Friday, September 13, 2013


In the mornings, walking Ethan into school, we pass the long train of buses. Kids are pouring out of each of the bus doors. I see them greet each other; find their already "special" friends after just two weeks of school; take hands or giggle as they bounce towards the school, and I wonder.

I am grateful Ethan has had such a good start to his kindergarten year. I'm happy he is sharing a para he seems to really like and has a teacher who seems "on the ball." I'm thrilled to hear he has really good math skills, and to see this boy who used to be so averse to writing learn how to craft upper and lower case letters legibly across a sheet of paper. I love to hear him repeat songs he's learned and overcome his fear of the cafeteria.

I just wonder if he's making any connections.

"Who's your favorite friend to play with at school?" I ask him, indicating I mean other than his friend he already knew from last year.

"No one," he answers matter-of-factly.

Another time, I ask him about the playground. "Who do you play with on the playground?"

"I play by myself," he tells me, not the least bit phased. It's only me who is.

The para tells a different story. "How's he doing with other kids?" I ask gingerly one day. "Does he like them? Ignore them?"

"Oh, he plays with the other kids," she says. "Ask him about N.," she mentions another boy in class. "They play together sometimes."

Yet Ethan tells me nothing about N.

Open House night is coming up. We'll have a chance to see Ethan's teacher for the first time since Back to School Night, and I'm still nervous to ask.

I can ask if he has any friends, but there is more I won't ask.

I won't ask if the other kids snickered when he held his hands over his ears because the fire drill was too loud.

I won't ask if someone laughed, hearing from his homework paper that when he grows up, Ethan wants to "fix power lines."

I won't ask if he annoys kids when he tries to relate to them by poking or getting in their face.

I won't ask if they are puzzled by the fact that he sometimes shows his affection for people by looking away and refusing to look at them when he sees them for the first time that day.

I won't ask, if none of those worries are true, if she knows what age it will start to happen, when kids begin to realize who really is different; who can't pick up the social cues and fit the right way into the games; if she knows when kids get cruel. I don't want to know.

And I won't ask if he's on the playground perfectly happy, playing alone -- because I know what's most important is that he's happy. Yet everything in my somewhat-typical brain still wants him to find joy and pleasure in relationships. Every part of me knows that I always seem to raise the bar higher --in those times that he does reach out to other people, I'm analyzing how he could better relate, better get along.

I don't want to look at him and think that what he's doing is never enough.

Yet when I watch those kids, when I hear the chatter and see the eye contact and conversation that flows with ease...

I wonder.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The wondering is hard. I get it. But it keeps us on our knees, praying for our babies doesn't it? Hugs, friend.