Maybe I’m not normal. I know: you’re shocked by this revelation. I mentioned in last week’s blog post (So Much for a Diagnosis) that there are builders in at the moment doing various…buildery jobs around my parents’ house.
I have decided the world is split into two kinds of people: the kind of people who read the last sentence without any reaction and the kind who winced for me.
I hate having the builders in. I don’t hate the builders, themselves. Sure they have a tendency to leave the baby gates open and are terrible at communicating what job they might work on next but on the whole I imagine they are decent guys doing their job. I just don’t like other people being in or around the house in general. I can handle guests. They tend to be people I like, stay in certain guest-appropriate rooms and arrive and leave at pre-arranged or predictable times.
The builders, though, turn up before 8am every morning. It’s not that I’m not up by that time (ha! I wish; Tyger or Bear have me up well before 6 most mornings) but Bear is…clingy – yeah, we’ll go with clingy – in the morning. He tends to wake up in much the same way you’d expect someone who’s passed out whilst being tortured and awakes to find their finger nails are being removed might wake up. I get him his breakfast, sit with him on my lap whilst feeding him and then have to stay in the room for a good two hours or so because at the first sign I’m so much as looking towards the door you’d think someone was squeezing his fingernailless fingernails (I feel I should point out both my sons do, in fact, have all their fingernails still attached to their fingers).
Despite this, I still have to feed both cubs their breakfasts, let the dogs out and feed all cats and dogs. Doing all that whilst trying to minimise the screaming from Bear leaves very little chance for getting myself ready. I tend to just about manage to toast myself a bagel and pour a cup of tea. Past that, I wait until my mum’s back from taking my sisters to their school and college buses before I shower and/or get dressed etc. This means I’m still unwashed and in pyjamas when the builders arrive every morning. And we’re not talking sexy, silky pyjamas or cute matching fleecy pyjamas. We’re talking a mix of decade old mismatched pyjamas with holes in and the Wolf’s old long sleeve tops (often, also with holes).
|And just as creased as that, too.|
Then there are the practical issues. It’s pretty well known that people with ASD often like routine. Tyger gets very agitated if I try to give him juice instead of squash at lunch time (juice is for morning, squash for drinking with lunch and water at dinner…obviously). Having to spend almost entire days shut away in the – pretty small – dining room because the fireplace is being replaced in the living room is quite a big change. Not only that but between the dining room and living room are sliding doors so they have to be duct taped up to stop Baby Bear just walking through there. And the lack of space gives Tyger – who’s already prone to boredom and agitation – a sort of wild cabin fever.
The builders are also…unpredictable. Unpredictable means we don’t know when they might be doing work on the fireplace in the living room as opposed to putting screed down on the floor in the hall between the old part of the house and the extension or doing…something to the…something outside the bathroom window (seriously, they seem to spend at least 50% of their time up ladders at the bathroom windows and I drink a lot of tea so that’s not good) or knocking out a wall in the kitchen.
Did I mention the builders leave the baby gates open? Well, they also leave the front door open. Which is fine and sort of necessary when they’re going back and forth but the other day I thought Tyger was with my mum in the kitchen and she thought he was with me in the living room. He had actually put his boots on (he also had other clothes on for once and wasn’t in his boots alone because he had nursery that morning so I guess that’s something) and was lurking by the builders’ van. Now, before anyone decides to call Social Services – we’re talking big driveway with a gate then a quiet lane before your get to a road rather than a main road outside the front door. Still…not great.
Even ‘simple’ things like doing laundry has become a whole operation. Okay, laundry is not normally simple; it’s pretty complicated, actually. The usual challenge is trying to sneak away to actually put the laundry in the machine, hang it up and put it away (I don’t do ironing, if you hadn’t already deduced that from the creases in the picture above). If I do it whilst Bear is up and about the chances are he’ll climb on something whilst I’m out of the room (have I mentioned Bear climbs? On everything? I mean, on smegging everything! Chairs, tables, toy boxes, radiators, windowsills, desks, shelves, mantelpieces, the backs of sofas, counters…everything!) but if I try to do it whilst he’s napping Tyger follows me and talks really loudly right outside Bear’s room.
With the builders around this supposedly simple task becomes even more complex. As evidenced above, Tyger can’t be trusted not to wander off after the builders if he’s not carefully watched (probably saying, ‘Man? What are you doing, Man? Are you finished? What’s that? Are you going to do hoovering? – did I mention the builders have a HENRY HOOVER? Tyger was overjoyed to find that out). Plus, the kitchen is often off limits because of all the dust. Or I can get in the living room but everything’s been moved so the washing machine is impossible to get to and even if the washing machine is accessible the tumble drier has been unplugged and moved (the weather has, of course, been awful).
|I currently have washing in there…|
|What might look like a boring old vacuum cleaner to you is a superstar to Tyger.|
But even with all of that, the practical component is not the worst part. The worst part is simply the ‘people in the house’ part. I suffer from depression and anxiety. I also suffer from the arguably worse condition of Quintessential Awkward Britishness (or QAB). Now, the former conditions make me uneasy about having strangers wandering about the house because they might judge me when Tyger has a meltdown (for instance, when he clawed me – I still have the marks five days later – because I reminded him he’d already had a Babybel that day) or because I feel like I can’t actually catch my breath when they’re working outside the window of a room I’m sitting in. I mentioned I was hiding from the builders in my bedroom (with the curtains drawn) on Facebook and was asked why. It hadn’t seemed weird until I couldn’t think of a logical response.
I feel like I’m stuck in a real life game of Pac-Man. The builders are the ghosts and I wakka wakka wakka around the house trying to avoid them. I guess the white dots are tea. Or maybe the white dots are items of clothing I pick up as I make my way around the house and the cherries are tea? There are cherries in Pac-Man, right? But don’t they make the ghosts flash and the builders certainly don’t…errr…I believe I’ve mentioned my problems with creating metaphors and similes in the past.
But the QAB means when I fail to avoid the builders I’m faced with a conundrum. Should I speak to them? Is that polite or annoying for them because it stops them doing their job? Should I at least say ‘hi’? But if they’ve been in the same house as me for hours it seems weird to say ‘hi’. Ignoring them is surely rude. I normally settle for a strange smile that involves squishing my lips together. I do not mean a pouty duck face look. In fact, imagine almost the exact opposite of pouty duck face where the lips all but disappear and the chin becomes creased. I tried to take a photo of the lower half of my face whilst doing it for this blog post and decided I did not want such an unflattering photo out there for the world (or the 50 or so people who are likely to read this) to see and I also struggled to angle the phone camera so you couldn’t see up my nose.
Anyway, this ‘smile’ is often accompanied by an apology because, being British, I feel the need to apologise for pretty much everything I ever do. I a builder is about to walk through a door and waits to let me past, I apologise. If he’s busy working in a room and I have to get something from that room, I apologise. I also add in an exaggerated and hurried side step at least half the time even when this in no way helps.
Of course, all this QAB makes me feel like a right twat, which makes the anxiety worse, which makes all my QAB more forced and over the top, which raises my anxiety levels even more. It’s a horrible, ugly car crash of contorted facial expressions, muttered apologies and ‘thank you’s, sides steps, skips, little runs up the hall and sighs of relief as I finally get into a builder-free room.
The very worst part is the builders aren’t even British so are probably completely baffled by my behaviour and possibly on the verge of calling an ambulance for fear I’m having some sort of stroke every time I come across them.
I’m feel so flustered by even writing about it all that I can’t think of a suitable way of finishing this blog post so:
- *Weird ugly smile to you*
- I’ll just scuttle out of your way so you can go about the rest of your day
- (Argh, awkward unintentional rhyme of ‘way’ and ‘day’ sums up this whole painful experience.)
Phew, thank frack that’s over.