Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Friendship Arc

In the space of 10 days, an interesting picture has developed.

B and his brother came to the pool with us last Monday (the 21st). I was elated and happy that everyone had a good time. Until B's mom called and informed me that Nic had dumped mud in their brand new inflatable pool. I guess that was the beginning of the end.

B came alone with us on Thursday. That went okay. But more miscues between me and his folks.

I emailed his mom yesterday letting her know our pool schedule for this week, and when we stopped by on our way to the pool (they are literally right on the way), B answered the door, told us he'd ask his mom, came back, said he was busy, and went back in and slammed the door shut.

Well. I'm not going to chase this. Chances are better than not since they have their own pool up that they (B and his brother) won't be coming to the pool with us again. I moped about it yesterday until I noticed that Nic was hanging out with a kid, turns out he knows Nic from school, is a year ahead of him, and likes to hang out with him. I have to say, Nic's really widened his circle here, for better or for worse. I did invite B for an overnight this weekend, but something tells me that's not going to happen. Maybe I should be bummed?

Oddly, I'm not. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I refuse to glom onto any ONE thing for Nic's social 'salvation.' Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we are really busy ANYWAY? I dunno. Nic doesn't seem particularly perturbed, and maybe that's why I'm not, either.

And right now I have three deadlines for noon Friday holding a gun to my head so I'll dwell on this at greater length when I can breathe.....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reflections on People Past

I don't spend a whole lot of time dwelling on the past anymore. Most of my time is spent between the here and now and planning for my kids' futures. The here and now is mundane: bill paying, who we are going to hang out with today, what we'll do, how I'll fit in my work around Nic's rantings.

Every so often my thoughts turn to people I've left behind. In particular, I think of a vicious little PR campaign that happened over months that I knew nothing about until it was far, far too late.

I wonder about a person who seemed unhealthily obsessed with a friendship I had with a mutual acquaintance. And I am equally flummoxed at how fragile that relationship ultimately proved to be.

I wonder how people who have outed themselves as liars repeatedly are trusted implicitly regardless of their repeated transgressions.

I wonder about justice, and I wonder if the lack of it is actually a judgment against me, despite my own innocence.

I look at these events and know they happened for my greater good. But I wonder at the silence of the dozen or so bystanders. Does that mean they approved what happened, or does it mean they just don't want to get involved?

Understand, I have lost no sleep over this. But I do wonder sometimes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Iron Nic

I have a hard time knowing whether Nic is being canny or clueless, because his cluelessness veers crazily toward genius when it comes to dealing with people.

He gets off the bus announcing he told everyone he wouldn't be in on Friday because he's having a slumber party. I emailed his teacher and told her that yes, Nic will be in--out of town guests are coming, but they aren't due until Friday PM. She promptly emailed me back and thanked me for the clarification.

So okay, he's decided he's more or less ODed on Bob the Builder (thank goodness). He spent a lot of yesterday afternoon working on building a track with the gear a friend clearing out toys gave him. After Gabe came in from ESY, they worked on it together.

So he sees the twins plus their cousin outside. He runs out, hops on his scooter and takes off after them. G wants to go out, too. So we get him together, go out, and Nic is yelling his head off, chasing the other three kids on their bikes.

It becomes obvious they are trying to ditch him, but I hang back. They go around the block, and Nic follows. I realize that it's better than okay for him to go--he knows the neighborhood, and he's with the other three, if not behind them. (And I realize that though the twins are nearly 10, THEY only stay on this block, so this is a first for everyone).

Girl twin comes by and asks where Nic is. I told her that he was following her and the boys. She looked embarrassed. Then I see Nic coming up the block.

A few altercations ensue. Twice I took Nic by the hand and informed him loudly that B & D DON'T want to play with him, take a hint. And twice, I'll be damned, didn't he march right back and insert himself in the proceedings?

I sat back, realizing I was actually doing more harm then good. The boys weren't chasing him off, and the younger one kept glancing my way. I wasn't about to drag him kicking and screaming away, so I just decided to let it play out.

But it was hard. You can't make anyone like your kid. Nic is inherently likable when he's not being obnoxious. The only way for him to learn in these situations is to DO--right or wrong, this is the school of hard knocks.

So Perky and the kids come out, on their way to another social event. Nic admonishes the son for waving a stick in Nic's face. Perky comes out. And Nic starts pelting her with details about the sleepover he's having, followed by the barbecue on Saturday, and she's trying to drive off, and not be rude, conscious of the fact I'm sitting there.

And I wonder to myself, how much of this is "Nyah, nyah, YOU'RE not invited?"

Gabe and I go back in so I can make dinner. Then I hear the door knocker. Nic has summoned me.

"MOM" he shouted (despite the fact that I am less than five feet from him) "D JUST CALLED ME THE MOST AWFUL NAME!"

"Did not!" D shouts back from across the street.

(and I smother a laugh and a smile thinking this is so 1970s Revere Street)

"What did he call you, Nic?"

"BUTTHEAD! It's a horrible, horrible thing to call some one!" And with that he hops on his scooter and heads back across the street for more abuse.

"While it's not the nicest thing to say, there are certainly worse things he could have called you," I yelled after him. I closed the door, thinking he'd figure it out.

He played with them until they left. Or near them.

He may be easily upset, but this kid is, underneath it all, made of iron.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What I am learning about my 8 year old

Nic confuses as much as he amazes.

He is a scary bright kid, with a wicked sense of humor, and the commentary he makes sounds precocious, but more often than not, it's said innocently--but people think he's a smartass. (I had the same problem)

We've had a lot of good here the last few days. He and G did great at a wedding on Saturday, birthday party on Sunday, and his day yesterday--good overall, bad in other parts....but even the little triumphs are big:

He came off the bus and wanted to play with the twins across the street. I'm finding now that he wants to play outside now, and the main reason is that now that Capri2's kids have left for the shore for the summer, it's 'safe' for him to come out and play. The neighborhood pecking order has changed--at least for a little while. We'll take that.

I'm also discovering how mean Perky's kids are. Nic went out to play with them, and they were really mean to one another--infinitely meaner than my kids are to one another, even when they are fighting. Nic thought they were joking--until perfect son made perfect daughter cry and run into the house. And then he told son off for being so mean.

Both kids went in. They came out again and called the twins over when my kids came in for dinner. And I wonder why I am having anger issues. But anyway.

We went to the pool for a bit after we got G, and both boys had kids to hang out with. I should say here that we were met with suspicion, since although this is a township pool and we are members of the township, we were the only white people there. However, Nic found one of his classmates and hung out with him--until the kid realized he could totally outswim my boy, who doesn't even get his head wet.

Then Nic stuck his face in the water. Any one who has ever had a kid who refused to get their head wet should realize how huge this is. And he did it several times.
So we have good here, my boys socializing, swimming, Nic getting more adventurous, until he went to the men's room to get changed. He came running out--jaybird--waving towel, suit, clothes yelling that he needed to show me something he found in the locker room.....

Two pennies.

I went ballistic and told him that if he EVER streaked like that again he'd lose his computer for two months. (as it is, he lost it for the rest of the week).

He wanted to go to the community center library (two blocks from the pool) and get some books out. We did, and he wanted to go check out the playground. That was fine until I realized he discovered some used birthday cake in a mini eating area and was eating it. "The rat needs to stop eating junk food," he said.

I went ballistic again, cursing Charlotte's Web and the county fair wherein Templeton gorges himself on the spoils of the fair--because guess who he thought he was? He lost video privileges and was reminded the eating found food could kill him.

(I think he still thinks he's a rat, but anyway).

So we came in from that excursion and he saw the neighbor kids, wanted to play, and that was okay. So what I've learned about Nic yesterday:

1) Peer pressure is an effective way to move him forward
2) He hates conflict and would rather think people are joking around than actually being mean to one another
3) He has the emotional maturity of a four year old in that he still thinks that whatever he sees in videos directly translates to real life
4) He is really motivated to have friends but still needs a lot of coaching from the sidelines. (Borne out by the fact that I had to call him over at the pool a few times and tell him to stop yelling for people to stop splashing--it's a pool and people will think you are WEIRD if you yell that. He stopped. )

So we will continue to push forward, get out as much as we can, get together with friends as often as we can, and I will continue to look for good safe opportunities for Nic to practice being a friend. It's hard work, but anything worth doing is never easy.