Yesterday, the pedantic genius had a friend over for tea. Not a school friend. A “my son is just like your son” friend from an after school club. We have recently had a lot of children at our house, due to some neighbourhood stuff going on. So, I thought I was all up to date on what children do.
Politely accept drinks and biscuits, and hide them if they are not required. Standing and looking hopeful but not liking to ask. Generally not wanting to have to engage with the adult at all, but escaping to the safety of the child zone…
I get anxious when I hear “my son is just like yours” – because, it seems like a big thing to decide on the basis of a couple of minutes a week. And, I worry hugely about letting my son go on “playdates”. Because, he is odd. He has a diagnosed autistic spectrum disorder, which means he has limited social awareness, and inability to cope with too much sensory input or change. He is also considered to have High Learning Potential. He is not just “bright”. He is annoyingly quick, knows a LOT, and doesn’t know how to present this in anyway nicely. He also loves people, but can’t really make friends. So, “my son is just like yours” makes me simultaneously want to reach out and sceptical.
However, I have been hanging out with this particular boy’s mum for about a year. I know he is going through the same assessments that the pedantic genius has had. I know she is anxious about his social skills. And, they both seem nice too, so, I thought, “why not?”, and when the mum coped admirably with my son’s rather steamrollerish approach to inviting a friend for tea, I started to worry less.
I suspected I wouldn’t see them, they happily disappeared upstairs in a whirl of minecraft chatter.
They came down for tea. I asked the usual questions. I was taken aback NOT to get the usual answers. I got “No, I don’t want a drink now, I’m busy, thank you” I got “I don’t like my food like that, can you chop the spring onions?”, “Can we answer the questions on the chase?” and a variety of other I want to / I don’t want to based things. Including, “This is my favourite kind of chicken” and “Can I have another one of these, they are good?”
And, they played in the same room as the rest of us, they answered the quiz, they challenged each other to maths problems, and they invented a ball game. yes, OK it was indoors, but, hey, a game that NEEDS two people, and that breaks the rules? Huge win I think?
I KNEW the guest was having a good time, and getting what they wanted, since I was being told!
So, I was thinking, I would be so anxious in case my child bluntly said they didn’t want or didn’t like something. I would worry in case they spoke about things in their idiosyncratic way. But, maybe I need to relax, and let him be a bit more just himself? It is not social convention, but it is not impolite. It is direct and honest. Maybe we should ALL aim for direct and honest, rather than polite and squashed?