I have always been mindful of how much any one student has had to “help” or befriend Liam. I want to make sure that the other child has a choice and is enjoying Liam’s company in some way – so the relationship is not a job or chore that becomes burdensome.
In fourth grade, Liam developed his first “best” friend. They are still friends today, which is how I know that it was mutual and equally beneficial. This child’s heart is huge and generous. He is an extremely kind soul.
At first, I was worried that he was just being made to be Liam’s friend because he was such a nice kid. As time went on, his parents encouraged the friendship and the boys spent time together outside of school. While they are very different in some ways, they connect and have some activities in common.
At the same time, in fourth grade, another student, who was often paired with Liam, did not feel the same way. He and Liam started to feel competitive with each other as the only two students playing a certain instrument.
Eventually, the student’s mom asked the school to keep them apart. She felt that her child was doing all of the helping and was being “held back” by Liam.
When I found this out, it confirmed my worst fears. Kids saw being with Liam as a burden.
I had to remind myself that Liam had a great many things to offer a friendship. Maybe not rapt interest in what you have to say. Maybe a bit too much talk about video games.
However, he’s been a helpful math tutor.
He’s a devoted, responsible group-mate.
He’s kind and friendly.
He is genuinely happy in life.
Liam will not be able to be friends with everyone.
But, being friends with Liam has its rewards.