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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dating Red

I turned around, blinked my eyes and suddenly, Red is dating a girl.  If you follow our story, you know that dating has been a subject that's been on the agenda pretty much since he was able to talk.  He has always enjoyed the attention of the females.  In the toddler years, this was easy.  He was the cutest boy ever, with big brown eyes and super long eye lashes and a smile to die for.
I miss this innocent smile...Red, age 4

Come 4th grade that childish innocence and smile was traded for a scowl that read, Approach me if you dare! Which of course, made it much harder to find girls who were willing and able to look past that.  Of course, he was still as handsome as ever ...an impeccable dresser, who could easily wear a white shirt and all white Nike tennis shoes and come home without a spec of dirt to be found anywhere.

Still, he managed to pull in a girlfriend in the 4th grade.  She was the only black girl in his class and he one of two black guys. I guess that made him stand out in the crowd and somehow, he did it.  They "went out" together for maybe a month before things fell apart.  And by "went out," I mean she came to our house to play.  Her mom took them to a movie.  We took them both to a football game.  And then one day, it was over.  She started ignoring him suddenly and that was all she wrote!  He was livid! He cried.  He didn't understand what he had said or done.  It was a mess.  So he spent the balance of the school year hating her, majorly distracted by her mere presence and they were in the same classroom. Yeah.  That was fun.

Middle school was filled with more girl drama --two-week girlfriends, followed by months-long drama.  What did I do? Why doesn't she like me anymore? Why is she so mean to me?  High school was even worse.  He never actually landed a girl in that competitive setting.  He was too busy looking at the ones who were impossible to get --the cheerleaders and most popular girls who didn't give him a second glance.  He had tunnel vision.  I prompted him over and over again to take his blinders off --to look around and see all of the really sweet girls who didn't have anyone.  He couldn't do it.  He was  stuck on "certain" girls, which I thought would surely be the death of me.

When I say this latest dating situation came out of nowhere ...I mean, no.where.  For months he's been back on the, "It's not fair that I don't have a girlfriend" kick.  He moaned and ranted on Facebook about it.  He even blatantly said, it was my fault because I kept him away from all of the prettiest girls in high school.

Months ago, I heard him speak of this girl in his Adult Transition group, but not with any particular interest. And Red usually tells me EVERything.  In fact, sometimes he tells me things I don't even want to know.

They've been to a few social outings as a group.  They sat next to each other on the bus. "She chose to sit right next to me and the bus was almost empty," he said. 

When I met her, she just seemed very sweet, sincere and honest.  And apparently she is interested in getting to know my son better.  I just think it's kind of funny that the very first step in that process in their minds, was to put on Facebook that they are in a "relationship."

One night he's moaning about how long it's been since he's had a girlfriend.  The next day, I'm out having lunch.  I check Facebook to see that a girl has linked with him in "In a Relationship". What.The.Heck?

I downplay my reaction when I get home.  He actually seemed a little reserved about it as well.  He told me the status was her choice.

Since then, they have gone on 4 dates ...two trips to the mall for lunch and shopping, 1 trip to her church for service on Sunday and they volunteered together for a homeless program that her church sponsors on another day.

My worries are all about the fallout and what our family will have to go through if this all falls apart.  In the past, fallout from friendships and relationships have meant hell for our family, and by our family, I mean mostly me.

There are so many intangible things to learn in this process of an interpersonal relationship with the opposite sex. This is compounded of course by Aspergers and just plain old being naive and inexperienced.

However, I've been too this rodeo before with my older son.  I watched him fall in love and get his heart broken. We talked Slim about safe sex, if there really is any such thing.  We watched him make mistakes that we could see coming a mile away.  Sadly, many of us must learn things the hard way.  We refuse to learn from other people's experience.

It's my parental policy to try to keep the lines of communication open, so that there is no need for any sneaking around.  Lord knows ...I was really good at that when I was a teenager.  We will have to have numerous talks about the birds and the bees and all that goes along with that.  And I do mean numerous! I am hopeful that Red's strong Christian faith will be helpful in keeping things slow and easy for a while.  He believes that sex is reserved for marriage.  At this point however, he has no idea how the body can take over the mind in the heat of the moment.  I hope to be nearby with a fan to keep things cool.

One thing for sure, despite my worries and fears, I can not keep him from experiencing this step in his life.  I will be there with my eyes and ears open, hoping that it is a source of happiness and confidence building for them both.

I provided transportation for the most recent date, which gave me a chance to get to know her a bit.  Once I picked them up, he asked me if I could drop him off at church after we took her home.  We were closer to his church already.  I said, "Well I could take you now, but you would have to ask her how she feels about me dropping you off first and then taking her home."

He asked her. She responded, "I want him to ride home with me like a proper boyfriend is supposed to do."  And that is exactly what he did.