Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Toothpaste & Television

My 2 youngest sons, Hiro & Ryan, have autism. I am fortunate that both boys have a high level of emotional capacity and attachment to my wife and I and both are intelligent in their own ways. Last night, I learned a valuable lesson from Ryan, our youngest.

Ryan has a fascination with smearing various substances on the TV screen. The telltale sign that this is occurring is when it gets very quiet in his room and you can hear the Dora DVD but not hear Ryan jumping or laughing or getting into other mischief. Last night was one of those nights.

Miyo came home sick and went straight to bed @ about 6:30 PM and slept all night. That left the boys and I to a night of pseudo-batchelorhood (if that's a word!) Hiro and I were playing downstairs and I was trying to keep him awake as it was about 8:30 PM and he was getting sleepy. I wanted him to stay up until about 9:00 PM because he would not sleep all night if he fell asleep before then.

About that time, I noticed that it was too quiet upstairs. I went up to check on Ryan and discovered that he had taken the toothpaste from his older brothers' bathroom and smeared it all over the TV screen, the dresser, his hands and his hair. (Toothpaste, in a crunch, would make a good, very stiff, hair gel. Another lesson learned.) After spending 20 minutes cleaning the room, you could see Dora and Boots again. Ryan would have none of letting me take down the spikes in his hair, so that was comical to see this morning, but at least his hands and the mess in the room was clean.

This was apparently stressful for him as he fell asleep shortly thereafter. When I went down to check on Hiro, he had decided that the day had been long enough for him as well, so he fell asleep. After picking up it was time for me to reflect on the day and head to bed myself.

The lesson of the day is that silence is not always golden but will typically produce a lesson learned that had not been considered before. One more thing, toothpaste makes a pretty good cleaning agent and, depending on the type used, can leave a fresh sent behind.

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