Rebroadcast from Haydn's World, where we subscribe to the philosophy:
"The autism spectrum is entirely too serious to take seriously."
It's Thursday night and it's time to take a little trip out to the mall to buy some warmer clothes for Haydn. We walk into The Children's Place and Haydn immediately needs to use the potty. Amanda (Mommy) starts looking for clothes while we go check out the bathroom. He goes into the stall alone, comes out and washes his hands. Now it's time to go shopping.
We walk out of the bathroom and I turn to the left and look for Amanda, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?
All the lights in the store black out for a few seconds.
I spin around and find my son peeking out from behind two big stacks of boxes and a cart overloaded with mops and cleaning products. His hand is on a large breaker switch. Somehow, during the nine and a half seconds I was turned away from him, he has found and turned off the main power switch for the entire store. An impressive bit of work, and definitely one of those moments where being cute saved his life.
"Daddy-o, are you mad?"
"Yeah, a little bit. I think you and I need to leave the store right now."
"Daddy-o, you're mouth is closed."
(That's just so I don't say something I'll regret)
"Haydn, we are leaving this store NOW."
"Daddy-o, are you mad?"
"A Little bit, and getting a little madder. Let's go."
Under normal circumstances I would take Haydn home. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. I generally give him a great deal of freedom when we go out, but he has to follow my rules and behave appropriately. I may give him one get out of jail free card from time to time, but rules are rules and he knows he has to follow them. Or we go home. (I don't negotiate with five year-olds)
But today, Mommy is with us, and he really needs new school clothes, so I must improvise and use my superior Daddy skills to handle the situation.
He gets in the jog stroller, and I silently push him to the car.
(Why do I suddenly feel a little like Sisyphus pushing that big old rock up the hill)
When we get to the car, I strap him into his seat, and settle into the driver seat and try to plot my strategy.
The rock is rolling smoothly towards the top of the hill...
"Daddy-o, I want to go back in the mall."
"Haydn. We are not going to talk for a few minutes."
I stare at the wall of the parking garage and ignore him. I realize that, although this behavior is unacceptable, it was an isolated incident - a momentary loss of what is normally excellent self control. I just need to be firm, we will have a quality conversation concerning the incident and...
"Daddy-o. Please help me."
I am still ignoring him, staring at the wall of the parking garage and playing the role of the pissed off Daddy.
"Daddy-o. Please help me with the seat."
Slowly, the rock works it's way up that hill...
I turn around and my son is hanging out of his car seat. He has positioned himself into some sort of twisted car seat-yoga pose, with one leg strapped in his seat while he balances gingerly on his free leg. His hands are pushing against the front seat in what appears to be an attempt to keep from falling over and preventing his extremities from popping off his body and bouncing all over the car.
I reach back and set him free. He pulls his trapped leg loose and climbs into the passenger seat. No problem... I have formulated my strategy, and I am prepared to Daddy the crap out of this kid. I will wield my spectrum-child mastery, work in a little pragmatic language work, and remind him of the ramifications of public switch-i-ness.
"Haydn. Do you know why we came out to the car?"
He reaches for the rear-view mirror and starts flipping it up and down.
"Haydn. Hands still. Do you know why we came out to the car?"
"Yes, Daddy-o." And once again his literal mind rears it's ugly head, as he pushes the power button on the stereo with one hand and pretty much every other button with the other.
The rock appears to be rolling a little slower...
"Haydn! Hands still. Please tell me why I got mad in the store."
The hazards are now on and Haydn is repeatedly pushing in and ejecting the CD.
"Haydn! Hands still. I want you to look at me, and please tell me why I got mad at you in the mall." Or just honk the horn and flick the key chain why don't you. Not trying to get anything productive done here.
Not a lot of movement by our friend the rock at the moment...
"Haydn! Hands still. (That part is from school and actually works. Nothing I have come up with today has accomplished much of anything) I know looking at my eyes makes your head hurt. You can look at my nose..." He puts his finger right up my nose.
"Please don't touch my face. You know the rule. You just have to have your face looking at mine. Look at my eyebrows or forehead..." He pokes me right in the eye.
"Daddy-o, you have two eyebrowses."
"I'm well aware of that."
Down goes Frazier! Anybody seen my rock?
Twenty minutes of my Spectrum Sisyphean challenge has officially gotten the best of me, so I do my best to salvage the situation.
"Haydn. Look at me for a minute. I got mad and we left the mall because you CAN NOT EVER..."
"Play with the lights. I'm sorry Daddy-o."
I'm not sure that I even had anything to do with this resolution, but at least we can get out of the damn car now.