Perhaps I should have posted this around Valentines Day, yet I think the boy would have killed me. The other night when I began reading this aloud, he graciously said, “If you do not stop, I’m burning the remaining letters you have found” out of fear I would embarrass him further. Oh well, I guess it’s time to invest in a fire proof safe.
When the boy attended preschool, there were days when parents were needed to help out. This is one of those times….
March 3, 2003: As the mom on duty, my job was helping the kids make rainbow toast (bread, food coloring, sugar and condensed milk; yum yum right? And very messy), the boy began at my station and then rotated over to the craft corner. There he worked with colored tissue, wax paper and liquid starch to create a masterpiece for the ages. Then something silly happened. The boy is one of four boys in a class with eleven girls. The boy evidently has a crush on a little girl named Ashley. All the other girls and boys have picked up on this crush as well-as evidenced when Ashley arrived a few minutes late to class. The other girls yelled “Boy-look Ashley’s here!!” I turned and looked at the boy as his face lit right up when she came into the room. He ran over to her and gave her a great big hug. What’s more he gave Ashley’s mom and cousin a hug too. Ashley however did not reciprocate. In fact, the look on that child’s face said it all…”get this stupid boy away from me!” Ashley’s mom, his teacher and I all exchanged awkward glances, before Ashley was instructed to go to the gym area for play time; while they boy remained in the classroom, without her.
I went back to helping the other students with their messy toast when I overheard the boy’s teacher say, “Boy, why don’t you show me how well you can build with the other boys?” I looked up and found the boy off by himself all alone in the corner looking quite sad. His teacher continued trying to coax him in into getting involved with the other boys, but he wasn’t interested. Walking over to him I asked, “Dude, what’s up?” “I’m just a little sad Ashley isn’t in the room”. He said as tears welled up in his eyes. Oh brother! I convinced him to go over and build a castle, so when Ashley came back, she would see what a good job he had done. “Oh alright” He replied after he stood up and wiped the tears from his eyes and went off to build something. His teacher approached me and said “He just gets a little sad when Ashley gets put into other groups”. In the meantime, I’m over here shaking my head thinking, “He is way too young to be having these type of feelings….”
Last week while working the parish Fish Fry, I went looking for the boy. He is Mr. Hospitality-refilling drinks; deserts for the many elderly in attendance; greeting and opening the doors and wishing people well when they leave. At one point I found him with his “friend M” She was quick to defend the boy, “I’ve noticed him working very hard” she said to me. I smiled thinking, “Yep he’s charmed that girl…” which is a very good thing for him.
Friends are hard to come by for the boy. He is fiercely loyal which can make him a bit of a pain. Last year one of his friends told him something in confidence about his home life. The boy was so appalled he asked me how we could help them. At first I believed his friend was just telling stories, but decided to call the school’s guidance counselor-perhaps she could find out the truth. That friend doesn’t talk much to the boy any more. Whether the boy’s action helped or hindered his friend’s home life; it put a strain on their friendship. When I asked him about his friend the boy said, “Well, he’s just trying to stay cool mom, whatever that means”. In other words, his friend doesn’t want anyone to perceive him as different–unlike my boy.
The truth of the matter is when you’re in Junior High, no one wants to be seen as different–even though we all are. Being an individual takes more risks, more chances to be called names, more chances to be made to look like the fool. I’m proud of the young man my boy has turned into. Though his faults are many, he wants his “friends” to be safe and happy.
Funny, isn’t that what we all want?