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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Autistic children seldom lie

It's one of those "Theory of Mind" hic-cups. Some prefer to call is guileless or innocence. They don't dissemble or sugar coat the truth. What you see is what you get, quite refreshing in some respects. It's one of those developmental milestones that some children never reach.

I grit my teeth and book the Respite worker for the three hour minimum. Every thing has been planned with careful precision. The parent teacher conference is only half an hour. Superior being that I am, I cannot be in two places at one time. The babysitter will come 45 minutes early, 30 minutes to become familiar [ish] and 15 minutes to allow me to drive to school. 30 minutes conference, 15 minutes home. One and a half hours work for three hours pay. This is the kind of job I want.

I brief her. My only requirement is that homework is completed whilst I’m away. I resolve that I shall prompt them through the other complex chores myself on return, or if really desperate, do them myself.

I spend a blissfully peaceful time in the conference room, quietly discussing the why’s and wherefores of my daughter’s education. It is a civilized meeting between grown up people with no distractions or interruptions, which roughly translates to a day at a Health Spa, or so I would imagine.

I emerge from the classroom refreshed and energized. I begin to think evil thoughts. Maybe I could use the additional hour and a half in a productive manner, child free? I remember that there are only a few short weeks until the Holidays and as yet we are without Holiday gifts of any kind. This is the price you pay for bad genes. I know it’s hereditary because my own mother was born in December. The DNA is undeniable, February is a bad month for us McEwen’s. Hence, 40 weeks later, another December birth day. Once might be accidental, but twice has to be the gene pool. It is only now after all three December birthday celebrations that I can turn my attention to the Holidays.

I dither. Is Holiday shopping a pleasure or merely additional persecution? Am I the only person on the planet who is allergic to shopping?

I calculate using my super brain. Twenty minutes to drive to Target and park or abandon car. Allow twenty minutes for the return journey. Maybe 30 minutes to allow for the commuting traffic and red lights. Thirty minutes to bimble around the shop with ten minutes to queue, pay and pack. Perfect!

I telephone the baby sitter to check that I am not inconveniencing her? All is well. I am granted permission to shop. I jump in the car ready to complete my quest. As I drive I contemplate how calm the baby sitter sounded, how peaceful and quiet my household was without me. I determine that I just might have found a gem, a super human being capable of child management without the aid of earplugs? I bite my lip. Is this woman the answer to my prayers? I hum, because I am alone, “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth or one good Respite worker.”

I trundle around the shop with my trusty trolly. For some unaccountable reason there appears to be crowd of people with similar plans to me. I wade through the treacle of bodies who block my view of all my potential purchases. Today’s shoppers have left their GPS devices at home, which means that they mill about willy nilly and far too slowly. I am certain that they hide all the really good things that I ought to be buying.

I head for home with only a few gifts under my belt but at least I have made a start.

I hide my meager purchases in the boot of the car for later retrieval and trundle into the house with empty hands. The baby sitter greets me amiably in the kitchen. It is very quiet. It is very quiet because all three of my children are plugged into their electronic devices at an exceedingly early hour of the afternoon. There is no evidence that their chores, to assemble their packed lunches and choose their clothes for tomorrow, have been completed.

I decide to complete the paper work with the Respite worker first and then attend to my children’s needs, as I don’t wish to delay her departure. At the dining room table I clear a space between the homework binders to complete forms and sign on the dotted line. I flip open a binder to see several untouched worksheets. “Oh dear! Haven’t they done their homework!” I squeak as I check the other folders. “No. No homework,” she beams.
“How come they haven’t done their homework?” I clarify, just in case I have inadvertently switched to Swahili.
“I ask him.”
“What did you ask him?”
“I ask him if he has homework?”
“You asked him, a seven year old?”
“Really. And what did he say?” Go on! Surprise me why dontcha!
“He said no.”

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