Boys in the Bathroom

The Boy has had his first encounter with bullying at school.  I should say teasing, because bullying is really defined as a repetitive, targeted behavior, and I have no evidence that this has been going on for any length of time.  Truth be told, I was very happy with the way the school personnel handled it, and took some responsibility, as well, because we kind of knew this particular instance might happen.

Let me explain.

When we first moved south, The Man noticed that anytime The Boy went into a public bathroom, he had a tendency to “drop trou” to go pee, meaning he would drop his pants in order to do his business.  Apparently, this is not typical male behavior in a restroom – I would not know that, having never been a part of this particularly male experience.  When The Man told me about it, and explained that he just couldn’t do that, I didn’t have an answer as to how to fix it — this is not something that I am equipped to teach him.  And having hit puberty, The Boy was certainly not going to let me anywhere near him while he was anywhere near peeing.  This was clearly a dad’s job, and you can understand why a step-dad may be less than comfortable with the responsibility.  We ended up urging The Boy to use a stall when possible.

Fast forward to the second week of school, when I got an email from The Boy’s program teacher explaining that The Boy had been teased about doing just this, and talking to others while peeing, as well.  Another group of boys reported the teasing directly to one of his team teachers, for which I am grateful and appreciative, and that teacher actually had another teacher cover his class that same day so that he could take the offenders to the teachers lounge and “read them the riot act” over the incident. “We just don’t tolerate that here,” he explained via email.

I called The Man and we decided The Boy needed a lesson in how to pee in a public bathroom, and that The Man would be the one to do it.  He didn’t balk, he didn’t hem or haw.  That evening, he said, as calm as ever, “Hey, I need to show you how to pee,” and The Boy said, “Alright.”

The Man and I exchanged a look, complete with two pairs of raised eyebrows…

The Man pretended our living room wall had two urinals on it, which The Boy liked, with his toilet obsession and all. The Man then proceeded to break the process into steps. “You put your thumbs here in your waistband, and pull down,” and they practiced as they faced the imaginary urinals on the wall. He explained the whole process, and explained that the reason boys do it that way is so that they don’t show their butt to everyone else, so it can be more private.  The Boy paid attention, and seemed to understand.

The Man and I were relieved that The Boy seemed so willing to take instruction, and we can only hope he is using his new-found knowledge.

In any case, I was proud of them both.  Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

The St. Patrick’s Day “hat”…

My son remembers just about everything.

St. Pat's Day "Hat"A couple of years ago, he made Fabulous Babysitter buy him a St. Pat’s-themed head band with orange pigtails that got some pretty strange looks when he wore it.  He was oblivious, of course, but the rest of us weren’t.  This is one of the tough parts of being an autism parent (or caregiver, or teacher).  We don’t want to deny them anything that makes them happy (at least nothing as benign as this), but we also don’t want them to be targets for the less compassionate public at large.

A few years ago, it was a beanie (complete with propeller!) that The Boy had found around Halloween at a costume store.  Harmless, right?  Until I got the note home from his teacher that he was being teased, and could we please keep it at home…

And part of me screamed, “No!  Let’s concentrate on the teasers and not the one being teased!” while the other part said, “Oh, for sure.  I so get it.”

Fabulous Babysitter took The Boy out on Fun Friday, and he wanted to get some St. Patrick’s day “stuff”, and he dragged her from place to place (although she would never call it that), until he remembered the exact store they had purchased the pigtail-headband the last time.  And they purchased it again.  And again, we ask ourselves –  is it better to let him be himself, or help him to assimilate?