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Dys and I have been having some difficulty dealing with Boy lately.  Well, it’s not Boy that’s the problem.  It’s his friends.

In our small neighborhood, there are maybe eight or ten kids 16 or younger.  Boy has been palling around with two of them, a pair of brothers we’ll call D & J, for several years now.  Last year, another kid named A moved in nearby and he’s joined the gang.  All of these kids are a year or two older than Boy.  They’re sometimes joined (or, more properly, led) by a boy or two who are a couple of years older than them.

As you might imagine, being the youngest of the group puts Boy in something of an odd place.  And that’s before you count his AS.

One of the neighborhood kids who occasionally hangs around it, to put it mildly, an asshole.  He’s the kind of kid who in the 1950s would have torn up your favorite baseball card or in the 1970s yanked the head off of your new Luke Skywalker action figure just for the hell of it.  Boy is generally not in any mood to take his shit, and so just leaves when he shows up.  Occasionally he will cut to the chase and inform him before he does so just what a jerk he is.

This kid showed up again the other day, and Boy told him he was a jerk and didn’t want to be around him, and left.  The problem being, the other kids hadn’t seen the jerk in a while, so they were fine to keep hanging with him.  And NOT with Boy.  Boy then spent the rest of the day driving Dys batty by wondering aloud what his pals were doing, when they’d show up, should I call them, should I drop by?

Yesterday Boy took it upon himself to apologize to the jerk for calling him a jerk.  He said, “Well, this time I guess I did kinda start it.”  (Which was probably true, even if he had good reason to start it.)  And he apparently had a decent time hanging out with everybody again.

It’s difficult for us to watch, because we know we have to sort of step aside and let him find his own way with his friends.  Particularly at his age.  He’s beyond the point at which our interceding on his behalf would do less harm than good.  We can offer suggestions and encouragement, and perhaps makes some opportunities for him, but by and large he’s on his own.

He’s also just starting to get to the age at which, truthfully, the opinions of his friends are going to be much more important than those of his parents.  We all get there sooner or later, and it’s just about his time.  It’s a great thing, but a scary thing as well.  For anybody, but especially for an AS person like Boy.  And for his parents.

So we’ve got a couple more years, maybe, to get that arrow pointed in a good direction.  After that, maybe we can blow really hard at it in flight, and hope we have the desired effect.

Talk about nerve-wracking.


4 Responses

  1. Oof. I sympathize, man.

    So you’ve been through this. Pointers? Other than shackling them in a closet? Dys says I’m not allowed.

  2. Damn! Good luck with that. All you can really do is the old anticipation without reaction. A difficult trick, but it can be done.

    Yep. We’re trying to encourage him to think about why people do the things they do, and maybe prepare him ahead of time for a few things that might happen…but to a great degree he’s going to have to navigate those treacherous waters without us around, so the better we can prepare him to do so without us…

  3. I don’t have kids but I can only imagine how much situations like this really jerk around your heartstrings. You want to tell A that he’s an asshole and protect your son, but you have to let him go through the motions. Then you have to wonder if the bad behavior will do anything to your son… AUGH. I understand why parents go gray and get wrinkles. Good luck with all that.

    Yes, all the way around. And thanks for the luck, we’ll need it!

  4. This is tough water to have to tread…and I do feel your pain.

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