A typical Saturday morning in this household of folk I love. After a full on return to term 2 school and work after a week off we hit the weekend.
Normally there are a few moments of peace before the maelstrom. My family are on the spectrum. This is fine for the most part, aside the times we all have our views and ways of doing things that clash with others.
My son wanted to play us one of his new compositions. He asked us both to listen. This involves still, solid focus on him to physically demonstrate our paying of attention. Otherwise he gets upset and stops the song.
So we stopped what we were doing, and the music begins. Two seconds in and H (new reference for hubby) starts looking around for something to rifle through or pick up. He can’t stay still. He has a lot of nervous energy. He HAS to pace on every phone call, regardless who it is. This is who he is in his spectrum experience.
Unable to stay still, he shifts his focus from the music around the room. He zeros in on kiddo’s fabric lunchbox that has been sat on top of the record player since the end of last term.
I know it’s there and been reminding kiddo to deal with it but it has sat there obviously with rotting food in it. As is how my kid works. He has crappy working memory, gets distracted super easily and loses his place a lot when tasked with things. He is also a grotty teenager. That is part of his spectrum experience.
Then there’s me. Full of constant thoughts racing around and ahead, envisioning scenarios that may never happen. All whilst avoidant coping mechanisms hover, ready to take the wheel and turn on the elevator musak. That way I’m not caught up in the emotionally charged disaster I saw coming. Part of my spectrum experience.
Back to the moment and H takes the lunchbox off the record player and looks inside. Seconds later gagging and making a big show of how disgusting it is. By this stage I had seen the fixation with the object occur and set into ‘musak’ disengagement. Knowing full well it was another inability to read the room moment that would upset someone – namely kiddo who was watching us both intently wanting approval and attention on his vulnerabilities as he played us his creations.
As some twee Bacharach played in my head my expression dropped into blank canvas and I watched it all happen from a distant place.
H went over to the sink with the offending object. Trying not to wretch, telling kiddo he has to clean it up and wash it out. Cue kiddo turning music off, getting deeply hurt and offended and setting into defensive position.
And it’s in these moments I am eternally grateful that I have a retreat. A little space in the house I can escape to. While the bomb drops and the fallout settles.
Of course five minutes later it’s quiet again as cool down corners as sought out. Then I call out to kiddo to keep playing me that song. He does so reticently and I tell him how amazing it and he is.
Photo by Edwin Chen on Unsplash.