I remember my first socialization with other boys from other neighborhoods, public school – first grade. It was my first organized social life, everyone thrown together in one building and then grouped by grade. Social contact was miles between first and fourth graders at this school, yet back home in our own neighborhood we all played together – sports, cards games, bike riding, skate boards, music, hide’n seek, board games. The only catch to this perfect system was school, and getting there.
My little neighborhood had mostly older kids so my walk to school was lonely. Why? I had no one in my grade to walk with. I was the one walking ten feet behind groups of older kids laughing and talking and giving each other punches on the shoulder.
I never thought about it at the time – it just “was”. I just slipped off into my imagination while I walked to and from school, taking one step at a time, dreaming, on this lonely daily chore. Sometimes my mother would walk with me. She would encourage me to walk right up to those other kids and “just walk with them”. I was never brave enough, it didn’t happen. Mom was continually giving me support.
Reading this article “Mom teaches compassion” brought me back to those school years with my mother. Who knew about making friends at school, I was six years old, and friends with the older kid next door, and his sisters, and all of the other kids in the neighboring houses, and we played after school each day. Why would school be different? Why would the older kids not walk with me to school?
I never realized it then, but I think I had sibling rivalry without having an older brother myself. When the school day came, all my “neighborhood brothers and sisters” lined up in their own school day cliques and groups even on the walk to school. The walk was lonely – I was shut out of all the fun.
Now that I have kids of my own, those situations where the little kids feels he is an outsider and just not good enough have got to change. In little kids minds, the age difference of a year can mean so much. Kids want to play with kids, younger kids want to play with the older kids, and there are so many little social groups I see my sons trying to navigate.
The Mom Teaches article (above) brought all that back for me. I got to look at “Me as Child: looking at my mother mothering, and Me as Dad: watching my sons in similar school socialization”. Thoughts of how this affected me?
I cannot help but look at my personality today and wonder if social acceptance early on is key to creating a clear and safe space so emotional growth can take place?
Maybe I’m musing too much, but being a parent now helps me understand when I was very young and how my mother helped socialize her sons for a better tomorrow.
Resources: I have also discovered the group Kidz Helping Kids for organizing Kids Leadership activities across the US.