Just like most moms, I worry about my kids. I worry about their social interactions, bullies, etc.
I worry more than usual – for good reason – about Colin.
Whenever we’re in a social situation with other children, I can’t help but keep a close eye on him – not just because I worry about him running off to chase something sparkly, but because I am acutely aware of his surroundings. With adults, I’m usually more concerned that Colin with bother someone with his incessant questions and non-sensical “conversations.” Around children, I worry he will be made fun of, misunderstood…possibly hurt.
Children don’t have the filters and patience that most adults do. One time at an indoor pool, Colin was pestering some kids who were trying to play a little game of water basketball. At one point, one of the kids backed into him, essentially pushing him out of the way. He had this look in his eye that said one more annoyance would likely get an even worse reaction.
Colin doesn’t understand those looks. He has no idea when he’s pushing someone’s buttons. I swooped in and pulled him away from that group of boys before things got worse.
Last night, we went to a local Independence Day celebration. There was a band playing, a bounce house, kids playing on the playground – it was a great night.
At one point, I saw Colin go up to an older boy – I think he must have been somewhere between 13-14 years old – and start asking a million questions. The kid had a smile on his face and I thought, “Oh, great – he’s about to be told off, probably made fun of. I hope he backs off when that happens and he doesn’t push the issue!”
But something else happened. This kid started playing with Colin. On a playground covered with roughly 40 kids, these two seemed to understand each other. He let Colin boss him around and laughed at his jokes. He’d wander off for a while and then come back to the playground for long stretches.
I don’t know where his parents were – maybe he was there alone – or what his story was, but he definitely seemed a little “different”. I actually thought he looked familiar…then had to laugh at myself when I realized why. He looked like a young Jessie Misskelley (of the “West Memphis Three“), minus the crazy hair.
He wandered back over to us just before the fireworks started. Colin was sitting next to him and they shared a few laughs and talked about the fireworks as they went off. Then Colin looked at him and said, “Can I sit in your lap?”
I called out to Colin that it was inappropriate to ask that. I felt bad interrupting their momentary friendship, but I knew this boy was enjoying Colin’s company – he had made a friend that didn’t think he was “different” – and he would probably have gone along with whatever Colin asked. No matter how innocent their friendship was, my 8 year old sitting in the lap of a stranger just made me uneasy.
When I called out to him, he got up and came over to hear what I’d said – the explosions overhead made it difficult to hear. That was the end of their exchange. Colin sat/stood/played near us through the rest of the show.
The boy got up and walked off quickly after the fireworks ended. I wanted to say something to him. I wasn’t sure what. “Thank you for being nice to my boy,” just didn’t seem like enough.
There’s not enough kindness in the world. You realize that even more when you have a child with special needs – one that doesn’t quite “fit in”. I find myself wanting to thank people for acting human and decent.