Wildflowers for Jade: Children should be seen and not heard

Friday, March 7, 2014

Children should be seen and not heard

The clerk at the gas station listens with wide eyes and a whisper of a smile as Jaden spits out what seems to be my life story with 100 mph words. The line behind us builds with semi-patient and rapt listeners. Once or twice the clerk's eyes flit up to mine with an "isn't he cute?" smirk. 

Yeah, yeah, lady, he is. Please just let me pay and get out of here. 

"Shhhh(ut up, kid)!" I think, because I don't actually talk to him that way. In front of people. 

Back in the car I hand him his M&Ms but he's still talking at full throttle. 
"That lady was really nice. And I don't think she was faking nice, I think she really is." We've been learning about people who pretend nice on the outside but have bad intentions on the inside. An especially difficult lesson for a person with ASD, but all the more important. 

All the while I'm thinking of T-shirt slogans like: 

While other parents were trying to teach their 5 year olds their home phone number, I had tried and failed. I couldn't say I was sorry about that. I determined that I would just watch him really close anyway. If he was kidnapped - God knows what he'd tell them! 

All a clerk at a hotel front desk had to do was say "Address?" Jaden would launch into a loud and drawn-out history of "Mom and Dad's deeborce," explaining to everyone within a half-mile radius the details of why "dad doesn't live with us." 

Honestly, if he'd have known my address and phone number at the time (which I would practically whisper in a much more discreet voice under his diatribe,) he would have been a walking, talking business card. 
"Hey guys, my mom's single! Do you want to know her number and the address to where we live - alone?" 

At those times I was especially glad that I was raised in the deep south. I know how to use a gun with accuracy. 


I think of the old adage "children should be seen and not heard." For the first time I consider that it might not only have been a sign of times when children were under-valued minions. Perhaps it was their best option to keep their kids from spilling family secrets. It was a time when a speck of dirt could irreparably harm your good name. Thank goodness television came along to distract us. 

I've tried to explain to him the middle ground between public and secret. "By the way, you don't need to be discussing  ____  with other people." 
"Is that a secret?" confused, because it doesn't seem like "secret" kind of stuff. 

No, son, you're not growing up in a mystery house full of boring secrets. 

"Not secret, just private. It's like when you go to the bathroom and everyone knows what people do in a bathroom, but you don't have to TALK about it. Because it's private." 

And that's really a useless analogy on a 7 year old boy. He thinks the funniest thing in the world is bathroom humor. 

So back in the car I acquiesce and let him enjoy his moment. 

"Wasn't she nice, Mom?" Jaden asked for the tenth time. 

"Yes, honey, she's very nice. Did you give that cute guy my phone number?" 

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