At last, television gods smiled on us

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 29, 2015

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry.”

The words echo through the house. Then questions start. Well, they are not exactly questions, more statements requiring agreement.

“They are working on it.”

“They are fixing it.”

“It will be back on.”

Following this, I hear another repeated phrase.

“It’s all right to cry.”

“It’s all right to cry.”

I call out my agreement, hoping it eases some anxiety.

“Yes, they are working on it.”

Unfortunately, my response is not reassuring and the crying begins. It’s been a while since we’ve had a full-blown meltdown, but I hear one coming.

“I’m sorry. It’s all right to cry,” my daughter sobs, her head on my shoulder.

I hold her, praying to the gods controlling television signals.

She lifts her head and the sobs become almost screams. Standing in the middle of the living room, she jumps up and down, tears streaming down her face.

All of this because Alabama Public Television is off the air. Now I know that for most people, this might be aggravating but not devastating. For my child, it is traumatic.

She has autism and one of the ways it manifests is a need for sameness. PBS is part of that sameness. Since she was small, public television programs offered her comfort in some way.

My husband and I speculate that it helps her keep track of her day because she gauges time by what is on television. It’s a guess on our part and we might be wrong.

When she gets this upset, I hear her say unexpected things. This is interesting because she has so many communication issues.

From the other room, she repeats, “it’s all right to cry.” Then I hear this.

“Grown-ups cry too. Make sad.”

These words follow.

“It will be on when Ken comes to fix it.”

Both comments surprise me. The first one tells me she understands she is grown up and she is sad.

Mentioning Ken, her brother, says she realizes what he does for a living. Ken, my oldest son, is the chief engineer for a cable company. I guess she heard him talking about fixing television problems.

Oh how I wish Ken could come and fix it.

All day Monday, the questions and the crying continue. As chance would have it, the APT offices are not open so I try to explain that I cannot call until the next day.

She finally goes to sleep when I agree with her statement that, “It will be on in the morning.”

She is up before six Tuesday, wanting us to search for the channel. When it doesn’t come in, she hands me the phone expecting me to call for help.

When I say no one is at work yet, we get a mini meltdown. Then the questions start again.

“Oh, it’s going to be a long day,” I tell my husband as he leaves for work.

The minute I think the APT offices are open I call. I speak with Donna who gives me suggestions to try to get things working again.

None of it works, but my daughter is calmer because she knows I’m doing something to fix the problem. For a few minutes, calm reigns.

Finally, I get a call from Donna who tells me they found a problem with their equipment. A crew is coming, but it will take a while for them to come south and get things repaired.

I thank her and do my best to explain the situation to my child. She listens.

Does she understand? I’m not sure.

All I know is for this minute she seems content. Every so often, I hear her say,

“They will fix it.”

For now, there are no tears mixed with the words. I relax, take a deep breath and pray for the speedy arrival of a repair crew.

Addendum: Just as I finished this column, I got a message saying they identified the problem and asked me to check my television. APT is back. Thanks, television signal gods.