My biggest problem, I feel, is that I miss the obvious. I can sometimes see a lot within a situation which other people miss - particularly if its a repetitive process - but I really do have a blind spot for the immediately obvious and the long-term consequence.
Today's example is this: Wife and I were talking about the fact that school happens again in about 10 days, and she was saying she's not entirely looking forward to going back to seeing all the other parents and having to deal with them, and I jokingly suggested she find a job that pays the same as mine and we swap. She laughed a little, then said "if I thought you could handle it, I would give it some serious consideration".
I was a little taken aback. "what do you mean?" I asked "I can certainly do the housework and get the kids to and from school". "Yes," says wife "but can you cope with the parents? Can you cope with the small talk? Can you deal with them watching you, how you treat your kids, judging you?"
"Dead easy," says I, "this is where I have the advantage of not giving a fuck what other people think of me". At that point, eldest daughter comes into the room and announces she needs the loo. Cue a break in conversation.
When wife comes back she says "I find it hard sometimes that you completely dismiss things that I think are important. I don't make small talk to impress people. I don't often want to spend time talking with them, and I don't really care about them judging me, but our daughter has Autism and they will judge that, and they will judge her, and the only way that we can try to break down the barriers caused by her being different is by being friendly and accepted. She is going to need friends, and we can't afford to alienate the parents of people that she wants to be friends with."
And with that statement I suddenly understand. Her concern for how she is viewed is nothing to do with her, or with me, but to try to ensure that there are people watching out for our eldest when we're not around: people who will accept her odd little ways rather than trying to change them, people who will accept her, not ostracise her and most importantly try to make sure that people see her first and foremost as a lovely little girl, not some sort of disabled weirdo.
And without that conversation, I never would have understood. I would just have gone on thinking that she spends too much time worrying about what other people think of her, and not understanding why.
I love my wife. In all the world she is the only person who has ever been able to get me to see someone Else's point of view, and right now i think that might be the only thing that will enable me to be the dad I need to be.