-a-meltdown all weekend.  But add the death of the kitty (which obviously affected him more than I could tell on the surface), and it gets to be too much to process.

Everyone is leaving him, he thought.

And for a kid that actually has been left behind by a parent, any dumba** could see the potential for meltdown.

I’m glad I have enough perspective to be able to understand in hindsight what contributes to his frame of mind. Maybe someday I’ll be able to predict a bit better to help him head off some of these catastrophic feelings.

Always a process, always learning.

My Aunt

About a week ago, my aunt was killed in a car accident on her way to our family reunion.

She was my dad’s only sister, and my only aunt not by marriage.  She was my godmother, and mother to 10 children, including three sets of twins, and a son with Down’s Syndrome.  She was a teacher, and when she retired, she continued to teach GED classes at the local prison.  She came from a long line of strong, active, intelligent, family-oriented women.  I’ve written before about her and these strong women here and here.

We were so looking forward to seeing her, and listening to her and my great-aunt share memories.  It was a hard weekend, but it was amazing to be able to share our grief with extended family members.  We won’t be able to make it to her memorial service, but she has been on our minds and in our hearts all week.

Even though she was 87, she was taken from us too soon.  She was an inspiration, even though she’d probably roll her eyes at that.  She was another one who, when asked, “How do you do it?” would have simply replied, “I just do.”

I love you, and I’ll miss you, my dear Aunt Mickey.

An Apology to Dav Pilkey… Sort Of…

"This is the story about Tippy Tinkletrousers, and how he didn't really die at the end of the last epic novel..."

“This is the story about Tippy Tinkletrousers, and how he didn’t really die at the end of the last epic novel…”

So the follow up book to the last Captain Underpants book, which really, really upset The Boy (and I suspect a lot of kids his age), with a rather graphic death on its last pages has been released (Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers).  I stood in the store and read the beginning, wondering how Pilkey would get himself out of it.  Sure enough, there was an explanation: It was “misdirection”, and weren’t we stupid adults for complaining about something that never happened.  In fact, the whole second chapter is about how stupid adults are for squashing all the fun that any kid ever attempts to have, and its because its easier for us adults to yell at kids than reflect on our own sad lives.

I’m not going to get in an offended huff, because just like a lot of satire, there are grains of truth to what he says.

But.  I didn’t get offended by that book until my kid got upset.  My son was not laughing at the ending of that book (and frankly, I would have found it more than a little disturbing if he was laughing at what was represented as a graphic death).  My son didn’t get your joke, and certainly was not familiar with the concept of misdirection.

So, Mr. Pilkey, I guess it was all a trick, and I’m a stupid parent to get offended at what was represented as a graphic death that wasn’t really a graphic death.  But, does that mean the next chapter is going to be deriding the stupid kids who were upset by the same thing?