mad at you

The Mii Plaza

Katie was frustrated with her sister. She had just discovered that Brooke had once again erased her Mii (her custom designed avatar) from the Wii.

Brooke loves to make Miis. Lots of them. Hundreds of them. When she says that she wants to ‘play the Wii’, what she really means is ‘makes Miis’. She doesn’t actually play any of the games that the system is designed for, but instead spends as much time as we’ll let her creating Miis and manipulating them on the screen.

They walk in parades, gather in the Wii plaza, and wander here, there and everywhere. Eventually, the system runs out of room, so she deletes what she’s made in order to do it all over again. This time, Katie was convinced that Brooke hadn’t just erased her own Miis, but hers too. And she wasn’t having it.

In a big-sisterly huff, she declared her accusation. “Brooke,” she said emphatically, “you CAN’T do that. It’s NOT OK to make my Mii go away.”

Brooke squeaked a pained, high-pitched, “I’m sorry, Katie!” to which her sister quickly responded, “You always say you’re sorry, but you CAN’T keep doing this!”

I eventually stepped in as Brooke began to cry and Katie grew more frustrated.

Brooke shrieked again, “I’m sorry, Katie!”

I knew what Brooke needed to hear. And so did Katie, but she wasn’t giving it up.

“Brooke,” she said, “I know you want me to say it’s OK, but it’s not. It’s not OK.”

As Brooke yelled and Katie began to react again, I said, “Kiddo, I got this. I understand that you’re upset, and rightfully so, but let me talk to her, OK?”

I explained to Brooke – yet again – that she could only erase the Miis that she had made herself. I told her that if she erased Katie’s Mii again, she would not be allowed to play on the Wii for three days. And I told her that Katie was feeling angry and that was OK.

She began to cry and tried again. “I’MSORRYKATIE!” she yelled as one giant word.

“Brooke,” Katie said, ” I accept you’re apology because I love you, but it’s still not OK.”

Brooke was apoplectic. Katie knew exactly what she was doing. She knew that Brooke NEEDED to hear, “It’s OK.” It’s a script, you see. When someone says “Thank you” someone else say, “You’re welcome.” When someone sneezes, someone else says, “God bless you.” And for heaven’s sake, when someone says, “I’m sorry,” someone else HAS TO SAY, “It’s OK.” It’s the way it works. And Katie knows better than anyone, it’s the way – to Brooke’s mind – that it HAS to work.

Brooke began to spin her wheels. She wandered from one couch to another, bouncing between me and Luau. She asked me to tell her that if she cried she’d have to go to the blue couch. She then pretended to cry in my face. “Where do you have to tell me to go now?” she asked when I didn’t react quickly enough. I played along and sent her to the blue couch. The process seemed to soothe her frayed nerves.

And then it happened. Katie turned to me with a red face and wide, dewy eyes. “Um, Mama?” she said, quickly looking down at her feet. “I found my Mii. It looks like she didn’t actually erase it after all.”

She started talking a mile a minute.  “I don’t know how it happened, Mama. I swear I looked everywhere for it and I even put them in order to try to find it but it didn’t show up and now suddenly here it is and I just don’t know how that happened but I’m really sorry because I got so mad at her and now here it is after all and she didn’t actually make it go away and I SWEAR it wasn’t there a minute ago.”

I looked over at Brooke, now bouncing feverishly on her favorite exercise ball. The whole time, she hadn’t said a word. Having been accused of something that she hadn’t done, she had never made an attempt to defend herself. She had simply said, “I’m sorry.”

I wondered if she had understood. I wondered if she’d thought that she really did do it. I wondered if she got it now. I wondered if the whole dang thing had just been a confusing jumble of words.

Katie apologized to her and gave her the Wii remote. “Here, Brooke,” she said tenderly, “you play now, OK? I’m really sorry.”

Brooke took the remote and headed back to the Wii plaza to watch the parade of Miis. As she settled in, she issued a declaration.

“I’m mad at you, Katie.”

I was in knee-jerk referee mode and I stepped in without thinking. “Brooke,” I said, “that’s not very nice to say.”

Even before I’d finished the sentence I regretted it.

It was Katie who spoke next.

“Actually, Mama, I think it’s a pretty great thing to say. I mean, think about it. She kinda SHOULD be mad at me. And she SAID it. She didn’t YELL it. She didn’t DO anything about it. I mean, she could have thrown something or screamed or done that pushing thing that she does in the air, but she didn’t do ANY of that. She just SAID, ‘I’m mad at you.’ I mean, that’s pretty awesome, don’t you think?”

Of course I did. I told her to carry on without me and just let me know when it was time to pay the bills as I obviously wasn’t needed for anything else. She rolled her eyes and we both laughed.

And then together, we told Brooke how proud we both were that she could tell us how she felt and how wonderful it was that she was able to do it so calmly.

“I’m mad at you.”

If only we all had the good sense as to simply say those words when we felt them. Imagine how much energy would be saved – how much brooding and festering and resentment would be avoided.

I sat back and took it all in, realizing that once again my children had taught me so very much more than I could dream of teaching them.

Don’t mind me, I’m just here to pay the bills.

26 thoughts on “mad at you

  1. What a great story, Jess. We parents can so totally get in our own way sometimes, with or without autism as part of our family mix. A long time ago, I was frantically searching for my keys b/c I had to leave for the grocery store, something on a super-long list of things to do that didn’t have time built in to hunt for keys. Tenley could barely talk intelligibly but kept saying “purse, purse” and I kept blowing her off, having looked there. After what seemed like hours but was probably more like fifteen minutes, I went back to my purse and took a more thorough look. You can guess what I found. Sigh. If only I had shut down my panic mode and listened to what my kid was saying……. Great job Brooke on expressing herself and Katie on supporting her.

  2. Sometimes I think we need to get out of the way and allow the kids to teach us, cause very often they are spot on. Katie, WOW, just WOW….your doin okay DOAM:) Luau too:)

  3. what a great picture! i love the pictures, especially this one. i can relate once again on so many levels. my NT daughter loves to play with the mii’s too. however, my daughter with autism S also needs this script to settle her down. after she says sorry, she needs to know it’s okay, fine, she’s good. and we usually comply. but one day, i was furious. she has a need to remove tags from new things as soon as they are out of the bag. i’ve had things in bags even at the door to return and the bag does missing, the tags are removed and the items are in the respective closets. i had addressed this before, but within a week S did this again, and it was impossible to return the items that did not fit. i told her that was bad. she insisted, i’m good, i’m good, sorry. i said yes, you’re good but that was BAD and it’s NOT OKAY. and i went to bed. it had been a tough day. she then initiated good night mom, i want to sleep with you. which, in my house, is unheard of. her sister T loves to cuddle in with me, and i ALWAYS invite S even though T wonders why i do, S never ever ever wants to join us. because i would not say it was okay, she wanted to sleep with me! i said, okay, come sleep with me, and then T joined us, and S was happy. i might have said it was okay at that point, it was such a moment. maybe script,but SHE GOT IT. and things now remain in bags and tags, even hers, stay on!

    also, T has blamed S for several things that were moved in her room because S does love to clean rooms, and on the rare occasion that we find the item later (because S only puts things away, never “loses them”, we feel bad. it is unfortunate that she doesn’t defend herself, like brooke. i’m sure she (s) knows she didn’t do it, but doesn’t have the language.

    your katie is obviously quite gifted and so very mature. continue to enjoy them. and tell us everything. 😀

  4. ok, so once again I am in tears, I sit and read some of your post and just cry. I have seen similar play out so many times. That is awesome…love seeing those moments when they just get it! Way to go girls!
    Love the miis, my daughter makes her and makes sure everyone else in the house at the time makes one too. We now have had miis for everyone we know! And I love seeing the miis all lined up, my daughter has littlest pet shops, not sure if yours does. She loves them, she can group them so many ways (all cats, dogs etc in groups or grouped by amount of legs, or by solid or printed…so many possibilities!) They are a stress relief for her.

  5. Katie is so mature beyond her years. I don’t know many adults who could handle the situation like she did, I don’t even know if I would. I kind of have a knee jerk response to someone telling they’re mad at me. It’s something I’ve never been able to handle very well. It makes me scared to be honest. It makes me feel like my world is falling apart. I’ve never quite been able to grasp the concept that someone can be mad at you but then you’ll make up and it will be okay later, I need it to be okay *right now* or I go crazy. Probably one reason I go out of my way to try to avoid making people mad, lol. I suppose if someone told me they didn’t like what I did, and add on to that, but add on the end that they are not mad, they are just…. sad, frustrated, dissapointed etc but they still love me….it would be okay. It’s like I have this fear of relationships being severed over small things that is probably not natural to have, but oh well. I wonder how many other autistic people feel like I do.

    • You know, when the shoe is on the other foot, Brooke will actually ask Katie, “Do you still love me?” It’s part of why Katie said to her, “I accept your apology because I love you, but it’s not OK.”

      Brooke gets very, very (very!) upset when she knows people are angry – hence the spinning her wheels and pacing between me and Luau etc. It would be interesting to ask around.

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