At some time in the middle of last week it occurred to me to look at Charlie's school calendar, whereupon it hit me that this is Charlie's last week of school.
The last day is even a Friday 13th!
Then, the following Monday, he will be going to camp at his school, with much of the same staff and students.
That's about as not-so-different a change at the end of the school year as there could be. But it's enough of a change that everyone has noted Charlie has been on edge. He knows school is ending and summer is starting and camp too and then summer school -- and he also knows that these things are not going to be the same as they have been for so many years in New Jersey. Indeed, 'summer' itself feels different -- it can get into the 80s in Berkeley and far hotter (90s, 100s) elsewhere south and east, but the temperatures go up and down to the 60s and sometimes lower in the summer; as we live by the water, fog often rolls in and cools things down.
Most mornings last week, Charlie wouldn't wake up, or just wouldn't get out of bed. Last Monday, he overturned his desk at school and on Thursday night (following a Wednesday that was a 'minimum day' when he and his classmates get out one hour earlier and we spent the evening on an impromptu driving tour of downtown Richmond and then through Marin County and the southern edge of Sonoma), he broke something irreplaceable at my parents' house.
Not good, of course. To Charlie's credit, and the credit of everyone who has been teaching and helping and being there for him since our big move to California (it's been over five months, can you believe it?), things did not escalate afterwards. And after Jim had texted me (en route to work) about Charlie-still-in-bed at 8.45am (his school starts at 9am), I found myself launching into oh-so-familiar 'moms mode' and treating all the other riders on the EA shuttle (I work a minute away from EA headquarters) to the uses of that trusty stalwort of special ed parenting, the timer and the concept of 'first, then.'
Old tricks do work. Jim set the timer on Charlie's iPad and went downstairs to read the email I had sent him an hour earlier. After ten minutes, Charlie got up, got dressed, and off to school they went.
On Friday, despite a slow start, he was glad to be at school. Throughout this weekend, Charlie has been in what I've long thought of as 'hurry up please it's time' mode, in which his anticipatory anxiety gets the full better of him and he can't wait to do this, go to there, get this.
'Shrimp chow fun white rice.'
'Gong Gong Po Po house.'
'Mom sit. Come on Mom.'
'I want go to. Go to. Go to.'
Charlie being 17 now, we are used to him issuing verbal requests and seeming to want thisthingtohappennowimmediatelyorexplosion. We're seasoned enough to know that phrases that have been issued to help him through such situations -- 'wait,' 'soon,' 'five more minutes,' 'it's ok' -- have evolved (devolved) into triggers for more anxiety and that, more often then not, anxiety must run its course.
Bike-riding has, as for so many years, helped Charlie immensely. Fresh air and a physical workout are very good for frayed nerves. Plus, bike rides have clearly marked beginnings and ends.
It's in the evening that an anxiety wave starts coming in for Charlie. He has been insisting that Jim and I take our places on certain pieces of furniture after which he paces and stops and issues various verbal requests ('silver car' etc.) over, over and over (an hour at least in many cases). A more extended period of pacing a straight line follows, with the iPad held to his ear, the better to hear the Beatles, Disney, REM, and some other musical offerings .
Over the weekend, this ritual led to Charlie (having ridden for 20 miles total on the Peninsula [video! by Jim on his bike] and around Berkeley and into Oakland by the bay) heading up to his bedroom around 10pm but not to him sleeping till very, very late -- past midnight on Friday and around 4am Sunday morning.
Last year, Charlie had an incident involving our former neighbor's butterscotch car on the last day of school. As camp was getting underway last August, he had an all-out storm that involved an ambulance at 2.30am. As camp was about to end, there was another big episode that left most of what was on a table or a cabinet or the refrigerator on the floor and some furniture interestestingly reposititoned.
I never know what might ensure after I hit 'publish.' As Charlie starts is seventh calendar month of life in California, he seems to have a better sense of time needing to run its course and that he can work (and ride, and walk, and listen) his way through.
Update 7.15am Monday morning: Charlie only stayed up till 2am. He seemed ready to sleep at 11pm then came running down the stairs thoroughly hyper and starting crying. We gave him lots to drink. After some manic runs and pacing and a few more tears, he cheered up, listened to a full album of old-time Disney hits and went to sleep. I have a feeling he won't have an easy time getting up. BART had system-wide 20-minute delays this morning: It takes time to get back on schedule.