An Argument

Most parents hate arguing with their kids. I know I do. I don’t like to argue with my daughter about whether she should clean out the litter box because she knows it is her responsibility. But she will argue. She hates cleaning the litter box but, hey, who doesn’t? She’s not nasty about her arguments, just very passive-aggressive. I can tell her to do it and then I have to check to see if she has done it. Generally, this can go on for a bit because she takes advantage of my distractions (washing the dishes, writing, editing, helping her brothers with homework), and hopes I’ll forget or not notice.

The one person I have never argued with is Peter. Peter’s autism makes it difficult for him to sustain a conversation so I have never expected an argument from him– but he surprised me recently.

I needed to run errands but Peter wanted to stay home. He was hiding out in his room and I went upstairs to get him dressed. (Like many autistic kids, he doesn’t like to stay dressed. He will, fortunately, keep his underwear on while home.) When I told him we were leaving to do errands, the conversation went something like this:

Me: Peter, we have to get you dressed. Mommy needs to go to the store.

Peter: I’m gonna stay here.

Me: No, you have to come with me. I can’t leave you here by yourself.

Peter: No, I’m gonna stay here.

Me: No, Peter, you’re going to get dressed and come with me.

Peter: We’re going to get in the car, drive around, and come back here.

Me: No (laugh), we’re going to go to the store.

We went around like this for a couple of minutes until I finally convinced him that he needed to get dressed. My daughter wanted to bribe him with cotton candy from the dollar store but I don’t like bribing Peter to get him to do things. He needs to learn that he has to do things because he needs to not because he will get a reward afterward. He will not always be rewarded for what he has to do and I don’t want him to think otherwise.

It was funny. I never thought I would get into an argument with Peter. Or if I did, it would be after years more of therapy.

You never know.

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Laura Echevarria

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