Joey Unplugged

IMG_20130902_195104_298 You might recall that Joey had issues when his old TV/VCR gave up the ghost. –>

Today he’s back at it, insisting that the replacement, the appropriately bad-guy hued “Black TV” (maybe it should be named “Bart”) is “broken.”

I’ve trekked to his room several times. There’s nothing wrong with the TV. Except that Joey keeps unplugging it.

At least I got the winter dog poop out of the back yard, since we have a day in the high 60s. I finished a finishable task and I beat the winter weather advisory. You know, the one about the winter front that is supposed to get here late Monday and bring snow. For April.

Meanwhile, Joey is on the living room couch, chanting that “The black TV doesn’t work.” Oh, and he’s added a new line, mocking my reaction last time I went and plugged it back in,

“Aw, c’mon.”

Shutting the door on progress

A family friend who is a Joey favorite came over to hang with him last night so Melissa and I could go out for a few hours.

The sitter’s report was that Joey had come out of his room to get a drink, then went back in and shut his bedroom door. Totally ignored our friend all night.

2012-12-22_09-13-56_966But she was delighted – “He was just like any teenager” was her review. She described the door shutting as “a breakthrough” into typical behavior.

In other news, our anti-social cat came out and stayed in the room with our guest present.2012-12-10_20-17-20_382

So progress was in the air at our place last night. Wish we could claim some planning and design, but it just showed up.

Stop, thief! I mean, in the nicest possible way, if you please…


So we took Joey to a dinner at our church. Informal affair like the one in the picture.

Joey likes bread, and the dinner included a spread of loaves from a local artisan bakery.

Joey ate plenty of the bread with his dinner. Then, during the clean up, the leftovers disappeared into the kitchen. Joey followed and continued to filch pieces of bread.

A couple of women on the kitchen crew, not schooled in all of the mystical ways of autism, objected with raised and stern voices. This made it a game for Joey – he realized that grabbing at the bread was building an emotional connection with the ladies.

So he kept going after the bread, sometimes with a smile on his face. He was enjoying the engagement with others. To their chagrin, correcting him in the way one would correct a typical kid was like painting targets on themselves… and of course on the bread. We finally took him out to the car when he stopped going for pieces and grabbed up an entire bag of slices as if to abscond with it.

The rule for correcting autistic kids is pretty much like the instruction for cooking wild game: “Low and slow.” Any spike in emotion will be matched or, maybe even worse, considered an invitation to an emotional waltz.

(Hope I mixed enough metaphors in that last paragraph.)

Open all night!

The refrigerator door was wide open when I got to the kitchen this morning. Lord knows how many hours ago the kid decided to get a drink and left it that way, and if the ‘fridge compressor will survive trying to cool the whole house.

Several beverages sat open from his late night sampling. Yes, straight out of the bottles.

The chest in his room sported a couple of open drawers from wee hour wardrobe changes (still haven’t figured why he’s into that).

Likewise, the dryer door (way at the other end of the house in the laundry room) hung open since he didn’t find all he wanted in his drawers and had to rummage through some freshly cleaned stuff.

And last but not least, our bedroom door is sure to be open when the kid flips on a bright light to zap us out of our sleep.


Ash Wednesday. Joey’s off on his bus. It’s just another day to him, and that’s one of those weird things for which Melissa and I sometimes give thanks. So many things that Joey doesn’t get and therefore doesn’t need to fix, stress over, grow into, etc.

He is, in so many ways, a child of grace. His life won’t line up with the moral or cultural or family expectations – some of which are helpful and some of which are hurtful – under which most of us labor. He just is, and he’s loved and cared for by lots of folks who can accept that.

The funny thing about Ash Wednesday is that we are all meant to see ourselves as Joeys, people under the care of a loving God who sacrifices to complete all that we are not able to understand or pull off. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” isn’t gloomy if we get the point – it’s a radical equalizer. Our list of achievements or lack of them are not relevant. The love of God, who can take dust and produce glory, is everything, the beginning and the end of the story.

That should be good news to care givers. We are entrusted with kids who, in the world’s eyes, “don’t measure up” and therefore reflect upon us as somehow flawed, ineffective, needy people. The reality is that all people are flawed, ineffective and needy, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

We are entrusted with kids who, despite our best intentions and work, will be stuck, or fall back, or otherwise fail to reflect “results” anywhere commensurate with our efforts. But as we explained in one of our first posts (and reflect always in the picture at the top of the blog) we all see the weeds and brown patches in our own yards, while fixating on the neighbor’s “perfect” lawn over the fence. But God sees all the dust, out in the open or swept under the rug, that marks every life that’s ever been or ever will be.

Well, except one life, and that one is the Good News to whom we turn on this Ash Wednesday, and every day,

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (I Corinthians 15:49)

We pray for all care givers and all in our care today, that Jesus, the man of heaven, will sweep aside a bit of our dust and give us glimpses of who we are as his beloved brothers and sisters.

Time to open some chilled whine

The background: Melissa and I have been eating healthy fare, really sticking to a sensible food plan for about 2 months now. We’ve lost some weight and are feeling more energetic and positive.

Saturdays have been our “free days,” wherein we can enjoy some stuff that’s not on the diet as a reward for sticking with it during the preceeding week.

Today is Saturday. It’s our free day. We discussed going to a fave BBQ place in town for awesome ribs and really bad (in the good sense) side dishes and maybe even some beer.

But it is subzero outside, with snow falling.


Melissa is a good care giving mom. She sees that Joey is a bit tired and looking plenty comfy in the house on this cold day. Why make him go out? “Maybe you (that’s me, Tim) could pick something up and bring it home.”

Cue the tiny violins. I’m whining now. Not ranting, whining.

The fact is, I don’t want to fetch food for folks. I want to sit at a table and have someone fetch it for me. I don’t want to set up or clean a table. We do that all week as care givers, and contrary to all of the gender stereotypes, I do quite a bit of it (and I’m a decent cook and have the best handle on the food plan, so I do much of the cooking, too).

Melissa is 100% right. It will be easier for Joey to stay home and have me bring something in. But I want my respite from the routines of the week.

Wah, wah, wah, sez I.