This past week was a rough one for my eleven year old.
Tuesday, 6:15 a.m.
“I was thinking about it more….” (Sometimes we start conversations in the middle). “Yesterday, I think someone made fun of me.”
“Oh? What happened?”
“I dropped all of my books in the hallway and when I was picking them up, I made a loud noise. They were heavy. But two boys said, ‘Make that noise again. We aren’t being sarcastic.’ Do you think they were being sarcastic? Were they teasing me? What should I do?”
I felt quite conflicted in how to respond. I wanted to comfort him, protect him, defend him. I wanted to tell him it was sort of his fault because of the goofy noise he made. But that would make him feel worse. So I just listened and then asked him to share what happened with his social skills teacher.
The next day, I received this email:
“Someone at chorus said “Shut up!” to me. I raised my hand to tell someone, and he said “bet you $10 you’re going to tell on me.” Some girls standing close kept laughing while looking at me. Tried talking to Dad. About as understanding as the people that did it.
I felt so badly for him. I felt helpless. How do I help? What do I say? What is the right advice? Sixth grade social interactions are much more complex than, tell an adult (still important advice). But they cannot be there for every moment or help him understand situations as they are happening.
I’m going to start by continuing to be a mom who listens – who he can talk to about how he feels. I might see if he could ask them, how would you feel if you were me? But as there’s no formula for the right response, I think I will just make sure I know what’s going on, listen, and let him know that not everyone in his life will act this way. This is how I will start to give my help.