Sunday, August 3, 2014

Aspergers at Dinner

Having dinner together as a family is a simple, ordinary thing for most people. Very little in my life is simple or ordinary. The simplest things become complex when we put together the special personalities and idiosyncrasies of our immediate family.

Most nights, we eat in shifts.  Honestly, we try not to have the entire family sitting down all at once in order to keep the peace.

We have Red, who usually NEVER likes what we are eating or where we are going if we are dining out. He makes the face like he's tasting crap when he takes a bite of a dish he's unfamiliar with or a vegetable. He wants to completely dominate the conversation.  He chews loudly.  He practically inhales his food so fast, that I wonder how his body actually digests it.

We have Blue who loves to eat any and everything.  He doesn't want to talk about or hear about anything his brother has to say, especially if he starts talking about religion. Oy!

You have my mom, who interrupts me every time I open my mouth when I'm speaking to my children.  She completes my sentences before I get the chance.  Give her a good glass of wine or three, food served extra hot and she's happy.

Then you have my husband, who is a complete extravert when it comes to friends, colleagues or complete strangers. He is Mr. Personality! However, when it comes to having dinner with just us, you can tell he's trying his best just to get through eating the meal, so that he doesn't have to listen to Red talk anymore.  I call him the table manager.  He is constantly arranging, straightening and rearranging the table, all while trying to control the table manners of his teenage sons.

Once we went out to breakfast with both boys.  I think we were traveling.  He actually instructed Red through the whole meal.  Cut your pancakes with your knife and fork.  Now take a bite.  Drink some milk.  Eat some eggs.  Now wipe your mouth.  Take a few more bites of your pancakes now.  I Red actually went along with it for some strange reason.

And then you have me.  I'm perfect.  Haha! Actually, I usually don't have much of an appetite, especially if I had to prepare the meal.  I usually eat just enough so that I can have wine. When dining out, I try to orchestrate a friendly, neutral conversation in which all hell will not break loose at least until after we finish eating the meal.

Tonights dining out Italian family style was fun. Red really did try his level best to talk the entire time about his video editing in a rather negative light.  He talks about all of the things that are wrong with his videos because he doesn't have "professional" equipment.  Then he tries to start with the laundry list of things that he needs to buy for video editing.  I cut his conversation short and told everyone we would only talk about neutral, non-controversial subjects.  We could talk about movies, mutual friends, what we have planned for the week.  Things of that nature.

No matter how we tried, Red continually attempted to bring the conversation back around to himself.  If I was engaged in dialog with Blue, or my mom, he would interrupt. "Mom. Mom. Mom."

My husband sat there and said almost, absolutely nothing except for what he wanted to order.  He did reach in a couple of times to tell us to pass the bread, plates or whatever so that the table would stay arranged and spots would be open for the food as it was served.  He also would tell the boys when they had had enough bread, to use their napkins properly or whatever.

This was painful for me.  I didn't have enough wine to make it all better.

On the way home, husband still said very little.  The boys started a conversation about family.  Which cousin is the funniest, or something along those lines.  We actually shared a few laughs over this.  My husband's reaction? At one point he plugged his finger into his ear, because Red was laughing and talking while turning around to see us in the back seat.  In the process, I guess he got a little too close to dad's sensitive ears. (Aspie much?)

When I got home hubby bolted out to the store like he couldn't stand to be around us all another minute.  He needed a sensory break.  We've all been there right?

All I could think about was just a few weeks, we have a family reunion. We are all supposed to travel to St. Louis together, stay in a hotel and spend lots of quality family time. Together.

I think I just might call in sick.