I walked into Landon’s preschool room to pick him up for the day. I was a bit early so the kids were still playing outside. There are windows in the back where you can watch them from the inside. I decided to wait a few minutes and observe Landon.
My eyes scanned the playground, all the kids scattered about in little groups. My eyes stopped at one group of preschoolers playing on the wooden jungle gym. Nope, he’s not with that group. Another group had formed near the monkey bars. Nope, he’s not with that group either.
My heart started to beat fast as the panic began to rise. Where is he?
I stretched my neck, my face almost against the glass. Then I saw him. At the swing set in the far corner. There was no one else around. No kids. No teachers. He was playing by himself. All alone.
As the giddy laughter of the other children echoed in the background I watched my son.
He was stretched over the swing with his stomach on the seat and arms out in front of him. His feet were pushing off the dirt behind him, making the swing twirl side-to-side. Sometimes he would lift his head and look at the sky. I think he was singing a song.
The sadness hit me with such force. I felt so sorry for him.
I had a million questions swirling in my head.
Did he choose to play alone? Or did the other kids choose not to play with him?
Does he feel left out? Or is he contented to be by himself?
Is this how it is for him all day while I’m at work? Or is it just during outside play?
In order to calm my fears I decided to approach his teachers about it. I asked the general question of how is he doing?
They said he is shy and it takes him a while to warm up to new situations. I told them that he is not shy with people he knows. He talks about playing with his cousin Harrison all the time! They said he doesn’t talk much and I told them that he talks all the time at home. In fact, we have trouble getting him to be quiet. She said that’s not how he is there.
Granted this is a new preschool. He has only been there for a month and a half and he has had a lot of changes in his little life what with a new house, new neighborhood and two daycare switches. He also only attends two days a week whereas most of the other children see each other every day.
I asked the teachers if he ever plays with the other children. She said that he would much rather interact with the adults. But yes, he does play with other children sometimes.
A few weekends ago when we took him to a new event, we had to go into the children’s area three times before he would actually get up on the jungle gym. He refused to get out of the stroller to do anything that day. It frustrated us that he wouldn’t even try. He seems frightened of any new situation and will beg to be carried, bury his head in our shoulders or latch onto my leg as if the alternative is falling off of a cliff. We always explain softly to others, he’s just shy.
When I start to worry that there is something I am doing to cause this behavior, I look to Brigham who is very adaptable to any situation. He never cries when we drop him off at daycare and he can clearly stand up for himself already. The two of them have the same parents but two very different personalities. Therefore, I don’t think it’s anything that we are doing as parents to cause Landon to be extra-sensitive. I think it might just be in his genes.
While I was watching Landon through that window his life passed before my eyes.
I saw him being rejected by the other kids at school. I saw him playing alone every day because the other kids decided he did not fit in. I saw him coming home from school and crying in my arms because no one would play with him. I saw my child’s spirit breaking because he couldn’t understand why no one liked him. I saw him start to believe that there was something wrong with him. I never want him to think that. I want him to know that every little thing about him is exactly who he is supposed to be.
I think this is a big worry for mothers. The fear that our child will be rejected by society. And no matter how hard we try we can’t change it. Maybe it’s much too early for me to be worrying about my child having friends. But even so I am still worried.
Landon finally noticed me as I stood talking to his teachers. His sprint toward me was clumsy and wild like a bird learning to fly. When he reached me I scooped him up and gave him the strongest hug I’ve ever given him. In the car I asked him if he had any friends. He listed off a few names and I felt a little better.
I have always loved how sensitive Landon is. I tell him how proud of him I am and all that he is becoming every single night. I love that I can have amazing conversations with him at 3-years-old. Yesterday during dinner, he looked up at the pink clouds. The skies were washed in pink, a favorite phenomenon of mine.
He oohed and ahhed over how beautiful it looked and without any prompting he said, “Mommy, the sky looks like cotton candy and I’m going to eat it.”
He is so smart and innocently hilarious. I know he wants friends. I know that when he realizes what friendship is about he will be so good to those who want to be his friend. I can see a whole world in his eyes and that world . . . it is so special and unique.
It is a great worry of mine that others won’t want to be a part of it.