Maybe tomorrow’s post will be about sleep – I have something better for today. Sometimes I have my posts written days ahead of time. Other days I choose my topic after something has happened…today is that type of day.
Last night Tucker’s bonus brother (some say ‘step’) played in a state-playoff basketball game.
Normally, we don’t go to his basketball games on school nights for sleeping purposes.
Normally, my husband goes and I get score and ‘exciting moment’ updates.
But this wasn’t a normal night. His bonus brother is a Senior in High School…so we knew this may be the last chance that Tucker would get to see him play. Of course we were hoping for a win – but didn’t take any chances.
I began prepping him for the evening on Sunday night – what time we were leaving, what it would all entail, what time we would most likely get home. Yesterday morning we went through the plan again. Yesterday when we picked him up from school we went through the plan again. He was most concerned about his supper schedule being off – once we tamed those fears we were mostly in the clear.
As it became obvious that our team would not be the victor I had the distinct realization that I had not talked him through the appropriate way to respond to his bonus brother.
You see – this is a major difference between having a neurotypical (see Day #35 – I’m a Neurotypical) and a child on the spectrum. While most parents spend their ‘homework’ time in elementary working on math fact fluency and spelling words – we worked on how to have conversations. That’s not a lie – and really not a joke. Sometimes when I get down about the ‘regular’ academic trouble he may be having I remember this. We didn’t have time to do both – and him having a conversation is paramount to human survival. He’ll [probably] always have access to a calculator.
So during the final moments of the game I began to talk to him. This is how it went…
Me:Tucker, I need you to focus on me and listen. This will be the last basketball game that he ever plays.
T: Really? I thought he would play in college.
Me: No. He wasn’t recruited – he may play in a fun league in college – but he won’t be on a ‘regular’ team.
T: Oh. I thought anyone could play.
(Note to self…obviously we need to have this conversation)
Me: No. That is not the way it works – we’ll talk about that another time. Right now, I need you to understand that he will be very sad. He’s been playing this game since he was a little, little boy. Matt will also be very sad. The people all around us will be very sad. We’re going to wait for the team to come out and you will see some tears. What do you think we should say?
T: How about ‘Good try’ – like I would say to someone who lost in PE?
Me: I understand how that seems like the right thing to say. But, when people are in this type of situation – the best thing to say is…nothing. When people are very sad because of a loss, they really don’t want to hear anything because nothing will take away the hurt. So, we will hug him. We will tell him we are proud of him and love him. That is all – we won’t talk about the game specifically, not yet.
T: Just don’t say anything. How about a high-five or bump?
Me: Yes. That is appropriate.
So…he did just that. ‘Hey’ and a fist bump.
The game was in Des Moines which is a two-hour drive and began at 6:30 PM. Bedtime is normally 8:30 PM.We didn’t return home until close to midnight and I promised Tucker on the way home that he could sleep in this morning and we could be late for school. Bad mom, you say? Talk to his teachers…I’m positive they appreciated me letting him sleep.
This morning on the way to school we stopped at our favorite Kwik Star and this happened…it was one of those ‘moments.’ (See Day #14 – The Moment).
We went to check out. Here is what he does…without prompting, mind you.
“Yes. We’re a bit later than normal. We’re late because we went to the basketball game last night way down in Des Moines. We stopped at a Subway to make sure we had supper about right on time. We didn’t get home until midnight so mom let us sleep in this morning. Alex’s team lost, but you really shouldn’t say anything because it will probably make he and his teammates sad. It was a good game though, I know they tried as hard as they could. So it was good and bad.”
The check-out girl simply stared at me.
I shrugged my shoulders, flashed a crooked smile, and said, “Yep – that’s how it went.”
In all of that conversation practicing…he’s still not so good at the art of chit-chat, or turn-taking, or reciprocity.
Maybe someday? Maybe not.
Either way – he’ll always make me smile and recall, “Yep – that’s how it went.”