Monday, June 9, 2014

Autism and the Art of Defenestration

Defenestrate (dēˈfenəˌstrāt/) v. To throw out a window
I love this word.  I believe I use it more often than the general population does.  I teach middle school, and in my work setting, it's a remarkably handy word.
"Put the cell phone away, or I will be forced to defenestrate it." 
And then I explain.  Defenestrate provides its own teachable moment.  The word comes from fenêtre, which is the French word for window.  The Latin prefix "de" means "out of."  This beautiful little word allows me to teach vocabulary--covering affixes and the origin of the English language, beginning with the ancients and up through the Norman Invasion--all while threatening my students in a memorable way.
Can you use it in a sentence?
The boy defenestrated his shoes

Here's where I'm going with this:  Have you ever seen a shoe on the side of the road and wondered how it got there?  Well, wonder no more.  It was my kid.  Mystery solved.

This is a new thing.  It started a couple of weeks ago, as he rode home in Grandma's car.  He took off his shoes and socks and threw them out the window.  She didn't notice.  Fortunately, my husband was following them in his car, and pulled over to get the shoes.  We had a good laugh about it and remarked how lucky we were that my husband saw what happened and was able to rescue the shoes!

Alas, our luck changed.  The other day, we met at Dairy Queen after work.  The boy was in raptures over his little cup of ice cream.  I had more errands to run, so my husband took him home.  When I got home, I found my frantic husband tearing the car apart while the boy stood barefoot in the driveway.
Lonely shoe seeks mate.

He'd done it again. 

"Can you go look?" my husband asked.  No problem!  I didn't mind.  I had an audiobook in the car, anyway.

I started back down the road, retracing the route my husband had taken.  I drove slowly and scanned the road for the shoes.  My eyes were zipping back and forth so quickly, I felt like one of those Cylons from Battlestar Galactica.  (The old ones, not the updated ones.)

It is 6.7 miles from my house to the Dairy Queen--6.7 miles of winding mountain roads with no shoulder, let alone a sidewalk.  But I did not give up hope.  Three miles in, and I saw one sneaker in the middle of the road!  Success!  I had to drive down the road a bit to find a spot to pull over.  I ran back up the road, waited for a car to pass, and then snatched up the sneaker.  I figured the other one was probably close by, so I paced up and down the road and checked the bushes and the ditches for the shoe.  It occurred to me that I should have changed into running shoes myself, instead of hiking along in my work heels.  Several motorists stopped to see if I was all right.  See, unless you're in workout gear, you do not just walk this road.

On my way back to the car, I spotted his sock.  Yes!  How did I know it was his sock?  Mother's intuition.  Plus, it was still warm.  I swear I was like an outback animal tracker.

I continued down the road, where I saw another sock...and yes, it was his.  Excellent.  I was making progress, and I'd only been gone for an hour.  Two socks, one shoe.  Back in the car, continued down the road.  What are those lights?  Uh, oh.  Police.  Apparently, there was a fender bender at the intersection where we'd turned right after we'd left Dairy Queen.  I hoped to God it wasn't caused by a flying shoe...

I banged a U-ey (that's Jersey-speak for a slightly illegal U-turn) and headed back from whence I had come, still searching the road, when my Cylon-sensors picked up on something familiar.  I pulled over.  It wasn't black like the shoe, but yellow--my husband's golf hat.  He didn't even realize it was missing.  

Two socks, one shoe, one hat.

Text from my husband:  "Give up and come home.  He's melting down."


I crept home, hoping to find that other shoe, but...nothing.  I was so disappointed.  I felt defeated by this sneaker.  That was a week ago, and I'm still looking.  This shit has gotten personal.  I'm obsessed with finding this effin' shoe.  It will be my downfall.  I'm Captain Ahab and this damned sneaker is my Moby Dick.  Even my 11 year-old has tried to get me to give up.

"Mom, it's been a week.  It's rained four times and the mowers went by.  Let it go.  The shoe is gone."

I guess you've got to be pretty effed up when a sixth grader becomes your voice of reason.  Maybe one last search.

Thus, I give up my spear!


  1. Oh Girl I feel your pain. I wouldn't give up either. That would make me crazzzzzy.

  2. I have a little panic attack every time the window is rolled down. ;)

  3. My son is more efficient. (Not to brag.) He ditches them in the parking lot, getting into the car. ;) Although he's been known to thrown things out the window. The best is when I've retraced steps looking for items that he hadn't actually thrown....

  4. We feel your pain. We bought a Jeep Wrangler because I had "always wanted one." I am an idiot. The stress that comes from driving it in the Summer when it's too hot to have the windows zipped in... I am SO excited to go back to plain, boring, air-conditioned normal car (with window lock out.)

    1. Ha! My husband has an old CJ he wants to restore. Maybe I should remind him of what will happen!

  5. This post cracked me up (I am sorry about the loss of shoes for you, but...) we have been taking walks in the morning and take the same route. Anyways, there is a random insole from a shoe that is on our route and we have discussed what might have happened for there being this insole just stuck to the sidewalk. Hmm....