School will possibly be a difficult place for my son someday. He is still young enough that the kids don’t notice that he gets pulled out for all academic subjects or that he goes to the school nurse every day to get his medicine. He is still young enough that he doesn’t really know that he is different or that things come easier for others than they do for him. He doesn’t know yet that other kids will value each other for being smarter and cooler.
Someday they will notice these things. They may care and they may not. By then my son may already be a good enough friend that they won’t care that he is a little bit different.
Or they might reject him. We all know how mean kids can be. And that could make school a not so happy place for him. As if school isn’t already challenging enough for him academically. It may someday be challenging for him socially as well.
I worry about this a lot but I find one piece of solace within this anxiety:
We live in the best neighborhood in the entire world. It is like this little one block of utopia (And its not just because I like to drink wine with all of the moms). The kids are genuinely nice kids. And there are a lot of them. It’s the type of neighborhood where the kids start playing on a Thursday afternoon and pretty soon someone brings out popsicles for all the kids. And then someone initiates that we should all just order pizza and have a picnic dinner together. It’s the type of place where even the bigger kids let loose and swing on the swings, pretend sword fight and run through the sprinkler. No one has to act cool here.
None of the kids are in his grade. Everyone is either just a little bit older or a little bit younger. They are close enough in age that they enjoy playing together but far enough that they will never be in the same class with each other. With his neighborhood friends he can always just be the kid who is good at hitting the whiffle ball at block parties.
I’ve heard that research has shown that even if you don’t have many friends at school, you’ll be okay as long as you have a few good friends someplace. You’ll be okay as long as you feel connected to someone. It might be school for some people, or on the basketball court for others. It might be church. Or it could be the most awesome neighborhood in the world.
Just recently, my son and I started talking about planning his upcoming birthday party. I asked him what type of party he would like. He thought about it for a while and finally said, “Mom, can I just have a neighborhood party? I just want to have all my neighborhood friends come over and play outside with me.”
And I know he’ll be okay.