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My Social Butterfly Lost His Wings

Photograph by Getty Images

I knew the transition from middle school to high school would be a big one for my 14-year-old son but I had no idea how much of a difference it would make. My baby has always been the type who loved having playdates, mingling and walking right up to other children and playing with them, claiming everyone is his friend.

I’ll admit, I was envious of his ability to see the best in everyone, and it delighted me that he was so gregarious. But when he completed middle school, his closest friends were assigned to different high schools than he was so he knew he would have to face this transition alone.

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I coached him. I reminded him of how awesome he was. I shared stories about my experience and told him that these next four years would be some of the most memorable of his life.

“Everyone is going to love you when they get to know you,” I reminded him daily. “I can’t wait for them to realize how awesome you are.”

School began without fanfare and he reported on the new experiences he was having like seeing classmates with beards, another classmate who had a baby, watching the step team perform and attending his first pep rally. Day by day I listened as he told stories of the interesting comments his teachers made, how he was trying to figure out how to make money by selling something to his classmates and which sport, if any he should play.

But the one thing I kept waiting for never came. My baby hasn’t made any friends yet.

When I asked him about it he claims that he knows some people who went to his middle school but they weren’t his close friends.

“Do you talk to people?” I asked.

“Well, when I’m handing out papers I ask them what their name is,” he replied. “If they speak to me then I’ll speak to them but if they don’t, I won’t.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to be one of those loud kids who get into trouble, be mean to the teacher or attract attention for the stupid stuff,” he explained. “I just do my work.”

“Are you okay with that?” I asked him, knowing that he’s not because the first football game of the year came and he commented that he didn’t want to have to sit in the stands alone.

“I’m okay, Mama. I talk to people. I just don’t know anyone like that yet.”

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“OK, just be yourself. They are going to love you when they get to know you,” I reminded him for the umpteenth time.

“I know, Mama. Everybody says I’m quiet. I’m good with that.”

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