The saga of the flying food continues. Charlie threw his breakfast as he stood on the porch waiting for the bus; he was directed to pick it up and it disappeared into the garbage. At the pool, Charlie ran to get French fries at the snack bar, glared at me when I reached to hold the paper tray, and sent everything flying into a puddle of chlorinated water. He cried louder (plenty of sunbathers gave us interesting looks) and, while I held his hand, picked everything up and put it in the garbage. Then he sat, mournful and shaking, in a chair until the whistle blew to signal that Adult Swim was over.
"Jump," said Charlie.
"Off the diving board?" I asked.
"Yes." And he was off and all smiles in, and under, the blue water.
Despite the pre-bus food-throw, Charlie had yet another great day at school; he has started to work with a new instructor (his teacher has been careful to introduce new routines and instructors into his day), a young man. He sat patiently during our biweekly meeting with his home ABA team----there was too much to talk about, from Charlie's increasing speech to our upcoming two-week vacation (= fourteen days without the structure of school or ABA)----and then during a special Mass for children with disabilities. At first he curled up against Jim, then sat quietly, only requesting that we pull down the kneeler. When Charlie did speak up during the second part of the service, it was to say "Grandpa!" with a smile. I wrote "Grandpa" on the bulletin and pointed to it; Charlie pointed and grinned pleasedly, and later (at my request) ran to show Grandpa "what he did in church" after we got home.
It was a roster of new or at least different things, except for two rounds of food-throwing----and, I have been asking myself, now why have I kept on giving Charlie things to eat that he simply throws away?
Because he requests them, yes; but then, Charlie is a boy with a very limited (and ever-growing) vocabulary, so that he often uses one word ("white rice") to do the service of six words, or even sixteen, of forty-six.
Because Charlie has a hard time waking up in the morning and has had a history of tantrumming en route to boarding the bus; because once, two years ago, when I did not get Charlie French fries at the pool, he erupted into such a huge tantrum on the way home that I had to pull over and get him calmed down.
In watching Charlie struggle to learn to read, to talk, and so much more over the years, I have often thought that his progress happens at a more than gradual pace: For every seven steps he move forward, some undertow pulls him back eight. But in the past two days I have been learning that my "progress" is often at the same pace, if not at an ever slower rate than Charlie's---say, seventeen steps forward, and twenty-seven back when I get more hung up on Charlie's habits than he does---so that, when it is time for a change, he is quite ready to move on while Jim and I are still standing in a place Charlie has long said good-bye to.
We are the ones with a delay---a tardiness--in our understanding, and our thinking.
Better reset every clock in the house so I can catch up to Charlie, whose changing--growth--learning have been happening fast as a speeding bullet. And I am only catching sight of it.