Peter does well socially; it’s just the random things that come out of his mouth that I can’t predict. The other day he told me that, “I don’t want kids to ruin my life. I just want a big bank account!” (Don’t we all?) This morning he told me that he touches his privates because it’s soft and feels good. I love him for his raw honesty. I just hope he uses it sparingly around people he doesn’t know. And his gauge of knowing someone needs refining.
After finishing my Christmas shopping yesterday (thank you Target for that 10% discount), I had just pulled into the grocery store parking lot around the corner from Sky Zone when my phone rang. It was the birthday boy’s mother. With fifteen minutes left to go in the party, Peter was asking to go home and rest. Nothing says the party’s a hit like a kid asking to rest instead of participating in the planned fun.
I arrived at Sky Zone and Peter was standing in front of a video game. I’d expected him to be reclined in a corner. He told me that his neck hurt and that he’d gotten hit by a ball. Sometimes he complains of aches and pains that never amount to anything serious. I figured he was just tired and looking for an excuse to leave. I had him thank the mother for inviting him and then he kept talking. The moment was a surreal blur and typical of his frankness. “You shouldn’t have so much food, like a different kind,” he told the mother with three blobs of white icing dotting the perimeter of his mouth. A face that contradicted his insults. Maybe he’d eaten himself sick with cookie cake and pizza. The mother didn’t know what to make of his comment. I laughed it off, telling her that every kid loves pizza and cake, and then hurried Peter out to the car. Maybe I should’ve given her the disclaimer about his autism. I’m still uncomfortable with the right protocol. To reveal or not to reveal?
On the way home Peter told me that he’d made a friend who’d invited him over to play. Another boy who knew that Peter’s dad was from Iran because he recognized the origins of his first name. “Well, we don’t really know the boy enough to have a sleepover,” I explained. “Yes I do,” Peter argued. “You just met him so he’s a stranger,” I continued, trying to elaborate on the definition of what it means to really know someone. A lesson that grown women in bars haven’t yet mastered. “I’ve known him for about thirty minutes. Or twenty. He’s not a stranger.” Peter didn’t get it. If only the world was how it used to be. The time when one’s word was a promise and one’s community wasn’t so full of strangers.