I know he's only turning 4 tomorrow, but sometimes when I look into the eyes of my children, I see the past, the present, and the future. I see Harrison as a helpless baby, as a wobbly toddler trying to keep up w/ bro-n-sis, as the fiesty preschooler that he is now...and then somehow I can see him graduating high school and making us proud. It's weird. I can't wait to see where Harrison takes life, b/c I'm certain he will be taking life somewhere, not life taking him somewhere. :)
I had the coolest conversation w/ Jacob this week. It's always obvious when he's gotten in trouble at school--he has an air about him as soon as he walks in the door, a guilty air. So he explained what happened (a tiff w/ another boy about LEGOs) and it led to this deep talk on friendship and fitting in w/ your peers.
I think as parents you never imagine *your* child would ever have trouble fitting in. You see them as these cute, funny, amazing little people who are popular and well-liked. The reality, of course, is that every child in the history of the world has been made fun of, picked on, and felt like they had no friends at one time other another, usually many times. Kids pick on anyone different from them, for whatever reason which changes almost daily. Kids pick on other kids who are too smart, not smart enough, too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too rich, too poor...and everyone was at some point in life, on both ends of the spectrum--the kid picking on someone else and the kid being picked on.
Bottom line for Jacob is that he's trying really hard to fit in w/ a certain group of boys who play LEGOs at recess. (During the winter months when they can't play outside, they have to stay in their classrooms, which sounds ridiculous to me and frustrates him b/c most of his friends are in another class.) Anyhow, for some reason, these boys seem to not want him in their group. It could just be a personality thing (Jacob can be a bit tedious and anal when it comes to making up rules for games!) or it could simply be they just don't like him. Either way, he worries about it. Now he is only 9, so his worry is mainly that he has no one to play w/ at recess, not that his social life has fallen apart. But it's interesting that even at this age, he's willing to make changes to join a group. He's been saving his money to buy a big LEGO set for quite a while now, but then suddenly he was looking at completely different sets. It didn't matter to me, but through our conversation, I learned that he wants to buy a set w/ more figures in it b/c that's what the "cool boys" play with. A decision based on peer pressure.
That led to a cool time of sharing my own struggles w/ peer pressure and trying to fit in. I said,
"Jacob, if you wanna buy the set w/ all the figures, go for it. It's your money. But don't buy something b/c you think it'll make you fit in. Don't try to please other people all the time. Because you know what?"
He responded, "Next week they'll be playing w/ something else, won't they?"
He totally got it. Then we both got emotional when I told him that the best way to make friends is 1) to be the kind of person people should want to be friends with and 2) to just be himself. After all, if you change who you are for someone else, you will always, always regret it.
I know we've barely scratched the surface of peer pressure in school, in life in general, but I hope we laid some foundation for when the real stuff comes.
Lord, thank you for the tender heart of my son. I hate to see him upset at all, but I know that this is how he learns and grows. Help him to never lose himself, the boy you made him to be, in the search for friendship and acceptance. Guide him and encourage him.