Sunday, January 9, 2011

Living in a Shadow World

"Our kids," hubby noted, "are at the bottom of the barrel."

We sat at the dinner table together last night after the kids in question departed and occupied themselves with bedtime readiness operations. We spent our day running them from place to place in a variety of circumstances; group swim lessons, a trial gymnastics class (which, while it did not go well, was either mixed or disastrous, depending on which one of us you talked to), and SO swimming.

Hubby continued, "They really don't fit anywhere, do they? Too high functioning here, too weird or different there."

Not for nothing, I monitored hubby's reactions throughout the day, and at times checked any apologist commentary for my boys before I opened my mouth. I knew this conversation would happen, and I was ready for it.

"That's why I'm figuring another way for them," I told him. "The neighborhood association thing was instructive for me--"

"I'm sorry about that," Hubby interrupted.

"No, it's fine, it just reminded me that we need to be done doing what everyone else in the neighborhood is doing," I continued. "Our kids are going to fail if we expect them to do things that they are not interested in, not equipped for. I've always been about finding things they are good at. That's what the gym class was about today."

I ticked things off on my fingers. "They both like fishing, kayaking, hiking, swimming--Nic likes rock climbing, we need to find a music class for G, they both like scouts, and playing TOPSoccer." I put my hands down on the table. "I found that bowling league for them, and if Nic decides to meltdown, guess what, these kids are all in another township and we won't see them again. On the upside, he'll learn to be a better loser."

I let that sink in. Hubby was quiet. "They have friends," I reminded him. "They don't live on our street, but who cares?

"And," I continued. "They are both in their home school, with their peers. They are included, at least in name. We're done with the township sport crap--it doesn't work for them, and there's no law that says they have to do it."

Hubby is right; my kids straddle worlds. But I can assure you that ours aren't the only kids in that boat. And I am convinced that other parents do as we do; we figure out a third way, a way that works for our kids, so they not only find success at things they like to do, they gain confidence doing them. And they grow to like themselves--no matter how 'different' they are, they gain the quiet strength to stand their ground and honor difference--theirs and everyone else's.

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