Fifteen Two, Fifteen Four, and a Pair…

Tonight was movie night at our house. Thank goodness for Disney+ right now! We watched WALL-E. Truthfully, everyone else watched WALL-E while I worked and I then joined in for the last few minutes. I could hear the commentary from where I was working in the dining room, mostly from Tommy. He often has to ask why someone said what they said or how they are feeling. It’s very difficult for him to infer. He’s been taught emotions, but he doesn’t always understand them. I really do love watching movies with him; he seems so innocent.

After everyone was tucked in bed, Eric and I played cribbage for a bit. I don’t care for the game, but I always love the conversations. This is probably true for anyone who plays cribbage, rummy, or any other card game with another person. You have some of your best conversations over a deck of 52.

Tonight I asked Eric what he was finding most difficult about being home during this pandemic. He said he genuinely misses his Monday night trips to Hanover for Tommy’s occupational therapy sessions. We played a few hands and then I asked why. Eric went on to explain that he feels like it’s his only real time with Tom. I grinned ear to ear. I knew what he meant, no further explanation needed.

Tommy isn’t warm and fuzzy. He often doesn’t show affection unless prompted to do so. He’s not one to hug and kiss and he certainly isn’t interested in your day. On Monday night car rides to OT with Eric, and Eric only, Tommy sings from our house until they arrive at their destination over an hour later. There are songs about the solar system, Jupiter, the alphabet, the Three Little Pigs, the states. He doesn’t take requests. There’s an order to his songs and he knows which songs make Eric laugh. Laughing is good, right Mom? Strangely, Tommy only sings in the car with Eric and sometimes his van driver, George. I have never heard his songs and the sheer delight it brings him. When I drive Tommy to MGH, or the Lurie Center and sometimes OT, he is almost always silent. He’ll stare out the window and occasionally tell me a fact about Jupiter, a star, black holes, or the sun. I never hear him sing. Yet with Eric and sometimes George, he sings the entire duration of the ride. I don’t get it, but I try not to let it hurt my feelings.

While I was whooping Eric at cribbage, he commented that he loves how animated Tom gets when he starts talking about a preferred topic (most of the time); arms are flapping and he speaks so fast it’s difficult to keep up. His comment instantly made me think of a documentary I watched last night (well, actually, it was very early this morning…I’ve been having great difficulty sleeping in the last few weeks) called “The Rainman Twins.” It’s about two women now in their sixties, Katherine and Florence Lyman, who are the world’s only known identical autistic savant twins. Tommy’s certainly not a savant, but there were parts of this documentary I identified with for sure. These two women are hysterical, charming, smart, and just pure. At one point in the documentary, a neuropsychologist spoke about how so little was known about autism in the 1950s when these women were little girls. The condition was often attributed to their mother’s and their cold treatment of their children. I can understand how one would think that. If you didn’t know me or know Tom, you’d think we had cold interactions. Maybe that’s not it, just different interactions than say Will or James and me. It’s really tough as a mother, you can’t understand unless you’re in the position. There are days that it breaks my heart.

After I beat Eric in cards, he agreed to watch the documentary. If you know Eric, he’s a tough critic. He loved it and he loved Kay and Flo….what a pair! If you have Amazon Prime, watch it. I promise you won’t be disappointed.


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