This story, the one that I am about to tell, first needs a little background. Our John has Asperger's and this makes him quite astonishingly talented at some things and quite astonishingly inept at others. For example, take chores. He hangs the laundry. He loves to hang the laundry, all in stretched out in neat rows. He drops everything when the laundry needs him and I don't have to check if it's done right. He vacuums. He's the best vacuumer in the house. I always feel kind of like I'm watching Monk at work as he chases the dirt out of the corners and makes straight lines across the carpet. He's good.
But John is out of his element in the kitchen. There are too many decisions to be made and he can't break down the tasks without a lot of direction. A lot. This is too bad because after each meal it is his job to help Lauren with the dishes. Lauren rinses and sometimes John puts the dishes in the dishwasher. Sometimes he makes engine noises and slides the dirty silverware across the counter. Lauren washes and John dries unless he goes to put the wet towels in the towel bucket and finds his Harry Potter book and never makes it back to the kitchen.
On this particular day, John was on. He rinsed and sorted and washed and wanted Lauren to dry the dishes. On this particular day, Lauren was in the middle of Harry Potter and was nowhere to be found. This never happens. Never. But to listen to John you would think he was a galley slave and she a lady of leisure. "I've done all the work! Lauren has not helped a bit. It's not fair. She should be in here!" There was some stamping and pouting for emphasis. And some more stamping and pouting and then some stamping and pouting of my own.
"I don't want to hear it's not fair! Lauren will be out here to help in just a minute and you are waaay over-exaggerating, mister!" Right on cue, Lauren showed up ready to work but I was pretty steamed about the whining and had a little more venting to do. "Usually Lauren works her tail off while you just sit on your butt and flap your jaws at her!" (Yes, I used my megaphone voice. And no, John didn't really deserve it.)
Now, at that very moment, I noticed Claire a few feet away and coming closer with the phone in her hand. She calls her long-distance cousins every Saturday for a visit.
"Mom, no one answered the phone. The answering maching beeped."
Claire is not real quick under pressure so I asked her, "Did you leave a message? Did you hang up the phone?"
Claire looked at me, confusion written all over her face.
"Claire, hang up the phone! I'm sure we've left more of a message than I can bear to think about."
Claire hung up. I apologized to John, who really had done an admirable job in the kitchen. He apologized for stamping and pouting. Lauren dried the dishes and Claire got an in-depth lesson on answering maching ettiquette. And the long-distance cousins have yet to call back. I don't wonder why.