"Won more gezackly!"
Charlie echoed me with a smile: It was 8.45pm and he was opening the refrigerator door for "one more" orange---"exactly" one and no more, I told him. He looked at me; he took out his orange; he sat down in his favorite swivel chair in the living room. "Giff, Mom!" he said as he handed me a piece of pith.
Charlie knew that a pack of sushi and a "bread (a gluten-free English muffin, eight of which I had bought yesternight in New York while Charlie sat down to eat with Jim and stowed (defrosting) at the bottom of my bag, beneath a book and some extra clothes). He knew that there were more muffins right before his eyes in the fridge, not to mention half a bag of frozen vegetables.
If he sees it, Charlie will eat it, until every last frozen soybean or bite of watermelon is gone: Charlie has always been a good eater (since the days when he nursed as a baby). I am not surprised that he has trouble knowing when to stop: Charlie is definitely a growing boy (and we went on a long walk to the post office this afternoon, too). Charlie is on medication, one of whose side-effects is increased appetite, and, while we can explain "side effects" to him, he is not able to use language to tell us what it feels like. (Hence I have more than appreciated comments from autistic adults about the effects of the medication on them.) And, we have long noted a disconnect between mind and body for Charlie: His stomach might be bloated, but his eyes see that there's more in the bag, and his mind says, Eat!, his hand reaches.
I dislike hiding food or anything from Charlie: I would much rather leave things where they ought to be and teach him, "you just eat some at a time" or "you just watch the DVD once." As it is, Charlie has shown a remarkable aptitude for finding whatever desired object, from cassette tapes to chocolate, I might try to hide. To be honest, I have to say "go Charlie" when he finds me out---it shows he is keeping his eyes and ears open. Indeed, it often seems to me that Charlie gets a bigger thrill at me "catching" him and then we get into an exhausting pattern of him noting when I am preoccupied and then dashing off to find the no-long-so-hidden item.
(I guess that might speak to Charlie's theory of mind?)
So when I came up from folding laundry to find Charlie attempting to pull off the plastic on some frozen hot dog buns (foraged from the back of the freezer, as evidenced by the packs of frozen green beans and TV dinners on the floor), I shook my head at him with a smile, while assuring Grandpa, who had exclaimed over the thunks of food on linoleum, that nothing was amiss.
"Charlie, how about we put a bread into your lunchbox?"
I took out Charlie's pack of muffins; Charlie handed me the hot dog buns and put the food on the floor back in the freezer.
"Bwead, lunssbocks," he smiled. Then "oranges?" And he took one, said "p'ate!" and opened a cabinet, and ran off, to come back and ask for that "one more orange."
I probably shouldn't tell you this, but there's a pack of gluten-free brownies at the bottom of the left-hand refrigerator drawer, camouflaged under vegetables and some chocolate pudding: No matter what time you go to sleep (and Charlie fell asleep on Monday night at 1.30am......), you've got to get up early to stay ahead of a boy like Charlie (and I somehow did, and he ran smiling to meet the schoolbus before Jim and I were even out the door).