In the car, I suddenly realized my kids were discussing how they’d answer the question “If you could change one person, who would it be?”
This is an offshoot of Sunday at church where the priest gave some answers from kids who volunteered one thing they’d change about their mother if they could. Most of them wanted to change Mom’s fascination with a clean room. (As the mom who is NOT fascinated with clean rooms, I’ll tell you my kids have other things they’d like to change about me.)
The kids did want to change things about me, but then of course Kiddo#2 and Kiddo#3 turned on each other. In an effort to break it up, I said to Kiddo#1, “Who would you change?”
He said, “I’d change myself.”
“I’d make my Asperger’s go away.”
I was surprised, to say the least, because he seldom expresses any kind of dissatisfaction with the way he is. Although I express plenty of dissatisfaction with the hateful things he says to his siblings and the near-violent meltdowns he has when conditions align the wrong way, I don’t think that’s necessarily an Asperger’s thing as much as it’s a behavioral thing. Overcome that and I think the Asperger’s will be just a peculiar cluster of quirks he happens to have.
I said, “Really?”
He said, “Actually, wait. Isn’t the Asperger’s the reason I get obsessed with things? I don’t want to lose that.”
AS does frequently manifest in quirky obsessions. If you ever find yourself in a subway car holding an in-depth conversation with a five year old about the parts of an oscillating fan, you’ve probably met an Aspie. My son’s current obsession is space. Planets, stars, comets, spacecraft, you-name-it. It began about a month ago and will probably run full-tilt until sometime in September. Thank goodness this time he’s obsessed with space during the summertime. During the winter, although it gets dark earlier, it’s just too cold to go outside to look at anything.
I said, “Everyone has obsessions. Yours are just a little more odd.” He was surprised. “Like the time you had to memorize all the gasoline prices in Angeltown every day.” Ah, yes, that lovely summer. He agreed with pleasure that he remembered this. “And the time you decided to memorize the make and model of every car on the road.” (Yes, a child who at a distance of half a mile could tell you the difference between a Camry, a Corolla and a Celica, with bonus points if he could tell you the Camry was an early-model or a late-model. That’s not quirky. He was four.)
He agreed that his quirks were a little off-beat. But I think he likes them. And although it’s true the only one you can change is yourself, I’m glad he’s okay with his identity because everyone should be comfortable in his own skin.