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 will.not.smile. 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...