Friday, July 13, 2012

Forever Friends

One of the things I was really looking forward to with regards to our move was settling in somewhere and really connecting to the community and to the people within the community.  Now, I am fully aware that this cannot happen overnight.  And I am also fully aware that sometimes it's hard to do, especially when so many people have been here for so long and are already connected.  Plus, working full time and spending a lot of time working on our house hasn't helped with being out in the community.  But, I was confident that it would happen.

Part of me was really looking to connect with local moms and expand my small group of friends in the area to something a bit larger.  Something where our kids were playing together and we could coordinate playdates and spontaneous weekend BBQs- you know just like happily ever after TV stuff.  I realize that this, in and of itself, is somewhat unrealistic and ridiculous.  I don't mean the playdates or BBQs, but rather the idea that it would happen easily and right away.

The other part of me was extremely excited for my kids to start making lifetime friends.  As of right now, we have no future plans to leave this area.  I'm currently unemployed but all of the positions I'm considering would not require us moving.  And my husband, while employed but hunting, is not looking for something that would require relocation.  We want to settle in for the long haul and that's why we chose this area.  That being said, I want our kids to settle in and start finding the friendships that they will have with them forever.

I think about the women that I'm friends with now.  Some of them are friendships that are no more than 5 years old.  Some of them go all the way back to Kindergarten.  There is something about each of the friendships that is special and unique and important.  I want my kids to have that.

And I'm worried that they won't.

I watch my kids and how they interact with other kids and I worry that, in some way, we've failed them.  My son especially.  My son is so smart.  I mean like, I used the word exceptional to describe him to someone at the school district a few weeks ago.  And as a result of his being such a brainy kid, I worry that he somewhat lacks the social skills that will help him make friends.  Plus, we've had him in two different schools in the past two years and I don't think that has helped matters.  Hopefully, the fact that he will be in his permanent school starting in September will help.  But the other day at the lake I had to hold myself back from pouncing on another kid as I witnessed an innocent interaction between him and my son.

The kids love the lake.  They would play in it for hours if I let them.  While I'm not even close to a lake person, I love that it's steps from our house and it's easy and wonderful entertainment for my kids.  So, needless to say, we spend a fair amount of time there.  Me on the beach, them in the water.  We were down there for swimming lessons and my son was watching this group of boys play with a football in the water.  He was only a few feet from their game and it was obvious that he was not included in the game but I really think he wanted to be. (He says he just wanted to watch).  So, I'm eyeing the scene and trying to rationalize why these kids, who were maybe a year or so older (if that) than my son weren't asking him to play.  And then this red headed kid turns around, says something to my kid and splashes him in the face.  As I type this I want to cry, just as I did that day.  It hurt to watch this kid do that to my kid.  It made me upset.  In some ways, it actually brought me back to my own childhood.  Within minutes of the incident there was thunder and we had to get going.

So, we left and as we walked I asked my son about the incident.  I asked him why this other kid splashed him.  He said he had no idea.  I asked how he responded, he really didn't.  And that's when I told my kid to do something I never, ever, thought I would say.  "Look, bud, the next time something like that happens you turn to the kid and say, 'I really didn't like that.' then splash him back and walk away."

My son was dumbfounded.  And so was I, really.

His response to me, "But two wrongs don't make a right."


"Well, yes, you're absolutely right about that but you also need to stand up for yourself.  That kid had no reason to splash you or say whatever he said to you.  You have to stand up for yourself and for what is right. Don't EVER let anyone treat you like you don't matter."

"Ok, mommy."

Do I know if my advice was right?  No.  As a matter of fact, it probably wasn't. But I REFUSE to watch my kid get treated like he doesn't matter and I refuse to watch him be excluded simply because he's not Mr. Personality or Mr. Sports.  Those kids don't know what they're missing in him.

So, I sit on the beach now and as much as I don't want to, I watch him like a hawk.  I want to make sure that he's not being excluded.  I want to make sure that no one is treating him like he's not even there.  I also want to make sure that he's standing up for himself.

And then I watch as his sister, surrounded by a group of girls, comes to his rescue and invites him to play with them.  His response?

He splashes them and walks away.

Clearly, we have a bit of work to do.


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