So one of the jobs of a parent is to teach your children social norms, how to interact with society, and hopefully, how to be polite and friendly person. And having a child with autism means this is an even bigger focus for my household because my kidlet doesn’t have that finely tuned sensor that picks up those social cues like a “typical” child would. So we work with my son on learning how to engage people, how to have a give and take conversation, and what things could be considered rude. It’s a painstaking process at times.
However, earlier this week I had to bring him to school instead of him riding the bus because they were going on a special field trip. And as I was waiting outside with him, other kids were streaming into the school for their normal day. Well, my dear kidlet saw a little boy walk by who looked to be kindergarten age–so probably a year older than him. And kidlet perked up and said, “Hi! How are you?” And I’m thinking–well, look at that, my son is reaching out and engaging a child. Score!
But then the kid turned his head and gave my kidlet this snotty, what’s-your-problem look. Of course, kidlet didn’t register that reaction. He just smiled and waved at the boy.
Then, not thirty seconds later, another boy–probably eight–pulled onto the sidewalk on his bike. Kidlet–always one to be excited by the simplest things–said, “Wow, I like that bike!” The kid rolled his eyes and said in a sarcastic tone, “Whatever. That was so three weeks ago.”
My jaw probably hit the grass. I kinda wanted to trip the kid right off that damn bike. He was old enough to see the child talking to him was all of four. And I was standing right there, holding kidlet’s hand.
And that’s when reality truly sank in–the world, especially in kid land, is mean and cruel. I’m trying to teach kidlet “social norms” but what if social norms mean being a bratty jerk? Here kidlet is being innocent and trying to practice what mommy and daddy are telling him are the “nice” things to do, and he’s shot down or ignored over and over again. It breaks my heart a little each time. I know it’s part of the deal. Kids certainly weren’t nice all the time in my childhood either. But it seems it’s only getting worse. Now they don’t even seem to keep it in check around adults.
It’s ugly and it’s sad. And it makes me want to build a cocoon around my sweet, innocent boy even though I know that’s not realistic or preparing him for the world at large. But knowing that he has deficits in those social areas makes me worry even more for him. He doesn’t have the tools to defend himself right now and probably won’t for a while–if ever. It’s like being thrown into war with a toothbrush when everyone else has machine guns.
But despite all that and all my worries, I have to say, I’m glad I have the polite child even if it come with lots of challenges. He may be an anomaly amongst his “normal” peers, but that doesn’t make the other kids behaviors the right ones. A lot of them could learn something from him.
I really did want to trip that kid.
How do you handle it when your child is picked on or other children shut them out? What social norms do you try to instill in your own children?
I’m Roni Loren, or as I’m called ‘round these parts, No Drama Mama. I’ve been married for ten years and have a four-year old son, who has recently been diagnosed with high-functioning autism. My days are spent writing very sexy romances (my PC way of saying erotic),avoiding all things housework, and hanging out with a kidlet who I suspect is vastly smarter than I am. I secretly dream of having a life that looks like the pages of Real Simple magazine, but would settle for Sorta Decent if could get there. My daily goal is to keep the drama on the pages of my books and out of my life–I’m successful at least twenty percent of the time. www.roniloren.com