Nigel: Those two look attractive.
Thus begins a new category here at Teen Autism: Dating. Now that he is nearing fourteen, Nigel has adjusted to the hormones that began coursing through his body last year. He no longer growls at me (unless he’s having a meltdown). Now he has discovered that these hormones can be channeled into something more productive: obsessing about girls. In fact, perhaps I should re-categorize this post under Obsessions.
We have some friends visiting from out of state this week who are staying at a local motel with a pool, which was good planning on their part since it got up to 108 degrees. I took the boys over to visit them at the pool, where they had fun with their friend who is Aidan’s age. At one point, two girls about Nigel’s age entered the pool, and that was it. While Aidan and friend blithely continued their goggle-clad shenanigans, Nigel made it a point to remove himself from their presence and began showing off diving near the two girls. He would come up for air near them, and I, Mama Bear, became incensed when the girls rolled their eyes and turned away. Be nice! I wanted to yell. Give him a chance!
Then Nigel got smart. He enlisted the help of someone who had once been a girl. That’s when he came over to me in my corner of the pool and said, pointing, “Those two look attractive.” He continued with, “I feel a little anxious. Is it common for males to feel anxious about mating?” Oh, my son. “Try not to point, honey. Yes, it’s common for boys to feel anxious about meeting girls. But the term ‘mating’ usually refers to animals.”
Nigel: Oh. [makes a swimming motion] Maybe I should show them my moves.
Me: Usually girls just like it better if you talk to them. You can tell them your name, and then say, ‘I just wanted to say hi.’
And then, oh, this was so sweet, he went over to them and said, “Hi. Name’s Nigel.” (That’s exactly how he said it!) The girls said hi and introduced themselves, and then Nigel said, “That’s my mom over there,” and pointed at me! The girls waved to me and I waved back. Part of me wonders if Nigel has learned that if he lets kids know that his mom is nearby, they will be nicer to him. And that is usually what happens. But maybe he couldn’t think of anything else to say to them right then. Maybe he did it for some other reason. I’ll probably never know, but that’s okay.
What matters is that for the remainder of the afternoon, whenever I saw Nigel near the girls, it appeared that they were being nice to him. Thanks, girls! Whether my presence motivated them or not, at least they learned that if at first someone seems a little different, they might not be so bad. A little patience goes a long way, especially in the beginning stages of dating (or “mating,” as Nigel would say).