Sunday, April 15, 2012

On the way home from town I decided to stop off at a park that was on our way home if I varied my route a little. The park houses the field that most of the local little leagues use for practice and games so when we pulled up the playground was full of boys around Z's age, which can be a dangerous element to enter into. At first I was tempted to just pull out and go home but Z swore that he could play on the equipment without engaging with them. I was a little skeptical because Z often swears he will stick to himself and then immediately forgets and starts chatting away with the exact person I just warned him away from seconds before. It feels odd sometimes discouraging my son from being social and friendly, but I have a pretty good sense by now of kids he is just better off not getting to know. Sometimes I'm proved completely wrong and the kid that I was wary of turns out to be extremely friendly and it's a nice surprise but a gaggle of eleven-year-old boys is very rarely welcoming to a lone quirky boy,  no matter how nice each individual boy may be. Packs of boys waiting for their softball game to start want to impress each other, which rarely fares well for Z.

Immediately upon approaching the play structure there was a boy that got my hackles up a little. He was probably a little younger than Z and loudly repeated over and over to Az "konichiwa!" as if it were the funniest thing in the world. When that had grown a little old he switched to, "Hola!" Z stuck to his word and didn't engage with any of the boys except to say, "Excuse" (which I guess was his faster, lazier way of saying, "excuse me") so I followed Az over to the smaller kid's playground. After a few minutes I heard the group of boys yelling at Z to move. He was sitting at the top of a tube slide, not going up or down. I decided to bring Az over to the slide and put her in at the bottom because I doubted the boys would continue to yell at him with me there. It's true that Z should have been sharing the tube but since there were other slides and the boys had claimed the entire play structure I felt okay defending his right to be on the slide.

Z went up and down the slide and played on the structure in the usual way, without engaging the boys in any way. At one point it looked like one of the boys spit on the back of Z's head and then laughed with the boy he was standing next to but I couldn't be sure and it didn't happen again. There were no big scenes or confrontations that day but still and all I was pretty relieved when it suddenly started pouring rain and we had to depart quickly. Oddly enough I left feeling like we had had a positive experience; Z was able to play and have fun without talking to any of the kids I had warned him away from him. It required me hovering nearby, but at least I know Z can do it.

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