I was really worried going in, like getting called to the principal’s office. Really. I didn’t know what to expect…questioning? Torture? Having to account for why I don’t brush his teeth right or why he appeared at my house in size 2T shorts yesterday? I was totally ready to explain that the reason he appears to wear the same shirt almost every day – his VeggieTales Live shirt – is because he has EIGHT of them, and he doesn’t seem to care that all eight are gradually failing to accommodate his growing stature. So, in 20 years, that guy you see at the gym with the belly shirt? That’ll just be Max with his VeggieTales Live shirt on.
It wasn’t QUITE like that. She didn’t hit me or anything.
Academically, Max is doing exceptionally well. He reads for the class and does well on his paperwork (except he doesn’t like to color). He mumbles to himself while he does his classwork, which his teacher said might be boredom. He rushes (which I used to do) and writes numbers backwards (which I did not do). We need to work on his fine motor skills (writing, cutting, defusing bombs, hand-stitching sneakers, things like that).
Socially…eh. She said he will play with pretty much anyone (which made my heart happy), but only for a little while…and then he goes off to play alone. He gets angry when other little kids don’t want to pretend they’re Bowser and he’s Mario, so I suppose he just removes himself from that frustration, the frustration of non-Nintendo-fluent beings. He’s rough, he hurts people, says he’s sorry…and then forgets. She asked who his best friend was, who he talks about at home…last year, he had best friends. He had a gaggle of kids he loved to talk about…but this year? No. The friends he talked about then have gone on this year to public school for kindergarten, and instead of replacing them, he’s just…removed himself from the kindergarten social scene.
I am a socially awkward creature. I don’t deny it. I’ve been that way as long as I can remember…I had surface friends, acquaintances, but not many I really cared to invest myself in. Friendships take work – a lot of work – and I find that most of the time I just don’t want to bother with it. The friendships I have invested in have paid off…and are more precious to me than gold, but I can name them on my fingers. And the vast majority of them aren’t nearby. So in a way it’s comforting – in Memphis, England, India, or a couple other places, there are people who truly love me for ME – but close by? Friends who are rock solid (and not related to me by blood or marriage) are tough to find.
I treasure the solid friends I do have, and I desperately want that for my children. But to say, “Max, go play with those kids, make some friends,” I’m also saying, “Max, step into this maze of childhood emotion, where kids are mean and cruel and you’ll be opening yourself up to the beginning of a world of insecurity, drama, confusion, and potentially endlessly rewarding relationships.”
I don’t look forward to seeing my child hurt. But I also know that it’s necessary.
I mean, it’ll be years before I can send him to school with a taser.