Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Social Calculations

There was to be a group photo of the five kids graduating in a couple of weeks from our temple's religious school. There was some concern about whether N would agree to be in the photo; there was some concern over how I'd feel if he refused and they took them without him. (My temple friends are smart and empathetic.) I noted that I thought the chaos of dismissal time would be a bit of a problem for him; too much going on, definite overload time; I also said that having me there might help. So my friend who was taking the photo came a little early and got me from the Starbucks where I work while he's in class, and we went early to the shul.

When we got there, I went to the ladies' room while she and the others gathered the kids from class about 15 minutes before dismissal. By the time I'd come out, N was already among his friends, posing for the photos. When the moms suggested the kids sit boy-girl-boy-girl-boy, N immediately volunteered to be the boy in the middle of the two girls, while the other two held back. When we told them to stand on a bench and jump off as a group, he was the first one up on the bench, legs bent, ready to go.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement, though a mild one; he is very very comfortable at religious school, among the not-even-a-dozen kids in his age cohort. (See: graduating class of five.) Still, photos are an issue for him, second only to speaking in front of a group, which is second only to reading out loud to almost anyone. So, yes, I was surprised and pleased.

Fast forward to last night, when I was showing him some of the photos on Facebook. He rolled his eyes at them, pretending to be embarrassed, but he was really pleased. Then he said, "You know what's great about graduating from religious school? You get pulled out of class early to take photos!"

Aaaaaand explanation received. It wasn't the lack of chaos or the fact that I was there. It was, rather, the fact that early dismissal trumps general hatred of being the center of attention. Good to know.

[I'd put a photo here, but I didn't manage to get one with faces obscured. My apologies. They really are super cute, though.]

Sunday, April 13, 2014


When I went to get N from his religious school class today, two girls from his class came running up to me.

"If it's OK with T's mom, can N come with us for a playdate this afternoon?" C asked.

N was looking at me intently.

"Sure," I said, only to feel N start slightly. Clearly, this was not what he'd thought I would say.

As the girls ran off, I looked at him. "You don't want to go?"

"I don't know," he said, immediately whiny, which immediately makes me annoyed. "I might be scared."

I took a deep breath. T's house is somewhere N has never been before, and I know that new environments are tough for him.

I tried reasoning. "You know how, when we finished reading Wonder, we talked about how Auggie's mom made him go to school even though he was scared, and you said that that was just like you, and you usually are happy I made you do something?"


"I think you need to do this, honey."

"But…" He took a shaky breath. "I just don't feel safe about this. I want you to go with me."

And there he had me. Because we've talked, before, about how he has to trust his instincts, and that while he should usually try things he feels scared about, he should NEVER do something he feels isn't right, or isn't safe. And that I will never make him do something that he thinks isn't safe.

The question, of course, is whether he really didn't feel safe, or whether he was just so scared of going in a strange car to a strange house (although with people he knows perfectly well, including the parents) that he pulled out the one phrase he knew would trump any plans I might have had to 'force' him to try something new.

In case it's the former, I dropped the subject, and told the mom (and the girls) that he was too nervous about going somewhere new; the mom suggested I bring him by a little later.

So now we're home, and I'm making him wait a bit, but then I'll probably drive him over there for a while, let him get used to the house while I'm there to keep him 'safe,' and see how that goes. Even though I have a majillion things to do for Passover tomorrow, and even though I sort of want to scream.

I can't decide if he just played that well, or if he truly advocated for himself well. I guess, either way, I sorta gotta hand it to him. As I find myself doing more often than not. He's smart, that kid. Smart and safe.