As Jake is getting older the social issues are becoming more apparent. Or, at least, the other kids are noticing his differences more. And unfortunately that's resulting in more instances of borderline bullying. In fact we've had two issues in just the past week alone. So last night when I got a call about something that had happened drama I didn't know what to expect. It was one of the moms who is been very involved in the show calling to tell me about how Jake reacted inappropriately on stage when one of the kids was struggling with his lines. (And by inappropriately I mean he said in a loud voice "this is so embarrassing ").
Of course I felt bad for the kid, I felt bad for what Jake said, and I wish it hadn't happened. But the way I understood it seemed like a some of the other parents there thought it was more serious than was necessary.
So I talked to Jake about it and we had a good discussion. He agreed that if it happened again he needed to stay silent. But the next part of the conversation really challenged me. He wanted to know why he needed to be nice when this child has not been nice to him all year. This child who is probably the most popular kid in fifth grade. This child who Jake has done nothing but try to emulate as he seeks ways to behave appropriately.
That was where huge internal struggle happened to me. Because this kid doesn't need an extra hand or pat on the back. From what I've seen his self-esteem is just fine. He isn't put down and taunted each day. He isn't constantly on the periphery you trying to fit in. He doesn't get left out of parties and play dates.
Oh but wait, it gets better. Because Lacey is too awkward to just leave it at that. I have a friendly enough acquaintance with the kid's dad so when I saw him at drop off this morning I tried to approach him. My plan was to apologize for what happened, to make sure he understood why Jake doesn't always understand what things are appropriate to say, and put a plug-in for the fact that some kindness from his child towards Jake would go along way. To say that it didn't go well is almost hilarious in how massively it understates the truth. I actually started crying while this man completely rebuffed me. It was deeply hurtful.
I so often wonder how in this day and age, when we know so much about bullying and kids with autism, how kids can still be so unkind. And then I have conversations like the one this morning and it makes me feel hopeless because when their parents are like that how are the kids ever going to be any different.