Do You Think I Don’t Know How You Feel?
My baby Dylan turns 13 tomorrow. Yesterday, he hosted a party in which 5 friends (2 girls, 3 boys) came to his house, ate pizza and cake, hung out in the game room and played zombie tag outside in the mud.
In preparation, and in fear, I started reading a book called, It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success. The premise is that kids with learning disabilities can misread social cues, and thereby end up having few – if any – friends.
It suprised me to discover that the person who most needs social help is Shane. The book is great, though and I’m looking forward to finishing it.
Meanwhile, Dylan’s party was a huge success.
Both Bill and I noticed that Dylan was particularly mature during his party. Screeching and Bouncing Dylan was replaced by Responsible and Content Dylan.
When all six kids wanted to do six different things, Dylan was the one who found compromises so that they could all be happy. His ideas were valid, his attitude serene. In some cultures, they say age 13 is when a boy becomes a man. For the first time, I can see why.
The conversation at the table – a group of very intelligent kids, most from the elementary GT program – consisted of debate over welfare and concern about racism. Dylan also took in donations for the local animal shelter in lieu of “human” birthday presents – and everyone contributed.
Later, Dylan stood up for Shane, who (at age 9) was in the room for a relatively tame version of Truth or Dare. He made sure the kids didn’t embarrass Shane or trick him in any way.
And shortly before the game of zombie tag, I heard Dylan upstairs with one friend who had, apparently, gotten upset and locked himself in a room. I never found out what happened, but I heard Dylan say, in a quiet voice and through the closed door, “Do you think I don’t know how you feel?”
My son has the kindness of a saint.
And I didn’t realize it until I heard him say those words.
In all the hoopla over medication, good grades, discipline, blah blah blah – I’d honestly forgotten that Dylan is so incredibly warm, kind and caring.
He is, in fact, the child who was, at age 3, walking up the stairs behind my mother when she accidentally kicked him in the face.
Dylan – a toddler – said, in a matter-of-fact tone, “Oh I’m sorry, Mimi, that my face got in the way of your foot.” He wasn’t hurt or stunned – just sorry that his face had gotten in the way of his grandmother’s foot.
And now his empathy has evolved into an ability to help his friends in a time of need. I’m astounded, overwhelmed and so, so happy. Nothing else in this world matters as much as human kindness.
And Dylan really has it.