Thursday, March 25, 2010

Just say thank you

So I'm picking up Ben from school today and I end up chatting for a moment on the playground with the dad of one of Ben's classmates.

The dad is one of those guys who has a big friendly handshake and a big friendly smile. He's the guy you want manning the grill at your backyard BBQ, the guy you want to show up to help you change your flat tire, the guy who probably routinely says, "The more the merrier!" and means it.

And his son "J" seems like one of the most easy-going, friendly kids I've ever seen. It's no wonder J was the first kid that Ben identified as his friend when he started kindergarden last fall.

J's dad and I talked about the nice weather returning, how we should plan a pot luck picnic for the class at a park this spring, and what our kids were up to.

He mentioned that J was starting baseball this week.

"Would Ben ever be interested in playing baseball?"

Okay. What I should have done is accept this conversational volley as the open door it was meant to be. What I should have said is, "I don't know, but I heard Ben hit a home run in the baseball game in PE this week! I'll ask him!"

But instead, I rambled on about Ben not being quite a team sports kid yet, that he didn't really understanding the give and take that team sports requires. That we were doing gymnastics and swimming this summer, but maybe stuff like baseball and soccer were still a bit beyond him.

Then I felt that eyes-glazing-over chill suddenly go through the air.

And then imagined the sound of my hand slapping my forehead.

Why? Why? Why did I blow this?

Why did I feel compelled to spell out Ben's differences for this guy? It's probably true that Ben isn't ready to be on a baseball team, but who cares? This guy was nice enough to ask.

Oh, and did I mention that he's the coach of his kids' team? The coach of a kids' baseball team was asking if Ben might be interested in baseball? I don't want to say he was trying to take Ben's cleat measurements, but it was clearly an invitation of some sort.

I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in our kids' special needs and differences that we observe them with almost clinical precision. We start to think about our kids in terms of their IEP goals: Is Ben using suggestive rather than commanding language when making a request of peers in 4 out of 5 observed attempts?

To which a lot of people might just say, "Oh well. Aren't a lot of six year olds bossy?"

And maybe we're so used to advocating for them and making others aware of their needs and being on alert that we go into "full disclosure" mode out of habit.

I need to remember that sometimes, people see Ben and don't just see his differences. They see a playmate, or one of the kindergartners in room 6, or a kid who could be on a baseball team.

And that's what I want, after all.

That, and a chance at a do-over so I can go back and accept this man's lovely overture with the grace and gratitude that it deserved.


Squid said...

Why don't you just send Mr. Coach this post (or edited email version)? If he's the excellent person you describe him as being, he'll get it.

Don't be so hard on yourself, my dear. You're a really great mom. And it is hard to shift down from hypervigilance.

Christa said...

That's excellent advice, thank you! Just sent him an email.

Niksmom said...

Yay, Squi'ds advice is so excellent. DOUBLE YAY that you've already acted on it! Can't wait to hear how this plays out. Yeah, bad pun, I know...I'm only on my second cup of coffee so far. ;-)

A little boy just 3 years old said...

Did you put a video camera in my home? Come on... admit it...

I've definitely got this problem. Thanks for being transparent because it is certainly ok for us to mess it up sometimes.

I totally get what you're saying 100% because those 'Aren't a lot of 6 year old kids bossy' kinds of comments drive me crazy b/c I AM in advocate mode all too often.

Food for thought. Thanks for the reminder!! Hope the email goes well ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh god, I absolutely see myself here. Like looking in the mirror. I need to print this out and keep it in my handbag, for quick reference in social situations. We all do this, don't we?

Come back and tell us about the response to the email. Okay?

Nana said...

you are a fabulous mom and not saying what you wanted to say in the moment doesn't change that...we all say and do things we regret a minute later and then beat ourselves up for not being "right"
glad you sent mr coach a note - hopefully he'll hear you....
HOORAY for a great mom who sometimes makes mistakes...i need to say this for myself most days

blessings and love

TC said...

Ditto Kristen. I do this ALL the time.

Gee. And I wonder where N's social issues come from? Apple. Tree.

Deirdre said...

He sounds like a great person. Hope you & Ben can get to know him & his son "J" ! Your post was (as usual) superb.

jaki said...

great analysis of the situation..but....! don't beat yourself up about it..we've all done stuff like that. We do the best we can with the information we have at the time. Looking back, I'd do a LOT of things differently... but it would be with new information! You do a GREAT job!

Allison in Spain said...

Hey! I put my foot in my mouth all the time...The rest of the parents at my son's school don't know there's anything different about him, and here I am, pointin gout the stuff...I guess needing someone to talk to about my worries makes me blabber to people who actually don't mom keeps telling me "don't do that or in the future he won't get invited to parties, etc". It doesn't help that I don't have the time or the money to plan or go to many of the activities with the other kids in the class....He's an only child, and I'm desperate for him to have friends....and apparently I'm not helping him with the other school moms.