On the day I was married, my mother doled out plenty of marital counsel. She’d have done just as well to summarize marriage thusly: “My child, there will be laundry. So much laundry.”
On any given week, I wash ten loads of laundry. More, if the sheets need to be done. More still, if Noah has led our children on the charge of “let’s have an adventure!” which inevitably means they’ve snuck down to the creek in search of the property’s dirtiest, wettest spot so they can bathe in it like natives. Country living is good for the soul. But it’s torture on your power bill.
And then, there’s Noah himself, who performs more daily costume changes than Liza Minnelli at the Garden. Every child with autism is different. Each of their quirks is unique. For Noah, clothing is a major issue. Of pre-eminent concern is comfort. Many children with ASD have sensory issues, and for some, the least obtrusive clothing label can feel like a pad of steel wool against their skin. These items of clothing are worn for brief periods of time, and then Noah “discards” them in the laundry. Or, it can be that Noah decides the yellow tee shirt he put on didn’t look as hip as he’d hoped. This one is tried on in the full-length closet mirror and then thrown under his bed. And as all-boy, dirty-toenailed, hayloft clambering as he is, he REFUSES to wear a pair of pj’s more than once, considering it repugnant. I’ve tried laying them back out on his bed after he gets dressed, sneaking them back into his drawer, putting them on top of his towel before he gets into the shower. Nothing works. And this doesn’t even count the nights when he is too hot (change of pj’s – rather than simply kicking off the covers), or too cold (layer on every single pj he has, only to dump all of them in the laundry the next morning). If I had to estimate, I’d probably say 6 of the 10 loads I wash each week are Noah’s alone.
Like every appropriate behavior sought for our children, there is only so much doing, telling, showing, cajoling and begging we parents can do. Such is every parent’s fate, I suppose. In the end, Noah’s quirks with clothing are his, alone. So I have to be content to bite my bottom lip, and count the days until Noah’s old enough to remember where in the machine the detergent goes.