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What If There’s Never a Normal (Social Cues, part two)

Today we were in an airport, which is either the best or the worst place to see Rory’s and my mother daughter dynamic, depending on your perspective. I’m still thinking about the fact that I am at my worst with Rory when she doesn’t follow social cues, and there are a whole lot of social cues to airports. Even putting aside the weird ones (I don’t fault anyone for not realizing you have to take off your shoes), I’m left with a ton of material that I tried to keep in perspective. Do I really think that if, at 18, she decides she’s tired while traveling, she’ll lay down on the floor in the middle of the security line? Leave her rolling backpack smack at the end of the moving walkway while running off to loom at something interesting? Walk through a crowd of hurried adults as though there weren’t a single person there, bobbing and weaving and turning to walk backwards directly in front of people running for a flight?

The thing is, at some level I do. I am honestly afraid that Rory will never realize that people she doesn’t know remain people, whose toes should not be run over and who are apt to be angry if cut off in route to the bathroom. And I know that an airport is an exciting place where some slack should be cut. But we lead a busy, travel-filled life, and this is far from the only airport Rory’s ever been in. This was our third flight this year. We fly often enough that I will even fly with them solo (although happily I wasn’t). They are security pros and airport veterans, and Rory has been pulling that same wheely bag in front of the same frantic business travelers for two years (in fact, we brought it to her in China). We have talked about it until I am blue in the face. Before the airport. At the airport. We’ve practiced. We’ve discussed. And we’ve yet to go on a trip where at some point, I don’t take my eyes off her or stop nagging her for just long enough for some unsuspecting person to trip over her.

The airport is just daily life, intensified. She walks in front of people and then suddenly stops short at home, too, but there just isn’t as much scope for it. It all has its roots in the same thing, and my fears do, too. Rory has poor impulse control and a very narrow focus that barely extends past the tip of her nose, and she doesn’t pick up on social cues because she just doesn’t care. I hope she’ll come to, at least a little. I don’t think this is adoption so much as personality. At some point in life, her fixation of purpose will serve her well, but right now it mostly serves to make me crazy.

This airport thing marks both the beginning and end of vacation. It’s the end because we weren’t leaving, but coming home from ten days in France and Barcelona, and the beginning because now that I’m home, with my pictures and my notes and my fresh memory, I can relive it all via blog. I’ve already got posts written, trapped in the laptop that won’t connect to wireless anymore, and I hope to free them tomorrow, after a jet-lagged sleepy night. Now, though, I’m losing coherence wit every word typed and I may well fall asleep over this one. I’m hitting publish and shutting my eyes.


7 Responses to “What If There’s Never a Normal (Social Cues, part two)”

  1. Gynn says:

    I hope you can give her a break. My mother was also obsessed with my ability to read social cues, and she turned it into a big, ugly thing, completely unnecessarily. I grew up after a while. We all do. It’s not such an egregious sin to be out of sync anymore. Geeks are cool now.

    When Rory is an adult, she could decide that her personality is suited for a completely different lifestyle, and that’s all right. Or she could grow into your current lifestyle. It’s her decision to make, and she’ll make it when she’s able to. Hang in there till then.

    And have a nice trip!

  2. bad mummy says:

    I’ve commented before about how much your Rory sounds like my Mook. She too wanders about with no idea that there are other people around here. I’m forever nagging her to ‘watch your space’ and having to apologize to strangers that she walks into or trips. I can’t even imagine taking her thru an airport; she’s bad enough navigating stores.

    For what it’s worth (and it’s not worth much considering no one in my day-to-day life understand the label), Rory sounds like a ‘spirited’ child. I’ve determined my kid is one, but it doesn’t make it any easier to parent her, even with all the advice found in books on parenting spirited kids. I just know that I’ve got to parent the kid I’ve got, not the kid I want.

  3. I get this. It is one of the reasons I loathe taking my youngest son anywhere crowded. I don’t know the answers, but I tend to worry that he will stumble through life this way. And he might, and it will drive me crazy, but I will have to keep my mouth shut and it will be fine.

  4. KJ says:

    I TRY to give her a break, I really do. And actually, France helped me to get there in a big way. She really came out of her shell there–I’ll write about it, maybe later tonight. If she’s not actually causing other people problems, I try hard to let it go…

    And I have the book about the Spirited Child! I’ll have to pull it back out. I got it for Lily. What’s really helped me to understand Rory better, oddly enough (and again, this is a post in itself) is reading the Ramona books aloud. Ramona is totally like this, she’s barely aware that others have thoughts or feelings and completely self-centered–but not in a bad way, just in a very natural way. I think that’s Rory. I don’t think she’s waltzing by people because she thinks she can, I think she honestly has NO IDEA. I don’t think I was ever like that–I love Ramona, but I never really related to her–but Rory is.

    I’m getting MUCh better about the whole thing. Mostly.

  5. I can’t remember if you have talked about Rory’s “family age” before, but I have found that idea to be very helpful when I look at L’s socio-emotional (interpersonal) delays/issues. It isn’t surprising that Rory might be acting in a self-centered way like a 2 year old if she has only been in your family for 2 years. It is easy to expect a kid who has scattered skills to act like the older end of the skills she has, but there may be very good reasons why she isn’t looking outward past her own self yet. (http://bit.ly/pbj2Nq)

    My L was adopted at 11 months and I still think she is pretty consistently about 6 mos to a year behind other kids in some areas, despite being right on the mark in others.

  6. Sarah Kate says:

    She’s learning, she’s little. Try not to worry so much about what other people think and how it reflects on you. And still like that at 18? Just stick to now for now, hey. Socially acceptable is well overrated, anyway Xx Sarah

  7. KJ (aka Lola Granola) says:

    Family age–a concept I UTTERLY mocked before we actually adopted (that was back when I knew everything) has been a huge help to me–or at least, it is when I manage to remember to let it). I have that book, but that’s a great reference in it: kids with “complex backgrounds.” Man, is that ever Rory.

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