If you've read this blog for any length of time, you are aware that AJ is not a fan of people. It's not that he doesn't know how to socialize (he doesn't), it's also that he doesn't like people, and doesn't want to socialize. He'd prefer to just stay home and speak to us. He'd be happy living on a farm, 20 miles from the nearest house. Seriously. He says that all the time.
Today, we went to the park with some friends. I was thrilled to be out of the house, and be outside. We live in New England, and the flood waters have been B-A-D around here. We needed to be outside!! On the other hand, there would be PEOPLE around, so anything could happen, and of course, it did.
When we first got there, there were a couple of kids already playing. AJ was working hard at avoiding them. He actually came up to me and said:
"I'm trying hard to avoid these kids, Mama! I'm pretty good at it."
One of the little boys was chasing AJ around. He was really trying to get AJ's attention. It looked to me that this kid was on the spectrum. I finally got AJ to stop, and see what this little boy wanted.
He said to AJ, "Can I play with you? Can we be friends?"
I could see how hard this was for this boy. I could see how he struggled to get that out. And, I knew what was going to happen. I could see it on AJ's face.
AJ said, "I'd prefer to play alone."
Then AJ ran away. The little boy was stunned - and sad. I was soooo torn.
I want to respect what AJ needs. I want him to be able to set his own boundaries, and say what he wants and needs. And he did that. Almost politely. But, my heart broke for that other little boy. I know that I can't take care of everyone's kids. I know that I can't advocate for the world, and need to concentrate on my family, but it was so hard not to get frustrated with AJ. It was so hard to stay out of this encounter, and let AJ do what he needed to do.
I still don't know if I did the right thing by staying out of that encounter. I'm not sure I could have said or done anything anyway. I can't force AJ to play with kids if he doesn't want to. I can't make him care about being social. It's hard for me to watch, but it's just part of AJ.
It's really my problem, not his. I have to learn not to judge his world through my lens. I need to learn that what makes me happy is not necessarily what makes him happy. I need to let him find his own way, and just support whatever that is. I guess I have to learn to deal with it and just move on. I can't fix the world, but I can take care of my little guy. I guess that's just part of being a mom. No one ever said it would be easy. But no one ever said it would be this hard, either.