Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bad friends

I've read that choosing the wrong friends is standard behavior for adolescents with FASD, and boy oh boy, are we seeing it this year with my 12-year-old son. Every day, constantly, I'm hearing Nick this, Nick that, Nick the other thing. When my son says something offensive, I get, "But Nick says it!" When I tell him he can't have 50 Cent CDs for, like, the 5,432nd time, I get, "But Nick has them!" Nick also, apparently, has a new video iPod, a cell phone, every possible objectionable movie and videogame, and parents who are way more lenient than I. He gets to stay up late, he gets to skip homework, he gets to do whatever he wants. Between him and Caillou's dad, I'm constantly falling on the "mean parent" side of the line.

Now, I've met Nick. He's been in my son's self-contained special-ed class for a couple of years now, and he doesn't seem to be a mean kid. He's got issues of his own, for sure, so I can't come down too hard on him. But I do think he gets a kick out of how fervently my son imitates him, and sometimes tells him to say bad or scandalous things just because he knows my boy will do it. And that, eventually, is going to be trouble, whether because the things he repeats are really bad or because Nick tells him to actually do things. This is classic FASD, logic-free, consequence-ignorant behavior, and I sure do wish I could make him see why doing what Nick does and saying what Nick says is such a bad idea.

I got a little glimpse of the future yesterday, when my son met me at the door of the school shouting, "The new-style flush!" Um, what? "Nick says it!" Apparently Nick had flushed the toilet in the boys' room with his foot and called it "the new-style flush," and now it's my son's catch phrase or something. As we walked to the car, my son yelled it out to every kid who went past. At one point, he started poking the girl walking in front of us and saying, "Hey, kid! The new-style flush! The new-style flush! Hey!" She gave him a look caught somewhere between disgust and terror, and I wrestled him away and tried talking to him, but "Nick says it" and that's that. I'll bet Nick doesn't say it constantly to every person who walks by, but he certainly gets the ball rolling as far as my son's concerned. What happens if he thinks it's funny to tell my son to say phrases with threats or obscenities? Maybe it's a good thing my guy's speech is still not real clear. Memo to speech therapist: Lay off articulation for a while, okay?

There are so many sweet and gentle and harmless kids in my son's class. Why can't he imitate that kid who never talks, hmmm? Why doesn't he fixate on him? Yeah, I know. "Choosing the wrong friends." It's going to be a long adolescence.

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