I’m sure most of you have seen the meme. A picture of some chaotic — or perhaps highly organized — scene, imprinted with the words “you might be an autism parent if,” followed by a description of why the scene pictured is actually normal.
Here’s one that definitely fits the bill: You might be an autism parent if you celebrate when your kid lies to you.
Ryan is attending a new camp this summer. Camp began with all the typical anxieties, now amplified by a concern about not fitting in and not having friends. Despite all that, things got off to a pretty uneventful start. Uneventful is good. Uneventful is something to be celebrated. So far, so good.
The camp has a lot of theme days. Among the first was “Tacky Tuesday.” The kids were supposed to wear their loudest, most outrageous outfits.
Not according to Ryan. He heard “Tacky Tuesday” and decided that “tacky” was a synonym for “obnoxious.” And he knew exactly what he wanted to wear. Among his dozens of hockey t-shirts, there is one he had in mind. It has a picture of a hockey stick and says, “There’s no ‘I’ in team, but there’s a ‘U’ in suck.”
Don’t shoot the messenger. Veronica bought it for him, with the understanding that it was to be a sleeping shirt only. Ryan loved it. He thought it was hilarious.
He’s managed to sneak it into his daytime wardrobe a time or two, and now he thought it was the perfect shirt to wear to camp. He told us so.
We told him no We went through my closest and found a better option — a perfectly hideous Chicago Blackhawks bowling shirt (don’t ask). He reluctantly agreed.
In the morning, he put on his “no ‘i’ in team” shirt — underneath the bowling shirt. Veronica saw him and told him to change immediately. He appealed to me and I told him the same thing. We told him we had already discussed this and made our decision and was not to wear the shirt.
Reluctantly, he went back to his room to change. As I left work, I saw him wearing the Blackhawks shirt, buttoned to the collar. I told him to unbutton the top button.
In retrospect, I should have known something was up. When Veronica picked him up, he got off the bus wearing, you guessed it, the “no ‘I’ in team” shirt.
As it turns out, when we told him to go back to his room and changed, he simply left the offending shirt on, then found another red t-shirt to wear over it, and then put on the bowling shirt. He buttoned it all the way up to cover up his deception.
Ryan thought it was hilarious the he pulled the wool over on us. In his mind, since there was no issue at camp (we warned him if he wore it they would call us to come pick him up) this was a situation of “no harm, no foul.” He was quite proud of himself.
Not so fast, young man. We explained that since he intentionally deceived us and ignored our instructions, there would be a to-be-determined consequence. We will not tolerate such open defiance.
And yet … is it wrong that I’m a little proud of my son? Plotting something so carefully, thinking through how to get away with hit, and trying out a little (mostly harmless) teenage rebellion in the process?
Since it is my hope that my son will read this one day, I want him to know that what he did is not OK, but that his parents also recognized it as a sign of progress and typical teenage development.
Now go clean the basement.