For last year’s pre-Thanksgiving blog post [which can be accessed by clicking here], I described all the things regarding Alex that made us thankful. This year I’d like to express gratitude for all the annoying phases he eventually outgrew or just got tired of doing.
I’m grateful that Alex no longer needs to check the microwave clock before he uses the bathroom to see what time his toileting begins and ends. Ed is especially pleased he outgrew this phase because Alex often stopped the microwave mid-cycle to check the “official” time when Ed was using it to cook. I know this because I frequently heard Alex’s rapid button pressing followed by Ed’s muttered cursing.
I’m relieved that Alex doesn’t slam doors anymore as he’s waiting for his bath water to run. When he was younger, he would run from door to door, slamming them closed in a pre-bath time ritual. This nightly routine made me extremely nervous, not only from having to listen the banging sound of doors closing abruptly, but also from the worry that Alex might catch his fingers in the doors as he slammed them shut. Thankfully, no fingers were lost before he got bored with this evening activity.
I’m pleased that Alex no longer objects to our using contractions when we speak. One summer he became irritated any time we would say contractions, such as don’t or can’t, and insisted that we use the more formal do not or cannot. I have no idea why he thought he was the grammar police that summer, but we were happy when he got past that stage.
I’m glad that Alex doesn’t insist that people keep their legs uncrossed when they’re seated. For some reason, when he was younger, he developed an aversion to people crossing their legs when they were sitting, and he would complain, “No crossing legs!” If we ignored his orders, he would come over to us and pull on our legs to uncross them. We found that it was easier at the time to sit with our feet flat on the floor, but I must confess that sometimes I crossed my legs just to annoy him. Now he could care less how people sit; in fact, he usually sits cross-legged himself.
I’m thankful that Alex stopped imitating football every time he heard the word or saw it on tv. He went through a phase where he would pick up things and throw them like a football and/or run and dive as though he were tackling an opponent all the while yelling, “FOOTBALL!!” Ed and I became very good at quickly changing the channel anytime a football game or commercial came on the air, and we hid the sports pages during football season. Although children with autism are described as not engaging in imitation or imaginative play, Alex apparently thought he was Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher and was determined to act out this part. If his sudden running, throwing, and tackling imaginary opponents hadn’t startled us, we might have found Alex’s behavior funny. We were just glad that it only lasted one football season.
I’m happy that we don’t have to change light bulbs as often as we did when Alex was younger. When television commercials would abruptly change from one to another, Alex would yell, “SWITCHOVER!” and for some inexplicable reason, tip over lamps, often breaking the light bulbs in the process. Besides several light bulbs, he also managed to break a few lampshades and a couple of lamps. That was a somewhat expensive phase, so we were especially pleased when he got over that destructive one.
I’m glad that Alex no longer enjoys turning up the volume of televisions, radios, and CD players to full blast. At one point, he found this hysterically funny, probably because it annoyed Ed and me so much. We would hide the remote controls, and I even taped shut the door that covered the manual volume controls on our televisions so that he couldn’t blast us with the sound. Similarly, he enjoyed a brief stage in which he would press the button repeatedly to find the handset for our cordless phone, producing a loud beeping sound that amused him terribly. Fortunately, the novelty of irking us with the loud sounds wore off quickly.
People say, “Someday we’ll look back on this and laugh,” and thinking about some of these things Alex used to do now strikes me as kind of funny. However, I am glad that he no longer engages in any of these irksome activities. Also, as I think about his current behaviors that are annoying, I realize that eventually these, like the previous ones, will eventually fade. And for that, we will truly be thankful.
“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:7