Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sometimes the things that make us "weird" in school make us awesome in life!

He came in and sat down across from me. He had a serious look on his face. I put the checkbook and bills down and listened intently. It looked like we might be here a while.
He said, “I have something I need to tell you.”
“Ok, I’m listening. What’s going on, “I asked softly?
“I am not popular. I have not been telling you the truth. Actually, I hang around the kids who are considered weird. I just wanted you to know.”

Let me rewind this story...
 I have heard over and over from him how popular he is. He has told the therapist that he is one of the popular kids because he wears cool socks. He has told my husband and I that he only hangs around the “cool” kids. He has told his Grandparents the same story.  We have talked to the teachers during teachers conferences and they have said that he is very liked by the other kids at school and he is very social. Sometimes he is a little too social and obsessed with one topic, but overall he is kind to everyone and well liked. My hubby and I were pleased with that answer.
We have often wondered how many of these friends he spoke of were real and how many were made up. We have wondered if they were “popular” kids being nice to him for the wrong reasons, which concerned us. We have often worried, as parents do, about his feelings being hurt.
We had come to the conclusion that as long as he was happy, we would just let it go. We would just keep an eye on things and keep asking questions about his friends. We would monitor texts and phone calls. We had a feeling that he was not fitting in socially and the other kiddos probably realized he was different, but we just thought he hadn’t figured it all out yet. We would just be careful and let him keep believing whatever made him happy.
Now, as I sat here looking at those big brown eyes and trembling lips I realized that he had known all along.
I asked, “Why have you been telling us you were popular?”
He answered, “I didn’t want to disappoint you.”
I felt this of wave emotion come over me. It was a mixed bag of feeling blessed that he was coming to talk to me and sad that he ever had to feel pain like this. I hated that he was feeling such doubt about himself and how we felt about him.
“Hunter, I am not disappointed in you. As long as you are trying your best at everything you do and being kind to others that is all I can ask of you!!” Then, I smiled at him and said, “Thank you for being honest with me. Now, can I be honest with you?

“Yes, “he responded shyly.
“I’ve know all along that you probably weren’t “popular”. I didn’t know why it was so important to you that I thought you were, but the truth is…I don’t care.  I wasn’t popular either. I would rather you not be popular at all because many times that can cause so much trouble in your life. I am much more concerned about you being happy, really happy. I want you to surround yourself with friends that care about you and who you can depend on no matter what life throws your way. I would much rather you have a few real friends than a lot of friends who aren’t good to you. That is how I live my life and it makes things so much better.“
He looked a little shocked. He kind of grinned at me. Then he said, “Please don’t tell dad, ok”
I smiled at him and said, “He already knows, sweetie.”
He said, “Grant told him didn’t he? I told him last year that I wasn’t really popular and I knew he couldn’t keep a secret.”
I chuckled inside at the thought that he thought his dad and I had to be told by his 8 year-old brother that he wasn’t really popular, but I said, “Nope, he did not say a word to us. I promise. We just always had a feeling that you were not as popular as you were letting on, but honestly, he doesn’t care either. Neither one of us do. We just love you for you.”
He doesn’t?”
“No buddy, he really just wants you to be happy!  Can I let you in on a little secret that you will find out for yourself in a few years?”
“Right now, this seems like the most important thing in the world. It seems like if you don’t fit in with that crowd, no one wants to be your friend. I understand that because I was your age once too. The real truth is that in middle school it feels like that, by high school there is still a little of that but you know yourself a little better. In five years, when you are done with high school, you will move on to college and it won’t matter who your friends were in high school. You will find friends with your same interests through classes you are in or clubs you join or dorms you live in, and suddenly, these people who didn’t want to be your friends will just be a distant memory. They won’t matter a bit. I promise it doesn’t seem like it now, but that is exactly what will happen. “
He looked at me like he thought I knew what I was talking about (at least somewhat) which is a rare occurrence these days. I went on to try to explain how I was not popular in school and girl in particular was really mean to me. I ran into her a few weeks ago, and the pain she used to cause me wasn’t there anymore. I had moved on. “I promise you that one day you won’t care about these people either, “ I said.
He got ready to get up and I said, “One more thing…you know the characters on Big Bang Theory?”
“Well, I know they are just fictional characters, but there are a lot of people out there just like them. Do you think they would have been considered "cool kids" in school?”
“No, “ he chuckled.
“Nope, probably not. Guess what? Who cares!! They went on to be so much more successful than the people who would have made fun of them in school, right?”
“Yep, you can do the same thing! Sometimes the things that make us stand out as “weird or different” in school make us awesome in life!”
He stood up to go back to his game of Minecraft. He didn’t say a word. He just walked away in quiet contemplation. I just sat and thought a while about how no matter how many words I speak now or in the future, I will never take away his pain or insecurities. All I can do is try my best to let him know that he is so special to me, his family, and in this world.