Monday, February 25, 2013

The Least Popular Kid in the Class – Part One

As we got ready to head back to school this morning after “vacation,” Z was bouncing off the walls: “I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait,” she chanted.  G was more circumspect, and his little face was tight.

I hugged him and asked, “Whatsa matter, buddy?”

“I just don’t wanna go back to school.”

Oh, parents everywhere, hear my cry. Wide. Range. Of. Emotions. (W.R.O.E.)

We talked some about it – wonderful teachers…learning, importance thereof…how we can’t just play aaaaaaaaaallllll the time – but still…W.R.O.E.

Since dropping him off (did his sister even notice my leaving? I think not.) I’m stuck on an incident from a few weeks ago:

“I hope you are feeling better,” G’s beloved teacher from third and fourth grade had called out to him as we left school.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Nothing,” G responded, too emphatically.

“Then why did Mr. __ ask you that?”

“Nothing! No reason!”

I pushed. It felt right this time (sometimes it’s better to let go, I know).

At length, this story, as according to G, emerged:

G’s teacher likes to start off the day by asking thought-provoking questions during “morning meeting.” Often, these questions are like koans,* in that there is no “right” answer.

That particular day, the discussion was led by the teacher’s aide (who happens to work with G) and the question was, “What would you do if you we're the least popular kid in class? What would you do if you were the parent of that kid?"

G’s answer? “I think I am the least popular kid in class and I do nothing because I don't care about being cool; I would say to my child, 'Don't worry about it because when you grow up the weird will triumph!'"

His response, so brave and wise, took my breath away. (Mothers are so objective.) Also, the whole thing made me want to throw up, especially after what he said next:

“Then,” he continued, “for some reason, I started crying.”

You know how you’d do anything on earth for your baby (whoever your baby is, maybe it’s your partner, your cat…)? At that moment I promised the universe ANYTHING if it would only show me what to do to fix this situation. 

As we shift into the tween and dread middle school years, I fear social issues can only gather weight. As it stands, we drive hours to play with kids G has really connected with; plus we have carefully sought-out play dates in other local school districts.  And it’s not like G’s no fun to play with! He’s a really fun kid, if sometimes a bit fixated on Pokemon. He’s just stuck in a small school right now, where the particular mix of kids has left him…friendless.

Later, G asked me, “So how did you feel when I told you that?”

I thought about “that” for a minute. “First, I felt proud and happy, because you are so wise. But, also, I felt sad, because you felt that way and you must’ve been through quite a journey to get to feeling that way. I guess I also felt hopeful, that you will be around a more diverse bunch of kids soon.”

I paused and then asked, “How did YOU feel after all that drama?”

“I had mixed feelings.”

“Like what?”

“It’s hard to explain.”

I pressed him a little bit more.



Now that’s a “normal” tween answer!

(To be continued…)

Full Spectrum Mama

* Merriam-Webster defines koan as, “a paradox to be meditated upon.” The concept arose from the Zen Buddhist tradition.

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