Very glad to say that Charlie handled a long weekend and a visit with and good-bye to my parents with a quite high count of peaceful easy-feelingness. Yes, there was a panic attack on Saturday afternoon but, while requiring stopping the car and pulling over on the side of the Interstate (that sounds like I am taking the attack lightly! it could have been serious but we acted swiftly), it was far more contained than many others. Two pourings of full bottles of soda into the front seat area were mostly a way of expressing relief and occasion to remind me that I should be wary on 'certain days' of carrying a tote into which substances can be splashed but to feel glad that I am always sure that I only use bags (stuffed with, among other essentials of Materfamilias-ness, one's child's emergency medication) that are made of waterproof materials.
Saturday being the day before the day before my parents were to return to California, I should have been using a bag with a flap on top -- yes.
The soda spillage etc. was Charlie communicating, he wasn't up to a planned small birthday party of Cantonese food and cupcakes at our house. It was also a good reminder to listen to the other side of the words Charlie says, due to him only pulling out a few words at a time to use and only having a limited number of words in his verbal lexicon, and due to the reality that language, for any and all of us, is a slippery mode of communication that too often fails to really capture what we mean no matter how many words we pile on.
Monday night, good-byes, bike rides and a walk over, Charlie wanted to go out and we said we'd wait because we'd just come back home. Then he said he didn't want to go where he said he had. Then he said he did. Then he said he wanted to go out. Then he wanted to go somewhere else that we'd already been to. He said that for about an hour, then said he wanted to go somewhere else.
At this point (about the 2-hour mark of a lot of repetitive talk), we had concluded that we were done going out anywhere for the day. I think Charlie had a sense of that himself and didn't really want to get anything else to eat but was feeling some 'flight or fight' and, as well, thymic distress. Many times in the past years we have gone out for his last request (always for food) and rued the day (and he has often not eaten the food).
We do try to learn from experience. As Charlie went into hour 3 of repetitive talk (though by this time he had a very fleeting smile), he was showing signs of getting through a worry session reminiscent in time and mood of past Wednesday nights but a lot less stressful, we three all (as Jim pointed out, 'hey pal, I'm here!') being home.
After the 3 1/2 hour mark, Charlie's mood had metamorphosized into happy calls for 'school bus,' an evening snack and (as he loudly announced to me in the kitchen), 'BEDTIME.'