Sunday, May 16, 2010

Autism Diaries XVII: Magical Thinking

J's drive for mischief is tempered by his drive to construct new things with Snap Circuits. But mischief means longer waits for the next electronic part--provided you get caught. So J has figured out what all too many neurotypical individuals eventually figure out as well: to lie effectively, first convince yourself.  We see this in J's increasingly passionate, indignant denials of responsibility for mishaps we're 99% sure he caused.

It's now no longer possible to tell him he has to wait another five days for a new capacitor without provoking angry bursts of righteous indignation that may last all day or longer.  And, worse, may inspire him to punish us in return, sucking us all into a downward spiral of anti-social behavior and withheld privileges.

Time to prevaricate back.

"Bad things are happening in this house," I tell him one evening after making several 11th hour discoveries.  "My toothbrush magically few off the counter and into the bathroom wastebasket."

"The drying rack magically knocked itself over and snapped three of its dowels in two."

"Your sister's homework magically crumpled itself up, flew over to the toy closet, turned the handle, went inside, closed the door, and threw itself on the floor."

"A comb magically opened the medicine cabinet from the inside, flew out, hit the toilet bowl handle, and, just as the toilet started flushing, flew into the vortex and lodged itself into the pipe below."

Lamely, he starts to offer explanations.  "Maybe K was combing his hair and he accidentally dropped the comb into the toilet."

"Maybe Daddy thought the homework was trash."

But he knows, and (the beauty of his blossoming theory of mind skills) he knows that I know, and he knows that I know that he knows, etc., how lame these excuses are. He peters off, and I deliver the punch line.

"And, magically, your two electric fans disappeared from the basement."

He's speechless.

"Bad things are happening in this house," I repeat, "and I don't think your fans will come back until we go a week without any other bad things happening."

By now, of course, he knows that I'm lying. But each time he accuses me I can feign a shocked "Why would I lie to you about your fans?" without giving him any room for the slightest bit of righteous indignation.

1 comment:

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Wow, the logistical intricacies of all this magical thinking! Great story!