A Day (Off) as an Aspie Parent

Woo boy, did I have a day off.

First, I slept in. WOOHOO! Nothing wrong with an extra two hours of sleep, right?

Then I got up and made some Cocoa Pebbles for the boy and myself. I typed up my quickie blog while he watched some cartoons, then took my shower and got dressed. Then I told him we were going somewhere. In response to his questions, I did NOT elaborate – although I did hit us both up with some sunscreen, which definitely got his attention.

I woke Dyskinesia and got her moving a little bit, and she confirmed that I was okay to take some money from our account for our little outing, so I piled the lil’ guy into the car and we headed off.

Along the way, I finally decided to tell him where we were going: to the go-kart track just outside town. His response was a big fist-pumping yell, which always gets a big fat grin on my face. I told him for a reason, though – I noticed last time we were there that he was old enough and big enough to drive his own kart. So part of the reason we were going right at opening time on a Tuesday was so that we could have a relatively empty track in case he did want to drive for the first time. You know, less pressure, less distraction, and less people being pissed off if he, say, got sideways and blocked the track.

I raised the proposition to him, and his response was to consider it for a minute, and say “Umm, no. I think I’ll ride with you this time and drive my own kart when I’m 10. (Two years from now.)

This is obviously not the response your typical boy would give, but what the hey, it sometimes comes with the territory when you’re an Aspie parent. When he’s ready, he’ll do it, and when he’s not, he won’t. Anyway.

So we get to the place and immediately head for the go-kart track, since it was 10am and already somewhere in the neighborhood of eleventy-billion degrees. The track was lightly populated, and I again offered him the option of driving his own kart, and again he thoughtfully turned it down. Oh well, I says, we hop in and start whipping around some curves. He was again having a blast with the dummy steering wheel, and I’d holler as I executed a particularly tight apex – as daring a maneuver as I could really manage, given that the 2-person karts are slow enough that I never let off the gas for the entire lap.

We poked around and managed to pass one kid on a “little kids” kart, while being passed by a couple of people. I admit it, maybe this is one of those rare areas where I’m unreasonably competitive (or unusually, uh, male I guess) but I hate it when I’ve got my foot to the floor, I’m taking the ideal racing line, and somebody’s catching up to me. I hate being limited by my equipment. [No jokes, damn you.] It’s bad enough when it’s one guy and his wife in the single-rider adult karts, but worse when it’s another dad-and-son on the same kind of kart we were on. I mean, come on! Help a brotha out here, he should not be able to overhaul me in half a lap!

But, being the guy I am, I kept a close watch out for faster traffic and, when they caught up, I slowed down and swung to the outside to let them by. Because the only thing I hate worse than being held up by my slow car is being held up by somebody slower ahead of me, on a freaking racetrack ferfuxsake, and one that’s barely two karts wide and prominently displays its “NO BUMPING” rules and kart-shutdown mechanisms.

So we put in about twenty minutes of that and walked off to the putt-putt course.
This is where my day started to go south.

In the previous trip (same link as above), my son had actually played a competitive game and had a lot of fun doing so. This time, he shot a 13 on a par 3 third hole, and decided in his quickly ramping frustration that “this is no fun, I don’t want to play anymore.” Wait a second, I just paid $10, we can’t stop at the third hole!

So I convinced him to stick it out, which might have been a mistake. I try to teach him that he can not let his frustration get the better of him, and that the answer to “it’s hard” is not always “I quit,” but perhaps it might have been better to try that on a day when it wasn’t 100-plus with the heat index before noon. Seriously, I pulled off my cap to wipe some sweat off my head at one point, and before I knew it I was actually slinging big drops everywhere. I didn’t know I was sweating THAT much. I also eventually noticed that the one thing I missed with the sunscreen was the back of my neck. Not good when you’re putting. (Luckily I didn’t get too red.)

At the end, I gave him a par-mulligan on that hole and he came back to within one stroke of me at the end. Since I went first this time (his idea) I didn’t have the opportunity to throw the game at the end like I did last time. We finished the game with him definitely in full-grump mode, and we took a few extra minutes of sitting outside in the shade to let him get calmed down before we went back inside to the arcade.

Once inside, though, he cooled off mentally about as quickly as we cooled off physically. Standing over an air hockey table helps, I think, so it’s a good thing that was his first choice. Me, I love air hockey. Some full-contact disc-flying “DUCK!!” air hockey with a mean-lookin’ dude named Hurley are among the few good memories I have from my first few years of high school. So I may have tanked this game a little bit, but not much. I didn’t guard against a couple of goals like I could have, and I didn’t take a couple of hard straight shots that were open, but otherwise he held his own. That’s all I ask as ol’ Dad.

He played a couple of other games but not nearly as much as I expected him to. Then we had a little more time on the karts to our names before it was lunchtime. I asked him if he wanted to take another ride. He thought about it. “I’d like to take two.” Okay, no problem. I offered him another shot at his own kart, but he was still not interested, so I bought another ticket for a ride and we went back out on the tandem karts for a few laps, and had a good old time. I pointed out once that there was a smallish kid in one of the kiddie karts, then forgot about it. We were walking out of the track when he finally said, “Okay, dad, I’m ready to drive my own go-kart now.”
Well, hell.

“Well, son, it’s lunchtime now. Maybe you can do it next time.”
“Oh. Okay, dad.”

Then as we walked across the parking lot, I thought to myself: “When is next time?”
“You know what, son? I’m going to go buy some more tickets and you can drive your own kart.”

So I did, and he did. I paid for another ride in my own kart myself, and so I got to tool around with him, watch his back, and generally bask in his excitement. Since my kart was faster, I had the options of sitting back behind him, pulling up alongside to see the big smile and thumbs-up, passing him to give him somebody to “race” before backing off and letting him go by again. All in all, that was ten minutes and $10 well spent. He came away so excited that I dialed Dys at home and gave him the phone so he could brag about it to her before the gush wore off.

We then had lunch at a VERY busy McDonald’s (as per his request) before heading back into town to do some shopping for Dys’s birthday. This is where we hit another minor snag. Not with Dys’s birthday present – the boy picked out exactly what he wanted to get for her immediately (and it was better than what I’d had in mind, even), and I found what I wanted easily as well – but I’d wanted to buy the little guy something as well. Yes, I know I bitch constantly about the boy having more stuff than is good for anybody, but I never get to give him stuff. So I told Dys I was gonna, and she was behind that. I knew what I wanted to get for him, but when I suggested it he talked about how frustrating it was to try to unlock all of the cars for driving. I told him that I’d help (I always do) but he still wasn’t all that into it, and we left empty-handed and both a little let down. Especially when I told him that we wouldn’t give Dys her present until her actual birthday, when he wanted to go play with her (and it) to-frickin-day. Oh well.

So from there we went to the music store Dys and I visited while he was off gallivanting with his grandparents, the place where we may start him on drum lessons later this year. He was initially quite impressed – he always loves to look at musical instruments of all descriptions, actually, and his autistic eye for detail has been sparked by Rock Band such that he is starting to be able to tell a Tele from a Strat like Forza has taught him to tell a Saleen edition Mustang from a “plain old” GT. But ultimately he said it was “boring” and “no fun” because nobody was playing the instruments. That’s when I pointed out a sign that advertised their music lessons by referring it back to the “School of Rock” movie.

Me: “What do you think that is?”
Son: [wonderingly] “A school where they teach you to …rock?!?”
Me: “Yep. How would you like to go to rock school to learn drums?”
Son: “Dad, I can’t do that! I’d get tired!”
Me: “Huh?” [pondering] “Oh, no, son, it would just be for half an hour once a week.”
Son: “Once a week?”
Me: “Yeah, like every Tuesday.”
Son: “So I’d go to school on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and go to rock school on Tuesday?”
Me: “No, son, you’d go to school every day…”
Son: “Except Saturday and Sunday!”
Me: “…yes, except weekends, and then you’d go to rock school after I got home.”
Son: “Ohhhhhhhhh!” [He thinks for a minute.] “Okay dad, I’ll do it on Tuesdays!”
Me: “No, son, we might not get to pick. We’ll just have to see. And I think it’ll be better to see how school starts out before we worry about it. We’ll have to talk about it with your mom anyway.”
Son: “Okay!”

Nevertheless, he was thoroughly on board.

So we made a quick detour to the grocery store and went home, where after some cajoling I got him to write in his birthday card for his mom and help me wrap her present. Luckily for them both, I think, he gets his radical impatience honestly and Dys indeed decided to open his present last night. So she did, and they both got to play it. And presumably have done so a bunch today as well.

All in all, some trials and tribulations, but all that comes with the territory when you’re an Aspie parent. But when it all came down, that was a hell of a good use of a vacation day.

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6 Responses

  1. Sounds like an awesome adventure day!

    Full contact air hockey? I thought I was the only one!

    http://www.cafepress.com/boundandgags.22835721

    Hah! Awesome!

    Hell yeah, you had to be sharp and keep your eyes peeled if you were within 20 feet of the table when Hurley was playing. It was especially fun because it was at a roller skating rink, and the discs would fly out onto the floor where some perfectly innocent skater would run over it and bite the big one.

  2. Oh, come on! You let it go out there on purpose! I would have.

    We have, still in the box, a Guinness air hockey table that someone at a liquor store gave us.

    Damn, that’s cool. I don’t have a big enough space in my house right now to put an air hockey table. Maybe if I got rid of the coffee table…

  3. Phew! What a packed day! I always wanted to drag Calvin to the local karts. Seems his inherent competitiveness (male-ness?) would kick in, too. I doubt he’d be able to follow the “no bumping” rule, though. For that matter, I probably wouldn’t be able to, either.

    If I felt like I could really compete, I might. It’s more enjoyable if you can actually RACE with someone. But so much there just depends on whether or not you get the “good kart” that I don’t bother. I pass people who are slower (even if they try to block me, I can usually set one up) and let people by that are faster.

  4. Okay, I’ll admit it.

    I snorted at the “limited by my equipment” remark. I couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I’m still 12.

    Why do you think I immediately saw the potential burn there?

  5. Get rid of the coffee table! There are so many advantages to using an air hockey table instead! Not only can a rousing game begin at any time, the table is larger, AND, with the flip of a switch, sort of fresh air right to the faces!

    Air hockey table by day, air conditioning table by night!

    Oh HELL yeah, I’m sold. Now to convince the wife…

  6. […] pissed that the weather’s turned crappy because I’d hoped to sneak an afternoon at the go-kart track again.  To kick off Dudeville Week, I bought him an issue of Road & Track complete with a […]

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