The other day I walked with Aiden partway to his bus stop. On the way he just looked so dejected as he quietly asked, “Do I really have to ride the bus? I hate the bus.” We got to the park and he went one way and I went the other to continue on my morning walk. As I got to the other side of the park, I looked back and I could see *all* these 7th and 8th graders waiting for the bus, standing in groups and pairs, and I could hear them talking, laughing, and joking. And I saw Aiden. Alone. Looking around and kind of holding/wringing his hands (like he does when he gets anxious). It broke my heart to see my wonderful, funny, friendly, smart child feel so alone.
After dinner last night Dallin declared that he is lonely, that he doesn’t fit in anywhere, and he’s just so tired of being different from all the other kids. He has one good friend, but that’s really it. Again, it broke my heart.
This morning Parker was frowning as I drove him to school and he just kind of sat in the van for a minute. He is sad because he says his best friends are saying mean things to him lately. Parker is definitely my most outgoing and friendly child, and to see him so sad that when we walked slowly into the school with his head hanging down, it took everything I had not to run out and grab him and say “We’re going to have a special day of just us!”
I know that once Aiden is at school with his friends he is totally fine and happy. I know that once Dallin is with his one good friend he is having the time of his life and feels great. I know that once Parker gets on that playground and sees all his friends and starts playing their silly games, he’ll be smiling and running along with them. But in those moments the past few days? It hurts me so much to see them hurting like that. And I don’t know what I can do to make it better. Partly because I, too, just feel so lonely and dejected so much of the time. I have my friends, but when I’m in the house and haven’t seen my husband in what feels like years (when it’s just been since this morning but he gets up and leaves something like an hour before I do and doesn’t get home until waaaay past bedtime, saying I haven’t seen my husband in a few hours just doesn’t feel correct)… when I’m stuck with just a 2 year old who doesn’t know how to talk other than his adorable 2-year-old gibberish… It’s just lonely.
I wanted to avoid a lot of the loneliness I felt as a child for my children. My family moved (a lot) growing up and while I was pretty content starting new schools and attending new churches and meeting new people and making new friends, sometimes it’s just plain lonely. I never had roots. Even today my oldest friends (from high school… I only have one friend from 8th grade and that’s as far back as my friendships go) will sometimes post the Throwback Thursday pictures that include many people from our circle of friends. They went to kindergarten together and had First Communion together or went to the same Vacation Bible School… I don’t have any of that. I don’t have a history with anyone and I don’t have roots to a place or with a particular group of people other than my immediate family. Even then, we all live so far away from each other (I’m in Arizona, I have one sister in Georgia, one sister in England, one brother in Utah, four brothers in different parts of Idaho, parents in Idaho, parents in Texas, and a brother on a mission in New Mexico). It’s not like we can have a family dinner or I can call my sister and say, “Hey, wanna bring the kids over for lunch today?”
So I really thought that by living in one place and working hard for my kids to go to one school and live on a street and in a neighborhood with lots of kids their ages would be an advantage to curb the loneliness. Right now it doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s not always going to be that way, I know that. It’s just… right now.
And my heart still breaks. I don’t like to see my kids hurt and not be able to fix it.