My youngest sister sent over two bags of chocolates for the boys the other night, and the oldest boy, who has a sweet tooth (revise that to say he has a mouthful of sweet teeth, judging by the way he goes through chocolates), pounced on one right away. I had to grab the bags away from him to stop him from eating. He may be 19, but he still has to eat his dinner like a good boy.
My husband then took charge and stored the chocolates in a drawer. And in good time too, because a few minutes later, the other chocolate monster came barreling through our bedroom door, buck naked and grinning from ear to ear. It seems Alphonse pulled a quick one on his nannies, pretending to take a bath and then escaping from them while they were busy getting his bath supplies. He ran as fast as he could, taking the steps two at a time to reach us in record time. His belly fat jiggled all the time, his face was flushed from the effort, but he was unstoppable.
As soon as he came in, he scanned the room for… what else? Food. The boy knows he has a ready access to food when his big brother is around. I could sense that he was disappointed not to find any. His shoulders slumped sadly and the grin faded slowly. But Alphonse has a face that can be most easy to read at times, and this was one time his expressions told us all. His head suddenly perked up, the way a meerkat does when it senses things. He sniffed around, his nostrils apparently picking up a scent. And then he made his way to the trash can, where the evidence of big brother’s debauchery was still there for all to see.
He picked up the wrappers, sniffed them a bit, turned them every which way, and threw them back to the trash. And then he inched himself, slowly at first, to me, now smiling quite devilishly. He took a long look at my handbag and motioned for me to hand it over. When I did, he started going through all the open pockets and zipped compartments. He shook out my hanky, as if expecting a shower of chocolates to fall out any time. He opened my wallet, and satisfied there wasn’t anything edible, handed it back to me.
I knew he was getting impatient when he started searching my bag over and over again. We had to give him something, or else face the prospect of being frisked and strip searched (no kidding!). And so, his dad lured him to the bathroom to give me time to sneak out a few pieces of chocolates from their hiding place. When he came back and saw the chocolates on the table, he flashed us his most charming smile.
I asked him to choose which one of three miniature chocolate bars (Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, and Nestle Crunch) he liked best. He thought about it for a while and then chose. All three. These boys have definitely got my food genes.
And so here goes another day in the life of an autism family. It isn’t always easy, but when you live and breathe in it every day, despite its strangeness, there are plenty of blessings too. Autism opens your eye to the beauty of the world. You appreciate more; you learn not to take anything for granted. Not one moment. And when you finally learn how to live that way, then even the most banal, most common day can turn out to be an extraordinary one.