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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Full of potential

It’s not an interview. It’s more of an on site evaluation. The new potential baby sitter is of course foreign. This means she is far superior to the local version, where children are parked in front of the telly as soon as you leave the house.

I watch her reactions carefully, and completely ignore the antics of my children. Her arrival is timed perfectly. My youngest son is in full level 10 meltdown because his chores are incomplete and electronics time is therefore delayed. I am tempted to capitulate and create a good impression. He flails on the floor at full volume at the outrageousness and unfairness of my rules. “I am dah hate you, bad, bad, bad!” he shrieks. I sequence the other two young people through their ‘greeting new people’ steps, although it is difficult to hear anything at all with the screamer in tow.

I explain a few basics as we step over the riling body of my youngest. Her eyes are wide but she not on retreat. “He’s a bit of a drama queen,” I mention in passing. I explain pertinent facts to assist her and the simple evening routine, tidy toys, clean teeth, wash face and hands, put on your pyjamas, which I expect exactly matches the routine in 99% of American households.

I am in mid sentence as junior bolts for the door, or rather bolts for the chair that elevates his diminished stature, that permits him to remove the deadbolt and bolt into the garden to the street.

We retrieve him. “I hate you! You are bad bad bad. I am go!” He marches through the house in the opposite direction with the determination appropriate to a monarch.
“Does he say that a lot?” asks the baby sitter.
“Every day,” I reply.
“Wow, I thought it was just me?” she wavers. "I mean, my 9 year old says that all the time!"

I look at the new potential baby sitter with more warmth. We are all parents and sometimes it’s hard to work out what is autism and what is typical?
I race after him and the baby sitter follows my steps just in time to witness his contact with the button that opens the garage door to facilitate his escape. An alternative route to adoption.
“Sorry there’s so many doors,” I whimper, “he’ll be just fine if he get to ‘electronics.’ I just need to guide him to that point.”
I have already explained the significance of electronics. I know that she gets it. I can see it in her eyes, in her body language.

Every so often, some kindly parent takes pity on me. I thought I knew about girls but boys were a different species, a species I knew nothing about. Generous people throw me balm and help recalibrate my brain. Just yesterday I was in mid moan to a pal:
“Geez Madz! Get over yourself why don’t yah! My boys piss on the walls and floor all the time! That’s not autism!” I resist the urge to kiss her manicured toe nails for the unwarranted gift of a seductive dose of sanity.

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