Maybe your child is a loner, some children are, as are some adults come to think of it. Some children are aware of the fact that they are without friends but they’re happier that way, self sufficient and independent. Some children are unaware that they have no friends. A few children become aware that they have no friends and wonder why? Occasionally, a child who has no friends, finds one, a friend that is to say. That individual, in this particular instance, has been in the same class as my son for three years but until just recently they have completely ignored one another, or maybe just not noticed the presence of the other?
For four years I haven’t pushed him. It’s a harmless piece of traditional fluff of no importance. But this year he is older, 7, the age of cognition for some children.
I decide to tackle the issue head on. Friday, the last day of school, the children are required to wear a Holiday hat and engage in the holiday spirit. The latter is likely to be a challenge. The former is more of a brick wall.
My youngest son’s head is generally off limits. Whilst he has been known to don head gear on occasions, more often than not it’s more protective in nature rather than the more usual clothing garment. A wooden box with a peep hole equates to protection.
There is no point in appealing to his better nature. There is no point in suggesting that he tackle this feat just to please me. He doesn’t do guilt, fortunately, so there are few choices available to me. He has no need to fit in with his peer group, he is immune to peers. He is immune to groups come to think of it. Bribery would always be my first choice given the option, but I am unable to attend school as his shadow, armed with a sackful of Goldfish Crackers.
I don’t know what, if anything the other children say to him, but I do know that if the entire school wears hats, most of them red, it’s a visual cue with neon lights.
We have the usual struggle over school attendance, last day or not, he still doesn’t want to go to school. There is no point in reminding him of the party, as party roughly translates to ‘poison pain.’ There is no point in reminding him of the gift exchange because the presents will be wrapped in paper and therefore untouchable, and in any event their contents, by definition, will be disappointing.
I do remind him of the one tolerable thing about school, that he gets to spend time with his pal, the new love of his life, his first, only and best friend, Adam. Little Adam is my own personal angel, as he has given the most precious gift to my son, the present of his very own unique self, to bond with my own little devil.
I pause and contemplate Little Adam, high end spectrum, verbal and fragile. Adam is a twin. He has a twin sister. My son was a twin, but his twin didn’t make it out into the world alive. The black hole on the sonogram was seared onto my memory, but back then, I didn’t appreciate that I was a visual learner. The icicle of terror made me hold my breath. It was melted by the steady blinking shadow of a second secret heartbeat. As a result, I find that I have a tendency to read too deeply into something of no great significance. My son wants to live with Adam, be with Adam, exist in Adam’s orbit, permanently. It is a crushing new development that leaves me and Adam’s mother, in a state of disbelief and delight.
“Wot?” he bellows.
“Are you going to give Adam a Christmas present?”
“No. Er yes. Um why?”
“Because he is your friend.” He looks at me blankly but lured in by the enticement of his current adoration.
“I have an idea!”
“Wot?” he bellows.
“How about I take you to the shop and you can choose a holiday hat, one for you and one for Adam. Perhaps you could choose two the same that you could both wear tomorrow, together.” He clamps his hands over his mouth to cover his rapid breathing and the battle over competing emotions. He adopts the expression of constipation unable to achieve peace of mind or body. So easy, so difficult. The caress of friendship, the torture of a hat, the agony of indecision.
“You can try it on in the shop and see it it’s itchy or scratchy? You could choose one without elastic?” You could wear it inside out for all I care. He rocks back and forth on the hard wood floors on his bony little bum with his arms clasped tightly around his legs and his head tucked into his knees.
“That way you’ll look almost the same,” I whisper to the silent mop of hair.
“Maybe people are think we are twins?”
“Maybe.” No promises.