Knowing your kids’ friends

Ok so I haven’t blogged in a year and it took me all day to get into my account but I have been thinking about this topic a lot.

Recently, there have been 2 instances where kids were invited to a birthday party and no one RSVP’d or showed up.  The most recent was Friday in Peterborough for a 13 year old named Odin.  In both cases, the moms posted something on FB and their communities showed up.  This is a great show of support but I don’t think it is great for the kids.

Odin has been bullied and I feel sorry for him.  But, I imagine after the fb post his mother wrote on Thursday, he’s going to really be harassed on Monday at school.  I am sure she meant well but broadcasting to the world that your son doesn’t have friends is not a way to make him feel good about himself or to stop the problems he is having.  It only adds to the things he will be bullied about.  Doesn’t she know who his friends are?  Wouldn’t she have made sure someone was able to come?   I have seen bashing of the kids who didn’t RSVP but I don’t that is fair, if they didn’t want to go, they didn’t want to go or maybe couldn’t have in Odin’s case since it was March Break and many families go away.  His story was on my trending list this morning when I opened FB and on almost every media source in Canada so it’s pretty safe to assume his bullies now know.

You might ask why I have given this a second thought let alone blogged about it but there is a reason.  We felt the odds of L1 being a friendless child were pretty high.

When L1 started school, we were terrified he was not going to make any friends and would be bullied (yes, this does happen in Kindergarten).  He was and still is extremely shy and didn’t talk.  I was prepared to homeschool him if I had to.  BUT he did make friends and I am forever grateful that J and T saw past his issues.  They are both very outgoing kids and L1 is the complete opposite yet they clicked on the first day.  A boy on his bus, a couple of years older, also informed his grandmother that he would make sure no one would bully L1.  This melted my heart to know kids were looking out for my little boy.  None of the kids at school cared that he didn’t talk and even spoke for him if necessary.  One girl even spoke on his behalf the day his speech pathologist attended his kindergarten class to assess him.  She thought this was funny and was pleased to see he was doing ok socially.  Then a year later, another boy, M became a best friend, also extremely outgoing.  There have been more friends added since.

His first birthday party was a little scary.  We invited the whole class for his 5th birthday as that seemed to be what other parents were doing.  I knew a few were coming because I had made sure of that in advance but I think all but 3 showed up.  There were over 20 kids running around my yard that day.  I think I almost cried tears of joy.  It was wonderful to know that kids wanted to come.  I actually got an e-mail from a parent whose child couldn’t come for family reasons and was devestated to hear how much fun the others had.

Fortunately, both my kids have lots of friends and I know this because I get to see them if I pick the kids up at school.  We see them play at recess and then get to hear the goodbyes as they head home.  I also hear it from the teachers.  Many of the kids come up to me to ask about coming here to play.  I know who wants to spend time at my house and with my kids.

I just don’t understand how a parent can not know who their kids friends are nor have any contact with them.  I am on FB with just about every parent of my kids’ friends.  We know who hangs out with whom.  To me, this is extremely important in the development of my kids.  I feel in both of these very public cases if the parents had been paying attention to this important detail, these children might not have been made public spectacles.

I share a lot of stuff on FB but to me, this isn’t public stuff.  Not only is Odin’s picture all over the internet, as is his cell number but the whole world knows this poor kid doesn’t have friends to come to his birthday party.

So the message is: know who your kids friends are, know their parents and talk to them.  It doesn’t take a lot of work but I can tell you after 5 years of L1 being in school and L2 for 2, the nicest things a kid can say to me is “Can I come to your house” or “Can L1 or L2 come over?”.  It means they want to play with my kids.  And if they call me by my first name, even better.