The 2 most popular responses to just about anything I say to my 11 year old son, E, is "wasn't me and I didn't know". When I asked him who peed BEHIND the toilet seat, of course his response was "wasn't me". At this point, I know that it is absolutely pointless to even ask him this question, but I am always curious and forever hopeful that there will be a different response such as "yes, I did it". But, no, that never happens.
This last Sunday, it was stinking hot in Chicago. I asked E if he wanted to go to some garage sales with me. He agreed and off we went. When we got to the first sale, he chose to stay in the car, the hot car, while I looked. The same thing happened again and again and by the 4th garage sale, he started complaining that he was hot. No kidding. I stupidly asked him "didn't you know it was going to be hot today"? "Didn't you hear the weather forecast on the radio?" He listens to the radio all the time. And his response was, yup, you guessed it, "I DIDN'T KNOW".
E has special needs and goes to a therapeutic school. When he gets really angry and goes into a rage, he kicks holes in the basement walls and breaks what meager possessions we have left. We have always been dumpster divers, alley collectors and furnished our house that way before E came along. So, when you have a child who breaks tables, lamps and overturns chairs, you clearly don't want to invest much money in furniture, so it wasn't a hardship to continue rescuing furniture items from the alleys. The thing that we have learned about E over the years is that we REALLY want to avoid making him so angry that he has these tantrums. Once he has a major tantrum, he is more likely to keep having them and then he gets into a pattern of behavior where he has tantrums all the time. So, we "cut him a lot of slack". What I mean by that is that we allow him to do things that most parents wouldn't allow their children to do, thereby avoiding a tantrum. We REALLY don't sweat the small stuff.
The problem with this is that his neighborhood friends who are what we in the special needs world describe as "neurotypical", notice what we allow E to do and then think they can come over to our house and do whatever they want. For example, I returned from work one day to encounter E and his friends using permanent black marker to "decorate" my front landing which is stone. I wouldn't have minded if it was pleasantly decorative, but it wasn't. His friend had written 'HI" in huge, black, permanent letters and then wrote some other things and crossed it out with BLACK, PERMANENT MARKER. It was a mess. I was not a happy camper. When I asked the offending child if she did that sort of thing at her own house, of course she told me that her entire room was decorated with permanent, black marker. Yea, right. I know her parents and I'm sure they wouldn't allow that!
Just this morning, I spent about 30 minutes scrubbing and scraping white-out and black felt tip off of a small table that my husband "promised" to E. He had taken white-out and "painted" much of the table with it. Not only did it look awful, but the white-out started crumbly all over the place. E insists on keeping it in our living room. Sigh! Another day, another blue, green electric yellow dollar. That's a Firesign Theater reference. Look it up if you aren't familiar with Firesign Theater!