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Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Festive family life: Aspergers-style




'tis the season to be jolly...could somebody please tell that to Ethan?!
He can be so miserable. We, his family, seem to bring out the worst in him. But I think that's just because we're here and therefore demand some interaction. Left to his own company and his computer or a film, he's happy as Larry. But, the fact is, he does have a family - and a fairly large one at that. And I know that having three young children zaps a lot of our energy and grown-up time and, quite frankly, that living with a 3, a 5 and an 8-year-old can be excruciatingly annoying and frustrating. But we, together, decided to have three kids and, I'm sorry but, Aspergers or not, together we need to bring them up.
Last weekend in the car, Ava mentioned her Christmas concert at school and asked if we would both go (Ethan happened to be off work that day). As I began to gush 'Of course, darling, we're looking forward to it,' Ethan's simultaneous response was 'I've already seen you sing. I don't need to come, do I?' Apart from the fact that this was something different, even if it was a repeat performance, his only daughter, his little ray of sunshine, wanted her mum and dad together to watch her sparkling school performance! How her little face dropped as Ethan nit-picked with me about whether it was really necessary for him to come again.
This followed on from a few days earlier when Sam melted my heart after a Wii session with Ethan by asking me 'Why does daddy always shout at me when I do it wrong? I don't shout at him when he does it wrong.'
And then to top it all, yesterday he phoned me from town to get clarification on what type of earrings I wanted for Christmas. When I explained the type I wanted and where he could get them from, his answer was that the particular shop I'd mentioned 'wasn't accessible'. It was actually a couple of stops on the tram from where he works and, when I laboured the point (because, despite my best efforts, I'm not one to swallow my frustrations) he admitted that he couldn't handle the crowds and the noise and the chaos and the general effort of going into a city centre. Fine - it's only a pair of earrings and I can get them myself. It's just that, more than the earrings, if he'd have tackled the bright lights of the big city - just for half an hour - for my sake, those earrings would have represented that he loves me more than he hates crowded, noisy spaces. A notion, it seems, that is lost on Ethan.
Maybe I'm being selfish and asking too much. Maybe every dad wishes he could find a way to wheedle out of his child's school Christmas concert - it's just that not every dad would admit it, or worse still, verbalise it in front of his child. And maybe every dad gets a bit het up over some aspect of his son's performance - whether it's shouting from the sidelines of a football pitch or from the edge of a sofa in front of a Wii. And in so many ways, Ethan is such a great dad and such a great husband - supportive, constant, faithful, hard-working, loyal...it'd just be nice, every now and again, to be able to add cheerful, light-hearted and considerate to the list too.  
Jolly would just be asking too much.


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