Friday, June 28, 2013

A Tale of 2 Dinner Parties

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This a tale of 2 very different dinner parties.  There is a great deal of ambiguity in my life, due to the fact that I have 2 very different children, both of whom have different personalities within themselves.  One personality that they show the outside world...the one where they are in control of their emotions...intelligent, creative, perfectly, loving, gentle sprits.  And then there is the other side.  The one that isn't always so pretty.  The side where control is lost and anger, anxiety, depression and ugliness prevail.

Hubby, myself, Blue and Red are all in Los Angeles, the place I grew up.  We are here to spend time with my family, old friends and new friends.  We are escaping the torturous heat of Texas.  I still can't believe I live there and not here, where the weather is pretty darn close to perfection.  The highs have been in the mid seventies nearly everyday of our trip. I am enjoying every single minute...bathing in the warm son as I am cooled by the gentle, ocean breeze.

My very close friend Mary invites us all over for dinner at her place, where we can relax comfortably, and visit as long as we like.  I figured this would be more fun than meeting in some stuffy restaurant, where children would be forced to behave for an extended period of time. Ha! Good luck with that! 

Our other partner in crime Jenny, and her family are also in attendance.  We all want to catch up and see how each other's children have grown.  We also want the kids interact and socialize with one another.

Jenny, Mary and I met when we were all just about 20 years-old.  Jenny and I were dating twin brothers.  Mary dated the twin's best friend at the time.  Well, we left those fellows behind, but we have remained very close for over 25 years.  I will admit that I am extremely jealous that Jenny and Mary get to spend way more time together seeing as they live in the same area.  Distance however, does not effect the place both of them and their families hold in my heart.
Me & My Girls, Jenny and Mary
holding pictures of ourselves in our party days
It is great to visit with my friends.  When we get together it's like time has not passed and we pick right up where we left off the last time we were together.  On the other hand, for me was also a bit like a dinner party from hell.  Even vodka wasn't enough to stifle the nerves that Red trampled on.

I brought along my nephew.  All of the kids had a good time swimming in the icy cold pool.  Once we came upstairs to Mary's condo for dinner...hell started to break loose.  Blue takes every opportunity to push Red's buttons.  It may or may not be his intention.  But he is one of those people who knows everything and always has to let you know that you.are.wrong.  And when it comes to Red ...Blue is quite often right.  Red knows it and hates this -with a passion!  The disagreements get even more elevated when there is an audience.
Red, Blue and their Cousin, my nephew

On top of Blue ...pointing out Red's every flaw and error in thinking, my nephew also deems it necessary to comment on Red's weight and how he needs to lose some of it, in front.of.everyone. Red starts to get more and angry.  He gets louder and louder.  "I'm starting to get really pissed off Mom!  I feel like hitting somebody!

I separate him from everyone for a few minutes to get him to calm down. Yes.  I put my 17 year-old son, in a time out.  In a corner.  In a chair. And told him not to move or talk.

Later, after dinner...we go back outside to get in the jacuzzi.  This is a condominium complex.  There adults and children of various ages in the water.  My girlfriend asks Red a few simple, innocent questions and the next thing I know...he's on a roll, telling them about every fit of anger he has had in recent history.  How the cops have to come out to our house.  Oh and the kicker...somehow he he gets around to telling them that he likes to look at really hot girls! read that right.  For everyone to hear including an 8 year-old boy,  my girlfriend's 14 year-old daughter, and her 60 something year-old mother.
The Entire Gang -Nerves shattered at this point...
Just before smiling for this picture, I was ready to murder somebody!
Luckily, for me girlfriend Mary is a social worker for the local school district and works with kids with a variety of special needs and behaviors.  Jenny has also worked in group homes, and currently works as a Respite Care Worker for children with severe autism.  They also read my blog and so of course, they know all of our business anyway.  But still!  He says, it as if this is an everyday occurrence, so casually.

I have found him looking at inappropriate material and parental controls have been put on devices.  I do realize however, that it is not something that we can totally control.  He is 17.  He is a boy and this is the modern world, full of technology.  Where there is a will...there is definitely a way.  But yeah...I was pretty mortified.

Too many triggering factors came into play in this situation...
  • competition with brother, basic sibling rivalry along with a little button pushing
  • fatigue from traveling and from staying up late with his cousin, then getting up early in the morning
  • anger -cousin making remarks about his weight
  • attention seeking from the adults in the situation ...especially from me.  I mean how dare I try to have a good time catching up with some of my oldest dearest friends.
  • competition with dad being present and being in charge of the music playing, which is mostly R&B  
  • lack of social skills -wants to play his own music ...that no one else wants to hear.  Hardcore Metal in a room full of mostly middle-aged black people, who may like a little rock and roll, but metal? 
I finally ended up giving him his mood stabilizing medication along with some Neurobiologix Calming-Cream.  I wish I were getting paid for talking about this...but I tell you it worked.  He calmed his ass right down and we didn't hear another angry word come out of his mouth.  Instead, a few minutes later, we received apologies for his behavior.

As we shared a glass of wine over dinner Jenny asked me if I drink wine everyday.  My answer? "No some days I drink wine...other days...tequila."


After 10 days of way too much togetherness,  we put dad and Blue on a plane to go back to Texas.  Hubby decided he wanted to spend part of his time off with his family.  So they went back home to check on my mom.  And the following day, they would go on to visit his mom in Baltimore, Maryland.

The next day, I was invited to dinner at the home of a fellow autism blogger Phat Jaye from  Find My Eyes. (Yes.  I am one of those crazy people who meets people on the internet and then goes to visit them in person.  I have lived to tell about it ...3 times so far.  Of course, in the end, it may be the death of me.  But at least I will have had fun and met some wonderful people along the way.  By the way mother hates this about me.  My husband ain't exactly thrilled about it and the rest of my family, thinks I am completely nuts.  I'm not saying they're wrong.)

Jaye and his lovely wife Julie, wanted to meet Red.  I was very hesitant about taking him after our last fiasco of a shindig.  I swore the night of Mary's dinner party,  I would NEVER again take him around my friends in a social gathering, at least not with the whole family.  Since then, I gave this some deep thought and realized there were many contributing factors to his horrid behavior.

Since, they wanted to meet him and it would be the two of us ...thus taking away a number of the triggers -competition for attention, button pushing, etc. I thought just maybe it might be o.k.

My nephew actually asked to come with us, I decided against it.  I wanted Red to be able to focus on the friends we were meeting, especially Jack, Jaye's son.  Of course, I also had no idea what Jack and his sister would be like.  Would another child in the mix add to the anxiety of meeting new people?  I didn't want anyone to be overwhelmed.  This was good decision making on my part. Yeah...despite my fried brain cells, every once in while -I can make a good decision.  
Me and my friend Phat Jaye of Find My Eyes
Well it was more than o.k. It was freaking awesome! This post is getting long and I have shit to I won't go on with the details of Dinner Party number 2.  Although, I will write about it later.  You simply must hear about this 2nd party from my perspective.

But for now ...I will link you to Jaye's Post "You've Got Friend In Me" .  He does a monumental job of telling you what their visit with Red meant to his family, especially his 6 year-old son Jack who is also on the spectrum and reminds me a lot of Red at the same age.

You can now read A Tale of Two Dinner Parties -Part II here.