Yesterday was a typical day. Believe it or not we have lots of them. The weather here has been dire the last few days, as in grey, foggy, damp and cold. We had nothing to do yesterday afternoon so I took the boys to KC Kangaroo's. This is an indoor soft play place here, great for killing a couple of hours on a cold Thursday afternoon. Great for relaxing with a magazine or book while the boys get hot and sweaty running around the little obstacle course.
Or at least it used to be.
I love those moments when I casually look up from the glossy pages before my eyes and see Adam climbing up the netting around the outside of the ball pit. The netting that is meant to keep kids in the ball pit. I scurry over to the other side of the room and we engage in a frantic battle of wills. "No, you will not climb up there, come down!!" "Oh yes I will mom, see my leg going over? He he!!"
He thinks it's fantastic, and quite frankly, so do I. For a long time motivation to do things was pretty much absent in Adam, so anytime he wants to do something I see it as good. Even something he's not supposed to do which is, well, most of the time. He's also got some amazing physical capabilities that I love to see in action. Even if it gets me into trouble. Which it does, well, most of the time!
Ever hear that theory that most people in the world can be divided into either rule keepers or rule breakers? Well, Adam is a rule breaker. I think this is because of both his Autism and because he's half his father. He doesn't know that you aren't supposed to climb the periphery netting...it's there and looks inviting, so why not? He doesn't know that food is supposed to go into your mouth and not be painted all over your face. He doesn't get that taking off your shoes and throwing them "at" people is a little uncouth. Or that gulping the communion wine at church is probably not going to be found funny by anyone other than his daddy and I (this one is true and should really be seen--every Sunday morning at 10:45, St Andrews Cathedral!)
It's tough, this balance between encouraging Adam to be who he is and try to get him to conform to social norms. Most of the time I don't care, and I'm proud that he is so effortlessly himself. Most of the time I love that people stare at him, or their eyes bug out at something he does, or I get told off for one of his little adventures. I'm happy to be the point person for Adam. The few times when I really do care, or I get cross with him for something, are more to do with me than with him anyway. I do occasionally get a fright for his safety, which is where I lament that he has no sense of danger. But this is not the same as breaking a social rule.
The thing that most people don't think about is how many limitations are already on his life, let alone that pesky little rule you are going to complain about to me. This is where I think social norms are more a communal corset that we force ourselves to wear, that nobody really even likes and that most of us wish we could sometimes cast away like Adam appears to do.
Adam is a good boy. Like all kids, and particularly those with disabilities, he does the best he can. If that's not good enough, then I can't really help you.
Oh, and maybe you should look away now!