You would think that having a diagnosis of a disorder that you already suspected your child had wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but you would be oh-so-wrong for thinking that. I’ve known that something was up with The Boy – that he was different from all the other kids – for quite some time. And yet, having that piece of paper with the word “Asperger’s” on it has made a world of difference to me in the way I interact with him. Post-diagnosis, I seem to have more patience; I take it all less personally – it’s not him being a turkey on purpose – it’s his brain thinking differently from the rest of us. And sometimes, it’s a wonderful thing when he thinks differently. And sometimes, not so much.
Today, The Boy came home talking about wanting to take a picture of a styrofoam airplane and putting the picture on a t-shirt. He remembered that he had a plain white t-shirt and wanted to get an image of the red, white and blue plane onto the shirt. And he wanted to paint red swirls on the shirt. And he wanted to wear it tomorrow. And we had an appointment to go to this evening so only had about an hour of free time after we got home from school. And I haven’t had the time to mess with Photoshop and become a whiz with it yet.
I kept putting off telling him that it just wasn’t going to happen, but also giving hints that his project was quite time-consuming and I didn’t know if we’d have the time. When he brought it up at bedtime, I mentioned that if he had thought of this project over the weekend, we would have had plenty of time to get it done. “But I didn’t know until today that we’re supposed to wear red, white and blue tomorrow!”
Fortunately, my boy is a thinker and becoming a bit of a problem-solver as well. And he started thinking of this as a problem to be solved. I mentioned that he could wear a red shirt with the blue pants that I had just bought him today. His counteroffer: wearing his white shirt and the blue pants and a pair of red shorts over the pants. In my head, I’m thinking of the social implications of such an outfit for a third-grader, and trying to figure out how to keep him from wearing that outfit without telling him why. So I mention how uncomfortable it might be since his red shorts are getting a bit small and might be rather tight on him in multiple layers like that. I countered with the option of wearing his blue pants, white long sleeve shirt and red shirt over the white one. He was getting there but not quite sold on it.
Then, I dug through his closet and found that he has a blue short sleeve t-shirt that says “America” on it. AND he has a plain red long sleeve t-shirt. I show him the America shirt with the red shirt behind it, he inspects it and determines that there might just be enough white in the America shirt for it to be acceptable. And we have a plan!!
So, what does this tell me? It tells me that if the principal of the school announces that kids should wear red, white and blue the next day to celebrate Veteran’s Day, then my son is going to want every single one of those colors on his person that day. That is – he will want to wear them should he choose to participate at all. Because, after all, he is still a 3rd grader and subject to decide that he is too old to care about stuff like that from time to time. I just never know when he’s going to decide to care and when he’s going to just blow it off. But knowing him like I do, I can work with whatever he decides to do and hopefully feel pretty proud of my momma skills at the end of the day.