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Sometimes when I hear my friends talk about their children's social lives I feel sad. I know there have been times when I have listened to children my SensiGirl's age or younger chatting and have grieved for the chatty Kathy I thought I would have. I know other special ed. parents have grieved for the simplicity of having a typical child. But is it really that simple?
I don't grieve for the girl SensiGirl won't be: the mean girl, a popular girl, a queen bee. I don't have to worry, her being the kind of girl I have read about in "Cinderella Ate My Daughter." (Actually, with SensiGirl's oral sensory stuff, she ended up eating Cinderella.) I don't see how she could possibly be one of the girls in "Aggression Among Female Adolescents." When I hear them talking on the radio about the latest peek into girls' social lives, I am relieved that SensiGirl is the way she is. To be quiet honest, I don't see SensiGirl caring about social kinds of things any time in the near future. She doesn't even try to fit in, and looking back on my childhood, maybe that is a better way to be. I was miserable trying to fit in until I realized I just couldn't and stopped trying in high school. Contrary to what is being taught to teachers, social ability in school is not an accurate predictor of adult success and happiness.
My daughter still shows love and affection for the people important to her in her life. She is aware and connected to us. She just doesn't really care about the social stuff with other kids or at school. She has her art, music and a family that loves her. I think she is comfortable with that for now.
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Now, Random Guy cares more about being liked, but not enough to play rough with the other boys just to fit in. He would rather find like minded kids and hang out with them instead of roughing it up with the "in" crowd. He is aware of popularity more now that he has read the Wimpy Kid books. He tried to keep up with the more "social" boys last year and all they did was give him grief. So even though I think he wishes to be a bit more popular, he doesn't care enough to move out of his comfort zone. I have told him many times it isn't how many kids like you; it is how well you are liked. We talk about how a real friend acts and check to see if he and his buddies are behaving that way.
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I am getting glimpses of what they are going to be like when they are adults. I can see Random Guy grown up and having a family, I can see SensiGirl going to college and pursuing her art or music, but as far as grieving the children I thought they were going to be... it only hurts a little, and not very often.
A special thanks to Solodialog.com for making me think about my grief and how I really feel about it.