It is difficult getting El to tell me about who he mixes with in class. He does not mention anything about his kindergarten, including who his friends are, who he plays with, and what he learns, but he would go on for hours talking about Alamosaurus, Cyolophosaurs, Titanosaurus and Wannanosaurus among others. He had just told me that he needed to know everything about dinosaurs, so that when he could time travel to the Cretaceous or other periods, he could recognise and identify the dinosaurs.
During the last Parent-Teacher Meeting, I asked his teachers who his friends were, because he did not tell me anything. They said he played with everyone, especially at the playground, but did not have anyone in particular he was close to. Initially, he had given me a few names, but lately, he did not mention anybody. He even said he could not remember. Despite this, he said he likes his current school very much, because there are many friends. There are about 20 of them in a class.
This was very different from his nursery days, at another preschool, where there were only 7 children, which he said there were too few friends. At that place, he would rattle off every name he had seen labelled on the cubby holes for their shoes. He knew the older children and the younger ones, as they were together in the same classes during school holidays. However, I had noticed that while he knew who they were, they did not play together. He may follow them around, keeping a distance, but he was pretty much on his own. He did not how to integrate with them.
When his ex-classmates were raving about Ben 10, he showed no interest. It was only a few months ago, when he showed interest in Ben 10 and had memorised all the characters and their special powers. By then, there was nobody to talk to about Ben 10. I had to do a crash course by reading up about Ben Tennyson, Gwen Tennyson, Kevin 11, Four Arms, Cannonbolt and Humungousaur, just so that he had somebody to discuss them with.
At a birthday party, I observed how he interacted with his ex-classmates. They were sliding down a two-storey slide fearlessly, while he was frozen with fear, standing at the sides, calling out to them in a feeble voice, telling them to be careful. While they were waiting to sing a birthday song, a few boys told him a seat was reserved for their friend, and he was to go to another seat. He did not seem to be too perturbed, and simply went to at the other side of the birthday boy.
He can play with Gar, but at only two years old, and still not very verbal yet, Gar does not make a very good playmate for his elder brother. El does not spend much time with Gar, usually preferring to read his books, watch videos on iPad or play with his toys.
El has also realised that he should keep his interests to himself and his family, because one time after his piano lesson, he ran to me and started talking about dinosaurs. I asked him to tell his teacher that, but he replied that she did not know much about dinosaurs. I was surprised that he had come to this realisation at the age of four that people did not know as much as he did about certain topics, and that he should not talk about those topics when they were around. However, I do not want him to have to underachieve in order to conform.
I should start looking for interest groups so that he may mix with older children who share similar interests, and perhaps then he might be able to find true peers. Currently his art class is grouped according to age, and they usually do their own work, without much opportunities for interaction.
I feel bad that he does not have peers with similar interests and mental age, but I am glad that he does not dwell on what he does not have. I never felt I truly belonged to any cliques when I was younger, but I had always managed to find a small group of friends eventually. I hope he will be able to form meaningful friendships in the future, but in the meantime, I will just have to read up on whatever he is interested at the moment, and go deep into the topics, so that he has somebody to talk to. Thank goodness for the internet and the library.
How do you help your child find true peers?
This post is part of a blog hop hosted by Hoagies’ Gifted, a rich resource for me as I try to figure out how to engage El and meet his needs.