It’s no secret to anyone that has met O that he isn’t like other little boys. He’s a very sensitive kid, who cares about what other people think, is in touch with how he feels (and isn’t afraid to express it), and maybe doesn’t quite talk like other kiddos his age. Those are all the things that I love about my oldest.
But I’m also realistic. I know those things are also what may cause him to have a hard time in school. He’s a follower (except when he wants to be first in line), and really just has a desire to fit in. He loves everyone. He wants to play with EVERYONE. He doesn’t like it when kids get in his personal space, and he’s not afraid to let them know (usually by crying). He also doesn’t have that one friend that he must do everything with, which is fine with me.
His teacher and I have talked at length about where he’s at. Socially, he’s a bit behind. While other kids are pairing off at this age, O is trying his best to make sure he’s friends with everyone. And even though he’s an amazing sharer, he has a need to be first and win all the time. He’s super smart, and is doing well academically, but socially, it’s a struggle… One that I witnessed today in the hall.
I walk him to class every single morning. I’ve tried to foster a little independence in him by dropping him off, but he will not get out of the car unless I am going to walk him to class. So, I oblige, I realize this will not last forever, so I really don’t mind. Most of the other kids in his class walk with their older brothers or sisters, or by themselves. Sometimes we see a child from his class, and O will want to walk with them, so I fall back. This morning was just like that… with one exception, the little boy we saw looked at my child like he was from another planet. And when he did, I could tell O knew something wasn’t okay. He couldn’t quite figure out why this boy didn’t want to walk with him, so he tried again. That’s when this little boy looked right at him and stuck his tongue out, then turned away from him. It bothered O. A lot.
I realize that littles are flighty. Friendships at this age sort of come and go. One week you’re best friends, and then you’re not. You eat lunch together and are pushing each other at recess. I know this little boy will probably be playing “get the zombie” at recess with O. But it clearly registered with him, and that bothered me.
No parent wants their child to ever think they’re not good enough, or smart, or nice, or whatever. You hope to foster a bit of self confidence, some pride in being different. I try to do that all the time with him, because he IS different (in the best way possible), and he’s fucking amazing. He’s funny, and sweet, and full of light. He’s gentle, and friendly, and a very emotional little creature. He loves with his whole soul, screams like a banshee when he’s upset, and cries when he “misses” someone (or his video games). He’s amazing, and I tell him that every single day.
I just hope he remembered that this morning in the school hallway… Because I won’t always be there to hold his hand and tell him I love him. Or give him kisses when we reach his classroom (which the same kid said “ewwwww” to, by the way). Or to hug him tightly when I pick him up. I mean, I will ALWAYS be there, but he won’t let me do those things forever. I hope that, in nine years (when he’s a freshman… Holy cow), he remembers that there are people who love him for being him, and that being “different” isn’t really all that different. That we aren’t all the same, and that’s a GOOD thing. And the things that make him Oliver, make him amazing. I hope he remembers it today, tomorrow, and always.