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?
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.