Rose at sunset, beside our front porch, October 2012.
I am so glad, and so blessed, that Safety Guy will talk to me about literally anything and everything. Sometimes it's like going down Alice's rabbit hole, since his conversations tend to twist and turn and progress by obscure association rather than linear progression. I know him so well I can usually keep up, but occasionally I'll stop him and ask him what the connection was between topics. We do practice appropriate conversational skills, and I reinforce those most of the time, but there's one time of day when he knows he can just talk with me, with no one else to have to please. Most nights, right after he takes his meds but before he goes to bed, he'll come talk with me while I'm at the computer. I stop and listen, and the topics cover an unbelievable amount of territory.
Some nights he's silly, telling me humorous things he's heard or seen during the day, online or in real life. Some nights he's serious, upset about something that happened earlier, or disturbed by something in the news or in our community. Most nights are a combination, with the conversations ranging from trivial to heartfelt and back again several times.
It's a little mind-bending, and if you don't know SG and he tries to talk to you like that, it's even a bit disconcerting. It's during these conversations that his "aspie-ness" is most obvious, from his syntax and occasional use of scripted lines (things he's internalized from reading or seeing them elsewhere), to his abrupt changes of topic and lack of eye contact, and his perseveration on favorite topics. I just let him go on, occasionally guiding or commenting or encouraging. Sometimes I can help him understand an event by explaining how other people may have seen it or experienced it. Sometimes I can relate a difficult to understand social byplay in a way that he can understand better. Often I'm surprised at his insight and comments. Last night I was very pleased to find that he's internalized more of our moral guidance than I sometimes give him credit for (especially regarding relationships and other common teen issues, like peer pressure, alcohol and drug use).
I have to confess that I'm very relieved that he's not actively trying to find someone to have a relationship with. He has some girls who are friendly to him at school, but no one is seriously interested in him, and he's only wistfully interested in them. He wants a serious relationship someday, but he's in no hurry. I'll enjoy that while it lasts, since he's 14 and in 8th grade, and I know soon enough he'll be much more interested in young women and have fewer social skills than the average teen guy to deal with the complexity and craziness of teen girls. I can tell right now it's going to get UGLY and he's going to get hurt, and it's a part of growing up that I wish he could skip until much later.
Oh, the joys of teen-hood. I do have to say, Safety Guy gets easier to deal with in some ways as he gets older, while his sister is getting harder to deal with as she plows through the tween years. Someone told me many years ago that boys are harder to deal with while younger, and easier in their teens, while girls are the opposite. In my ongoing experience, I think that's likely to be true. Which means I'll need serious prayer to deal with Princess for the next 9 years. . . .
But in the meantime, I'll keep talking with both of our kids. No topics are off-limits, no question too personal, no question is stupid. I know I'll make mistakes (well, MORE mistakes), and I won't always "hear" what they're really saying, but I'll do my best. I'm glad they'll both talk to me so readily. I hope that openness between us continues for the rest of their lives, and I hope and pray for wisdom as I try to answer their questions and give them advice when they need it.