(In order for this post to make sense, you need to know the story of my boy, which most of you do...his NLD, being bullied throughout elementary school and 7th grade, and our moving him to a small performing arts charter school in 8th, which changed his life, quite literally.)
So one of G's best friends has a new girlfriend. So interesting to watch from the guy end of things - since I'm a girl and experienced it (well...theoretically, as I never really dated anyone in high school) from a different perspective. His buddy is being so nice, trying to include G, but also making clear that he really, really, really likes to spend time with his girlfriend, too. G is handling it fine, and I think his friend is more worried about it than he is. Cute. At least his friend isn't being an asshole about it.
Well, today G was invited with Friend to Girlfriend's house to "get advice on getting girls". Seems they have made it their mission to help G hook up this summer. Which is fine, but I was a bit skeptical about the wisdom of this potential advice session. Laughing, also, that these 15 year olds are convinced they know what it takes. I held my tongue, only telling G that he is great just the way he is and not to feel like he had to change for anyone.
So early in the day, G's friend was at our house, and was helping him choose something out of his closet to wear. I was unclear - is this an educational session, or will there actually be girls there looking for a summer fling? Friend kept parading G out of his room in different outfits, helping him look "cool". Which is funny, because they were all his clothes he already wears anyway. I only piped up when he came out in a flannel shirt, considering it's over 100 degrees outside - no thanks, heat stroke, even in the name of hooking up.
G showered, did his hair, and looked quite handsome, if you ask me. And I dropped them off at Girlfriend's house.
He came home giddy, even though he'd been the third wheel - no one was there but Friend and Girlfriend. They'd gotten pizza, and some advice and, um, style tips had been shared and practiced.
My initial reaction? The "style tips" are going to remain between me, Larry and G. But suffice to say I tried very carefully to make him understand, for the 100th time, that he can be too trusting, too honest, too eager to please. Don't let people take advantage of you. Stand up for yourself.
He assured me that they were just being silly, but I was having none of it. He went upstairs, kind of deflated.
Understand, I really, really like his friends. They are good kids. But no one is off limits when it comes to protecting mine. It's like the blinders go on. Even though I think I know in my heart that they wouldn't hurt him intentionally, I am so programmed now to grasp at anything that might be a sign that someone is taking advantage. To a fault.
As I stewed on it for a while, I started to feel kind of bad, realizing I might have just totally burst his bubble. He is just now starting to venture out and have the friends and social experiences that most kids started having years ago, and now he's going to think he has to deal with me grilling him every time he comes home. When he did nothing wrong. I called him into my room.
"Buddy, I'm sorry if I kind of got on your case," I said to him.
"That's okay, Mom." And it was - he rarely gets upset about things. Forgiven, like that. So kind, that kid...this is why I feel like I have to be so careful.
"No, honey, it's really not. You had fun with your friends tonight and I totally turned it negative when you got home," I said. "You have to understand, for so long, people have take advantage of you, and I am immediately on the defensive, trying to protect you. I know these are your friends, and they care about you."
"Mom," he said, "We've talked about it. They used to be just like me. They never had any friends at school. They were just like me." And the unspoken words that I knew were in his head - that now, finally, he had friends who understand him, who are ready to wade with him through puberty and adolescence and awkward relationships and girls and guys and all that stuff. Who want to look out for him, even if they don't really know what they are doing, either.
Brick between the eyes.
I apologized to him again and tried to turn the conversation back around, so that he'd end the evening on a positive note. These kids don't want to hurt him. They want to help him. And if one looks like a dork, they all look like dorks, and let's be honest, most teenagers finding themselves look like dorks, so really, what's to worry about?
Nothing, if you've got good friends by your side.
Now, the radar is still on, if only turned down just a bit. I still worry when he says his friends have advised they go to the mall on Friday so G can work on meeting girls.
"You mean, you're meeting up with girls from school? Or like picking up on strangers?" I ask.
"I don't think anyone else is going. So I suppose they mean girls I don't know," he replied.