Thursday, October 7, 2010

If All Your Friends Jumped Off a Bridge

"Mom!  What's the big deal? All my friends are doing it!"
"Well if 'all your friends' were jumping off a bridge, would you jump too?"

Ah, that classic argument between parent and child.  It's an argument about kids wanting to fit in with their peers and parents wanting to ensure that the kids don't blindly follow the crowd.  It brings back so many memories.  Many years ago when I had a real (i.e. paying) job, my coworker and I were reminiscing about the above conversation with our own mothers.  My response to my mom was to roll my eyes and say "Give me a break.  That is so lame."  My coworker's response to her mom was, "Of course I would or I'd have no friends."  I doubled over in laughter.  Sadly, both my mom and my coworker have passed on, so all I have are the memories.

These memories resurface as I watch my 10 year old with Asperger's both struggle to fit in and not struggle to fit in.  It's actually kind of refreshing to have a kid who doesn't always care if he fits in or not.  He does have friends with whom he shares common interests such as: video games, Pokemon, Legos.  It's his other interests that set him apart: RVs (as in recreational vehicles), origami, maps.  Sometimes, he doesn't care if his clothes match, like when he wears his Hawaiian shirt with plaid board shorts.  He could care less about sports, although he is sort of trying to understand the rules of baseball.  He's not afraid to walk away if the other kids decide to do something that he doesn't want to do.  He can always entertain himself and doesn't need the constant presence or approval of his friends.  That doesn't mean he's immune to peer influence.  Many of his friends have a Nintendo DS.  He decided that he wanted one, too.  So, over the summer he saved his money from his regular chores and doing odd jobs for me and our babysitter.  At the end of August, he had enough to buy a DS Lite.  He does try to fit in...sometimes...when he wants to.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that the other kids don't give a rat's rump about RVs.  Even with common interests like video games, he can get a little overenthusiastic and talk for a little too long on the subject while the other kids' eyes glaze over.  Still, I don't view Asperger's as something that needs to be cured per se.  Having said that, social skills are important.  As long as he continues to learn to be kind and polite to others, I will encourage him to pursue his interests.  I can only imagine this future conversation between me and my son:

"So, if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?"
"No!  My friends wouldn't jump off a bridge anyway; there's no bridge around here."

The fun is only beginning.


  1. I suppose it depends on how tall the bridge is, what type of landing I could expect, what was the overall effect on friends who had previously jumped off the bridge, was there a girl I was trying to impress, etc. These would all be potential factors in my decision making process.

  2. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. That's all I have to say. :-)

  3. When life gives you a bushel of apples...

  4. need to get a shovel. :-)



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