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How I'm Learning to Handle My Son Being Left Out

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It’s a gorgeous spring day here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I stand in my kitchen in front of the window, preparing baked potatoes for dinner. I gaze out the window in a bit of a daze. The time change is still wreaking havoc on mine and Liam’s sleep schedule.

I see all the neighborhood kids outside playing. Smiling. Yelling. Laughing. Playing together and having a blast. My heart sinks. My son isn’t outside having fun. He hasn’t been asked to take part in the games being played. He sits in the other room on his computer. Googling and reading about edible and non-edible plants.

I feel my eyes begin to swell with tears, and I move my work further down the counter. This way, I can’t stare out the window. In that moment, rational thought takes hold. Liam is happy. He’s doing something he likes, and he’s having fun. He’s also learning, and it’s not forced learning. So why am I so sad?

I enjoy time to myself. I would much rather be alone with a good book or creating something than to be outside with a bunch of people, wondering when I should speak or fearing I may cut someone off unintentionally.

I think sometimes, as parents, we see what all the other kids are doing, and we long for our children to be taking part in that too. That doesn’t always make them happy.

Yes, there are times when Liam longs to be included, and that is truly heartbreaking. But in moments like this, when he’s perfectly happy being himself and doing his own thing, why do I long for him to be included, where he doesn’t care to be?

Sometimes I think we need to step back. We need to assess the situation, and we need to think. Is our child happy? Does he/she care that they are alone? Why do I care? If my child doesn’t care, then neither should I.

So I asked him if he wanted to go outside and play. His answer? “No, Mama! I’m learning about plants here!”

Just yesterday as we came into the neighborhood on our way home from town, there were kids playing outside. Liam commented nonchalantly, “Now that all these kids don’t like me or are mad at me, they don’t ask me to play. But that’s OK. I don’t have to worry about anybody bein’ mean to me.”

From the mouths of babes, folks. Sometimes, the best advice comes from the mouths of babes.

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Originally published: March 17, 2015
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