Changes aren’t always easy

Published 12:49 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

“Mr. Rogers?”

“Mr. Rogers?”

“Mr. Rogers?”

As I hear the words with the question mark at the end, I cringe a little on the inside because I know the answer is not what my child wants to hear.

“I think Mr. Rogers is gone,” I say. “I’ll check, but it looks like Mr. Rogers isn’t on anymore.”

There is a moment of silence.

“Mr. Rogers is gone?” my daughter says. “They took Mr. Rogers (off)?”

I thought Mr. Rogers and his Neighborhood of Make Believe disappeared from the APT IQ schedule, but I hoped I was wrong. Yesterday at the time it usually comes on, I noticed another program showed up.

My daughter avoided dealing with it by sitting outside in her swing for the 30 minutes it is usually on. Now it is a new day and she wants her routine of watching Mr. Rogers to return.

As I go to the APT Web site to check the program schedule, I’m afraid giving her back her routine is something her mother cannot deliver.

Sure enough, Mr. Rogers is not listed anywhere on the weekday schedule. I print out a copy of the program list and try my best to help her understand the changes.

“Mr. Rogers on the satellite?” she says. “Mr. Rogers is on the satellite?”

Again, I try to explain that Mr. Rogers is probably not going to show up there either. I see she is trying to contain a meltdown about the whole Mr. Rogers being gone issue.

I call my husband for moral support.

“Well, it’s happened,” I say. “Mr. Rogers isn’t on the APT lineup.”

I hear in his voice the same cringe I felt.

“It’s not even on the APT IQ?” he asked.

I hear the clicking of a computer mouse as he searches the site himself.

“Wait, here it is,” he says. “It’s on Sunday at 8 and 8:30 in the morning.”

Now I’m excited.

“Let me look,” I say, rushing to the computer. “Yep, there it is on Sunday. Good, I’ll show her.”

I print out the Sunday schedule and call my daughter to show her.

“Look, Mr. Rogers is on Sunday now,” I explain. “You can watch him on Sunday morning.”

She looks at the paper and it seems to satisfy her for now. I breathe a sigh of relief as she returns to her swing to perhaps absorb the information I gave her.

As I pour a second cup of coffee, I think about how interesting my life is because of this child. At almost 18, she is beautiful and happy most of the time except when sudden changes — like the disappearance of Mr. Rogers — throw her.

Her world is different from the place where I live. That is something I’ve come to understand after years of peeping into the land of autism, which is her home.

While it is not the same as the world I inhabit, I think perhaps for my child it isn’t such a bad place. She isn’t concerned about so many things that “normal” folks stress over.

I see no indication that she worries much about what others think of her. If she is upset, she experiences it full out and then lets it go. Same thing happens when she is happy. She laughs and runs and jumps and jabbers whenever and wherever she feels like it. And she really has no grasp of telling a lie or being sarcastic.

I watch her swinging slowly back and forth talking softly to herself. A lot of the time, I don’t know what is going on in her head or how she feels and thinks, and that is not always easy.

But on this day, at this minute, she is smiling. I’m smiling too because I found Mr. Rogers for her, and for now, all is right in both of our worlds.