Yesterday, our friends Linda and Robert, and their son, Kristopher, came over for dinner. We fed the kids first, while we grownups visited in the living room, and then the adults took over the table to eat. Our kitchen table is too small to seat seven, and it works better for us to eat in shifts anyway. If we feed the kids first, then their demands are easier to meet, and they aren’t interrupting the adults.
After everybody went home, Scott and I put the kids to bed, and Scott started a load of wash. As he was getting ready to roll it over to the dryer, I heard him say, “Jessie, dearest?” in a tone that meant bad things.
“I’m already grouchy about work right now,” I told him. “So you better not have anything to say that I don’t want to hear.” And given that our washer is around the same age as Sam and the dryer older than Caroline, I could envision a lot of things I didn’t want to hear.
“Well,” he said. And by that point I had reached the laundry room and could see the problem.
“Is that glass?” I asked him. He was holding up the trash can in front of the washer picking white slivers off a set of Sam’s pajamas.
He said “I think we somehow managed to wash one of our plates or cups. See?There’s the rest of it.” And when I peered into the machine, there indeed was a collection of glass plastered inside the tub.
I confess, my thoughts flew immediately to little boys. We had all eaten on paper dishes(getting out the good china for company and all) except for Sam, whose food had to be microwaved. So it was pretty easy to deduce that the blue and white Corelle decorating an entire load of laundry had last enjoyed life as Sam’s dinner plate. The laundry room is just outside the kitchen door, and I thought Sam and Kristopher had thrown it in goofing off.
By the time we discovered the whole thing, the kids were all in bed. So I picked glass shards out of the clothes while Scott shop-vacced out the washing machine. Then, I fired off a quick e-mail to Linda, “Can you please ask K what he knows about the smashed plate in my washer?”
And when Sam got up this morning, I asked him the same question. After some discussion, he actually understood what it was I wanted to know. “Oh. We thought it was the sink,” he said. He hasn’t yet mastered the art of the simple lie, so I think he was telling the truth.
“We who?” I asked. “You and Kristopher?”
“No. Me and Sis.”
Sis, when queried, was too tired to give a cogent answer (she is not a morning person), and by then I had a sense of what had happened anyway and didn’t press her.
I dropped Linda a line, “K is off the hook” and told her what had taken place.
She wrote back, “Why now, after all these years, would they think the washing machine was the dish washer? It’s never been before right? They have never been told to put their dishes in the laundry room right?”
Well, no, but I also know that things that seem obvious to us neurotypical people can be painfully confusing to someone with autism. Plus, I can follow the squirrelly logic of getting the washing machine mixed up with the dishwasher. Mom and Dad put plates in white kitchen machine. White machines are dishwashers. Here is a white machine. It must be a dishwasher [aka sink]. I will put my plate in it.
After the fact, Scott remembered hearing a crash come out of the kitchen followed by quick “everything’s OK” reassurances while the kids were eating. I didn’t notice any such thing, but we were in and out of there the whole time, so it may have come at a time when I thought there was an adult in the room. I do agree with his retrospective sentiment, though. He said: “We just re-learned the hard way a parenting lesson we should never have forgotten in the first place: Investigate all loud noises.”