My wife is always worried about our son not having any close friends. I told her I made my first best-friend when I was in second grade. She said it was the same for her. Now our son is in second grade and he doesn't seem to be hitting it off with anyone yet. We even tell him we'll buy him prizes if he makes an effort to be extra friendly to people (Just meaning he says 'hello' more and holds the door open for people and stuff).
He complains a lot about school being so boring, which we all know is true. And I tell him that that is why it's important to make some friends. I tell him that anytime you ever have to do anything in life that you don't enjoy, it's better to have a friend or someone to talk to around. I tell him that's my method of getting through working so much, because I certainly don't enjoy that.
But yesterday I walked him to school. I like to wait for him to enter the building before I leave but I told him, "You don't have to stand here with me. You can go play."
But he stood by me. And after a few minutes I started to recognize all the same kid faces from last year. And I noticed the only game that anyone plays here is the "kick and slap" game. There was one kid standing by himself against the wall near the door. I said, "Why don't you go stand by Skyler. He looks lonely." So Ethan did. He went and stood right next to him and waited patiently. Skyler was still lost in space and he stayed that way until the teacher came to collect them. I told my wife about that later and she told me that she has gone through the same thing a few times and that Skyler ALWAYS snubs Ethan.
Another kid eventually came and said hello to him but then he immediately got in a slap fight with a giant girl on the other side of Ethan. I looked around for anyone who I thought might be worth playing with and found nobody. Ethan didn't look sad but he stood there looking around like anyone who is forced to wait for something they don't want. I thought to myself, "What would I do in his situation?" And quickly realized, I would do exactly what he was doing.
It made me feel bad for him. If you want to find an upside, maybe this isolation-in-a-crowd will give him that good kind of cynical-salty-sea-dog personality and make him more of an individual inside. He just stood there that whole time, like he was doing his duty and I'm proud of him for it. At the last minute when they were filing inside he turned and waved to me.
After school, I went to the office to give them some lunch money. I took Ethan outside and asked him to show me where he had recess. They have to run to the opposite corner of the school. Which we did. We ran along the edge of a huge field of grass and Ethan did a hop, skip and jump thing across a long row of green plastic sprinkler boxes. When we got to the playground he literally DOVE into the gravel pit and tucked into summersault. He showed me each piece of equipment on the playground. He climbed to the top of a ladder and said, "This is what I like to do." And he jumped down like he was driving his fist into the ground, sending a spray of gravel everywhere. Like something The Hulk would do. He also showed me how he likes to "swim" through the gravel. I must say that he is a surprisingly CLEAN kid considering his playground habits.
The point is: He's a fun kid. I don't know what the problem is with those other kids. I guess it's his fault that he feels a moral conflict at the idea of walking up to another kid and slapping them across the face. You know, for fun. Like normal people do when they get together with their friends.