November 30, 2011

The Pajama Showdown.

Five years ago Erik lived with us for a while.  During that time I noticed he needed new pajamas so I bought him a pair at Target.  Here he is, happily wearing them for the first time.

Erik has really become uber-attached to these pj's.  They are all he wants to sleep in summer or winter.   The inevitable has happened.  They're getting worn out.  The bottom part of the pants (the part he sits on) are wearing thin.   Erik has not been aware of this and really doesn't care. He's not jumping up and down to retire this pair because we've tried.   Last week when he was visiting us I saw how bad the bottoms were and decided that I just had to try again.  I went shopping hoping to find a set, a pair of matching tops and bottoms because that would be similar to the beloved set.  No luck.  So I bought a new pair of striped pants, ones he could wear with the current button-down top.  I knew they weren't a perfect match order for Erik to like them they'd have to be exactly like the ones he had and there's no way I'd find exact replicas.

I brought the new pants home and put them on his bed.  He found them later, took them in his hand, came to me in the kitchen and... just looked at me and looked at the pants.   Me: "Oh Erik, those are your NEW pj bottoms."  He wasn't smiling.  I took them back to his room and friends came over so we got busy.  Later after friends left I mentioned to my husband that I bought Erik some new pj pants.  Erik was listening and after a bit he got up and walked to his room.   We heard the door close.   Hubby and I wondered what he was up to.  I had a suspicion, and it wasn't that he was joyfully trying on the new pants, which, by the way, I had spent an hour hemming!   He emerged wearing: yes, you guessed it, his old trusty pj's.   I guess he thought if they were on his body they weren't goin' anywhere.   oh boy.

I took him to his room and we had a talk.  "Erik, I know you love these pajamas, but there are holes in the back of them."  Erik (aghast) "Where?"   I touched the holes.  He could feel my fingers, I know he could.  I took his own fingers and showed him where the holes were.  I said the new pants would be just great, and he could wear the old top with them and it would be so-o-o-o nice.   He crossed his arms and glared at me.  Then he shook his head at me, unblinking.  Erik's verbal ability is limited but he needed no words to get his message across.

ok.  what to do.  We both went back to the living room where hubby was.  He asked how it was going and I said quietly that we were going to have some issues.  Erik was silent, and tension was present.   Then he got up, went to his room. We heard one door close, then another door close.  We waited a bit and hubby went to check on him.  Then I heard hubby say, "Erik unlock these doors right now."  He promptly opened the doors (thank goodness) came back to the living room, all content and cordial and even gave me a thumbs-up, like all was A-ok.  Hmmmm.

We sat there a while, continuing to watch a Toy Story movie, and suddenly, I knew.  He had done something with the dreaded new pj bottoms!    I whispered my suspicion to hubby and after a bit he went to look for them.  He found them, alright, hidden in the back of the closet.  So, that's why Erik was flashing me the thumb's up.  He took care of the problem and thought "no more ugly, new, bad bottoms for me!"

Hubby took them and put them in our room and the next day when I packed Erik up I put them in his suitcase to take back to the group home.  We chose not to fight this battle with Erik.  In the scheme of life it's a little thing.  But as his family we want him to look well-cared-for and as well-groomed as possible.  Worn-out pj bottoms don't do that.

Erik is resisting change with a vengeance and who can blame him?  A person who suffers with Alzheimer's needs regularity.  I bet at this moment he's happily wearing the old pj's and doesn't care at all about the holes.   I only wish I'd bought a spare pair of those pj's that day in Target 5 years ago.

When I unpacked his suitcase back at the group home, I hung the new pants on the hanger right next to the old ones.  I wonder what he's done with them.
Erik still happily wearing them this past summer.

November 8, 2011

the power of an encouraging heart

Today I ran across an email one of my friends sent me 4 years ago.  She found a story
about a Down syndrome boy named Johnny who worked in a grocery store.

my friend's email that day said:

Thought you might enjoy this.  Made me think of Erik.

You can make a difference~ no matter who you are or where you are!

click HERE and be inspired.