So Nerd Child casually slipped into the conversation that a male friend of hers would be staying over at Dysfunctionality house next week.
Just like that.
My Mumdar was alerted to something definitely very fishy behind that statement, but I initially ignored it – because I was busy. You know what it’s like when you’re multi-tasking? At the time, I was downing a bottle of wine in preparation for Kurt’s parents evening, and so couldn’t possibly be expected to think clearly.
Certainly not straight enough to grasp the obvious, underlying implications, anyway.
Kids can be selfish like that. They always choose the worst moments to dump something huge on you.
But then a sixth sense, (possibly the so-far elusive ‘parenting’ sense) sniffed out the teenage angst behind her words.
‘What did you say?’ I eventually asked, when it finally hit me that my daughter might actually be trying to ‘tell’ me something quite important, (and once again I was failing dismally in my role as confidante).
‘This friend’s coming to stay over,’ she repeated, looking in obvious pain.
‘But friends stay over all the time,’ I said, ‘so what’s the problem?’
‘Well…this one hasn’t met Kurt before,’ she stammered.
My fuddled brain finally began to make the connections Nerd Child’s already had. (To do this, I had to think of it how NC would be thinking, formulaically):
NC + potential boyfriend + good impression + KURT!!!!! = DISASTER!!!!
So before I could move into any potential mother-in-law mode, of planning extended family Sunday lunches, arranging their wedding, knitting booties and putting my grandchildren’s names down for Skeggs, it suddenly dawned on me why she might be a little anxious about this impending visit.
Her sibling baggage.
‘Okaaaaay,’ I started, my hackles beginning to rise in defense of our misunderstood (and quite obviously) mad-as-a-hatter son – her brother.
But then I saw it; the innate fear behind the usually cool, calm exterior. Nerd Child was actually terrified of Kurt showing her up – this guy must be a bit more important than the previous victims of her lair.
The siblings of kids with special needs are often forgotten about, even though they can be as affected as the parents by their sibling’s needs, and Nerd Child is no exception. Kurt is a tour de force in our house; his mood dictates the ambiance of the house; his noise is always in the foreground; he creates the eggshells that we all walk on.
For a more reserved, cerebral teenager like NC, her ADHD brother’s presence, the extreme way he lives his life and the way in which he manipulates the family, must be highly stressful. It’s not normal to see your 16 year old brother stomp naked through the house, to have to go out with him in just his pajamas, to miss events because he refuses to come at the last minute……
‘Tell me what I need to do,’ I asked her.
‘You mean, because sending him away to fight the war in Afghanistan or locking him in his room might not be considered humane?’ she joked.
‘Yes, because no matter how difficult life with your brother can be, he is part of your family and you must never be ashamed of your family,’ I replied.
The history of NC, Kurt and any of her potential suitors has been a little fraught. Kurt has three major loves in his life – having an audience, older male mentors and cigarettes – (this is quite typically ADHD behavior). So when a potential suitor bravely crosses the threshold of Dysfunctionality House, eager to please and bond with NC’s younger brother, Kurt latches onto him like a newborn to a nipple, often leaving NC out in the cold. If the guy plays a musical instrument, shows an interest in Top Gear or smokes, NC is doomed. Within 24 hours, her brother will be sharing the guy’s bed, discussing the merits of different bands with him, forcing earphones in his ears at full volume to MAKE him listen to them.
It’s going to take a certain type of guy to take on Kurt Nerd Child with her particular sibling baggage.
Her statement to me was about us needing to make some ground rules now for such occasions – to prioritize her needs for a change.
I immediately recognized that this would involve blackmail, negotiation and lots of money and/or Coco Pops.
She handed me her list of rules for Kurt:
- No nudity
- No jokes about her breasts
- No sex jokes (in general)
- No playing songs and forcing the poor guy to listen to them with threatening behaviour
- No shouting, screaming, singing (especially the ‘Big Penis’ song) or jumping up and down for no tangible reason
- No inviting him to smoke ANYTHING
- No dressing of aforementioned victim suitor in Kurt’s spare Tigger or Eeyore onesie.
They sounded like reasonable requests to me.
But upon further consideration, we decided to arrange for Kurt to sleep over at the house of a fellow lunatic.