Sunday, November 23, 2008

Autism Diaries, III: mind games

J. has been addicted to fans since he was 6 months old, but no fans enthrall him more than the ceiling fans at the local Chinese restaurant. I can practically hear them wincing at the other end of the line when I call up to order J's favorite dish, squid with spicy salt, with "please just the squid with nothing else on it--no peppers, no garlic." They most assuredly recognize who the request is coming from, and hope, hope, that that crazy blond boy won't be accompanying his mother into the restaurant when she comes to pick up the order.

Problem is, every time I bring him in he charges past the takeout counter into the dining room, and, if the fans aren't all on fast, climbs onto the first booth to reach across tea cups and torsos to grope at the fan controls. So, naturally, it had been a while since I'd taken him there with me. The last time was about 6 months ago, way back in summer when the fans--whew!--were already on high.

But last week when my husband was away and J had had a good enough week to earn his Friday squid--squid being the one meat he eats, and one he craves it almost as much as fans-on-high--I had no choice but to bring him. He'd matured a lot since summer; surely I could talk him into controlling himself.

The whole way over there, all the rewards for self-restraint and all the penalties for putting fans-on-fast were gone over ad nauseam. Yes, yes, he repeated: he understood. No sooner do we enter the restaurant, than he wrenches his hand out of mine, hurtles his way into the dining room, and throws himself across the booth, nearly knocking the teacups out of the hands of the horrified customers, while I yell "stop" over and over again, tugging back at his jacket until it practically bursts at the seams. It was the loudest, most frenzied scene the two of us had made in years.

"You are never, never, ever, in your entire life, ever going into that restaurant ever again," I repeat, repeatedly, as we head back home. "Never, ever, ever. Do you understand?"

"Yes," he repeated, contritely.

End of story? Three days later, J explains to me that on Thursday night I had fallen into a deep sleep from which I didn't awake until Saturday. He'd had to go to school by himself, come home by himself, and fend for himself for supper. Everything that I might have thought had happened on Friday, he assured me, was nothing more than a dream.


Liz Ditz said...

I know it's bad behavior, but I got a chuckle from this story.

Mrs. C said...

Oh, poor you! Aren't you glad it was just a dream?!?

Check this post out if your misery enjoys company in restaurants:

I'm so sorry for his mom. It can be a really tough time sometimes. :[

Anon. said...

He is so clever!