Sunday, March 21, 2010

Inappropriate Comments

This is a small thing as small things go with autism, but for some reason this really got under my skin.

Saturday, we were invited to attend a family birthday party (for an "over the hill" out of town relative in town to visit) and Bil came along.  To my mother in law's credit, she has always taken Bil to these kind of gatherings.  He sits there, not interacting with anyone, but he is there and I have to believe he is observing, and observing a lot.  She has not hidden him away from family, even back "when" such behavior would have been fully acceptable.

Well, as we were enjoying ourselves Bil blurts out to me, "When are you leaving?" [to go home, not leaving the restaurant].

This is not an unusual question for Bil.  I know this is how he controls his environment.  If we visit, he has to know when we are coming.  And, he has to know the exact hour of our departure.  He won't rest until he gets the information.  I've taken to telling Bil "I don't know", which many times is the truth, and he runs to my husband to ask him the same question.

For some reason this has annoyed me more and more as the years pass, at least the leaving part.  Because the point is, many times we don't know exactly when we are going to leave.  We know the day, but plans change, and I feel that Bil has to start dealing with uncertainty.

So I told Bil I didn't know.  So, of course, he asked my husband, who looked totally exasperated.  And I snapped.  I turned to my mother in law, who was sitting at our table, and I said (not too kindly) "Bil has to learn to deal with uncertainty.  We don't always know when we are leaving, and he has to know we can't always predict the exact minute we are going to leave to return home." [we live about 3 hours away from them.]

My mother in law, who I imagine has heard more than her share of critical comments directed at her son or at her, didn't take this very well.  "You know he didn't mean harm by that" she ended, and I spat back at her "Bil is going to have to learn he can't ask this in a public place.  It implies that he can't wait for us to leave and one day someone is going to take that question the wrong way."

As the party was starting to wind down, we were looking at the weather outside with some anxiety.  We were going to have to drive back about 30 miles in the midst of a nor'easter, and the rain was starting to come down heavily.  The wind had already been going for the better part of a day. We knew trees were down everywhere and we knew the parkways in that part of New York tended to flood easily. (they were built paralleling rivers, for some reason.)
It certainly would have been appropriate at that point to ask when we were leaving the party.

Well...I know I have to learn to pick my battles.  Sigh.

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