A new school year brings forth a bundle of worry. Is that how it always is and always will be? I hope not. But I fear it might.
I've been worried about Sammy becoming an ostracized loner. Too far? Maybe. But hear me out. Last year we tried working on becoming more social. It's hard because neither Isaac nor I are incredibly extroverted, so how does one teach that to a first grader? But, he has persisted in "doing chores" at recess because "it makes the teachers happy". Sigh. It hurts me, deep in my core, that we have, what could be argued, the 'weird kid'. I certainly don't want him to lose that work ethic or his teacher's pet standing, but I also don't want him to miss out on being a kid, either.
In not wanting him to grow up too fast, I fear I'm making it so he doesn't fit in with his peers. He's the little boy who will hug all the stuffties in the store because he "doesn't want them to be lonely without a home". He's the little boy who doesn't care about 'norms' nor what others are doing. If he likes someone, he likes them. End of story. He doesn't play games nor jockey for a better "cool" standing. He's the little boy who will hug and kiss away any trouble...and if he can do that? All is right with his world.
BUT. While I will never apologize for raising a sensitive and kind son, I worry. While I am beyond proud that he sees disabilities and differences and befriends anyway, without a care, I know how kids can be. He comes home now and again with stories of meanness directed toward him. Of people saying and doing things that are not ok. He forgets to tell his teacher anything has even happened (he doesn't want to interrupt her and then forgets altogether) so I don't even have a documented pattern to fall back on. To help. And I find myself unable to navigate these waters. I've had a conversation with last years teacher and gotten her insights and most of them match with mine. He's not fitting in because he's not a rough boy boy. MOST of the boys in his class are rough 'boy boys". They try to out cool one another and try to fit in SO hard. Sometimes to the detriment of others. And because Sammy doesn't play those games and has a circle of friends he just loves...he's at the bottom of the social pole. He gets taunted for playing with the girls. He gets pushed around because he won't fight back. He gets avoided, sometimes, because he has no qualms telling the teacher when he thinks an injustice has occurred. He has three really good guy friends in his class, but for some reason that isn't translating IN school - only out.
How do I fix this? Do I even WANT to fix this? I see my troubled school years flashing rapidly before my eyes. I see my life now and how I STILL don't feel I fit in anywhere. And I see my baby boy who is kind and sweet and so sure of things and...there is NOTHING wrong with him. Nothing to fix. But I still yearn for him to fit in, to tweak and make things better for him. To BE better than I ever was. To keep his kindness and sensitivity, but have him be beloved by others, not picked on. I see the potential harm and difficulties and I want to intervene, but I don't know how. Do teachers really want to hear "can you keep an eye out for X because Sammy's had difficulty with him in the past" or does that just translate "My kid is the best and X stinks"?
I've been completely stressed about this for a week. We've been working on some concrete things he can do and I've been heaping on the love and reassurance here. He's made another friend whom he really likes (a new girl in his class this year) and seems completely nonplussed by the whole thing, which is good, but...no one tells you how pride and hurt for your child can go hand in hand. And I'm so incredibly not good at any of this.
(should be higher, depeche mode)