As my son, myself and the giant white puppy enjoyed a rare afternoon of sunshine in Sydney, I discovered something sad. We decided to walk to the nearby park. My son rode his bike and the dog and I tried to keep up (not very successfully). We got to the park and there were two little boys playing with an Aussie Rules football. My son rode his bike into the middle of them and just stood there. I called out to him to move on and watch from the side. When I got to him he asked me,
“Can I play with those boys?” I looked at the boys. Both were a little older than my son, but not much. They each had a ball and they were kicking and tossing it to each other and to their Mum. They were obviously practicing. I hesitated just long enough that my son noticed. I ended up saying that we couldn’t really stay in that part of the park with the dog. I think he knew that there was some reason I didn’t want him to ask those boys to play. There was. I don’t know if it was just me being worried for him, or whether I had a legitimate concern. I was worried that the boys already thought he was weird for stopping his bike in the middle of their game and staring at them. I also worried that if he played with them and was unable to kick or catch, he would have one of his angry tantrums and then the boys would think he was weird. 😦 Sad.
We went further into the park and I asked him who he plays with at his normal school at lunch time.
“Not many people” was his answer.
“Yes, but who?” I insisted.
“Well I go up and ask people if I can be their friend and play with them and they say no so I mostly just wander around the playground”
Man…. that’s really hard to write. It almost makes me cry just putting it in words. I know he’s different, but he’s also quite fun. He just doesn’t quite fit in with his peer group.
We walked a bit further around and he saw two adult men playing with a soccer ball and practically begged me to let him go and ask them if he could play with them. I regretfully had to explain to him that young men playing with a soccer ball don’t really want to play with little boys as they will have to be slower and more careful to include him in the game. He followed me sadly on his bike.
I tried to engage him in some of his favourite pretend games as we walked and rode. That worked for a little while until we came back around to the kids playground part. I told him to go and play with the kids there as there were quite a few his age.
I watched from a distance to see what happened. He walked up to a bunch of boys who were building a dam on top of the bubbler (drinking fountain). He said,
“What are you doing?”
One boy immediately denied any involvement and the others began explaining about the dam they had built. My son started telling them how that wasn’t a good idea as they might break the bubbler. He then demanded that they clear it all off and to help, he swept the entire dam away in one swoop. The boys didn’t react too badly as they knew they shouldn’t have been doing it, but naturally they didn’t want to play with him after that and all walked away.
He came back to find me, and asked if I could help him find some kids to play with. I suggested that me maybe could have just watched and listened to what the boys were telling him, and not been so bossy. He answered,
“I didn’t want to play with them! They were doing the wrong thing!” fair enough…maybe.
Next he found a little boy also on a bike. The boy had a very cool bike with spring suspension and everything. My son rode up alongside him and asked if he could ride with him. The kid said “no” and sped off. Rather than just riding alongside anyway, or ignoring him, my son proceeded to speed up and catch the kid, then overtake him, then lap him…twice. Having proven his superiority in bike riding, he came back to find me again. The other little boy lost interest, got off his bike and went to do something else. So hard to watch.
So now, with a slightly heavy heart for my little boy, I am being guilted into playing a game of trains on the floor. Sigh