It’s 6:40am and Super Daddy wakes you from a sound sleep. You emerge from under your heavy blanket with its pellets in quilted squares that hug your body in all the right places. Toss Buzz Lightyear to the side. Climb the bunk ladder to the cold carpet. Where you dis- and re- robe in garments you select, with direction from Super Daddy.
Everything, it seems, is a lesson: pottying on command, making your bed, tying your shoes, sitting at a table, staying in your seat, using silverware, brushing teeth. Plus, there’s piano, reading, learning to use your talker.
Everywhere is expectation, conversation, communication; words.
By 8:05am you’re outside, waiting for the school bus to arrive. Now, there’s “greeting the driver,” “high five,” “swiping your badge.” A red light flashes as a machine acknowledges the identification card worn on a lanyard around your neck. You like the high-pitched beep the machine makes.
For the next seven hours, you’re in school.
Morning meeting: “What’s today’s date?” “What’s the weather like?” “What clothes do you wear when it’s sunny/rainy/cold/hot?”
There’s finding words on your talker, asking, answering, sitting, standing, looking here, looking there. You match pictures with combinations of letters, read, write, engage. In social time, physical education, music, history, current affairs, math, a library activity, speech, occupational therapy.
You ride a scooter in the hallway, plant seeds in dirt, count leaves, play catch. Talk, listen, interact.
Recess is clattering swings, screeching, shouting, laughter, people and more conversation. You “wait your turn,” “play together,” “share.” You grab a ball and a student objects, “That’s mine!” You pause at the top of the slide and a student shouts, “Hurry up!”
You’re comforted by routine: the reassuring knowledge of what happens next. But today something is different: a fire drill, your favorite aide is sick, there’s a visitor in the classroom, teacher’s hairstyle is altered, a stuffed toy is in the wrong place. You hit a file cabinet, scream, point, flail, object.
Finally, it’s 3:20pm. You complete closing tasks, don your backpack, board the bus. Again, you “greet the driver,” “high five,” “swipe your badge.” The red light flashes and the machine beeps.
Time to go home.
Your person waits. There are hugs, squeezes, kisses. “Did you have a good day?” she says, and waits.
But your words are all used up. You shake your head, moan, flail, point, scream.
“Do you want quiet time?” she says.
You tug her hand and repeat, “Quiet time.”
You hang up your backpack, remove wet socks, change your clothes, retreat.
Now, alone in your room, you choose a book. You sit on the floor, lounge on your bed. Later, you’ll request a popsicle, apple, crackers. You’ll bounce on the trampoline and laugh. Your therapist will arrive for three more hours of “saying hi/bye,” matching, identification, conversation, expectation; words.
Followed, in quick succession, by dinner, bath and bed.
Communication is exhausting.
But for now, in this moment? You revel, relax, rejuvenate. In the solitary silence that is Quiet Time.