Usually, it's because he has failed to engage the filter between his brain and his mouth. He's very blunt. He's very no nonsense. He doesn't sugar coat and he doesn't prevaricate.
These are not necessarily bad qualities to have, but they need to be tempered by diplomacy and tact, neither of which he currently posesses. Whether this is something that will come to him with maturity is anybody's guess.
In the meantime, I've become accustomed to awkward silences and accusatory glares.
Once, Pubescent One was invited to spend the night with a friend who lives across the street. Husband and I denied the request because we did not feel that the child's parents showed good judgement on previous occasions.
We were truthful with Pubescent One about the reason for our decision, but explained that it might make his friend feel bad to know how we felt. So we decided on a plausible excuse which Pubescent One delivered politely and convincingly to the child when he came to the door.
No sooner had the lie died on Pubescent One's lips than Diminutive One piped in.
"Our Mom and Dad don't think your Mom and Dad are very responsible." he said, matter of factly.
The poor child turned eight shades of red, mumbled incoherently, and removed himself posthaste from our front porch.
So now you understand what I deal with.
Despite many lengthy explanations both with us and his therapist, he just doesn't understand why honesty isn't always the best policy. He just doesn't understand the greater implications of speaking his mind without regard to social niceties.
Thus, the problem is ongoing.
I do have to say, however, that sometimes, this little...quirk, of his works to my benefit.
Recently, on a visit to RidiculouslySmallSouthernTown, an old friend stopped by the in-laws' house to see Husband. He and Husband had once been the very best of friends, but hadn't seen each other since high school nearly 25 years ago.
I took an instant and intense dislike to him.
The man talked for 40 minutes without pause. About himself. Everyone in the room was held captive by courtesy as he droned on and on about his exploits in the Army and his prowess as a drill instructor and how all his men hated him for his toughness but by God it got them all out of Iraq alive.
I pegged him for an arrogant braggart and sat silently seething about the fact that he couldn't stop listening to his own voice long enough to ask Husband one single thing about what had been going on in his life for the past twenty five years. Not one.
When Husband introduced me and the boys, he scarcely acknowledged us. His eyes flicked over us with disinterest, he mutted a hasty "how're ya'all doin'?" and continued talking.
Eventually, people began to get up and leave; ostensibly to use the bathroom or refresh a drink, but none of them ever made it back to the living room. I stayed, just because I was interested to see if he was ever going to stop.
So did Diminutive One. He was and is enamored of all things military, and so, he was riveted by the man and his stories.
I've told Diminutive One many times that he would never cut it in the military. The child is simply but profoundly incapable of obeying a command without question or debate. He can't do it. Can. Not. Cannot.
If, for example, he was told to make his bed in such a way that a quarter would bounce off the topmost blanket, (a common military requirement if we are to believe the movies) he would inquire as to the relevance of that request. He would also suggest several ways to achieve the same effect with less effort, or, failing that, an alternative for measuring the tidiness and precision of military bedmaking technique.
I am quite certain that Diminutive One would drive even the most seasoned and stalwart drill sergreant into a fit of womanly hysterics.
At one point, the man paused for breath long enough for Diminutive One to interject a comment.
"My Mom says I'd never make it in the military." he declared.
"Oh really..." inquired the friend, "Why is that?"
I expected him to say something about not being able to do as he's told. But instead he said, with great pride....
"Becuase I'm a LEADER, not a FOLLOWER."
Thus ensued dead silence for the first time since the man walked into the room.
He looked at me and I looked at him and we both saw the distaste in the other's eyes. I think he thought he was going to stare me down, but I have children. I have perfected the gimlet eye. No mere drill sergeant can out glare a MOM.
Tearing his gaze away from mine, he coughed and said to Diminutive One,
"Well, uh, son, the military isn't for followers, you know. We need strong men with leadership qualities."
At which point Husband, who had read my body language like a neon sign within the first five minutes of the man's monologue, broke in to ease the tension.
"Well you know, M, I think he'd do fine if he could go in as a 5 Star General. But barring that, I'm pretty sure he'd be court martialed for insubordination before boot camp was even done."
The man laughed politely, but the wind had been taken out of his narcisstic sails.
Diminutive One was oblivious to what he had done of course. He always is. But I caught Husband's eye over his head and observed the tiniest hint of his trademark smirk, a trait that he shares with Diminutive One. I rolled my eyes ever so slightly and Husband stifled a snort of amusement.
Later on the drive home, Husband said..."So, uh..you didn't care much for M, huh?"
"No..." I admitted, "but lucky for us, Diminutive One took a real shine to him!"
He smirked again.
"Yeah. We should get those two together again soon."
"I wouldn't hold my breath dude. I don't think he's a fan."
And so, I am forced to admit that sometimes having a child who is egregiously lacking in social skills can be a boon in certain situations.
Funny how you can make lemonade...innit?