Some people take a very deterministic approach to autism, sometimes fatalistic, but there’s one thing that we’re sure of, the diagnoses isn’t static, more like quicksilver.
I ensure that they are all occupied and engaged with their snacks before I try to unload the shopping, but one of them is persistent.
I ignore him as I don't want to be distracted. There are few guarantees in life, but I know that frozen food will thaw if it is left any longer in the boot of the car. I'm fairly confident that he doesn't know what he's talking about anyway. When it comes to the subject of 'England' I'm sure that I know more about it than he does, because he is American. There is something about his insistent tone that needles my nerve endings.
“No. It is English. I sure!”
“Yes, dear.” I placate him, anything for peace as I haul in bagfuls of groceries. He is so close to me, just like a cat that entwines your legs determined to be fed. I need an insurance policy to ensure a secure future, or at the very least, that we can make it alive until bed time.
We are in a very narrow spot, the spot between the car and the junk in the garage, a little pathway that leads from the car door to the kitchen door, perilous. Why does he do it? I want to stop everything and explain, 'look at me! I'm buried in groceries! I'm not asking you to help but could you just either shut up for a nano second or move your body out of the way, I'm happy with either?' Part of the reason I don't do this, is because flowing speech still has novelty value, for me at least. Also it would definitely be mean and would certainly hurt his feelings, as well as the risk of meltdown factor in a confined space. Another reason that I don't take remedial action, is that just for once I'd love to complete one simple task rather than leaving every single little thing half done.
I try not to think of all the papers laid out in the office, the medical insurance claim that is so overdue, or the presents to be wrapped, the endless list of things undone. I don't really want to have a little chat with my non-verbal son about something trivial, off beat and of no importance to anyone else on the planet, except him.
All I want is to get the groceries unpacked whilst my brain works out what on earth to make for supper. I need two minutes to think of something for supper. Why didn't I think of something for supper whilst we were actually in the supermarket? Because they were all there with me, which meant that I was incapable of any kind of thought. Why didn't I think of what to make for supper before I went to the supermarket? Because they were still all there at home with me too. No nano seconds of free brain time have been available to me for four consecutive days.
How can I ensure that their nutritional needs are met if I am unsure of just about everything. For two pins I'd drop the lot and run screaming from the house just to find those two minutes of peace, but my path is blocked in both directions, boy in front, door behind. I was never good at hurdles as a youngster and I see no reason why this lack of athletic ability should have improved, now that I am in my dotage. A sure sign that I am well and truly trapped.
Two years ago I would have given a pint of blood for eye contact like this. Another pint for just a scrap of that attention. I’d have drained myself dry to be on any subject other than trains and dinosaurs, but now I am feckless, fickle and feeble.
I fear I am suffering from a severe case of cabin fever and very low on reserves. We may yet be reduced to eating twigs, especially if the chef doesn't wake up and smell some caffeine. But there's no stopping him.
“I sure! It is English,” he persists.
We bumble and tumble our way back inside the house. I sit on the floorboards in the kitchen, weary and defeated, surrounded by overflowing, split and ragged grocery bags. I give up and give in.
“What is English dear?” I submit to doing what I should have been doing in the first place. When will I ever just do the right thing at the right time?
“What packaging dear?”
“Dah packaging on dah bottles.”
“What bottles dear?”
“Dah bottles dat are yurs, er, dah Ensure bottles.”
I look at the six packs, my insurance of continued health if not growth.
“They look pretty ordinary to me.”
“Dey come from England?”
“No we just bought them at Lucky's.”
“Lucky's buyed them from England?”
“No they weren't imported…..I mean no, they're American.”
“I am beed certain!”
“Certain? That’s a new word!”
“Sure! I am beed sure and certain too!”
“What are you certain…er….sure of?”
“Dat dey are have dah English name?” My brain is numb. I have no idea what he is on about. He can now recognize 'blank' when he sees it. He takes pity on my slow brain.
“In England dey say 'ENsure.' In America we say 'INsure.'”
Yup, that's right, there are no guarantees with anything these days.