Sunday, January 24, 2016

Asked and Answered

This week some of my friends posted a list of questions on Facebook that parents could ask their kids to see what they think of them along with the candid answers that their kids gave. Curious to see how well Alex knows his dad and me, I decided to ask him some of these questions. Of course, his problems with pronouns made this a little more challenging, as I had to explain who was “I” and who was “you” by substituting our names. Once he figured out whom I meant, he came up with some pretty good answers. Moreover, I found it interesting that he seemed to take this questionnaire so seriously, answering some questions quickly and confidently, and giving others careful thought, with his chin in his hand as he earnestly pondered the best answers.

What is something I always say to you?  “Thank you” This is true. I thank people all the time, which is probably how I won the “Best Mannered Teacher” award from the local cotillion society twice. I also constantly remind Alex, “Tell [person’s name] thank you,” which may be another reason he chose this response.

What makes me happy? “Going to restaurants” Again, this is true. Anything that involves food and my not having to cook makes me happy. Also, knowing that Alex also likes going to restaurants makes me happy, too.

What makes me sad? “Arguing” What an insightful answer! I hate conflict of any kind and will do anything to avoid an argument. Alex also knows that he will get nowhere arguing with me because as he once noted, “She never changes her mind!”

How do I make you laugh?  After quite a bit of thought, he couldn’t think of any specific funny things that I do, but he did tell me that I am “90 percent funny.” I’ll take that A- in humor.

What is my favorite thing to do? “Watch NASCAR” Yes, the boy knows me well.

What do I do when you’re not around? “Watch TV” Again, the boy knows me well.

What am I really good at? Without hesitation, he answered, “Sudoku.” That would be one of the last things I would have thought of, but he’s impressed with my ability to solve those silly number puzzles he finds fascinating.

What am I not very good at? Again, without hesitation, he responded, “Math.” He knows my limitations well, especially since I frequently ask him to solve number problems for me (except for Sudoku, of course).

What is my favorite food? “Chicken” I’m not sure where he came up with that one, as I could take or leave chicken. Maybe he confused it with my real favorite, chocolate. Both begin with “ch,” after all.

What do you enjoy doing with me? “Visiting Nanny (my mom) and watching Jeopardy” The only thing better than watching Jeopardy with me is the three of us watching Jeopardy together because we are a force to be reckoned with when we put together our various trivia knowledge.

After going through these questions to see what he knew about me, I posed the same questions for him about his dad. This was actually easier because we didn’t have the pesky pronoun issues with “you” and “I.”

He told me that his dad always says “Good night” to him, which is true. This probably makes an impression on him because they always hug good night, too.

Alex said that going to basketball games makes his dad happy, which is also true. On the other hand, he had trouble explaining what makes his dad sad and could only tell me “Ouch.” I guess he meant getting hurt makes his dad sad. I think this was on his mind because Ed recently had minor surgery that required stitches, and Alex seemed concerned about how that was healing.

As with me, he had trouble verbalizing what his dad does that makes him laugh, but he did give him a solid “95 percent funny” rating. I’m not quite sure what Ed does that merits a better grade in humor than I get. I think it has something to do with their ganging up on me and teasing me, which Alex finds even funnier than Ed does.

For Ed’s favorite thing to do, Alex named watching basketball, which is accurate, and he said that Ed “watches movies” when he’s not around, which is also true.

When asked what his dad is really good at, Alex immediately said “math.” I guess this is good since he thinks this is my weakness. When asked about something his dad is not very good at, he thought for a long time and couldn’t come up with anything. Apparently, his dad has no weaknesses in Alex’s eyes.

Alex also named shrimp as Ed’s favorite food, and he said that the activity that he enjoys doing most with his dad is “going places,” and he specifically named going to basketball games, carrying along the basketball theme found in earlier questions.

I think it’s interesting that Alex identifies so strongly with his dad, sharing interests, strengths, and even favorite foods. They do have very similar personalities, so I suppose it’s really not surprising that they like many of the same things.

If Alex had asked me the same ten questions, this is what I would have said about him.

What is something I always say to you? “What would be good?’ “Wait and see.”

What makes me happy? going places, Epsom salt baths, food, music

What makes me sad? waiting, not being able to drive a car

How do I make you laugh? saying funny things, imitating Bob Dylan's and other people's voices

What is my favorite thing to do? going places, especially restaurants and basketball games, reading, listening to music, eating

What do I do when you’re not around? read, watch TV, do Google searches on the iPad

What am I really good at? math, reading, memorizing

What am I not very good at? tasks requiring fine motor skills (e.g. writing)

What is my favorite food? shrimp—the only food that rates 100 percent!

What do you enjoy doing with me? going places (restaurants, basketball games, concerts), watching TV (especially Jeopardy), visiting Nanny, saying bedtime prayers

After we had chatted about these questions and our answers, Alex wanted me to write down the questions for him. Then he galloped away (literally—this is what he does when he’s happy, all six foot of his lanky body) with the list in his hand to his bedroom, probably to review our conversation in his mind. As I did the same (without the galloping, of course), I thought about how fortunate we are that Alex, unlike many people with autism, can speak and express his ideas. Moreover, he has emerged from the isolation that autism can impose, which means he takes an interest in other people and notices the things they like to do. So, what makes me happy? Alex makes me happy, especially because he is probably the happiest person I know. To watch him enjoy life, whether it’s eating shrimp or watching Jeopardy or going to basketball games, is a blessing I never take for granted.

“…Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:24

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