I am almost always anxious picking Little Man up from school, just waiting to hear the horrible things that have happened during his day. “How was your day today?” “Fine” he says. And then he proceeds to tearfully tell me he has started to make friends with a couple of female classmates who have been helping him. “How are they helping you?” I ask, assuming they are getting him to play at lunch time or recess, and keep it together when he starts to fall apart. No such luck. They are helping him when three fifth grade boys start tormenting him after school as they all wait to be picked up. <insert bad word here>
Awesome. Just what I want to hear on a Friday afternoon. They tease him because of his comfort item (a rather large, fluorescent orange stuffed shark, Jaws. I think I’ve mentioned Jaws before), because he wears headphones, and how he looks when he gets angry. Honestly. Kids are ruthless, especially to those who are visibly different. But you’ve chosen the wrong kiddo to pick on my friends. You see, I have friends in high places over there. And Little Man has lots of eyes looking out for him. He has cheerleaders and supporters all over that school. Seriously though, does no one teach his child manners any more?
Mentally, I look at Little Man and I know he isn’t doing himself any favors. I’ve tried to talk him into choosing a different, much less visible comfort item to take to school, rather than Jaws. And he can go for weeks without hauling that thing along for the day. But for whatever reason this week, he feels the need to have Jaws with him and who am I to argue? As he clearly points out to me, I don’t know what it’s like to be him. If he wants Jaws to help him get through the day, he gets Jaws. I don’t want to discourage him from the helps he has in place, but he’s kinda putting himself in the line of fire by having Jaws with him. I’m in no way excusing the behavior of these boys. I just know how kids are, and something that obvious just sets off flares of “different.”
He’s tried to ignore them, but they won’t leave it alone. And he gets angry. Who wouldn’t? He’s held it together thus far. Truthfully, I don’t know exactly how long this has been going on. It seems to be a newer development as he’s typically pretty open about social injustices. The hardest part is knowing this likely isn’t the last time someone is going to give him grief. I’m working on getting him to advocate for himself. He hasn’t told a teacher or anyone at school in authority who could help him. I told him to talk to his teacher, his speech therapist, or the social worker. I’ll also be checking in.
Yes, he’s different. Trust me, I get that. Yes, he isn’t helping himself with Jaws and his big ole headphones. But he has a right to not be bullied by anyone. This is one of those rocky parts on his road to glory. This aching momma heart could live without it. I know there’s a container with four dozen freshly-made chocolate chip cookies sitting in my pantry. There’s also an open bottle of zinfandel sitting on the counter. They’re both screaming my name. And after this afternoon, I may just give in.