So there are two things I would like to share about today.
1) Having guests over.
2) From the outside, looking in.
Both of these things can have unexpected results.
I will start with the idea of having guests over to my home.
The idea of sharing time and talk and food with someone is a lovely idea. I love having good conversation. I love serving good food. The idea of "community" is a desire we all have, I think. What happens, though, is something quite unexpected. Here I'm going to share something I don't share with much of anyone, but it explains a lot. And I suppose this might be taken the wrong way. But please, it's not about you! It's about our coping mechanisms :)
My children's high needs aside, I myself struggle with social anxiety, panic attacks, and some other symptoms that might be associated with the Autistic Spectrum. I can almost see your eyes glazing over now. And that's why I hesitate to share with anyone. There's nothing wrong with me, just as there is nothing wrong with my children. I just struggle for what you might consider "normalcy". Over the years, due to life circumstances, I've come to hide my struggles well, push them aside and put on a smile for the world, and get on with things! It's actually been very good for me in that it has forced me out of my comfort zone and into those situations, like with guests, where I must go outside my own head and learn social norms. Perhaps that is why I seem slightly weird at times, or say things that might be taken as offensive or improper. Sometimes my filter misses! :)
I love having guests over, and so do my children. However, the aftermath can be quite a struggle. My children, and myself, often have to "recover" from social interaction. We might each go off and close the door to a room to be alone. A grouchy attitude might take over the household for a bit while we all struggle to accept that we had to "act right" for the world. Not that we are weird when no one is around, but the filters can be put aside, questions can be addressed about why people act a certain way, meltdowns can be let out. It takes an extra effort for my high needs household to function normally after guests. Guests are rare! Not because we aren't kind to them, or because we can't have fun, but because the effort can be quite exhausting. We thrive on routine, even if the routine seems vague.
Now the second part of this is about looking at my/our situation from the outside and guessing about things. Educated guesses can be a good starting point. However, I've run into quite a few situations recently where someone is just guessing that I'm a bad parent because of how I "let" my child/ren act. Others might be thinking, "Better you than me! That little one is crazy....". Indeed it can seem crazy. Exhausting. Overwhelming. Just as it's overwhelming to put on social norms, it can also be overwhelming trying to hold my tongue about people who don't get it, don't care to get it, or just think they can do a better job. Oddly enough, society doesn't send you to parenting classes prior to having children. Oh, yes, they are out there. But "I'm never going to be one to need them because my children will be well behaved, normal, disciplined little people who will act just so." (I wish you all the best!) Often times, in fact most of the time, it's not something that you can control. Your children are separate entities from you. They grow and gain independence. You can teach them and give them good example all you want, but ultimately they must choose to behave accordingly. Even high needs children with Aspergers, etc. They can still choose. They just must understand clearly why.
I tell you that I have learned so much patience and understanding from my children. They are sincere in their curiosity. They are not trying to push buttons (most of the time) by acting out, or regressing inwards. They are coping in their own way and it's just slightly less common than what you might find elsewhere, I suppose. I do my best to give clear and concise instruction, to teach with understanding and openness to what they might experience out in the real world, but with firmness and educated answers. (Boy, do I do a lot of reading. These little people have so many questions! I was never that way as a child, I just took everything at face value.)
I feel privileged to be their parent. It's a growing experience for me. The knowledge I have gained from being their mom, and continue to gain, is an amazing gift. Things I would never have learned otherwise, to be sure. No doubt I struggle, and can seem cynical at times. Everyone needs a break now and then. Perhaps their needs from any other person would be misunderstood as just "bad behavior". But I see the prologue.
To be continued.