It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Fart Boy

I’m learning my way around my little Quirky Boy, Sam. Sam, who is nine, comes for a couple of hours a day, after school. Those who have cause to know about this stuff suspect Sam has Asperger’s. He has no official diagnosis, however, and for the most part, he’s doing just fine without one! Whatever his diagnosis, he is one quirky kid.

Sam has a driving need to sort, order, and categorize. He likes to know the parameters. Every interaction is cause for a barrage of questions. Sam is a nice boy, well-meaning and smart as can be, but he can be intense. A couple of hours a day in question-boy’s presence give me an intense respect for his parents and teachers.

A couple of weeks ago, while sitting at the table eating his snack, Sam emitted a sharp and tidy little fart. “BRAP.” For which he immediately apologized, quite obviously embarrassed. I assured him that it was all right. Everyone farts now and then. Not to worry.

Since that day, Sam has farted a minimum of eight or ten times every single afternoon. I had thus far opted to ignore it – this is, after all, the socially approved way of dealing with someone else’s unsolicited and uncontrolled bodily outbursts. (With one obvious exception, I know. He’s much too young for that. Minds out of the gutter, please.)

Today I was sitting beside him on the bench. The tots are all having a long nap after their busy morning, and Sam is doing his homework as I type. He shifts onto one cheek, strains a little, and fires a tight fart right at me. All right. I’ve about had enough of this.


He looks up, expectant. He knows what the stimulus was; he’s curious as to the response.

“Ever since I said that you didn’t need to apologize for farting, you have farted ten times a day. Now, you never did that before, so I know you don’t have to do it now. This is getting silly.”


Two minutes later, another fart. A little more discreet, and on the side away from me.


“I didn’t do it towards you this time.” He’s not defiant, just informing me.

“That’s right, you didn’t. I still think you don’t need to do all this farting, though.”

“How about if I go into another room? I could go into the kitchen.” Again, not defiant, just sorting out the parameters.

“Good idea. Except I want you to go out on the front porch.”

Two minutes later, Sam is standing on the porch.

Two minutes after that, he toots on the bench again. What has this boy been eating?

“Sam. Outside. I mean it.” This is defiance, and I am a little stern.

“I think that’s a little silly, you know.” Very polite. He’s telling me what he thinks, but he also completely understands he chose to defy a direct instruction. I am unmoved and unmoving.

“I agree. It is a little silly. So is all this farting. Next time, out you go.”

(Inside, you understand, I am finding this rather entertaining. I have learned that I dare not show the smallest glimmer of a grin, though, or Sam will not understand that I am serious. It could be that he takes advantage of my sense of humour; it could be that stern directives given with a smile mix the message and confuse the boy. Whatever the cause, I Even though all this serious discussion of fart-rules is kind of funny.)

Heavy sigh. “All right.”

It’s been ten minutes, and there’s been neither fart nor quick trip to the porch. Are we all sorted yet? We’ll just have to see…

June 16, 2006 - Posted by | power struggle, quirks and quirkiness, socializing


  1. I am amazed by the apparent ability to fart on command!

    How old is this guy? I don’t see him on your sidebar, but he seems a bit older, since you can reason/discuss with him so nicely.

    Comment by kittenpie | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  2. He’s nine. The post has been fixed to say as much.

    I was astounded, too. For a few days I did’t make the connection. I just thought he had some mild gastric thing happening. Then I put two and two together, and realised that Sam was just testing the parameters. As ever. Testing, sorting, ordering, looking for the rationale, the boundaries, the if-this,then-that… It’s how his mind works. Ceaselessly.

    Comment by Mary P. | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  3. Could you send a copy of the fart rules to my husband? We have a very nice front porch, and I would be delighted if he was required to visit it.

    Comment by Tater and Tot | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  4. I guess I didn’t grow up with brothers, so I didn’t know farts were so controllable. Funny!

    Comment by Lady M | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  5. You’re in for a great summer but it was funny.

    Comment by Granny | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  6. I had a farter in my class once. We also started the “Outside Visit.” Once the kids caught on and made him feel a bit silly about it he suddenly stopped the need. Funny how that works.

    Comment by Momma to Ashley | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  7. Farting on command, a true talent for some boys, including my younger brother. When we were kids, he loved to walk up to me, turn around and let one rip in my face. Then I would have to kill him yet again.

    Comment by Mamacita Tina | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  8. In my (limited) experience working with people on the higher end of the Autism spectrum, you are probably correct that stern words with smiles confuse kids like that. They may grasp the rudiments of emotion, but not the nuances.

    Unless he’s got some kind of gastric issue, it probably was some kind of testing behavior – or even weirder, a stimming behavior. Which really do need to be nipped in the bud. What’s ‘cute’ at six is horrible at ten. I could tell you stories about my nephew and his snot-bubble stimming behaviors, but really, there’s no need to go there. Gag!

    Comment by BeckaJo | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  9. Having a brother that to this day can fart on demand, I sincerely hope you have solved this problem!!!

    Comment by appleseed | June 16, 2006 | Reply

  10. To all those who didn’t know you could fart on command: Welcome to the world of small children – especially small boys. Yes, you can indeed. I am so familiar with this, I was totally taking it for granted that everyone knew that! I forget there are people who don’t live submerged by children. 🙂

    Tater and Tot: Feel free to print it up! LOL

    I’ll never understand that behaviour in an adult. It’s so adolescent. You can be sure that if he was in a meeting with his boss, he could manage not to let fly. The logic is, of course, “I’m at home. I should be able to relax.” Nice in theory, but it applies to everyone else in the room, too, who may not want to try to “relax” in a room filled with noxious fumes.

    Farting on command may be a specialized skill; holding one in? Pretty near everyone can manage that most of the time.

    LadyM: Another cultural revelation!

    Granny: He’s a school-age kid, so he’ll be in summer camps, etc, for July and August. Thankfully. We’ll see if he’s still into this by the fall!

    M to A: That’s what I’m hoping will happen. I made it the front porch because it’s more likely to make him feel a little silly, and it’s less convenient. We’ll see! LOL

    MamacitaTina: Astonishing that some younger sibs survive into adulthood, given how assiduously they court death!

    Beckajo: He doesn’t seem to have any stimming behaviours, so I don’t think it was that. Testing, for sure, which I’m hoping the nuisance of a steady stream of trips to the front porch will soon eradicate – or at least back down to normal bodily needs!

    Snot-bubble stimming. I have mental pictures already. Urgh.

    Appleseed: Welcome! And has your brother any children with whom he shares his delightful talent??

    Comment by Mary P. | June 17, 2006 | Reply

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