It’s that time of year again. We have a birthday (tomorrow) with cake, and presents. But we might not have any friends to invite.
“No one has ever invited me to a birthday party,” he said matter of factly. No obvious hint of dismay, other than the slight downward inflection at the very end which I picked up on because I know him so well. Even when contemplating something rather sad, he refuses to be discouraged. (full disclosure, he HAS been invited to several birthday parties but they were mostly in preK.)
That’s my boy. The enthusiast. The optimist. The unsinkable master mind of a million contraptions, inventions, solutions, businesses, ideas. Despite his real and documented struggles with attention, impulse control and dysgraphia, he doesn’t see anything as a real obstacle. Just a speed bump that he can get past. Eventually.
Unfortunately, he’s facing a world that continually wants to limit everything, especially kids like him.
The resilience so many parents want to “instill” into their kids, he has in spades. I’ve done nothing magical to put it there. It’s who he is. It’s why he’s so hard to parent, coach and teach. He doesn’t sit passively with anything. He needs to investigate and explore and understand for himself, in his own way, and in his own time. Period. And most often, his time is light speed ahead. Patience is possibly the most important thing we are working on at the moment. He sucks at it.
We had planned to invite some boys for a late over birthday party before the holidays but our little guy got into a very unfortunate conflict with another strong willed child and ended up suspended according to the school policies and then kept in functional isolation for another month. So, kinda hard to invite anyone to a party if you never get to see them.
When I asked the sped teacher who he should invite, I was only offered other sped students. Little man volunteered that he would wait until the New Year and “reconnect” with the kids in his class he felt most friendly towards.
While I get two different stories, one from my child and one from the school, I’m pretty certain there is a third story that hasn’t really fleshed out. But the rub is that my child hasn’t been able to live down his own reputation for past behaviors though he’s tried so hard. The event before the break was a build up caused by the same boys from last year teasing and picking on him….again….
We have to wonder about the school social climate; how and why the social bullying is continuing under the radar without really any concrete interventions on the bullies themselves? It seems schools are really only concerned about physical bullies. Several friends/teachers have confided to me that the sad reality is that schools are not capable of intervening. They don’t have the skill set, time or motivation. It’s far easier to extricate the more difficult children.
We continue to coach and support our guy and thankfully he has a very positive attitude and determination. He owns the consequences of his behaviors and keeps trying. I wish the other kids would give him a chance. I think most of them do. It’s just a handful who feel the need to ostracize and tease him. He’s drawn to them like a moth to a flame. All we can do is keep reminding him there are other NICER kids to play with and that those “teaser” kids are not his friends for now….easier said than done.
We recently set up a game account (Animal Jam) and one of the security questions was “Who is your best friend.” Little man looked up at me with a sweet little face, searching for a name.
I just as quickly realized the pain of not having even one friend to name, so I suggested our dog.
“Yes!” he said. “She’s my best friend.”
So, as we blow out the candles for his next year around the sun, we are praying for some real friendships to blossom in 2016. Could be some of the older friends who’ve drifted because of age differences and inconvenience or new friends who will be eager to make time for him outside of school. This has been a constant quest, a very non-trivial, heart breaking (for me as his mom) quest for several years now….Watching our friends boys run in small and larger packs of friends, while our guy asks “when can I play with xyz?” And I can’t answer because I’ve heard no or silence too many times….
Tonight, if you are reading this, please say a little prayer for little guy as he ventures to school this week and hopes to entice at least two or three boys to his “late over” birthday party in the next week or two. I haven’t set a date. I can’t bear the thought of a party that no one comes to. It’s easier to get busy and eventually say, “maybe next year.”