Yeah, so, my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin loves to watch ceiling fans.
I mean, he really loves ceiling fans. His super power is spotting a ceiling fan from a mile away. If he had a LinkedIn profile, you would endorse him for his skill in detecting a ceiling fan in unlikely locations, such as the restroom at the zoo. Seriously, that’s a skill.
Calvin is autistic, and I’m sure this love of ceiling fans is not unusual for autistic people or people with sensory processing disorders.
Wherever we go, if there is a ceiling fan, Calvin has thoughts and feelings about it. This fan needs to be on, and that one needs to be off. This one needs the light on, and that one needs the light off. That fan needs to go fast, and this fan needs to be slow.
This is priority #1 when visiting his grandparents. The first thing he does when walking into their house is run from room to room, turning fans and lights on and off, so they are just the way he wants. It’s so common that it’s not even a thing anymore. Everyone just lets him get all the fans set up the way he likes it.
In public places with ceiling fans, he might let it slide, but he will talk to the employees of the establishment to let them know that this fan is on, and that one is off. “It’s broken. The fan is broken,” he says.
Every Monday, Calvin has a speech appointment, and after speech we absolutely have to go into a little sandwich/cheese shop near the speech therapist’s office, because there are ceiling fans. All the employees know who Calvin is now. “Hi,” and they wave. “Do you want me to turn this fan on for you?” He points out every fan in the store and comments about whether they are on or off, fast or slow. Then it’s time to leave. “Bye bye, fans.” And the employees wave, “Bye! See you next Monday.”
When he’s in the mood for a ceiling fan, but can’t get to one he move his fingers in front of his eyes. He calls this his “fan.” “That’s my fan,” he says.
Here’s a video of him reciting a recipe for juice that he learned from “Curious George.” One red apple, one red strawberry, one red watermelon, and “whatever this was” – which, on the cartoon – is a cabbage. Around the 30-second mark, Calvin brings out his “fan.”
Mighty, mighty good man David also got a good photo of Calvin bringing out his fan at the zoo
A few months ago I wondered, “Are there ceiling fan videos on YouTube?” It turns out that was a completely stupid question. Of course there are ceiling fan videos on YouTube. There are a lot.
You might think that’s strange, but guess what? Some of the videos have close to 1 million views. There are a ton of folks out there who like to watch ceiling fans. Maybe a lot of those people are autistic or have sensory processing disorders, or maybe it’s some weird sex thing that I don’t want to know about.
So, every night Calvin climbs into bed, and he asks to watch fans on his iPad for a bit. There are videos that are just spinning ceiling fans. There are videos in which people walk from room to room in their house and talk about their different ceiling fans. There are videos of people turning fans on and turning fans off. There are videos in which people tie a string around one of the ceiling fan blades and their cats chase it. Calvin’s current favorite are videos in which people walk you through how to install a ceiling fan, step by step. I have no doubt that Calvin could install a ceiling fan. He’s watched the how-to videos countless times.
Just in case you are wondering, we have a YouTube for Kids app on the iPad … now. There’s a story behind that.
So, one night I went to give Calvin his two-minute warning. Soon it would be time to say goodnight to the iPad and go to sleep. I walked in, and Calvin had fallen asleep. But the iPad was still on, and it was still streaming videos on YouTube. The video was a grown man taking a bath in a tub of ramen noodles. Seriously. Gaaaahhh.
You know how when you watch videos on YouTube and it just autoplays another video? It was playing ceiling fans videos, Calvin fell asleep, and for some reason it just moved on to this ramen man video. I have no idea why the YouTube algorithm thinks that someone watching ceiling fans wants to watch a grown man in a tub of ramen noodles. That seems wrong to me.
I grabbed the iPad, showed David, and we laughed really hard about it. Then we forgot about it.
The next night, Calvin was in bed watching fans and then I hear him say, “He’s washing.”
Nooooooooooo! I ran into the room and snatched the iPad away. It popped up again in the “previously watched” area, which Calvin relies on to find his favorite ceiling fan videos.
It’s not really a naughty video. I think it’s supposed to be funny, a parody of beauty regime videos or something. Either way, no. After that, we installed the YouTube for Kids app.
So yeah, I’ve gotten off topic from ceiling fans, but I wanted to warn you that apparently watching ceiling fan videos can be a gateway to watching ramen fetish videos.
Do you let your kids watch videos on YouTube? If so, what do they watch? Also, I’d love to hear other stories about kids’ random obsessions, whether it’s ceiling fans or grown men taking baths in ramen noodles. Let me know in the comments.