Yeah, so, a few weeks ago I did something I thought I’d never do.
No, I didn’t vote for a Republican.
No, I didn’t donate money to the NRA.
That’s disgusting. Get your mind out of the gutter.
I chaperoned a field trip for my mighty, mighty good boy Calvin’s school. The kindergarten classes were visiting the California Academy of Sciences, and the kindergarteners in Calvin’s special day class were invited to go, too.
I learned a few things on this field trip.
- Starfish are not really fish.
- The Academy of Sciences has penguins!
- I don’t really know how to talk to kids that are not Calvin.
There were four kids to a group with one or two parents each. The students from the Special Day Class were divided into the groups, and each SDC student had their own dedicated chaperone (their parent or a special aide).
So, Calvin was in a group of three kids from the mainstream kindergarten class, and there was another parent chaperoning the group, too, which is good, because see the third bulletpoint.
Me talking to kids is pretty similar to me talking to adults. I ask them what movies or TV shows they are currently watching, and then I crap all over them. “My Little Pony? Ugh. Really? That shit is so 2015. Grow up!”
Actually, I usually tell them that I like something they’re wearing. “I like your cat ears headband.” “Cool Pokemon shirt. That’s a Pokemon, right? Oh, it’s Minecraft. Is there a difference?” And then I wrap up the stimulating conversation with something like, “I need to go stand over here now and do some serious adulting,” and then go lean against the wall and look at my phone.
I have no problem talking to Calvin. We talk about trains, trucks and buses. We recite lines of dialogue from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” But other kids want to talk about their thoughts and feelings.
This became really obvious when we sat down to lunch. Our group is sitting at a table, and there is this awkward silence. No small feat considering it’s a table of 5 and 6 year olds, who normally can’t stop talking. Finally, the other parent, this really nice woman whose name I can’t remember because I’m an asshole, said, “Do you know any jokes?” And the kids started falling all over themselves to tell jokes.
It would have never occurred to me to ask that question. Calvin doesn’t tell jokes. He’s funny. He’s got a great sense of humor. But it’s not a “knock knock. Who’s there” humor. It’s more like, “I’m going to try to wear the dog as a hat” sense of humor. It’s “I’m going to refer to Mommy as Daddy” humor.
I would say the closest thing to a Calvin joke is this: He was in a bathtub, and he looked at me, crossed his eyes and said, “I’ve got two mommies.” I laughed really hard, which turned it into a thing. “Two daddies.” “Two Tobys.”
The other thing I noticed during the field trip: Every boy was wearing something superhero or “Star Wars” related. Shirts, jackets, shoes: All Iron Man, Captain America, Darth Vader, Spiderman, etc. Calvin doesn’t watch any of that stuff. He doesn’t even know who those people are. These kids probably don’t know Calvin is autistic. They probably think he’s Amish.