Being literal can cause real Chaos in Kent… and much laughter

When I look on social media, there is often so much doom and gloom about living in the world of SEN.  I have three children with statements of SEN and we’ve lost count of the labels we have been awarded so I know there are lots of things that can bring you to your knees.  I wrote about some of them on an earlier post Do you Remember – but today, let’s celebrate one of the more entertaining aspects of the SEN world.

My eldest son is as literal as they get, so for those who don’t quite understand what I mean, an example would be we can’t talk about it raining cats and dogs because he would run and hide in case a dog or cat hit him.    It has taken us years to get our heads around the various aspects of it but here are some of the joyful moments his literal world have brought us.  Some of you will have heard them before but they still make me laugh so I wanted to share them for my new readers to enjoy.

Literal WorldFrog in my throat:

Driving down the motorway one day, with an awful cough, I cleared my throat.  Now my eldest at that point had real issues around people being sick and he queried whether my cough was actually me about to be sick.  Of course, I reassured him but without thinking, I said “I just have a frog in my throat”.  Well, it would have been easier to just be sick, I think.  Having a frog in my throat was much worse than me being sick. We ended up on the hard shoulder so I could let him look down my throat and see for himself that there was no frog down there.

Mum, Debs or Hiya?

For years, he called me “Hiya” because that’s what people said when we met them so he presumed that was my name.  I would leave him at nursery and much to the amusement of the staff and other parents, he would shout “bye Hiya”, “see you Hiya”.  I remember first realising this and saying to my dad “I’m sure he thinks my name is Hiya” to which he, understandably, laughed and said “no, he knows you are called Mum”.  So as we sat to dinner that evening, my Dad said “Hiya K” and he said “Hiya Grandad”; my mum then said “Hiya K, he replied Hiya Grandma” and then I said “Hiya K” to which he replied “Hiya Hiya”.

Gradually he realised this was not my name and that I was called Debs.  So for many years, he then called me “Debs” rather than “Mum”.  He would come home from school and much to the horror of his escort, would waltz in and say “Hi Debs, where’s Chris?”  I was confused though, because I knew if he was talking about me to someone else, he would call me his mum.  So I asked him why he didn’t call me Mum and his reply was priceless:  “You don’t call me son, do you?” so perfect logic there.  I don’t call him by his relationship to me, I call him by his name so why should it be different for him?

Boys eat Boys:

Sometimes, his black and white world can cause us challenges and unfortunately, my youngest son has twigged on to the fact that K believes what we say.  I had an incident a few years ago when we heard screams from their bedroom and we went racing upstairs.  After I had recovered from that physical exertion (I am not made to run up stairs), we walked into absolute pandemonium.  K was screaming in his bed and telling us he would never ever go to sleep again and J was rolling around on the floor unable to speak for laughing.   After much discussion (and lots of counting to ten) it transpired that as K had refused to let J use his iPad so J had told him that boys eat other boys.  His actual words (thanks to my son’s echolalia) were “K, boys eat boys, in fact boys eat boys in bed, in fact boys eat boys in bed when they go to sleep”.  I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.  Chris chose laughter and walked back downstairs.  I stayed and reassured K that boys do not eat boys at any time and that J had got it wrong.  Teasing is a concept we are still working on, so saying it was wrong was an easier explanation.

However, I know my children well and I knew by the smirk on J’s face that this was not the end of the matter.  So I did a terrible thing, I pretended to leave the room by closing the door.  Obviously, J is blind and I know this is something I shouldn’t do but as a mum, who desperately wanted to get some sleep, I did it.  Yes, I hold my hands up and admit that I took advantage of the fact that he couldn’t see.  And do you know what?  It was a good thing I did because as soon as that door closed and J thought they were alone, he immediately said “I didn’t get it wrong, boys do eat boys when they are asleep”.  Who would like to guess how high he jumped when I announced my presence?

Fat? Overweight? 

Sometimes his literal world can also cause us to want to crawl into a hole and hide.  We had one such occasion when I was trying to plug K into a booster seat with one other child (in a booster seat) and a non-petite lady in there too – not an easy task.  I was mortified when I asked K to move towards me and he responded  “it’s not me, it’s her – she’s fat”.  Now as a non-skinny lady myself I was mortified and I told him very firmly that we don’t use this word, it’s not a nice word and he was plugged in and off they went.

That evening, I asked him how the day was and he replied it was okay, I asked about the journey and he said he was “squished” in the car because the lady was fat.  I explained again, this was a word that makes people feel sad inside and not a nice word to use.  Now he doesn’t understand the feeling sad inside but he does understand that when I say that, it isn’t something he should do.  The next morning, we walked out to the car and I suggested that it may be nice to apologise for using that word and he was happy to do this.

We got to the car, he sat down and as I plugged him in, he offered an apology.  “I am sorry I said you were fat yesterday, Debs has told me that it is not a nice word and it can make you sad inside which is not nice”.  The lady accepted the apology, I smiled with pride and then, as we struggled again to fasten his belt  “Debs, it’s not my fault I am squished in here.  It’s her, she is overweight and needs to go on a diet”  The driver at this point choked, I was looking for a hole to crawl into and K said “What’s wrong?  I didn’t use the word fat so no one feels sad.”  Want to bet?

What about you?

Share your examples of when the literal world has created havoc in your home.  I know some people reading this will be in a bad head space and won’t be able to find any humour in their child’s literal world today and to those people I send you a huge hug.  I have been there and no doubt, I will go there again but today, I am trying to cheer myself up after a rough few weeks and these stories always make me smile.

Do I have any advice?  Well, my one tip is never ask your literal child “does my bum look big in this?”

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