For the love of clocks

The Clock face on the Tower at the Palace of W...

The face of Big Ben (via Wikipedia)

By now, you know my son adores clocks. You’ll remember the story about how we took him to the zoo, and he stopped to stare at a clock rather than see any more animals. You may even recall the rather amusing turns of phrase he’s come up with when talking about his clocks. The clock love just keeps growing, and finding new outlets.

One of my son’s favourite types of outings, is visiting local clock towers. The photo at the bottom of this post, is one I took in the weekend; we’d been to a park as a family, but the outing wasn’t over until we stopped off for him to happy dance around a tower clock on the way back home. He also loves visiting jewelry stores, to look at the watches on display.

Yesterday his class visited a historic village. The highlight for my son, according to his teacher, was seeing grandfather clocks. He’s seen them on the TV, he’s seen them on the computer, but to see a real-life full-size grandfather clock was particularly special.

He’s made it very clear to us that he wants to go see Big Ben. We are in New Zealand. Big Ben is just about as far away from New Zealand as you can get. It’s a long-term goal; we’ve told him he might be able to visit it as a man (and yes I’ve had to calculate for him how many days it will be until he starts being a man – it was 4000 and something). He also plans to buy himself a grandfather clock of his own when he gets a job. I’m all for motivation, even if he is only five.

He used to have two wristwatches, but he played with them too much and they stopped working. Once we stopped him wearing them to school (since they weren’t telling the correct time anyway), I placated him by drawing a watch on his wrist. He’s since started drawing clocks and watches on himself. I’m just glad he’s not old enough to get a tattoo! He loves drawing clocks on places that aren’t his own skin too. He draws them so much that it’s noticeably improved his fine motor skills, as he tries to master a circle and the correct placement of those dashes, dots, or numbers around the clock face.

He knows his grandfather clocks from his cuckoo clocks, his wristwatches from his alarm clocks, his analog from his digital. He knows a minute hand from an hour hand from a second hand from an alarm hand. He also knows roman numerals. He’s even pretty good at telling the time.

Each new room he enters or TV program he sees, he’s looking for a clock in the background and lets us know when he finds it. His mind is always tuned to clocks. They are his chosen rewards for good behaviour; if he gets his hair cut (which is a big deal for him), he gets a new clock or at the very least, a new children’s book about telling time. I spent a good while one day trying to get him something extra special; a book with all the different types of clocks in it. I found a few about antiques, but nothing worthy of my son’s level of passion.

I’ve now got rather used to the endless ticking that surrounds me at home. It doesn’t maddenly distract me from everything the way that it used to. I’ve even tried to become passionate about the clocks like my son; so I can share in his joy and excitement. It doesn’t fascinate me particularly though; I can see their occasional beauty, but I wouldn’t want to look at them all day (or even for more than a few minutes).

But I love my son. So much. And if he thinks clocks are worth loving, then that makes them pretty special in my book too.

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8 Responses to For the love of clocks

  1. Hi – just found your fantastic blog. I love the way you write. This post about clocks warm the cockles of my heart. I know this type of enthusiasm for certain objects only too well! My son’s beloved things have jumped from numbers to letters, to elevators, to trains, to lamp posts, to windscreen wipers, to escalators…..! Sheesh, do I know a lot about these things now!! Obsessions can be helpful too…I wrote a post, over at my blog:
    http://autism-somethoughts.blogspot.com/2010/02/everything-starts-with-e-for.html

  2. Kerrie says:

    Loved this post! My son is obsessed with churches (he likes the steeples) , industrial chimneys and movie idents. He can name any movie or tv logo. I recently bought him a book about factories just for the chimneys. Everyday as we walk from nursery we have to take the long way home just so he can look at a large chimney! The joy he gets from it daily is why I take him. He loves it.
    It’s 2.40 in the morning and he’s up humming to himself. I know he’ll start babbling about steeples or chimneys within the hour.

  3. Leila says:

    My son is 3.5 and was just diagnosed with autism. He developed a love for clocks a few months ago. He has a wristwatch and a wall clock that he carries around with him the way other kids carry teddy bears or security blankets. He even sleeps with his wall clock. I found your post after Googling for autistic kids who love clocks. I enjoyed your post, and I think there will be some trips to see famous clocks in our future.

  4. Jenny says:

    My son has the same love for clocks and fans ! He just turned 3. Is this something to worry about? He has a diagnosis of ASD. He is still learning thing around him.. but when left to himself he would prefer CLOCKS or FANS. Does this get better over time? Is he still in love with Clocks?? Any recommendations for us?

    • Hi Jenny. For what it’s worth, my son’s love of clocks was a fantastic thing in the end – he learned to tell time quickly; he and we used this skill to help manage anxiety / turn-taking, etc; his love for clocks developed into a love of calendars, and even into a love of the movement of the universe – he enjoys the measure of time. My suggestion is to find a way to use his love of clocks to engage with him socially, to expand his experiences and interactions and knowledge, and use it as a reward system for other activities he must do (or, better yet, to build it into those activities). My son still loves clock, but not to the obsessive extreme he once did – I think they’ll always be something special to him though. Wishing you all the best for finding a way to help his love of clocks become something wonderful for you too, would love to hear how you get on 🙂

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