Last week Clark, Phil and I went to one of my favorite stores—The Dollar Store. I was looking for wrapping paper and storage containers. I found, in addition, a bouncy ball that would be fun to toss around when there were small children at our house which happened a few days later. We had invited a young couple with a three year old and a newborn to our house for dinner. They will soon be moving to Michigan and we wanted to spend time with them before they left. It did not take their three-year old long to find the ball and claim it as her own. Phil informed her that it was not hers, “it’s ours.” She repeated “my ball.” Phil took the ball while Cathy, her mother, explained it was not her ball. I said to Cathy that it was a lot like a three-year old and a six-year old interacting. He soon returned and had written on the ball our name and telephone number and then he let her play with it again. I’m not sure if Clark and Phil see themselves as adults who have some authority or if they think of young kids as their peers. It’s probably a mixture.
As I replayed this incident in my mind on my morning walk today I thought back a few years when a neighbor came to me to tell me that Clark (who was about 30 years old at the time) was speaking harshly to his young sons and their friends. They were playing in a tree house my #3 son built many years before on city property next to our house. I didn’t hear Clark’s conversation but I imagine he was telling them they couldn’t play there (because “it’s ours”) and they should go home. I apologized to our neighbor and then talked to Clark, explaining that even though his brother had built the tree house anyone could play in it.
The house across the street is for sale and it looks like a family with two young children may buy it. When we meet them I need to tell them about Clark and Phil, not just that they have fragile X (I always do that), but that they might get after their kids if they think they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing. I need to be proactive.