April 19th: Autism has taught me the innocence of rhyming games gone wrong.
We don’t rhyme with the letter ‘F’.
Let me explain. I’d say K was close to 5, but not quite. They had started teaching rhyming as part of reading in her kindergarten class and she rhymed everywhere we went. This particular day we were walking through Target, we rhymed the “-uck” sound.
“Cluck”, I said.
“Cluck, duck”, she repeated.
“Cluck, duck, yuck”
“Cluck, duck, yuck, muck”
“Cluck, duck, yuck, muck, buck”
“Cluck, duck, yuck, muck, buck, f—“
Insert cricket chirp here.
She must have seen something betraying me on my face because she repeated it two or three more times before I finally got her to stop giggling about her new word. Who knew something as innocent as rhyming could go so wrong and in public at that? We got a few stares as I tried to explain that why we don’t rhyme with ‘F’, some disapproving looks from the people who had heard her and some understanding smirks from people who understood what had just taken place. Inside I was giggling. I was laughing so hard on the inside. On the outside, I forced a stoic front and made my “mommy opinion” clear. We’ve had issues with rhyming since then, and I know this is probably typical behavior for little children, but I can’t help the innocence in her face. It wasn’t that she had gotten caught saying a bad word. The expression on her face clearly stated her intention was simply to keep the rhyme going. She truly hadn’t understood what she’d said. We don’t use words like that ever but especially not around her. Echolalia, we learned early on, is a powerful thing, but can also be incredibly embarrassing. These aren’t words we’d want her to repeat. Ever! So we don’t use them ourselves. We still play the rhyming game to encourage free thought and increase her vocabulary, but we’re very careful.
We don’t rhyme with ‘F’.