The following story takes place on Sunday, November 5, 2017, at 5:00am.
It also takes place on Monday, November 6, at the same time.
And on Tuesday, November 7.
And today, Wednesday.
I knew we’d have a problem with Daylight Savings Time. I just didn’t know how big a problem.
5am rolls around and Dar wakes up. Despite years of attempts at conditioning, he gets loud. Real loud. We can lock him in his room but we can’t keep him from tee-tee-tee-ing.
With his brother, conditioning took one day. We told him we were sick of him waking us up in the middle of the night, that when he awoke and saw darkness outside his window, he had to try to put himself back to sleep, and if he woke us, he’d be forced to take a bath that morning. Next morning, he had a bath. He never woke us again.
Dar is different. Consequences don’t register the same way. You may as well try to train a rooster not to cock-a-doodle-doo.
Now Dar wakes his brother. I hear them. I also hear the dog. I don’t actually bother to keep Dar’s door locked anymore, because it makes so little difference.
It’s 5:30 or so. I come downstairs to the living room, try to give wifey more time for sleep. Dar is tee-tee-tee-ing, his brother is watching kid-friendly Netflix (often Magic School Bus), and the dog is hoping that one of them will drop food on the floor. The windows outside show a world in complete darkness.
I sigh. I get my laptop. I try to get some things done during this time that doesn’t “count.”
I go to the kitchen. I get snacks for the kids. I give them out. I warn them not to let the dog eat them.
I return to the kitchen. I make coffee in the coffee-maker. I drink the sweet, sweet nectar. Good news: I can now think. Bad news: I won’t be returning to sleep until tonight.
Dar’s brother wants to talk, and I want to talk to him, and now we do.
Dar stomps through the house, almost oblivious to us.
Dar-Dar. Dar! Is he waking the neighbors?
What to do?
Drugs are one option. We used to put him to sleep with Benadryl. That often was enough to get him through the night. We may go back to that.
Lately we have been very seriously discussing soundproofing his room. (This could involve moving his sleeping quarters to a room that might be more easily soundproofed.) This isn’t as crazy as it may sound. A lot of people have “music studios” or “dens” or “man caves” or similar. Special foam-hybrid walls can be installed. They muffle the sound. They probably don’t cancel it out.
Muffling is probably perfect for us. If he screams bloody murder, we’d still hear him. But most of the time we could sleep. Oh, sweet sleep. It’s the sleep that we need if we’re going to be good parents to him.
DO NOT get judgey with me. Don’t even try. If you want to even THINK of DMing me or commenting about this, you either are a parent of a severely autistic child or you’ve read a book by one, like for example “Carly’s Voice.” You try to judge me regarding our soundproofing exploration, I will literally quiz you on what happens in the last chapter of the book you say you’ve read.
You walk a mile in these shoes before you tell me I’m on the wrong path. That’s how this works. You don’t like those rules, walk away.
As I recognize the day of the one-year anniversary of the Trumpocalypse, I find myself compelled to say one good thing about the Trump phenomenon: my friends can better relate to my Dar situation. Obviously Dar is not as bad a person as Donald Trump. But we live in a Oprah-infused culture that tells you: if you live with a person who infects your life with negativity, just walk away.
But sometimes you can’t walk away. Like when a President is taking a wrecking ball to your and your friends’ civil rights. Or when you have to raise a severely autistic child.
I’m sure Oprah and her acolytes have helped many a battered wife walk away, which is great. But after the last year of suffering, now we’re clear that doesn’t work for everyone, right?
What’s a little less clear is what you do when you can’t walk away.
I think you take steps to reduce the problem; in the case of Trump, that means working toward his removal. I think you also take steps to compartmentalize the problem. In the case of Dar, that may mean some soundproofing.
Anyway it hasn’t happened yet, this is merely the first time I’m mentioning the idea here.
Maybe Dar-light Savings Time is about gaining time and losing time at the same time. Or maybe Dar-light Savings Time is some sort of usable metaphor that I’m only just waking up to the idea of using. Something about how the light is darkest before the dawn.
Or maybe I just need more sleep.