Last night a local pizza place did a fund-raiser for Oldest Son's school. We had planned to have dinner there. I called My Beloved Wife on the way home to tell her I was running late. She told me that Oldest Son had stated categorically that he didn't want to go. She didn't know why.
I had her put him on. We talked a little. He said he didn't want to see people from school at the restaurant. I took that at face value. In the past Oldest has been very uncomfortable with the idea of seeing people he knows from one context in a different context. I assumed that was the issue here. I said that we could get the pizza to go rather than eat there. He seemed relieved.
When Beloved got back on the phone I told her what we were doing and why. She disagreed with my decision. I pointed out that Oldest has seemed very stressed this last week and that I didn't think this was the right time to push his envelop. She reluctantly agreed.
Then I heard the nanny in the background. She had been talking with Oldest and he had said that the reason he didn't want to go to the restaurant was that he was afraid kids from school would be there and see him with Middle Son. I felt like a chump. I told Beloved that if I'd realized that was the issue I would have been much less inclined to accommodate him. And I didn't want to change what I had agreed to do.
As I drove to the restaurant to pick up the pizzas, I tried to decide how I would talk to Oldest. First I was going to tell him that I was disappointed, that I expected better from him. That didn't seem like it would get the desired result. I remembered my conversation last week with Youngest Son about hitting Middle--how I got him to tell me he thought Middle was sad about being hit. I thought about how sad I felt at hearing that Oldest was embarrassed to be seen with Middle. And how sad I felt that Middle's behavior is so odd--it's easy to sympathize with Oldest's embarrassment. And how sad I was that Oldest's Asperger's makes it even harder for him to rise above his embarrassment than it would be for a regular teen. I started to cry.
When I got home we all sat down to eat. I asked Oldest what kind of family he wanted to live in. He didn't know how to answer the question. I said I want to be a member of a family where we all love, support, and respect each other. He said that sounded good. Then I asked him how he would feel if Younger Daughter didn't want to go somewhere because she was embarrassed to be seen with him. He said that would feel bad. I said that would seem very disrespectful. I told him I felt sad about him not wanting to be seen with Middle. I told him all the ways I felt sad.
Later Beloved asked me how I felt about the conversation. I told her that I had been pleased with Oldest's response. I believed that my message had been heard.