I recently wrote a post titled What is Wrong With You? (and only feel a little bit bad about the title). In it, I mention that my daughter will begin testing for Asperger’s next month and I wonder if it has anything to do with my genes or if we’re both just a couple of introverted outskirters.
Whatever the root cause, I’ve been working with her for while on basic social skills, namely:
- Look people in the eyes or they’ll think you’re a lying sociopath.
- Speak when spoken to even if the statement or question is incredibly stupid.
- The ridiculous necessity of small talk (Hint: You can always default to the weather.)
And yesterday I found out we’re not the only ones.
While waiting for my daughter’s turn for a hair cut, a woman walked in with a girl of around eleven that I assumed to be her daughter. They checked in and sat down near us. The daughter folded her arms and started swinging her feet, dragging the front of her flip flops over each time so that they actually did a sort of flip before smacking back into her feet with a flop.
Her mom leaned over and I anticipated a scolding to end of the foot dragging, but instead she quietly said, “Now remember – speak up, look up, and answer the woman nicely if she asks you a question.”
I glanced up from my phone. The assault on the carpet halted mid flip with shoes sticking up straight in the air. The girl looked over at the hairdressers busily cutting and chatting up customers.
Her mother looked down at her with the kind of look that requires a response. The girl shook her head as if she had just been told her kitten had died then nodded slightly in reluctant acknowledgement. She twisted her shorts with both hands nervously and let her shoes fall back into place.
The mom opened a magazine and offered a semi-genuine smile in my direction, “Can you believe how hot it is this week?”
I could’ve jumped up and hugged them both.
But, that would have been me invading their space and, yeah, I know how THAT feels. So, I just agreed that it was wicked hot instead before the mom disappeared into page flipping.
I air elbow nudged my daughter. She promptly jerked away as if I had actually plowed in to her arm and gave me the hell-fire gaze that indicated I should know better.
I asked “Did you hear that?” with a silent head nod and sideways glance instead of words.
She replied with a “What are you talking about now?” brow crinkle followed by a “I was happily in my own little world” eye roll.
I frowned in disappointment and raised one eyebrow, which all mothers use as the universal expression for “Don’t start with me” before returning to my phone.
While my daughter and I are working on replacing facial contortion with voice activated communication, it’s good to know we’re not alone.
To all the people who for whatever reason are socially awkward yet manage to make it through mundane conversations and social interactions, I send an old school style shout out.
P.S. I suppose I could’ve started a “me too” conversation with the mom, but that would’ve been very social of me and I had already had a long morning of interaction. Plus, it could’ve embarrassed our daughters or pissed off a stranger who thought her kid was perfectly normal. But, mostly I’m just not that social.