Night – Day
Black – White
Dog – Cat
Everyone knows the word association game. I’ll say a word and you say the first word that pops in your head. In psychology, the game is supposed to reveal some of a person’s subconscious mind because it shows what things they associate together.
Carl Jung, founder of analytical psychology, theorized that people connect ideas, feeling, experiences and information by way of associations. Jung thought that ideas and experiences are linked, or grouped, in the unconscious so as to exert influence over a person’s behavior.
For me, and apparently many people, word association is just a fun game. Part of the fun is to see how others respond when you say a word and to figure out why the association exists. There are logical patterns, such as the opposites I’ve listed above, but the fun comes in trying to figure out the more creative associations.
Which brings me to what is on my mind – the very unusual word and other associations which my son has vociferously expressed in no uncertain terms. I’m pretty sure that some of his associations would leave both Jung and Freud scratching their heads. Yet, as a mom, I can give you better insights. Here’s a brief glance at some things that yield – uhmm — other things in my son’s world:
“It’s time for your breathing treatment!” = “Ice cream!”
As I’ve mentioned before, my son has asthma. As a preventative measure, he routinely gets two nebulizer (vapor medicine) treatments he inhales per day in 12 minute increments. No – I do not give him ice cream twice a day for each of these. Yes, he has had ice cream in the past during a breathing treatment, from his daddy. He has not forgotten this fact and apparently, it is now forever associated with the words “breathing treatment” especially when his daddy is in the room. Can you say “sucker”? My word association with “sucker” would be “dad”.
“Yum” or “Mmmm” in response to eating something = “Let’s go to the doctor’s office!”
Yeah, I don’t really get this one except that it may be a sensitivity to hearing these expressive sounds uttered by anyone. That sensitivity may be so strong that he wants to see the doctor to get medicine for it to go away.
“Kangaroo” = “Chuck Norris”
This is a new one. No, not a fan. In fact, I have no idea how this came to be at all. I suspect it has to do with, again, his dad watching TV while the little guy played with his Winnie the Pooh phone (Kanga and Roo) or perhaps Chuck Norris made a film with kangaroos of which I am unaware.
The associations do not stop with words however. No, my son is more “creative” than that. My son is not limited to finding associations with simple words. Associations are made daily or weekly for this:
Automatic Stapler/Copier Sounds = “Push the PT Cruiser Buttons!”
My son has a toy PT Cruiser. We do not own such a vehicle. It is only a toy. When he was younger and prone to bolting out a side door of our office just for fun into the parking lot, we stationed a toy PT cruiser car as a guard to the exit door, which is one of those doors that “must remain unlocked during business hours” per the local fire department. He fears the sound of the PT cruiser which plays the Ludacris song, “How low can you go?” He loves this song on an old McDonald’s commercial but hates it on the PT cruiser. Once our automated security guard was set up, he no longer attempted to bolt out this door.
However, now, if he hears the automatic stapler or the photocopier at our office, at the opposite end of the hall from the PT cruiser sentry guard, he will run in to the photocopier room and demand that someone “Push the PT cruiser button!” This begging and pleading for the dreaded PT cruiser button continues until we call his bluff and start walking toward it at which point he says, “No! No! Stay!!”
Other random associations:
Dropping Something in the Car = Krabby Patty
If he drops something in the car like a toy car or phone, he will immediately begin to yell, “Krabby Patty! Want a krabby patty! Let’s eat a krabby patty! Mommy to get a Krabby patty!!” (a reference to Spongebob, the cartoon and their favorite food, a “krabby patty” which apparently is an underwater burger for sea creatures.) I have no idea how this association came to be other than maybe he dropped a hamburger in the back seat of the car when he was younger but I do not remember this happening. I do remember a strawberry milkshake spill and many french fry spills so that’s probably it.
Turning onto a certain street = Going to the Post Office
Finally, there is one street that we take to get from preschool back to the office where therapy happens. Every single day I drive down this street and make a turn toward our office which is the direction opposite to drive to the post office, about four miles away. Without fail, each time I make this turn he yells out, “Post office!! Wanna go to the post office!! Post office!”
We have not been to that post office since last year. Yet, one would think the post office was either holding something or someone important to him hostage or he thinks it is a toy store from the way he yells about wanting to go there. Yesterday, I explained to him that we are, indeed getting all our mail. Even though we don’t go to the post office, he is not missing anything. The mailman delivers the mail to our office and to our house. This seemed to settle him down. We shall see.
Yesterday afternoon, I actually talked to him about word association and tried it on him. I said “dog”. He said, “Dog.” I said, “No, you say a different word.” He just looked at me. (Cool for the eye contact). I then gave him an example of “I say dog. You say cat.” Then I tried a couple more but he just repeated what I said.
Later, that night, I tried again. “Dog.” He actually answered, “Cat.” I said, “Day.” He hesitated a little and said “Ni….” I praised him and said night. Then, I said “Black” and he said, without hesitation, “White!” Yay! So, maybe he thinks it’s just opposites but at least it’s a start.
Overall, I’d say this word association game is not ready to debut at any of my son’s future play dates. If he played it with some NT children, I’m sure it would not be the ice breaker that would lead to a lot of social invitations. However, with me at least, he has a captive audience and I think he’s a big hit.