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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Halloween at Union Station

Actually the headline is a little misleading, since all of Union Station's official Halloween activities were over on Saturday. And since pretty much anything you could call weird or scary had nothing to do with it being Halloween.

It turned out to be a good thing, though, because we had the joint to ourselves. All things considered, while Mo handles crowds exceptionally well as kids with autism go, the stimulation does take a toll. And as hard as I tried to convince myself otherwise, there was enough other stress.

Which is probably why Mo wasn't in her costume. Her excitement about her pirate getup was where the idea to all go in costume came from.

Then as we rushed to get ready for church, she got promptly out of costume and could not be bribed, cajoled or tricked into putting it back on.

I brought it along, thinking maybe she just didn't want to wear it to church. Em and I were not the only people in costume Sunday morning, but close to it. There was a woman with devil horns and a tail, true story. I guess it really is a church for the unchurched.

Anyway, we got down to Union Station and there was still no interesting her in the costume. Or, to an extent, interesting her in Science City. Her behaviors weren't that bad, bit she'd been spacey since before church and she kept asking to go home to watch YouTube.

As I say, my denial was in overtime, but her stress was understandable.

Corinna met us there (also in costume) arriving, as Corinna invariably does, by bicycle. Mo's not as slow to warm up to new people as she could be, but meeting Dad's Girlfriend is strange to any thirteen year old.

I ought to know, my Dad had a couple of girlfriends and a brief second marriage when I wasn't much older than Mo. None of that was particularly traumatic, but there was plenty of awkwardness. Like the time it appeared Dad was pretty serious about a woman who had a daughter my age. A daughter I kind of had a crush on and, to make it even more interesting, this same daughter really couldn't stand me. What a gem of a potential stepsister.

So here I was doing my best to pretend that there couldn't possibly be anything weird about Mo meeting someone I've been dating (and trying to find other explanations for her not really being herself), but isn't that a large part of why this is a first? I never really set a fixed barrier for when my kids could meet someone I'm dating, but I had some general rules.

The first rule was to make sure the date in question was the sort of person I wanted around my kids and potentially interacting with my ex-wife and her family. I've had a first date tell me of her plan to get her daughter to go back to court and testify to reverse custody; of signing permission for the daughter to get a tattoo the father/ex had vetoed; and of losing custody of her own kid for abuse. That's not three women, that's one date.

Get past that criteria, and I think the next thing is how is this woman going to react to Mo. I don't have any highly specific, colorful examples here, but I've definitely seen the color of conversation shift when it comes out one of my offspring has autism. It's a curious thing being praised for having patience, by someone who hasn't had a chance to observe any such thing, as they back-pedal out of the rest of the evening as fast as possible. No real loss, anyone who thinks my children are 'baggage' need not apply.

Right after the divorce, Em saw the Yahoo Personals pic of a woman I'd been out with all of twice, and for a year afterward, any hint that I had spoken to a single woman brought up questions about this long forgotten date. So avoiding step-mom fantasies about someone who's not going to be around long enough for coffee to get cold was another reason to keep my dating life and my Dad life separate.


Add to all this, I don't really date that much anyway, and the normal ways things fizzle, nothing in common, incompatible goals, no chemistry, she hates Hawaiian shirts, etc., and it can take five years before you meet someone you'd like to see more often than you can if you never see them with your kids.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't been seeing Corinna that long. This isn't 'meet your new Mommy.' But even a low key 'This is someone Dad really likes and I think you'll like her too' is heaps of weird for a teenager to cope with.

And I have to say that as much as I stressed over Mo's general reaction, she was handling it a lot better than I was. I don't know what I was worried about. The whole thing went pretty well. Em was almost instantly at ease, and Corinna not only took Mo's aloofness in stride (Mo did warm up to her a bit at the end), she also seemed to understand that I didn't mean to be a jackass.

And Mo's costume obviously didn't go to waste. As soon as we got home, she was ready to costume up and trick or treat with Dad while Sissy stayed home and passed out candy.

1 comment:

PlazaJen said...

Both of your daughters look beautiful in their costumes! Glad you had such a nice Halloween. And... glad you give so much thought to things. It seems to be a scarcity these days.