As I drove in the car with Tim yesterday, my mind wandered to contemplating what crazy-fueled car behavior of his irritates me more – the times he chatters incessantly, or the times he sits catatonic, mouth agape, staring into nothingness for the entire drive. Yesterday I was treated to four solid hours of fly catching and breathing that sounded either like Darth Vader with a sinus problem or the snores of someone suffering from sleep apnea. I’ve asked doctors before if that hideous sound is the result of dystonia and I’ve been assured it’s not. I started to wonder, as it grated on my last nerve, if I need to have the psychiatrist drive him around for an hour and then give me his opinion again.
If it was just the outer space sound effects that might be one thing, but they were accompanied by the worst of the ‘clinical modifier’ to describe Tim’s particular type of schizophrenia, namely, catatonia. Sure, it looks like he’s staring off into the distance, but poking him in the arm didn’t break his gaze for a second. Even my code phrase to alert him to times he is performing his nasal / glottal symphony, “what’s up, Darth Vader,” did nothing to change his demeanor. Tim does this, nearly every day, sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours. He’s gone as long as two days completely locked up in his head, limp as a noodle, oblivious to the outside world. When he was younger I often thought he was faking it to get out of having to listen to me / his father / teachers / peers / doctors / whomever until I saw it over an extended period of time that ended in a hospitalization. Sometimes I still wonder if he turns it on when he’s tired or doesn’t want to have to try and interact. In any event, yesterday’s drive was a full-on spaced out encounter, however you want to slice it. And I decided, it annoys me the most.
I want to be a perfect parent and be content with the fact that these are just symptoms of his illness and move on, but let’s face it, I’m far from perfect. After 90 minutes of space invaders I wanted to yank the car over to the side of the road and run screaming down the shoulder. Sorry, Harry and Lloyd, you’re wrong about what is the most annoying sound in the world. Tim’s snarfle is the proverbial fingers on the chalkboard to me. I swear one of these days I’m going to record it so the CIA can use it to terrorize foreign dictators into surrendering. Until then, I’ll have to continue turning up the radio and pretending I can deal. Let me know when David Patraeus calls.