No Pokemon today, I promise. At least in this post.
A couple of weeks ago, I ran into Thing Two's preschool teacher at the gym. This woman, more than any other professional the one who pulled him kicking and screaming from behind the 8-ball of his severe language deficits, hasn't seen him since he was in kindergarten (he's going into fifth grade next year) although she asks about him whenever our paths happen to cross. His two years in her class were huge for his development; she's one of those rare birds who manages to give every kid in her class what they need to flourish even when the needs are very disparate. She is the undisputed queen of differentiation. Anyway, as we were discussing his academic progress she mentioned that she's been doing some tutoring while her son naps (when she left teaching it was to be home with him.) As it happens, I've been looking for somebody to work with Thing Two on his reading comprehension, so we are going to try to get him into her schedule in the fall and I am ecstatic. Would absolutely love to have this woman back in his life!!
Back when she taught him, he had VERY limited language skills. Neither his receptive or expressive language were anywhere close to functional, which basically means that he didn't understand most of what people said to him and couldn't put together a proper sentence of his own either. As you can imagine, in that situation it's tough to have any kind of meaningful social interaction, so he was usually the kid off in the corner playing by himself. Not that the other kids were mean to him, they just couldn't communicate with him and everyone ended up frustrated. His primary deficit is language-based, but the secondary social deficit has been almost as much of a concern to me over the years.
Fortunately, as his language skills have improved, the social skills have improved along with them. He still comes across as slightly immature and has some personal space issues, but the kids at his school are used to his idiosyncrasies and will gently correct him if he needs it. More to the point, they seem to legitimately like and accept him idiosyncrasies and all, and as his mother, this fills my heart with joy.
I was thinking about this yesterday because he was invited to a sleepover at a friend's house last night. When I dropped him off, I saw that three other boys had been invited as well. There was a tent set up in the backyard of the house for their overnight adventure and when we arrived, Thing Two dropped his bags in the front hall and took off running to join the other four in the yard! It struck me at that moment that Thing Two has a 'posse,' just like Thing One does. The really amazing thing about it is that Thing Two's group of friends is actually the popular boys of the grade! It helps that he is an outstanding athlete, but still. Luckily they are also a very nice group of boys...one happens to be the younger brother of Thing One's best friend.
It occurred to me that the next time I see the preschool teacher, I need to fill her in on his social progress too. I think that might even make her happier than hearing about the improvements in his language skills! For so many years I just wanted that child to have even one real friend, and the fact that he is now an apparently welcome and valued part of a social group makes me want to happy-cry.