Of course, just because my children know certain words doesn’t mean that I let them use them. I’m not simply talking about cuss words or curse words (tomāto tomato). One day my 9-year-old daughter accused me of calling my other daughter a slut. After sorting out her mistake, she realized that I’d said the word slacker. That’s like when Peter had trouble sleeping so I told him to tell his teachers that he had insomnia. They spent the whole day thinking he had nausea.
We’ve all been taught that knowledge is power and part of that is having an expanded vocabulary. Peter was typically autistic in that he talked late, but his word usage has always seemed ahead of his years. He’ll ask me politely, “I’d appreciate it if you’d buy me some grape juice.” And, ever one to work the system, he confessed to being “lazy” thinking that would excuse him from finishing his schoolwork. Sometimes he doesn’t know when to apply a certain word. Yesterday he told his sisters that his older brother was at the park playing basketball with some “negroes.” Collectively my daughters and I froze. I had a similar reaction when he once used the word “douche.” So I explained to Peter that it’s not appropriate to use the word negroes. “No, I learned it when we learned about African Americans,” he told me. Knowledge can be a blessing and a curse in an unfiltered autistic brain.
Yesterday’s lessons didn’t end there. We got home and Peter asked me what the inside of his “balls” looked like. So after introducing more appropriate terms like testicles and scrotum, I went straight to Google for images. This kind of straight talk happens a lot in our household. A frank honesty that’s just part of living with Peter. Then he asked me where electricity came from. After stalling with a long “umm” while scanning my brain for an answer, I told him it comes from wires. (Hey! No judgment out there.) Peter corrected me and told me it comes from coal. That’s one of those parenting moments when feeling stupid just comes with the territory. And so does the perk of learning from your kids.