My son, thing one, is 13 and has autism-Asperger syndrome, to be exact. Now this isn’t one of those Poor Me posts, or Look How Much I’m Doing for My Wonderful but Challenging Child, or some shit like that. He’s only called autistic because he needed some therapies, and they weren’t covered without an official diagnosis. He’s a weird, quirky, cranky, hilarious kid who happens to fit the DSM-IV criteria for Asperger’s. So do I, for that matter. So does beloved. So do probably half the people we hang out with. No biggie.
Still, the Aspie thing can make life pretty interesting around here.
The other day, baby girl decided to poll everyone about their breakfast preferences and graph the results. Unfortunately, thing one was at the table with the pad of graph paper, working on a map. He’s always working on a map. All day, every day, maps maps maps. Baby girl tells him she needs a sheet of paper.
“Why? asks thing one.
“Because I need it,” says baby girl. “I’m making a graph.”
Thing one dismisses her with a sigh. “I’m making a MAP,” he says. “You can wait.”
This, of course, is the switch that wakes up the evil preadolescent side of my charming baby girl. “MOOOOMMMMMM! He won’t give me any PAPERRRRRR!”
“I’m aware, child. I’m right here. Thing one, give your sister a piece of paper. Baby girl, don’t yell.”
“I didn’t yell.”
“I’m using the paper.”
Big mom sigh here. “You’re not using all the paper, thing one. Give your sister some paper.”
Thing one hauls his skinny body out of the chair, unfolding like one of those super-long Arby’s curly fries, and hands baby girl the pad of paper. “Here. Take it out of the back. Be very careful. Don’t touch my map. You’ll mess it up.”
“Thank you,” says baby girl.
“Mmmmmm-hmmmm,” says thing one, channeling his inner Niecy Nash.
Several minutes later, baby girl has successfully determined that she, thing two and I all prefer oatmeal to cold cereal for breakfast. And then she asks thing one.
“What kind of cereal?” asks thing one.
“Just cereal,” says baby girl.
“What? There is no such thing as just cereal.”
“Cheerios,” I tell him.
“Real Cheerios? Or the organic stuff in the squished box from the hippie store?”
“We never have real Cheerios. Well we did one time, I think. They were on sale. But we never have them, so if I pick that, I probably don’t get breakfast.”
“It’s hypothetical, thing one. But fine. Hippie Cheerios,” I tell him, being very conscious of my eyeballs and the effort it takes not to roll them.
“Plain or honey nut?”
“Hmmmmmmm…” ponders thing one. Thing one ponders a lot. It’s pretty cute. Satisfied, he moves on to the oatmeal. “What kind of oatmeal?”
“GOD,” says baby girl.
“God-flavored oatmeal? I’m not eating that,” chuckles thing one. He’s pleased with his wit, and clearly enjoying irking his sister. “What real, non-mythical flavor is this hypothetical oatmeal?” I’m not kidding-my kid really talks like this.
“Brown sugar,” baby girl manages to squeeze through clenched teeth.
“Plain brown sugar or maple and brown sugar?”
“PLAIN!” growls baby girl.
“Hmmmmm…” More pondering, and then, “I don’t believe I’ve ever had plain brown sugar oatmeal, so I can’t answer that.”
“FINE,” says baby girl. “Maple, then. Maple and brown sugar hypothetical NON-MYTHICAL-FLAVORED OATMEAL.”
“Oh,” says thing one, with his most innocent and winning smile. “Why didn’t you say so? I would prefer oatmeal.”
“God,” says baby girl.
“Tasty,” says thing one.
A few minutes later, beloved walks into the room. Baby girl repeats her cereal versus oatmeal question for him.
“Hmmmmmm…” ponders beloved. “What flavor is the oatmeal?”