Sunday, September 26, 2010

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Poopyhead

Anyone who says autistic kids have no sense of humor has clearly never met my son, Jacob.  That’s the danger in making generalizations about autism. As the old saying goes: if you've met one kid with autism... you’ve met one kid with autism.  

Jacob right now is in an awkward phase of wanting to relate all the time but having no sense whatever for what are appropriate and inappropriate ways to connect. He has no innate inner compass  to guide him, and taking lessons from his often highly inappropriate twin brother Ethan is, shall we say, problematic.  

A while back Ethan taught Jake to say "poopy-head" which is why when Ethan comes to me complaining that Jacob is sing-songing the phrase "Ethan is a poopy-head, we like you very muuuch" over and over, I tell him: "You're not getting much sympathy from me on this one, kid. You taught him that lovely term, so it's you own damn fault."  

And no, I don't actually say "damn" to my kid. I just think it very loudly. 

And then I tell Jake to stop it, that it's not OK to tease, that that is NOT a nice word to use.  So "poopy-head" goes underground for a while, but you never know when it's going to surface again.

Last night Jake got to bed late, even later than usual for a non-school night. We listened to the radio during his bath because Jacob has a great love of music and seems to not mind his mother's off-key crooning along.  There may have been some dancing mixed in with the drying off and the donning of the PJs, for, you see, great songs just kept on coming on every time I was about to turn it off. 

And I know it's hard to go from dancing right to bed, but when his eyes light up and he enjoins me with a "Dance with me Mommy, pleeeeease?" how can I resist?

How can I resist engaging in joy with my son, for whom so much of his day is lessons, lessons, lessons, and directives. Jacob hears all day long: "do this, do that, don't do that, stop, STOP!, for heaven's sake don't do THAT."  

So I said "Yes" and we danced away, bouncing, wriggling, stomping and wailing. "Stop in the name of love, before you break my heart..."

And then of course, a glance at the clock and: BED, NOW!  

Jacob has, historically, always been my easier son to put to bed. He climbs up into his top bunk, blue-bear is located and securely crooked underarm, we sing our two requisite songs; I tell him about the day that has been in the form of a story ("once upon a time there was a boy named Jacob...") and then let him know what's coming up ("And what's tomorrow, Mommy?") a kiss and he's gone. 

"Goodnight Mommy, tomorrow's another day."  

But lately his spunk has been rising, and the compliant, perhaps too compliant little boy is falling back a bit as Mr. Sass is starting to feel his oats.  And I know this is all for the good, that typical eight-year-olds are not nearly as sweet and obedient as Jacob has been, that he is veering toward normal as his feisty gently rears up.   

A large part of me is grateful, cheering him on even, while another part (the one that is already short on sleep) is groaning, bitching and moaning.  I know that for Jacob to grow into his own, the ways in which he is pliant and "easy" will have to fall by the wayside for a while.  I even wrote a post about how happy I was that he learned to "cuss" when frustrated.

But the teenage years?  I don't even want to think about that yet, though they loom, they loom.

So now, at bedtime, instead of meekly marching into his room when Mom says "Bed, Jake", I'm getting the "No", the "I hate bedtime", the "I don't want to go!"  

And then last night, in spite of being in the giggliest of moods, post dance-marathon, he starts sweetly singing our first bedtime song as he climbs up into his bunk, seemingly without too much protest.

"Twinkle, twinkle..."

"Oh, good" I think "relatively easy, tonight"


I'm already planning  my rapid escape.

...poopy-head!"  Raucous laughter ensues.

My son is da bomb. 



  1. That is one seriously cool kid XXX

  2. Hi Vardala just read this after our wonderful interlude! Just loved it so. I think you are da bomb! ;-)

  3. That thing you said about being pleased that your normally compliant (maybe too compliant) son learned to curse and be a bit sassy?

    Oh yes.

    My older daughter used to be so serious about her complete adoration of any and all authority figures in her life. I worried endlessly about her inability to draw distinctions between good and bad advice. Worried that she would be led astray by someone she thought was "in charge," and therefore knew everything.


    When Maj started giving me attitude and sass? As annoying as that was, I was thrilled at her assertion of her own individuality. Thrilled.

    Maj has grown into a girl who loves rules and structure, but who does not follow blindly. She has gotten into trouble at school for pointing out the stupidity of a teacher's directions. Has annoyed other mothers with her refusal to cooperate when she thinks they are wrong.

    Love that girl!

    She drives me nuts with her challenging of MY authority these days, but how much do I prefer this reality over the other?


  4. @Kris (once again annoyed by Blogger's lack of reply / comment threading capability) Isn't this so that case of "be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it?" To channel you: thanks, you.

  5. Very nice! What a challenge to decide which behaviors to reinforce!

  6. Fabulous! Every bit of it! You sass away, Jacob! Since my son doesn't have a brother to teach him these words, guess what?! I told him about poopyhead. It hasn't caught on yet. But it will!

  7. Too cute :) and I can totally relate. Sean is 7 and a 1/2, and even though I'll probably regret it later, I get so excited (inside) when he gets an attitude haha and out of the blue he'll say something so typical of his age and gender :) He's even tried to be a bit sneaky, but boys in general are just not as good as girls at being sneaky, besides 'you can't fool MOM' ;)
    I've already raised three older children so I have an idea what the teenage years will be like, not necessarily looking forward to it but I have to say, boys seem to be easier than girls during those years but that's just been my experience :)

  8. This is amazing. I work with autistic kids who daily anger me, hurt me frustrate me, but above all, make me laugh so much, and tug at those heart strings...

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world. Reading this makes me think of my 7 year old Sean. He has burst out in song at random moments, making me laugh. Currently he only talks when he wants something, except for the one time that he tried to make a joke after using the potty (being out of diapers is a tremendous milestone for us). He called Winnie the Pooh "poop bear" and then started laughing hysterically, I couldn't help but laugh because his deep "from the gut" laughing is catching.

  10. The old saying goes,"Kids say the darnest things"! I think alot of people forget that applies to all kids on every level. Seeing how my son just started talking 2 years ago. Everything that has come out of his mouth isn't always apporiate. But just hearing his voice is priceless for me. So I say on with the poopyheads, least their talking!!!!

  11. My daughter Mary just got suppended from school for ten days for cussing. The vice princeble would not accept Autism as excuse.

  12. LOL. My kids are four and seven. Everyone is a bumhead, weehead or poohead at present. I can't wait til it's over.

    Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro!

  13. Great post. I'm 46 and can still be heard saying poopyhead and bumhole....

  14. *giggle, snicker* That is awesome.

  15. Wonderful post. Awesome, awesome kid!

  16. First of all, your tweet got my to submit a post. I didn't even know I could. And then when I saw yours, I had to come and see it. It's wonderful. And I love seeing your father's photos as well (the one he took and the ones of him).

  17. I love this post. Simply lovely. I found you from Katie at Sluiter Nation. You are a beautiful writer. L'shana tova.

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