My son fell in love again. This time he did so at the park in front of several older boys from school. And when within minutes of meeting her, he proclaimed his love for the (older) object of his affection, the bigger boys did as boys do - they turned locker room talk on him and teased him. Most kids tease and get away with it. Finbar doesn't give a hoot about what others think of him, no matter how big and tough they are, and he does not back down from teasing and bullying. He, like many high functioning spectrum kids, has a very clear sense of right and wrong and justice. Kids with Asperger Syndrome often see life this way - black and white, absolutes of right and wrong, no grey areas, no loosey goosey - simply justice and fairness for all. And Finbar thinks teasing is wrong, no matter what the circumstances. So he had no problem calling these boys out for being teased.. He marched over to the mothers of the older boys who were chatting at a picnic table near me and proclaimed, "ATTENTION ATTENTION parents of those boys. THEY (pointing to boys across the park) are TEASING me! They are teasing me!" At which point, I hurried him over to me to sit down and explain.
"THEY ARE TEASING ME MOM."
"OK, Finney, well you must have said or done something to make them tease you."
"Well, all I said was 'I love her', that's all I said and they teased me."
"Wait, you love who?"
"Who's HER (looking over in the direction of the group of kids i see 2 girls)
"I'm gonna go tell them that it's not nice to tease me."
Just then a girl, who I later found out is named Emma and is 8 yrs old, walked over to Finney. Like an older sister she tells him it will be OK and tries to distract him. Her friend, Louisa, joins them. I later find out that it is Louisa whom Finbar fell in love with and just as quickly forgot about. But it becomes apparent that it is Emma who has a fondness for Finney. The next hour, she followed him around, twirling on the tire swing with him, explaining to him the facts of life, why the older boys were teasing him, why boys tease in general, patiently and kindly answering his barrage of questions and gently telling him that he was too little to understand. She was so kind and sensitive, I found myself contemplating asking her mother for her phone number.
I watched as she then protectively chased after him as he hauled butt across the park to go tell the (much bigger) teasing boy that he needed to apolgize. As I watched them running in the direction of the group of big boys, the 2 girls plotting how to protect Finney, I sat, held my breath and watched. A life lesson I suppose? I told myself.
He survived the confrontation. I soon after saw the mother of the teaser go chase him down and make him sit on a bench for a while. I'm not sure why, but I think maybe she heard them taking it out on Finney over by the big tree or maybe the girls told her what transpired. As I looked at the kid stting sullenly on the bench, I thought, Thank God Finbar can stand up for himself, but one day he is going to get the pulp beat out of him by a kid like that.
I also reflected on how Finbar only likes to play with girls. Not do or play with girl stuff, but play with and talk to them. I guess girls are more patient and apt to answer his probing questions. And they talk a lot and are more cerebral like Finbar. Boys just shrug his constant commenting off. And the older the girls, the better for Finbar too. He is right at home and vice versa with girls of about 8-10 years old. That happens to be the level at which he tested cognitively.
At a certain point, "G", the love of his life came to the park to play. She joined in with my kids and 8 yr old Emma. Finbar is clearly smitten. When "G" arrived, he quickly and plainly informed Louisa that he still loves her but "G" is the one he is going to marry "Sorry", he says, shrugging slightly. Luckily, Louisa does not seem affected in the slightest.
Later he tells Emma that he knows another Emma who is younger. Emma asks "is the other Emma pretty?", giving her feelings for him away for a moment. To which Finbar, completely oblivious to the true meaning of her question replies "YES, SHE IS VERY VERY BEAUTIFUL. SHE HAS BEAUTIFUL HAIR and EYES." Older Emma replies, "Oh." and soon thereafter departs, without so much as a wave goodbye from my son.
Boy has he got A LOT to learn about shared perspective, you know, the intuitive thinking that allows us to read other people's thoughts and feelings. He is going to get beat up over a girl and she will probably never know it.
He sees "G" again at the park the next evening. At some point, he announces again that he is going to marry her. Later, getting ready for his bath, he asks, "Mom, how can I get 'G' to marry me?" And without waiting for my answer replies, "I have to be REALLY nice to her right mom? Then she will marry me, right?" I reply, "Yes, but you have to be nice for a very long time until you are older and have a job and can support her and stuff."
That was Friday night. Today on Saturday, Finbar decided he wanted to go spend the night at his Grandmother's. He forgot about his playdate tomorrow with "G". Boys.
Coincidentally, knowing that Discovery was going to launch this past week, on Friday he drew a picture of the space shuttle and asked me to write "Thank you astronauts for launching the last space shuttle" and he signed it. And we mailed it to Kennedy Space Center. Mission accomplished.
Finally on a side note, NASA has a "face in space" program whereby you can upload a picture and your name to be flown into space on the shuttle missions. I did this for Finbar for the most recent Discovery mission. And yes, it was the photo of him in his Pilot costume :)