Monday, October 8, 2012

A potential for stormy weather

The Weather Channel is on in Sam's bedroom. Sam has always had a fascination with weather, but it is a fascination that can spiral quickly into a challenging day. Like a TV mystery, I have a small window to analyze the situation and solve the puzzle. Like any good detective I assess the subtle clues:

            Movie/video sequences played repetitively.
Revulsion to touch.
Fixation with Dr. Seuss.
Endless eating.
Loud and random vocal outbursts.
No eye contact.
Unusually compulsive behavior.
Fingers twitching.
Abrupt hand movements.

Any of these are indications of something – or nothing. Individually, they nothing; a combination of two or more can result in something explosive.

Time ticks as I go through my checklist: Heartburn? Headache? Toothache? Earache? Stomachache? Constipation? Allergies? Sleep deprivation? Frustration? Hunger? Anxiety? It is a list of variables that grows and contracts.

"Are you sick?" I feel compelled to ask, knowing the response may be unreliable. “Feel OK,” he auto responds. His unwillingness to make eye contact and body language belies his words. But what is it? “Where does it hurt?” I ask, hopeful for an answer. He points to his chest. Is it another default response?

I quietly change the TV channel and attempt control of his iPad. I grab Tums. Speaking in a soft, monotone voice I reassure: “You will be ok, I can fix it.” I hold his twitching hands in an effort to calm. I ask him to sing with me to distract.  I wipe his face and brow with a cold compress for no good reason at all. Maybe because I don't know what else to do.

I pray the phone doesn’t ring as I strategize what to do next.

And just then, I see his body begin to relax. I see the beginnings of a smile as he leans over and coyly demands, “Squeeze him.” As I move to provide a squeeze he gazes at me making perfect eye contact. We are OK.

Today I have caught the clues early enough in the sequence. The crisis has passed.  Like the crime drama,  it would seem I've cracked the mystery. Only I don't know what I've cracked. I only know we are back to Sponge Bob and laughter. And all is right with the world once more.


  1. Does he like Phineas and Ferb? It's predictable and very routine, like Sponge Bob, but more clever (I think).

    1. I have seen Sam watch it, though infrequently. Sam bonded with Sponge Bob some time ago and he is very loyal. He is very specific about his favorites. Occasionally he humors me and tries something new. I will have to pay more attention to Phineas and see if he can make it into the select group.