In the 27th of our series, our mom of three kids, Emily, Grant and Lynn, feels isolated and different from the other moms waiting in the schoolyard for their kids. Then she spots her youngest daughter, Lynn, who has been standing completely still, all alone in the busy playground.
I just don’t fit in with any of the mom groups that surround the playground after school. I really have nothing to contribute to their labour pain and episiotomy stories.
I don’t fit in with the exceptionally fit group of moms either. They stand there in their size 0 Lululemon yoga clothes and talk about downward dogs and marathon training.
I tried standing close to a group of moms who looked closer in age to me, to see if I could eavesdrop on their conversation, and work my way in. Their topic was which of their new hybrid vehicles was better for the environment. Somehow, I don’t think my 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan would impress.
How did this happen? I used to have other moms I could hang out with while we waited for our kids after school. Where are they? Is there no one here who is over 40, with challenging children, or do we all send our kids home on the bus so we don’t have to do this playground nightmare?
Oh, I did see my friend Barb. She’s parenting her grandson. We use the same pediatrician. She didn’t have time to chat because she needed the principal’s signature on a form to prove how well Cody is doing on his ADHD meds so her alcoholic, drug-addicted daughter can’t stop her from administering them.
As I wait for Grant to finish his school-patrol duties, I watch Emily playing with her friends. She soon runs up to me and makes plans for a playdate, and then she’s off.
I’m trying not to watch Grant, because I know I’ll start laughing, and then I really will be ostracized for my obvious insanity. My son’s partner is Eli, and I know I wouldn’t trust either of them to stop traffic for me to cross the street. They have their high visibility vests over their faces as masks, and are using their stop signs as brooms to propel pine cones, and rocks, off the road. Eventually, the parent supervisor gets the boys to stand in the middle of the crosswalk, holding their signs properly, so kids can cross. Eli and Grant proceed to make funny faces as each kid walks by. From my vantage point I can see some of the moms talking to each other, pointing at him and then looking over at me. What am I supposed to do about it? He’s not hurting anyone, and it is kind of funny. No wonder I don’t fit in.
And then there is Lynn.
There she stands, all by herself. Her one friend has left, and she doesn’t know what to do. She hasn’t moved for the last 10 minutes. She literally hasn’t moved. Kids are running around her, and there’s lots of noise, but still she stands there not reacting. As I watch, my heart aches for her. There are kids in her class she could go play with, but it’s as if she doesn’t see or hear them. Weird. I want to go help her, but I’m frozen, waiting to see what she will do. All of a sudden, it hits me. She is me, I am her. I don’t fit in; she doesn’t fit in. I want to cry.
I get it now. I can find people to hang out with, if I choose to make the effort. I have friends that “get it,” who understand when I talk about my kids, who accept me with all my quirks and issues. Lynn doesn’t have that. She doesn’t have the skills to make the effort to fit in with those kids, so she’s lost and alone when her one friend is gone. Oh my God! How did it take me so long to see this? I mean, I knew she struggled socially and didn’t have many friends, and I knew it was hard for her, but the reality of it has just hit me.
My other two kids can switch from friend to friend, or find someone new to play with, anywhere we go. Lynn can’t. She’ll wait until Emily makes a friend and follow along. I never really thought much about it, until now. She can’t even make friends with kids she goes to school with every day. How sad for her. Yet, there is no expression on her face. It’s as if she has teleported somewhere else and, I guess, in her mind she has.
Tonight, when she’s asleep, I’m making some phone calls and arranging to have her friend come over. I’m going to have to help her make friends, and teach her how to be a friend. Perhaps I’ll even make a new friend too.