Monday, April 18, 2011

There's Your *School Socialization*!

Here's the gist of a conversation last night between my first wife and my firstborn, homeschooled 6.42 year old Prince:

Prince - Mom how come when I go up to other kids, and say hello they don't want to play with me?

MyFirstWife - Well...

Prince - I'm always real nice....I say my name is 'John' but no one wants to play with me.

MyFirstWife - Not everyone is...


It is true - I see my son's playground and ballfield overtures spurned all the time (80%?). We, or at least I, don't do *playdates*. I think it's much better to take them to parks and have them play with random kids. So in clement weather, a few times per week we drop in on these playgrounds and my kids dash out and try to make friends. My son is particularly aggressive on this front - he ABSOLUTELY LOVES playing with other kids - a trait he clearly inherited from his paternal grandfather.

This spurning has been going on for sometime, beginning the instant his peers reached *school* age, and it's getting worse as they get older and arrive in cliques sans parents. My wife actually heard some 6 or 7 year old child rebuff ours recently with, "I don't know you."

My thoughts?

Well, this is the world we live in. There's nothing to do about it except adjust - although one shouldn't ever permit the shortcomings of others to adulterate their own character. Like living in Boston where everyone is as rude as a's easy to submit to that environment and holster your own friendliness.

Heck if I went up to grown adults (with graduate degrees!) and tried to conversationally engage them with the frequency my son does, I'd be shot down with the same regularity (80%). (Of course down South it's a different story!  Not as many graduate degrees...)

I've said this more than a few times before and I'll say it again:


Please don't mistake this for the chauvinistic propaganda of a homeschooler either.

My wife, despite living amongst the millions of people in New York....she didn't have a single friend outside of her 16,000 person town growing up. NOT A SINGLE ONE.

And I can't tell you how many parks, playgrounds, and sports leagues I participated in as a youth without EVER thinking for a second about talking to another kid that wasn't on my team or wasn't a friend of a friend. Strangers and out-of-my-towners may as well have been aliens, hostile ones at that.

So when I see these other kids flick away my son like a fingertip booger, sure I'm sensitive to my son's disappointment, but I also see myself in these other kids. Personally it's taken me years to undo my own anti-social school-induced ignorance.

And I'm even more thankful that I came across that John Gatto essay 4.75 years ago, started thinking, did my research, mustered the stones to tear apart my own *credentials*, and decided to keep my children miles away from that instrument of dehumanization.


paul mitchell said...

I wave at everyone despite my degree. I was taught to have manners and the teaching was brutal.

Anne Galivan said...

It's unfortunate we live 1000 miles apart because I'm pretty sure your son and my youngest would be great friends.

My youngest is the same way. He will talk to ANYONE, young, old doesn't matter. For some reason he has always had an affinity for old people. It is so cute when we are at the ball field (my 17-year old plays baseball with the city league) and my little guy will go up to an old couple (obviously someone's grandparents) and will start talking to them, even sit in their lap if they're very friendly. He will just talk their ear off.

And when he goes to the park he does the same thing with other kids. It seems if the kids are younger they are more likely to be willing to play with them. He actually made a "friend" a few months ago that my husband kept in touch with the dad for a little while and they played together a couple more times (the kids, not the dads!)

It is very true that going to an institution anti-socializes kids. And it only gets worse. Although, interestingly enough, my 17-year old son is always the most popular kid on his baseball team but I always say EVERYONE likes my son Ben. He just has some kind of vibe that he makes friends everywhere he goes. It's a gift apparently.

On the other hand I am inherently very much an introvert. I finally taught myself in my '30s to be able to talk to anybody and now I do. Even the "kids" in my college class. I will chat them up. I started wondering last week if the guys think I'm flirting? I'm not. At least I don't think I am. I'm pretty sure I forgot how to flirt a long time ago (considering that I'm coming up on 30 years of marriage).

Anonymous said...

That's too bad - I hate to see such disappointment in children - makes me feel so sad. On the other hand it happened the other way here. My daughter wanted to play with this girl who is being home schooled. She went and asked her twice and the girl sulked and ran to her mom and said she did not want to play with my daughter. Her brother played with my son and his friend the first time. But the second time when he saw his church friend (but my son did not have his friend with him this time and was alone) he would not even say hi to my son. Not in a mean way but just preferred to stick to his friend. So I don't know how much of it is the personality of the child and how much is the school/home school thing playing a role. But I see it often - the cliquishness gets worse as they get older.