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Night calls

     Ever get a call in the middle of the night to come get a chocolate chip off the floor? I thought I'd give you a peek into a window of my life—my night life. I'll save the rest for another day.

     I've had two chocolate chip calls so far. My son Paul is the caller. He's on a slow recovery path from crushed discs in his neck that were replaced several years ago and he still needs help in a number of small ways. It doesn't help that he has cerebral palsy, but it's the mild form of Asperger's that makes it all fun. If you've been reading Smile-breaks and From Paul you know Paul's something else. In a good way.

     Paul's circadian rhythm gets him in bed for a nap in the early evening and then up to read and watch TV from ten or eleven until three of four in the morning. Thus I get a call in the night if there's something he needs done that he can't do for himself.

     About the chocolate chip call. Paul's snack when he gets up from his nap is eight—yes, eight, always eight, see your Asperger's guide—chocolate chips, a crunchy granola bar and two glasses of water. One thing you have to know if you're living with Paul is that his having a routine helps keep us all sane.

     It was 12:23 a.m. when I got the first chip call. Paul had dropped one of his eight chocolate chips and couldn't reach it. Since I'd just gone to sleep at 11:30 I said couldn't he just leave it there and I'd get it in the morning.

     This is where Asperger's kicks in. Having a chocolate chip somewhere it doesn't belong causes great anxiety in Paul. He can't rest until the chip is back where it belongs—on his bedside table, or better yet, in his mouth. "Please, mom. Just come pick it up."

     What's a mom to do? I got up, found the chip under his chair, got down on the floor and picked up that naughty chip. I managed to raise myself from the floor—not so easy—ready to go back to my warm, cozy bed.

     Not gonna happen. Paul's quite chatty in the middle of the night. If you know him, you know he's quite chatty all the time, and he always has questions galore to make sure you're paying attention. I wait patiently—sort of—for about five minutes, obediently answering his questions. Okay. Enough. "Hey Paul, I'm going back to bed."

     "I forgot to tell you something," he says. That's his go-to way to keep a captive audience. He recites his litany about his awesome brothers and sisters and then I turn to the door. "I love you, Paul. Good night. See you in the morning."

     "It's morning now," he sets me straight. "Okay. Good morning." I make it down the hall to my bedroom with hopes he'll be able to get himself in bed a few hours from now. Sometimes he can; sometimes he can't—in which case I get another call in the middle of the night. Morning, that is.

     Chocolate chips aren't the only source of night calls. A full urinal to be emptied—which is better than the occasional accidentally knocked over urinal—the television screen gone snowy, a dropped pill, a need to be taken to the bathroom for the other action, a dead battery on his razor, a pill bottle cap that won't go on right. . .

     Paul talks to God a lot and it's catching. Lately I've replaced, "Oh, no, not again" with "Thank you, God, for the opportunity to serve you again." Then I bounce out of bed with a smile on my face, instead of slogging out with a resigned expression of "woe is me." I have to laugh that something as simple as that works, but it sure helps. So that's the extent of my nightlife these days. Hope yours is a little more restful.

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