Both of these got all over the carpet in Charlie’s room this afternoon, with the result that I spent some time scrubbing and picking and vacuuming. The carpet, fortunately, is a sort of tannish melon and the streaks of prune juice soon disappeared, while the fluff was readily visible.
So how did they get there?
Charlie had thrown the cup of prune juice after drinking a few sips (I can hardly blame him, to be honest). I recalled the first (and only previous) time that I had given him the brown stuff, when he was just over six months old and there were no dirty diapers for two weeks. (“Apple juice,” said the doctor’s office, “and after that, prune juice.”) He had had a great day of school—–he was jittery, his teacher noted, watching Charlotte’s Web in the morning, then had a happy and busy afternoon. During his ABA session, in the midst of doing his activity schedule, his body started tensing and Charlie cried some while sitting in front of a shelf packed full of toys; the therapists had to hang onto him. I went into the room and mentioned that Charlie’s stomach might be bothering him.
The stomach issue under question is the oppposite of this sort of thing. Time and again, I have traced Charlie’s having a stomachache to a spell of back-arching, head-hitting attempts, and screaming a few hours before. The therapists and I speculated about the popcorn Charlie had eaten at the movies and I have been wondering about the gluten-free bread that Charlie has been eating for the past month: Are the mix of flours (rice, tapioca, potato), the yeast, the guar gum, to keep it from crumbling having an adverse effect on Charlie’s insides, and so on him more generally?
Thumos is an ancient Greek word meaning “soul” or “principle of life” and also “desire,” “seat of anger,” “heart” (i.e., the organ that feels and has emotions). In Homer’s time, one’s thumos, this seat of thinking, feeling, and desiring, was thought to reside not in the head (kephale) but in the stomach—-right in the gut. And so it has often seemed to me that when Charlie has a stomach-ache, it’s also a mind-ache, a headache; that there is pain in his gut and pain in his thumos and perhaps they seem one and the same to him.
This was why I attempted to give him the prune juice, which also left a line of brown on the big blue circle pillow in Charlie’s room.
The therapists called Charlie to his desk as I rubbed the carpet with towels and unzipped the pillow’s cover and deposited it in the washing machine. A large round pillow, a small misshapen beanbag, a rolled-up fleece blanket, and a mound of cotton batting were revealed, all of which I pulled into the large room which serves as our bedroom, Charlie’s piano room, Charlie’s play room, etc..
Charlie finished his ABA session smiling and stayed that way all evening. After his shower, he knelt in the pile of fluff and buried his hands and himself in it as I thought, sensory experience extraordinaire in the stuffing of a pillow. He ran to pull Jim by the hand into the room: “Socks off! Daddy wie down!” Charlie spotted a stray piece of fluff and carefully added it back to the larger pile, then picked up the rolled-up blanket and thrust both his hands into it like a muff. He went to sleep with his hands still in it, and his big blue fleece blanket wrapped around him.
The fluff is still in the middle of our room looking like a battered cloud. The cover is washed, but I am wondering if it would be more appealing to Charlie’s thumos to leave it out for awhile, unstuffed on the carpet.