“Discipline doesn’t cure Asperger’s. But thanks for your concern.”
― Jennifer Cook O’Toole in AsperKids
Near six months ago, maybe seven, I stopped at the video section in Reasor’s grocery store, searched rows of movies where this pen sat on the edge of a narrow shelf. Its silver lettering (Perry’s Pest Control, 918-456-0983, The Critter Getter of Tahlequah, Oklahoma), and the large, round size of the pen’s body grabbed my attention—more so the matched silver clasp and tip and clicker; too, the body was earthy brown, near copper I’d say, so I picked up both the pen and the movie behind it: Dance Me Outside.
At home I slid the movie into my VCR, made a pitcher of that too-sweet-tea, and fell into my recliner. My daughter, Yolanda, called Sissy, walked into the house quietly and sat on the couch. I didn’t bother to turn around because I was reading the names off the opening credits. The phone chimed with a rolling beep across the room, forcing Sissy to hop from the couch like a broken spring tearing from beneath our tattered cushions. She snatched the phone off the wall jack, pulled the long wire to one side, and said the name of some boy into the receiver. Tank she called him, but come to find out his name was Toby, figured. She paused when it wasn’t that boy, said, “No, I don’t speak Spanish.” She listened to whoever was on the other end of the line until the person finished speaking and then, rudely, she hung up the phone without saying goodbye. The word Spanish made me think of my husband and I wanted to ask something terrible. Instead I kept watching Dance Me Outside.
My son, Carlos, who made his friends call him Carl, came home forty or forty-five minutes later, could have been thirty. The movie was not over yet, I’m certain of that. Sissy told Carl she got a phone call about their father passing away. I quickly glanced away from the movie and at my children. Carl shrugged his shoulders as he lifted his brow. The same way his father lifted his brow. He informed us that he had gotten a job at Greenleaf Nursery—a three hundred acre plant nursery twenty minutes outside of Tahlequah, across the highway from Lake Tenkiller, tucked away deep in the Ozark hills. Sissy took this moment to announce that she was four months pregnant. It unnerved me more so than their father’s death, maybe less so, but too much news made me shake. I pushed the stop button on the VCR and went into my room, where I took this pen out of my back pocket to place it on the dresser until the next morning.
“Follow the inner turmoil of a mother’s love and her limitations as a parent with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome.”
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