Friday, September 4, 2015

"No One Wants to Play with Me"

I was crushed today.  I heard this from Sofie.  To us, we don't see her as different.  We just don't.  She is just Sofie to us.  I have never seen her as special needs.  It doesn't click to me.  But, it hit me today.  No one wanted to play with her or Summer at the pool.  Not a single soul. I tried to help them in how to ask to play, what to say.  Encouraged them to take the ball over and ask the girls if they wanted to play.  Nothing.  I watched Sofie several times try her hardest to interact with others at the pool.   I don't know if it is because they don't understand her or see her as different.  It's honestly heartbreaking to watch.  Truly is.  I said to them both, that's okay, you have plenty of brothers and sisters that will play with you.  Maybe the kids will play with you next time.  Said it a little loud hoping they'd pay attention and hear.  Or that the parents would see the faces of Sofie and Summer.  I know they are different but they're great kids.  Who wouldn't want to play with them?! 

I know as they get older, socialization is going to be an issue.  It already is.  They don't like to really talk too much to new kids.  Maybe it's because they know they won't interact back.  There are very few places my kids feel at ease.  Same with Nik.  Deaf camp and Bulgarian Reunion come to mind.  No one judges in those places and I don't think other neurotypical kids have the same expectations in those places that they do in others.  I wonder what next week will bring.  My kids start a 4-H club.  Will others notice my kids are 'different?'  will they want to sit next to them?  will they attempt to talk to them?  My kids are very social children.  And don't get me wrong, they do talk to people.  But more and more as they get older, I notice things like this.  The pool, the playgrounds, etc.  And I can see they are starting to understand more and more they are a bit different.  Though not treated that way at home, they are elsewhere and I need to prepare them for that a little better.  

I guess as a special needs parent, I just never thought of my kids as special needs.  They were just, well, kids.  Yes, I know they reached and are still reaching milestones differently.  And that's perfectly fine with me.  But maybe I did them a disservice in the same token.  They feel 'normal.'  Which you may say is fantastic.  But now, now it is hard as they are older.  Others not wanting to play or even interact.  No wonder they tend to go off together to play.  I do believe there is hope though.  Maybe it is the way people are taught or how they teach their kids.  Because the new church we are going to, all open arms, Sofie, Summer and Nik played right along side the kids.  Was this way at the other church too.  So maybe it isn't so much my kids per say but maybe other kids not being taught to be as accepting?  Not sure.  Maybe a combination of things.  I just hope in the future my kids feel as young adults, accepted.  Right now, my older ones are really struggling with this.  And that is okay.  We are still here for them.  As always.  It is hard to say what our role as parents should be in this situation.  Do we make them feel normal?  Do we let them know they're different?  I never really thought of this before b/c truly, we just see them as kids.  I never took into consideration other kids may be nervous to talk to them b/c they sound different, look different, or can't speak.  It never occurred for me to prep my kids for this.  If any of you have ideas that may help, do let me know.  But then again, I can teach them like I was at the pool, but if other kids aren't receptive, how do I handle that?  And this is not the first incident.  It's the first time I'm becoming more aware and trying to deal with such things.  I guess I'm always learning as a parent too.

3 comments:

  1. I've always tried to stress that everybody is unique - just some differences are more visible than others. Also, almost everybody has things about them that you like or admire and things you don't care for and unless it's unsafe or against the rules, we should focus on the things we like and try to overlook the things we don't and hope that others do the same for us. If they don't, they're the ones that are missing out.

    From a more practical perspective, I wonder if it would help smooth the way a little if you could invite a friend from church or a neighbor to go with your girls. That might make it easier to build a bridge?

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  2. I am sorry that your beautiful girls were snubbed at the pool. It is such an awful thing to watch that happen, and be unable to do anything besides going up to their parents asking why their kids are not playing with yours. Of course, that is not socially acceptable, so you just end up feeling helpless. I wanted to let you know, that it happens to al kids. My daughter is very shy, and does not have any siblings near her age. My son is 8 years older than she is, so they both went through times where they played by themselves at the park, pool, etc. But where my son is outgoing and did not have trouble finding playmates, it was very different for my daughter. She is very bright, but she tends to be very quiet and would never go up to someone she did not know, and ask them to hang out with her. She just started high school, and even now is struggling with trying to make new friends. She has a small group of good friends, but as an example, she sat next to one of them on the bus for 2 years before she got her number, and we live just one street away from her! So, I think that many kids, with special needs and without, can have problems with making friends, finding a playmate at the park or pool etc. I tried some things over the years to help my daughter. One was to find cool toys to bring with us wherever we went. If other kids saw my daughter with this neat toy, it gave them an excuse to come over and play with her. She could instantly have something to talk to them about. It does not have to be anything expensive... I found a package of dinosaurs to hide in the sand at the park for example. The kids played at being archaeologists, and loved it. When she got older, I found a cool scooter on sale, and we brought it to the park, and everyone wanted to come try it out. Sometimes, I just tried to sit near other moms, and struck up conversations with them. That way, they could introduce their kids to mine. We also tried role playing at home, to help my daughter practice talking to new-to-her kids, and possibly make new friends. I hope things get better, and that your girls do not get snubbed again.

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