The Case of the Missing Pencil

Nothing stops me in my tracks more than seeing the school’s number on my caller ID in the middle of the day, or while waiting to pick up the kids hearing the Principle or Vice Principle say… “I need to talk with you. Nothing serious… but Jay was in my office today.” Yesterday I was sick, so my husband was the one who heard those words. I must admit, I am very impressed on how he handle it too.

He waited until he got the kids home and settled then he asked Grace to go start her homework upstairs so that mommy and daddy could talk to Jay. Without a raised voice and with no sense of anger, he asked Jay what happened at Art. I sat there quiet since I had no clue what this was about. Well that is a lie… I knew that he must have gotten upset about something and acted out or else he would not have ended up in the vice-principle’s office obviously. But I sat down to listen to my baby tell his tale. And that is what it is to Jay… a Tale… a story with good guys and bad guys. It is all white and black with Jay. He cannot see the gray that falls somewhere in between. So here is how yesterday’s tale went… in Jay’s eyes.

Jay was in art class… when suddenly he noticed that his special pencil, which ironically happens to be gray, was suddenly missing. Immediately the fact that the pencil was missing meant to Jay that someone in his group had stolen it. They knew how much this pencil meant to him, remember this is through his eyes we are talking about, and they took the pencil anyway. So Jay became upset and angry and announced to the entire group, “I know one of you stole my pencil. You have to the end of the class to return it or else I will rip your heads off!” Then he sat down.

A student, understandably so, reported Jay’s threat to the teacher, and well… Jay was sent to the Vice Principle’s office. I love this school. They handle things so well. They know my son and they know that he would never hurt a fly but still procedures are procedures. They did not write it up, they simply addressed the issue with Jay.

This is where you will get an idea as to how my baby’s brain works. Jay understood what he did was wrong. It was a bad choice he admitted and even apologized. What he could not understand was how the other boy could have felt threatened. “Mom… there is no physical way I could ever really rip his head off. It was just words. Why would he get so upset?” At this point my son was fighting very hard to keep from loosing it. One single tear was rolling down his face but he was taking deep breaths so that others would not join it. He was twitching from the effort of doing so. These are the times that I just want to grab my son close to me and scream out at the world… “look what you are doing to him”. But I can’t. This is a situation that we have to address. Jay needs to develop a social story for this so that he can recall it the next time, and there will be a next time, so he knows how to act. But before we could go there, I knew I needed to make my son understand that I get him. So, I asked him about the pencil. My husband looked at me crazy, as if to say what does it matter about the pencil. “Jay”, I said, “What is so special about the gray pencil?” My son stopped and looked at me with a look that would melt your heart, in fact it did. “Mom, before we left Brazil, my friend Daniela gave me that pencil. She said to remember her when I use it. And I do mom. How can I remember her if the pencil is gone?”

My poor sweet boy. My poor sweet literal boy. And people say that kids with Autism don’t feel!

10 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Pencil

  1. So sweet about the pencil and Daniela! Found it interesting that he used the nonliteral expression “rip your heads off.” My son has started to use more figurative expressions in the past year or so but is still perplexed when he hears a new one now and then.

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  2. OMG, it took me by complete surprise and I started crying! Daniela asked me what was wrong so I let her read it for herself. She got to the part about rip your head off, and said “that’s Jay”! When she got to the end, she was silent and just looked at me. She finally said, yes, I did give him a gray pencil but Mommy, why would someone steal his pencil. I explained how mean kids could be, especially if they know it’s a way to get at someone. She jumped up and said, I have a great idea and ran upstairs. So, Fred will be delivering something for Jay when he comes, with a little something for Gracie as well!

    1. Give Daniela a HUGE hug for me! She really is a special girl. What a heart she has… no wonder Jay likes her so much! I feel so blessed to have gotten a chance to have met you both.

  3. Ok So how do you make a social story out of this to help him use next time. How do you explain to a child that some people are so cruel that they could care less if they are hurting someone, could care less if they take something that belongs to someone else, that it doesnt matter to them how precious something is… how do you explain that to any child? Worse yet, it’s sad that we would have to! I hope he finds that pencil and if someone did take it, they will return it to him.

  4. Pencil is still missing. I want to believe with all my heart that he just lost it because the other alternative is just to sad. All I can do is try and continue to teach MY children right from wrong and hope (because we all know I am hoping now and not expecting) that other parents will do the same thing with their kids.

  5. The story is about how words can cause people to be scared or hurt their feelings. We can not choice what happens to our children as much as we want. We can only teach them to be responsible for their reactions to them.

  6. Sharon, what a fascinating insight into how your son thinks and how he sees the world. I’m glad you shared it. It seems that he does know that people are cruel — why else would he guess that one of the kids took the pencil? But I agree with Nadeen — the story needs to focus on how to respond when you are treated unfairly, and how a person’s actions towards you does not justify attacking them back, whether with words or with fists (or whatever).

    Great to meet you!

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