No matter what I do with HSB and collegeman they have a glitch between the napkin on their lap and their mouths. In variably HSB will come home from school with peanut butter all over his shirt. I ask him everyday what happened to his napkin and he says it was still there. Collegeman will not pick the napkin up and use it to wipe his mouth unless you tell him. It just sits there on his lap and when he eats pasta and sauce he will walk around with tomato mouth ring all day if we let him. Yesterday HSB did the same thing.
Now it’s not like we have not taught them manners. It’s not as if they had not been eating with utensils, napkins, place setting since they could sit upright. It’s not like etiquette was not taught in this home. It’s not that proper social graces are not taught in this home. I just can’t figure it out. How come these two rather intelligent young men, whom I know, know how to take care of themselves appropriately, have never gotten the hang of the napkin?
Aspergers you say. Well, that goes just so far. The aspergers is the reason they need to be taught on a constant basis about socials kills and life skills. But it is not the reason that they are pigs. I could blame their lack of executive functioning skills on their table manners. But that would be a copout too. I could blame it on the attention issues; they can’t focus enough to figure out what to do with the napkin. But they focus enough to eat their food (OK with collegeman not so much, he can get distracted at meal time, but HSB has no problem putting food from the plate into the stomach). I could blame it on their OCD, but then that totally would make no sense, because you would think that with being obsessive compulsive one of the things they would want is to make sure that their face is clean. They do like looking nice and appearing nice and smelling nice in public. So it’s definitely not the OCD causing this issue. I could blame it on their memory lapses. Maybe they forget what to do with the napkin? That one would work, possibly for HSB; memory issues are a true concern for him, but not for collegeman. Yet then again anything HSB reads he remembers almost verbatim, it’s the auditory instruction he has issue with (hmmm maybe a cue card? No not really a good idea…never mind) No memory can’t be it; they remember full well what that piece of paper on their lap is for.
I think that the reason they don’t remember to wipe their mouths while, and after eating is simply because they are teenagers. Yeah I’m gonna go with that. So for a change something that is happening with both boys that probably has nothing or very little to do with their aspergers and more to do with the fact that they are teenage boys. There just seems to be a hump that they are just not ready to get over when it comes to functioning in the real world. I’m not talking about the social and life skill sets that they are behind on, this is very different. I am talking about that teenage boy look of being lost in a space-time-continuum. Scientists tell us that the teenage brain is underdeveloped. That there is a disconnect between hemispheres and that that effects their ability to make good judgments. Well, I think that that disconnect also affects their ability to remember what to do with a napkin, in much the same way that they forget to put the cap on the toothpaste, close their draws of their dressers and put their dirty clothes in the hamper. Never mind blankly stare at you when you tell them that their office is a mess and it has to be organized.
I know I’ve written about the organizational issues when it comes to aspies (here, here), but this is so totally different. This isn’t about not knowing where their homework assignment went to or how everything is piled on the floor of their room. This is the stereotypical, old dishes under the bed and you can’t figure out what the smell is situation. This is one of those times when you look at your child, whom you know knows what is going on and ask, did it not dawn on you that the dishes on your desk need to be put in the sink and that the orange peels that have started to turn into penicillin need to be thrown away? You would think that if they wanted clean underwear, they would understand the concept of the hamper as opposed to going commando to school and then having to change for gym without any underwear on in front of their peers. It doesn’t faze them ever. Nothing dawns on them.
They have chores that they do every week at home. Simple easy chores since they are in school. When the hamper gets filled up bring the dirty clothes to the laundry room. Every week they need to vacuum, dust and mop. That is all, and they never do it unless I tell them. They would get all annoyed about me, the micromanager, so I stopped micromanaging and put the chores on their white boards. Three weeks nothing got done. I found hubby vacuuming at 2 in the morning because he just couldn’t stand it anymore. So we went back to me telling them every week to do their chores and they then went back to getting annoyed that I micromanage. Sorry but this is not aspie nonsense, this is full blown teenage pain in the ass nonsense.
I know it is hard to parcel out whether what is going on is the aspie in your child or age appropriate rebellion or ding battiness. But believe you me, this I just know, what is happening with the boys today has nothing to do with their aspergers. These boys are taking teenage ditziness to a new height when it comes to the home and their person. I remember that movie Clueless, when Cher is explaining about high school boys and how they rollout of bed and put on a baseball cap backwards and the girls are expected to swoon, AS IF, is her response. I’m going to use it as mine too, when my boys ask me why something they had to participate in didn’t get done because they ditzed out, I am going to respond with a simple, “as if” who is going to do it for you.
You know, I look at them and see not teenage aspies, but teenage boys, whom at times you just want to knock some sense into. You want to take them and shake them and tell them to wake up and get a clue. You want to tell them to remove themselves from whatever nether world they inhabit and join the real world where dirty dishes go in the sink, garbage ends up in the garbage can, clothes in the hamper end up in the laundry and the paper on their lap-the napkin-gets used to wipe the tomato sauce off their face. I know it’s just a matter of time that the hemispheres of their brain will engage and they will enter the world of common sense and leave the fog in which they live. But until that time I am going to learn to close the door, do raids on the garbage and plates in their rooms, nag them about their chores and bide my time until neuroscience can find a cure for being a teenager. On second thought I really hope they never do. There is something to be said for extending childhood into adolescence into teenage hood. There is something to be said for the time when it’s really not a matter of life and death because you forgot to do your chores, clean your room, or use a napkin. Adulthood will happen of this I am sure, you see all it takes is one big smile out of the both of them and I see the charm that is in their souls and the men that they will one day be. Hopefully by then they will have learned how to use a napkin and will not walk around with tomato ring mouth.
Until next time,