Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It Takes a Village

Last Friday I got an unexpected call from a mom who’s son is in my son’s class. It was unexpected because our relationship has deteriorated over the years. There was a time when our son was invited to their birthday parties and our family was invited to their big Christmas party, but as my son started to develop social anxieties, these types of relationships slowly vanished. He use to love playing with this child, but overtime, playing with boys who loved sports and liked to run in packs became too stressful for him. Eventually he has found friends in girls, where the whole “alpha male” aspect doesn’t exist. The problem there is that these girls like to have a new friend every week, so he’s completely dependent on them approaching him. When they move on, he’s left alone.

This mom was calling out of great concern for my son. She said that she has worked in the school twice over the last two weeks and both times she has seen my son looking sad and all alone during recess. She said, “It was more than him being upset, it was his whole body language, he looked depressed.”

She said that she saw him standing alone against the fence with his head down and shoulders hunched over. She shared with a very delicate, loving approach how worried she was for him and wanted to let me know about it in case something was going on at school that I may not know about.

I listened carefully as my mind searched for the right answers. While at the same time, feeling sad for my son and concerned that his struggles are becoming more obvious at school.

What do I say?

How do I explain what’s going on without exposing my son to rejection? 

Which, by the way, we faced when he lost his best friend a few years back after they found out about his illness.

My heart raced and I felt nervous inside. I knew that this woman truly cared about my son. But I care about protecting my son more.

So I didn’t tell her the whole truth of what was going on, instead I was very vague.

I used words like “struggle” and avoided words like “disorder”. There was no mention of therapists and medication, instead, I explained that it was harder for him to socialize and that he was better with kids one-on-one. I explained that what she saw at school was something that he was dealing with internally and not a result of something that had happened at school.

I could tell she was concerned that I didn’t realize the severity of the situation when she followed with questions like, “Have you contacted your pediatrician?” and “Can the school help your son?” I explained that yes we’ve discussed it with his doctor and they were helping us and that the school has been great too. I explained that as he gets older we hope social situations will only get better.

With a sincere heart she shared how sad she felt seeing my son today and asked if there was anything she could do to help.

Snagging the opportunity I said, “Yes! Maybe we can get the boys together this summer to play. I explained that the more time he had playing with kids one-on-one, the more comfortable he felt socializing with them at school.

I also told her how touched I was that she reached out to share her concern for my son and that I was very thankful for her call.

It truly takes a village to raise our kids.


  1. Pdog is just FINALLY starting to work his way into social situations. It will happen. Try not to be too afraid to tell her about what is going on. She is obviously concerned and maybe if she knows she can help him into groups during recess.

    Hugs...I know this is all very hard!

  2. Poor guy. It's all so hard sometimes. I have not had much luck with moms that we don't know really well wanting to truly help. Around here it's all nicey-nice to your face and then stab you in the back when you turn around. True southern grace...lol...

  3. Thanks Marybeth!

    Meg- That’s my concern, that the mother is nice to my face, but once with a group of other moms, it will become a conversation of gossip. I’m so thankful to be surrounded by so many supportive family members who I can trust and have my son’s best interests.

  4. Mama Bear, you did great. As much as I want to say, open up and be honest with her, she may be more understanding if she knew more, I do understand your hesitance. She may not have yours or your little guy's best interest at heart. It's hard to share our most personal situations with everyone. You did great by giving her the opportunity to follow through with her concerns and inviting the boys to play together. If she does follow through, then you may learn better if she truly can be a trusted ally in everyones best interest.

  5. Thanks Redbird! Today my son shared that this boy approached him at recess today and invited him to play basketball. My son said, "no thank you, I don't like sports." but he was thrilled saying, "he looked like he wanted to be my friend".

    Tonight we talked about him asking the boy to play something he likes during recess.

    Baby steps...

  6. Wow, this sounds so promising for both parties involved. I do hope that a friendship is reestablished for them and that the mother continues to be a support.

  7. That's so exciting for your son. We decided to be open and tell the other parents (well, most of them) that our son has Aspergers. They have been so supportive with few exceptions. yes, it takes a village.

  8. The Housewife- Do you regret telling anyone? How do you make the judgement call?