Yes, dating. Around the time Peter was eighteen, I found myself in the dating world. Having not been there for a very very long time, I decided to take on this task with a new vengeance. Living in the Internet world and the world of professional dating services, I and a friend decided this would be an "investment" into the future. So off we joined and proceeded to meet many nice professional males. This to us was a safe and convenient way to meet members of the opposite sex. And I, wanting to get my monies worth, met quite a few.
At that time, Peter was living with me and there was no concept of a group home. He was still in high school, and once he graduated...well, that would be the next step. So, at that time, the plan was that he was with me and would be with me on a daily basis. Now, when I met these fine men, I usually did not divulge that I had a child with special needs living with me on the first date. Why waste my time explaining, if that would be the first and last time I would be having any discussion with this person. However, if he passed the first round, then the second, and third followed. It was usually during that time, that I brought up Peter. Peter, became the barometer of my dating sessions. If I detected a hint of apprehension, than off the list you went. Very surprisingly interesting...that never happened, and these fine men always wanted to know more.
The next test came when they got to meet Peter. I, observant of all behavior, watched as how they addressed him, engaged him, and reacted to him. Now let me tell you, this is no easy task, as Peter is a man of few words, so engaging was an art form and I understood the enormity of the task. However, it was in the effort that I observed and evaluated. And once again, pleasantly surprised. Only one person, who could not stand up to the task, and for reasons I won't indulge, I understood why. However, reason aside....out the door, no more to be seen.
When I decided I had gotten my "monies worth" and the initial excitement of going to dinner every other night starting to wear off, I began to narrow down the field. So one "lucky" man got to have quiet candlelit dinners at my house while Peter decided to be Peter.
Many a quiet dinner included door slamming and those four letter words that Peter had picked up from the person who had previously lived in this house. (That will be made even more known when I tell you about Silent Night!). Peter, who usually was well behaved, may have been sitting on a tack or just hungry, but some of his behavior was definitely not date like material for anyone trying to impress. So, during these romantic candle lit dinners, I would calmly state..just ignore his behavior....and we did, as an occasional shoe may have passed our heads, or the door went slamming, or some #!*+ was said.
I was never questioned, never judged, and trusted that I knew what I was doing. Of course, I really never was quite sure I knew what I was doing, but I had to make a good appearance. He, also got very good at judging Peter's behavior and would haul out food before I could say..quick he needs something to eat.
Honestly, a true quality to me was tolerance of this. Not everyone would have the wherewithal to sit quietly as these events takes place. My Peter dating barometer helped me to select quality individuals who had hearts and understanding. And Peter, has made the dating experience most likely unique by any standards.