Tonight on the drive home, I had a conversation with my son. While I was expecting excitement for the end of school, I got a peek into his heart.
He said in a contemplative tone, "Mom, I always feel like I am left out. I'm the one who gets pushed aside."
My insides twisted at this. The words are so heavy, so unwanted for my mama ears. It's not just emoting, it's a thought that is grounded in evidence from long ago. Evidence that I've spied from a short distance.
Knowing the kid, knowing his environments, knowing his growing up--I knew exactly what he meant.
I'll never forget when he was two years old, sitting with a group of kids on a day out. Everyone squeezed into one side of the table because nobody wanted to sit with him. I must admit that he was an instigator--a pincher. So there's that. But, he didn't do it to be mean. It was an affectionate squeeze that often didn't feel so great. We were diligent at correcting him, but still, that day at the table, the look on his face was heartbreaking. He didn't understand the sudden isolation.
I also understand his particular observation tonight because of the stories that he's told me throughout the school year. And I get it because I see him in his peer groups, and in various activities, and at his school events. I've seen the backs turn as he somehow falls behind. Not intentionally by either party, I am sure. But, I have heard him try and speak and at times, nobody seems to acknowledge him.
Probably the same for many kids...maybe all kids at one point or another. But this kid, he's mine. And I'll just focus on him for the moment. He's a kid that thinks about it deeply...more than he should. More than I want to think about it.
Believe me, this kid is SOCIAL. He's not quiet, not un-liked, not even a loner. He always has friends, and good ones. But, his good friends aren't always around--and for some reason, he finds himself socially displaced, or passed up, seemingly more often than any of my other children.
Why do I see it more with him? He's a smiley kid...a jokester...a fun guy to be around. Maybe that's it. He is willing to put himself out there more than any of my other kids...so his chance at being left out is far greater.
Whatever the reason, my biggest question to myself tonight, is, what do I do with this--as a mother with an overactive sensitivity to her children's well-being? Oh, goodness, I need a chill pill. I need to not feel so deeply. If only that could happen on this side of graduation. My youngest's that is... a whole twelve years away!
I need to know now: When my kid is on the outside looking in, what can I do for him?
How can I impress upon his wounded heart that he is so very special? I played several different cards on the drive home, trying to speak beyond the lump in my throat:
"You are so easy going that people just know you'll be okay..."
"These trials are just a way to build your strength as you grow..."
"Remember the Wemmicks..."
"I love you so much...God loves you so much..."
And then, during his silent pout, I yelled in my head...
"...I THINK YOU ARE THE COOLEST KID AND I WILL MAKE IT ALL BETTER AND I AM GOING TO CREATE YOUR SOCIAL CALENDAR SO YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY APPRECIATIVE KIDS WHO VALUE YOU MORE THAN THE COOL KID OVER THERE..."
Yeah, nothing works. Words don't always work. Sometimes, I need to realize that his BIG feelings, and awkward situations, and perception that he's on the fringe of social circles are just going to be.
It's his own thorn that he can overcome and triumph. Just like my other kid with anxiety, my one kid with esteem issues, and myself--with overactive emotional-attachments (hehe).We've all got our thorns, don't we?
As a mama, all I can do is love him and remind him that he's part of a circle where his value busts the seams of the fringe.
These days, family means a whole lot more than just co-existing. It's gotta be more. It's gotta be a place where all the doubt is piled on with love and broken up and scattered away.
This home, this foundation has got to be safe and up-lifting.
Our family's job is to make his outside looking in nothing compared to
the inside he's looking out from.
With everything on my to do list this summer, I'm placing this one at the top.