Not enough cooks in the kitchen

July 2, 2010 at 6:50 am 11 comments

     Sometimes not recognizing milestones for what they are until I’m right in the middle of them, I recently realized that I’ve been thinking we’re “halfway there.” Halfway to adulthood. I usually try not to think too far ahead, and my first instinct is to think C will go on in life and do what I’ve always thought my kid would do: go to college, get a job, get married, have a family. From day one, I’ve always gone with the idea that C will be fine, just fine. And he will be.

     Although what I’ve always thought of as “fine,” might not actually apply here. I realize I need to redefine my sub-conscious expectations. It’s really not that I think C won’t be fine if he doesn’t do each thing on my list. My ultimate goal for C is that he is happy and healthy – and truly, whatever that means for him is fine with me. He can be a plumber or a doctor or a train engineer. He can marry a woman, be gay or be single. He can have no kids, 20 kids, or a cat. I really don’t care as long as he is happy.

     Yet lately, I’ve been concerned about all sorts of upcoming things. Somehow, being nine (and being halfway to 18), is halfway to the point where he needs to be prepared for his life as an adult. It hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday as I was thinking about him driving, living by himself, or just preparing a meal.

     Oh, I know, he has years to go before he reaches that point. And any of you out there reading this who know him in real life are likely shaking your heads, thinking I’m being pessimistic. I’m not. I know C is capable of much. But when presented with the very real challenge of C managing to prepare himself a meal, well, it’s just hard to imagine. He’s terrified of the stove, of plugging things in, turning appliances on, knives, touching foods, mixing things together, hot water coming out of the faucet – the list goes on. How, I thought to myself yesterday as I realized this, did he get to be nine years old and he’s never really helped me in the kitchen? 

     I’ll tell you how he got there. For awhile, we were just working on getting him in the kitchen. Teaching C to cook wasn’t exactly on my radar screen; had I actually thought about it, it would likely have seemed simpler to graduate him from Harvard at age six. I remember when an acquaintance, upon inviting us over for dinner only a couple of years ago, asked if we were working on table manners with C yet. Table manners? Seriously? At that point, just getting him sitting at the table with other people eating was huge. I didn’t really care if he wasn’t using a fork. 

     Table manners still aren’t high on my list of priorities, because frankly, there just isn’t time. When things need to be broken down into many, many steps with much space between them, big things happen in geologic rather than regular time. But we don’t have eons, we merely have years. No pressure.

Entry filed under: autism. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

C-isms Oy vey

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. T$  |  July 2, 2010 at 9:00 am

    table manners are way overrated. i’ve seen jess chew with her mouth open.

  • 2. Cheryl D.  |  July 2, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I relate to this! I worry about my daughter driving a car because she has such bad attention issues. I’m hoping they’ll improve over time. I am trying to have her do more and more for herself so that she learns to take responsibility for what she does. I’m hoping that this will hep her attend better to the task at hand.

    I have to say that I have it a lot easier because my daughter doesn’t have many sensory issues.

  • 3. Elizabeth Channel  |  July 2, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I so totally relate to this even to the point that I wake up in the middle of the night, realize there only 6 more weeks of summer, and panic because I haven’t made E practice handwriting enough or work on his table manners or go on enough playdates. E is 8 and a half, and something about that mid-point of childhood also has me in a pessimistic panic.

  • 4. kaztronomic  |  July 2, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I think what you’re doing right now, raising a happy and healthy child, is wonderful and more than adequate. Everything else is secondary at this point. It’s one step at a time, and your son moving out and becoming independent is almost an entire decade and a thousand steps into the future. ❤

  • 5. Lisa  |  July 2, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    I’ve postponed ‘independent life’ for Dreamer, who is now 17 for a few more years.

    As for kitchens, we started with making sandwiches at around 8 or 9. He can now make toast, reheat food, do 2 minute noodles, make nachos, lol. Not quite there yet.

    Cleaning up was a problem for years (didn’t like putting hands in dish water). Had a success last week when he successfully washed the dishes. That was, however, after the complaint of ‘I don’t know the proper procedure’, and my step-by-step verbal directions.

  • 6. abby schrader  |  July 2, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    I totally agree about the over-ratedness of table manners. I’ve been trying to work with Hallie on food prep, though, and this is challenging, but not because of anything related to her. We have the smallest kitchen in the world (well, at least this side of NYC) and Hallie desperately wants to help out in her own meal prep. This generally just involves toasting toast; microwaving bacon (organic, but still…), and boiling hot dogs. I try to let her help me by putting her on a step stool so she can watch processes unfold and assist at smearing butter on toast. I have no doubt that she’ll be able to do this more or less independently, but I shudder to think what eating will be like once she has to negotiate the world of school cafeterias.

  • 7. Stephanie  |  July 3, 2010 at 11:18 am

    One of the things I’ve found that helps is to eliminate the 18-year mile marker from the horizon. Who says your son has to be out of the house at 18? That might be a standard age–it’s the age parents tend to look for–but it doesn’t seem the reality for many “typical” families I know. It certainly doesn’t have to be what your family aims for.

    Shortly after our first child was diagnosed (we have three with autism), my husband and I agreed that we weren’t going to pressure our kids to leave. They could stay with us as long as they wanted/needed to.

    For someone as goal-oriented as I am, this lack of time-frame can be a little stressing. But, at the same time, we avoid the greater stress of trying to conceptualize all that must be done by a certain age to prepare our children for the world outside our walls. In the meantime, we work on what they’re ready for.

  • 8. fiona2107  |  July 4, 2010 at 5:30 am

    If someone asked me if I had been working on “table manners” with my child – I would be extremely offended! But that’s me. I agree. Not a huge priority here either.
    It’s the small steps they take that are worth celebrating. Looking too far into the future scare the heck outta me!
    I tend to more of a “It’ll be right ” person. Maybe that’s my laid back Aussie taking over but I think that C is well on the way to becoming a completely well rounded and capable adult. You are doing ALL the right things and he’s so lucky to have a mom that is pulling out all stops to help him to get there!

  • 9. robinaltman  |  July 4, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I truly think that all will be well, and I’m not just blowing smoke up your “you know what”. My kids might be “neurotypical” but there is an astronomical difference between them now and at C’s age. They weren’t scared of plugs, and some of the other idiosyncratic things, but they were so spasticated I just wish I had a video so you could feel good. Kevin has only one year of school before college and I still can’t imagine him handling college. Kids seem to make headway in big leaps. C will leap. I just know it.

  • 10. Caitlin  |  July 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Check out Bonnie Arnwine’s blog post here:
    It’s about the same concerns you’ve identified but her son is a teenager – I think you’ll enjoy it 🙂


  • 11. lynnes  |  July 6, 2010 at 8:43 am

    G is 6 and my big task this summer is getting him to dry himself after his bath. He’s already mastered washing and rinsing himself so this is the last step. DH and I agree on a lot but sometimes when I mention teaching G something because he’ll need the skill as an adult, I get an eyeroll as if I am over-worrying. I’m glad to find other parents that worry about the life skill type stuff!


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