Chi is a man of absolutes; a man of rules and schedules and literal interpretations. As we’ve been going though this new jungle of anxiety and worry and meltdowns and insecurities, Chi has taken on different worry responsibilities.
backstory: Chi doesn’t like to answer questions. Chi doesn’t give details when talking about things that have happened. In fact, he doesn’t like talking about things that have happened. He likes to talk about what he likes to talk about; his current favorite video game, mostly.
He started out worrying that meatballs and spaghetti and pancakes were gonna start falling from the sky if ever there was a single cloud, this was after watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (which is a really cute movie, but triggered the beginning of the end of our handle on Chi’s problems). He even told me at the end of March, and this is when I knew we really had a problem,
Chi: “Mom, do you remember the first Thursday of March?”
Me: “Erm, no, not really.”
Chi: “Well, I do. It was when we watched that movie.”
Me: “What movie, Chi?”
Chi: “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”
to myself: “Holy crap! What kid measures time like that?” and then “Houston, we have a problem.”
Me: “Yeah, that sounds about right. Why?”
Chi: “Those are just clouds, right?” **points at the sky
Me: “Yeah, they’re pretty, I think.”
Chi: “But in the movie the clouds would come and food would be on the ground.”
Nothing I said alleviated his worry that food was gonna fall from the sky. That added and mutated into an irrational fear of the dark. He has never been afraid of the dark. That added and mutated into a need for water every 5 minutes after bedtime; another issue we’ve never had. Then came the need to know what time it was; at all times. Then the need to know where I was at any given time. Then he started in with the worrying about the weather and the news. Were people dying? Was it going to flood because water was falling out of the sky? Thunder is loud, mmmkay? And that lightening is risky business. What about tornadoes? We are going to eat again, right, but you aren’t in the kitchen right this minute! I need to wash because I’m dirty. I know I bathed this morning.
And on and on. He came into the kitchen one evening worried that Pynni had not yet bathed that day and I grabbed a hold of his arm. I got down to eye level and holding him firmly in place by his upper arms, I attempted to look him in the eyes.
sidenote: Most Aspies don’t do eye contact. Chi, being on the lower end of the scale, can and will, but it is obviously not preferred.
me: “Look at me, Chi.”
He glances into my eyes and away, focusing on who knows what. Which makes it hard to tell if he is listening or not.
me: “You are 8. You do not need to worry about whether there is food, or money for things, or whether your siblings are clean, or whether it is going to flood or whether you are gonna be late for school or whether there are gonna be tornadoes. You do not need to worry about what we are having for dinner or whether the dishwasher works. You are 8. A kid. Kids are supposed to have fun and be worry free. You can worry about what game you are gonna play next or whether your level on Little Big Planet will be published by Friday or whether you Pokemans are up to snuff and can defeat other Pokemans. You worry about whether or not you’ve earned your daily marbles by doing your work at school. You let your Mom and Dad worry about all the things that you can’t control, ok? Just have fun. Be 8.”
Chi: “Oh. Okay.” deep sigh of relief and walks away.
Did this solve all of our problems? No, but it seems to have helped. Why didn’t I think about telling him what the worry rules were when this started.
Note to self: When in doubt, recite the rules.