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Thursday, 22 May 2014

No use crying over spilt paint...or an Aspergers husband!

I've discovered that it's impossible for me to off-load light-heartedly with Ethan about the kids, situations - or anything really.
What evolves, with other people, into good-natured but exasperated exchanges of frustration, with Ethan becomes unsatisfying at best, negative and dark at worst. When I vent humorously with Ethan about the kids, he completely misses the humour bit. He sees it as me dumping negative emotion and experiences onto him, causing him to glare at me or walk away. Or he sees it as a requirement from me for him to resolve the issue and starts proposing very practical solutions. Never does he give the reaction I want and need which is to say, with a resigned but affectionate smile, 'Oh no, what a nightmare...how much is boarding school again?!' and give me a hug.
Maybe I'm expecting too much. Maybe other dads/husbands, even without Aspergers, also wouldn't banter jovially about the annoying behaviour of their kids. But other couples do seem to laugh, or at least have lighter moments, much more than we do.
Today, with the help of a little friend, the boys managed to spill an entire tub of white emulsion onto Sam's bedroom carpet. I spent an hour mopping up the worst of it before Ethan got home - surprised at the strength in my own arm muscles! What I'd like to say happened when Ethan came home to see a whitish coloured wet patch on Sam's carpet is for him to comment on the nice range of rugs they do in IKEA...that isn't the reaction I got. Rather, it involved lots of sighing, complaining, blame and gloomy predictions about how the carpet would go crusty when the wet patch dried. The only person he didn't blame was himself - for not removing the paint tin from Sam's room after he'd finished painting the windowsill - five months ago!
Off on holiday on Saturday - for two weeks. Bliss, I hope. Even with three exasperating kids and a humourless Aspie in tow!

Catch up when I'm back. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

The tricky co-existence of Apergers and children

We were treated to a delightful greeting from Ethan as he arrived home from the early shift at work today: 'What's going on?' he enquired in a slightly irritated manner as he walked through the door to find us all home. He was referring to the fact that we weren't at church as we 'should' have been - it being Sunday morning. 'I decided to give church a miss,' I replied airily - too much going on today, and we're all a bit tired...Have we messed up your plans to come home to a nice quiet house?!' This last bit said in jolly jest.
'Yeah, you have.' came the surly reply - his tone was far from jovial and he avoided eye contact with me. Sometimes, the aura Ethan gives off makes me feel that I and the kids irritate him simply by existing. Not conducive to happy family relations.
Speaking of which, the kids seem to annoy Ethan more and more - simply by being kids. The noise, chaos, mess and lack of control over them seem an almost impossible combination for an Aspergic, middle-aged man to handle.
A few nights ago, Sam didn't come the first time Ethan called him. A minute later, I came across Ethan pinning Sam down on the bed and, in a frighteningly angry, venomous whisper, spitting out the words 'If you ever ignore me again, you're going to be in really, really serious trouble.' Is it just me or is that a bit over-kill for a 6-year-old child who didn't jump instantly into obedient action at Ethan's command?
A couple of days later, Sam (again - poor thing, he seems to be on the receiving end of Ethan's short fuse quite a lot - probably because he's the most like Ethan - I think he may well be showing some signs of Aspergers himself). Anyway, Sam plonked himself down a little too exuberantly on Ethan's feet during a maypole dance at a fete. Ethan, instantly angry at having his personal space invaded, took the opportunity of giving Sam a slight kick up the bum as he slid his feet out from under him - making Sam whimper, and making me blow my top: in front of the gathered throng of happy maypole dance admirers.
He just can't cope with the kids being kids. He doesn't like being interrupted, noise and mess stress him out, he gets irritated when his body space is invaded and he really, really can't handle not being in control of them and what they do or how quickly they do it.
As teenage-dom approaches with our eldest, I feel the conflicts between Ethan and the kids, and between Ethan and I over the kids, are just going to intensify. Either that, or he'll just retreat completely from having  anything to do with them. I'm not sure what would be worse.
As a complete aside, I do so appreciate your comments and feedback. It's so nice to know there are lots of us all going through similar things. And I'm really sorry that I'm only able to post replies sporadically. Whilst I'm apologising, I'm sorry too that the blog itself is pretty uninspiring to look at. I just have so little time between work, the kids, Ethan and life in general to do anything more than write a few disjointed thoughts once a week.

Oliver starts school in September (woopee) and I'm hoping that one of the things I'll do with my extra time is become a more gripping, attentive blogger! Until then - thanks for sticking with me!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Aspergers and dinner-party tactics

Had a dinner party this weekend.
It went pretty well - thanks, in no small part, to our tactical planning.
Ethan could, quite acceptably, absorb himself in the cooking and so be excused from making small-talk for the first twenty minutes at least, of the evening. By the time he did sit down and join the conversation, people were already well into the flow and unlikely to notice the odd awkward comment or lack of comprehension on his part.
Ethan, actually, was amazing. Gone are the days, mostly, when I worry about how he's going to behave in public and whether I'll face complete embarrassment at being linked to him. Ethan can play the role of interested social partaker pretty well these days - particularly if he knows it's coming and he can mentally prepare for it.
We all chatted animatedly, occasionally in twos and threes but mainly in one big group, the whole night. Ethan interjected, laughed in the right places, contributed to conversation and remained focused throughout: proof, if ever there was any, that social interaction can be learnt by a high-functioning person with Aspergers. As an added bonus, he even enjoyed himself!
The only blip came at 11.45pm when the music abruptly ended and Ethan started yawning - big, obvious yawns (thankfully he stopped short of loading the dishwasher and putting on his pyjamas!) For someone who isn't meant to understand social cues, he did a pretty good job of giving off a few of his own!
Thankfully everyone was drunk enough by then not to pick up on it and carried on chatting for another half an hour - much to Ethan's consternation!
Overall, a great night. I am beginning to feel that Ethan and I can get away as seeming a fairly normal couple (when Ethan tries hard) within an ever-increasing social circle. It's been a long and, at times, painful road to get here. We've had many other excruciating social occasions, particularly when we first got married: when Ethan was clueless and had to learn everything from scratch and I was a bewildered young bride in shock at the irritable, unsociable, rude individual I'd just promised to spend my life with!
In some ways it would have been easier to accept the way things were and live my own life while he stayed in and watched other people's lives on the telly. And there is a certain amount of that that goes on in our relationship. But, as the norm, that's not what either of us signed up for when we promised to share our lives with each other.

So we pushed through, and still are doing - learning as we go. Accepting what we can't change but together, committing to change the things we can...there's a quote in there somewhere!