kitchen table math, the sequel: Andrew in August

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Andrew in August

For all of Andrew's* life, until my mother died in January 2011, we went to Illinois every August. First to Springfield, then to Chicago. Always, without fail.

August is upon us again, and Andrew has been lobbying for his trip to Illinois for days now: lobbying Ed and me and, when that goes nowhere, searching for Chicago and "grandma's house" on Google.

Today his teacher* sent home this list of sentences Andrew wrote on the computer at school:
I go to Staybridge on August 16th.
I go on the airplane.
First I go to camp.
Then I go to Staybridge.
I will see grandma in Staybridge.
Grandma's house is in Staybridge.
Staybridge is in Chicago.
I love Grandma.
Mommy and Daddy are going with me.
I have to pack my bags.
I have no idea how to handle this.

* For passersby, Andrew is 19 years old and has autism. The references to Staybridge are to the Staybridge Inn in Springfield, our home away from home. 


AmyP said...

Poor Andrew! Poor Catherine!

There are 10 sentences there, and the word "grandma" occurs three times, while the word "Staybridge" occurs five times. I think there may be a hint there that Andrew is more strongly bonded to the place (which is still available) more so than to his grandmother. (You know how there's a book entitled "All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome"? Well, cats are famous for being more attached to places than people.)

I hope you can work something out with Andrew.

Jen said...

Oh dear. I don't have much more than sympathy to pass along. Our family is not going this year to the house at the lake we've been going to for 14 years (and meet up with aunts and uncles and cousins). It's no longer being rented out -- it had always been iffy and sort of against the rules and now there's no option for it.

I still can't decide if it's better we didn't know last year it was the last time or not. It would have made last year very bittersweet for sure, but missing the anticipation and build-up to that week of relaxation and eating and traditions is almost as bad as thinking about those things we won't see or do again there.

I'd suggest a new, shorter trip that includes packing and staying overnight at a place that is as much like that Inn, and... but I imagine the differences might be just as upsetting or even more disorienting as not going at all?

This parenting thing.

RMD said...

what a touching story.

I'm not sure quite what to say. I don't really know Andrew and how he would handle loss.

I second Jen. . .this parenting thing. . .

Anonymous said...

Does Andrew know that his grandmother is dead? Or maybe ... has he been told? And does he understand what "dead" means?

Sigh. Going to be difficult for you no matter what ... sorry about that.

-Mark Roulo

Debbie Stier said...

I love Andrew! He is so so sweet.

Math Teacher said...

If you are somehow able to convey to Andrew that his grandmother is no longer with us, perhaps continue the tradition and make it an annual trip of remembrance. Maybe it will just be a rote thing for Andrew (i.e., he is comforted just by going to Staybridge with little sentimentality over the loss of grandma) but that wouldn't be a bad thing. It could also be a nice way for the family to hold her memory close.