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Raising kids is hard (I screwed up today)

Parenting

My son is incredibly smart, funny and kind, but he is socially awkward. He doesn’t get a lot of friends coming to the door or calling on the phone, and he has begun to notice. Nobody should have to listen to their 8 year old cry about being all alone, but my wife and I have.

It’s been cold and rainy the past few days, but today the sun came out long enough to bring all the neighborhood kids out to play. Ashton was playing with his sister’s friends, all girls, and enjoying himself. But earlier, on our way back from running an errand, we passed the corner lot where all the neighborhood boys often play together – and they were out playing basketball.

Whenever we drive or ride our bikes past this familiar scene, he always asks if he can go play with them. Trying to protect him, because I know how it will go, I always give him a reason why he can’t right now, “but maybe next time”. There are a few boys there who don’t like him and they convince the other boys that my son should be excluded and teased until he leaves. Ashton’s positivity and willingness to forget this behavior is amazing, because he still just wants to play with them even though they’ve been mean to him in the past. To be fair, Ashton’s behavior has sometimes been confusing and annoying to the other boys, and maybe they’re just acting how any young boys would act in response.

Well today I forgot about this. Or maybe it was the sunshine and seeing my son happily and confidently playing with the girls in our back yard that made me think today would be different. A sunny day brings out the optimism in me, I guess. I asked if he would like to ride down to the corner and play basketball with the other boys. His eyes lit up and he practically started hopping up and down. I gave him some advice how to approach and how to behave, thinking that’s all he needed, and off he went.

A few minutes later, he burst back into our house crying. The boys told him he couldn’t play, they said they had already picked teams, and then some threatened to beat him up.

I hugged him and told him it’s not his fault. He cried, “Why doesn’t anyone like me? This was such a good day and now it’s ruined!” And then, directed at me, “Why did you let me go there? Why couldn’t you help me? You’re the only one I can count on!”

I screwed up.

Fortunately, the girls were still playing in the back yard, and he eventually returned to play with them. After rubbing my forehead for a while, I didn’t know what else to do, so I took my son, his sister and her friends all out for ice cream.

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This entry was posted on September 14, 2014 by .

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Anything Matt Hovey publishes online is his own personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of his employers.
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