From Bill Nye to Babies

English: Planets and dwarf planets of the sola...

The Boy was recently re-introduced to Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and remembered how much he adores him.  Tonight, instead of indulging in his obsession of watching strange cartoon-based YouTube videos, he was laughing and giggling, and not being very secretive at all.  Turns out, he was recording audio from a Bill Nye video and altering it so that Bill Nye would be saying incorrect things, which, to him, is HILARIOUS.

Afterward, we were joking about it.  This particular episode was about the planets, and he concentrated on the portion of the video in which Bill said the planets circle the sun in a counter-clockwise motion.  He had cut out the “counter” portion of the audio.  I told him you can’t just change the direction of the planets because winter would be summer, morning would be night, and as you got older, you would get younger…

“What does that even MEAN?” he laughed.

I said, “It would mean that as you got older, you would become more and more like a baby.”

“And then, you would go back to pre-birth,” he added.

Uh… Ahem… Where are we going with this, I wondered…

“Yep, you would have to go back in the womb,” I said.

“What’s a womb?”

Uh-oh…  “The place in the mommy where babies form,” I said simply.

“After they come from heaven?”

“Yep, after they come from heaven,” I said.

Whew…  That was close.  And I don’t even remember talking about babies coming from heaven, but I don’t mind that.  That’s cool.

He is so flipping smart.  I love that kid.

The Boy’s Venture into Cyberspace

When we moved, The Boy asked for an email account.  I had to think awhile about whether he was old enough and responsible enough to be able to handle it.  I wanted him to have a way to communicate with friends and teachers from the home we were leaving, and I wanted him to explore Google Drive so that we wouldn’t have to rely on Microsoft, PowerPoint, and dozens of flash drives for his hobby anymore.   I took my time, did my research, and made a plan.  He and I talked at length about internet safety, with which he was already familiar, thanks to school.  I told him that I would have access to his account, and would know his password so that he would have some level of supervision of his account activities.  And with that, I gave him a supervised Gmail account.

He did attempt to change his password once, but because I had set my email address as the backup, I was notified immediately, and we discussed it.  We changed his password, and he seemed to use it appropriately after that, until he forgot his password, and we had to reset it again, but that was no big deal — again, he seemed to be on the right path.

Every once in awhile I would notice in his account that he had registered for some site, but they were kid-based animation sites, and when I investigated, he had opened a free account, but hadn’t used it.  And then about a week ago, I saw some notifications in his inbox of comments on his YouTube account…  Because when you open a Gmail account, you get a YouTube account automatically, now.  I had turned off Google+, but YouTube had slipped my mind…

With trepidation, I looked up his account.  Luckily, he didn’t have his profile picture posted on his account – just an abstract design.  Luckily he didn’t have too many views of the videos he had posted.  But unfortunately, there were two videos of himself, that he had taken with a webcam at some point.

mario in gI knew I would have to talk to him again about internet safety, and we would have to take them down ASAP.  I knew he would be suspicious of me “looking at his stuff,” and he would “know what (I was) trying to do!” I knew he would have some anxiety about my knowing some of his secrets.  But I continued to look at his account, and began to see something really cool.  He had posted some other videos and comments, and I can’t pretend to understand the fascination, but these other videos were a combination of animation, other videos (like the title sequences of cartoons), and modified (very strange) music.  And the coolest thing was there were other kids that were into this same type of “creation”, knew the programs he had used (Audacity is one – I had no idea he knew how to use it!), and were asking him technical questions about how he had created it.

In his first, clumsy venture into cyberspace, he had somehow joined a community, sharing his skills, and supporting other kids.

We continue to work on his understanding of what’s OK to post, and what’s not.  I continue to monitor his internet usage through his email account and other venues.  But I also continue to tell him how proud I am of him, and I’ve asked him to show me how he makes his videos.  So cool.

Words and Meaning

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On the heels of “Spread the Word to End the Word” Day, we are struggling with offensive words and their meanings in our own home.  We went through this awhile ago, when The Boy wrote down every single bad word he had ever heard, and wow, there were quite a few.  It took a numbered list form, and thereafter he would refer to each word by their number (“Mom!  That man said #11!!”).  He had a classmate a few years ago, also on the spectrum, who had a hard time not using these words, and they sort of “rubbed off” on The Boy.  He even ended up creating a few made-up curse words, adding them to “the list”, and then he really confused me.  He began to use them in the correct context, using a made-up curse word when angry, but it wasn’t really a curse word, so does that deserve a consequence??  My head was spinning…  This lasted for quite awhile, but like all obsessions, petered out.

Nowadays, I’m not sure if he says one from time to time to test the waters, to see how bad they really are.  I’m not sure if he doesn’t always remember what’s what, although he is much too clever for that, I think.  So I really don’t know why he chose to use the n-word the other day.  He claimed to have seen it on a YouTube video, and was reciting a line that he had heard, thinking it was funny.  It’s quite possible.  But he also somehow knew that it was inappropriate to say, because he anticipated getting in trouble for saying it (which he didn’t, but more on that later).  There is a disconnect somewhere in there about bad words, knowing he shouldn’t say them, but still saying them and I just can’t wrap my brain around it.

The other part of this equation, is that The Boy doesn’t realize when he is “talking back”.  He is such a good mimic, that I think he has picked up “giving attitude” this way.  But he doesn’t know enough to identify when he is doing it himself, because when I call him on “using that tone of voice”, or “talking to me that way”, he has no clue what I’m talking about, and thinks he has said a bad word to make me angry.

Most upsetting to him in all of this is being certain that he has gotten in trouble, and that he will lose friends because he used that word.  He sets himself off in a self-judging spiral that will last several days, repeating that he needs me to write him a social story, that if he says it again, he will not be able to go to the computer lab, and whatever other punishment he can come up with that he deserves, because clearly, he thinks he does deserve it.  All of us adults are just scratching our heads trying to figure out how to talk to him about it so he will understand.

A Wee Obsession with Fire Alarms…

Since the fire drill about a month ago, The Boy has been watching YouTube videos of fire drills going off, creating PowerPoints where his favorite video game characters are experiencing fire drills, and we have had more than one Fun Friday dedicated to fire alarm inspections of the local elementary schools, with varying success.

On Thursday last week, I picked The Boy up from Kids Club and he had made a couple of fire alarms from construction paper:

It may be difficult to see, but each has a picture of a house on fire (printed from the computer, with the matching color background), and a man running from the house.  The dots are the speakers, and the lines indicate that sound is coming from those speakers.

Needless to say, these alarms were promptly “installed” at our house, in the hallway, and in the kitchen:

Don’t ask me how he got up above the sink…

I asked if he’d like to visit a firehouse, and was met with silence (which is Boy-speak for “no”).  This too shall pass.  At least he doesn’t seem anxiety-ridden about it – it actually seems like he’s having fun.  This too shall pass…  Right?