There’s a Bob Dylan song off Together Through Life. It’s about love and a girl, nothing really to do with our lives, except for the title – “I Feel a Change Comin’ On.” Bob’s craggy voice has been ringing in my head this week (to be fair, it almost always is), but this time it connects to Nate.
As we strive in earnest to make Nate more independent, Nate kicks back, sometimes seriously, sometimes not. His usual grumbling as a first response to any request is easily broken down into real opposition and knee-jerk negativity quickly conquered. When I told him to come do the laundry with me, he was displeased, itching for an argument.
I could hear his growling as he approached the laundry room, and when I saw him enter, arms crossed, face scowling, I thought he’d put up a fight. He did come though, a good sign that he’d help. I explained how to separate darks from whites. We started with the darks and I demonstrated how much detergent to put in. Nate pressed all the buttons and we were done.
“I told you it was easy,” I said. He left without a word.
When I called him back to move the wet clothes to the dryer, he argued a little but did it. I don’t’ think he liked handling the damp piles, but he made the best of it. It was a good start and something to build on.
Later that night, with Karen in New York, we were scrambling for dinner ideas. The leftover pasta and meatballs were distasteful to Nate. Leftovers are only acceptable for a single day and then they gross him out.
“I think I’ll get my pizza at 5:30.”
“OK Nate.” I was on a tight schedule and wasn’t sure how I could get him to the pizzeria and back and still do what I needed to before I headed to a Village meeting. “Do you want to go yourself or do you want me or Joey to go with you?”
“I’ll go myself,” he said with firmness. He was adamant. I was a little concerned because 5:30 is usually a busy time at New York Pizzeria and I wasn’t sure Nate could handle himself in a crowded restaurant. But, if we’re going to get him as independent as possible, he’s got to learn to handle different situations. So, off he went, wallet and phone in pocket, and before I knew it, I heard the back door shut and he was back with his food. Well done!
Creating a career for Nate as an artist also involves crafting a sense of personal responsibility, but in a much less concrete way. It’s not simply “go to the store, pick out your food, pay for it and come right home.” Concepts like customer service, creating art to sell, accommodating requests for changes and revisions – these are very difficult for Nate.
To a large degree he is the purest of artists. He makes what he feels; he doesn’t take orders! However, part of him wants to sell his art, mostly to make money for bathroom renovations. For weeks I’ve been asking him to create a storefront with the logo of a friend’s hedge fund. Man, you‘d think I’d asked Nate to cut off his arm.
“I don’t want to!” was the strongest response. “I’ll do that sometime next week,” was the weakest, though that always means “I’ll never do it but maybe you’ll stop asking if I tell you I will do it at some future time.” I’m on to him.
A doctor came by last week to check out Nate’s strip malls. This doc is from Orland Park, a Chicago suburb, and he loves that Nate draws malls from the area.
“Nate, if draw Orland Square Mall I’ll buy it,” he said. Of course Nate was non-committal, but I decided I wouldn’t give up on these two possible commissions.
“Nate, if you draw Orland Square and lowercase Capital, you’ll get money for your bathroom.” He seemed slightly more agreeable but I put it on my calendar to remind me again in a week’s time. This would take some time to get done.
To my surprise, and before I had to ask him again, he got to work. There he was, at the kitchen table, reworking some ideas to include the hedge fund and coming up with a new design for Orland Square. It’s an amazing sign of growth that Nate was able to get himself to work on an assignment.
The times are certainly a-changin’ around here.