Personal Worst


Happy Chin seemed determined to achieve his personal worst today – slowest morning routine by a 23 year old in the Greater Hobart area.

I could tell it was going to be One of Those Days when I detected the strong smell of urine in his room. The smell was so overpowering I failed to sniff out the dog poo on the rug and promptly stepped in it. We have a new puppy called Dave and he is a poo machine. He views Liam’s room as his ensuite.

So, wet sheets (which holds us up by at least 20 minutes) and then dog poo to clean up. Excellent.

I coaxed HC out from under the nest of bedclothes, last night’s leftovers and a Union Jack flag he’d got from god knows where, to discover he’d taken his cherished red cotton sheet to bed last night. It was now soaked in urine and naturally, he wanted it right away.

Swiftly negotiating the first compromise of the day, said sheet was whisked away to be washed, with the promise we would take it with us and hang it out to dry when we got to his house.

Happy Chin was then lured into the shower by means of a handy Bluetooth speaker playing his favourite band, the Doves.

Phew! I deserved a coffee after that. Two sips in and I heard HC shouting ‘Oh no!’ Bolted into the bathroom to discover Bluetooth speaker had fallen into the sink, HC had picked it up and was standing under the shower with it. Excellent.

Briefly considered snatching it out of his hand but opted instead for compromise two of the morning, turning off the water and spending the next five minutes negotiating return of the speaker after personal ablutions were completed.

Phew! Returned to coffee which was now cold.

On exiting the shower, HC then decamped to the laundry where he stood in front of the washer demanding the return of his red sheet. I patiently explained about the clever numbers that tell you how long until the wash is finished. He was unimpressed.

He consented to drink his hot chocolate but we hit a sticking point with breakfast, where I failed to convince him to eat avocado toast (he is a millennial, why would he refuse avocado toast?) He proceeded to the couch, pulled a blanket over his head and left me staring down the barrel of a stand-off.

This behaviour is fairly commonplace when he doesn’t want to do something. I wish I could just retire to the couch and pull a blanket over my head every time I didn’t want to do something.


I now faced a problem – how to get him off the couch and into the car without injury to any person, object or hapless pet straying into the vicinity hoping for dropped bits of toast?

Aha! The washing machine will beep when it’s finished! Surely the prospect of a clean sheet will get him to his feet? I then simply have to shepherd him out the front door quick-time. How hard could it be?

I dried my hair and dressed for work with the quietly confident air of a woman who has risen to the challenge.

But wait, don’t they say that pride comes before a fall? Or don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched? Or is it – you think you’re so smart but your child will defeat you?

Returning to the living room to find said child pretending to be asleep, I exclaimed excitedly ‘The washing’s finished! You sheet is ready!’

No response.

I removed the blanket. He rolled over and buried his face in the cushions.

So then I tried, in order: tickling, attempted manipulation of legs onto floor, bribery, Santa-is- watching, pleading and begging.

By this time he was fully awake and pretty annoyed.

Suddenly he hopped up, pointed out the window and said ‘jet ski!’

Happy Chin loves to look out the window at the river during summer and watch the jet skis going past. There were no jet skis at 8.30 on a Tuesday morning.

Hell, I can’t just produce jet skis! (Although at a recent seminar I met a mother whose son loved thunderstorms and expected her to produce them on demand. This made me feel much better. I mean, a jet ski is easier to produce than a thunderstorm isn’t it?)

I could, however, promise jet skis on YouTube IF he got in the car right NOW (compromise three).

After a bit of faffing about picking up magazines, the flag, the wet sheet and two other sets of sheets for good measure, we finally set off. During the 30 minute journey, Happy Chin entertained himself by alternately listening to music and passive/aggressive swinging of the speaker by its handle while saying ‘no throw.’

I entertained myself by imagining in vivid screaming detail the total nervous breakdown I’d have if any cop pulled me over for speeding.

Really, it’s no wonder I arrive at work with a brain as soggy as the Lamington’s two day old Weetbix! On mornings such as these, I often find myself unable to make the most basic decision. Coffee or tea? Biscuit or chocolate? Valium or Serapax?

When the phone rings at work on a morning like this, I find myself praying that it won’t be someone with a problem because I JUST CAN’T….

Conversations among normal people about their normal everyday problems fill me with a seething rage that is also kind of envy. Oh, to have these people’s problems! I often think about the Dad I met an autism seminar who put it perfectly – everyone else is talking about how they went skating and you spent the weekend wiping poo off the walls.

Of course, I know very well that everything is relative and also, many people have far worse problems than mine. As frustrating and exhausting as caring for HC can be, my son is not dying. In fact, he’ll probably be around to torment me for a good long time, provided the tubers in his brain stay fairly stable. Nor does he need the kind of round-the-clock, sheer hard yakka type of care that many people with disabilities do.

I am really very fortunate to have had him in my life to teach me patience, resilience and resourcefulness.

Just don’t tell me that at 9AM on a Tuesday morning. Not unless you have a large double shot latte standing by. And maybe a gluten free chocolate brownie as well?


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