I watched a lot of the Odd Couple when I was growing up. What that says about the parenting in my house, I won’t say. But I will say that whenever people make an assumption, I immediately think of Felix.
I got to think of that about a week ago when we took Simon out to a gem and mineral show. They had all sorts of cool stuff: fossils, meteorites, stones, gems, finished jewelry, and some people from various organizations showing off how to do cool things with all those bits and pieces.
One of the people doing demonstrations was a woman who was showing off how to polish up stones. She was talking about how to make facets, and she began going into the math of it: how many turns on the dial did you need and some other stuff I should remember but don’t.
She asked a math problem. It was basic multiplication, trying to figure out how to select the right number on the dial.
Patrick answered, and she semi-chastised him, telling him that she was asking Simon because it was a math problem appropriate for a 5th grader.
We blew it off, and we wandered into the showroom to look at all the pretty things to buy.
But it stuck with me, and it soured the day a bit.
First off, Simon isn’t in the fifth grade. He’s in the seventh grade, although he was held back and technically should be in the eighth grade. That’s neither here nor there, though. The point is, he’s older than the supposed “correct” age for the question.
Second, why would a random stranger assume she knows what level my son is at math? Or what level any child is at math? For all she knows, he has dysgraphia and struggles quite seriously with math. Maybe he has severe anxiety, and even asking him a math question would give him a panic attack.
Now, I’m not suggesting that people should all stop interacting at the risk of insulting each other. But I am suggesting that perhaps sometimes the parents know best, and if they jump in and answer a question instead of letting their child do it, perhaps they actually are doing it for a reason. Perhaps assuming that the child is capable of doing something just because you perceive the child to be the right age or the right height or the right whatever…well, maybe you shouldn’t assume. Because we know what happens what you assume, thanks to Felix.
Simon has begun re-watching episodes of “Oswald” on his iPad mini. He loves using Amazon’s streaming videos because he can watch so many cartoons and shows that he likes, and he is in complete control of it. He wanders around with it, watching them on the couch, on the floor, wherever he goes.
For those who are not familiar with “Oswald,” Oswald is an octopus that has a pet dog (Weenie) and a number of friends, including a penguin (Henry) and a flower (Daisy). [Fun Fact: Oswald is voiced by Fred Savage! Yes, that Fred Savage!]
Anyway, so Simon has gotten into the show again in a big way. He used to watch it a lot, but then stopped. Now he really loves it. Watches an episode a day, at least.
Well, in one of the episodes, Oswald’s dog get dirty and needs a bath. And, being a dog, does not want to take a bath. Oswald has to find him and force him to take a bath.
Nothing funny yet, right?
Now let’s remember echolalia.
I was gone to Tampa for the residency period of my MFA. My husband took Simon to the store. Simon walked around, repeating only certain lines from the show. Those lines?
“Weenie’s dirty. Weenie needs to take a bath.”
Now imagine how you would react to an 11-year-old boy walking around saying that. Repeatedly. Apparently there were a number of very strange looks.
My husband tried to mitigate the strangeness by filling in the blanks, “Yes, Oswald’s dog, Weenie, is dirty, and he does need to take a bath.”