Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Addendum to Dancing

The Addendum to Dancing was to take place after “Dancing” however; I was a bit sidetracked by the washing and shrinkage event! Now, back on course. I must say, yes, I am proud to be an American, but I am also proud that Peter is my son. For many reasons, but today, for the sheer joy he brings into my life and others. Take Sara and Nick’s wedding for example. Okay, so I am a bit prejudiced, but really, if you want to spice an event, I suggest you could hire Peter and his compradres. No, not to do the wash, or wash your car, but to dance.
The night of Sara and Nick's wedding, the night went smoothly...Peter could have received the award for best sitter and best behave. No shenanigans. However, he was under the watchful of Ann, and he was soaking in the moments. But really, I think he was just waiting with bated breath for the dance. He sat, he waited patiently, and finally, the DJ announced the dancing would begin...that would be for everyone. The bride and groom dance over, the mother/father dance over, and now it was Peter's turn. And Peter and his compradres, Andy and Wilson, rushed the dance floor. The place erupted, the dancing began, there was no room on the dance floor, so people danced between the tables. I even saw my friends dancing in the hallway. There was something about Peter and his friends that seemed to send a message..let's dance! And so they did....all night. Even the DJ, observing the rush to the dance floor, jaw dropped in amazement and later he told me us...I know it was going to be good night!
The dancing continued. I have never seen so many baby boomers doing the YMCA in one place, at one time. We were "Shouting" and "Celebrating" and having Big Time Fun!!! I have never seen so many folks just having one good time...and I cannot help but think that Peter and friends had something to do with it.
Having attended other events that include Peter et al, and dancing is included, there is just something special about dancing with them. Maybe it is just their sheer enjoyment in the event. The I do not care what others are thinking, I am having a good time attitude. That feel good, laugh out loud feeling.Love it!
So, if you are in need of a boost, I am sure you could just call Pete and gang. I know they would oblige...and it would be more ways than one!! And, I am quite sure, you will have BIG FUN!!!

A Reminder

I just had a Peter experience. Something I did not address when I discussed his love for the washing machine and his love to wash inordinate amounts of clothing on a daily basis. You see, Peter did not just like washing his clothes, he loved to wash anything he could find. When washing, he wasn't really good a choosing between Dedicates and Hand wash or Hot, Warm or Cool. Peter was a basic Cotton Sturdy - Hot kinda guy. Now, with his clothes, that worked. Got his clothes really clean, although, they were probably clean anyway, and had just been washed the day before, once or twice. But for me, I prefer Delicate and Hand wash and usually Cold was a good idea when it came to my wash. I, at one time, also used the clothes shoot, but when I was repeatedly finding my nice new and rather new t-shirts or tops, that I so carefully placed in that clothes shoot, now in the dryer mixed in with the sweats and the towels, all 44 pieces smashed together, my new size 8 t-shirt now a 2, I had to once again be creative. I needed to hide my clothes that needed washing, in order to stop the flow of donation bags to Goodwill for those who would actually fit into the new now sized 2 clothing. So, I bought baskets and hampers, and hid these objects under clothing in my closet, Peter, you know, was and is a wise one. He would search and search for items to add to his washing routine. At times, I won, and my clothing remained safe, and then there were the times, I slipped and somehow those precious, special items that so carefully needed to be washed got smashed in with the rest, and became victim to Hot and Cotton sturdy.
So, last night, was once again, a slip, an event that has not occurred recently, but yet today I will be visiting Goodwill with some really nice clothes that now will fit some cute petite person. For Peter, who was here briefly, and I mean briefly, managed to fill the coffers of the machine, wash on Hot, and sneakily throw the clothes into the dryer all while we sat and watched Michael open his birthday gifts. Now, just to let you know, that was all of about four gifts to open, so you see, that Peter is one talented guy.
Today, when I opened the dryer, I found my new sized clothes all muddled with towels and sweats and such. I know I muttered ...Peter!!! I really did like those outfits...really thought they were nice....I am hoping now someone will like them as much as I did.
With Peter visiting on weekends, I thought the clothes shoot remained a safe haven for my clothes. I should have known better!! Oh well...a reminder..back to the clothes hamper...back to hiding. Ya still gotta love him....after all, he was just trying to help!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Singing and Dancing

Peter's love for music grew as he did. Music seemed to be a way for him to communicate and retain information. Peter, who cannot really read beyond a kindergarten level, and who when trying to teach him something repetitive, it just did not stick, knows the words to many songs, many and varied songs. He started with the Patriotic songs, and than added quite a few songs to his own playlist. For a while loved Fifties music, he developed a short love for Country Western, spent many hours listening to those favorite wedding songs, you know...Celebration, Shout, YMCA, and more, he loves Mama Mia these days along with of course, High School Musical, and his true love..contemporary worship songs. I overheard Sara during our last visit, bribing..yes, it was an all out bribe..Peter is you run really fast in your Special Olympics race, I will buy you a new worship CD. Sort of brought back memories of the Frito dangling to win the race...only now it will be from the side lines.
Peter loved music so much, that we once again should have invested in the boom box companies and the company that makes the CD as we have spent major amounts of money on replacement CD's and the boom box itself. Oh yes, and those cute things to store CD's so they won't get sratched. I won't even repeat the demonstration story, because Peter just loves to stack and carry his CD's wherever he goes, and even the fancy scratch remover for CD's cannot get rid of all those scratches that occur during the travel time in the book bag. So everyone knew what Peter wanted for his birthday, the same CD they gave him last year.
The best part about Peter 's love for his CD's was that he does a combo dance sing routine when he plays certain CD's. One of his presents was a radio/CD under the kitchen counter CD player, so as soon as he arrived home from school he was into heavy diskjocking in the kitchen. Singing and dancing away. Laughing and squealing. Actually, Peter is quite a good dancer and has the beat...if you know what I mean. No matter, how bad my day, no matter how sad my heart, Peter and his dancing moves always made me forget my woes, and I almost always joined him at the disco. I cannot tell you what a great feeling it is to be making dinner, and the next thing you know, you are doing the YMCA in the kitchen. And that would be followed by Shout and a glass of wine...and life is good! I actually have become an expert in various wedding dances, as I would stop, listen to the words, and follow along. I am really good at "right foot two stomps, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown. It was all that practice in the kitchen that enables me to join the youngsters on the dance floor and keep the beat.
I must admit, I miss those days of singing and dancing around the island. I miss the sheer delight of letting go and being our own entertainment in the kitchen, acting as if we had no cares in the world and the only thing that matter was making it through the Macarena. Maybe, I need to go out and purchase one of those CD's and just keep it on hand, play it as needed. Really, there is nothing like singing and dancing to lighten the soul! Once again, Peter, in his own way, made the crazy times in my life so much more bearable with his entertaining spirit.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I"m Proud to be an American

When it comes to dressing, Peter has his favorite pieces, of course, the hooded sweatshirt being the highest on the list, anything red, loves that vibrant color, and flag shirts. His love for flag shirts started shortly after 9-11.
9-11, the day none of us will ever forget. The day we all know exactly where we were when we starting viewing the events unfolding before us on the television. A day that still evokes feelings of sadness, unbelief, but also a strong sense of patriotism as we then watched the city of New York so bravely take on the disaster, and show the world, that city and the US would not be broken. During the days and months that followed, many patriotic songs were played on the radio, and many events were held that included the Star Spangled Banner and other such songs that renewed a spirit of patriotism. Peter became intrigued. Peter who never sat and watched TV at an early age, no he just ran, was beginning to sit for periods of time and watch a show or two. I never quite understood why he did not watch TV, was it an attention span thing, vision? I did not know, but knew he was not capable of paying attention to anything on that television set for any period of time. However, post 9-11, Peter watched. He watched and waited to hear the songs. He soon developed a love for any patriotic song and for years we bought him patriotic CD's.
For months, really years after 9-11, Peter remained a true Patriot. Peter who in his mind never could comprehend what really took place that day, did seem to understand how fortunate we are to live in the US. So, years after the new found patriotism became wearing off in many of us, Peter remained a stoic. I remember thinking during that time, if everyone had a Peter in their life, they would be daily reminded that we are so fortunate to live in the US. If everyone started the day out with the Star Spangled Banner or I am proud to be an American....would not we all just have a better attitude about all the good things we have by living in the US?
Peter usually started the day with the Star Spangled Banner, and the song I have my on play list..."Proud to be an American" was also usually played a minimum of twice a day. Peter would hunt out any event on TV that was playing the Star Spangled Banner, just to hear the song. When he found it, he would grab me, stop me from whatever I was doing, ask me to stand still, hand on chest and sing along. I cannot tell you how many times I sang that song, I even got pretty good at mixing with one hand, chesting with the other, singing and finishing dinner for the evening. Sara and Mike also were asked to join in, as a matter of fact, if you were anywhere near the kitchen or the TV, you would be asked to stand, chest, and sing. What I loved about these moments was the reminder that I am proud to be an American. We have so much, and sometimes are not appreciative, and Peter in his own little way, keeps that thought forefront. So, today, I would like to thank Peter for that pure simple reminder of that great blessing...freedom! For keeping the thought alive on a daily basis.For making me stop in the middle of a busy day and taking the moment to sing and know, no matter the politics...we do live in a great place. Hopefully, as you are reading this "I'm Proud to be an American" is on, if not, click... guaranteed to give you a good feeling, a realization of how blessed we are!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dressing but not as in turkey

When our family was blessed with Peter, we were also blessed with his small size. Peter, remember the missing pincer grasp, cannot button, zip, or tie. So, lucky for me, Peter still fits in kid's size clothing. And, thanks to Land's End, who has boys clothes with rubber waist Peter can dress up in his rubber waist pants and still look pretty cool! Even though, Peter had hours of OT, he never developed the ability to button. On those rare occasions when he wore his suit, that would be his wedding and prom suit, we would dress in up in a matching blue shirt that unless closely supervised when undressing, he displayed an superman type behavior and with one quick movement, that shirt came off along with the seven buttons which were seen flying in every direction. This past Christmas, I made the decision to put that suit to rest, along with the blue shirt...I am tired of sewing on buttons, and from now on Peter will be seen in a crew neck sweater without any button shirts involved. No more zippers...just rubber waists.
Because Peter's clothes did not involve buttons or zippers when he was growing up, in Peter's younger years, Peter's wardrobe consisted of sweatshirts, hooded sweatshirts, and sweatpants. And as in Peterism, Peter loves his clothes. He loves those sweatpants and even more the hooded sweatshirt. There is nothing like a good hooded sweatshirt that keeps you warm and secure. When Peter is feeling bad, up goes that hood that seems to provide him comfort. These are the sweatshirts that when near a dryer are repeatedly warmed before applying.
He loves these outfits so much, that when winter is ending, the chill is out of the air, and summer is upon us, you will still find Peter in those layers of clothes. Ninety degrees does not deter Peter from wearing sweat pants, a t-shirt, and a hooded sweatshirt. Convincing Peter, that shorts would be a better idea, goes unheard. So, again,, creativity takes place. At the end of the season, when one needs to change attire, I needed to hide all of those heavy clothes and replace them with the season at hand. Hiding a closet of clothes, again a trick, as Peter was the master of finding these items. So, between the washing and the seasons, I hid and retrieved.
When winter came, Peter so loved his shorts that I once again, had to hide those clothes. Recently, I received a phone call from his group home, stating he would not give up the season's clothes, and now his clothes are hidden again. Dressing, so easy for some, so hard to choose the perfect outfit. For Peter, security in warmth and familiarity. No concern about the look!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


As you have noticed, Peter has a definite issue with quantity, tending towards the "too much" end of it. Too much soap for the car wash, too much soap for the washing machine. Actually, as I relayed the story the other day, I received a call from Sara who asked me if I remember the time she was watching, that would be "watching" Peter and he pulled the same stunt. Only she did not know the washing machine was spewing enormous amounts of soapsuds, so Peter took it upon himself to clean up. He did this by gathering every scatter rug in the house...not that I am a big scatter rug person...that belongs to our parents and grandparents, the scatter rug generation, but Peter managed to find the rugs that caught the mud and snow from the winter months, and the bathroom rugs and use these rugs to cover the mounds of soap. A valiant effort which ended in soap and mud soaked rugs along with the remaining scattered soapsuds. After Sara relayed the story, I pondered...did I remember that or was that another incident I just plain blocked from my memory???

So, back to amounts. Never too little, unless you are seeking information from Peter, but always too much. As in his need to wash his clothes. His idea of "helping" is to wash his whole closet...on a daily basis. So, to encourage the dirty and clean concept I purchased various and sundry types of laundry baskets or containers where he could place his dirty clothes. We are now the proud owners of Big Bird Hampers, baskets, bags, large waste baskets..if it was cutsie and could collect dirty laundry, it was on the purchase plan for me. Under close supervision, Peter was watched to demonstrate that he could take off his dirty clothes, place them in his new shiny cute hamper, and put on his pajamas. Dirty here, clean stays in your closet, and you put on the PJ"S. Easy! I really do not know what Peter did not not understand or still will make an attempt to understand as when the opportunity evolves, he will remove as many items from his closet and quietly, yes, so quietly, sneak into my room and throw them down the clothes shoot.

The clothes shoot where pounds of laundry filled it's coffers on a daily basis. I never really knew what actually was clean or dirty, gave up the battle and washed. Washed and washed. Peter's real plan was always to then sneak downstairs and do his own laundry, which of course he was able to implement on a fairly regular basis. Again, a conceptual amount issue. How many clothes can I actually stuff into that machine before it starts to rock and roll. His idea of doing a load correlated to stuffing it full, holding one hand on the clothes to prevent the clothes from falling to the floor, and finalize with a door slam.

The washing activity became such as time consuming task that I needed to hide his clothes. And hiding also became an activity as Peter became the master of finding the hidden or supposedly hidden clothes. I would empty his closets and drawers and only hand out the clothes he would be wearing for the day. This worked for awhile, until the clothes that were hidden were found or I just got tired of climbing into the cedar closet, going under boxes or blankets, to find an outfit for the day. As the seasons changed, my battle to keep the clothes hidden was always replaced with the thought that maybe Peter would not wash this time. He was usually good about this for awhile, and I kept watch for awhile and than the process started again.

To this day, Peter loves a good wash. And if that goal cannot be reached, he is really into warming up his sweatshirt in the dryer. This, I can handle, many dryer runs, but safer, user friendly. It involves less soap and he love the warmth the sweatshirt provides...try it someday! As I did throughout Peter's life, I learned to "pick my battles" and also needed to decide what is really important to pursue, to lose sleepover. When it came right down to it...not much! When it comes to store bought parts, those can always be replaced, so I kept that close to my heart. As long as nothing was broken, as in body parts, no one was hurt....than it could be replaced, and so my sanity remained cohesive...or at least, so I thought!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Staying over

For as old as Peter is, his behavior has remained rather consistent throughout his life. Yes, he has grown, and slowed down a bit, a very bit, but when he comes to visit as he did last night, he still will try to wash clothes or sneak in an indoor car wash in my shower. He just quietly sits and waits, and when I am not in the room is gone in a flash, as if I would not notice. He was only here a few hours when he went MIA and was found early evening giving my new clean shower doors a much needed coat of soap. He tried very hard, that would be extremely hard to do some laundry, but being on the top of my game plan, he was deferred. Luckily, he now has the Internet and Skye to occupy his time. He will call you ahead of time to remind you that you need to be on Skye...not quite understanding that his sister and friends are not just sitting there waiting for him to be Syped! So during the evening hours, when not soaping or escaping he browes and Skypes.

He has also yet to understand the concept of "sleeping in". Peter, you can sleep in tomorrow until 800 Am, how about trying 700 AM.... It is a really nice feeling, Pete, to sleep in!! And as always, he promises and I believe.

So, this morning at 600 AM, as I hear the cupboard doors opening and motors running, I mosey on downstairs to start my day. Peter has already started up the Internet and is looking up his "favs". As he had invested in a fair amount of time last evening reviewing "car washes", he has now moved on to looking up trains. Peter loves the METRA, and has found that there are many "pieces" of information regarding this train system. He especially loves the one that arrives, I believe in the Aurora train station, I should know this as I have heard so many times. What he likes about this particular clip, is the LOUD clanging the train makes as it enters the station. To assimilate the actual train arrival, he turns up the volume and if you did not know better, you may think that Metra was landing right in your kitchen. This little activities will take place for approximately an hour or so, and then he moves onto his absolute favorite saying, which is "The doors are about to close". He will repeat these words in his lowest base voice that he can muster, but than likes to use his soprano high pitched voice, like a munchin, saying these words over and over in all different levels of tonation, the doors are about to close. All these variation of the tones to the phrase bringing him absolute joy and laughter!

This morning as he is eagerly googling his favorite topics and I hovering over my first cup of coffee and trying to wake up the brain and get it motivated for the day. I hear " You have reached your destination". Now, that is a new one..the GPS? You can google the GPS? So I ask..Peter you can google the GPS? He replies that yes, it is very just have to put in TUNV...magic I assume! So, as I foggily prepare for the day, not really know where I am going, I am reminded, frequently, I have reached may not have reached my final Destination, but my journey is good!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Washing Machine

As am I reminded of the car washes, I find the words car wash synchronous with the word soap, and that inspires me to discuss the washing machine. You see, in our house, my washing machine is conveniently located between the kitchen and garage, placed there so I would not need to climb the long steps to the basement to place a quick load of wash. Conveniently located that during the course of the day, I can do many loads of wash, as the washing equipment is just steps sway. So convenient...and,even more convenient for Peter.
When my second hand washer and dryer finally called it quits, I made a decision to go out and buy what I thought was the best, most convenient, top of the line washing machine, you know, the ones that are very popular these days, the front loading ones that require minimal amounts of soaps. That one. I am thinking this will be the perfect machine where I can place items on the top, or better yet, fold the clothes on the top as the top is no longer needed for entry. So thrilled with my purchase, my new Maytag washer and dryer arrived and I was in wash heaven. Perfect, I am thinking. Looks good, convenient...could life get any better?
In my search of this new machine, I forget one small item that would make a significant difference in my life...that machine, that pretty, cream colored, expensive machine's door, was at the perfect height for Peter to open. Most likely, not an issue when buying the machine, as previous to this new Maytag arriving, Peter showed no interest in washing...nope, probably could not get him to wash if you paid him. So, in my list of things I needed or felt were essential in a new washing machine, a front loader at Peter's height was not a concern. Knowing what I know loader would definitely be the washer of choice...but who knew that Peter would add a new business of washing every item he found in the house when, I of course, was occupied.
This fancy machine was computer operated, no more knobs and dials...totally push button, and when the salesperson recommended the buyer protection package that costs half the price of the machine every three years, I bought in. My mind did go to Peter playing with these way to easy buttons, and, as he said, if the computer goes, that will cost you about $800.00. Peter insurance I am thinking. So every three years, I bought, and now have paid twice the amount for that machine! However, the dials, although of interest, were somewhat intriguing to Peter, not just as intriguing as the act of washing itself.
He found a new activity which has kept him and me occupied since the day my new found friend, the machine entered the door. The one thing Peter just could not comprehend, was the amount of soap needed to wash. Remember Mister I need a whole bottle of Dawn to wash a car, well, Peter maintained that Mister I need a boatload of soap to wash clothes. No hiding of Tide, explaining how much to use, nor any method of constraint could convince Peter that if he decided to wash, he needed small, that would be minuscule amounts of soap. Peter always made a decision to use as much soap as he deemed necessary. He also maintained the fine art of sneaking in a wash while one eliminates..if you know what I mean.
I distinctly remember one fine sunny day, when I came downstairs and heard the machine going, only to roll my eyes, and understand what had just taken place. By this point, I had come to accept the event and move on with my day. I, remaining in the kitchen, detected an unusual sound emitting from from my friend the Maytag, it was as if that machine was suffering from severe gastric distress...the whirling and the churning that was taking place was painful to my ears. I approached slowly, entering the small laundry hall, hoping to analyze and solve the problem. I had much to do that day, so a quick fix was in order. But, to what to my eyes did appear, I really needed the Christmas clock at that point playing a small round of Jingle Bells, as the washing machine, as if it was vomiting, has expelled gargantuan amounts of fine white tiny bubbles. Mounds of white puffy soap was filling the room, so much, that I needed to make a pathway to the machine. Winter soapuds, in the middle of summer right there in my laundry room. Never experiencing such an event, I was not quite sure where to turn, what does one do when Frosty the soap man is melting all over ones floor and building knee high piles of soapsuds in the process. Walking through the piles, I turned off the machine, and than made a grave mistake... I opened the door, the front end loader door where the rest of the machines "stomach distress" lie. The machine, with the door open, removed the remaining soapsuds that was causing so much pain and that soap landed on me and the floor. I, standing in knee high soapsuds, was now covered with bubbles. I, now, have a one to one experience with Frosty as that was who I momentarily appeared to be.
Do you know how long it takes to get rid of soap bubbles? Do you know how long it takes to get the soap out of the clothes that were in the washer before they can be replaced, only to be washed again?
Things changed that bright sunny day. Deanna got a call, and spent the afternoon cleaning the laundry room. As for Peter, he thought it was great fun, there was nothing so exciting as seeing the machine spew the soap, it equated to an automatic door experience, a hand wringing, squealing with delight experience. Oh, to be so easily entertained! I, on the other hand, needed to dig deep that day, to see the immediate benefits of entertainment one derives from a washing machine experience a gastrointestinal event!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Taking the Car Wash inside

The car wash did not always take place outside. Peter, in his own creative mind, was able to find inside opportunities to Paint the soap inside the house. This took place when Peter either stated he was going to take a shower or was asked to take a shower. The shower door, inside and out, became the car. Spending a generous amount of time in the act of cleanliness, Peter would empty my shampoo bottles in a washcloth and "clean' the shower door. I am amazed, as this event still takes place today, the amount of soap one can apply to such a small area. The soap, which again resembled frosting on the cake would later be cleaned by me or Deanna. Not a small undertaking as the layers are thick. Now, you may ask, why not stop Peter from playing car wash in my shower. You see, with Peter it came down to Inside car wash or momentarily peace and quiet to which I made the decision that those fifteen minutes of peace and quiet were well worth the one half hour of cleaning that would take place later. If I allow him fifteen minutes of cleaning, which included a shower as I always reminded he had to wash his body first, than I would have a few minutes to spend for me. Fifteen minutes where I was fully aware of Peter's location and fifteen minutes where I knew that the only "damage" would be soap of the shower door. A trade of utmost importance in the sanity cycle of life. Those precious fifteen minutes may include making dinner, a phone call, a moment to sit and read the newspaper. Fifteen minutes of P and Q...a refueling moment if needed. What is a bit of soap on a door anyway? In Peter's life, I made decisions that most logical people may question, but in my life, made perfect sense.
The carwash now also takes place, rather quietly, on Peter's lap. During Peter's car wash years, the Internet came along with You Tube. Peter, who has the reading and writing level of maybe a kindergartner has the ability of googling CAR WASH and will spend hours viewing all those post on You Tube...occasionally needing a bit of monitoring based on the level of clothes those participating in the car wash are wearing. He is mesmerized by these hundreds of car washes, and sits for hours and watches, squeals with delight, laughs, wrings his hands, and thoroughly enjoys the moment of You Tube car washes. Very entertaining as this could go on for hours. To be honest, the computer and the Internet has been a "God send" as now Peter can spend hours googling car washes and trains, the Wiggles, and recently before going to Minnesota, spent hours trying to find the Lite Rail. With a refurbished laptop on his lap, he remains in my view which cuts down on the soap consumption, inside and out. In my mind, a small window that opened for Peter which keeps him entertained. And for me, an opportunity to sit next to him, a glass of wine in hand, and read, or watch a show, or stare aimlessly into space,enjoying the peace and quiet

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Gas Station

Peter did not always play car wash, on a rare occasion, that would be a one time rare occasion, Peter decided to play gas station. Imagine yourself on a beautiful sunny summer day, a kind of day that is perfect for spending in the yard, picking or cleaning or maintaining the yard, surrounded by your family happily occupying themselves with either helping you, or just being entertained by themselves. A day to accomplish much needed yard work, surrounded by your loved ones, Perfect..sunny..warm..fuzzy! Feel it?
It was of course on this day, that we used the ASSUME know that know the one I tell my student's never assume because if you take apart the get the meaning. So assuming we did. I assumed some family member was either playing or watching Peter, and others in the group also made that same assumption. It was the perfect family bonding afternoon, so someone had to be in charge. Assuming away, and thinking Peter was playing car wash on Sara's old car, so we were not concerned about the pounds of soap that he would apply, we went about our business. After awhile, I decided that I really needed to check on whoever was watching Peter, so I headed to the front of the house. There I found Peter, contently playing a new game called gas station. You see, when one plays gas station one takes the garden hose, turns if on, and then puts it into the gas tank of his sister's car. Filling it up...just like in the old days, full service, what more could you ask. Gasping, hoping it wasn't true, that sinking feeling that I had previously experienced related to Peter's activities, the inner voice that wanted to scream "PETER" all gathered within my spirit. I cannot believe this is happening. Just when I think that Peter has done everything imaginable on earth, he comes up with a new activity!
Immediately, I ran and turned off the water and tried to explain to Peter that was really not a good idea. Peter, in his innocence, really did not understand and was just playing, staying busy. Realizing the damage was done, I called several gas stations and asked for advice. I have to admit I do not know anyone who ever had their gas tank purposely filled with water. But, now I can tell you what you do when that happens.
The rest of that perfect day was spent observing Sara's car lifted carefully on a tow truck. Did you know that you cannot turn on the car once the water has been infused. The junker than spent the week drying out at the local gas station and could be retrieved only after the tank had been removed, dried, and reinserted. The cost equivalent to the price of the car itself.
The silver lining...always found it important to find the silver lining in these meaningful events. At least we knew there was water in the gas tank, as the damage would have been horrific had she turned on the car...and we probably would not have realized the cause.
I am thinking that my sheer look of terror when I saw this event occurring made an impression on Peter. He must have learned that day never to play gas station again, as this scene was not repeated. The calm hysteria that occurred following the discovery must have sent a message somewhere to his head. And we, held a small gathering, the neighbors coming to view the car removal, and we explaining oh it was just Peter....and they smiling, telling me I should write a book...that day, I could only think of the check I would be writing! Some day, a tale to be told....

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Chandelier

I am expecting company this weekend, so knowing that my house is in dire need of cleaning, I needed to call my cleaning lady Deanna. She has not showed up for awhile and after a very stern discussion with her...get you anny fanny over as I do not want to have my college roommates thinking I live in a dirty, hasn't been cleaned since Christmas house, she agreed to come. So, Deanna, (AKA me!) has dedicated the entire day to making the house look like Mr. Clean, was he the White Tornado? lives here. Ha..fat chance this cleaning event will be happening again soon.
As I am cleaning, I find Peter's imprints of life throughout the house. Take for instance, the chandelier. The beautiful white cracked porcelain chandelier that we saved to purchase from Porter's the fancy furniture store in Racine, many moons ago. The very expensive white cracked porcelain chandelier that is now not so perfect because it was touched by Peter. As I am dusting, I now make the connection of how he learned to fling that bowling ball so far down the alley. Peter, for as tiny as he was, learned the fine art of flinging Big Bird over the balcony which looks into the dining room where you find the wonderful white cracked porcelain chandelier which has those tiny little cups located at the end of the candlestick like lights. The ones that would catch the drips if they were actual candles. Well, all mine won't be catching drips, as on his flight to the floor or the table, wherever he landed, Big Bird managed to come in contact with these cute little drip catchers and so several of mine have rather large chips. And no, the company is out of business, so the catchers will remain forever chipped. This chandelier holds many memories as often, returning home late at night while the kids were supposedly being carefully supervised by a responsible teen, we would find clothes hanging from the chandelier or various stuffed animals surrounding the table, all having been thrown by Peter over the course of the evening. It became such a regular occurrence, that as I turned off the lights for the evening, I included the gathering of the objects that were used to play over the balcony baseball earlier in the evening. See, the special memories that chandelier holds. I cannot look or dust this chandelier without these wonderful fond (?) memories. At the time, I am sure, I had many a discussion with a sitter, why, we even had doors installed in the balcony opening in order to spare the chandelier, but Peter,in his own way, still managed to toss that incredibly heavy bird overboard or is that overbalcony.
As I went on to dust the collection of books found underneath a coffee table, there I noticed the replacement book from Mexico. Yes, I remember that night we were had friends over for dinner, a nice fire going in the fireplace, and what do I see out of the corner of my eye, it happened so quickly, the beautiful book that I found in southern Mexico depicting all the places we had visited, slowly engulfed in flames. Peter feeding the fire. The book never to be found, was replaced by another, not quite the same. And yet, the book burning, such a vivid memory!
And now, into his bedroom where one of the roomies will sleep. I wonder which of the five alarm clocks they will set? Peter loves clocks, so he over the years, received several alarm clocks, all fully functioning in his bedroom. Peter loves clocks so much we have a large variety. Maybe when they come I could hang the train clock which sounds like a train entering your kitchen on the hour, or the obnoxious bird is spring afterall. Oh wait, I think I will go retrieve the Christmas clock, it will make for good conversation and keep us on time. We could use a little Silent Night mid-April.
So, my journey through my house, brings smiles and laughter. The broken pieces, the replacement parts. All pieces of Peter that has made up my life with Peter Labanowsky. All pieces that I would not change one bit.


So, my very special boy, now really a man, still boy, turned 22 this weekend. He had the best birthday weekend ever, as he visited his favorite sister when you only have one, no competition involved, and her husband in Minneapolis. Because Peter has a love for trains, it is on the same love level as car washes, he chose to ride the Lite Rail to Mall of America. The sheer simple joy of a train ride is all he needed. That and a hotel room made up for the perfect birthday.
Spending six hours in the car inthe drive to Minnesota definitely shed some light on Peter's development since he moved into his group home. Since the move, several years ago, Peter has matured nicely and has become more talkative..that would be 10 words per sentence now,, rather than 5 or 6. He has experienced more group activities, so taking him to a Twins game was an enjoyable experience, as he participated, stayed seated, yes, stay seated which is a major improvement throughout the game. He loved being there, did not want to leave, and ate two of the largest hot dogs known to mankind. He even likes to shop and engages himself in looking while we shopped. Again, all these changes are amazing in our eyes.
However, the surprising moment came as my friend the GPS was having us cross the Mississippi every two blocks, the voice saying turn left, oh that would be left again, and again, and over and over. So, we continued to cross the Mississippi, back and forth. On one of our crossing, I attempted to point out the new bridge, was quickly reprimanded by Peter to pay attention to my driving and than professed that Bridges made him very nervous, to me, a new found phobia for bridges. Really Peter, bridges? Oh, I am very afraid of bridges he claimed. Looking very scared I held his hand to cover the last of the many bridges we crossed, I pondered. Dentists, doctors, thunderstorms, bridges? Peter has never had a care in the world about bridges. So what is with the new concern? I do know that when Peter is around anyone long enough, he has a tencency to pick up other's behaviors. Is this one of them? Is one of his roomies afraid of bridges? So, Peter, does Andy not like bridges? Yes, Peter admitted one of his roommates did not like bridges, so I guess, Peter made a decision that he also does now not like bridges.
In my mind, I am thinking, Oh no..we are not going there. No new fears..old ones, okay, ones, NOPE! So, after finally, arriving to our destination by pulling the cord on the GPS and calling Sara, Peter and I have a bridge heart to heart.
Peter, I say, in my most convincing voice, you are not afraid of bridges, you never have been, you are not now, and you will not be afraid of bridges. Peter looks at me and says..I"m not? No, you are not afraid of bridges!! Really? Really!!! Okay, he agrees, and that was the end of the bridge phobia. Interesting, no more bridge fears for the rest of the trip.
Why, do I think the next time it may be escalators...because I know Peter, and he will observe this behavior and think that he needs it. We will have this discussion again. Remember Peter, you are not afraid of that. If only life were so simple I could convince him that he is not afraid of dentists!