Chapter 2 of the novel I am working on for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
Henry called his mother from Dr. D’s office, to tell her that she needed to come and pick him up. He had just been suspended from school for throwing chairs in the counseling office. This has happened right after Dr. D had explained to him that Jack and Adam had been being sarcastic after all. They had been saying the opposite of what they meant, but not in the way Henry had first thought. When they said that the other kids thought Henry was cool and that they all wanted to be his friend and play light sabers with him, they had actually meant the opposite of this. They had meant that,“in their opinion” Dr. D said, “that Henry wasn’t cool, and that they didn’t think the other kids did want to be Henry’s friend, and they didn’t think the other kids did want to play light sabers with him. Now that’s just their opinion,” Dr D had told him. “They are probably wrong. There probably are other kids in your class that think you are cool.”
However, Dr. D did point out that not as many sixth graders shared his interests, because unlike Henry, some kids’ interests changed a bit every year as they grew older, so that by the time they were in sixth grade their interests were significantly different then what they had been in second grade. She said it was the same with friendships for a lot of kids, especially for kids who did not have autism or Asperger’s. Those other kids often changed their friendships regularly, just the way kids changed their interests over time or changed their style of clothes. This did not make sense to Henry either, who thought clothing styles were stupid. He had always liked to wear sweat pants since they were soft and comfortable, as long as the tag had been cut out. At the beginning of each school year, his mother bought him five pairs of new sweat pants.They were always the same color, blue, but just in the size that he needed that year. He could not stand throwing or giving away his old ones that had become too short, so his mother would put them away carefully in a specially marked box: “Henry’s Fourth Grade Pants” or “Henry’s Fifth Grade Pants.” She said she was storing them in the garage for him, although Henry had never actually seen where the boxes were saved.
He could tell Dr. D was sad about Adam and Jack being sarcastic, and that they had showed by their behavior (as she put it) that they were not acting in a friendly manner that day to Henry. Just like his mom, Dr. D wanted him to have friends, and kept encouraging him to ask people to “hang out” with him. Well, he had done it, and now Dr. D seemed to think it had not gone so well, and she did not think that his teacher was doing the sign up sheet for the weekend either, because, she had explained, his teacher knew the other students were teasing and did not want to come over.
He had started pacing and yelling in Dr. D’s office. She had asked him to take some deep breaths, and then she told him to sit down and then she said some other things too, but Henry did not hear what they were because he was screaming as loud as he could. He had run out of her office into the waiting area, and started throwing some chairs. Maybe that would show Jack and Adam that they should not mess with him like that, and show Jimmy that he was not a retard that should be bullied. He was strong and they should not be mean or bully him. After he had thrown the chairs, he sat down in the middle of the waiting area and started crying. Dr. D and Mr. Millerberg, the principal had come to talk to him. They said they understood that he was sad and angry, but that when he threw the chairs he had broken a school rule and he would have to be suspended for the rest of the day. They told him Dr. D would talk to Jack and Adam about their behaviors, and that Jimmy had lost his afternoon recess for bullying him.
His mother told him on the phone that she had to arrange to leave work, and she would be there in about half an hour. “It will be about a half an hour Henry, but I can’t be sure. It will be somewhere between twenty minutes and an hour, but don’t get upset it I’m not there right at a half an hour. There are some things about leaving work that I have to arrange before I can get there and I don’t know what the traffic will be like. Do you understand?” Henry said he did, although he immediately set the timer on his phone for a half an hour, hoping it would not take her any longer then that. Henry was worried that he might lose his hour of video game time he got every day after dinner, because they had a rule at home that if he “made a mistake with his anger” and became aggressive that he would lose his video game time for that day. Every day he “stayed cool” he earned a half an hour extra of gaming time that he could “cash in” on the weekend. So for sure he knew she would not think he had stayed cool.
His mother got there after forty-five minutes. Henry had started pacing after half an hour was up, even though Dr. D had tried to get him to do the deep breathing again instead of pace. She came over and gave him a hug, which Henry thought was a good sign. Her face was wet, even though it was not raining outside. He asked her “Mom, can I still have my hour of gaming time today? I didn’t hurt anyone, I just threw a chair.”
“Henry, whether you get to game today isn’t the most important thing right now. You need to take responsibility for how you handled this problem” she answered. Henry did not understand. She was wrong. Whether or not he got his video game time definitely was the most important thing to him. And he had just taken responsibility, because he had told her both on the phone and just now that he had thrown a chair. And she knew that, so Henry did not understand why she would lie like that.
He clenched his fist and put it in his mother’s face and said, “I’d better get my game time, because I didn’t hurt anyone.”
“Stop threatening me,” his mother sighed. “Come on, let’s go. We’ll talk about it in the car.” Henry saw that somehow she already had gotten his backpack and jacket, and he followed her to the car.
“Tell me what happened” his mother said. “Dr. D told me that some of the boys were being mean to you, and pretending that they wanted to play with you when they really didn’t.” Henry wondered if pretending they wanted to play was the same as being sarcastic.
“No, Mom” he said angrily. “They weren’t pretending, they were being sarcastic. Don’t you know anything? Sarcasm means you say the opposite of what you mean when you are trying to be funny. Jack and Adam were trying to be funny, and they said that everyone liked me and thought I was cool, but they really meant that they didn’t think anyone liked me and that no one thinks I’m cool. They thought that was a funny thing to say and they were trying to make other kids laugh.”
“That must have hurt your feelings” his mother said.
“It didn’t hurt my feelings” said Henry. “It made me mad that they were lying to me. When people are sarcastic they aren’t telling the truth. Real friends tell you the truth, they don’t lie to you. Jack and Adam aren’t my friends anymore because they lied to me. I got mad about that and I threw the chairs. They better stop lying to me, or next time I’ll punch them in the face. And that’s not a threat mom, that’s a promise! I took responsibility and I didn’t hurt anyone, so I should still get my video game time!”
“Well, it actually doesn’t matter, because we are not going to be home today any way. You probably forgot that I was going to check you out early today because we are leaving for Torrey for the weekend, remember? I was going to pick you up at two, so we could beat the rush hour traffic and get down to the cabin by dinner time. Now we’ll just leave a little earlier. We’ll go home and get our suitcases and then hit the road. Let’s just forget about Jack and Adam.”
“Can I bring my PS3?”
“No,” his mother said. “We’ve talked about that a million times before. When we go to Torrey we are going to have family time, and spend time outside. It’s not for screen time. You can play your DS, but only during the drive, and then it’s no screen time until we get back.”
“That’s not fair! You get screen time on your laptop! I hate going to Torrey.”
“As you know, when I use my laptop I am doing work for my job, I am not using it for entertainment. When we are in Torrey, we are doing other things for entertainment, like hiking, and cooking and spending time with our friends down there. Don’t forget that Alison will be there this weekend too.”
Alison had been Henry’s friend since they were in preschool. She lived in Saint George, but her mother had the cabin next to Henry’s in Torrey, and her mom made plans with Henry’s mom to try to go to Torrey at the same times each year, generally four or five times a year. They usually went for one or two weekends every fall and spring, and then for a week or two each summer. Alison did not lie to him. Sometimes she did not like to play Star Wars, or fight off dragons, but if she did no feel like playing she would just tell him. “Henry” she would say. “I don’t feel like playing Star Wars today. Let’s go for a hike and look for animal tracks.” And they would.
Henry knew his mother would not change her mind about bringing his Ps3. He did like seeing Alison, and he had been looking forward to their fall weekend trip. He was just mad after everything that had happened that day. So he decided to just not talk for a while, and to try to make the best of it, and hope that his mother would not take away his video game privileges when they got back home from Torrey because of the suspension. Hopefully by then she would have forgotten about it.