I had a mental breakdown at the library today.
My plan was just to pop in quickly to pick up a book that I had on hold. While the librarian was finding the book for me, I noticed the program calendar and finally got up the guts to ask the question I’ve been wanting to ask for months, “How strict are the ages for the robotics and coding programs?” My son wasn’t with me for once, so I thought maybe I could plead his case a little bit without him getting his hopes up nor getting too big of a head.
The librarian answered that they were pretty strict with the ages. I half suspected that as I tried getting him into a science camp with the library in the fall. I am so awful at asking these things in person though, it makes me so uncomfortable and nervous. Even though I know it’s just a question, it always feels like there’s so much weight on the possibility that they might say yes. It’s happened just enough times that I get my hopes up, even though I know first hand how rarely the yeses come.
Not realizing what I was doing, I kind of rambled about how that’s too bad, my son loves playing on Scratch and with snap circuits and would love to try lego robotics and actually do it with other kids for a change. She asked how old he was and I couldn’t even look her in the eye. “4.” I laughed. And she said the same thing everyone always does. That just because he can do it, doesn’t mean that he can join. That it doesn’t mean he understands it, that it doesn’t mean he can do it independently… I’ve heard no because of his age so many times the answers have started to just twist together but I know what it means. And I mean, I get it, I do. I’ve helped out at enough programs to understand the huge developmental differences between kids even a year apart but for goodness sakes, you can only hear no so many times!
Something in me snapped. Maybe it was because my son wasn’t with me, but I rambled on to this poor, unsuspecting librarian about how unfair it is that this is the kind of stuff he loves to do and all he wants is to do it with other kids but the kids his age understandably aren’t into it. I rambled about how we had to pull him out of school because they refused to accelerate him. I rambled on about how it breaks my heart because he is the most social little boy. He just wants the same opportunity as every little kid – to do what he loves with kids he loves. It’s not like he doesn’t have friends that he loves, because he does; it’s just how much fun is it to do something by yourself all the time?
In reality, I only rambled for about 20 seconds, but it felt like my whole life story. When I realized what I had said, I was so embarrassed. I am usually so darn good at holding it together. Or at least, I like to pretend I am. I laughed it off when I got home, still in a state of shock. I made a joke about how ironic it was that I was checking out a yoga-y self help book for a book club my best friend and I are attempting to do together even though we’re already a month behind. Go figure the girl getting the self help book is mentally unstable.
The most difficult thing is this librarian has asked about my son before. She probably doesn’t remember at all, but I do. And I don’t hold it against her or anyone else that has done the same thing. We’re all human. But it’s so difficult when people are so star struck and full of questions, but when you ask for help they won’t lend you a hand. They want to know all of the easy stuff, but none of the difficult. It’s understandable, but frustrating.
When I told my husband though, he made me feel better about it. He reminded me that a person can only handle so much. I mean, we all have our breaking points. It’s not often that I’m allowed to have a breaking point because I have my kid at my side pretty much 24/7. And so what? Is the librarian going to remember my little episode? It’s not like I was rude or billigerant, I think it was pretty obvious I was just going through a rough time, even if it seemed like a really comical and trivial thing to be upset over. If anything, I hope I at least gave her a laugh.
We all have days where people wonder how we keep it all together, and other days where we are a level 5 hurricane, leaving poor unsuspecting strangers in our wake. We have to allow ourselves to make mistakes, and we have to allow them from others. I always tell my son that no one is perfect, only Mary Poppins comes close. The best thing thing we can do is laugh and learn from our mistakes; and hopefully the next time we witness someone else showing a crack in their facade we can help them patch it up before the crazy starts spilling.
The funny thing is, it wasn’t even about the program! It was really about all of the little noes that we keep accumulating. Lessons, camps, even school! I know that so many successful people say rejection is what makes you stronger, but when people are rejecting your kid – ugh. It’s heart breaking. If he would just fit in and like the things that he likes at an appropriate age! But no, because he’s freaking awesome and I love him just the way he is. I just wish society were more accepting of everyone with differences. You’re into this? Awesome, let’s do it.
Today he was playing an element game on the iPad, and out of the blue he said wistfully,”I wish that imaginary friends could become real.”
“Like in Imaginary Fred?” I asked.
“Yeah.” He sighed. “I wish I could have a real 4 year old Mendeleev to play with.”
I know it sounds like I’m asking for special treatment. But that’s not what I want. I just want my kid to be accepted. Just the way he is. So yeah, I cracked a little bit. Don’t we all get a little crazy when it comes to our kids?