While we were at the grocery store the other day, Chef pointed out that when he had gone to another grocery store with his respite provider, there had been corn for only 10 cents an ear. When I asked if it had still been good, the response was, "Yeah! It looked really good. I don't know how it tasted but I was surprised at how good it looked."
Last night, his respite provider and I were on the phone and she asked how Chef usually has his corn on the cob. I said we toss them into the oven, husks and all, then just eat them. "No margarine or salt and pepper or anything?" she asked. I told her that we used to eat them like that, but have just been eating them plain since we started cooking them in their husks this summer. "So (Chef) doesn't like margarine or anything on his?" she asked. "Well, he used to," I responded, "and we have margarine but he hasn't gotten it out for anything in a long time. Why?" She went on to tell me that Chef had used a lot of margarine and salt and pepper on corn on the cob they'd had last time he was there, and said that's the way he eats corn all the time at home. I asked if that was the corn they'd found for 10 cents apiece, and I asked if it had been good. Chef's respite provider said it hadn't tasted very good and that Chef had said he didn't like it very much. I suggested that maybe that's why he'd slathered it in margarine; she said he'd done that before biting into any of it.
It's corn. Corn isn't a big deal. The questions that started surfacing, though, were along the lines of "why did he tell me he didn't know how it tasted, why did he tell me it had looked good though he'd told his respite provider he didn't like it, why did he lie about how he usually eats his corn" but the questions were quickly nudged aside by the comfort of knowing we've experienced this before on many, many occasions in varying degrees; not that non-truths about corn is an issue - it's the saying of so many non-truths about almost anything that is concerning.
Non-truths flow from Chef's mouth so smoothly and seemingly without a twinge of concern over whether or not he'll be believed. He will become very very angry if he thinks his words aren't believed about something he's done, but in the midst of speaking the non-truth(s), his facial expression is a picture of smooth-sailing and peaceful, childlike innocence. One teacher once told me, "I always believed he was honest right down to his little toes until he..."
There have been multitudes of flowing non-truths over the years about a myriad of topics; a teacher had given him six cookies so I should too, his respite provider had spanked him (I knew this hadn't happened; he had only been there a few minutes and had been on the deck with the respite provider's extended family the entire time, but he had been angry because she hadn't given him something he'd wanted), other kids had taken his lunch and eaten it (he had eaten it on the way to school and wanted me to bring him another one), his EA had taken him for a large slushie and then he got to finish the EA's slushie as well, he didn't know where the missing item was but would sure help look for it only to have the item to later show up in Chef's room (this scenario has played out many, many, many, many, many, many times), and the list goes on and on. And on. And - well, you get the picture.
Sometimes Chef is just outright lying. Like many children, there are times when he thinks he can adjust a situation to better suit himself if he lies about it - whether it be an attempt to get him out of doing something he doesn't want to do, or an attempt to shift the situation so he can do something he wants to do or get something he wants to get, or to get out of taking responsibility for something he's done that he shouldn't have. Sometimes it's just about whatever will make him look the best in a situation. When he was younger, there were many many occasions when it seemed as though Chef was specifically trying to cause dissention between adults. Sometimes he becomes fiercely angry if his lies are not believed.
Sometimes Chef is telling his version of what he believes to be true. Like any other person, Chef's truth is filtered through his experience and his memory and his understanding and his processing. Sometimes, Chef's understanding and processing and memory distortion fragment accuracy, not unlike a broken mirror that can't be repaired back to its useable state.
I believe that some of Chef's non-truths are just his way of trying to make conversation or participate in something and words come out of his mouth without a truth-checker.
Sometimes, I think Chef really doesn't know/remember and so is making it up as he goes along and giving responses that he believes the listening individual wants to hear.
And sometimes, I think Chef is just tired and wants to make a statement that allows him to leave a situation as quickly as possible.
There have been some "funny" stories in this area over the years. For those of you who do not understand how non-truths themselves could ever be considered funny or think that finding humour in a child's non-truths is disrespectful if that child has disabilities, please do not read further. Those of you who have lived with or worked with children living with non-truth challenges will know that sometimes you just have to chuckle.
When Chef was younger, food was a much greater area of challenge than it is today. One day, a loaf of bread was missing from the kitchen counter. Chef was in his room at the time and when I asked him about the bread, he said he didn't know where it had gone. We had a small dog at that point and during this brief conversation between Chef and myself, the dog jumped up onto Chef's bed, walked to the other side of the bed, pulled a loaf of bread from between the bed and the wall, dragged it across the bed, then jumped down onto the floor, dragging the loaf behind him. I turned and looked back at Chef, probably with raised eyebrows. His response? "I do not know what happened to the bread."
One day I was late picking up Chef from his elementary school. I usually parked right in the front on the street where he could see me as soon as he came out of the school door, but that entire area had been full when I arrived and I ended up parking in a side parking lot. I could still see the area of the sidewalk where Chef would end up once he walked out of the school When he came out, he paused, looked left to right, then went over towards the building next to his school. I tooted the horn but he didn't hear. He leaned back against the building and I noticed something odd. The top area of his pants was bulging. Greatly. I then saw him put his hand down into his pants, pull it back out, and put his fisted hand to his mouth. When he came over to the van shortly afterwards, I told him there seemed to be something happening *there* in *that* general area. He just kept looking at me and flatly replied, "No." I said that a boy his age would never have such a bulge like that and maybe we should go get it checked out. Long story short, throughout my brief conversation with him he continued to deny that there was anything going on with his pants - even though he had an entire cereal bag down there!
This blog was initially set up as a means of communicating with my son's team. Since then, I've heard from other parents with similar stories. If you are living with challenges or journeying alongside someone who is, you are not alone. There are many of us. I'm a single adoptive Mom (http://richesofsimplicity.blogspot.com/) of a young man who lives with many abilities and many diagnoses. We have journeyed together through many challenges and a few adventures over the years as my son has tried to find space in this world that makes him feel more comfortable, an attempt made especially difficult when living with Attachment Disorder, PDD-NOS (Autism), Developmental Coordination Disorder, ADHD, prenatal substance exposure, etc. Some of the strongest elements used in this journey have been music, visual arts, therapeutic parenting, team-connection, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, boundary-setting, communication skills, community-building, continual lifeskills training, and elements of Theraplay. (Click here for some written resources.) On this journey, there is laughter and tears and growth and hope. The greatest of these is hope.