A few years back (I think 3rd grade), Max had a square-dance event after school. We were under the impression that this was one of those events that were choreographed, and more like a Christmas musical, but it wasn’t at all – there were no set partners, no set people to stand across from and not much in the way of organization except the kids knew how to lock hands and swing around. I don’t think that most parents noticed this though, because the kids were genuinely having a great time laughing, giggling and dancing around the gym floor.
But not Max.
Nope. No one would grab hands with him and dance around with him; in fact, his “square” quickly became a group of three and Max just played it off like it was normal. I saw a flash of hurt across his face. I saw him trying to participate and do the dance right, but the kids went on without him. I wanted to stand up and join in; I wanted to grab him in my arms and run off, but I didn’t. I didn’t because I half felt that I shouldn’t run into every uncomfortable situation that comes his way, and I also wanted to see what he would do… no I lie, I wanted to stop it, but my husband made me stand strong. I fought back tears and watched my baby dance alone. I watched as the kids danced without him like he wasn’t even there.
But he stood strong.
He danced on like it was all part of the act. How courageous is that? To dance like no one is looking; to be unafraid like no one cares; to be almost flawless when you’re not at all.
I later got a report card back from the school, and at our school all of the teachers leave little notes on how the kids are doing. Max’s music teacher wrote that the other kids didn’t like holding hands with him because his hands were always wet or dirty. I don’t think the teacher was being mean, and it’s not like this is the first time we’ve heard about this, but it definitely put it into perspective. He has no sensation around his mouth, this is why he drools, and we are always asking him to wipe his mouth and clean his mouth off after eating. The same goes with his hands, I guess. Yes, he can see that his hands are dirty or wet, but I suppose because he doesn’t have the same feelings in them he doesn’t really pay attention to them being dirty.
So, Max is the “dirty” kid, even though we get him the best clothes we can and try our best to make sure he’s stylish and such. Seriously, it’s his damn hands and the drool. Ugh. Here I am worried about his speech, and it’s not that at all. Max is growing up fast… really fast. His teachers have told me “don’t worry, he’ll clean up when he starts worrying about girls,” and I hope that’s the case, but I’m just not sure at this point. What I can say is he’s a boy, and the majority of boys are okay being yucky and dirty. I’ll tell Max, “You need to go clean up” and he’ll look at himself, shrug his shoulders and go clean up, but really it’s not that big of a deal to him.
Sometimes I wish I could just wear dirt on my face and hands, and just shrug off people when they stare too. I feel so vain about it, but I think it’s because I’m trying so hard to make sure he fits in.
Here’s to dirty hands, dirty faces and dirty boys.