April 5, 2010. Peter was like a steaming kettle rattling off the stove of its own volition yesterday. Needless to say, Easter was a catastrophe. The bunny and basket stuff was fine, breakfast was happy, but church was not, and it was only the beginning of what would prove to be Peter’s (and therefore the rest of the family’s) most trying holiday ever. Flicking his fingers against the pew and whacking hymnals together while dressed in his Easter best, he looked like a cherub but behaved like a lunatic. Attempts to hold his hands, Pat on one side and me on the other, only escalated the situation. “You’re ruining my life!” he hissed loudly. “I hate this day. Sophie is stupid!” We would have, should have left, but by this time the service was ending and we’d have had to dash in front of the reverend, who had already begun her cheery descent up the aisle. So instead we waited, which meant we left our twice a year church with Peter growling at this gentle, grandmotherly lady as she awkwardly attempted to wish him a Happy Easter. Luckily the car was nearby and together Pat and I lobbed our unwieldy son into his seat and closed the doors, which muffled his full-blown shrieks. For an instant my attention diverted toward Sophie, who was staring at the car, or more accurately, the sound coming from the car, her awed expression reminding me of one of the prettily-clad girls in a Norman Rockwell painting. Her picture perfect expression didn’t last, though, her face turning hot red with anger an instant later when Peter yelled, “stop staring at me, Sophie! I hate you!” The rest of the day went downhill from there. Pat’s mother, thankfully, was our saving grace. At nearly 85, she has Pat’s wit and acumen and she never fails to assume the role of cheerleader and morale booster in our sometimes emotionally depleted home. Yesterday was no exception. Every time I was on the verge of tears, she’d do a little “tada” and make me laugh, make me forget, for a moment, that my son was sequestered in his room on a holiday because he had just charged me with a pair of scissors. Earlier, when we were shell-shocked from another unexpected tantrum, she announced she would participate in an Easter egg hunt if we could wrestle up something for her to lean on and if we promised to hide a twenty-dollar bill in one of the eggs. The kids howled with laughter and so did Pat and I. Grandma foraging across the front lawn for Easter eggs, snail’s pace and all, is a scene I’m sure to never forget. When the day was finally over and it was time to kiss the kids goodnight, Peter apologized. “I was bad to God today,” he said. “God understands,” I corrected. “He just wants you to be happy, to learn to control yourself.” I’m not a very religious person but I’m not an atheist either, and I certainly don’t want our troubled son, a true innocent, to think God is angry with him. I kissed him goodnight and told him to dream about a better tomorrow. Pat and I fell asleep talking about possible triggers but we came up empty. Public meltdowns are not his thing – he usually reserves tantruming for home, or at least the homes of relatives. Although holidays can be rough for Peter when there’s too much excitement, this was a low-key Easter even by Peter’s FAS/autistic standards. This morning I wake Peter up, careful not to startle him, and he smiles brightly at me. “How do you feel?” I ask. “Fine, Mom. I’m fine.” I believe him. I don’t know what happened yesterday, why he had the worst day he’s had in probably a year, but whatever storm was raging in his head has passed. As he leaves for school he turns toward me and waves his hand vigorously in the air, as though he’s on a parade float. “Have a nice day, Mom,” he beams. And I do. Today is peaceful and quiet and I hope the same can be said for my son’s undulating synapses. Although I still feel the aftershocks from the Easter assault, I take solace in knowing those kinds of days, though they may never be gone for good, bombard us with less and less frequency.