Both of my older boys are literal thinkers. I know it comes with the territory that is ADHD and autism. I try to explain idioms and sarcasm to Jake, as I know that he does understand it once it is explained.
I had such the opportunity to explain one after our religious education class yesterday. (Because I don’t have enough going on in my life, I teach 13 third graders religious ed on Monday evenings.) As the kids were waiting for dismissal, the five boys congregated by the door. Being eight-and-nine year olds, they were being silly. One started to ask the others if they “cut the cheese”. A few started to giggle. I panicked a little….please, oh, please, don’t ask Jake, I thought. He will be literal here…we really don’t use that phrase at home.
It was as if the child asking the question could feel my panic. He looked right at Jake, who was giggling because the others were giggling, and asked him if he “cuts the cheese” a lot. Jake got quiet, looked a little serious, and then said, “Nooooooo, I don’t do that.” Jake did say, however, “I Cut the Rope…you know, that game with the frog and the rope and the candy? I do that.” The child asking the question looked quizzically at Jake. To him, Jake’s statement was out of left field and unexpected. “Yeah, I know that game…anyway…hey, John, do you cut the cheese?” Giggles ensued.
Whew. Social awkwardness mostly averted. I know Jake’s mind came up with “Cut the Rope” because that is a reference he understands. In the game, you swipe the rope and it is “cut”. It is fun..and he and his brothers often giggle when playing it together…In Jake’s mind, it was similar to the situation at religious ed, because the one boy was asking if people “cut the cheese” and then everyone giggled.
Once we were at home and were eating dinner, I asked Jake if he remembered how the boys were talking about “cut the cheese” at religious ed. He did..and got a goofy grin. I asked if he knew what that meant. “Is it a game?” Hubz and I smiled….I explained that it’s not a game, but rather, a way to ask if someone has passed gas. “Like a fart?” (Ah, boys.) “Yes…like that.” Jake started giggling…”Ohhhh, that’s right. Everyone was laughing.” (Cuz when you’re a third grader, farts are funny….ok, farts are funny when you’re in your late 30’s too…)
I know the conversation resonated with Jake, because this morning when I, um, passed gas, and said, “excuse me”, Jake heard it and blurted out, “Mom, you cut the cheese.” So, yes, I do pass gas (as do you all, but I actually wrote about it). AAAAaanddd, taught my kid, successfully, another idiom which will help him navigate those tricky social circles. (Because we all know how much humor 3rd graders derive from bodily functions…ok, as do late 30-somethings.)