I was unrealistically hopeful about a seamless integration into school life, but issues in adjusting to new expectations and routines in jr. kindergarten have begun to rear their ugly head. Jack has begun to rely on a self soothing technique that involves sucking on his hands and shirt sleeves. Unfortunately this is isolating him from his peers and is reminiscent of his difficulty in the transition into pre-school last year. We had a talk about it and he says he does this when he's nervous. Because of Jack's easygoing nature and ability to quietly parallel play, adults don't always recognize that he's often standing on the sidelines looking in and stressed out about it.
I went back and looked at everything I've written about Jack, his speech therapy journey and tricks and techniques that he's thrived with as a resource for his teacher. After feeling discouraged and overwhelmed about the recent turn of events I found something I wrote a year ago about our journey managing anxiety, obsessive tendencies and encouraging speech development that made me really happy, because it reminded me about how hard Jack has worked and how far he has come. Everyone involved has been extremely supportive and I've been told that Jack is slowly beginning to join in with other kids and play, which is fantastic news.
Yesterday Chris sent me an article that he found about Christian's Buddy Bench, this spoke to both of us because of our ongoing discussions about some of the feelings of isolation and loneliness we had both felt as children among our peers, particularly Chris who often admits that he didn't really like playing with other kids. Most people don't realize this, but Chris is an Extroverted Introvert and Jack is a lot like his dad. Chris finds situations like big meetings and networking absolutely exhausting, even though from the outside people think he's thriving.
The Buddy Bench is a simple idea to help kids on the playground who are lonely and want someone to play with, but not really able to ask other kids to join them. It has been created to encourage friendship and companionship for kids when they need it most. Despite some skepticism, The Buddy Bench has been successful in many schoolyards around the world. My favourite inscription on one of the Buddy Benches is "kindness is contagious".
Being a kid is stressful, and this is something we all seem to forget. As an adult we are expected for create our own network and build on our own relationships, when truthfully making new friends becomes harder and harder as you age, this is something that I wrote about earlier this year and I still think about a lot. I'd argue that the adult world is too jaded for the Buddy Bench, but truthfully how amazing would it be to find someone to go for coffee with at your new job or to talk to when you're bored and lonely?
The Buddy Bench gives me hope for my kids about the kindness of other children. As for us adults, maybe we can learn a thing or two from Christian and his playground altering idea.