Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ain't It Good To Know?

That you've got a .... someone who understands you?  A someone who enjoys you for who you are?  Someone who doesn't judge you?  Who realizes you mean well, and forgives your quirks?  A ...friend?

We all want that in life to some degree, and hopefully everyone has at least one person who meets us halfway.  Some people are lucky enough to have a collection of souls to call friends.  I wouldn't say I have a collection, but I know my husband is that person, my mother and perhaps one or two friends truly get me and accept me.  I am very lucky. 

Ever since I knew I was pregnant with A, my 4yo son, I considered the issues both my husband and I (fierce introverts) have had with communication skills and socializing beginning in elementary school (and sometimes ongoing for me).  I wanted to avoid that for our son, and decided to be proactive.

He will go to preschool and the playground everyday to get used to other kids.  I will go above and beyond to find a friend for him, someone he will enjoy being buddies with and they will enjoy their toddler years together.  Then A. was actually born and life happened.

I knew he was a bit different because he never stopped crying at daycare.  He enjoyed being held as an infant, he liked knowing someone was right nearby (he is not much of a snuggler now!).  Since his daycare didn't believe in swings, and that infants should explore the world "at their fingertips," he spent his time crying on the floor until someone held him.  Eventually I couldn't handle that anymore and pulled him out when he was five and a half months old - I was thrust into the roll as a Stay-At-Home-Mom, not a huge deal since my salary as a teacher was basically cancelled out by the cost of a premium full-time daycare.  (I could always go back and teach somewhere, right?)

A and I enrolled in a Kindermusik class, and we loved every moment - especially when we eventually got to know other babies and had little baby playdates.  A really bonded with a child right before their 2nd birthdays, but unfortunately we moved about thirty minutes away and they eventually moved back to England.  Sad face.

A is an awesome child.  (Yes, I am his mother and I am going to brag - duh).  He is very bright, he remembers tons of factoids about random places, objects, people, animals - he is truly a sponge.  He isn't very athletic (except for swimming - he does really well).  And unfortunately, he doesn't enjoy playing the way most children play.  Running around screaming, laughing, jumping up and down and being silly - he has just never been that kind of child.  As a parent - it's frustrating to bring your child to a playdate, and your child doesn't want to do the running-jumping-bouncing silliness that other children enjoy.  Instead, he would rather play an elaborate game with characters, tell the other children the pretend history of the setting, etc.  Adults say (to my face) that "he's so cool, that's so awesome how he thinks like that."  But as a parent - you just want your child to fit in.  A doesn't.  He's been left out (which doesn't bother him) and sometimes hit by other children (which does bother him) for being different/annoying/weird or however else he is perceived.  That stinks as a parent - you don't want that kind of suck for your child when you lived it yourself.

Sometimes, I would worry so much about it.  I started to worry about it this past weekend at a small BBQ with acquaintances/friends.  A few of the kids were having a grand time running around and giggling, and A wanted to play with cars (and pretend they were a car factory, and each car had a specific location it was being delivered... etc).  He watched the other kids run, and just... didn't.  At some point, he ended up in a playroom where the house-cat lives, and he and another child were gently petting and playing with the cat.  He's incredibly gentle with animals, we've taught our kids to do this from the very beginning - it's a subject I am EXTREMELY anal about since I was a pet owner for so many years before having kids.  My cats WERE my kids, and I do not want my children to be rough with animals.  The other children joined them, and two of them were particularly rough with the cat, shoving it into a closet and locking it into enclosed spaces.  A told them to stop, and continued to tell them to stop being mean to the cat and eventually tried to get help from a grown-up when they wouldn't listen.  The other gentle child corroborated this story with her mother.

I have never been more proud of my son.  He is who he is.  He is weird.  He is annoying sometimes, he can be a butt and selfish with toys.  But he stood up for a helpless creature, all on his own. 

It was that moment I just let go of my worries about his interactions with others.  He's got his stuff together in the ways the matter most to the person he is becoming.  And I gotta say - *I* like that person.  He may not want to be friends with anyone yet.  That's fine.  THAT'S FINE.  For now he has us - the people in his life who get him, who support him, who believe in him.  Someday this kid might be a great friend to another child, but for now - he can keep being a loner who plays weird games and stands up for the animals.  If he's not worried about it, neither am I.

Ain't it good to know... I believe in you?  I hope so.  I hope so, buddy.