T and I had a pretty huge morning. We finally walked the 3 blocks to our public library and I got a card after living here for two years. We hung out in the kids section and read board books. Then we walked home a slightly longer way (T was following two older boys on bikes) and went by the pizza place he sometimes visits with his Dad. He pointed and asked for pizza, it was a few minutes before 11am. I figured they opened at 11, so I waddled across the street and T got the first slice of the day.
Totally normal stuff, and we were back at our front door in less than two hours. But man, was my mind racing the whole time. I kept thinking is this what normal feels like? This is the stuff that other moms do without thinking every single day. They surely don’t feel like they should get a gold star, but I was so proud of myself. And then, of course, I felt dumb for feeling proud over such a small thing. The negative feelings were close to the surface because of another hurt feeling situation. But this one was real, and it was aimed at someone I love. It’s not my place to discuss the details, the gist is someone I know was a complete and utter dickhead to one of the people I am closest to. It makes me feel so angry and impotent and vulnerable and just plain old sad.
So when the two boys that T followed out of the library showed up and started looking at books my mind was on overdrive thinking about all the social situations T was going to have to navigate during his life. He sweetly followed those boys around to every shelf they looked at. When one of them sat on the reading mat T sat right across from him, book in lap, copying the kid’s every move. When the boys left, T was crushed and ready to leave himself. Out front he saw them climbing on their bike and he called, “Bye guys!” I was proud of him for being so brave, but it also broke my heart to watch him seeking approval from two kids that didn’t even act like he existed.
Don’t get me wrong, those boys were perfectly pleasant and age appropriate and it was in no way their responsibility to play with my kid. What I was reacting to was thinking about my own longing to fit in when I was the perpetual new kid growing up, and how so many of my peers didn’t have the time of day for a new girl. Again, most of those kids weren’t cruel. They were being normal kids who already had friends, it wasn’t their job to coddle the new people. But I’ve never gotten over wanting people to like me no matter what. And not everyone is going to always like me, I often do very unlikable things.
Now, this is an embarrassing confession, but it’s also been bugging me all morning that overnight I lost two friends on FB. I have no idea who unfriended me, and I know I shouldn’t give a crap. I’m just as honest and uncomfortable on FB as I am here, I offend people all the time and am often unfriended. And yet…it makes me feel bruised. Pretty ridiculous. It also made me think about a friend request I sent out months ago to a childhood friend. The request hasn’t been accepted, and it hasn’t been denied. And I’ve thought about it on and off quite a bit. It was a kid I had a crush on, a sensitive and quiet kid, and I was aggressive in what I thought was a joking way with him. I vaguely remember him ending up in tears as we played several times, and suddenly it hit me that he probably felt like I was bullying him. I’ve written about bullying before, and my abhorrence of it, and suddenly I’m realizing I may be the bully remembered by a contemporary. I really liked this kid, and I feel terrible that he probably remembers me as the cause of hurt. I kind of want to send him a message in which I apologize, but I’ve already reached out. I’ve realized the kindest thing I can do is leave him the hell alone.
Someday T is going to be hurt and do the hurting over and over again. He is going to make his own mistakes and have his personal victories and I’m going to have to stand to the side and let it all happen so he can learn how to navigate his way through interpersonal relationships. I’ll always be there to step in if needed, and I’ll be there to listen. But he needs to get hurt and pick himself up and figure out how to deal with people himself. I hope he is more successful than I have been.