“Who won the mail contest today?”…. this is a phone call from my Hubby, on his way home via the local transit bus, too anxious to wait to hear the news.
This is not about the big manila Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes envelopes that declare “You may have won $100,000!” Our contest has evolved from a simple task of our son’s; bringing in the mail each day.
Our middle son still lives at home, due to his visual and mental disabilities. He is very helpful around the house and loves to have jobs to do as a member of our family. Skills that he is able to perform are incorporated into his daily routine. These give him a sense of purpose and worth as a capable person, even if he is not able to live independently.
Our blind son is amazing at sorting the laundry! He can easily identify his own T-shirts, socks and underwear from that of his dad or his brother. He is occasionally undone by the colorful bandanas that I wear around my forehead to collect sweat during workouts. They are the same shape, size and weight of cotton as his white men’s handkerchiefs.
Other daily help includes loading or unloading the dish washer, taking out the trash from each room to the big wheeled cart that goes to the curb each Tuesday morning at 7:00am. He knows which day of the month includes the recycling too. His favorite part of this particular task is “reminding” his father to take the containers out to the curb. I love that part too… as it takes me out of the wifely role of “nagging” my Hubby to do this step!
Autism sometimes presents a challenge to the individual, kind of like an itch to be scratched or an impulse that just cannot be ignored. Such is the case with our son. He cannot abide a change in routine or schedule. He is not happy when someone else performs one of his assigned jobs. Even though the intention is to be helpful, he may become agitated and seemingly ungrateful. When we have visitors or family members that stay at our home we are careful to let them know which jobs our son considers to be his domain, so that harmony is maintained.
As an exercise in improving his mobility skills we taught him the route to and from our mail box which is located across the street and down a few houses. This is a daily task and involves locating the box, unlocking it with a key and bringing all the mail back home. My Hubby decided to make this more exciting by creating a contest scenario. Each day our son brings in the mail and Hubby reads off the address labels on each of the envelopes. Jointly addressed items to not count for the total to “win” the day’s final tally; only individually addressed labels count. Also excluded are labels bearing the title of “occupant” “homeowner at this address” or “resident”. The contest does include packages including those from Fed X or UPS, in addition to ones delivered by the US Post.
I truly believe that Hubby gets quite the kick out of his game too. It has evolved to the point that phone calls are executed when either he is out of town or our son is on the road traveling to a music gig. Some days Hubby is so eager to see “who won” that he will meet our son at the door or even in the driveway, not willing to wait until he enters the house to tally up the count of recipients.
Hubby makes such a big fuss when he doesn’t win that now our son roots for him to get the highest number of pieces each day. For some reason many of the utility bills are addressed to me alone. I am also the major recipient of catalogs and all of my business mail comes to our home address, so I am frequently the winner, much to the disappointment of the guys in the family.
Grandma visited a few times and observed that her son (my Hubby) was not winning the mail contest very often. She vowed to send him more letters when she returned home, to help his numbers in the final mail count! She may have even enlisted some of the other family members. Hubby was delighted by birthday greetings from some of the distant relatives who were suddenly anxious to communicate with their nephew or cousin after all these years.
I secretly think his agreements with many of the phone solicitations for the Red Cross, Heart Association and various other funding raising type outreach; are seen as a way to pad his daily mail count. We can never move from this house address! We have received enough “contribution gifts” of beautifully decorated address labels, in Hubby’s name of course, to last us for the rest of our lives.
Hubby has even subscribed to a few magazines recently! Who knew that men like to read the Ladies Home Journal? Hubby swears they have some great recipes. I think these new subscriptions are part of his “recipe “to ensure that he wins the mail contest as frequently as possible.by