As my son and I heaved the old bed up and out of the room (long overdue), we noticed that the carpet was wet. And the pad underneath soaked through to the concrete.
This was Not Good.
To make a long story short, everything had to come out of that room. Everything. And now all that stuff – and wow, we packed that room full of odds and ends – is piled up in the dining room, in the living room, and lining the hallways.
So the whole house is a mess. Naturally.
But my two boys thrive on clean, white walls and minimalism. Clutter clogs their brains with too much visual information. They get moody, preoccupied, and more easily frustrated. I work hard to keep my house clean and neat, not because I’m tidy, but for them.
So far, they’ve been handling it pretty well.
Sure, my husband’s adopted a new evening ritual. The empty room must be checked on at certain times. And yes, my son’s tics (currently sniffing and snorting) have backslid a little. But they’re soldiering on like champions, even better than I could have imagined. Nobody even had a meltdown when I broke the news to them, which was astounding.
No, they’re fine. I’m the one going crazy.
I try to laugh about it. I try to appreciate how patient and understanding they’re being. After all, we have no choice. New carpet takes time to install. There’s choosing the carpet, measuring, estimates, and finally the actual installation. Plus the waiting time in between these steps.
But I’ve come to realize that caring for people can take odd forms. Some people feel a need to express their love with words. Others give gifts. Yet others need to hug or touch their loved ones. Sometimes it’s a combination of the above.
And sometimes, we need to do things for our loved ones. Like cook favorite dinners, or wash cars, or… clean house.
Man, it’s disappointing to fall into a category.
So Tuesday I shrugged off – to the best of my ability – the feeling that I wasn’t caring for my family properly. I bought some paint and tried to focus on action instead of remaining a waiting-for-carpet victim.
It helped. A lot.
My son got to solve problems with tools (always a good thing). Paint cans, after all, aren’t opened in the usual way. After artfully leaving a long, flat screwdriver on the floor (so sly), I let him handle the can and think about what he needed to open the stubborn thing.
No tempers were lost. After abandoning the can opener idea, he solved it beautifully.
This may sound silly to most of you. However, handling tools properly is a common autistic issue. Not everyone has it; my husband never had a problem with a tool in his life. But our son would hold a hammer every way possible – ways that would never occur to the rest of us – to try to hammer a nail into a child’s wooden project.
In a way, this is good. It shows what creative, out-of-the-box thinking he has. In a way, it’s rough. It means that simple things are more difficult to master.
He also got to figure out how to draw nails out of the wall with a hammer. And yes, I kept my eyes wide open.
Another success. Another proud smile.
He helped me paint, and it was lovely not to worry about ruining the carpet. Of course, he used the roller in interesting ways (wow, the paint patterns on the wall), but hey, that’s his way, and he’s still learning.
Today, I almost don’t feel bad about the mess (which really isn’t my fault, even though it feels like it is). I feel like we’re tackling problems and learning. My son’s enjoying home improvement (although he’s announced he hates home improvement stores), and our house is actually improving.
Today the house, tomorrow the world. 😉
Note: Hopefully, next week we’ll get the new carpet installed. Oh, and my computer will be put together once again, and lose its Humpty-Dumpty look. Internet withdrawal is not a pretty sight.