6:19 a.m. Tiggered, Zion style. I open my eyes and find myself nose to nose with the world’s cutest little boy. Swimming in a sea of wonder and eyelashes, that little face is the reason I can get up at this hour without cussing. (Well, most days.)
6:20 a.m. Zion’s first word of the day? Cereal. Or if it’s the weekend…bacon. And yes, he knows the difference. Mama’s first word of the day? Coffee.
6:31 a.m. I force my feet to the floor, and retrieve said cereal. Zion is beside me every step of the way…that is, until he has the Precious in his hands, and then I don’t see or hear from him again for 12 whole minutes.
6:43 a.m. Zion returns to ask for a blanket and the iPad. This is a daily ritual, so he knows full well where these items are located…and how to get them, but for whatever reason if I don’t get them for him, it will cause a giant meltdown. So I fetch the blanket and iPad. He burrows himself into a cocoon in the media room, and refuses to move for the next hour.
6:50 a.m. I hear Surprise Eggs coming from the iPad. (If you don’t know what this is, you may now get down on your knees and thank your God.) I dash to my room as if outrunning the Wrath of Khan.
8:01 a.m. Zion has now watched every freaky, hellish Disney preview, outtake, interview and clamshell dialogue in existence. He can easily turn it off and script every word…verbatim. And does. Don’t believe me? Ride with him in the car for 45 minutes.
8:02 a.m. I announce to Zion that the time has come that he must finally un-cocoon and get dressed. I have let him sit for so long that he doesn’t object…usually. He is dressed in 30 seconds. Upon inspection I discover that he is wearing a wrestling onesie, his sister’s purple t-shirt, and no underwear. He looks like a young Richard Simmons with a buzz cut.
8:03 a.m. I pick out Zion’s clothes, and he dresses himself. All but his shoes, which he always insists that I tie for him, even though he knows how. He doesn’t like the way he does it. The loops aren’t even, or tight enough. So I tie his shoes. Which honestly I don’t mind doing. The thing I resent is the way he leans back and puts his hands behind his head with his fingers laced like he’s enjoying it. Little turd.
8:05 a.m. We leave the house for our 45 minute drive to his ABA therapy center. Remember the Disney refresher he had in the cocoon an hour ago? Now I get to listen to it all the way to Zionsville. And no, they haven’t named a city after my son, that is the name of the actual town. Annnnnnnd yes…I have invested in commercial-free Pandora and a good pair of Beatz headphones.
8:50ish a.m., depending on traffic. We arrive at utopia. Utopia = ABA therapy center. Applied Behavior Analysis. A place where educated adults have chosen to spend their days bettering the lives of children and families with autism. These people are angels with swings and a ball-pit. They find ways to bring Zion out of himself that I never would have even imagined in my wildest dreams. They also make it possible for me to work full-time, so I can have adult conversation and other work place shenanigans for 7-8 hours a day. Is it expensive? A bit. But worth every penny.
4:57 p.m. I pull in late to pick up Zion. Work was nutsy and traffic was nutsier. I am greeted by the sight of my 110 pound son being tossed into a ball-pit by a 120 pound woman. Zion is squealing with glee. His therapist picks him up again, and on the count of three, tosses him back in. Zion spies me, and yells, “Hi Mama!” All I can think is how much that therapist deserves a massage and a nice drink.
6:02 p.m. We finally pull back into our driveway at home. I suddenly remember that I forgot to turn on the crockpot.
6:05 p.m. I order a pizza, let the dog out, and shuffle through the mail. Zion heads straight for the pile of Disney movies in the media room, where he meticulously lines them up end to end. He asks me for a piece of paper and a pen. Over and over and over again. He spends the next hour copying down Disney titles onto the paper, word for word. He brings me each paper, and asks me to read it to him.
“A Walt Disney production….The Little Mermaid.”
“A Don Bluth film…All Dogs Go to Heaven.”
“Pixar presents…A Bug’s Life.”
I try to read it as enthusiastically as I did the first 4,378 times. But it’s just not happening.
In my mind I am thinking…
“Mama Solis presents…Zion’s new bedtime: 6:05 p.m.”
7:05 p.m. Pizza arrives. I nearly kiss the pizza man like that old war photo in Times Square. Ahhhhh pizza. I try to pretend as though it is healthy because it has tomato sauce. That’s a vegetable, right?
7:30 p.m. Bathtime. God’s gift to mothers of children with autism everywhere.
9:01 p.m. Zion emerges from the tub. By this time, that water has to be about as cold as that scene from the Titanic where Jack dies. Zion is also as pruny as a raisin. But he is happy. Water is his happy place.
9:07 p.m. After Zion has run around the house air-drying, so kindly displaying his bare wienis to this household of females, he puts on his jammies. He brings me a book. Again, I read it to him, even though he can recite the entire thing with the book closed. I kiss him on his nose. He says, “good night Mama. I love you. See you in the morning.”
9:14 p.m. We made it through another day. I sit down to have an actual conversation with my tween daughter. We laugh about funny Zion-isms from our day. I cherish this time with her.
9:15 p.m. I fall asleep in the chair mid-sentence.