Should we let our kid hang out by himself most of the time?
Babyboy will spend all day lying on the floor reading Captain Underpants and then creating his own silly comic books, if we let him. Yes, he interacts with his little sister, and occasionally they create fantastic narratives using Legos, matchbox cars, and plastic animal figurines. Sometimes, they work on a comic together (until they start fighting).
More often than not, however, he’s reading and creating by himself. We’ve got mixed feelings about this. Yes, it’s great to hear him sounding out words for himself and laughing out loud at author Dav Pilkey’s schoolboy potty humor. It’s nice that he’s learning how to spell things, form sentences, and dream up crazy plot lines.
But we also worry that he never asks to meet up with other kids, and he can’t tell us who he plays with in school. We’ve learned not to ask him who his friends are, because it’s painful to hear him say, “I don’t know. I don’t think anyone.” Either he’s totally not interested in socializing, or he has no friends. Or both.
The few playdates and birthday parties we’ve had with his classmates were fine, no disasters, but Babygirl is the one who interacts with people, while Babyboy ends up doing his own thing. We have playdates where the only being he engages with is the other kid’s dog. And he seems to prefer it that way.
Yes, he’s on the spectrum, and even if he wasn’t, there are kids who prefer peace, quiet, and their own company (or that of a friendly pet). Maybe that’s perfectly okay.
In a recent post, I wondered if we’re spoiling our kids by letting them have all the books they want. Here, I’m wondering if we we are or aren’t doing the right thing by essentially letting Babyboy read books and create comics most of the time.
His comics are not intellectually amazing or anything, but they definitely are an age-appropriate academic exercise. Despite all the “poopy” language, this is as good, clean, and safe as fun can get.
On the other hand, we’re supposed to be preparing him for the real world. Could he end up a famous author whose quirks only add to the legend? Hey, that would be best case scenario.
But of course, we fear that he’ll continue to have difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and end up lonely.
The few attempts we’ve made at “social” activities with his peers have ended poorly. Soccer: I haven’t had the strength to re-visit that expensive disaster in writing. Summer camp: a few days was too many. Boy Scouts: he’s still traumatized by the first big loud chaotic group activity, and we’re holding out for the smaller, family-oriented den activities, hoping those will be tolerable for him. To date, we haven’t heard of any other kids who are into what he is into.
So, we really are struggling with this. I’d be interested to hear what some of the very smart readers out there think!