Thursday, May 31, 2012

ESP

Equally Shared Parenting. Half the Work. All the Fun. For fathers and mothers who have made a conscious decision to share equally in the raising of their children, household chores, breadwinning, and time for recreation.
Unless your spouse has Aspergers Syndrome. Then you feel blessed just to have a second parent in your home who has a job. Or may be looking for a job. Or may be planning on looking for one in the near future.
Shared housekeeping? I have actually read about Aspies who have OCD to the point that their homes are immaculate. My hubby suffers not from that malady. Horders syndrome perhaps, but definitely not obsessive, compulsive neatness.
Shared parenting? By the time Steve finishes ranting and raving about a specific child, they're applying for adoption to another family. I spend a lot of time mediating.
When I was a kid the term ESP stood for extrasensory perception. A sixth sense. As in ‘I see dead people’. I have never met nor read about an Aspie with perception or communication outside of normal sensory capabilities such as in telepathy or clairvoyance. Quite the opposite, actually. Aspies tend to have obvious lacks of perception and communication.
In all honesty, most of the time I enjoy the setup in our family. I get to spend a huge amount of time with our kids, both together and one on one. Most parenting issues my hubby doesn’t want to deal with, so it’s “whatever you want, dear” from him. Big issues such as skydiving lessons or ultimate fighting lessons for our fifteen year old, or backpacking across the Middle East by our twelve year old I will try to sit Steve down to get his thoughts and opinions on.
Otherwise I just set up the schedules, make arrangements for transportation and procure equipment and physicals, and try to leave enough funds in the bank for food and gas.
I do have to admit that the concept of shared parenting is intriguing to me. If I had my druthers I would hire a housekeeper like Alice in the Brady Bunch to clean, bake and keep up on the laundry. But the money I save by doing those things myself is going into our retirement funds, so we get to play sooner.
Unless Steve wishes to remain working as he is. He mostly seems to enjoy it. Or he might go into teaching more classes and quit the aerospace field. For now he’s happy with status quo.
You know, with all of the new marriage laws being enacted, perhaps I just need to get myself a wife since I already have a husband. Then I’d have one of each.
That thought makes me laugh! As does the idea that we could all stand together in matching shoes long enough to have a photo taken...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Deja Poo

After all this time I should know that talking more, talking less, talking louder, talking softer, talking slower, or talking faster will not change what my husband will hear. If he isn’t listening, or won’t listen, it’s all pointless.
Sometimes emails or text messages get through, but not always.
Most of us who deal on a regular basis with someone with Aspergers really do know this. I guess it’s just that I’m an eternal optimist. I keep thinking and hoping that communication with Steve will be normal at some point.
Perhaps others have had the same hope.
We do tend to go around and around on the same loop. I try to explain my viewpoint to Steve. He insists that he ‘understands’, he swears he will do better in the future.

He says that he loves me and respects me.

It just doesn’t feel like that when he challenges what I say, and does the exact things I ask him not to. When he turns off his listening ears and puts on his grumpy face.
Same old same old.
Then he asks if I’d just rather get a divorce.

Say what?
Why do people jump to the ‘D’ word whenever the going gets, well, uncomfortable. A bit rough. Not smooth. Bumpy. Awkward. Boring.
No, I think I shall just go to play games at a friend’s house, Dear. We shall dine on sushi, play a dice game, drink water/soda/coffee/wine, and laugh. And shout. And stomp, and scream and be thoroughly silly.
Now that’s a wonderful way to deal with unpleasantness.
I should be home by dawn.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Translation Please

Two business men meet. They put their hands out to shake. The first man says “こんにちは (Kon'nichiwa)” in Japanese. The second man doesn’t speak Japanese, so he doesn’t have a clue as to what the first is saying. He responds with “Entschuldigung?” in German. Both phrases are polite. Neither gets the men’s meanings transmitted as there is no interpreter with them.
My husband has traveled extensively worldwide for work. He has needed an interpreter on a regular basis as he speaks no other language than English. He doesn’t seem to think it odd or abnormal to use an interpreter. When I asked him if he’d be willing to travel to Japan again completely on his own, he states categorically, “No way! I don’t speak Japanese!”
So Steve does understand the concept of translation, but he becomes irate when I ask to be the translator between him and our kids.
Kidlet spent the night with Manlet Sunday night. (Eldest son pointed out that due to being in his early thirties, he has bypassed the ‘kidlet’ stage and ‘manlet’ would be more appropriate. I’m not sure where that puts my twenty-something daughter, but I’ll work on a proper term for her. ‘Daughterlet' seems convoluted somehow.)
Monday afternoon Manlet brought kidlet home. Manlet’s roommate had come along. Roommate, Manlet and Kidlet were approaching our front door when Hublet, no – make that the Hubster, came charging up to kidlet.
“Don’t EVER forget and leave boards with nails in them lying around with the nails sticking up!” Hubster roared. "Someone will get hurt!" I could hear him clearly from the back of the house.
Huh? When did kidlet do that? I went quickly to the porch to mediate.
Apparently Kidlet didn’t. The Hubster had seen a board with nails sticking up over by his shop (probably one that he himself had left out, but wouldn’t admit to), and decided it was time to ‘depart knowledge’ to Kidlet as was his ‘right’ as father.
Ahhhh. Okay dear. You blew up on Kidlet, embarrassing him in front of his big bro and roommate. He had only just arrived and was expectng a 'welcome home'. You probably scared the snot out of him for no apparent reason.
“How am I supposed to talk to him then?” protested the Hubster.
Through me, Dear. I will translate for you.
“That’s stupid! I have the RIGHT to (blah blah blah blah blah),” insists the Hubster, who then turned to stomp off to his shop. He stayed angry all evening.
This morning I heard the garbage trucks out at the road. Our recycle bins are picked up every other week. I texted Steve to see if he remembered to put both regular garbage and recycle cans out last night.
He texted back that he had forgotten both. Translation: Kids have to do what he says at all times, but he forgets one of his only two weekly chores. Come to think of it, he hasn't mowed in a couple of weeks either.
*Sigh*
(Translation of two men's conversation - first is saying "Hello" and second is saying "Excuse me?")

Monday, May 28, 2012

Psssssst…

Do you know how hard it is to lie perfectly still when you are wide awake, the sun is up, the birds are singing, and you're craving coffee? I try to do it, but for me it is impossible. Holiday or not, it’s 5:00 a.m. and I’m ready to get up. Not so gentle snoring tells me that my spouse is not in agreement with me on this matter.
Kidlet is at his big bro’s. Daughter will be picking her dogs up later tonight. I’m not a dog-talker like my husband and I have no living beings to talk to. I make coffee, feed the dogs and fish, read, pray, meditate, social network, and write. An hour has passed. 

Hmmmm.
I go out to water my flowers on the decks and porches. I admire my shiny new barbeque that we purchased yesterday afternoon at a local box store during their Memorial Day weekend sale.
I unload the dishwasher, fill the water cooler, scrub the cooktop, counters and sinks, rearrange the pantry a bit. It's now 6:30.
Hmmmm.
I am honestly stumped at how my husband can go for days without human contact. I love being around other people. I crave conversation, playing games, cooking and eating together, crafting, watching ball games, even attending seminars and meetings. I don’t think I have Aspergers.
My Aspie is the exact opposite. He seems to abhor company. In the early days of our courtship we worked on cars together and listen to rock music. He would talk nonstop about those things, since they are his special interests. I am not as interested in engine specifics as Steve is, but am interested in mechanics in general. Heck, I knew what tool to go rent to get the pilot bearing out when we did a tranny swap on his Toyota pickup! As for the rock music, I can name that song in three notes or less. I am that good.
Now that we know more about Aspergers, I recognize the various Aspie traits that probably lend to his preferred isolation.
Lack of managing appropriate social conduct, high intelligence [doesn’t think others are as smart as him], anger management problems, controlling feelings such as depression, fear or anxiety, lack of empathy, inability to listen to others [he’s too busy with his own thoughts], inflexible thinking, repetitive routines provides feelings of security, stress when [his] routine suddenly changes, inability to think in abstract ways.


Hmmmm.

All logical (to me) reasons for my Sweetie’s aloneness. But hard to deal with when I’m the only one up this time of morning. I suppose I could throw some clothes on and run down to the grocery store. The employees are always happy to talk.

Anyone on the East coast want to have coffee via Skype?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happily Ever After

Normally I’m in bed by 8:30 or 9 p.m. and up around 4:30 or 5 a.m. That’s my natural rhythm. I can’t help it. I like to joke that I’m really an East Coast soul living in a West Coast time zone.

Steve loves to sleep. He typically would sleep ten to twelve hours if on vacation. I don’t know how he does it. My hubby can wake up, use the restroom or take the dog out, then jump right back into bed and sleep for hours.

I can’t. When my eyes pop open, I’m awake and ready to go. Even if it’s two o’clock in the morning. I hate those days.

Yesterday after a long day of baseball with two heartbreaking losses, we were all dog tired. I was trying to get coolers unloaded and cleaned up, run a couple loads of wash, and feed kidlet and the dogs one last time before shooing them all off to bed. It was past my bedtime.

My daughter is away for the holiday weekend so we are dog-sitting her two pups. Our dog is absolutely thrilled to have company. Our dog and her dogs eat different food. One of her pups has a delicate digestive system and shouldn’t eat our dog’s food. One of the most efficient ways of keeping the dogs at their respective bowls is to literally stand there while they eat and stop them from roaming to the ‘wrong’ dish.

I had finished running water for a bath and was heading in to soak a bit with my current book. Hubby was settling into his recliner in the living room, dogs were eating, and kidlet ran down to the rec room to replay Friday night’s Mariners game against the Angels on his X-Box. (Side note, he picked a different closer and won. Told you so.)

I asked Steve if he would come into the hallway between the kitchen and our bedroom where the dogs were eating, and ‘stand guard’ to prevent bowl swapping. He said sure.

I went into our bedroom suite, closing the door, then went in to our bathroom and climbed in the tub. A minute later I heard the door to the powder room close and the fan go on. It stayed on for almost five minutes, then went off and the door was swung open with a bang.

Hmmm. That was odd that kidlet came upstairs to use the bathroom instead of using the basement bathroom. Maybe the basement one was out of TP.

I texted kidlet to see if that were the case. “What?” texted he. “I’m downstairs.”

Hmmm. I texted Steve and his phone buzzed next to his sink five feet away from me. I got out of the tub and grabbed a towel. Sticking my head out of the bedroom door I could see one of my daughter’s dogs finishing up at our dog’s dish. I called to Steve. He was in his recliner already. When I asked why he didn’t watch the dogs as I asked, he responded that he really didn’t think it mattered, that it was just for a minute that he wasn’t there.

Uh huh. I reminded him that I had asked him and he had consented. If it didn’t matter I wouldn’t have asked him. Is he of the opinion that I am stupid? Does he truly believe that his Aspergers logic is superior? Does he really think he is God and is all-knowing?

“Well, it was just for a minute.”

Sigh. I went back in to our bathroom and sunk down into my tub. Thank you Lord for my husband, our kids, our home, and my sanity, which I choose to keep intact for at least the rest of this day.

I choose to live happily ever after.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Great Bambino – Sultan of Swat

“The only real game, I think, in the world is baseball.” Babe Ruth – April 27, 1947
Youngest kidlet and I agree, though my husband doesn’t. He tolerates it.
George Herman Ruth Jr. was born 117 years ago, but lives on in American history as one of the greatest baseballs player of all time. Memorial Day stands as a remembrance of those that have protected our country, but Babe Ruth protected our country’s hope during the 1920’s and 1930’s. He is probably the first true sports superstar.
This weekend will be a whirlwind of baseball activity in our household. 32 thirteen year old teams will be playing in our tournament and we are so excited! Uniforms and equipment bags are checked and ready. The car is being stocked up with bottled water, sports drinks, power food and coolers. The camera has fresh batteries, sunscreen and sunglasses are in the backpack, gas tank is full, eyes are on the clock waiting for the magic moment of go.
Steve is watching TV.
I could ask him to help pack and load, but he gets too frantic. He runs around like a chicken with its head chopped off. It stresses him out to no end. If I can do without his ‘help’, I get a lot more done.
I have to laugh at some of his packing ‘skills’ when we first were married. He packed his own bags for Hawaii. Then I repacked for him. He had three full bags for two weeks. I put everything he needed into one carryon. I packed one carryon for me. Simple.
Tropical paradise. You eat, you sleep, you go to the beach. Funny little secret about our fiftieth state is they have washing machines and everything dries in an instant. We took swimsuits, a couple changes of shirts/shorts/undies, wore flipflops, had toothbrushes, sunscreen and sunglasses. We bought disposable cameras over there, and beach towels as souvenirs.
Steve stayed in a panic about not having the right stuff with him until we stepped off the plane two weeks later.
I had a fantastic time. We ate, slept, and laid in the sun. Brown as coconuts, we went home. One of us thoroughly relaxed, one of us a wound up, hyper mess.
Now that Steve’s been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, I understand why. He gets nervous and upset about new places and changes. I can handle those things.
So sit, dear Husband, and watch TV. It’s okay. I’ve got this.
Let the games begin!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Go Green

The Muppets have got to be one of the best inventions of the Twentieth Century. Just say “Gone with the Schwinn” in a crowded room and everyone says “Muppet Movie”!
When Kermit the Frog sang “It’s Not Easy Being Green” on Sesame Street back in 1970 during that show’s first season, he changed pop culture in a unique way.
“In the song, Kermit begins by lamenting his green coloration, expressing that green "blends in with so many ordinary things" and wishing to be some other color. But by the end of the song, Kermit recalls positive associations with the color green, and concludes by accepting and embracing his greenness.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bein%27_Green
Aspies are much the same way. It’s not easy being different, but there are so many positive additions they make to our NeuroTypical world that I can’t imagine life without them.
What’s funny is that my husband’s favorite color is green, but he is mildly color blind and can’t tell that I have green eyes! He thinks that they are hazel or brown. So I am wondering what things are really green to him. I know that in our world green = nerd.
Wikipedia defines the term nerd thusly:
Nerd is a derogatory stereotype of a person typically described as socially-impaired, obsessive, or overly intellectual. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular or obscure activities, pursuits, or interests, which are generally either highly technical, or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities. Other nerdy qualities include physical awkwardness, introversion, quirkiness…  Thus, a nerd is often excluded from physical activity and is a social outsider. In the stereotypical high-school situation, they may be either considered loners by others, or they tend to associate with a small group of like-minded people.
The stereotypical nerd is commonly seen as intelligent but socially and physically awkward. They would typically be perceived as either lacking confidence or being indifferent or oblivious to the negative perceptions held of them by others, with the result that they become frequent objects of scorn, ridicule, bullying, and social isolation. Nerds can either be described by their hobbies and interests, or by abstract qualities such as personality, status, social skills, and physical appearance.
In addition to having low social status, a nerd can also be one who has a social or communication problem that holds him back. These include:
My personal nerd is learning that he can excel at being green. Being different. Being himself. He is learning new techniques in communication. He is pushing himself to improve on his social skills.  
He is learning to ‘Go Green’. Hopefully Wikipedia will soon update their definition to read, "Nerd was once a derogatory stereotype..."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tiggers Bounce

I must be part Tigger. I don’t jump, I bounce. Tiggers don’t like honey and I don’t like honey. My husband, however, doesn’t have an ounce of Tigger in him. He trudges, and loves honey. If I had to pick a ‘Pooh’ character for his personality, he’d be an Eeyore.
Honey is nothing more than bee vomit. Yuck. How can anyone eat that stuff? Do you dine on cow cud? My point exactly.
As for the trudging, it’s irritating. Steve walks differently with his shoes off. Barefoot or sockfooted, he strikes his heel down hard, causing a floor shaking stomp. We always know when he's home because of the stomping.

My Sweetie tends to lumber along anyway, shoes or no shoes. Due to his Aspergers, his running gait is skewed.
When Steve runs, he puts one foot out to the side and the other foot out to the opposite side. When I run, I put one foot straight forward, swinging my other foot straight alongside and straight out in front. My method keeps me in a smooth straight line while Steve’s method has him lumbering back and forth from side to side in a choppy, awkward, admittedly forward moving motion. It’s painful to watch.
Steve grew fast at the end of grade school and into junior high. Pictures of him show a very tall, quiet looking young man slouched down in the back row of whatever group he was with. He was (and is) extremely clumsy. He has incredible strength. He often twists off head bolts and fine threaded screws. We go through a case of easy-outs every year.
With Steve’s bumping and stumbling around the house I’ve finally given up my propensity for collecting nicnacs, or ‘sit pretties’ as my hubby called them. He would bump against tables or shelves, hit one with his elbows as he passes by, or stumble into lamps and candle stands. Crash – that would be the end of that.
Coffee and sodas are spilled. Food goes down his front. Clothes are snagged on who-knows-what and tear. Shirt fronts are riddled with holes that can only come from battery acid.
Please change into outside clothes before checking under the hood of the car, Dear!” I beg.
“But it will just take a second!” roars hubby.
“Well, from the look of your shirts it takes less than a second to get battery acid on you!” responds I, becoming hopping mad.
Or is that bouncing mad?
Make that T-I-double"guh"-errrrr!
Or maybe just ‘grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cliff Hanger

I have a birthday coming up soon. I am closer to being a super-centenarian than I ever thought possible. Since I plan on living until I’m 111, I'm now truly middle aged. Holy cannoli, that went fast.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I am not God. My kids may still believe that I have eyes in the back of my head, but it’s nothing more than good old mothers’ intuition. Sometimes it’s a bit of Sherlock Holmes mixed in – look for telltale expressions or reactions and you can piece together a lot of suppositions. Whatever you want to call it, I’m right more often than I’d ever imagined I could be.
My husband, however, thinks he knows everything and can predict the absolute outcome of all situations. His ‘God complex’. And apparently he thinks I should know also.
Watching a TV show or movie together can be aggravating. He wants to know what is going to happen before it happens. If I already knew the upcoming events, I wouldn’t bother watching the show. I’m watching the show for entertainment. I’d like to watch it in peace rather than having an ongoing monologue about what I think might happen. Considering how my hubby doesn’t like chit chat, he’s sure a Chatty Cathy during my favorite mystery programs.
Grrrrr. Frustrating.
Books are the same way. Steve seldom reads novels. If I do recommend something for him to read, he wants to know the ending before he starts the novel, so he can determine whether or not he wants to read it.
Say what?
How can you read a murder mystery or espionage novel in its entirety if you already know the ending? What exactly is the point? Hello!
Many times as we head to one of kidlet’s games, Steve will want to know if the team is going to win. I tell him, “Yes, the team will win.” Then, if kidlet’s team doesn’t win, Steve is upset.
“Why did you tell me the team would win when they really lost? I wouldn’t have wasted my time going if I knew they were going to lose!” he thunders.
“Sweetie, the team that won did win! I just didn’t know which team was ‘the team’. I can’t foretell the future! I am not God and neither are you,” I explain, usually exasperated. “Why would you only want to watch if kidlet’s team wins? Why don’t you just want to see him play?”
Indignant huffing and gruffing comes from hubby’s side of the car, but no specific answer is forthcoming. I can see Steve's mind wrestling with itself. Not sure who's winning.
Guess it’s just another cliff hanger!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sleep Over

Having our children over a nineteen year span has been very interesting to say the least. Among the many changes including childrearing practices, technology advancements, schooling formats, and parental expectations, terminology of kid specific verbiage has been one of the most challenging for us.
When our oldest son was small, kids asked to have little Johnny come over to play. Our youngest son was expected to have his mother book a play date.
“Can he spend the night?” was a common question at the end of a day with eldest son. Youngest son asks to have a sleep over.
Twenty years ago Dad said, “Sit” and the kid did. Dad’s command was iron clad. Today’s Dad says, “Johnny, you’ve been on the go all day and you look tired and sweaty. Please come on in and sit with me for a bit. We can read your new Harry Potter for a while, okay?” Dad would be looking for consensus and companionship.
My dear Aspie husband can’t or won’t acknowledge this at all. He insists that he is the ‘Dad’ and his rule in our household is absolute. No questions asked, no debates. Decisions are final.

And that is his final answer. Period. End of story.
Whooh. I am sorry, dear eldest son and daughter. I wish we had do-overs. I would have stood up for you more had I realize that your Dad’s viewpoint was so hardened by Aspergers. I know now.
Yesterday was a long day. Kidlet had to be 35 miles away from home at baseball practice. Since he’s starting high school next year and wants to play football, a parent had to be at the mandatory football meeting. Steve was working overtime so eldest son came straight from work to take his ‘little’ six foot tall bro to practice while I went to the meeting.
I had made a big casserole that we all dug into on the fly, eating in the car. I sent Steve a text to let him know dinner was ready whenever he got home, help himself.
Around 9 pm hubby comes bursting in the door from work and stomped straight at Kidlet and I who were on the couch watching TV.

Hubster's full 6’4” frame looming above us.
“You CAN’T put garbage into TWO cans!” Steve roared at Kidlet.
My oh my. I knew that hubster had worked an extra four hours and was probably tired. I would also bet that he hadn’t eaten since lunch, but he was waaaaaay out of line. I jumped up, grabbed his hand and pulled him into the kitchen were I asked him to calm himself. I then asked him to explain what was wrong and why he was so upset.
Turns out that each of our two garbage cans was half full and Steve needed to “either empty one into another, or take two cans out and get an extra charge.”
I thought for a moment.

Why couldn’t he just take out one half full one and kidlet could finish filling the other for next week’s pickup? That stopped Steve dead in his tracks. What, more than one solution? Was that possible?
I explained that I wasn’t trying to challenge his authority, but trying to temper his communication. I explained that he wouldn’t talk to a co-worker that way, and he didn’t ‘love’ his co-workers. I encouraged him to eat, which he did, and that helped.

I went back to the living room and explained the ‘problem’ to Kidlet who said he’d make sure to fill one can fully before putting more into the second can. He then asked why Dad was so mad at him.
“He’s not mad, dear boy, just having an Aspie meltdown. Please be patient with him.”
Son shrugged. “No sweat, Mom. I’m good.”
Yes, thank you Lord, he is.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Trivial Pursuit

Yesterday was family game day [slash] postponed Mother’s Day for me. Since I spent last weekend out of town, the kids decided to honor me yesterday, and what a fantastically wonderful, hilariously fun afternoon and evening we had.
Daughter brought her boyfriend, two dogs and lunch. Eldest son brought his two roommates and sodas. Youngest son brought his buddy and healthy appetites. Hubby behaved himself, as did our dog. I even ate a few carbs and didn’t explode.
We played Apples to Apples and Trivial Pursuit. Both games were neck in neck until the very end. No one cried. At least out loud. We did all laugh, out loud, and often. The day was a hoot. It was hard to see it end.
This truly is the way I want to live my life. With family and friends, laughing and playing together. Sharing food and drink, and telling many a story of past good times. Memories that have already been made are helping to make new memories.
Steve seemed in good spirits. He hardly did his “ALLLLRIIIIGHHHHT” double thumbs up while grinning like a maniac thing. We’ve just about gotten to the point that we just groan and roll our eyes when he does it. Silly man.
Lying in bed last night gave me some contemplative time before drifting off to sleep. Steve was still up watching TV in the living room and youngest kid was up in his room finishing off some homework. The house was quiet and dark.
I realized how much more relaxed I am nowadays when others who don’t know us very well come over to our home. I’m not really concerned about what my hubby will or won’t do. I’m not worried about what newcomers will think about us or some of Steve’s oddities.
When everyone is being silly and goofing around, the Asperger traits really aren’t apparent. If my Sweetie says something weird, they just laugh and think he’s joking. Both games we played required some thinking, so Steve didn’t or couldn’t launch into a non-stop discussion on cars. He needed to concentrate on the game at hand.
Since we ate before we started playing, Steve was sufficiently nourished so he didn’t have any blood sugar lags or spikes. We were busy playing for close to six hours non-stop so he didn’t have time to have any sort of anxiety or panic attacks. We were able to keep our collective strengths up by munching on into the evening. No one was hungry. Well, possibly with the exception of the two teenage boys who are always hungry during waking hours.
These points of achievement may seem trivial to many people, but they are all marks of contentment to me. They represent a normalcy that can often be missing in our home.
The pursuit of happiness. Learning to go with the flow. Getting another piece of the pie.
Not trivial pursuits for me in the least. Just apples to apples. It’s a good feeling.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fishing Note


I love to fish. When I was younger, I loved to fish. My parents were die-hard city dwellers. I had an aunt and uncle who had three boys, and I was given the honor of being their weekend daughter. So I grew up loving to camp and fish, ride dirt bikes, and fiddle with all types of cars and trucks. Just one of the boys.

I always dreamed of some tall, dark and handsome man taking one look at my boat, feasting on my fine cooked cuisine, then falling head over heels in love with me.

Instead, I met my hubby at a friend’s birthday party where a  band played 1980’s dance music. Steve was there with a buddy and became smitten by a tall, willowy ash blond with bright green eyes playing pool and dancing until the wee hours.

I am no longer willowy, I honestly don't remember going dancing since then, and Steve is color blind so he thought my eyes were hazel, but (I presume) he’s still head over heels for me. I know I am for him.

Even though he doesn’t fish.

I am stumped as to why he doesn’t. Fishing is a solitary activity. It’s quiet, peaceful, and gives a person endless opportunities to simply sit and think. (Unless you are me, of course, and are too busy pulling in fish. Just sayin’.)

There are endless items for compulsive contemplation. Rods, reels, line, hooks, bait, flies, weights, still fishing, trolling, fly fishing. ‘Catch and release’ versus ‘hookem and eatem’. (I’m for the latter, thank you very much.)

Even when I drag my hubby with me, rig his line for him, prop him up with a rod, comfy pillows and a coffee or cold soda depending on weather, he still hates it.

Years ago Steve had a buddy at work that loved to fish. We were often able to go with him, and those are some of my favorite memories of past. The best lake we went to had Kokanee, which is a landlocked lake salmon. Buddy and I would haul in fish as quick as we could re-bait. Nothing like a freezer full of these tasty delights. Eat them, Steve will.

Thinking back about it, I am honestly not sure if Steve ever caught a fish. Could be why he doesn’t like to go fishing.

One of my favorite Bert and Ernie skits has them fishing together on a lake. Hours have gone by and Bert hasn’t caught a thing. Ernie had been just sitting and reading.

When Bert questions this, Ernie puts his book down, leans over the edge of the boat and calls, “Here fishy, fishy!” Bert is perplexed. Ernie calls again, then again.

Suddenly, a huge fish swims up to the boat, pops up out of the water and says to Ernie, “You called?” Bert falls over in the boat.

I think that I must be a fish whisperer. When I take the kids out fishing, they occasionally catch something while I pull fish in hand over fist. Since I’ve rigged and baited for them, I’m not really sure what the difference is. No one in my family likes fishing but me.

Is there a way to teach an Aspie a new single interest?

*Sigh*

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just Keep Swimming

I’ve finally figured out that my dog has Aspergers. She is not supposed to be on my living room couch. She knows that because sometimes when I come through the front door she makes a beeline to the basement with her tail tucked. I can go over to the couch, put my hand on it, and sure enough find a warm spot. She doesn’t shed much, but I still don’t want her on my living room furniture. She knows it, but she keeps on doing it even though she knows it’s wrong.
This leads me to the thought that perhaps my Aspie husband is also part dog. He doesn’t talk much, he is good at ignoring people he doesn’t like, and he keeps doing things that he knows are wrong, hoping my reaction to them will be different. He loves a structured life, and wants the same old same old. Just like our dog.
On the Asperger’s Assoc. of New England website, they discuss how we can help our Aspies in dealing with their environment:
  • Physical and emotional comfort are essential to people with AS
  • Heightened sensory sensitivities may make particular environments unpleasant or intolerable. (Change lighting, decrease noise, wear comfortable clothing)
  • A slower-paced environment will likely be more tolerable and allow for a greater sense of comfort and competence
  • Advocate for environmental changes at work or home; if you are more comfortable, the people around you will be as well

My former career was anything but structured. Depending on my client load, I could be done with work in the early afternoon or late in the evening.
Raising children has required constant changes and flexibility. Neither traits are include in Asperger descriptions. Expectations by Steve about our kids behaviors are often unrealistic. I remember him yelling at our oldest son one time out at the shop.
“What were you thinking?” Steve raged.
Duh, Sweetie! He’s seventeen! His head is a vacuum for another three to five years!
Yet when I find out that Steve’s once again forgotten his lunchbox at work, or put his socks away in the towel drawer, he just looks at me sheepishly, tucks his tail and heads for the basement.
I am working hard to keep our home comfortable and as stable as possible for Steve. I handle all the kid related stuff, all the household finances and upkeep, and juggle our social lives. I am comfortable ‘living on my own’ within our marriage. I can calmly suggest activities for Steve to do with our kids so that he isn’t totally out of their lives. I rarely have people nowadays say, “Oh, you’re married?” when I appear somewhere with my hubby.
Now that I am retired I can work on keeping a slower pace in our lives. I attended a school district function last night, and was shocked to realize how little direct daily contact I have anymore with other grownups. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing everyone. Maybe I should schedule myself some play dates.
Hopefully Steve will be learning to tuck tail and run less.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. Enough said.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Normal

We all have our own perception of ourselves. People decide on their own attitudes and feelings from watching themselves behave in various situations.
But what if a person can’t determine their own behavior?
A person with Aspergers Syndrome seems to often suffer from cognitive dissonance. This is the uncomfortable tension that comes from having conflicting thoughts in your mind at the same time.
People with Aspergers have problems with language in social settings. It may be difficult for them to pick topics of conversation. Their body language may be off. It may be hard for them to recognize that another person has lost interest in the Aspie’s topic.
Aspies often speak in a monotone. They may not respond to other people’s comments or emotions. They may not be able to read facial expressions or body language. An Aspie may have difficulty understanding sarcasm or humor, and can be the target of bullying.
My husband thinks he is normal. In one respect he is. Steve is a normal Aspie. But he is not ‘normal’ when viewed in social situations. Then he is very, very not normal. He definitely exhibits all of the traits above.

My sweetie’s mind is often conflicted. He wants to be left alone, but he wants to be in our family. He wants to remain in the background at work and social settings, but he does want to be there. He desperately wants to look and act normal, but face it – he’s a nerd. My dear, wonderful, sweet, geeky nerd. I love him.

I can’t imagine how tough it is for my hubby to get through each day with all of the conflicting thoughts and feelings he has. I have rough days occasionally, but I know who I am, what I am feeling, how I wish to conduct my life, what my goals are and how I am going to achieve them.

If it seems that Steve is just along for the ride, then he probably is. I know as an intelligent man he can choose his own paths in life. He has chosen to walk my path with me. When I can get him to verbalize his thoughts and feelings at a fork in the road, I can try to pick the next path with his desires and dreams in mind.

Otherwise, I guess I just bring him along with me. So far, he hasn’t dragged his feet or kicked - at least not too hard!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two Too Many

In the garden the rose rose above all the other flowers.

She gave birth in her berth on the Orient Express.
After retrieving his dropped sandwich, he ground ground with his teeth.
I was told that the bridge was tolled.
Why did you bring a ball to the ball?
“Aye, you’ve poked my eye!” said I.
We don’t measure carrots in carats, nor designate them with carets.
Homophones, homographs, homonyms, and heterographs. My favorite types of words and my husband’s most hated.

I love word play. Anything I can twist into a pun is utilized in an instant. Quick wittedness has gotten me laughs over the years, as well as ejections from classrooms as a kid. I have to confess, I’m a blurter. I’ve done it in meetings, lectures, church services, and seminars. I do enjoy a good laugh from others.
These wonderful words also drive my dear husband to distraction. They are very hard for him to differentiate between. They take him a bit of time to decipher. The moment he hears one, he has to stop listening to figure out what is meant. When he stops listening, then he no longer hears the context that the word was used in, thus thoroughly confusing himself. If he responds, chances are the speaker will be equally confused as Steve most likely picked the wrong meaning.
Communication breakdown.
My ‘punny-ness’ is usually not funny to my Sweetie. That’s okay.
Slowly but surely I am learning to look for other audiences than Steve for my word play. I keep reminding myself to speak at a slower pace, in simple sentences, and watch his reactions to see if he understands me. Not because he’s stupid or dimwitted. He’s brilliant. But with his Aspergers, the words can easily get jumbled up and my meaning lost.
It’s fun to go to gatherings with other people I can talk to. Steve likes to be nearby, but not partake in the conversations. It’s enjoyable when he’s there with me, nodding and smiling. I can even bet that he is rebuilding an engine in his mind, and doesn’t have a clue about what we are talking about. No problem. I’m still in my element. After all, I’m one of the funniest people I know! At least I think I am.
As for the tutus, leave me three please. I certainly don’t want to have two tutus too many!