Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Alex's Tunes

When Alex was about ten years old, he—like many boys that age—found profanity funny and tried to shock us by cursing. Knowing that making a big deal of his swearing would only make him want to do it more, we calmly explained why he shouldn’t use certain four-letter words and tried not to react much when he said them. Since he knew he wasn’t supposed to say the bad words, he decided instead to write some “songs” with PG-13 lyrics. He typed them neatly on his typewriter, and one day when I was stacking his various typed lists, I ran across two pages of the "lyrics" he’d composed. Even though I wasn’t thrilled with his topic of inspiration, I had to admit that he had some interesting ideas, so I saved his work and put it away in a drawer for safe keeping. Now I’m glad I’ve kept them all these years because they’re pretty amusing.

In all there are four songs, each of which he’s titled as “The _____ [word he’d been told not to say] Song,” and he added the time length in minutes and seconds, as he had seen on CD covers, such as 3:36. His songs vary in length from 3:06 to 4:06, according to what he’d written beside each song’s lyrics. A common theme in these tunes is that he knew he was not supposed to say the words. For example, he wrote, “Don’t type bad words on the Internet…not nice—don’t say or type or write or look up bad words. They’re not good; you don’t say bad words.” [The punctuation is my editing; it’s the English teacher in me that can’t stand run-ons, even if they’re free association from the mind of a ten-year-old with autism.] Moreover, he wanted to know what they meant because he kept writing about looking them up in a dictionary. For example, he wrote, “You [He referred to himself as “you” because he mixed up his pronouns.] don’t know what [Here he lists three curse words.] mean. Buy the word dictionary that includes [Here he lists the same three words.].” In another song, he showed his understanding of how censors edit curse words by bleeping them out: “You not spouse [sic] to say [four-letter word] on TV or radio; if you say it on TV, they make the noise, and you can’t hear what there [sic] saying.” Besides his references to media censorship, he took a religious perspective in the same tune, as he commented, “Even God doesn’t like it.” As I recall, I called in a higher authority figure on this behavior, thinking He might make a greater impression upon Alex and his potty mouth than Ed and I were making at the time.

The last tune of the four is entitled “The Shut Up Song,” in which Alex explained, “The only bad word you know what [it is] is shut up—means be quiet. Thats [sic] rude, not a dirty word.” He showed some frustration that he couldn’t figure out the meaning of the other three words about which he’d written songs: “You will never know what does [three profanities] mean.” However, he seemed to have some sense of right and wrong because he concluded those lyrics: “I don’t like that to talk; bad language is not good for Alex.” Although Alex has always struggled with I and you pronouns, referring to himself as “you” or “Alex,” he never uses “I” to refer to another person. However, when he feels strongly about something (such as “I hate popcorn!”), he correctly uses the pronoun I, which makes me think he knew he wasn’t supposed to use the words that inspired his original songs. I find it interesting that he chose to express his feelings as “songs” because Alex very rarely sings. Moreover, his lyrics, unlike most songs, have no particular rhythm or rhyme schemes; his form of poetry, like his father's, is written in free verse. Nonetheless, I’m glad that he decided to type his thoughts because they give us insight as to what he was thinking at the time. I have to admit, though, what pleases me most is that he outgrew his fascination with “bad words” to the point he never says anything that a TV censor would have to bleep. I think God would like that, too.

“Instead, glorify His mighty works, singing songs of praise.” Job 36:24

1 comment:

K. C. said...

I love that Alex journaled his thoughts in song! He was determined to learn the meanings of those words, wasn't he? :)