I did something this weekend I have rarely done in the past 16 years. I emailed a friend for help. Not for me. I think I do that all the time. For Colin. My friend is the mom of a kid in Colin’s class.
I have been (ahem) overprotective of Colin. This is not news to you. It’s become clearer to me over the past year that not only can I not continue to protect Colin everywhere he goes, but I am not doing him any favors if I try. He is a sophomore in high school. In three years, he’s going to need to forge a path of his own choosing. Fly, little bird. And while I am not kicking him out the door, it is time for him to learn to trust himself and not fall back on us every time for reassurance. My maternal instinct says no, no, no — but the truth is a 16-year-old falls back on his friends for reassurance.
Colin doesn’t do this.
I saw it at the football game Friday night. Colin was hanging out with some kids near the concession stand. The other kids bought stuff from the concession stand. Colin came and sat up by us . . . and he was grumpy. Ordering makes him nervous. He knows he can be hard to understand. Paying makes him nervous. He knows he doesn’t understand money. We’ve worked and worked with him. He doesn’t understand money. I could have gone down with him, but he was reluctant to admit what was wrong.
I figured it out.
And then I took a deep breath.
And I emailed the other mom.
And then I cried and cried.
I worried I was going to embarrass him.
Colin is so high functioning, he knows that he does things differently. He knows he has quirky habits. It’s good, and it’s bad. The beauty of our small community is that people know Colin, and they know his habits. He’s been at school with the same kids for 11 plus years. They know him . . . but do they? Do they know why he does what he does? Do they know where he needs help? Or are they so used to it, they don’t see it anymore? Was it so hard to talk to him as a first grader, they don’t try anymore even though he is so much better at it now.
I don’t know, so I emailed this mom and asked if her kid could causally help Colin next time they were near each other at the concession stand. I risked Colin getting a reputation as a “special ed” kid who need help with the most basic things in the hopes that his friends can teach him in a way I cannot. My own pride took a hit doing this. I want to be the savior. I want to make it easy. I want to help him figure it out so no one has to know.
But that wasn’t working.
So let’s try this.