Friday, November 02, 2007

Of Course It's Not That Simple

It's amazing how different kids in the same family can be. My husband says that about my sister and me all the time. I look at C and M. Same parents, totally different kids. Where C is sensitive, M lets things roll off his back. Where M is boisterous and "Mr. Instant Gratification," C is reserved. It's an interesting study in contrasts.

When I picked up C yesterday afternoon, I took him down to the harbor to talk to him. For a while it was mostly me talking and C kind of listening, but mostly being mortally embarrassed that his mother would actually acknowledge him in a public space (even though there were no other kids around, and few adults).

After about ten minutes, he started talking. It turns out the thing with M was just a symptom of an issue with another boy, D. C describes D as being a loud and boastful, a kiss-ass to teachers, a cheater, always having something negative to say about everyone, always making fun of other kids, and someone who desperately wants to be M's friend. M is easy going enough that he laughs when D does outrageous things. M may not see the whole picture - or if he does, he doesn't really know what to do. C also describes D as having called C a "f*ggot" under his breath on multiple occasions. C says he has gone to the teacher to say that D has been annoying him, without giving specifics, and has only been told, "Ignore him."

It sounds to me like D is insecure and jealous of the friendship M and C do have (they are not best friends, but they are good pals). But regardless of D's underlying issues, C is hurt by what has been said to him and frustrated by what he sees.


We got back to the email for a few minutes and discussed some better strategies for email communication and general friend interactions. That went went well. I think he understands a little better.

Then we talked about the D thing more. It sounds like he needs to say something. We set a deadline of Tuesday afternoon for C to go to the guidance office or a teacher and ask for help and advice in dealing with "a classmate behaving inappropriately." After Tuesday, if he has not done it, I will email the guidance office on the same topic.

I don't want to fight his battles for him, but I do want to help guide him. I hope I am finding the right balance. I think I respond strongly to this because I feel that I received very little such guidance from my mom at the same age. By the time I was approaching adolescence, my mother was so done with child-rearing. She'd already been through two and just had no interest. I remember coming home in tears once when some girl had been nasty to me and called me names and said no one would ever be my friend. She said, "Her loss." And that was the extent of the comfort and counseling.

We'll figure this out with C. Or rather, we'll help C figure it out. Just wish it wasn't so hard - for all of us.

1 comment:

Pantheist Mom said...

You're doing fantastic with C!! You are a very down-to-earth, caring mom who understands that there is a difference between helping and helping to learn. I'll take advise from you anytime. :-)

I imagine you're still struggling with instincts to be overprotective of C, for the obvious reasons, on top of dealing with normal adolescent growth. Despite all that, I think you've found a good balance. Don't second guess yourself.

Poor C. What a totally sucky position to be in at such a tender, insecure age. But he's learning with every step and miss-step.

It sure was a lot easier to solve problems by giving them a paci or nursing them, wasn't it?

Hang in there...