The Sound of Music
The February Thing

No Ideas But In Things

Back at the shovel

Back in action, we are.

Charlie was slow to get up and out of bed after a couple of days' hiatus from school (plus that snow I mean ice day last Wednesday). Once at school, he was happy all day, asking to go to A(dapted) P(hysical) E(ducation) when he first came in and making, for the first time ever, hot chocolate in the microwave oven. (He did not, however, drink the hot chocolate but did, as his teacher wrote us, sniff it.) He and Jim were out on some dad 'n' son adventure when I came home. Charlie was in high spirits when they drove up and proceeded to select one of the two shovels from our porch and started shoveling 'Charlie-style.'

As you can see, there was no pressing need to shovel the snow, two days in the 40s and some rain having done a nice job in whittling the snow mounds down. Charlie, with a pleased smile, devoted himself to moving snow from the path he had made to the back door of the car onto the walkway. The result was that the path became much wider and flatter, while the walkway became, ah, a bit snowier.

And then Charlie surprised Jim and me by not asking to go out for a ride in the car anywhere, for the rest of the day. He had had his usual preferred early dinner and, snow work done, retired to his room, where he was very content to stretch out and relax until (still with the occasional cough) he fell asleep.

It has been a long time since he was as sick as he was in the past few days. (It's also been a long time since I was as sick as I have been---am not quite back to 'normal functioning' as of yet'---so far Jim seems to have had only a far milder version of this illness, if even that.) Since Sunday, I have sensed Charlie trying, straining to get himself better, and then succumbing (as I was) to being sick (and, highly unusual for Charlie, eating barely anything for a couple of days).

Monday afternoon, around the time I suspect Charlie was getting past the point of boredom with being home and coughing and sneezing and doing pretty much the same things for several days straight (and with no chance of his usual energy- and anxiety- burner, outdoor exercise), he got a plastic garbage bag, scooped out a pile of items he had insisted be placed in a certain spot on the living room floor for much of the past year, and put them in the garbage can. And that was that.

Later Monday night, when Charlie was asleep, I retrieved the bag. The items were all articles of clothing, an old blue sweatshirt of Jim's, a Pittsburgh Pirates t-shirt, and a couple of old shirts of mine, a scarf, a hat. The scarf and hat had been new almost two years ago but Charlie, for whatever reason, had not liked me wearing them and it was easier to have them add them to his stash, and use another scarf and hat.

The blue sweatshirt of Jim's was one Jim used to wear quite a bit even before we lived with his parents, on bike rides and just 'around.' Jim didn't miss wearing it and shrugged about it ending up in the garbage.The shirts of mine were nothing special, workout-type tops. I had bought all of them almost five years ago when we were living in the lower level of Jim's parents' split-level house. That year had been the one year when Charlie had come as close as he ever has to thriving in a special education classroom in a public elementary school. It was also a very tough year as my mother-in-law's numerous health problems, worsened and living all together became 'interesting.'

I'm not sure if Charlie associates those shirts with that time period. But for whatever reason, after we had moved back into our own house, he started to insist on 'appropriating' those shirts, and then the scarf and hat. For a time he kept them in his room (when I went to Greece last year). Yesterday, he had apparently decided, it was time to say good-bye to those particular things.

Monday night, after Charlie as asleep, I retrieved the bag of clothes and took out everything but the blue sweatshirt. I stowed my reclaimed shirts and Jim's Pirates tee inside something inside something in the basement. I'm not sure about keeping the shirts, but somehow I didn't feel ready just yet to get rid of them. After a good workover with a lint roller, the scarf and hat were ready for wearing and very cozily warm yesterday (with the temperatures falling into the high 20s). I intend to keep them stowed deep in the bottom of a bag when not being worn: Perhaps you could say Charlie kept them while he needed them, and now I get to use them again.

I did steal the title for this post from William Carlos Williams' 'A Sort of a Song.' I do often think the phrase 'no ideas but in things' is a fitting mantra for Charlie's way, or one aspect of his ways, of being in the world, in things, things steeped deeply in ideas. 

A couple weeks back Jim had made some statement to the effect of how Charlie lets go of---sheds---things as he knows himself moving on, growing up, letting go. Or maybe I'm reading too much into his discarding those items. Though I think it fair to say, that Charlie rarely does anything without a reason and a purpose, like that path he saw and dug into the snow.



The path Charlie made really makes me smile, it makes so much sense! There really is purpose in what he does, it just may not be obvious to everyone, and I'm sure it's the same with the clothes.

Dimitri doesn't like wearing hats, and he's not keen on me wearing hats either (or having a towel wrapped round my head after washing hair). He sometimes sticks a hat on my head to see what it looks like maybe, but then takes it off again.

Good to hear you're all feeling better slowly but surely, and that your no longer as snowed in as last week!


You say "but Charlie, for whatever reason, had not liked me wearing them." Perhaps because he associated "you" with wearing a different set, and didn't want "you" to change? (We know how much he clings to things that give him pleasure.) Did you ever get a sense of why he rejected them? How had he communicated to you that he hadn't liked them?

Does he ever pick your clothes for you? Unless you think that he would pick the same outfit every day, as he does with his own wardrobe!

You have my deepest sympathy, suffering a horrid flu when the weather has been so snowy and freezing. While it's obvious how much you take care of Charlie, please be sure to take care of yourself. You're so diligent about caring for everyone else. You deserve as much care, too!

Finally, does Charlie like miso soup? Since he's mastered hot chocolate, maybe he can take on miso next.

Kristina Chew

Charlie is like Dimitri---no hats, thank you. And he doesn't like to see us with things on our heads: I think that is why he did not like me wearing the hat and scarf. I have a feeling he would be pretty confused if I wrapped a towel round my head!

Charlie often gets very 'determined' that people (including my parents) wear certain items of clothing or fix their hair a certain way. For me, it has been good to go a bit out of my way to continue to dress as I prefer, as following through with these OCD-ish behaviors of Charlie's has been known to lead to more OCD-ness, frustration, behavior issues.

Am fortunate my parents have provided multiple packs of Chinese tea.

Once upon a time when we went out to Japanese restaurants, Charlie did not seem so interested in miso soup. I have been thinking he prefers his liquids cold, even on a cold day!

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