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!