I paused, knowing he can be sensitive, knowing that he had a bad day/week/month, knowing that maybe it will be better tomorrow. “What happened?”
“Well, sometimes it feels like the kids are mean. They don’t really want to play with me. They don’t want me on their team.”
“Why don’t they want you on your team? Do you think you can relax about rules on the playground? Can’t you let some rules slide, and it be OK?” I asked him. I know he can be hard to get along with. I understand that playground rules are different from real life rules. I know the kids have forgotten that he struggles with this, and it makes sense since they are 7.
“I try. I try to be nice. I try to change and act like them. I try to treat them the way they want to be treated, but no one really likes me.”
In that moment, I pause, I want to cry. I am sad and I am feeling like a terrible mom. We are constantly helping our son change. We are teaching him social skills and trying to help him understand how others think. He works on it daily. He tries. Even when he doesn’t ‘get it’ he still tries. I know kids get frustrated with him at times, and he knows it too. He is trying and trying.
The thing I feel bad about: When do others have to change? Why should he go through life wanting and trying to be different to act like someone else? If we want him to feel good about being a person with Asperger’s, then we have to accept him, quirks and all. Kids have to accept him, and others do too. It shouldn’t be a one way road for this 7-year-old.
After my flood of thoughts and pause, I said, “Well if you are treating others the way you want to be treated, then that is all you can do. You can’t control others and how they treat you, but you can control yourself and how you treat others. If kids at your school can’t see that, and accept you for WHO YOU ARE, then they are not worth it. You are a nice boy, who is trying very hard.”
“I wish that was easy,” he sighed.
“Me too, I wish it would get easier, but that is life, Buddy. It’s just a stinky part of life.”
Upon hearing the word stinky, he smiled and laughed. Toilet humor took over and our conversation was paused. However, I can’t stop thinking about it.
I pray that I can successfully guide these two kids through life. I pray they know they are loved and accepted just the way God made them, without letting their little quirks be excuses. No one ever said that raising kids was easy, and unfortunately, I don’t think the lessons will get any easier.