Under the Maple Canopy

Singing Union Songs Since 2009

Great(er) Expectations


So, the kid had a birthday party recently – a first – and he was really excited about it. He carefully wrote out his invitations and picked his guest list. He talked about little else in the days leading up to the party and it seemed, at least on the surface to be a very good thing.

The turn out was small, but I tend to judge the success of an event, not by the number of people there, but the quality of the interactions that take place. Herein lies the sticky wicket.

Small numbers I can handle, but a guest coming to a party in order to spend time with the other kids who came while excluding the kid? Who does this and at this young age. Snotty pre-teens? Too cool for anyone teenagers? Totally expected.

The kid would suggest something to do only to be met with resistance and at times an uncomfortable bit of exclusivity in the whispers among the party guests.

We’re not even going to talk about the fact that these kids could not settle into and stick with any one thing. Instead they’d flit from one thing to the next before rapidly losing interest. I get that I raise my children differently. Is it the (lack of) TV? Our insistence on the kids cultivating the ability to entertain themselves? Reading?

How do you resist the urge to tell your kid to not continue in a friendship with a certain person, even though the child is generally nice and on their own rather friendly? It’s not that they’re a bad friend (party behavior not-withstanding), it’s just that the all-encompassing focus by the kid on this one person seems increasingly to be one-sided and to the kid’s detriment.

But, perhaps most uncomfortably, if you had hoped that the public school would solve the issue of socialization, what do you do when even then it falls flat?

This, dear reader, is what they call a no-win proposition.

8 thoughts on “Great(er) Expectations

  1. As much as it sucks–you let your child learn the lessons now, while you are there to help them sort it out and hug them when it hurts…and when it happens to them later, they will know the signs to look for and they will remember how to handle it and that they are enough.

    …we had this problem (and more) in pre-K with Chickadee and the rich kid pre-school princess clique.

    • One of my biggest criticisms of homeschooling (as someone that wanted to homeschool) is that kids aren’t socialized in a realistic way when it comes to the fact that society doesn’t care about you and your feelings as an individual. Of course, one of my biggest criticisms of conventional schooling (when it comes to socialization) is that you don’t spend your entire time in an isolated age cohort…

      • I guess for me that was a plus for homeschooling. I think we need to create and encourage a more empathetic and compassionate society. I agree that society doesn’t care about people and their feelings, but at the same time I don’t think that serves us well. The debates around government spending, deficits, health care, safety nets, public employee benefits, etc would be positively impacted if there was a mutual ability to empathize and show compassion to others.

        I guess for me the bigger socialization question is what exactly I think “socialization” should look like. Should we all be extroverts as our societal expectations over the last few decades have pushed toward or are there different ways of “socializing?” I don’t have an answer for that, but it’s still something I wrestle with.

    • That would be easy, I think, but seeing as the kid doesn’t seem to care – or at least that it didn’t seem to bother the kid. Do I talk to the kid about it? Or do I let it go while continuing to encourage the kid to seek out other friends at school? I’m leaning more towards the later and yet I don’t want him to end up like a sister of mine who would also give more in a relationship than was reciprocated back, often to her emotional/mental detriment.

      As for the pre-school thing, I see that in the decidedly middle to lower income 4K another kid attends. I guess I really thought that this sort of stuff started much later in childhood. At least I remember it happening much later in childhood for me.

      • I would think if it doesn’t bother him (have you asked him if he sees it?), I would just encourage him to make other friends. Its so tricky!!

  2. I think the party went just fine. As far as socialization through the public school system, my experience, with our children, was they would have been better off to be at home than to be exposed to the bullying they endured. The behavior of their peers as well as the administration and teachers was utterly disgusting. If I had it to do all over again I would have rather home schooled them.

    • *sigh* Yeah…but you do what you can (and what you can financially afford). If there’s anything that I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that there are no easy answers and one always tries to do the very best that they can. I guess you just trust that your kids will see your intention along the way. šŸ˜‰

      Systemically, thought, I think we have a long, long way to go as a society towards a more humane school system for both the students and the staff. Sadly, these days it seems to me like we’re going in the opposite direction.

  3. Commenting late on this, but I’m sorry your kid went through this. I was homeschooled myself until high school, and truthfully I’ve never figured out the trick of being friends with other people who seem to rely on TV and the next thrill for their entertainment. I’m frankly mystified by some social behaviors which seem to be perfectly acceptable to other people. (Exhibit A) Announcing to the rest of your friends via Facebook that you’re getting together with so and so.)

    I’m facing a bit of what you describe already. Munchkin is only 3 and it’s already clear that he behaves and entertains himself differently than the other kids in his playgroup. I’m also a ‘different’ Mom in what I deem acceptable risks – lots of tv watching is not good (we don’t have a TV, yay!) but learning the limits of your physicality (example: jumping from high places and learning how to climb) is okay. (It gives me gray hair… but it wears him out!)

    I haven’t learned to deal with these feelings on a mother level. On a peer to peer level, I’ve learned to accept that I behave and think differently than others. It’s frustrating, but I also try to think of myself as a different example (not better, just different) and just to seek out and cultivate the people that seem genuine while leaving myself open to experiences. In your place, I guess I’d talk to my kid about it if he was feeling bad about the birthday party, but I’d otherwise try to let him lead.

    I hope I’m not coming off as too advice-y… your post was very thoughtful and I’ve been thinking about some of this stuff recently! I’d love to hear more about how you’ve navigated the ‘different’ waters as a homeschooling Mom. We’re debating what to do with Munchkin now as preschool is looming…