So, why did Mickey want me to be presentable? Why was is it so important to him that he even asked his teacher to email me a reminder to be presentable (she refused and pointed out it was somewhat rude to imply that I wasn’t normally presentable)? It was all for D – his girlfriend of almost a year.
A little history on Mickey and D – he was almost instantly smitten with her when she joined his class at the beginning of 3rd grade. She is a very sweet girl and Mickey connected with her. She has severe anxiety and at first she drove him nuts with it, but in time, he took to trying to help her work through her anxiety. He isn’t always successful, but he tries. His teacher says that Mickey has been great for D and she credits their friendship with her opening up and coping better – so much better that she now has a best friend and a boyfriend. To be clear, they are 9/10 and this boyfriend girlfriend thing amuses me greatly, but Mickey is very, very serious about it.
Back in the fall/early winter of last year, D started calling and she and Mickey talked on the phone almost daily. The conversations have provided me hours of entertainment – as two children who are both socially awkward converse there is lots of talking over each other, very long silences, abrupt ends to conversations and the topics are fascinating (playdates with cats, lollaloopsy, Scooby Doo, lizards, etc) and moved through with dizzying speed.
I picked Mickey up from school one day last fall and he said “Momma, how do you know when you are in love?” Me being the resident expert on love (not), I responded with “why?”. He told me his tummy feels funny when she is around and that she is the happiest part of his day. That sounds like love to me. I asked what about her he loved and his response is the reason my kid is awesome. “She is smart. She is beautiful. She is elegant. She is just the best girl in the world and I love her”. So we talked about what it means and he talked to her dad about asking her to be his girlfriend (he did that on his own because he was afraid that asking her might trigger her anxiety so he wanted to make sure it was ok). With her father’s permission he asked her and she said yes. A year later, they are still going strong. The words “my girlfriend” roll off his tongue with an ease that I am not comfortable with, but they never see each other outside of school and he says he isn’t ready to kiss her and holding hands at school is forbidden, so it is all very benign.
So, why did I have to be presentable? He had a social problem he needed help with and he decided the feast was the opportunity he had been waiting on….and I needed to look pretty for his girlfriend. Apparently Mickey has been struggling with D and her best friend E. He gets along well with E and counts her among his best friends too, but he said “It isn’t good when the three of us are together – it is fine if it is me and E or me and D, but when it is all three D gets mad”. I asked why and he said “D says me and E talk over her and we don’t listen to her”. This is big because he wanted to know how to fix this. He listened to her tell him what she needed and he wanted to do that.
So, we sat separately at the feast until we worked out a plan. Then he went and asked E and D and their families if we could join them. We did and I was to tap his shoulder when he and E started talking over D (which happened quite a bit). I tapped his shoulder and he turned to D and said “I’m sorry D, what were you saying”. This allowed D to talk and be included in the conversation. He did well. He was so excited when he came home and D said that she had fun with he and E that day.
This is yet another social skill that is starting to emerge. He adores D, he listened to D tell him what she needed and he tried to fix this. I love that he plotted his little plan to enlist my help. So, while I am not ready for my 10 year old to be in a relationship with girls, they are both feeling their way through social awkwardness together and while we have known for a while that Mickey is good for D, I now see that D is also good for Mickey.