Only the Lonely

Our son is an only child. I count my blessings but sometimes it’s hard. Today mine nearly broke my heart when he came up to me in the park, after trying unsuccessfully to join a game of tag with two other boys, and said, “Nobody never (sic) wants to play with me.”

Ouch.

It hurts my heart to hear my sweet boy say that. He’s so friendly and kind, and he’ll walk right up to other kids, so I can’t stand to watch him look longingly as they either ignore his smiling face or flat out ask him to go away.

He doesn’t understand why he can’t just play with anyone he wants to. Usually the other kids are already part of a group, like friends or siblings who came to the park together. So mine’s the outsider. If he’s alone, why not let him join in? Well, he’s not always alone. He does have other friends, but they just weren’t there today.

Anyway, these are the times when I (almost) wish he wasn’t an only child. It’s bad enough when you have no one to play with, but when you approach a couple of other kids and they tell you outright that they don’t want to play with you, what can you do? I know kids can be harsh, and it might get worse as he gets older. I guess I just want to know what I’m supposed to do as a parent. I’m not going to force him to make friends, but I am going to make sure that he’s in situations where he has the opportunity.

I want him to experience the camaraderie and the fun of just being a normal kid. We often forget that children are not mini adults and, for some reason, we tend to treat only children even more like mini adults. I don’t want him to feel like he has to entertain himself all the time. Sure, he could do it because he’s creative and smart and funny….

My point is that if he’s not able to have the experience of growing up with siblings, he at least needs to be around other kids with the potential of becoming friends. School will help, I think, but I’m worried that it could also be a hindrance, only because the classes are so small and he’ll be with basically the same kids for the next several years. It’s a small group from which to choose his friends, so I guess we’ll have to keep him involved with outside activities as well, encouraging him without forcing the issue. It’s a fine line.

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