Our Journey Raising Two Children with Special Needs

This blog chronicles our life raising two children, Nicholas 14, diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome and Weston 17, diagnosed with Autism/Asperger's/ADHD. It's the ups, the downs, the joys, the sorrows and most importantly, the beauty of living a life less perfect, a life more meaningful.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Have Shovel Will Travel


February is a snowy month for New England. It is not unusual for a stormy weather pattern to settle over us and spin off two or even three snow events in a single week.

We received a few inches of snow on Monday, a foot on Wednesday with a few more inches expected on Sunday.

When we do experience this kind of snowage, shoveling becomes synonymous with pain. The once magical properties of the fluffy white stuff have now morphed into back breaking work and a kind of thoughtless drudgery as folks head out for the hundredth time to shovel walkways and uncover buried vehicles.

Bad backs and bad attitudes begin to prevail as folks around here experience snow fatigue.

There is one individual however, who never tires of inclement weather. In fact, he seems to crave poor weather conditions and the opportunity it affords to burn off some excess energy.

As the first flakes begin to fall, Weston heads to our front step where he begins scratching and scrapping the concrete with his heavy aluminum shovel.

"Scrape, scrape......scraaaaaatch"

It is the only household chore that I do not need to remind him to do....ever.

The boys did not have school on Wednesday. Weston took full advantage of the snow day to man his usual post as Chief Walkway Cleaner.

"Scrape, scrape....scraaaaaatch"
He maintained snow removal excellence throughout the day but soon tired of his much-too-easy and all-too-familiar responsibility.
"Mom!" he shouted brightly, "I have an idea!"
"Would it be OK if I go around the neighborhood and ask if I can help people shovel out?"
Hmmm, I thought to myself, let's see, should I allow the eager boy to roam the neighbor in search of gainful employment or do I subdue his restless energy and force him inside where he will most likely spend much of the day terrorizing his younger brother?
The vision of a red-faced Nicholas screaming at the top of his lungs "Weeeston Stooooop!" is all I need to make the no-brainer decision.
"OK Weston, where are you going to go?"
He described his proposed route, grabbed his trusty shovel and headed out into the snow ravaged neighborhood.
Now, had this been December, I expect the eager shovelest may have had more difficulty, but since this is February, and we have all shoveled and plowed and scraped until our hands are calloused and our back's broken, I suspected he might do OK.
 Sure enough it isn't long before the front door bursts open with a blast of cold air and a whirlwind of  teenage enthusiasm.
"Mom!" shouts the energized entrepreneur, his face red, his hair wet with sweat.
"Look, I made thirty dollars!"
He hands me the wet crumpled bills and stares at them in disbelief as if the soggy, green currency might disappear if he looks away.
"It's real money," he says.
I suppress an urge to laugh at my perceived cluelessness.
"Wow, that's great Weston, who was the generous donor?"
"Well you kind of go down this way and around that way and up." he explains confidently using several animated hand gestures.
But my ability to speak Weston is somehow negatively effected by the storm and I have no idea where he has offered his services.
I struggle to maintain an emotionless expression, since extreme outrage can often accompany joyous outbursts in Weston, his emotional control center seeking to find its balance.
I try again delicately.
"Ohhhh, you mean the yellow house straight ahead on the right?"
"No Mom, he says with frustration. "It's down this way and around that way and up," he says again losing his patience.
"Ohhhh, that one," I answer still completely unaware where this kind soul resides.
"What did they look like?" I ask, hoping that perhaps his description of the snowbound resident may provide me with some kind of a clue to their identity.
"Well she's like the kid. She's been living in Asia and hasn't seen snow for 5 years."
"Five years in Asia, wow that's great," I say certain now that I would not know this person if I tripped over them.
"Yeah I helped her shovel out two of her cars. She asked me what I charged and I told her she could pay me whatever she thought was fair and she gave me thirty dollars!"
"Well we will need to thank her," I said,  "maybe when we drive by on our way to school."
"Yeah," Weston says and I am thankful that I will eventually learn the location of this good Samaritan.
Pete comes in from plowing and the eager Weston is happy to share his news.
"Dad, Dad, I got thirty bucks" he shouts.
"That's great, who gave it to you?" he asked.
"You know the house where you go down this way and around that way and up," he answered.
I raise my eyebrow and look at my husband wondering how he will respond to our joyous jobber.
"Ohhh that one," Pete says winking at me while keeping his expression completely emotionless.
He too, it appears has learned to speak Weston.
The successful shoveling shindig has been a good experience for our maturing young man and I am comforted that he may just find his way in this world after all.