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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Reflecting on progress at the Whole Foods

At times, progress with Janey can feel glacially slow.  It can stop for long periods, or even go backwards.  However, yesterday morning during a trip to Whole Foods, I realized that Janey has made a lot of progress in the past years, and even just over this summer.

It started with the car ride, and the music in the car.  Earlier this summer, we were going crazy with Janey's constant need to have us switch songs.  We would hear about 10 seconds of a song, and she'd say "Music, please!  Music!" which meant she wanted us to go to the next song.  We decided to gradually stand our ground on a few songs here and there, just calmly saying "I really like this one!  I'm going to listen to it!"  Then after that song was done, we'd switch as much as she wanted to for a while more.  It was surprising how quickly she got used to listening to songs that weren't her total choice, and actually liking some of them.  On this ride, I played a song list of songs from the early 80s, my high school era, and Janey seems to like that era too.  She rocked out a lot and I was very happy!

Janey at the Whole Foods
At the Whole Foods, I realized as we went in that I really don't hold Janey's hand in stores any more.  She's never been much of an eloping threat.  She doesn't run away from us much.  I still always hold her hands on the sidewalk or in parking lots, as she isn't as aware of car danger as I wish she was, but in stores, she does extremely well just walking on her own.  It makes it easier for me, and more fun for her, I think.

I told Janey before we went in that she could pick out some salami.  That's her biggest treat, the extremely expensive salami rack at the Whole Paycheck.  She picked out some very thinly sliced kind that I think if you stuffed it all in, you could eat in one bite, at a cost much closer to ten dollars than five, but a promise is a promise.  And I realized she totally understands now that you have to pay and get out of the store before you eat.  We used to wait until the very end of the trip to get her treat, and then if Tony and I were both shopping, we'd buy hers separately and go right out for her to eat it, but she happily this time dropped it in the cart and didn't mention it while we shopped.

As we walked the aisles, Janey started singing "Oh Susanna"  I love to hear her sing, and she wasn't at all loud, just tuneful.  And we got looks, but not really stares.  Or maybe I'm made progress too, and I don't see things as stares.  We got a lot of smiles, and I felt proud of Janey.  I'm almost always proud of Janey inside, but this was a different kind of proud, a feeling like "Sure, she's different, but she's also so cool, so pretty, so interesting, just a neat kid"  I was on a bit of a high, just thinking how wonderful it was to be walking the store with so few worries about Janey.

We checked out, Janey still being patient, went out to the car, and I asked her if she wanted the salami in the car.  She said no, so I put it with the rest in the trunk.  On the way home, she asked for salami about three times, but each time, when I reminded her we'd have it at home and that it was in the trunk, she accepted the answer calmly.  We got home, and she ate her salami in about two seconds flat.

Janey's reserved look, like at the Five Guys
Today, Freddy and I took Janey to Five Guys for lunch.  Janey looked nervous as we got there, and said as we got out "Whole Foods?"  I said today we were going to a different place, and she didn't fight it.  She said "no" at first as we were at the door, but we coaxed her in, saying "You can have peanuts and french fries!"  She wasn't exactly thrilled to be there, no big smiles or anything, but she sat and eat and behaved.  Thinking about that, it's almost a bigger deal than the Whole Foods, that she would do that well at something she didn't prefer.  She did a whooping kind of scream a few times at the end, not her angry scream but more like a "I just feel like making noise" scream, and we reminded her to be quieter, and she listened and did.  I again noticed looks, but didn't feel they were stares.

It's been a long summer.  And a hugely hot and humid summer, a lot of the time.  But for the first summer in a while without summer school, seeing Janey the last few days, I do think there's been progress, behavioral progress especially.  It's a wonderful feeling, seeing that.

School starts two weeks from today.  I'm still keeping close tabs on that special day.  But I don't feel desperate or close to breaking, as I've felt some summers.  My Janey is growing up, and our journey together, to mutual understanding and compromise and acceptance, is marching on along with the years.

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