It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A Little Unnerving

Sam is a dangerous kid.

Sam, remember him, my funny little after-school boy?

Sam, upon seeing me pat a toddler’s diapered butt on the way by, says, “Why do you hit the kids all the time?”

Sam, being an only child who, though he attends school, has never been in child care before this year, says, “Why don’t you pay any attention to me, ever?”

Sam, seeing me kiss a little belly button while doing a diaper change, says, “Why do you kiss them there when you take their diapers off?”

I spoke to his mother about the hitting one, the first of these to arise. She laughed and said, “I promise not to believe what he tells me about you if you promise not to believe what he tells you about me.”

Which makes me feel better.


February 21, 2006 - Posted by | quirks and quirkiness


  1. At least she understands that what he says, while being the truth, isn’t necessarily the truth as an adult would see it. many parents don’t get that. many authorities don’t get that, which is where some serious problems arise occasionally! Sam’s mom sounds very sensible – I wish there were more like her:-)

    Comment by Mrs.Aginoth | February 21, 2006 | Reply

  2. Oh, God, this reminds me of a friend who took his toddler to the library and reached down to adjust a soggy diaper, only to have the child scream, “Daddy, you’re HURTING my PENIS!” He had to scratch the library off the “Places to take my kid” list. Oy.

    Thank goodness mom knows what’s what. Can you imagine what he says about HER?

    Comment by stefanierj | February 21, 2006 | Reply

  3. I read your earlier post about him. As I read his quirk list, I assumed Asperger as did many others. The thing that jumped out at me was his continued amusement at the same thing months later. There’s a kid I know with mild autism. He sees me, asks my name, and then every time says, “Can I get on the table?” Then laughs. One time in a class setting he climbed on the table and I ‘swooped’ him off. Unfortunately he found it fun, so we did it over and over for a while. It’s his ‘hook’ to remember me.

    I worked with an Asperger girl in a group home who was fairly good socially, though she had a hard time connecting with others in a deep way. Asperger kids/adults are often obsessed with routine and ritual and many have a particular obsession (snakes, numbers, colors, patterns)

    His Mom does sound cool. But, yeah, all those comments sound weird out of context!

    Comment by OTRgirl | February 21, 2006 | Reply

  4. OKAY! Completely disregard my post. I have read your other post about Sam, and I have to agree with the initial conclusions that he does sound like an Aspy child. In which case, his questions are honestly what they are. He doesn’t understand the patting or the kissing on the belly because they are social cues and touching that he just doesn’t understand. It wouldn’t occur to him to do it, and he wouldn’t enjoy it if it was done to him. So, I would say he is genuinely trying to understand.

    The rapidfire questions? Oh my goodness. Hello. My Aspy is nine. He can rival those questions and the amount of them. Aspy kids are a HOOT. Christian is also prompt with homework, wants to know exactly to the minute how long that meatloaf needs to cook (so he won’t miss his show at a certain time). Christian’s teacher also adores him, he can make eye contact, and he is handsome. But he has some behavioral ticks that other kids find odd. The speech cadence and cocking of the head I find particularly Asperger’s.

    And the not sharing? I think it’s just a cluelessness, but if you asked him to share, he probably wouldn’t want to.

    Aspy kids can usually play a game with other children if someone else gets everything set up. Christian can play battleship if you suggest it, find another willing player, and get out the game and set it up. He just can’t take the steps to initiate it.

    And Christian usually does better with younger or older people than people his own age (except his best friend, who doesn’t notice his quirks because she has Tourette’s…).

    Another thing to remember about Aspy kids is that they can’t lie. What I said about manipulation earlier doens’t apply here. They aren’t capable of it. He is being direct with you, and he may honestly not perceive that you are paying attention to him because he has different definitions for what that is. Christian is terribly apologetic thought, and if I correct an assumption like that, he backs down quickly. But they simply are not capable of lying. So, I would simply take everything at face value and just give him a straight answer for every question.

    “The kind of physical touching that you see as hitting is really a soft pat, and some people give those kinds of pats and touches, which seem to resemble spanks, as a sign of affection, and other people enjoy receiving them as signs of affection too. You notice that the touch doesn’t make a sound, it doesn’t hurt the children, and they don’t cry or get upset. That is how we know that it is not a punishment or a spank or a hit, but instead, it is a love pat.”

    Just give him a rational answer. He is genuinely curious. He just doesn’t get it. Same with the kissing. And give him YOUR interpretation of attention, and ask him what HIS is.

    Interesting and funny little kid. They CAN drive you batshit though!

    Comment by jen-o-rama | February 21, 2006 | Reply

  5. MrsA: Sam’s mum is very cool. I like her a lot. Still, it’s unnerving. What if he says something like “Mary hits the little kids at her house a lot” in front of someone who takes him literally? I am seriously considering not taking him on next year, because a child who runs around saying stuff like this is a genuine threat to my livelihood.

    Stefanierj: He talks very little about his parents, in fact. Mostly he talks about what is right in front of him.

    And that poor dad! It’s just one of those rites of parenthood, though: which of our children hasn’t embarrassed us publicly at one time or another? Which is why, of course, we take such delight in embarrassing them when they’re teens. [evil grin]

    otrgirl: Hello, and welcome! I know those comments are innocent; his parents, thankfully, know it too. It’s the other people I worry about…

    He’s definitely obsessed with routine and ritual. In fact, he actively creates ritual. One day when I knew I’d be out when Sam arrived, I ran through his rituals with my husband so he’d know the appropriate responses. I worried that Sam would be thrown by having a different person there. He has, of course, met my husband, and, since Husband knew all the right things to say when Sam arrived, Sam was absolutely fine with this last-minute change. Cute!

    Jen: That’s good input. I will start making sure I put these social physical cues in context for the boy, so he understands in very specific and concrete terms what’s going on. So he probably genuinely doesn’t understand the “communication” of a pat on the diaper? That’s interesting.

    Find out what his definition of “attention” is. Good idea. I can do that!

    Thank you.

    I laughed out loud at your last line. Yes, I quite like the boy. Yes, he’s funny and smart and entertaining. And yes, sometimes he absolutely does drive me batshit!! πŸ˜€

    Comment by Mary P. | February 21, 2006 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: