I have a dawning realisation.
Last Friday night was Jeremy’s high school Year 10 formal. Jeremy didn’t go, I didn’t even know about it (mostly because I rely on Jeremy to tell me about school stuff – it’s a trust thing). I saw pictures of a friend’s beautiful daughters, exquisite young women who looked divine with wide smiles of excitement. I smiled looking at their photos, reminiscing about past formal events, how much fun you can have all dressed up and before you are old enough to drink.
School camp is coming up. Jeremy did tell me about this last term. He was keen for a day or so then said that it was to Brisbane, so he wasn’t really interested. Fair enough I thought, Brisbane is a second home to us, but still, a week away on a bus with your school friends, goofing off. Jeremy said no though.
I asked about the formal. Jeremy said he didn’t go because the person organising it doesn’t like him. I don’t put much stock in these comments, we are a family prone to hyperbole. School has been strewn with stories of thieving kinder kids all of whom took jumpers,books and lunch boxes, everyone having a tamagotchi, all the teachers hating him, all the kids on the bus don’t like him. You learn to sift the wheat from the chaff.
I think, however, I have found the key. Jeremy is fine committing to situations where we are in people’s homes or places he is familiar with. But what happens when you are somewhere new?
Jeremy has never coped well with change. He hated moving as he got older (past the age of five), wanted to know where we were going, leaving times and coming home times and all points in-between. If we had people over for dinner he would want to know menus, guests, arrival times. Changes to plans would put him into a spin. He looked to me for constancy having a parent who spent weeks away at a time away for work.
So maybe the key to the current reluctance lies in something very simple. When you are already anxious there are some things that become insurmountable. So I go back to the title. In the face of all the above, suddenly something as simple as going to the toilet is fraught. When you no longer feel comfortable using the girl’s toilet and you get looks using the boy’s toilets your options are limited. Usually the disabled toilet is an option but that is not always available. So the school formal, on top of being a social situation in an environment where you don’t feel comfortable already, what would happen if there was no disabled toilet? If you are on camp, who do you bunk in with?
So currently Jeremy’s horizon is slightly narrowed. I have to take a step back and acknowledge that Jeremy has a rich and full life with many and varied experiences. Together we will start the conversation to address the day to day issues that will open his horizon again.