Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Lonely Time

I was taking the preschoolers back inside after playtime and found my oldest in the hallway with his lunch spilled everywhere. A sweet teenager was helping him pack it back up but he seemed incredibly flustered. I looked up and realized his classmates and teachers were nowhere to be found.

"Honey, where is the rest of your class right now?" I asked him gently.
"I don't know! My orange juice spilled everywhere! My bag is soaked!"
"Okay, I'll wash it when we get home. Let's find your class."
"I know where they are!" said a mom from behind me. "I'll take him!"

I felt torn because I knew he needed me but I also knew I had a class of preschoolers I was responsible for. "Don't worry, bud. You've got this. I'll see you in a few hours."

I saw him a few more times that morning and each time he seemed more and more stressed. He asked me to hug him (a rarity, especially in front of other kids) and I knew something was really on his mind.

I've learned that if I ask him to tell me what's going on too soon, he can't put words on his feelings. After some great advice from my mom, I decided to wait for him to come to me. At dinner, he opened up.

"Mommy, I don't like snack time at co-op," he said as he stared at his grilled chicken.
"Tell me about that, bud. Why don't you like it?"
"Well, it's a lonely time for me." He looked up, meeting my eyes cautiously. "We can either eat our snack or go play and I'm starving by then! I sit down to eat but all the other kids play. I just sit there on the bench by myself."
My heart ached. I was the kid on the playground that no one would play with. I was the one that no one would sit next to on the bus. I could feel his pain completely. I looked up at my husband, silently asking him to try and help.
"What happens when you ask the other kids to play with you?" he asked.
"They say no! Every time! They just keep playing with each other and they don't want to play my game!"
"Let me ask you a question. Do you ask them to change to your game or do you ask them if you can play their game?"
"My game."
"Okay. Next week, how about you try asking them if you can play their game? You can always eat a quick snack then join them."
"You are a such a cool kid. I can't imagine them not wanting to hang out with you," I added.
"Okay, I'll try it." His shoulders relaxed a bit and he sat taller in his chair. "How was your day, Daddy?"

I really really really wish I could solve all my kids problems for them. I wish I could run on that playground and say, "Don't you see how amazing he is?! Don't you know what an amazing friend he would be to you?!" But that will not teach him anything. He has to bravely face the things that scare him knowing that we are behind him 100%. I hope and pray that he will always be able to come to us when life gets hard and that we can always be open, understanding and loving. 

How do you handle it when your child presents you with some adversity he or she is facing? How can y ou give them the confidence they need to fight their own battles? 

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