I love them. They are so easy. You can upgrade yourself from the wicked witch of the west to superhero, with just a few words.
I make a blunder. One of many. I promise the typical kids a play date without consulting the calendar in advance. I am distracted because I have an IEP coming up. Because I have a very important IEP coming up, everything else pales into insignificance. A promise to a child is never insignificant. Play date and IEP clash. I also reach the conclusion that I have mis-read Jane’s mother’s intent. I am emboldened. I shall be an American, a straight talking, take charge, kind of a guy.
I remind myself that I am the worst judge of character in existence. I remind myself that I have a small circle of friends who know me well. I also have acres of acquaintances who accept the social mask I project, just like everyone else. I know that when I first met each of my close friends, I was terrified of them. Scary, successful, powerful women, not my type at all. I much prefer people who are small and mousy in spirit, so that we can squeak the same language in a non threatening manner. The Brindle or English mouse breed is my favourite. To some, he looks like a mouse tiger but their yellow stripy backs are my kind of attire, a warning of genetic cowardice. They're a good reminder, a visual clue, because a year, or a decade or a life time later, I know I was wrong in my assessment of someone's character. I was distracted by the black shiny lacquer, the exterior. I failed to even look inside the "Chinese box," as I was never much of a treasure hunter.
I have latched onto one tiny little fact and interpreted it to my own advantage. Jane’s mum explained that the play date must be short because she has numerous other commitments. "Jane" must come home early to change, ready for soccer practice. I look at Jane’s mother. She is a kindly soul and talks straight which is helpful. I have just been too thick to understand her, indeed defamed her. I hope she isn't of a litigious frame of mind?
When her daughter tells her that she wants a play date at our house, she is unable to deny her. She loves her daughter. She wants her to be happy. How many times have I ached to be able to fulfill the wish of a child of mine? Social norms have prevented me from following through. I have stuck to the principal of politeness: you wait for the invitation. Jane’s mum has been unable to do this. She has told me this to my face, she is not a dissembler, ‘but Jane wants to come to your house.’ It’s the ‘leave early’ that clues me in. I make the suggestion. “How about Jane takes her soccer kit to school, that way she can change at our house and stay longer?” For some reason, this patently obvious step, is viewed as a miraculous solution. So now I know. Busy people skip steps. Busy people sometimes miss the obvious. I am very busy so I missed the step and the cue. Jane is very lucky to have a mum who holds her happiness status in such high regard.
I can almost see it. Jane pesters her mother day after day, plaguing her with demands for a play date. Every few months, Jane’s mum gives in. She phones me and asks if Jane can have a play date. The play date takes place and Jane’s mum has bought herself a few weeks of pester free time. I wonder if that’s right? Or is my imagination running away with me?
I confront it head on after school and tackle the matter in a straightforward manner.
“Hello Jane. I’m afraid I have some really bad news.” I see the crestfallen face, she knows without another word. No shortage of inference abilities around here.
“You know about the Wednesday play date?” She nods, close to tears. I regroup.
“I’m really sorry, but I forgot something very important.” The child withers before my eyes.
“Her brother has a really important school meeting that I can’t miss.” If she gets any smaller she will be invisible. My daughter clutches her in support, a little wisp of a little girl, propped up by my own little prop forward.
“So, I know I made you a promise.” I see the glint, it is so easy.
“So I was thinking.” The vibrations start, transparent and fizzy.
“Maybe, we could think of something to make it up to you, but you may not like it?” The vibrations wilt a little.
“I was thinking….” I touch Jane’s Mum’s forearm, so that she will know that if this Saturday is inconvenient then next Saturday will be fine, or the Saturday after that, or after that. “Perhaps instead of a play date on Wednesday, maybe you’d like to come on over to our house for a really boring sleepover on Saturday instead.” The convulsions are completely predictable. It is so easy that for a nano second or two, I can pretend that we are normal. Jane’s mother looks at me as if I am a conjuror, and I glow.
The boys skid around the corner and land in a heap of legs, arms and back packs. A combination of slapstick, jail break and Marcelle Marceau. For some unaccountable reason , their social skills kick in.
“Hi Ohmygod” he says sotto voce. His little brother chimes in too, “hello OhmyGod, how are you being today?” he bellows at 50 decibels. I see her mother blanche, as she is of a strongly Christian persuasion. I am more of a failed Roman Catholic, so I know the rules. I have adopted spouse’s creed, "Mrs. Do As You Would be Done By."
“Did they say……did they……oh……my goodness….well……kids! Just typical!” she smiles with a downward, dismissive arm motion.
Maybe I should stop referring to such people as the ‘god squad?’ I resolve to stop putting people in boxes. Instead I'm tempted take myself off to the confessional box for being an old square. However, I would prefer to avoid the wrath of god or hell freezing over or being struck down by a thunder bolt, as my current 'in box' is full.
The neurodiverse truly keep me in check.
8 hours ago