The first time it happened, I was both overjoyed and worried. Michael ran up to hug a complete stranger walking down the street. It was beautiful to see him connecting to another person. Usually the people he runs up to and women are older, though occasionally it has been an older male. However, teaching Michael to maintain personal space and boundaries has always been difficult, especially with friends who do not like his hugs, kisses and closeness. Adults tolerate it better than children. I should have seen this coming, I remember thinking. When Michael runs up and kisses family they love it. We have elder neighbors whom he hugs and people at church and he gets the same response. Still, I worry. His Dad and I want to teach him to be cautious and friendly at the same time.
He got into trouble at summer camp last year for hugging an older lady in a restaurant. So Dad and I are having to examine this and teach him relating to people in a friendly but non physical way, people of all ages. Still, he is teaching me and Dad something too. Like I’ve said often, as much as we avoid the spotlight, Michael thrusts us in it. Before he was born, I knew our neighbors vaguely. Since Michael was a baby, they began coming up to me and talking to us. I began to come a little more out of my shell. Then, Michael became very verbal and social and now we walk down the street and see a neighbor and a hi and how are you is not enough. Michael will ask them (depending how well he knows them), where are they going, are they having a good day? People light up when they see him. He has always had this inner beauty that people of all ages gravitate to. The young, the middle-aged, the old. I’ve had conversations with neighbors I barely know, people in grocery stores, churches, parks, and they all say the same thing. “He’s a good boy. So sweet. So helpful. So polite.”
As much as his Dad and I have to teach him to be more conservative, just a little, he is teaching us to come out of our shells emotionally, not to be afraid to connect with people, and to let our own soul shine. Because that is what people are attracted to-Michael’s soul, his essence. Whenever I sigh about his exuberant waving, hugging and talking to strangers, and know I have to teach him moderation in this regard, I also remind myself that Michael is speaking to me to be more open, more giving. I need to reach out more and show my light and encourage others to show theirs.
Exceptional Parents, how are your children teaching you about socializing or maybe not socializing? I believe that what our kids need to work on, often we do as well, though not in the same way. God or the Universe put people in our lives to guide us to grow, shape our thoughts and become better people. As parents we need to do that for our children, but remember, your children have something to offer you too. They are showing you how to view the world through their lens, an exceptional and unique one for each of them as they are exceptional and unique. Until next time.