Mr. Boo is now nearly two weeks into adulthood and seems to be hitting his stride. We have our summertime routine, now. Since he is growing like mad, he loves to sleep in. I wake him up early to give him his meds, but then let him doze off again. In a few hours he will get up and raid the kitchen for pop tarts. We will eat and dress in a leisurely fashion and then go face the outside world. Right now, he is on a Wendy’s kick. Please don’t judge me. I won’t eat Wendy’s because they support the orange maggot in office. But, these days, Boo is a picky eater and I will do almost anything to get calories into him. So, we swing by the drive through and pick up chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink. We drive to the nearby park and go to the same picnic table every time. Boo tears into his bag of food with wild abandon. After the first few bites he slows down enough to savor his food. We watch the birds and the squirrels. They watch us, waiting for fallout. They won’t come up to us, but as soon as we vacate the premises they are all over the scraps.
After lunch we wander over to Har Mar mall. I am amazed the place is still open. Most of the stores are shuttered. There is nary a soul to be seen. But, Boo loves this place. We have visited here since infancy. There are long corridors for walking and running. He can do his own thing without bothering anyone and it is easy for me to keep an eye on him. His favorite thing at the mall is the gumball machine. You put in your quarter and a gumball comes spiralling down a long ramp. Ah, the delight of anticipation. What color will the gumball be this time? Red? Blue? Green? Yellow? Once the gumball pops out of its chute it goes directly into Boo’s mouth. Pure bliss.
We had not been to Har Mar during the shut down, so Boo was very happy to return this week. It was dead quiet. Even the octogenarian walkers were nowhere to be seen. Neither, alas alack, was the gumball machine! All the candy machines in the mall had been taken out during Covid. Mr. Boo looked high and low, but we could not find them. He was still happy enough to walk a few laps around the mall and then we headed for our next favorite place, Target. I picked up his meds at the pharmacy and then we stopped by Starbucks for a juice box. A kind friend had given him a $25 gift certificate here so this should keep him in juice boxes for a long time. Thank you, Karen! He took his juice box and I took my coffee and we headed back out into the world.
At home, he was happy enough to flop on his bed with his iPad and the puppy for while. Gloria licked him all over as he probably still tasted or smelled like chicken and French fries. The two of them have a love/hate relationship. She likes to steal his food. He likes to pull on her paws. But, when I suggest that they give each other some space all I get are dirty looks from the two of them. Most of the time when Boo is flopped out on his bed, Gloria is somewhere nearby. After a rest, we go for a walk to explore the neighborhood. Glorious pop art has sprung up all over our neighborhood after the George Floyd killing. It is a vital reminder that yet another innocent life was lost but that they fight for truth, justice, and common decency must go on. I point out the Black Lives Matter signs to Boo and we talk about social justice. We see a sign that says “Be a nice human” and I pause to take a picture of it. Sometimes we walk 2 miles. Sometimes we walk 5. It all depends on how much energy Mr. Boo has to burn on that particular day. Eventually, we head home and see what daddy has prepared for dinner. We spend a few hours together as a family and then it is time for the next round of meds. This combo of meds tends to make Boo sleepy. He prefers to doze off while playing with his iPad. Normally, I would discourage screen time right before bed, but it really does have a soporific effect on him, an sleep can be hard to come by, so I let it go. Eventually, he will drift off and I will slip out of his room. Sleep well, dear little man.
The other night after our first Har Mar expedition, I had the most wonderful dream. Boo and I were exploring the mall. We found a secret back room, known only to those on the spectrum. In this back room were all the hidden gumball machines. The room was full of kids and young men just like Boo, all happily chomping away on gumballs. I woke up smiling from this dream. Boo, I hope Covid ends, oh how I hope if ends, and the gumballs come back. In the meantime, we will make do with juice boxes from Starbucks.