Nice Kid, Potty Mouth

Yesterday as we were leaving school, a friend of Mister Man’s called to him as we were walking to our car. Hey, Mister Man!  Come over here.  You know what “Johnny” did today?  He beat up my a$$.  Fortunately, Mister Man was currently in his own little world and completely missed his friend talking to him, instead focusing on trudging along the sidewalk to our car.

I, however, turned around to the boy.  With a smile on my face, I asked him, Ahhhh, what was that Mikey? while making the throat slashing gesture.  All of a sudden, he got “that look” on his face and said, Uhhh I mean he beat me up.  And that is what he meant.  And he wasn’t trying to be a potty mouth.

If you take a look at that first sentence once again, you’ll notice that the grammatical structure is a little off for that particular colloquialism.  Mister Man’s friend – like Mister Man himself – is on the spectrum.  And socially things don’t always click.  It’s led to all sorts of issues in and out of school for both boys, though the progress they’ve made is amazing.

I’m good friends with his mom, but I debated whether or not to tell her about this little incident.  I didn’t want to simply tattle on her son because all in all, one relatively minor swear word isn’t a big deal.  In the end, I did send her a text to let her know verbatim what I heard for a few reasons.  First, I’d want to know if Mister Man were swearing, especially around adult.  Second, I know there have been issues with him getting in trouble for swearing and other disrespect at school that she’s been working on.  And most importantly, forget the swearing side of things – apparently something happened at school today with another kid beating him up, and she needs to know about that regardless if she didn’t already.

My friend called a little while later, and yes, she was glad that I’d told her because the incident with “Johnny” had happened at recess, and it sounds like it was hidden by both boys.  And her lesson about not swearing?  She knows that it isn’t sinking in, and she can see the context where he did swear – not realizing that it isn’t something to just throw out there, simply because he hears it all the time from his peers.  While his peers have figured out that you don’t swear at school or in front of adults, “Mikey” hasn’t quite determined that “teachers aren’t his peers” as his mom put it.  He is still lumping them all together.

So, whew, I made the right call there – and I would have wanted another parent to do the same for me were the situation reversed.  As it is, Mister Man took the sticker off an apple this morning and pulled and stretched it before showing it to me.  Look, Mom.  Doesn’t this sticker look screwy?

Stretched out produce sticker

Perfect opportunity for me to start having the conversation with him about words we don’t say in school or around adults – not that “screwy” is a horrible word, though it doesn’t sound pretty coming from a nine year old’s mouth.  I’m hoping that the rule of “if you don’t hear Mommy using the word, it isn’t one to use around adults” sinks in before he starts getting into trouble at school for a potty mouth when he learns the real swear words, but I’m not counting on it.

For as smart as he is, those social rules just don’t make sense to his overly logical brain.  Score?  Asperger’s 1.  Mommies 0.

In the interest of full disclosure, this post is part of the From Left to Write book club where we received a copy of “Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives” by John Elder Robison.  Instead of writing traditional reviews, we write posts inspired by the books we read.  I was not compensated, and all opinions remain my own.

Raising Cubby


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Comments

  1. I think you handled that situation well. My boys picked up some slang in school that I wasn’t crazy about, but generally they don’t swear. I have heard #1 and #3 use “freakin,” which I really don’t like, but what can you do when they are in their 30s? Oh, and also, now that they are in their 30s I have heard #1 and #2 say, “What the hell…” That kind of shocked me. At least those phrases are rare. They didn’t learn any of that at home. Keep up those high standards!

    • Yeah, it’s hard to tell them what they can and can’t say when they’re in their 30s. I don’t swear in front of my mom though (and rarely otherwise – so you KNOW I mean it when you hear it) ;)

  2. Good job, mom! It’s hard for kids to understand why some words aren’t socially acceptable, and why some people are ‘allowed’ to use them and others aren’t. The best we can do is remain consistent about what our family expects, and hope that they follow our lead.

    • I really hope that the example of “if you don’t hear me say it, don’t say it yourself” works. But my parents have gotten him in the habit of saying “What the…” and “What the heck” that drive me batty. And I’m starting to hear the “Oh my God” way too often, too. Keep reinforcing and reinforcing.

  3. I would want to know if my son was using questionable words and/or had a physical alteraction at school whether or not on the spectrum – good for you for following your instinct and telling the other mom! The potty mouth stuff from school is already driving me crazy and we’re only in preschool… Sigh.

    • Fortunately we don’t have a lot of it from school yet – or at least I’m not hearing it at home! But it’s amazing the things that I’ve heard come out of other kids’ mouths, including at Scout meetings! Imagine what your baby will have heard by the time preschool rolls around with big brothers!

  4. As the parent of an almost 5 year old who is in school 5 mornings a week now, I can relate to this, Asperger’s or not! My daughter has picked up all kinds of things that she didn’t learn at home, including, much to my mortification, the lyrics to “Sexy and I Know It,” which she showed off at the swimming pool. I had a heck of a time explaining why it was inappropriate, in a way that was appropriate for her. Oy.

    • Lyrics to Sexy and I Know It? Yeah, that was what the gym teacher chose as music for kids to use as part of their dance lessons in gym. I was… shocked that this was an option, needless to say. It is so hard to explain why things aren’t appropriate in a way that isn’t appropriate, isn’t it?

      • Seriously… And what a thoughtless gym teacher!

        • Yeah… I was a little surprised when the wee ones were at the breakfast table talking about the song they voted for in gym. Huh. The only thing I can say is that her youngest is a senior in high school this year, and apparently she’s forgotten what they do and don’t know when they’re little. That said, ALL the kids knew the song and that was what they voted for. A friend a couple years ago had her preschooler come home singing “I’m 60 and I know it” and she couldn’t figure out what he was talking about… until she did.

  5. I’m with Lisa. I’d want to know if my children were using language that isn’t appropriate. Especially at the age of 9. Yikes!

    • There are parents who absolutely don’t care – and I’m amazed by how many – but I know this mom does. It’s so hard when it’s all around us, not just the swearing but so many influences that cause them to grow up sooner than they need to.

  6. Good call letting the other mom know. I am one who would also like to know what my kid is saying around others–adults and kids! Sadly, though, I’ve had experiences where it’s clear the other parent did not appreciate being told what her child was doing/saying.

    • Absolutely! There are parents who want everyone to keep out of their business, and I can understand and respect that. Had it not been a parent I was close to, I may have let it be for just that reason. It isn’t like I have perfect angels either – but I want to know when they aren’t doing what they should be!

  7. My autistic son is non-verbal, so this is not an issue for us…yet. But I also have a typical child and whenever she does something that needs some figuring out or discipline, I can’t help but think that it is nice to have to deal with the “normal” stuff of childhood (as opposed to IEPs, insurance, etc.). This is one of those interesting parts of life where autism and non-autism worlds collide. You seem to be doing a good job navigating!

    • Oh amen, Jennie! There are times when I’m so grateful for the “normal” chaos and wish I could avoid all the therapies and IEP meetings and everything else. I’m working on the navigation, but I know I’m not always succeeding as well as I’d like to be.

  8. My biggest problem as a parent is not just cleaning up my own act, but not laughing when my kids don’t. I know it’s not a laughing matter when a little (or not so little) one curses, but sometimes it just hits me in such a way that I don’t make the best decisions.;) Let’s hope my kids all turn out better than their mom.

    • Well yeah there is that part of it, too :) There are times when I have to turn away when they say something that is just OFF but hilarious – I have a post coming up about that once I take the right picture for it. It’s the how and why I had to teach my children what circumcision is.

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