Monday Minute: James meets his match in an awkward conversation showdown
Apparently I’m holding James back from realizing his true passions. For the sake of this post I will refer to the woman that sat our hibachi table as Surely, short for Surely-you-can’t-be-serious-right-now.”
I rate the following conversation right up there with the whole “rat on your back” subway debacle. I think I sincerely laughed just as hard on the way home. And lady, coming from a parent who has heard everything, that’s saying something.
Surely: Wow, four kids here by yourself! You must be a great mom.
Me: Or a glutton for punishment.
Surely: No, I can tell you’re a mom who actually pays attention to her kids. I had to say something to you three times for you to even look away from them right now.
Me: Oh, uh – sorry…?
Surely: It’s okay. So what do you do?
Me: I’m at home with the kids.
Surely: Me too! Where’s your husband?
Me: Out of town on business.
Surely: That must be so hard for you.
Me: no, it’s okay, I’m used to his long hours. (to Surely’s husband) Do you work in the city?
Surely’s husband: No, I’m an adaptive phys ed teacher in Brooklyn.
Me: Oh really? My son is in adaptive PE at his school.
Surely’s husband: What school?
Surely: He doesn’t look slow.
Surely: He doesn’t look like he needs adaptive gym.
Me: Oh, well, he does.
Surely: What’s wrong with him?
Me: He’s got a lot of diagnoses, actually. (are we really shouting this across a hibachi table right now?)
Surely: Is he autistic?
Me: He’s on the spectrum. (but he’s not deaf)
Surely: So he’s a genius at something, right? My friend’s kid is autistic and he’s super smart at math. (are you for real, lady?)
Me: Well, he’s on the spectrum but he doesn’t have Aspergers, which is what you might be referring to? He’s also developmentally delayed, which is why we’ve been able to have this conversation at the table without him noticing.
Surely: No, he’s definitely a genius, I can tell. He’s probably the smartest one at this whole table, you just haven’t found the right way to teach him yet. Right, James? What’s your favorite subject? (why? are you going to teach him right now?)
(James continues staring in amazement at the hibachi show, doesn’t answer)
Me: James, someone is talking to you (sorry, bud).
Surely: What’s your favorite class?
Surely: See? He’s a little genius. Lots of these kids are incredible with numbers. Are you awesome at math?
James: Yeah, like 10 sushi rolls is more than 4, right mom?
Me: For sure.
Surely: What is he amazing at?
Me: Hey, James. What are you amazing at?
James (not looking away from the cooking): Wii.
Me: He’s a genius at the Wii, for sure. Beats me every time.
Surely: He needs someone to really unlock his potential.
Me: Well, we’ve definitely been working on the best way to reach him, and honestly, we’re just happy to have found such a fantastic middle school.
Surely: Yeah, it’s terrible when half of these public schools don’t even make special ed kids work to their potential, it’s like they give up on them.
Me: We actually like this program because it focuses less on drilling academics and hours of homework, and more on social and life skills.
Surely: Life skills? Please – you must think I’m crazy (yup) but you are not challenging him enough. You need to get yourself to the library, find the craziest, most difficult astronomy-physics-math book you can that you don’t even understand, open it up to a random page and hand it to him and he’ll just start reading it. You mark my words, I just know it.
Me: (trying, and failing, to stifle a chuckle) Hmmm… I’m speechless.
Surely: So you’re amazing at math, James?
James: I’m amazing at life skills.
Me: Oh yeah? Like what?
James: Like I’m enjoying the life skill of eating hibachi right now.
Me: There you have it – if we push him hard enough he’ll be cooking on the hibachi table with one hand and playing Wii with the other someday.
James (pumps fist): Oh, yeah! High five, mom!
If I didn’t know better it almost seems like he was teasing her…