Hanging with 11-year-olds

SB turned 11 years old yesterday! I love the happy little person that he is turning out to be. He’s worked so hard and come so far on this autism journey, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

Instead of a traditional birthday party, we invited 3 of SB’s friends to come with us to a basketball game at George Mason University on a recent Saturday afternoon. He has turned into quite the sports fanatic in the last year or so, checking the baseball, basketball, football, and hockey apps on his iPod daily to find out what’s going on in the world of professional sports. Attending a game in person, with some friends, seemed like the perfect way to celebrate his birthday.

The game was a big hit and I think all of the boys (little brother included) had a really good time. GMU gave us quite the show that day, clinching the game by making the winning basket with only 1.7 seconds left on the clock! The rowdy pep band, the cheerleaders, the loud and crazy college students in the bleachers, and the hot dogs, pizza, and sugary Icee drinks all added to the fun. I don’t really have a big story from the event, but there were so many funny little moments from that day that I wanted to write a blog post and share them with you.

SB’s friend R was the first to arrive at our house, and he had a few humorous conversations with my husband before the others arrived. When Charlie said, “We’re really glad you could come with us today, R!” he replied with such a confident “You’re welcome!” that we both had to stifle our laughter. Another funny exchange went like this:
R: “Do SB and AB practice Tae Kwon Do at home?” (R attends the same Tae Kwon Do studio as my guys, but has a higher belt than they do.)
C: “Well, maybe not as much as they should.”
R: “What do they DO when they are home?”
C: “They do their homework, they practice the piano, they have some chores, and they like to play video games.”
R: “Hmm…You should have rules.”
My husband humored him and assured him that he would consider having rules for his children in the future!

The drive to and from the game was an adventure for me. With our large party, we had to drive two vehicles, and this left me alone in the minivan with SB and his 3 buddies. I tried to join in their conversations, but they didn’t seem to want to talk much to me! I guess Moms aren’t cool. Anyway, there were gross jokes, there were “Would you rather…” games, and there was belching. LOUD belching. Although SB is good at making friends with his extroverted personality, he can still be awkward in social situations sometimes. And on this day, he kept trying to make jokes about kissing. He joked about kissing R. He joked about R and P kissing each other. He joked about R kissing his sister. NONE of these jokes seemed appreciated by any of the other 11-year-olds in the car, yet the kid kept trying. Clearly, comments about boys-kissing-boys are not funny to most 11-year-old boys, but SB never really picked up on that. However, ALL 11-year-old boys find that singing the signature tune from “Frozen” at the top of their lungs with the altered lyrics “Let It Poop” is completely hilarious!

After the basketball game, we all returned to our house for the traditional “Happy Birthday” singing and donuts. (SB doesn’t like cake!) After eating, the guys wandered upstairs to play until their parents arrived to pick them up, and after a little while I heard SB playing his trombone! I shook my head, fearing that he was probably boring the pants off of his guests to show off his new band skills. I climbed the stairs, went to where they were clustered around SB, and asked, “Hey buddy! Did your friends say that they…umm… wanted to hear you play trombone?” Surprisingly, the other 3 turned to me with wide-eyes and nodded their heads in earnest. “Well, OK then!” I replied. “Carry on!”

One of my favorite moments of the day occurred on the way home from the game. SB usually likes to listen to music in the car, and he asked me to turn on the CD player. (The CD in the player at that time was an album by Rush, which both of my guys love, thanks to the brainwashing of my husband!) When SB listens to music, he likes to dance. And I mean DANCE! He bops back and forth in his seat, leaning left to right in time to the music, with such force that I can feel the van swaying. He’s been doing it so long that I’m used to the swaying and don’t even think much about it anymore. So he started to dance, and pretty soon the other boys started to tease him. “SB, what are you doing? That’s SO weird!” “Hey look! SB’s dancing like a penguin!” My heart sank. The day had been going so well, and yet now he was being teased by his peers who he so adored. But SB just took it in stride. “This is how I dance!” he announced as he continued to bop. He laughed, then they laughed, and within 2 minutes time, all four boys were in the back of my van, bopping back and forth to Spirit of Radio like four identical pendulums. “Look! We’re all dancing like penguins!” R shouted. I couldn’t believe it! My little guy has such an “I don’t care what other people think about me” attitude that it rubs off on others. He could have let that moment ruin his day, but instead he turned it around and the other kids were joining him rather than teasing him before they even knew it. I don’t think he does it on purpose. There’s just something infectious in his personality that makes people happy to be around him. I hope he never, ever loses that.

During my husband’s conversation with R before the other kids arrived, R asked, “Who else is coming today?” Charlie told him the names of the other boys that we were expecting, and R said, “Oh, I know them. I know ALL of SB’s friends. I know Taylor and Brandon and Jack and Kevin and…” He went on for a while, and after he had listed about 8 or 9 kids from their school, he stopped and said, “Oh, yeah! EVERYBODY is SB’s friend!”

Nothing makes my heart happier than that!

4 thoughts on “Hanging with 11-year-olds

  1. R is so right. SB is sincerely adored by many at his school. I hope they continue to rally around him for many years to come. May they “March like Penguins” together all the way to graduation. Love, his third grade teacher

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