It’s Not All Mary Poppins

My Quirky Boy

My quirky after-school boy, Sam… He’s polite, he’s soft-spoken, there’s not a hint of malice in him, but he is, in the words of my grandmother, an odd duck. I’m told he doesn’t have Asperger’s, but if he doesn’t, he’s withing spitting distance.

One day a while ago, I lost my temper. (I did, I really did! Not with the daycare kids, who were still napping, but with an adult who wasn’t even there at the time.) I did nothing more dramatic than bark a sincere “Jerk!” and bang my hand into the table, but the noise was explosive and the emotion strong. Particularly bad if you’re sitting at the table, quietly doing homework, as Sam was.

He jumped visibly, and I immediately apologized. He looked puzzled.
“Why did you say sorry?”
“Well, because I thought I’d frightened you when I did that.”
“Why would that frighten me?”
“When someone gets angry and makes a loud noise, sometimes other people find that frightening. It looked to me like you might have been scared when I did that.”
“I wasn’t scared.”
“How did you feel, then?”
“I felt like I did this (he repeats his startled hand gesture) and that I sat up straighter.”
“That’s what you did, Sam, and when people do that, it often means they’re feeling frightened, or at least startled.”
“So were you maybe startled?”
“No, I just did this (hand gesture again) and sat up straight.”

Okay, then.

Or how about this one?

Sam: “I think Emma is talented.”
Me: “You do? That’s a nice thing to say.”
Sam: “Yeah, because she plays the flute and stuff. I’m not so talented.”
Me: “Well, you don’t play the flute, but you have things you’re good at.”
Sam: “Yes, I’m good at basketball if there are no other kids around.”

(The irony here is that while he definitely does have strengths, areas of quite remarkable ability, basketball is absolutely not one of them! He’s physically ungainly, with an awkward, sort of sideways arrthymic run. He tends to duck away from an oncoming ball, and I have yet to see him get the ball remotely near the hoop – but he likes to try, and he takes satisfaction in his efforts – and at nine, that’ll do!)

But: “If there are no other kids around.”

Makes me grin.

January 22, 2007 - Posted by | quirks and quirkiness


  1. The kid is probably Micheal Jordan when nobody else is around. Me I am Bodie Miller when I ski alone.

    Comment by Peter | January 22, 2007 | Reply

  2. Heh. That’s exactly the reaction my husband had to this story! Maybe it’s a guy thing?

    Comment by MaryP | January 23, 2007 | Reply

  3. Ah well, at least he sees himself as good – even if not as good as the other kids:-) Mstr A won’t try any sports without some serious cajoling, screaming, bribery & pushing as he considers he is bad at everything:-(

    Sam definitely sounds autistic-y to me, but he is obviously coping:-)

    Comment by juggling mother | January 23, 2007 | Reply

  4. Poor Sam! I hate when a kid doesn’t think they have any talent, or are afraid to show it. luckily, in his mind, he is pretty good at basketball!

    Comment by Avalon | January 23, 2007 | Reply

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