The main reason I started this blog was to get the craziness down in writing before I got too old and forgetful. It's amazing how many things I have already forgotten. Occasionally, my NT daughter will remind me of how nuts I was while raising my Autism Spectrum son. Occasionally, I get a flash back of my own and I can't believe that the crazy woman in my vision is actually me.
The most recent memory came about because my daughter was talking to her friends about how she rarely gets grounded compared to their almost constant groundings. They, of course, said that it was because my daughter had a "cool" mom. (I was right there, what else could they say). My daughter disagreed and told them this story to prove to them how "uncool" I really was.
Halloween 2008. We had just moved to California from a small town in the mid-west. For me, it was coming home after a very screwed up marriage and divorce. For them it was a whole new world. Amazingly, my son embraced the move. He felt as if he didn't stand out as weird or different. Everyone in California was crazy. He got to start over and be whoever he decided to be. Who that ended up being was a mildly scary goth dude. He dyed his blond hair black, bought a black leather trench coat from the swap-meet, a spiked dog-collar, black jeans, black t-shirt, black shoes, black socks, and black underwear.
I can't even remember if he dressed up that Halloween or if he went as his new self. Since my kids had spent their youth as geeked out homeschoolers, I talked them into going to the local library's Halloween Dance Party. My son was 14 and my daughter was 11. They had one cell phone between them. They were required to share it. I got a phone call at about 8:00 PM asking if they could go trick-or-treating with a new friend that they had met at the library. I said yes with some reservation. I figured that this new friend couldn't be too bad if they met him at a library party, right? At about 9:30, I called and asked them where they were at, so that I could go pick them up. They said that there were still a bunch of kids out trick-or-treating and they wanted a few more minutes. They would call me when they got to the next street sign. They didn't call. I called them back at 10:00 and insisted that they tell me where they were so that I could come and get them. By this time I'm freaking out, thinking that this library friend is a gang-banger or a 40 year old pedophile or is leading them to a drug filled party or any other crazy thing a parent starts to think about when they don't really know who their children are with or where their children are at. So, my son answers my 10:00 phone call and tells me that they are not done trick-or-treating. I said "Yes, you are! I'm coming to get you right now!" He says "Not if you don't know where we are!" and he hangs up the phone and turns it off!!!!
I know most parents would be seeing red and would be ready to kill their 14 year old. Guess who I got mad at.....? My 11 year old daughter! This is the grounding story she tells her friends. How her older brother does all of this and SHE gets in trouble. For what it is worth, I did ground my son too. My daughter felt that I was being so unfair to hold her responsible, when she didn't even have the phone. So why did I ground her? Because she was the one who should have known better. She should have asked the friend for his cell phone or knocked on a door and asked to use their cell phone to call home. Or just refused to go any further until her brother called me. She was neuro-typical and she should have made the logical decision. She should have known how worried I would be. She was capable of understanding how this situation would make me feel. She knew better.
Looking back at it now, I wonder if I should I have done anything different? Was it really fair to expect her to act like the responsible sibling? She reminded me that she was scared of her brother. He had once knocked her front teeth loose when he was angry with her. Should we hold our neuro-typical children to a higher standard? I think so. We should not let them off the hook just because they have a sibling with Autism. Would I have held her responsible if she had been with friends in this situation? Of course. Did it make a difference that she was with her "older" sibling? No, she knew his issues and she knew that he did not make logical decisions. She is now 16 and is an amazingly responsible person. I trust her. That is why she never gets grounded. Not because I'm the "cool" mom, but because she is a "cool" kid. I'm hoping that I had something to do with that :)