Monday, July 13, 2009

No people, please.

Tonight, my 14-year-old suggested that I give him and his two buddies some money to plan and execute a birthday party for their brother, Zayd who turns 9 on Wed., July 15, and Ethan who turns 6 on Friday, July 17.

I thought that sounded fine.

So the two of us sat and chatted for a while, when Zayd came into the room. He sat down and crossed his legs - very adult like...

Zach: So Zayd. How would you like it if Carter and I planned a birthday party for you?

Zayd starts scrunching up his face -- eyes looking one way, lips pursed the opposite way. He sits wondering and scrunching for at least 30 seconds.

Apparently this isn't going to be as straightforward as we thought.

Zach: Zayd? What's up? Who would you want to invite?

Now, not only is Zayd scrunching his face, his legs are crossed and he has crossed his ankles too. His body language is trying to tell us something. I'm just not sure what yet.

Zayd: Uhmmmm..... (pause for 15 sec). Wellllll.... (another 30 sec pause)

I should stop here and explain something about Zayd. He does not like to be rushed... over anything. You cannot rush him to accomplish tasks, to eat, to talk, to decide, to tell stories... nothing. If you ask him to tell you about an incident, he'll start the story about 2 hours before the incident. This coupled with the fact that he takes 30 second pauses between each sentence... well... let's just say he is methodical about everything. At restaurants, if the waitress asks him what he wants to drink... he will contemplate in silence for at least a minute before answering. We have all become used to this - the waitresses on the other hand...

Zayd: Ahhhh..... (more scrunching and pausing and himming and hahhhinnng.)

Me: So... you don't want a party?

Zach: Or you don't know who you want to invite?

Me: Or you don't have anyone to invite that doesn't annoy you?

The reason I asked this was because this past school year, Zayd told me he can't find a best friend because all the kids he meets annoy him. He can't find anyone who doesn't annoy him.

By this time another couple minutes of scrunching have passed. Finally he speaks:

Zayd: Wellll... I don't mind having a party, but I don't want to invite anyone.

Zach and I stare at him in silence. Personally, I'm trying not to look alarmed.

Me: Okay. Okay. Uhmm... interesting. Well, Zayd. Most parties involve having people there. I don't know... eh...uhm... so... I'm not sure how to have a party without having people.

Zach: Do you just not want to invite your friends? Or you don't have anyone that you want to invite?

At this point Zayd is squirming and twisting and thinking... this is obviously some kind of mental overload for him. Finally he speaks:

Zayd: I am afraid of birthday parties.

Zach and I stare again at him in silence. This time it lasts a little longer and this time I am working harder to try to hide my alarm.

Me: Okay. Okay. That's fine. It's okay to be afraid of things. But, you go to other people's birthday parties -- do you not like going to those?

Zayd: Oh no. I like going to other people's birthday parties. I am just scared of my own.

Oh. Well. THAT makes sense. But I nod as if I understand.

Zach: I think I get it.

Me: You do? Really?

My other social butterfly gets this?

Zach: Yeah. I think it's about having to make sure that his friends have a good time. I don't think he wants to worry about that.

Me: Oh. Huh.


Me: Is that it Zayd?

Zayd: Welll..... uhm.... kinda.

Me: Okay.

Zayd: I just don't like people.

Zach and I stare at him again. He doesn't like people.

Zayd: I mean I like you and Carter and Zach and my family... but just not other people.

Me: Oh! I keep nodding in agreement. Like I understand - which I don't, but I am trying to understand. This sounds vaguely familiar... but whhyyyyy...

OH! Oh my God, of course! He's just like his father! God, I knew this conversation seemed familiar.


  1. it would seem obvious to me that you should just buy him a truckload of tape for his birthday and let him be happy. Or, arrange a tour of the 3M plant.

  2. no doubt.... glenda's got it!