FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

McDonald’s Reflection

Written By: Scot Butwell - Mar• 15•15

mcdees sign

This is a joke I heard an English teacher say once: The past, the present, and the future walked into a bar. It was tense. Okay, here’s another grammar joke (in case the first one didn’t make you laugh):

Knock knock!

Who’s there?


To who?

No, to whom?

Corny, I know. But when I was in high school, I remember my English teacher once looked at me and said, “name two pronouns.” To which I replied, “Who? Me?” And the straight A girl sitting next to me laughed.

This is what I imagine social situations may feel like for D with his “provisional” autism diagnosis. (There was never a “follow-up” diagnosis: that, I guess, is better left for a few years down the road, but in the meantime, I lean in all three directions: he is on the sprectrum, he isn’t on the spectrum, and it’s just a label and doesn’t matter.)

Five years later, when he is nine years old, I have concluded he has a sensory processing issues and a mild version of autism (since he has what Stanley Greenspan calls “secondary traits”such as occasional stimming behaviors).

Social communication—and relationships–can be confusing and tense for D as if the past, present and future tenses were trying to carry on a conversation in a bar.

I remember grammar was like fine wine up to my early twenties. Verbs. Nouns. Adjectives. Adverbs. Pronouns. Prepositions. Conjunctions. Interjections. Pluperfect tense. I understood their function in a sentence, somewhat

But I didn’t come close to understanding their purposes in a sentence until they became relevant to me as a writer and, as an English teacher, I still don’t know the Pluperfect tense means.

So, it may take time, as it did with me to grasp grammar, for D to develop his social competence and to feel comfortable in the nuances of a social interaction, and to be able to whack words back and forth like a ping pong ball.

Lately, I have been imagining how a conversation is like “improv” acting. One person says a thing, another person says a thing; a new thing is said, the other person responds, and a chain of dialogue develops fro one line to the next into a lager scene.

Just like a conversation.

Maybe I need to enroll D in an “improv” acting class? Hey, that’s not a bad idea.

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