Thursday, January 6, 2011

Quirkiness

“I don’t get this question,” Tommy said. He was sitting at the dining room table, his homework in front of him. Both hands were clasped over his cheeks as he peered down at the paper.

“It’s not math, is it?” I asked, finishing up washing the dishes. I am awful at math. It’s pretty sad when I have to press in what 8X9 is in the calculator because I’ve forgotten. (72, by the way.)

“Not math,” Tommy grumbled.

Thank goodness. Math is evil. I went over to Tommy and saw that it was a story that he had to read and answer questions about. Easy enough. I love to read, so this would be simple.

“What question is giving you problems? I’m awesome in describing symbolism,” I said, settling down beside him. “Though sometimes I think a rock is just a rock in a story. It doesn’t have to mean eternal life or some other crap, you know?”

Tommy stared at me with saucer eyes for a few seconds. Then he went, “This question,” and pressed his index finger over it.

The question was this:

What do you think ‘his jaw dropped’ from the story means?

“Well, what do you think?” I wondered.

“I think,” Tommy began, scratching his head. “That it means that he needs to get to the dentist if his jaw dropped off.”

I stifled a laugh.

Oh, my beautiful, literal boy.

Because Tommy has Aspergers, he takes most things literally. If you ask him to give you a minute, he might start counting down from 60.

“That’s a good thought,” I said slowly. “But let’s look at how his jaw dropped is written in the story. See? Here, when it says his jaw dropped, what do you think it means? He seems like he’s....” Surprised....shocked.....say it, Tommy, you know....

But Tommy really didn’t know.

“Look at the story,” I tried again. “What do you think it means?”

Tommy threw his hands up in the air. “I don’t know! He needs to go to the dentist! I don’t get it!”

I ran my fingers through his hair. “It’s okay. We’ll figure this out.”

Tommy frowned. “I’m an idiot.” He’s been saying this lately and it hurts my heart.

“Tommy. You know that’s not true.”

“Then why can’t I know this?” He slammed his palm on the table.

“It’s....well, you know you have Aspergers. And what does that mean?”

Tommy sighed. “That I think differently sometimes.” He rubbed his eyes. “When I’m older, I’m not going to have Aspergers anymore. I hate it.”

I chewed my lower lip. “What did I tell you about Aspergers, Tommy?”

Tommy shook his head. He didn’t want to admit it.

I tentatively touched his arm. “What do you know about Aspergers, Tommy?”

“That,” Tommy started. “That I’ll have it. Forever. Unless someone develops a cure for it and I hope they do. Because I hate it.”

“But it makes you who you are,” I reminded him. “My quirky, wonderful boy. I mean, who wants to be normal anyway? I’m not normal.”

“I know,” Tommy said bluntly.

Oh. Well. Okay.

“And if someone doesn’t accept you for who you are, you can tell them to kiss your a—” Tommy stared at me, wide-eyed. “Your butt,” I finished. “But really, you are a smart, sweet boy. You’re my smart, sweet boy and I’m proud of you no matter what. Okay? So let’s tackle this homework question, how about it?”

“Tackle, like on football?” Tommy looked confused.

“What I meant to say is, let’s figure it out.”

In the end, Tommy figured out that jaw dropped did mean surprised. As he wrote it down, he mumbled, “But I still think he should see a dentist.”

53 comments:

  1. I agree with Tommy, it's a silly phrase. He seems like such a neat kid, you're very blessed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a good story. I've worked with kids with Asperger's who needed to learn idioms. It's always so interesting to hear the literal version when our minds automatically go to the other meaning. (I'm so tired, so I don't know what I'm saying.)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ah yes. Literal minds. Justin has a hard time with metaphors and sarcasm. They do NOT compute. And my husband still doesn't get that he can be sarcastic with the rest of us but can't tease Justin. He takes it VERY seriously. It's rough because the rest of the world operates in sarcastic metaphors and, no matter how hard we try, we can't change the world to fit their needs.

    :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just proves that we are not all alike. Thank goodness!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hugs. I know that even though the story seems funny because you are a great writer, this had to have been hard. You'll both been fine, better than fine really; you'll both thrive.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very frustrating!! Your poor kiddo. I think you handled it very well and that you have the patience of a saint.

    ReplyDelete
  7. how cute is he??!!!

    Poor kid. I had trouble with symbolism as a kid too and it was tough enough w/out having Aspergers.

    He's blessed to have Mom like you!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Silly kid. Dentists don't re-attach jaws.

    Wait, I think I missed the point.

    Ummm....good try but the story was faulty so it's a trick question?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I know you probably didn't mean for this post to have this effect, but I have tears pouring down.

    It's the little things that hit when dealing with my son who has his own way of thinking and doing things.

    You handled that well, mama.

    ReplyDelete
  10. awwww - this story really made me want to fly to your house and give your little boy a hug. He's such a sweet kid
    and his comment about going to the dentist made me giggle =)
    Sounds like you handled this perfectly =) He's so lucky to have such a smart and patient mother =)

    ReplyDelete
  11. My literal aspie started a collection of "strange" sayings that mean things other than what they say. Dropped jaw is on the list, as is Jump in a lake, Came unglued, 2 birds with 1 stone, That takes the cake, etc. Now he's an expert at them, but like lots of aspies, over uses them and can't help laughing EVERY time.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very impressive parenting skills there. Well done. And as always, well written!

    ReplyDelete
  13. CUTE! I'd want to go see a dentist, too, if my jaw dropped off! I really just wish I could make any difficulty he has go away, he's so sweet and smart. . . as his mom I can only imagine how you feel. . .

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a PRECIOUS Wonderful Boy!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I LOVE Tommy! I think it is too funny that he just said yeah to your comment that you are weird! Silly boy!

    ReplyDelete
  16. "It hurts my heart" is the perfect description. My heart aches for my little guy who struggles with ADHD. I can't tell you how excited I was when the Lightning Thief series played up all the positive attributes of kids with ADHD. The pride Prince took in that gave me a happy in my heart :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. we were reading "amelia bedelia" in storytime before we got out for Christmas. i had a kid who has aspergers and he did NOT get the jokes. i never really thought about how literally he thinks until right now!

    and i LOVE how he called you out for being "not normal". really though...what IS "normal"??

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ah... you write very well -- can definitely feel your feelings here. This hurt my heart too. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love Alison already referenced Amelia Bedelia - that was my first thought too! And Tommy shouldn't worry, quirky people end up okay!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Love this story ... you are a great mom, and that would have hurt my heart too. Go show em, Tommy.

    ReplyDelete
  21. He sounds like such a sweet, good-hearted kid. It's heartbreaking to hear him be so hard on himself.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ach. What a tough little boy your guy is. He's lucky he's got a great lady like you by his side to cheer him on.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Aw, Tommy is perfect the way he is!! Who wants to be normal anyway, I agree. Normal is boring, and also just a dryer setting.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh man, you totally Erma Bombecked me again. I'm laughing along but ended with a lump in my throat. Tommy and you are both lucky to have each other.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Poor Tommy - I know it's hard for him to "feel" different. At this age it's hard for him to realize what a wonderful, unique person he is - what a lucky boy he is to have such a wonderful mom who tells him how great he is often. x

    ReplyDelete
  26. Aw, such a sweet, sweet boy.

    ReplyDelete
  27. How cute, my girls don't have Aspergers but they are different and I tell them all the time that is what makes them special. xx

    ReplyDelete
  28. I love that you take his differences and make them special! You allow him to understand his "disability" without making him feel sorry for himself or "awkward". You are an incredible mother! I applaud you for the way you talk to him and relate to him! You are AWESSOMEEEEEE!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  29. haha - such a cute story. It is a silly phrase, we have a lot of them if you stop to think about it. I love viewing the world from Tommy's eyes - thanks for sharing his stories!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I love this story! I am a speech pathologist & weekly test student's ability to decipher the hidden meanings behind humor, sarcasm & idioms. It's not an easy task for them! I really enjoyed seeing your perspective on it with your "sweet, quirky boy".

    ReplyDelete
  31. Oh, Amber...you are such a good Mama. He is just too precious for words.

    Also wanted to say that I hope you do get a book deal this year - you have some mad skillz, woman!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Stabs my little heart when my kids call themselves stupid or idiot. :( Where's that easy button when you need it?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Aww...Tommy is awesome...and so are you. You have so much patience!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have the same problem with Sean. He's a little further down the Autism spectrum than Tommy. So he's still learning to read too, which he really really struggles with. Much less answering a question. And he's insanely literal.... ok, insane may be the wrong word to use here!

    But I know what you're dealing with. To let you know, they do start to get the hang of it a bit as they get older. My 19 year old has Aspergers and she "gets" it most of the time. She's also working at Staples, attending college part-time and renting a room from a family friend, paying her own rent and everything. She has a bright future - and so does your Tommy!

    ReplyDelete
  35. My 8 year old nephew was just diagnosed with Aspergers in the summer. He's a beautiful kid with a heart of gold. Solid gold.

    Couldn't ask for a better kid than that ;)

    All kids have their struggles and some have it far worse than others but that's what makes em special you know. I think that you reinforcing him is a beautiful thing.

    ReplyDelete
  36. He is a sweet boy...all being alike wouldnt be any fun anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Great story! I, the English teacher (who almost just started a sentence with "me"), was thinking of ways to help him with that one. I'm glad he figured it out with your help.

    ReplyDelete
  38. My oldest is EXACTLY like Tommy. I have held off on diagnosing him, because he is amazingly able to thrive in a classroom. But jokes, and surviving in this sarcastic house? Forget it. And I don't need to tell you that when I have to explain the joke, it's not funny....

    In our home, we just say we're wired different. And it's the ones who are "wired different" that always go on to do amazing things. Tommy will too. :) Amybe he'll cure Asbergher's...

    ReplyDelete
  39. That Tommy is sure lucky to have you for his Mama. And you...well, you already know how lucky you are.

    You are such a sweetheart. XO

    ReplyDelete
  40. Your son sounds so darling, and you sound like a great mother. So patient as you helped him figure out the answer.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of what it's like to have this syndrome. You are an awesome Mom!

    ReplyDelete
  42. You're a better person than me. I explain expressions to my daughter. She has her great memory, so once I do, it's stored away. I think it's great that you're trying to have Tommy pick it up by the context.

    ReplyDelete
  43. That breaks my heart a little, but you handle it so well. And I hope he does tell anyone who doesn't accept him to kiss his a-

    ...butt.

    ReplyDelete
  44. You do a wonderful job with him! Such patience.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Aw, bless him, you are such a great Mum xxx

    ReplyDelete
  46. Helping with homework is always a trial. I was actually okay at math when I was in school but now when I try to help my granddaughter with 8th grade algebra, I just want to beat my head against the wall. You are doing a great job!!!

    ReplyDelete
  47. The more I thought about it, the more I had to agree he's got a valid point.

    Kid's brilliant. Hope he figures that out sooner rather than later.

    ReplyDelete
  48. No joke, I cry EVERY TIME you write about Tommy being so hard on himself. He is such an amazing kid.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for the comment!

Share This

 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...