Posts Tagged ‘special needs children manners’

I have been known to toss chicken legs across the table (Uncomfortable Subjects, Part 3)

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

At home I rip pieces of chicken off of the bone, sandwiches into chunks, and cold cuts and pizza into bite-size morsels with my fingers and feed the babies that way (quicker than a knife). I’ve held a steak in one hand while feeding a baby with the other and eaten it like a sandwich. I’ve been known (among others in my family) to attend meals (including dinner) in pajamas. I often floss my teeth on the couch. If nothing else is handy I will wipe kids’ faces on the insides of their shirts (or mine if it is already a lost cause).

And yes, I have been known to toss chicken legs across the table onto my kids’ plates when I’m home alone and the thought of getting up from the dinner table for the umpteenth time is just too much.

Why am I telling you this? Let me answer this question with another question. Why do James’s manners, or lack thereof, drive me crazy?

James chews with his mouth wide open, lips smacking, food falling out, in a trance-like state, practically drooling in extreme cases. ¬†Despite years of constant reminders, practice, even heated arguments – “I am chewing with my mouth closed!” “No, you’re not – you’re still talking!” “Look, it’s closed now.” “No it’s really not – cover it with your hand if you have to.” – we have seen very little progress on this front.

James picks his nose, and though he is gaining the common sense not to do it in public the new alternative is to use his hand, sleeve, or fingers to smear his snot all over the place. Even if he has a tissue in his pocket.

James never closes the bathroom door. I can not even begin to tell you how many guests have been surprised by the open door policy James employs in our house (how many people are nodding right now?). Or out of the house (some of you know where I’m going with this). Last year James finally learned how to pee standing up. On the way home from a walk in Riverside Park he had to go, badly. My brother offered to take him behind a tree since James could now stand and pee. About 30 seconds later I turned toward the shouts of surprise to see James with his pants around his ankles, peeing on the tree. We all stood there as pedestrian traffic passed us by, frozen for a second by the sheer absurdity of the situation, and then sprung into action to shift James to the other side of the tree, to shield him with our bodies, whatever it took to get the job done. Kind of funny in a group of family and friends, but horrifying to think of James out on his own.

James constantly picks at himself. I’ll spare you the details and hope that you never have to witness this one.

“Manner issues” that were understandable and even humorous as a toddler and small child are becoming quite the opposite as James approaches puberty. To be perfectly frank, many of his regular daily habits are as uncomfortable as they are disgusting, even to his own mother, and I fear that he will repulse people well into adulthood and be friendless except for the saintly souls who love him for who he is, aka his family.

So how can I throw stones when my house is so glassy? Perhaps the biggest difference between James and the typical population (such as myself) with regards to manners is his complete lack of discretion. I would not dare throw a piece of meat at my child in front of anyone other than my immediate family, whereas James doesn’t care who sees his chewed up food, his boogers or his bare a**.

You may be thinking that I am unduly harsh and perhaps even cruel in my commentary –¬†how could I possibly think this way about my own child? But before you judge be honest with yourself – what would your reaction be if you sat down near a young man in a restaurant or outside and witnessed a chewed up piece of turkey sandwich fall out of their mouth, watched them pick their nose and wipe it on the grass, or were lucky enough to observe a Riverside Park incident?

I also want to point out that I’m not being critical about “manner tasks” that James cannot actually do – washing himself, wiping himself, zipping and buttoning his fly, etc. I am specifically referring to the everyday considerations that I want James to give some thought to and that he is physically capable of doing (or not doing).

Because James lacks discretion so completely, we feel that it is important for him to use good manners all of the time, even when he is home in his comfort zone with his family. It is because I love James so very much and want for him to have a happy life where people gravitate toward his sunny disposition and don’t run screaming from his just-sneezed-on-handshake that I will continue to nag, argue, even be a little mean to him about his hygiene and etiquette.

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